Preparing My Heart
One chapter — that’s all that separates Acts 4 from Acts 6. That quickly even the vaunted Early Church in Jerusalem went from nobody having any lack to certain widows being neglected…and to murmuring.
Amazingly, I don’t care. By that I mean I’m not disillusioned or discouraged or offended by such failure…because I can see God’s work develop. But I lack that discernment and faith in the midst of our own congregational… ah…woes. So I need my heart recalibrated by this lesson.
Making the Bible Personal
How should I deal with in-the-church “injustices” against me and mine?
Am I really prone to think with that kind of factionalist mentality?!
How do I respond to accusations of favoritism against me or church leaders?
What will I do so my ministers can give themselves to “spiritual” work?
“The word of God increased” — do I and my church have such an interest?
How hard must God’s adversaries “research” to bring charges against me?
Reviewing Basic Truths
A division of labor will help even the church function properly.
God does not exclude “the laity” from church decision-making processes.
Every aspect of God’s work requires God’s Spirit.
Most servants of the church do their work away from the limelight.
Applying God’s Word to Me
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Excerpt: Turning on Each Other
“Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour” (1 Peter 5:8).
“Lest Satan should get an advantage of us: for we are not ignorant of his devices” (2 Corinthians 2:11).
“And the Lord said, Simon, Simon, behold, Satan hath desired to have you, that he may sift you as wheat” (Luke 22:31).
“Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil” (Ephesians 6:11).
The Scriptures thus warn us of the existential threat facing us and our churches. Far too much of the time, I forget. Today’s passage reminds me.
Clearly the devil tried to turn believers against each other. In the opening verse of Acts 6, the enemy used a practical oversight to provoke ungodly thoughts, attitudes, and words. Even the appearance of bias or favoritism is a potently-effective tactic he used then…and uses now in my congregation. Praise God, His people were able to thwart the attack of the evil one! And not only to defeat it, but to increase in strength and in effectiveness.
Having failed in setting the Christians on each other, Satan set a bunch of non-believers on Stephen. The enemies of the cross failed to overcome “the wisdom and the spirit by which he spake.” Next they failed in bringing a just charge against him. So they opted for the tactic of the father of lies. In it all, Stephen maintained his godly testimony, so that even his face became both a conviction and a warning to his accusers. And thus Satan failed again.
In this I take fresh admonition and warning. The devil, having been defeated at the cross and in the tomb, is a loser. Even so, he will continue to succeed in many of his attacks. As long as I am in the flesh, I do well not to dismiss or underestimate his threat to my soul. However, as long as I fear God and live in His fear, I need not fear the adversary. There is victory in Jesus!
This concludes my comments based on the alternate lesson developed by Christian Light Publications. To read my comments on the passage for the International Bible Lesson, click here: Simon Wants to Buy Power.