As we dive into Acts chapter 6, we see the early church facing a major challenge. As the number of believers increased, the Greek-speaking widows were being overlooked in the daily distribution of food. The apostles were being stretched thin, trying to minister to the needs of the growing number of believers. But instead of trying to handle everything themselves, they turned to the community for help. This is a powerful lesson for us today. We can't do everything on our own, and we shouldn't try to. When we try to take on too much, we can quickly become overwhelmed and burnt out. But when we're willing to delegate and ask for help, we can accomplish far more than we ever could on our own. This is such a great example of a healthy church. We have have been given a purpose in life and God uses that purpose to make a difference in those around you. 1 Corinthians 12 describes the church as a body and we all have a role to play and it is perfectly illustrated here that when we are all playing our role that the Kingdom advances and God’s influence grows. In Acts 6:3, the apostles said, "Brothers and sisters, choose seven men from among you who are known to be full of the Spirit and wisdom. We will turn this responsibility over to them." The church chose seven men, including Stephen and Philip, and they were put in charge of overseeing the distribution of food to the widows. One interesting observation here is that the main complaint was that the greek speaking believers were being left out and most likely this was not intentional but rather an oversight with the language barrier, but notice that they appoint 7 people with greek names to help join the team to see these needs addressed. Notice that the apostles didn't just choose anyone to help. They specifically chose men who were full of the Spirit and wisdom. They understood that this was an important responsibility, and they wanted to make sure that it was handled by people who were qualified and trustworthy. Would you be eligible to serve? If not let this be a challenge to you to be that kind of person. This is an important principle for us to remember as well. When we delegate responsibilities, we should choose people who are qualified and trustworthy. We should look for people who are full of the Spirit and wisdom, and who have a heart for serving others. As we continue reading Acts chapter 6, we see that Stephen was not only qualified, but he was also anointed by God. In Acts 6:8, it says, "Now Stephen, a man full of God's grace and power, performed great wonders and signs among the people." Stephen wasn't just overseeing the distribution of food to widows; he was also performing miracles and sharing the gospel with those around him. But as Stephen continued to share the gospel, he faced opposition. In Acts 6:9, it says, "Opposition arose, however, from members of the Synagogue of the Freedmen (as it was called)—Jews of Cyrene and Alexandria as well as the provinces of Cilicia and Asia—who began to argue with Stephen." Despite this opposition, Stephen continued to boldly proclaim the truth. Eventually, Stephen was brought before the Sanhedrin, where he gave a powerful defense of his faith. We will save the rest of his story for tomorrow in Acts 7. Stephen's story is a powerful reminder that following Jesus will be challenging, but like Stephen we can make an incredible impact for the Kingdom if we are willing to serve. Let me leave you with 4 things that Stephen’s ministry/death impacts either directly or indirectly:
1. Philip begins his evangelistic tour in Chapter 8.
2. Paul's conversion in Acts 9.
3. Peter’s missionary journey in Acts 9-11.
4. The Church in Antioch in Syria is founded in Acts 11.
You don’t know the impact God will make through you until you are willing to discover your purpose and be committed to make a difference, but if we look at the starting point in Stephen’s life it began with being full of the Spirit and wisdom, so let’s strive to do just that in our lives today.