Summary: God will expand the ministries within a church, when we allow him to determine the priorities.
fellowship community ¡V 3 Nov 2002
As we come to God¡¦s precious Word today, I have titled today¡¦s message: ¡§Expansions.¡¨ Now, there are some good types of expansion and some bad. For example, when a business expands that¡¦s a good example, but when my taxes expand, we would say, that¡¦s bad expansion. On the other hand, when an economy expands, we say that¡¦s good, but when my belt size expands, we know that¡¦s not good.
Well within the church expansion can be both good or bad. Let me explain by this personal illustration. Growing up in a home that emphasized athletics, I remember the time I wanted to play the organ and play sports at the same time. My dad gave me some advice that still stands today.
He told me, Paul, you¡¦re going to have to decide whether you want to play sports or a instrument. To do both is just too difficult. As much as that hurt then, I have come to realize my dad was right. You can do some things well, but you can only do many things mediocre.
It¡¦s really no different in the church. I have seen churches that have done a few thing really well and they have stuck to those few things. I have also seen churches try to be everything to everyone and have ended up doing nothing well. They were mediocre churches.
Like my ambitions of yesteryear, they tried to do too many things and ended up doing nothing well. So, how do we determine as a church what things we will do and what things we will either wait to do or not do at all? What will criteria? Who will set the priorities? Today, our goal is to understand¡K
NEW MINISTRIES WILL BEGIN, WHEN WE ALLOW GOD TO MAKE IT A PRIORITY
BY ALLOWING GOD TO MAKE THE PRIORITIES¡K
1A. NEW MINISTRIES WILL BEGIN OUT OF TRUE NEEDS (6:1-2)
The Hellenistic Jews were from outside Jerusalem and spoke Greek and not Aramaic or Hebrew like those within Jerusalem. They probably used the Septuagint (Greek translation of OT), while the Jews living in Jerusalem remained faithful to the Hebrew text. This set a barrier between the people. Now it moved from a language barrier to a ministry barrier. Because the widows didn¡¦t understand where to receive aid and the Hebrew speaking Christians didn¡¦t appear to know they were being overlooked, these widows were now being neglected. This caused a true need within the church.
So, a need was raised and the result we are about to see would resemble two circles intersecting one another, yet having portions of those circles exclusive to each other. What God was pointing out to the Jerusalem church was this: you have a great thing going (Acts 2:42ff; 4:32-36), but now I want you to begin a new circle to make sure these folks who are being neglected experience the family love you have.
We need to stop here and apply this. that is our goal at fellowship. We long to extend the love the Father has given to us. That is why on our invitation cards you will see this phrase, ¡§where Christ is exalted and you¡¦re family!¡¨ we want people to experience what family love is like and that occurs right here within God¡¦s family!
One family member that is easy to overlook both then and now are widows. But, caring for widows is incredibly close the heart of God. Just to illustrate this a little, listen to these verses¡K
A father of the fatherless and a judge for the widows,
Is God in His holy habitation.
1 Tim. 5:3 (NASB-U)
Honor widows who are widows indeed;
James 1:27 (NASB-U)
Pure and undefiled religion in the sight of our God and Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself unstained by the world.
So, here we have a true need, and out of this true need, the ministry of the early church will be expanded, because they are trusting or allowing God to set the priority. What the church was experiencing in Acts 2 and 4, God was not directing them to make a reality with these Hellenistic Jews.
But how were these widows being neglected? The text states they were being ¡§overlooked in the daily serving of food.¡¨ This word ¡§overlooked¡¨ gives the idea that when help was being distributed each day, these widows received nothing. They were being neglected. This raised a true need within the church.
We also need to realize the last two words were added by the translators. They are not in the original, meaning, so there is room for interpretation. So instead of being neglected in the daily distribution of food, some scholars believe is the they were being overlooked in the daily distribution of the funds needed to live (Acts 2:45;4:34-36). These funds may have missed some of these widows due the barriers we mentioned earlier. Again, a true need has risen. So, what is one to do with a true need?