Faithlife Sermons

Yes!

Acts  •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  Presented   •  39:17
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Stephen says "yes" to being a deacon, but he turns out to be the worst deacon ever. He is immediately called into a ministry of miracles, then a ministry of prophetic testimony, then the ministry of martyrdom. Philip also moves on from deacon ministry to itinerant (teleporting) evangelism. Saying "yes" to small ministry opportunities led to them discovering the biggest Yes (the center of their calling, gifting and passion). What is God calling you to say "yes" to?

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All the Things

This is a picture Logan drew recently. I am so proud.
Logan signing up for ALL THE THINGS in high school.
The perfect time to try all the things!
At fourteen years old, Logan has ideas about what he might want to do… but he is wise enough to realize that he hasn’t tried all the things. It’s too soon to rule out all the options.
Last week I talked about saying “no” to things so you can say a “bigger yes” to the most important things. Especially, so you can say your “biggest all-in yes” to the center of your calling and passion.
Like the apostles did when they said “we will devote ourselves to pray and the ministry of the Word”. Literally: “deaconing Logos.”
And I shared my biggest yes: “to lead and feed my family and church.”
What do we do when we don’t know our “biggest yes?”
Or we think we might know it… and the timing isn’t there. Or the opportunity isn’t there.
I got some version of the question from several people last week.
It is a beautiful thing to have that “consuming vision” to devote to… but in most moments and seasons of life, we just don’t have that kind of clarity.
I LOVE it… because that is exactly what we see in the text.
While the apostles had that kind of clarity and calling… the other folks in the story don’t have that… yet.

From yes to yes

Seven Deacons

Acts 6:1–4 ESV
Now in these days when the disciples were increasing in number, a complaint by the Hellenists arose against the Hebrews because their widows were being neglected in the daily distribution. And the twelve summoned the full number of the disciples and said, “It is not right that we should give up preaching the word of God to serve tables. Therefore, brothers, pick out from among you seven men of good repute, full of the Spirit and of wisdom, whom we will appoint to this duty. But we will devote ourselves to prayer and to the ministry of the word.”
Acts 6:5–6 ESV
And what they said pleased the whole gathering, and they chose Stephen, a man full of faith and of the Holy Spirit, and Philip, and Prochorus, and Nicanor, and Timon, and Parmenas, and Nicolaus, a proselyte of Antioch. These they set before the apostles, and they prayed and laid their hands on them.

Holy Spirit Rockstars

How amazing were these guys? Full of the Holy Spirit. Full of Wisdom. Full of Faith (it says of Steven).
Where’s the debate about whether they should? Men who rise to the top among 10,000+… these guys are incredibly capable and gifted. They say “yes”… to such a low and easy ministry.
It isn’t that it is degrading or menial… it’s that it’s trivial. Nobody as a child goes to bed thinking “When I grow up, I want to re-balance food distribution.”
There’s a nobility to it: serving widows, serving the overlooked and neglected, feeding the hungry. But, this is a guess...
It was no one’s “biggest yes.” This wasn’t there great passion, there great calling and gifting. This wasn’t it.
How do I know that? Well I don’t for most of them. But for two of them… I do. Five of these guys we never hear about again. They likely go on to do amazing things, but outside of the spotlight of this book.

Philip

But two we do hear about. First, my man Philip. Philip goes on to preach and do miracles in Samaria
Acts 8:5–6 ESV
Philip went down to the city of Samaria and proclaimed to them the Christ. And the crowds with one accord paid attention to what was being said by Philip, when they heard him and saw the signs that he did.
Then God sends him down to southern Israel where he witnesses to an Ethiopian, the treasurer to the Queen. Philip baptizes him...
And then (this is one of my favorites, God needs him so bad at the next place he teleports him there:
Acts 8:39–40 ESV
And when they came up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord carried Philip away, and the eunuch saw him no more, and went on his way rejoicing. But Philip found himself at Azotus, and as he passed through he preached the gospel to all the towns until he came to Caesarea.
Philip, full of wisdom and full of Spirit, says “yes” to the ministry opportunity he is given in the moment… and it leads to the bigger “yes”. It leads to the bigger calling.

