God's Desire for Deacons

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God wants deacons to: 1. help solve problems. 2. help set priorities. 3. serve faithfully. 4. have spiritual abundance.

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God's Desire for Deacons

Acts 6:1-8

Sermon by Rick Crandall

Grayson Baptist Church - September 1, 2013

*You know there are a lot of jokes out there about preachers and deacons. Over the years I've heard some preachers (men a lot better than me) tell some of these jokes about deacons. But I don't tell jokes about deacons, because they are so important in the work of God's church.

*The first deacon I ever knew was actually my daddy. And of course he wasn't perfect, but my dad was a good and Godly man. He was good to his wife and children. My dad was incredibly patient with me, when I was one of the biggest numbskulls in town. And I'm not kidding.

*Dad was a hard worker, both on the job and in the church. He was also a friend to strangers. And he took a stand for good, -- even when it was hard. And sometimes it was very hard.

*My deacon dad was a blessing. And most of us could give testimonies of how we have been blessed by deacons. God designed deacons to be a blessing. So what kind of men does God want deacons to be? The Word of God shows us here in Acts 6.

1. First: God wants deacons to be men who will help solve problems.

*The early church was facing a new problem, and we see it in vs. 1: "Now in those days, when the number of the disciples was multiplying, there arose a murmuring against the Hebrews by the Hellenists, because their widows were neglected in the daily distribution."

*The early church had seen explosive growth: From 120 to 3,000 more, then 5,000 more, and after that a multitude more. Verse 1 in the KJV says: "And in those days, when the number of the disciples was multiplied, there arose a murmuring of the Grecians against the Hebrews, because their widows were neglected in the daily ministration."

*All of these believers were Jews. The "Hebrews" in this verse were Jews that were native to Israel. But many other Jews lived in foreign countries. These were the "Grecians" or "Hellenists," who came to Jerusalem for the feast of Pentecost, and got saved.

*Now these Grecian Jews were in a difficult, even desperate situation. They had expected to go home after Pentecost. But after they got saved, they decided to stay.

*Persecution had already started. The Apostles had just been arrested. They were also beaten. Even before the cross, John 9:22 tells us that the Jewish rulers had: "Agreed already that if anyone confessed that (Jesus) was Christ, he would be put out of the synagogue."

*John Gill explained that being put out of the synagogue at the worst meant: "That (the man) might neither hire, nor be hired. That they did not trade with him. Nor did they employ him in any business, unless a very little, just to keep him alive. Being put out of the synagogue also meant that his possessions could be confiscated." (1)

*The situation was grave in Jerusalem. And now the Hellenists were complaining against the Hebrews because the Hellenist widows were being neglected in the daily distribution of food.

*It could have been a communication problem. People didn't know each other very well and there were language barriers. But even people who know each other well can have communication problems. Amen?

*Church: It also could have been a problem with coveting. Some of the Hebrews could have thought: "These Hellenists aren't from around here. This is our food." In church today, people usually don't get upset about "my food". But sometimes they do get upset about "my way." -- "It's gonna be my way or no way!"

*No matter the source of the problem, they were definitely having a problem. And as long as God's church is in the world, it is going to have problems. God's church is going to have problems, because the devil hates the church, and does all he can to hurt it. The church is also going to have problems, because God's people are not perfect. We sin; we fall short; we misunderstand each other.

*Derric Johnson tells a story that reminds us of this truth. It's about Derric's younger brother, Ron, and it happened when Ron was 4. One day Ron got in a fight with another preschooler. And by the time his mother got there he was sitting on top of that other little boy, just pounding away.

*Ron's mom tried to stop the fight by grabbing Ron's arms and pulling them back. But when she did that, little Ron bent over and bit the other boy on the nose! Over that boy's squeals, Mom firmly said: "Ron: Stop that right now!"

*When she got them apart, she said: "Satan must have made you do that!" Ron replied: "Maybe Satan made me hit him. But biting his nose, -- that was MY idea." (2)

*We may not be nose biters. But sometimes WE can be part of the problem. So we need problem solvers. And God wants deacons to help solve problems.

2. He also wants them to help set priorities.

*That's what the Apostles were trying to do in vs. 2-4:

2. Then the twelve summoned the multitude of the disciples and said, "It is not desirable that we should leave the word of God and serve tables.

3. Therefore, brethren, seek out from among you seven men of good reputation, full of the Holy Spirit and wisdom, whom we may appoint over this business;

4. but we will give ourselves continually to prayer and to the ministry of the word.''

*Here the Apostles remind us that we need to keep our focus on the main things, and the deacons should help us do it. So what are the main things for our church? What are our priorities? There are at least four priorities we can see here in the Word of God.

