God’s church had been experiencing some pretty amazing & explosive growth. By now, the estimated number of disciples was in the range of 20,000! And if you’re gonna’ meet the spiritual & physical needs of a group this size, it requires organization!
Some cultural issues were beginning to divide the church, specifically some widows got overlooked while they were passing out food. The enemy has tried to corrupt, persecute and now divide believers – and still works at that today. The process we see in verses 1-7 can teach us a lot about choosing spiritual leaders.
First, they responded to needs and what the Holy Spirit had been doing. That is what a church should do. Apostles could no longer do it all and so they sought leadership help.
Secondly, these leaders were to be:
- Spirit Filled
Thirdly, we learn what a shepherd’s priorities should be: Prayer & the Word of God! Whenever, as pastors, we get away from those two things, the flock will suffer.
Finally, these men are approved & supported by the church as the leaders “prayed and laid their hands on them.”
One of these men was Stephen, an amazing man whom God will use in the book of Acts as a transition between Peter & Paul. Up ‘til now, Peter has been the leader in the early church, but that baton is about to be handed to Paul.
Stephen was “full of God’s grace and power” and those who apposed him could not stand up against the Holy Spirit’s message he spoke. Because of that, they start a rumor that he was against Moses & God which stirs up enough controversy to get him arrested. Then they produce false witnesses against him as well. While the Sanhedrin are listening to all this garbage, they keep looking over at Stephen and it says ”they saw that his face was like the face of an angel.” Basically, they weren’t buying it so they asked Stephen if the charges were true. The next chapter gives his response.
*Although the reference is to shepherds, having a focus on the Bible and prayer would be a great focus for all of us. Having said this, how’s your focus? Since you’re probably already reading thru Acts, why not start a specific list of things you can be praying about so that you can pray more? It will be a blessing!
*In what way are you serving in your church? Doesn’t matter what age you are, we were “created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.”
*Have you ever stood up for God and been accused of things that are false? This happens at times with God’s people. When it does we can trust God to be our defender!