Friday, November 13, 2009

Get In Where You Fit In!

"The proposal pleased the whole group. They chose Stephen, a man full of faith and of the Holy Spirit; also Philip, Procorus, Nicanor, Timon, Parmenas, and Nicolas from Antioch, a convert to Judaism" Acts 6:6-7.

Church growth is good, but when you don’t have the resources, the people operating in their proper places in ministry, you’ve got problems. In Acts 6, we see immediately there is a problem, and not just one problem, but two problems. The Greek-speaking widows are complaining that they are being discriminated against in the daily ministration.

This was not just a food line. The disciples weren’t just waiting on tables. The daily ministration was a place where money changed hands. The tables were a place where disciples brought their money after the sale of their estates and land. Jesus told the rich, young ruler to sale his possessions, give the money to the poor and follow Him. The young ruler went away sad because he was not willing to part with his worldly possessions. Ananias and Sapphira sold their property and brought money to the disciples, but kept part of it for themselves. They died, mostly likely at the tables, for lying to the apostles.

Also, the tables were the place where the Grecian and Hebrew widows received public charity, funds, food, and help with daily living. This neglect of the Grecian widows occurred because as the church was growing the disciples found themselves out of place. They were serving tables when they should have been preaching. They were serving tables when they should have been praying. Have you ever known someone to be out of place, greeting on the door or serving as an usher but looking like they just drank sour lemonade? I want to encourage everyone to get in where you fit in!

In Acts 6, the apostles "kill two birds with one stone." Sorry Stephen. Stephen was stoned to death for the Gospel's sake. We see the resolution to both problems in the establishment of the office of deacon. There were 16 deacons ordained last Sunday at St. Stephen Church. One of them, Deacon Dick Dickerson, is from Dosker Manor. I believe God is speaking specifically to Dosker Manor on this subject, “Get In Where You Fit In.” He elevated a woman here from her wheelchair here so that she could “fit in” to the choir. He has elevated a man here, not from his wheelchair, but in his wheelchair so that he now “fits in” on the deacon board.

Somebody has an opportunity to “get in where they fit in” right here on Friday. Bible Study is Friday, but some of you have been saying all year, “This Friday is a bad Friday. “This just ain’t my year. This Friday is Friday, the 13th, and it’s the third one this year. If it wasn’t for bad luck, I would have no luck at all.” I stopped by to tell you stop don’t afraid of witches, warlocks, spells and unlucky days. The Ancient of Days is all you need! He is much more powerful than any black cat, Satanist, psychic, or magician. The powers of Pharaoh’s magicians couldn’t match God’s powers in Exodus 8:19, 9:11), and the King’s magicians couldn’t interpret his dreams when Daniel could through God’s revelation (Dan 1:20, 2:27, 4:7ff). Acts 19:19 describes how the people who had done magic gave it up after they trusted Jesus, “And many of those who practiced magic brought their books together and began burning them in the sight of everyone” (NASB).

In order to get in where you fit in, turn your bad Friday into Good Friday.

Say “TGIF – Thank God I’m Forgiven!” Write down, “TGIF.” Take the “T” that represents the Cross and move it from the beginning to the end because Jesus is coming back again. Now you have the word, “GIFT.” You have just turned your bad Friday into Good Friday. John 3:16 says, “God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son so that whosoever believes in Him will not perish but have everlasting life!”

Turn your bad Friday into Good Friday. Romans 5:8 says, "But God demonstrates His own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Isaiah 53:5 says, "He was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisment of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed." What can wash away are sins? Nothing but the blood of Jesus! What can make me whole again? Nothing but the blood of Jesus!

Turn your bad Friday into a Good Friday. Jesus defeated Satan and his evil forces at the cross! Colossians 2:15 states, "And having disarmed the powers and authorities, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them at the cross."

The disciples turned their bad Friday into Good Friday in Acts 6. They recognized that they were not serving properly within the body of Christ so, “They gathered all the disciples together and said, “It would not be right for us to neglect the ministry for the Word of God in order for us to wait tables” (v2) .

In order to get in where you fit in, stop sitting in!

Not only is Jesus our perfect Gift, defeating principalities and powers at the Cross, he also gave us at least one gift for the work of ministry. Ephesians 4:7-8 tells us Jesus, the perfect Gift, has given gifts to men. Our gifts have been given “for the perfecting of the saints, for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ” (v12).

