Taking the Epistle

A biblical journey through the epistles

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The ACTS Files – The beginning of the mission – The disciples look to replace Judas Iscariot

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The ACTS Files – The beginning of the mission – The disciples look to replace Judas Iscariot – Monday 11/23/2015

This is a series in the Book of Acts which looks to visit the text from the Book of Acts on a line by line and verse by verse teaching and Lord willing we will get through the full book of Acts, this is part of a New Testament bible study series that you can read all other studies in this section on this link.

Acts 1:12 (ESV) Then they returned to Jerusalem from the mount called Olivet, which is near Jerusalem, a Sabbath day’s journey away. 13 And when they had entered, they went up to the upper room, where they were staying, Peter and John and James and Andrew, Philip and Thomas, Bartholomew and Matthew, James the son of Alphaeus and Simon the Zealot and Judas the son of James. 14 All these with one accord were devoting themselves to prayer, together with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and his brothers.

When we last looked in on the disciples Jesus had just ascended into heaven and Luke spares no details to advise that the historical account picks up exactly when that finishes. We see this in the location that they returned from the mount and they travelled back to Jerusalem which was a short distance away as it is described as a “Sabbath day’s journey away” being still in the Jewish culture they would not be permitted to take certain elongated journeys that would involve a work like endurance.

You also have to remember that these guys are not rich guys and often times walked everywhere so that again would reduce the distance as they would not be on any mode of transportation and there is no boat mentioned so you would have to assume that they went by land and walked.

Obedience to the Lord Jesus Christ

We could learn something from the disciples obedience here because by doing so they followed Jesus words when he said in the last article…

Acts 1:8 (ESV) But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”

And they went where the lord had told them to go (Jerusalem) as soon as he ascended to heaven. We also could learn something about their desire to get on mission right away, how often have you dear Christian procrastinated even although you knew the Lord was pointing you clearly to go in a certain direction. I know I have and I have lamented over my actions when I have thought about it. These disciples knew that Jesus was who he said he was, no longer were these men quiet followers but they were maturing into the trailblazers they were going to be.

They also knew that they had to be in Jerusalem because that is where the Holy Spirit was going to come upon them, and sometimes our obedience to God would be as simple as being ready, willing and available to be in the right place at the right time in order to be used by God.

They went together

Christianity is not meant to be a solo sport and often times God gives you people who are on the same mission as you to co-labor with and this is no different. The thing that strikes me about this passage is that they were all in this together. The common faith or common bond that they shared knowing that Jesus was in fact the Messiah united them and gave them a unity that pastors for years have tried to replicate.

The fact that they were in one accord and on the same mission allowed them to be mobilized in great numbers (we read in verse 15 in the next article we do in this series that the number was 120) and the God we serve is a big God, he can work in a small number or large, but we as humans do sometimes require validation that we are on the right path and as it states in Proverbs 27 that iron sharpens iron and I know the blessing and the benefit of having people who are on the same mission as me being able to mentor me and conversely I have had the benefit of being used in others’ lives to help them maintain a closeness in their relationship with Jesus.

For me this was like the “perfect church” a family of families that were on mission together and moved together as one to move the needle and show the love of Jesus to a world that thought they had crucified Jesus. Today we could learn so much from this in our churches today, I am not going to blast todays church but even myself as the most ardent defender of the church system we have today, we could do so much better to utilize people and have everyone involved using the gifts that God has given them.

They were ready for the Holy Spirit

These were not the disciples of when Jesus was alive, Peter had a hugely humbling experience of running his mouth saying he would die with the Lord and then being humbled a few hours later by denying him three times. There was no arguing or bickering over who was number one in the group and who should sit where in paradise.

What was different? Was Matthew any less the Roman collaborator? Was Simon any less of a Zealot? Was Peter any less a sufferer of “foot in mouth” disease? No, however they had seen the risen Lord, they had confirmation in their eyes and hearts as a personal living witness that Jesus had done what he said he was going to do and risen from the dead!

Again we could learn so much here about our assemblies today, I am sure there are people who meet with me on a Sunday that are more conservative theologically than I am, some could be replacement theologist, some could be Calvinist, some could be more Pentecostal than me but these are not what bind us as brothers and sisters, it is our common faith that Jesus is our Messiah.

They prepared in prayer

Like I said previously, they were in one accord and devoted themselves to prayer, they knew the climate outside, the Romans were still in charge, the Jewish leaders were not going to like their message and they tried to crucify Jesus for that message so what would they do to them?

They strengthened themselves in the same way that Christ did the night he was betrayed in Gethsemane, we read the following in the Gospel of Matthew chapter 26…

Matthew 26:36 (ESV) Then Jesus went with them to a place called Gethsemane, and he said to his disciples, “Sit here, while I go over there and pray.” 37 And taking with him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, he began to be sorrowful and troubled. 38 Then he said to them, “My soul is very sorrowful, even to death; remain here, and watch with me.” 39 And going a little farther he fell on his face and prayed, saying, “My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as you will.” 40 And he came to the disciples and found them sleeping. And he said to Peter, “So, could you not watch with me one hour? 41 Watch and pray that you may not enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.” 42 Again, for the second time, he went away and prayed, “My Father, if this cannot pass unless I drink it, your will be done.” 43 And again he came and found them sleeping, for their eyes were heavy. 44 So, leaving them again, he went away and prayed for the third time, saying the same words again. 45 Then he came to the disciples and said to them, “Sleep and take your rest later on. See, the hour is at hand, and the Son of Man is betrayed into the hands of sinners. 46 Rise, let us be going; see, my betrayer is at hand.”