Steven

We know more about another of these seven men. And this is where the book of Acts goes. These seven amazing men, full of wisdom and of the Spirit are called and set to this ministry.
And the very next verse, verse 8 immediately jumps the action to Stephen.
Acts 6:8 ESV
And Stephen, full of grace and power, was doing great wonders and signs among the people.
Immediately we find Steven in action. What is he doing? Is he doing the work he was commissioned to do? No. Worst deacon ever.
Maybe there is a time gap here, maybe he had administrated the others, or built a ministry team so effectively that now he could focus on other things… We don’t know.
But he has, it seems, immediately been called into a new ministry. He is doing signs and wonders among the people. He is preaching, we will see, among the people. He is the first to show that neither signs and wonders, nor understanding of Scripture through the Holy Spirit, nor boldly preaching the gospel is going to be limited to the apostles.
He’s not an apostle, but there he is. In fact, let’s see this guy in action.
Acts 6:8–15 ESV
And Stephen, full of grace and power, was doing great wonders and signs among the people. Then some of those who belonged to the synagogue of the Freedmen (as it was called), and of the Cyrenians, and of the Alexandrians, and of those from Cilicia and Asia, rose up and disputed with Stephen. But they could not withstand the wisdom and the Spirit with which he was speaking. Then they secretly instigated men who said, “We have heard him speak blasphemous words against Moses and God.” And they stirred up the people and the elders and the scribes, and they came upon him and seized him and brought him before the council, and they set up false witnesses who said, “This man never ceases to speak words against this holy place and the law, for we have heard him say that this Jesus of Nazareth will destroy this place and will change the customs that Moses delivered to us.” And gazing at him, all who sat in the council saw that his face was like the face of an angel.
You can’t stop him!
And from this ministry of preaching and doing miracles, he is called to be the ultimate “witness”, a word translated from the Greek word “martys” or “martyr” and Steven has the glorious honor of being the very first “martyr” as we use the word: one who goes boldly and defiantly to the death as a witness to Jesus.
Steven found his biggest “yes”. What got him there? At least as far as the story relates the sequence of events?
Steven said “yes” to the small ministry opportunities… and it led to the next step.
Philip said “yes” to the small ministry opportunity. It was just for a moment, it was just for a season, but it appears to lead to the next steps in ministry.
And how were these guys the seven who were noticed out of thousands?
It says they were full of Spirit and full of wisdom. How did everyone know that about these seven men?

Full of the Spirit

How do we know if someone is full of the Spirit?
We look for the fruit. Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness and self-control. Is that fruit bursting out all over their lives? Do I see it, do I experience it, do I taste it and is it good?
Is discord, bitterness, jealousy, rage… is that being transformed by the Spirit unifying them into Christ?

Full of Wisdom

Men of Sophia. Wisdom. Root in technical skill, like a skilled craftsman, these are men who are skilled at life. They have knowledge and they rightly apply it.
When they speak, you feel the truth of it, the right of it. Speaking to the heart of things, piercing to the truth of it.
Full of Spirit and Full of Wisdom. They were pursuing God, they were surely gifted and talented… but how do people discover that a person is full of Spirit and full of Wisdom?
When the Spirit moves through them in word and deed.
When wisdom pours out of them in comfort and in counsel.
My assumption is this: these guys were ALREADY serving all over the place.
Already doing whatever their hand found to do.
Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might.
And one “yes” leads to another.
How does one find their calling? Their passion?
The apostles said “yes” to a thousand directions and ministries before they found their “biggest yes” for this season. They knew with clarity what they were supposed to focus on at this time… but only after saying “yes” to Jesus a thousand times in a thousand different ways and moments… and getting it wrong a thousand times.
Stephen and Philip and their crew:
They say “yes” to God as Jewish believers. They say “yes” to Jesus. They say “yes” to pursuing wisdom. They say “yes” to inviting the Spirit into every aspect of their lives. They say “yes” to what the church needs, get the food to those Hellenist widows.
Yes. I can do that. I will do that. Barring some larger excluding ministry that God is calling me to right now… I’m in, I say “yes!”
What do you need to say “yes” to?
What are you doing to grow in wisdom? To grow in Spirit? Are you growing in wisdom and Spirit?
That happens in prayer. That happens in study of Scripture. That happens in regular, intentional conversations with Christian brothers and sisters.
That happens as you say “yes” to opportunities to serve, inside and outside the church, in small and in large ways.
What do you need to say “yes” to?

Wanted: Persons of Wisdom and Spirit

Our church is in need.
Profound need.
We have this Vision
Worship. Fellowship. Service. Outreach. Edification. Holy Living.
If you were here a couple months ago we talked about all of these. These are what the early church did… and these are what we do. Any “next steps” God will call us to, we expect it to have this shape because this is what the church has always been called to.
But right now, our church is in profound need. We don’t have two people that oversee FOUR aspects of vision!
Service and Outreach Coordinator.
Holy Living and Edification Coordinator.
Communications Coordinator.
That is a crisis. And you may well feel the need.
What are we doing in Serving our Community right now? Reaching out to our neighbors? Some… but we need to grow here.
What are we doing in keeping one another accountable to Holy Living, encouraging and equipping one another in that for reals. How are you edifying one another? Some… but we need to grow here.
Intentional and effective service and outreach.
Purposeful discipleship within our community.
4 out of our 6 aspects or dimensions of our vision. We are in need.
God is raising up among us leaders to take that on.
Full of wisdom. Full of Spirit. He is calling on someone to say “yes” to this ministry.
It may be for a season, to serve for a moment before the next big thing… it may be the “big yes”.
God may be calling you to say “yes” when called upon.
God is certainly calling on you to pray for who that is.
And we have some folks designated as our representatives to seek and search out men and women full of wisdom and full of Spirit. Let’s pray that God would guide there hearts and minds. That He make the miraculous connections, the divine persuasions, the Holy appointments.
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