This message was preached by Colin D'cruz at Word of Grace Church on May 14th, 2017. To listen/download the audio please click here. To listen to the Sunday's worship and prophetic contributions please click here.
In Acts 1:8, Jesus rose from the dead and appeared to his disciples many times over 40 days. Jesus’ prophecy over the church- “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” We are the fulfillment of Jesus’ prophetic word. In Revelation 7:9 – 10 we see the complete fulfillment of this prophecy “After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands, and crying out with a loud voice, “Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!”” People from every tribe and tongue chosen for salvation will be there. Praise God for that time.
Between his prophetic word and what happens in the end of time, we see the growth of the church recorded in Acts. Acts 1: 15 It was just 120 people. In Acts 2, it becomes 3000. In Acts 3, we see that the Lord was adding to their number every day. Acts 4- 5000 people. Acts 5- The Lord added multitudes. We see the growth of the church. In the midst of this phenomenal growth, imagine Peter walking down and healing people everywhere his shadow fell. People were being changed forever. Along with this explosive growth, some things happened to hinder its growth.
Acts 5- Ananias and Saphira- their deception resulted in their death. In Acts 6:1- “Now in these days when the disciples were increasing in number, a complaint by the Hellenists arose against the Hebrews because their widows were being neglected in the daily distribution. And the twelve summoned the full number of the disciples and said, “It is not right that we should give up preaching the word of God to serve tables. Therefore, brothers, pick out from among you seven men of good repute, full of the Spirit and of wisdom, whom we will appoint to this duty. But we will devote ourselves to prayer and to the ministry of the word.” And what they said pleased the whole gathering, and they chose Stephen, a man full of faith and of the Holy Spirit, and Philip, and Prochorus, and Nicanor, and Timon, and Parmenas, and Nicolaus, a proselyte of Antioch. These they set before the apostles, and they prayed and laid their hands on them. And the word of God continued to increase, and the number of the disciples multiplied greatly in Jerusalem, and a great many of the priests became obedient to the faith.”
One of the amazing things about the Bible is that it records the good, bad and ugly. King David’s whole life is laid out before us. In 1 Cor 10 Paul writes, “Now these things happened to them as an example, but they were written down for our instruction, on whom the end of the ages has come.”
The instruction from the example of Ananias and Saphira, is to be holy. Then at the height of a revival, there are arguments about food. They are arguing about the chicken leg in the Biryani. The Greek speaking Jews were complaining about their widows are being neglected.
Q. who was this food being distributed to?
To needy widows who didn’t have sustenance.
Q. Why were they distributing this food?
Once they were saved, they could not go back. So the 120 had to look after so many of them. In Acts 2 after the 3000 were saved “And all who believed were together and had all things in common. 45 And they were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need.” So the Grecian widows came to the apostles. This was a problem. It is important that we take care of widows. True religion is purity but also to take care of the downtrodden.
Q. What’s the solution?
The apostles could say, these people can’t handle it, so we will handle it. They say, it is not right that we should give up preaching of the word to serve tables. Each one has a different calling. Jesus himself said at the last supper that it is blessed to serve. God looks up on people who stoop down to serve. At this particular time, the apostles said that it is not right for them not to attend to the people being saved.
Q. What is so important about giving food to widows?
It is true religion. If they didn’t do that it would have hindered the work of God. Therefore, they ask for 7 people from among them.
Q. What were the characteristics of the men chosen for this?
The task was to serve food. But the apostles felt it was so important!
1. Character- Of good repute. Men above reproach.
2. Charisma- Full of the Spirit. Someone being led and controlled by the Spirit.
3. Competence- Full of Wisdom.
If we want to fulfill a task in the church, these are important. Prayer and the preaching of the word is a key function of the apostles.
These names were all Greek. They chose Greeks to serve the Grecian Widows.
Q. What was the result?
The word of God continued to increase. The Number of disciples multiplied. They took care of distributing food to the widows, and this was the result.
These things are written down as examples.
Q. How does this apply to us?
Are there needs in the church to be met? Are we playing our role to meet those? Having a welcome team to greet and receive people, the Sunday school, these are all different needs.
By not doing anything, you are actually doing something negative. Jesus said, who doesn’t gather with me, scatters.
For a church, an ideal team must consist of these people:
1. A leader
2. A worship leader
3. A children’s worker
We have treated the children’s work like they treated the Grecian Widows. We need to get that thing right. We are looking for someone with character, charisma and competence. Each church will have to apply it according to their situation. Our action or non- action could be hindering the growth of the church. In the kingdom, we are looking for ads like, wanted- someone to wait on tables, wipe a child’s nose, set up the hall.
This is not the end of the story though, is it? Stephen, after Jesus, became the first martyr. He had the privilege of dying for his faith. Philip, went down to Samaria and preached the gospel. A whole city came to faith because of him. An angel of the Lord comes to him. He baptizes the Ethiopia Eunuch. He gets bodily transported. The Lord looks upon such people with greatness.
Would you like to wait on tables?
Our answer should be YES.
Word of Grace is an Evangelical (Born Again), Spirit filled (Charismatic), Reformed, English speaking in Pune that upholds the Bible as God's inspired Word for life. We are a church community that have people from every part of India and parts of the world. We are here to put the Great Command and the into practice by equipping and releasing every member into works of service. To know about us please log onto www.wordofgracechurch.org.