[1] First: Deacons can help set God's priority for shared service.

*They can help get as many people involved as possible. There was no way the Apostles could do what they were supposed to do without the help of the deacons. Today, no pastor or deacon or teacher can do the work of the Lord by himself. Nobody can do everything. But everybody can do something. And we should. Deacons can help set God's priority for shared service.

[2] They can also help set God's priority to love all people.

*We're not supposed to just love the people we know the best, or the people who are most like us. We need to love the Grecians as much as we love the Hebrews. Deacons can help set God's priority to love all people.

[3] They can also help set God's priority for prayer.

*In vs. 4, the Apostles said: "We will give ourselves continually to prayer." Here the Apostles remind us that nothing we can do is more important than prayer. May God help us to be a people of prayer. May God help us to understand the amazing power of prayer.

*King Duncan reminds us that when we pray to God, it keeps us in constant communication with the source of our strength. Unfortunately, we tend to forget this monumental truth.

*Remember the story about the little girl who sent a letter to a missionary in a faraway country? Apparently her teacher had told her not to expect an answer from the missionary, because they sometimes get more letters than they can answer. And this little girl's letter simply said: "Dear Rev. Smith, We are praying for you. We are not expecting an answer." (3)

*Church, we don't want to be like that! Let's pray, believing that God will answer according to His promises and His perfect will.

*Steve Shepherd once said: "We must be a people of prayer if we are going to see any good come to America and our own lives. We must pray. We must pray for everyone who means anything at all to us and for some who don't mean anything to us. We must pray for our mates, for our children, for our family members, for our ministers, for our church members, for our church leaders, and for our country's leaders.

*We must pray at home! We must pray at church! We must pray at prayer meetings! We must pray while driving our cars, while doing our laundry, while cleaning our houses, while doing our chores! We must pray when we get up in the morning and when we go to bed at night! We must pray every chance we get, if we want to see good things happen both in America and in our own lives!" (4)

*Deacons can help set God's priority for prayer.

[4] They can also help set God's priority to spread the good news about Jesus!

*In vs. 4, the Apostles said: "We will give ourselves continually to prayer and to the ministry of the word." We also need to do everything we can to reach people for Jesus Christ.

*Some of you may recognize the name Norma McCorvey. She was the "Jane Roe" in the horrible Roe vs. Wade case that legalized abortion in the United States.

*In 1995, Operation Rescue moved next door to "A Choice for Women." It was an abortion clinic and McCorvey's headquarters in Dallas, Texas. Over time, the Rescue volunteers were able to make friends with some of the employees at the clinic. And seven of them trusted in Jesus Christ!

*God also began working in Norma's heart. Rescue volunteer Ronda Mackey made friends with Norma. She even let Norma watch her 7-year-old daughter, Emily, at the clinic, but only on days they were not performing abortions.

*Emily happened to be there on that day a woman called to get an abortion for her 18-year-old daughter. By that time, Norma was fed-up with the business of killing unborn babies. And she tried her best to get the woman on the phone to understand that she would be killing her own grandbaby, but the woman was stubborn about it. Finally, in frustration Norma told the woman: "I'd rather see you in hell, than make an appointment for your daughter to have an abortion!"

*Little Emily from next door overheard that and said, "But Miss Norma, You don't have to go to hell, if you have Jesus as your Savior." (5)

*Glory to God! It was an amazing turning point for Norma. And soon she was saved. Thank God for being a Savior who will forgive any sin, -- even the sin of murder! Thank the Lord for dying on the cross for all of our sins! Thank God He rose again to give eternal life to all who will receive Him!

*And thank God that even a 7-year-old girl can spread the good news about Jesus Christ. That's the kind of people we all need to be, because this is one of our greatest priorities. And God wants deacons to help set priorities.

3. He also wants them to serve faithfully.

*The men they chose in vs. 5 were fully committed to serve the Lord. In vs. 2&3, we see that they were chosen to serve tables:

2. Then the twelve summoned the multitude of the disciples and said, "It is not desirable that we should leave the word of God and serve tables.

3. Therefore, brethren, seek out from among you seven men of good reputation, full of the Holy Spirit and wisdom, whom we may appoint over this business;

*The original word for "serve" in vs. 2 is where we get the word "deacon". That word is "diakoneo". It means "through the dust." And over the years I have heard two explanations for this word picture. The first was a servant so humble that he bowed his face to the ground, and his nose went through the dust as he moved forward to serve. (6)

*On the other hand, A. T. Robertson said that "through the dust" pictures someone so eager to serve that he raises a cloud of dust as he rushes complete his task. (7)

*The first deacons rushed to serve those tables, so the Grecian widows would be able to eat. But that's not all they did. These 7 deacons also rushed to do all they could to help spread the good news about Jesus Christ. In vs. 8, we see that Stephen even did great wonders and miracles among the people. And by the end of the next chapter, Stephen even laid down his life for the Lord. That's how devoted he was to serving the Lord. And the church needs devoted servants like that.

