6 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. 2 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. 3 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. 4 But we will devote ourselves to prayer and to the ministry of the word.” 5 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. 6 These they set before the apostles, and they prayed and laid their hands on them.
7 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.
8 And Stephen, full of grace and power, was doing great wonders and signs among the people. 9 Then some of those who belonged to the synagogue of the Freedmen (as it was called), and of the Cyrenians, and of the Alexandrians, and of those from Cilicia and Asia, rose up and disputed with Stephen. 10 But they could not withstand the wisdom and the Spirit with which he was speaking. 11 Then they secretly instigated men who said, “We have heard him speak blasphemous words against Moses and God.” 12 And they stirred up the people and the elders and the scribes, and they came upon him and seized him and brought him before the council, 13 and they set up false witnesses who said, “This man never ceases to speak words against this holy place and the law, 14 for we have heard him say that this Jesus of Nazareth will destroy this place and will change the customs that Moses delivered to us.” 15 And gazing at him, all who sat in the council saw that his face was like the face of an angel.
POINTS OF INTEREST
- v2 I don’t think that it is a matter of thinking that it is inappropriate to get involved in the distribution of good, but that it is a matter of prioritising. In order to obey God’s teachings and the blessing of the Holy Spirit, as commanded in Acts 1 in the Great Commission, they wanted to give their ‘attention to prayer and the ministry of the word’ in order to be most useful in their service.
- This is a reminder to our service in Church. Sometimes we think to love God means we need to increase our service. However, the sign of the truly Godly is waiting on the Spirit’s guidance and leading, to further understand God’s will and work, in order to let God make use of us as his vessels, to place us where he will and use our lives to fulfill his plan. As servants we can’t trust in ourselves to do anything, but should willingly submit ourselves to God’s hands to be used. Ultimately the one fulfilling the work of God is God himself.
- V3 Organising the meals is a very important position, not to be undertaken lightly. Here those who serve must ‘be full of the Spirit and wisdom’. Those who deal with people’s needs need to be patient, kind, gentle, honest and faithful, as Stephen was. No wonder our brothers and sisters serving in the kitchen grow quickly.
- V7 When disciples and apostles focus on serving God, He uses their service to enable the Gospel to thrive, to reach more people.
- V8-10 Stephen was chosen to manage the meals and God blessed him with wisdom and ability. Stephen acted in wisdom and the word of the spirit. Hence even though evangelism was not his main ministry, his service was still a good witness and bore much fruit. Our ministry should be likewise. God can work through us and use our lives as a witness in order to spread the gospel, no matter if it be serving, cleaning or providing transportation. Zechariah 4:6, So he said to me, “This is the word of the LORD to Zerubbabel: ‘Not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit,’ says the LORD. Nothing can stand in the way of the Spirit’s power.
- V11-15 Stephen encountered attacks and false accusations as Jesus did. Today, persecution still occurs in some countries. For example in Iran, there are several pastors who are under false accusations, and are locked up in prison, tortured physically and mentally. We need to pray for these disciples who are persecuted for righteousness’s sake. Matthew 5:10- Blessed are those who suffer for righteousness’s sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.’ Hence Stephen had the face of an angel, reflecting God’s glory and majesty.
PRAYING IN FAITH
Ask God to give us servant hearts which are more understanding and obedient, to enable God to use our service and lives to fulfil his plan.
For Your Five
Pray for your five, asking that God would give us wisdom and fill us with wisdom, that we may bear fruit, to bear witness for Christ.
For Our Church
Pray that God will lead our church to follow God’s heart and plans in every way, and to help us prioritise and focus our service, to best enable God to use our church to spread the gospel, to add to the number of disciples, and bring more people to Christ. Pray that God will guide our church, that we may continuously support those who are persecuted for their faith, pray for them and provide assistance to them and their families.