He didn’t save us to sit. He saved us to serve! That’s the problem. Some of us are just sitting in. We’re just sitting in worship service, matinee style with our candy and food, texting on our cell phones while worship is going on. We’re just sitting in front of the television watching the Yankees beat the Phillies, glad baseball is over so that now we can sit in some more on the real sports, football and basketball. We go by and sit in with “Big Mama” every once in a while like we’re doing her a favor. We see that she needs help around the place, but won’t pick up, straighten up or fix up. We see that her eyesight ain’t what it use to be, her curtains need washing, clothes need ironing, but all we to do is go by and sit in. The days of just sitting in are over. There was a time when the sit in was a very effective tool for protest. I thank God for the sit in, but how did Barack Obama get into office? People didn’t just “sit” him in. They “fit” him in, by voting him in office! Stop sitting in. Get in where you fit in!

Okay, preacher where is that in the Bible? Stephen and the six were voted into office, "Brothers, choose seven men from among you who are known (say known) to be full of the Spirit. This proposal pleased the whole group" (vs 3-5). King James says, “And the saying pleased the whole multitude….” They chose Stephen.…" It’s called lay participation.

Let me help you. God has given all of us at least one Gift, but He doesn’t give gifts in secret. Even if some of your gifts appear to be a mystery to you a little while, your gifts will find you out. Your gifts will make room for you. Has anyone come up to you lately and said, “You’re good at that!,” “You should consider doing such and such in the church?” Those are quite possibly times when your gifts are making themselves known. Stephen’s gifts were known to the multitude. Stephen was the first disciple martyred for the faith in the New Testament. Stephen was one of the seven men chosen to assist the apostles in the administrative affairs of the early Jerusalem church. He is most noted for his outstanding character, faith, wisdom, courage, and willingness to contend for the faith against false accusation and fierce opposition. St. Stephen Church is named after Stephen. Stephen talked about the people who were "sitting in" at the Sandhedrin calling them "stiff-necked." (7:5) Stop sitting in! Get in where you fit in!

In order to get in where you fit in, find your business and mind your business!

Every Christian should find their business and mind their own business. We are too busy in everybody else's business that we can't find business of our own.

Find your business:
1 Corinthians 12:1-21 – “And the eye cannot say to the hand, I have no need of thee: nor again the head to the feet, I have no need of you.”
2. Romans 12:4-8 – “For as we have many members in the body, and all members have not the same office…”
The apostles found their business – prayer and the ministry of the Word.

Mind your business:
3. 1 Timothy 4:14 – “Neglect not the gift that is in thee….”
4. 2 Timothy 1:6 - “…stir up the gift of God…”
The apostles minded their business by turning the daily ministration over to the seven elected officers. When they did this, the word of God spread rapidly so that even the hard to reach priest came to the Lord.

God had already equipped Stephen for his administrative assignment (v3, 5). Stephen’s additional gifts were (some appear in Chapter 7 & Chapter 22):
a. administration (v3,5)
b. wisdom (v3)
c. faith (v5)
d. miracles (v8)
e. teaching (v9-10, chapter 7)
f. prophecy (v9-10, chapter 7)
g. martyrdom (chapter 7, 7:60)

In addition to these gifts, Stephen was fine! He had it “going on!” To me, he must have looked like Denzel Washington. The Bible says, "All who were sitting in the Sanhedrin looked intently at Stephen, and they saw that his face was like the face of an angel (chapter 6:15).

In order to get in where you fit in, get out.

I did not include evangelism as Stephen’s gift. He contended for the faith in the Synagogue of the Freedman. Stephen was an apologist. He defended the faith. Phillip, who “got in” with Stephen and the five disciples in Acts 6, “got out” as an evangelist in Acts 8. Additionally, his four daughters had the gift of prophecy.

I said earlier this summer that the cults are out there out-witnessing us witnesses. This is one reason Christians are denouncing Christianity, turning to other faiths, or adding unbiblical all-roads-lead-to-heaven types of beliefs with Christianity. On any given Sunday, or Monday, or Tuesday, any day of the week, for that matter, we are more apt to see Mormons in pairs riding their bikes, Jehovah's Witnesses walking the streets, and Muslims on the street corners selling their bean pies and Final Calls than we are to see denominational or non-denominational Christians witnessing for Christ.

Considering the numbers of churches on every corner in every city, and the size of some of our mega churches, we should be bumping into each other on the streets with our complimentary Bibles and tracks eager to share the Good News with anyone willing to give us half a minute of their time. If we are going to make a great commotion about the great commission, many more of us are going to have to get out!

In order to get in where you fit in, 1) turn your bad Friday into Good Friday; 2) stop sitting in; 3) find your business and mind your business; and 4) get out.

Sermon preached Sunday, November 8th, St. Stephen East at Dosker Manor, Louisville, Kentucky. Inspired by the St. Stephen Church Sunday school lesson, "Mind Your Own Business," October 11-12, 2008.


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