Friday, April 20, 2012

CITRT National Roundtable Devotional

Context:
  • What I want to do is to look at two guys: one from the Old Testament in Exodus 31, and one from the New Testament in Acts 6, and see what those of us who have been called to serve in administrative or supporting roles in the Church can glean from these texts.
  • Leading up to Exodus 31, we see Moses leading the Israelites out of Egypt, God instituting the priesthood with Aaron and his descendants, and God setting up the laws and giving Moses a template for the tabernacle, objects of worship, and system of sacrifices.
  • Exodus 31:1-6 (NIV): Then the Lord said to Moses, "See, I have chosen Bezalel son of Uri, the son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah, and I have filled him with the Spirit of God, with wisdom, with understanding, with knowledge and with all kinds of skills—to make artistic designs for work in gold, silver and bronze, to cut and set stones, to work in wood, and to engage in all kinds of crafts. Moreover, I have appointed Oholiab son of Ahisamak, of the tribe of Dan, to help him. Also I have given ability to all the skilled workers to make everything I have commanded you..."
  • In Acts 6, we find the apostles who need to focus on their assigned tasks of prayer and speaking God's Word, but they're getting distracted because they're being pressured to manage the soup kitchen.
  • Acts 6:1-7 (NIV): In those days when the number of disciples was increasing, the Hellenistic Jews among them complained against the Hebraic Jews because their widows were being overlooked in the daily distribution of food. So the Twelve gathered all the disciples together and said, "It would not be right for us to neglect the ministry of the word of God in order to wait on tables. Brothers and sisters, choose seven men from among you who are known to be full of the Spirit and wisdom. We will turn this responsibility over to them and will give our attention to prayer and the ministry of the word." This proposal pleased the whole group. They chose Stephen, a man full of faith and of the Holy Spirit; also Philip, Procorus, Nicanor, Timon, Parmenas, and Nicolas from Antioch, a convert to Judaism. They presented these men to the apostles, who prayed and laid their hands on them. So the word of God spread. The number of disciples in Jerusalem increased rapidly, and a large number of priests became obedient to the faith.
First Point: God can and does call people into practical roles that serve the Kingdom.
  • Exodus 31:2 says that God personally chose Bezalel.
  • God's Word says that God specifically chose Bezalel and others with similar aptitudes to build the Tent of Meeting, the Ark of the Covenant, the priestly garments, and all of the other holy objects to be used in worship.
  • Then in Acts 6, we find Stephen. Now Stephen was spiritually in tune and walking closely with the Lord if anyone was! But the role he was commissioned for was not a glamorous, "spiritual" role. Rather, he was to lead a feeding program for the poor.
  • It is easy to look at Moses, Aaron and his sons, and the apostles' work, and recognize how they were clearly called by God and used by God, just as it might be similarly easy today to look to our pastors, or prayer and care ministry leads, and easily understand that they are called by the Lord and are doing Kingdom work. But God also chose Bezalel and Stephen to serve him too, even if those specific roles aren't glamorous or what we might at first glance think of as necessarily spiritual.
Second Point: God gives us the skills, know-how, expertise, and most importantly He fills us with the Holy Spirit so we can serve Him and His Kingdom.
  • Exodus 31:3-5 says: God gave Bezalel skill and know-how and expertise in every kind of craft; to create designs and work in gold, silver, and bronze; to cut and set gemstones; to carve wood.
  • God filled Bezalel with the Spirit of God
  • In Acts 6, we find Stephen described as a man whom everyone trusted, full of the Holy Spirit and faith and good sense, brimming with God's grace and energy, and performing unmistakable signs among the people. Later, when Stephen was brought before the high council on trumped up charges, it says that his face was like the face of an angel.
  • 1 Corinthians 12 is a beautiful picture of how God has assigned a wide variety of different giftings to each of us.
    • Verse 11 says, "All these gifts have a common origin, but are handed out one by one by the one Spirit of God. He decides who gets what, and when."
    • Verse 14 talks about how each of the gifts we have been given are compared to the various parts of our physical body, described as "different-but-similar parts arranged and functioning together."
    • Verse 18 says, "We see that God has carefully placed each part of the body right where he wanted it."
    • Verses 25-27 say, "The way God designed our bodies is a model for understanding our lives together as a church: every part dependent on every other part, the parts we mention and the parts we don't, the parts we see and the parts we don't. If one part hurts, every other part is involved in the hurt, and in the healing. If one part flourishes, every other part enters into the exuberance. You are Christ's body-that's who you are! You must never forget this. Only as you accept your part of that body does your 'part' mean anything."
  • Similarly, Romans 12:4-8 says: For just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others. We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us. If your gift is prophesying, then prophesy in accordance with yourt faith; if it is serving, then serve; if it is teaching, then teach; if it is to encourage, then give encouragement; if it is giving, then give generously; if it is to lead, do it diligently; if it is to show mercy, do it cheerfully.
    • IT is an enabler. We're still serving the Kingdom through what we do.
    • Remember verse 7 of Acts 6? " So the word of God spread. The number of disciples in Jerusalem increased rapidly, and a large number of priests became obedient to the faith."
Third Point: God did not equip Bezalel or Stephen to work alone. Rather, God had had helpers for each of them.
  • Exodus 31:6 tells us that Bezalel had Oholiab and many other skilled workers.
  • Acts 6:3-5 tells us that Stephen had Philip, Procorus, Nicanor, Timon, Parmenas, and Nicolas.
  • From the very beginning of creation, our God has always been about community, both within the Trinity and in the way He created us:
    • Genesis 1:26: Then God said, "Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness"
    • Genesis 2:18: The Lord God said, "It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him."
  • And if we go all the way the other end of the Bible where we get a glimpse of eternity, we see that our God will still be about community then:
    • Revelation 21:3: And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, "Look! God's dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God.
  • God designed us not only to be in community, but in community to be in accountability.
    • Proverbs 27:17: As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.
    • James 5:16: Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.
  • Be transparent! There is no benefit to putting up a wall or pretending that everything is OK. It will eat you up.
  • Satan can't have us, but he will try his best to take us out of the game, to make us ineffective for the Kingdom.
  • I think we can find that where God is at work, it is not about being a lone ranger.
  • Don't do it alone! Look for those people God has put in your path to serve alongside and be in meaningful community and accountability with. Maybe it is
    • Other church staff—your boss, peers, or people that report to you.
    • Integrating serve opportunities for lay members who have IT skills. From Jeremy Hoff yesterday, "There are guys pulling cables alongside me that can't believe they get to do it for a church."
    • Interaction with vendors, or if you are a vendor, in how you work with your clients.
  • I love Matthew 11:28-30, where Jesus calls out to each of us: "Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light."
    • If your burden is heavy, could it be that Jesus has help for you and you've been trying to hold on to too much on your own shoulders?
In Closing:
  • While some Kingdom assignments are certainly easy to see are holy and special, it is comforting for me to see that God chooses, fills, empowers, and calls people to serve Him in roles that we might sometimes be tempted to think of as less "spiritual." We can appreciate every gift and every calling.
Takeaways:
  1. God can and does call people into practical roles that serve the Kingdom.
  2. God gives us the skills, know-how, expertise, and He fills us with the Holy Spirit so we can serve Him and His Kingdom. Let the Holy Spirit work powerfully in us and through us as we do IT for the Kingdom!
  3. Don't neglect community in your Kingdom work—look for the others who God has placed around you and do His work together with the skills and abilities He has empowered you with.

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