Holy Spirit

Selfless - Acts 6:1-7:60

1.      In a world filled with unmet needs and good causes that clamor for attention, how do you decide where to start? (Meeting needs effectively requires insight and organization.)

2.      Is the church filled with unmet needs and expectations that are beyond any one individual’s ability to fulfill?

Today’s study provides a great example of what happens when needs are not being met and the division that can easily come, even in a church.

God calls and equips Christians for a variety of ministries. All are important and necessary but everyone is not given a burden for the same ministry. So we shouldn’t get upset when someone doesn’t have the same passion for a particular ministry that we do.

 

Key point in today’s Scripture passage: Every Christian has the Holy Spirit living inside them and has been given at least one spiritual gift for ministering in the church. However, regardless of what other responsibilities we have as members of the church, we are called to do the work of evangelism. Secondly, if there is a ministry need in the church it will not just happen, there must be someone in charge to lead that ministry!

 

A Need Discovered! Read Acts 6:1-2

 

1.      Based on this passage, what unmet need did the early church encounter? (As the early church grew, so did its challenges. Some scholars estimate that the church is approximately 5 years old now. Some of the Greek-speaking widows were not being cared for properly. Widows did not have the economic and physical protection a man provided in that society. There may have also been a language barrier to overcome.)

Some believed an unusually large population of widows lived around Jerusalem because they wanted to spend their final years near the Holy City. The unmet need of the widows was a legitimate issue. In fact, the Bible provides instruction about caring for widows (see James 1:27 and 1 Tim. 5:16).

2.      How was the care of widows a way for the church to demonstrate God’s love selflessly? (The selfless act of caring for widows demonstrated love that is shown without any expectation of return. This principle led the early church to direct their attention to the place of ministry needs within the body of believers.)

3.      What action did the apostles take? (They summoned the church together to resolve the situation.)

4.      What did the apostles say that some church members might get upset about? (All they want to do is preach the Word; they are not interested in serving us.)

5.      How might the increasing involvement of the apostles in the care ministry for widows have potentially weakened the effectiveness of the church?

6.      How does understanding one’s call to a particular type of ministry give clarity when facing choices about involvement?

7.      What challenges were involved in meeting the newly discovered need? (They recognized the importance of balancing a newly discovered need with the church’s ministry of proclaiming the Gospel.)

The apostles realized that if the need were left unaddressed, it could create a potential rift in the church. Believers can help spread the gospel by meeting needs before the need becomes a stumbling block to others.

 

A Solution Reached! Read Acts 6:3-7

 

1.      What did the apostles not do to resolve this issue? (They did not ask the congregation what they thought should be done. They came with a plan and allowed them to select the men.)

It is the responsibility of the church leadership to “lead” the congregation. Part of that is to bring proposed solutions to problems the church may face. But notice the church gave their stamp of approval.

2.      What was the plan proposed by the apostles? (Their ultimate concern was to do what was pleasing to God.)

3.      What were the qualifications for these men to be selected to serve in this capacity? (“Good reputation, full of the Spirit and wisdom”.)

4.      Why are these characteristics important to be leader/servants in the church?

The early church members were cooperative and demonstrated appreciation for different people’s gifts. The body of Christ is only healthy when all members function in accord with their giftedness. Therefore, it is essential for each member of a local church to find a meaningful role of service to Christ in accordance with his or her unique giftedness.

When you are serving within your giftedness you will be energized but when you try to serve outside your giftedness you will be drained. There are times we all must serve outside our gifted area but not for prolonged periods.

5.      How would you compare the way this issue was handled to the way similar issues are handled in our church?

6.      What were the results of the church stopping and organizing how they were going to minister to needs within the church and preach the gospel to others? (If friction within the church is not dealt with and solved the outward ministry of the church will suffer! Satan likes nothing better than to get a local church fighting among themselves, because it stops the spread of the gospel and is an eye sore to the community.)

7.      What were some ways meeting this need brought about a rapid increase among those who were seeing and hearing the message of Christ lived out among its members?

This is one time when the church as a whole was seeking to do the will of God. Corporate problems should involve the church leadership prayerfully seeking to guide the body to solutions. Without a connection to one another, we forget the call to work together as members of the same body.

 

A Servant Tested! Read Acts 6:8-15

 

1.      What uniquely qualified Stephen for his ministry? (He was “full of grace and power”)

2.      What role did Stephen’s dependence on the Holy Spirit play in his life?

3.      How does the Holy Spirit provide us power to take a stand for Christ?

4.      What do you think prompted these men to bring false charges against Stephen?

Virtually all of chapter 7 is Stephen’s message to the Sanhedrin about the gospel starting in the Old Testament through Jesus’ death and resurrection. It so inflamed the “Council” that they became a mob and stoned Stephen. (If time permits read Acts 7:51-60.)

 

Summarize and Challenge!

 

We can see that the practice of selfless love was critical to the church’s ministry, both within the body and for the eventual expansion across the world. How we love one another in the church should be contagious and not a distraction to the world around us.

1.      In what ways do you feel uniquely gifted to serve? (Every believer has an important role to play in a local church.)