What an example given directly from Jesus through his disciples to us and it is as relevant today as it was then. We will go through things that we will not be able to handle and challenges that we will have to tap into the fount of eternal wisdom, James chapter 1 tells us where we get wisdom from…

James 1:5 (ESV) If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him. 6 But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind. 7 For that person must not suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; 8 he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.

If we require something to do the will of God he will supply it for us, we do however have to have faith. The disciples prayed in faith in the upper room that night and we read on in the next article of our Book of Acts series what happens next. I prefer to do it to the best of my ability and leave the results up to God.

God bless and I pray this was a blessing and please feel free to like, share or comment on here or whatever social media platforms you use as the Lord leads you to
TTE
TGBTG
SDG

Qualifications for Deacons

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This bible study is part of a series on the book of 1st Timothy, in order to see the full series please check out our “epistle” page or alternatively please check out our page dedicated to the book of 1st Timothy for other studies in this book. 

When I set this blog up my intention was to explore the epistles and do the occasional bible study based on what I had studied and learned, what you are reading below is notes I have made. I have to confess that this bible study is basic in its content and is not prepared by a pastor and I have to admit I have no theological training; my hope in prayer is that someone will be blessed by the notes below.

Let’s start in verse eight of the third chapter of First Timothy.

Qualifications for Deacons

8 Deacons likewise must be dignified, not double-tongued, not addicted to much wine, not greedy for dishonest gain. 9 They must hold the mystery of the faith with a clear conscience. 10 And let them also be tested first; then let them serve as deacons if they prove themselves blameless. 11 Their wives likewise must be dignified, not slanderers, but sober-minded, faithful in all things. 12 Let deacons each be the husband of one wife, managing their children and their own households well. 13 For those who serve well as deacons gain a good standing for themselves and also great confidence in the faith that is in Christ Jesus.

In our last article we looked at the qualifications for overseers (or bishops) but that is only kevel of leadership that Paul tells Timothy to look out for. He tells him to look for “Deacons” and then explains the qualities that they must have. Similar to the “overseers” article I plan to go through the qualifications one by one.

Where do we get the name deacons?

Deacons are introduced in a way in Acts 6:1-6 when they made members in charge of fulfilling the needs of others in order to allow the overseers the ability to do their job. Let’s look at Acts 6…

1 Now in these days when the disciples we increasing in number, a complaint by the Hellenists arose against the Hebrews because their widows were being neglected in the daily distribution. 2 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. 3 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. 4 But we will devote ourselves to prayer and to the ministry of the word.” 5 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. 6 These they set before the apostles, and they prayed and laid their hands on them.

People throughout the ages have seen one as “more prestigious” than another, like many things in Gods church it is a calling rather than a job. Being a deacon is a tough job and it is a timely reminder that they need to be prayed for as much as your pastors are.

The qualifications for a deacon are as follows…

1) Be dignified – Like the overseers, the person has to be respectful, reverent and has an appropriate level of respect for God and be well thought of by men.

2) Not double-tongued – Not a deceiver, an honest man who can be trusted with no guile or intent to lie or mislead in any way.

3) Not addicted to much wine – Again goes hand in hand with being dignified, if he is addicted to any other spirit than the spirit of God, what use is he going to be in God’s church. The deacon should be one who is looked at as an example.

4) Not greedy for dishonest gain – Like the overseers, you have to ask what the heart is for service. Is it for profit? Likewise in their daily lives are they conducting their business affairs on the level? Are they charging a fair price for their trade? There is nothing more grievous than brothers ripping other brothers off! Also, would you want that kind of man leading in your assembly?

5) They must hold the mystery of the faith with a clear conscience – Someone who can hold on to having their doctrine straight and have convictions about the truths of the gospel of Jesus Christ. Someone with a firm faith.

6) And let them also be tested first; then let them serve as deacons if they prove themselves blameless.  – Let them be recognized by their conduct rather than seek volunteers for a vacant post. I am always impressed when a Pastor appoints his own deacons based on prior unrecognized service. (Usually done with little recognition given or sought!)

7) Their wives likewise must be dignified, not slanderers, sober-minded, faithful in all things – Paul goes on to say that in addition to the men being dignified and being above reproach, they also must marry well. Does she fulfil these qualities as well? Does she respect the husband as the head of the home? Is she faithful in all things?Husband of one wife, managing their children and their own households well – Like the overseers the deacon is expected to show good management in the home prior to being invited to be a head in Gods church!

It’s a service not a position

Verse 13 is the only verse that doesn’t deal with the qualities required when discussing deacons, we read in verse 13…

V13 For those who serve well as deacons gain a good standing for themselves and also great confidence in the faith that is in Christ Jesus.

Which reiterates that when you come on board as a deacon it is a service and not a position, you are coming on board to be a chief of servants, an example to the lay community in how to serve. No task, regardless how small or unrewarded it is should be below the deacon to do, really they are expected to serve with little regard or gratification apart from a job well done. It is not really a job for the “look at me” brigade.

The good standing that Paul speaks of is usually not in this life, the effective deacon serves to serve, knowing that he is storing up treasures in heaven. It is a noble calling but certainly is a calling and is not for everyone. My hope is that if you sought to be a deacon that this article may help you in your choice. My hope is to help people grow in their walk with Christ and not discourage them.

Thank you again for finding this article and I pray these bible studies are a blessing. Please feel free to comment, like or share as the LORD leads you to.
TGBTG
TTE