*The church needs dedicated servants, because so many people have real needs in our world. It's not like those Grecian widows were making this up. They were being neglected. They were not getting enough food. And there are people with unmet needs all around us.

*One of the big questions on people's minds today is this: "Can you help me where I hurt?" Well, God can help them! But He likes to work through people like us.

*All Christians are called to help hurting people. And all Christians are called to serve. But some Christians are called to serve in a special way: They are our deacons. God wants deacons to serve faithfully.

4. He also wants them to have spiritual abundance in their lives.

*These first deacons were abundantly spiritual. They were full. In vs. 3, they were full of the Holy Spirit and wisdom. In vs. 5, Stephen was full of faith and the Holy Spirit. And in vs. 8, he was full of faith and power. God wants deacons to be men with that kind of spiritual abundance.

*Al Braca was a man like that. Twelve years ago on 9-11, Al began his workday in his office on the 104th floor of One World Trade Center. Al had been a vice president bond broker for Cantor Fitzgerald for 16 years. It was a high-power brokerage firm where power and money were very important.

*Things like marriage, kids and God easily became a low priority. And many of Al's coworkers called him "the Rev," half out of affection, half making fun of him. They noticed, though, that he lived a different life.

*Al was very open with his coworkers about his faith and what God had done in his life. Some of them harassed him about his "morality." But they were usually the ones who also went to him privately to talk about marriage, work or some other personal problem. They often asked him to pray for them, and he challenged them to also spend time in prayer themselves.

*Al had been a Christian for 23 years, and he never wavered in his faith. He and his wife, Jeannie, both became Christians after they saw God heal their 4-year-old daughter of a rare blood disease. Although they had grown up going to church, neither Al nor Jeannie had made a personal commitment to Christ. Once they did, it was real and long-lasting.

*Al was very real about his faith. He never pretended that everything was okay when it wasn't. He knew that being a Christian didn't protect you from hard times. It meant that you had the faith and strength to get through those hard times.

*He was on the phone that morning when an earsplitting explosion happened below. The plane had hit at about the 90th floor. . . Al and his colleagues were trapped and couldn't go down to get out. Al's wife, Jeannie, knew by the end of the day that her husband had died.

*In his last moments, Al continued his obedient journey to Christ. After the plane hit his tower (according to spouses of some of the coworkers who died with him), "the Rev" got everyone in a circle, holding hands and praying. Some of them received the Lord that day.

*And as usual, Al thought of others more than himself. He stepped into eternity, ready to meet his Lord face to face, bringing with him some of those he had prayed about for so long.

*According to his family, he was not afraid to die and this was a great way to go: serving the Lord in the middle of such a terrible time. He was able to help those who were with him to know a peace that goes beyond fear and pain. And he was a deacon. Al had just been chosen as a deacon in his church. (8)

*God wants all of His deacons to be men with that kind of spiritual abundance.

*A great question is: "How can I get full like that?" The answer is:

-Focus on Jesus Christ.

-Talk to God.

-Listen to Him.

-Study His Word.

-Feed on it every day.

-Ask for wisdom.

-Ask for His fullness. -- And He will give it to you.

-Get to know the Lord Jesus Christ better every day.


*Will it make a difference? -- Absolutely! As we see in vs. 7: "The word of God spread, and the number of the disciples multiplied greatly in Jerusalem, and a great many of the priests were obedient to the faith."

*May God help us all to be full of the Holy Spirit and wisdom and faith and power!

-Let's talk to Him about it, as we go to God in prayer.

(1) "John Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible" - John 9:22

(2) "Easy Doesn't Do It" by Derric Johnson - p. 20

(3) "TODAY'S BETTER LIFE" - Winter 1993 - p. 55 - Source: sermon "Advice for Soldiers at the Front" by King Duncan - Ephesians 6:10-20

(4) SermonCentral sermon "God Bless America" by Steve Shepherd - 1 Timothy 2:1-6

(5) Most of this information was taken from an article by Erica J. Parkerson, first printed in The Charlotte World - My sources: 10 Issue 8 - August 1995.htm

(6) Original source unknown

(7) "Robertson's Word Pictures" by A.T. Robertson - Acts 6:2

(8) KERUX ILLUSTRATION COLLECTION - ID Number: 6438 - SOURCE: Baptist Press, - TITLE: God Walked With Him Into Eternity - AUTHOR: Lisa Chilson-rose - DATE: 91103

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