2.      There are numerous service opportunities open right now in our church. Could you be the person God would have meet one of those needs?

Sometimes all we need to do is volunteer for a position to find how God can bless you and others through your faithful service.

 

This week, evaluate the ways you are serving God. Consider your motivation. Are you serving selflessly and through the power of the Holy Spirit? Prayerfully consider other ministry opportunities for which you may be uniquely gifted. Your church staff can help point you to current ministry needs in which you may be interested.

 

Ask for and listen to God’s direction!

 

Empowered - Acts 2:1-15

Memory Verse:

John 16:13  

13 But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come. NIV

 

In last week’s lesson we read about Jesus Great Commission in Acts 1: 8

 

 8 But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth."  NIV

 

What caught my attention was YOU WILL!   WHEN

 

(Not you may be but you will receive power and you will be my witnesses, WHEN the Holy Spirit comes)

 

I liked what one teacher said last week about Jerusalem being right where you are.

 

What is a witness?

 

(Someone who has seen or heard or felt an event that he has witnessed)

 

Remember scripture interprets scripture!

 

John the Apostle was such a witness.  In (I John 1:1) John makes a declaration.

 

1 John 1:1-3

1:1 That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked at and our hands have touched — this we proclaim concerning the Word of life. 2 The life appeared; we have seen it and testify to it, and we proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and has appeared to us. 3 We proclaim to you what we have seen and heard, NIV

 

John gave an eyewitness account!

 

Your testimony is personal.  It is unique only to you.

  • What your life was before Christ.
  • What happened when Christ came into your live
  • How my life has been change since Christ came into your life.

 

YOU WILL WHEN and we see the disciples of Jesus waiting for 10 days after the ascension of Jesus in the upper room.  Jesus told them to stay in Jerusalem and wait.

 

 

 

Acts 1:9-11

 

9 After he said this, he was taken up before their very eyes, and a cloud hid him from their sight.

10 They were looking intently up into the sky as he was going, when suddenly two men dressed in white stood beside them. 11 "Men of Galilee," they said, "why do you stand here looking into the sky? This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way you have seen him go into heaven." NIV

 

 

 

 

1-    The Spirit Given

 

Read Acts 2:1-4

 

2:1 When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place. 2 Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. 3 They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. 4 All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them. NIV

 

1-      What does Pentecost mean?

 

a)      (Pentecost means 50. Fifty Days after the Sabbath of Passover.)

 

(When the Holy Spirit came upon the disciples it had been 50 days since Jesus Resurrection and 10 days since His ascension in Acts 1:8)

 

b)      Pentecost is the fulfillment of two promises

 

Joel 2:28

            28'And afterward,

I will pour out my Spirit on all people.

Your sons and daughters will prophesy,

your old men will dream dreams,

your young men will see visions. NIV

 

John 16:5-15

 

5 "Now I am going to him who sent me, yet none of you asks me, 'Where are you going?' 6 Because I have said these things, you are filled with grief. 7 But I tell you the truth: It is for your good that I am going away. Unless I go away, the Counselor will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you. 8 When he comes, he will convict the world of guilt in regard to sin and righteousness and judgment: 9 in regard to sin, because men do not believe in me; 10 in regard to righteousness, because I am going to the Father, where you can see me no longer; 11 and in regard to judgment, because the prince of this world now stands condemned.

 

12 "I have much more to say to you, more than you can now bear. 13 But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come. 14 He will bring glory to me by taking from what is mine and making it known to you. 15 All that belongs to the Father is mine. That is why I said the Spirit will take from what is mine and make it known to you. NIV

 

c)      Some say that Pentecost was the birth of the church when Peter preached on the day of Pentecost and 3000 souls were added to the church.

 

It is believed that 200,000 people Jewish people from Palestine and the Mediterranean world might have been present. God’s timing is always perfect.

 

Reread verse 2:

 

2 Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. 3 They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. 4 All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them. NIV

 

2-What were the disciples doing and how many of them where there in the upper room before the Holy Spirit came upon them?

 

(They were praying and there were 120 men and women present)

 

Acts 1:14-16

14 They all joined together constantly in prayer, along with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with his brothers.

 

15 In those days Peter stood up among the believers (a group numbering about a hundred and twenty) NIV

 

Look at verse 4 of Acts 2: ALL OF THEM were filled and began to speak in other tongues as the spirit enabled them.

 

On page 25 of the personal study guide we find an insight on Fire.

 

1-      Fire indicated the purifying presence of God.

2-      The Lord had appeared to Moses in a bush that burned with fire yet was not consumed Ex 3:2

3-      The Lord guided the Israelites through the wilderness in the form of a pillar of fire at night. Ex. 13:21

4-      The Lord confirmed His covenant with Israel on Mount Sinai. He sent fire from Heaven Ex. 19:18

5-      The fire that rested with believers on the Day of Pentecost pointed to the ABIDING PRESENCE OF THE HOLY SPIRIT.

 

For the first time in history, the Holy Spirit came to live in believers.  In the old testament we find records of the Holy Spirit coming upon a person for a specific purpose ( Judges 14:6; 1 Samuel 10:10), but these were only temporary visits.

