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Defining Moments

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Olathe Bible Church

1/11/98

Acts 6:8-8:3

Defining Moments…

The church is about to be thrust out into the world, and God’s chosen instrument is the apostle Paul.  But, first, Luke explains (6 chapters) how the foundations of the Gentile mision were laid by two remarkable men. (Stephen the martyr and Philip the evangelist) followed by two remarkable conversions (Saul the Pharisee and Cornelius the centurion)

            These four men together with Peter, made an indispensable contribution to the global expansion of the church.

            ill. Churchill's "This will be our finest hour." Nazi's taking over Europe and England was up against being overtaken.

            Someone described a Defining moment "  A defining moment is the end of an old way of doing things... and the thrilling beginning of a fresh, new adventure in God's work.  It's the difference between a good church and a great one."

Cast yourself into the arms of God and be very sure that if He wants anything of you, He will fit you for the work and give you strength.  - Philip Neri

#1 - Defining yourself as a servant. (6:3,5)

The story of a man who was promoted from little things to great things (Lk. 16:10)         “…faithful in little, faithful in much…”

The story of a godly man’s rapid ascent down into greatness.

6:5 a table waiter serving widows - “It’s beneath me.”

6:8 a miracle worker

6:9-15 a witness to the Libertines and to the rulers of the Jews

6:3 - “full of the Spirit and of wisdom”

6:5 - “full of faith and the Holy Spirit”

6:8 - “full of grace and power”

            grace and power....      

“sweetness and strength merged in one personality”

                                                -G. Campbell Morgan

#2  - Defining yourself as a change agent (6:8-14)

#3 - Defining yourself as an apologist (

a.      Abraham’s moment (2-8)

b.     Joseph’s moment (9-16)

c.      Moses’ moment (17-38)

d.     David’s moment (39-50)

e.      your moment (51-53)

Intro Stephen:

“Synagogue of the Freedmen”

            Jews who had been slaves and later emancipated citizens of the Roman empire.

            Paul was from Cilicia and a prominent member of the Cilician synagogue

Stephen was a master of debate full of the Spirit and wisdom.   

mud slinging because when arguments fail, mud seems to be a fitting substitute

!. Stephen’s Accusation

2. Stephen’s Defense

            “rambling,dull and even incoherent”

            “a quite intolerable young speaker’ and “ a tactless and conceited bore, he... “delivered an oration to the counciil, in which he... inflicted on them a tedious sketch of the history of Israel, with which they were presumably as well acquainted as he.

                                                -George Bernard Shaw , in Androcles and the Lion

otoh - William Neil, “a sublte and skillful proclamation of the gospel.”

What Stephen did was to pick out four major epochs of Israel’s history, dominated by four major characters.

            1. Abraham and the patriarchal age (7:2-8)

            2. Joseph and the Egyptian exile (9-19)

            3. Moses, the exodus and the wilderness wanderings (20-44)

            4. David and Solomon and the establishment of the monarchy (45-50)

            “The connecting feature of these four epochs is that in none of them was God’s presence limited to any particular place. On the contrary, the God of the Old Testament was the living God, a God on the move and on the march, who was always calling his people out to fresh adventures, and always accompanying and directing them as they went.” [1]

            The God of Glory... in Mesopotamia?!

            Egypt  - (6 times in 7 verses)

Stephen’s thesis:

            The God of Israel is a pilgrim God, who is not restricted to any one place.  The God of glory appeared to Abraham while he was still in heathen Mesopotamia (2); that God was with Joseph even when he was a slave in Egypt (9); that God came to Moses int he desert of Midian, and thereby constituted the place ‘holy ground’ (30,33) that, although in the wilderness God had been ‘moving from place to place with a tent as his dwelling,’ It is evident from the Scripture that God’s presence cannot be localized, and that no building can confine him or inhibit his activity. If he has any home on earth, it is with his people that he lives.”(Stott, p.139)

Conclusion in Stott, p.143.