 

3-What are the evidences of the Holy Spirit indwelling a believer?

 

(Changed lives-Provides the power to live righteous lives, the power and boldness to witness of Christ love and mercy; etc etc)

 

 

2-   The Questions Asked

 

Read Acts 2:5-13

 

5 Now there were staying in Jerusalem God-fearing Jews from every nation under heaven. 6 When they heard this sound, a crowd came together in bewilderment, because each one heard them speaking in his own language. 7 Utterly amazed, they asked: "Are not all these men who are speaking Galileans? 8 Then how is it that each of us hears them in his own native language? 9 Parthians, Medes and Elamites; residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, 10 Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya near Cyrene; visitors from Rome 11(both Jews and converts to Judaism); Cretans and Arabs — we hear them declaring the wonders of God in our own tongues!" 12 Amazed and perplexed, they asked one another, "What does this mean?"

 

13 Some, however, made fun of them and said, "They have had too much wine." NIV

 

On hearing the believers speaking in different languages, the people were amazed, causing some to ask or questions while a few others discredited the experience by saying “they have had too much wine.”

 

 I counted 14, maybe 15 different languages spoken that day in that one place.

 

The scriptures state that these men heard, each man in his own language.

 

Calvin Beach, a man I knew who was a part of “International Commission”. I have been with him several times on a mission trip.  He is a man of God, dedicated to sharing the gospel with others. Calvin once told the story of being on a mission trip to India, when at the last meeting they joined hands and  he prayed.  One of the men there said through the interpreter, “Oh Brother Calvin, you just prayed the most beautiful prayer in our language.”  Calvin said, “I just prayed in English as I usually pray, but they heard it in their language.  It was the Lord, not me.”

 

Peter filled with the Spirit began to preach boldly. Peter had been with Jesus and now he was filled with the Holy Spirit of God.

 

So when Peter preached and they all heard, does that perhaps mean that the Spirit gave each of them the understanding of what Peter was preaching.  However we must remember that 120 other men and women were filled with the Spirit and were testifying.

 

 

 

 

 

3-The Opportunity Seized

 

Acts 2:14-16

 

14 Then Peter stood up with the Eleven, raised his voice and addressed the crowd: "Fellow Jews and all of you who live in Jerusalem, let me explain this to you; listen carefully to what I say. 15 These men are not drunk, as you suppose. It's only nine in the morning! 16 No, this is what was spoken by the prophet Joel: NIV

 

 

1-In the quick source the question was asked: How did Peter respond to the question; “What does this mean”?

 

·         (Peter spoke up. In fact Peter as we know had a reputation of being outspoken. (Matt. 16:22 17:4)

·         Peter explained what was happening. He took the initiative to give credit to God for the unusual work.

·         Peter used the opportunity to point people to Jesus.

·         When placed in situations where unbelievers are asking questions, believers must seize opportunities to share Jesus. We as believers must be ready to respond.

 

Think about the last time you had a opportunity to share the gospel or tell about God’s miraculous work.

 

2-Which best describes how you felt?

  •  I felt unqualified to speak, so I didn’t say anything.
  •  I downplayed God’s action, afraid of what people might think.
  •  I willingly seized the opportunity to share Jesus.
  •  Other response?

 

I and several others in this group are a part of the “Mission Task Force” that Aaron Lokey is heading up in our church.  We are divided up into 3 teams and the Jerusalem or “Love Ardmore” team is divided into 2 teams because there are so many missions available.

 

We have a Judea team.

 

I personally am a part of the “Uttermost Team”

 

 We have 6 members to each group and we have 4 groups or 24-25 people involved.

 

The Love Ardmore Team is looking at a ministry in the NE part of town.  It seems that a church that we owned, but was given to a group of people for a church, has fallen back into our hands.  We would like to establish a presence in that area so that when opportunity arises we may be able to witness.  There are signup sheets all around asking us to volunteer for a prayer walk.  Every believer can pray so there is one thing we should all be able to do.

 

The “Uttermost Team” of which I am a part has been given opportunity by the International Mission Board to possibly adopt an area in Mexico called the Tiacolula Valley Zapotec, which is a group of people of about 100,000 people.  We currently have no witness among these people.

We are praying and plans are being made for our first visit in October.  That was when our foreign mission spoke person can go and introduce our team.

 

Much is being done and we as a church can “go, pray or give” or perhaps all three.  You will be hearing of many opportunities.

 

 

 

Summary and Challenge

 

Thought questions:

 

    When you consider witnessing to other people, what concerns do you have?

    How has this study helped you to feel empowered to be a witness?

 

·         Believers are enabled by the Holy Spirit to fulfill their God-given mission.

·         We do not have to do it on our own.

·         God’s demonstration of Himself through believers can cause unbelievers to become curious about God and His power.

·         When placed in situations where unbelievers are asking questions, believers must seize opportunities to share Jesus.

·         Spend time in prayer, asking God to lead you to one person with whom you can witness through the Holy Spirit. Make sure we are ready to seize the opportunity.

·         Pray for the fellowship of believers around the world who are also studying ACTS.