“Several years ago an eight year old boy and his father stood on the bridge which spans the moat around the Fantasyland castle at Disneyland.  I shall call the boy David.  They were watching the swans gliding silently on the water below.  It was Sunday afternoon.  Looking up to his dad, David suddenly hit him with one of these blockbuster statements that every parent has experienced.  “Dad, I want to talk with the wisest man in the world,” he announced. An astonished parent exclaimed, “Well, that isn’t me, but why do you want to do this?”  It turned out that the Sunday school lesson that morning had concerned King Solomon.  He wished to learn how to gain wisdom so that he too, through wisdom, would become rich.  Seeking a way out, Dad noticed a man standing by Snow White’s Wishing Well, not over twenty feet away.  This is the well where as Snow White sings, her voice echoes in the well.  Noting that the man at the well looked pleasant and that he was glancing about seemingly idly, the father advised his son to pose his question to him.  “He may be the wisest man in the world, ask him.  And I’ll be watching.” David scurried to theman at the well.

            He stood by the man for a few seconds and then said: “Sir, may I ask you a question?  My dad says that you are the wisest man in the world!” The man at the well looked down upon David, his face a smiling wreath of openness, friendship and affection for this young seeker of the wisest of all people.

            “Well, well; my goodness! I am certainly not the wisest man in the world, but why do you search for this person?” When he understood the lad’s purpose he said: “Perhaps I can be of help.  I will give you four words.”  Gently he placed his hand on one of David’s shoulders and looking deeply into his eyes, he began:

THINK

“Think.  Think about the principles you are going to live by.  Principles are rules.  They are the rules which will guide you through your life.  How will you treat others?  Will you always give everything you do your very best effort?  Will your words always be strong because they are true? What you believe is important.  I’m sure solomon had his principles, his rules, just for himself.  I have mine.  You will need yours to guide you on your journey through life.”

            The boy was now asked what the first word was and what was meant by it.  David clearly understood that he was to think through to his own set of principles;  that because he had developed them he would live by them, they would be his.  David was rewarded by a warm smile.  “You really do understand. And now, the second word…”

DREAM

            Dream. Dream a big dream in which you play the starring role.  The spotlight will be on you; you are the star.  What is it that you should do when you grow up?  That you’ll love doing.  That God gave you that talent to do very, very well.  That becomes your music, music you alone were meant to make.  Beautiful, beautiful music.  A magnificent purpose to your life.  Think through to you rprinciples and develop your vision, your big dream!”

            When David showed that he still was right with him, the mentor went on:

BELIEVE        

“Believe.  Believe, young David who seeks wisdom and riches:  Believe in your principles which you developed as a guide to the decisions you’ll be making throughout your life.  Believe in them and don’t depart from them.  But make sure that your principles are worthy of a great life.  Think of yourself as a ship.  Your principles are the rudder which  will steer your ship.  Your vision, your dream, is the wind which will fill your sails and pull you to that distant shore.  Believe in your dream.  That distant shore, David, is the land of wisdom.  Another David found the land of wisdom long ago.  That was King David who was King Solomon’s father.”

Now David was asked to go over the three words thus far, and what they meant.  Perhaps it was the mentor’s word pictures, the boy’s eagerness to learn the gentle way the learning was taking ;lace, but again, despite his youth, David had grasped clearly the learning.  The mentor continued:

DARE

“Dare.  Dare, David to believe in your principles, your special rules.  Dare to develop your dream, your special vision for a good, useful and great life.  A life that will make a difference which the world needs. Dare to believe  in yourself, dare to believe that you are as special as your Mother and Dad and God know you to be.  My young friend, dare to make it happen.  Dare to believe in your dream and to live it.  It will be a glorious, happy journey.  And when you are wise you’ll know that there are many kinds of riches far more valuable than money, or gold, or jewels.  When you know this you will truly be wise.

            The man now asked David to go over the essence of the entire learning: each of the four words and what they meant to him.  THINK…DREAD… BELIEVE… DARE.  He had grasped; he had understood.  Looking up at his friend by the well David said: “Sir, I thank you.  I will remember your four words.  May I ask you your name so I can tell my dad who you are?”

            He smiled and said:  “My name is Walter Elias Disney.”

            A master had shared with his young friend his personal philosophy of life.  His philosophy had helped him become the most honored man in the performing arts in the history of the world.  His committed dream of family entertainment led to the insight that one dimensional imagery could become three dimensional: a family could be passed through the experience.  The honky-tonk amusement park was superseded by a new standard: The theme park.


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[1]John Stott, p. 130

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