I am very much enjoying the process of studying and teaching through the Book of Acts. It’s taken us several months to get to Chapter 7 which means we’ll be in the Book of Acts for a long time. Others have asked me for my list of “must teach” books in the Bible since I have a joy for expository narrative style of teaching. Sometimes, it’s easy for pastors to get too fancy with topics rather than allowing the Scriptures – and the wrestling with Scriptures – to speak for itself. At least, that/is the case for me if I’m not careful.
My Top 5: Genesis, Exodus, Acts, Romans, and one of the Gospels. Teaching through Genesis revived my personal spiritual journey and impacted – in a way that I can’t articulate – my leadership as a pastor.
Question: Whether you’re a pastor, educator, or layperson, is there a book in the Bible you’d love to teach through? Why?
For those that are interested, here’s the sermon from last Sunday on Acts 6:8-15 entitled, “The Rise of the Opposition to the Church.”
The Church is growing and flourishing but nevertheless experiencing growing pains. But even while the church is growing by thousands, we see the wisdom and compassion of the early apostles when they pause to listen, survey, and address the concerns of the Hellenist-Jewish community and widows in the early church.
Stephen is amongst the first group of leaders that are selected, equipped, and ordained as deacons to support and care for the widows. He, like others, are selected because they are full of Spirit and wisdom, and exemplify God’s power in their lives.
Acts 6:8-15 shows the emergence of Stephen’s leadership but also the beginning of the opposition against the Christian church. The church, previously, had “gained the favor of people around them.” Why the sudden change? Why did the opposition begin at this point in church history?
The opposition begins in my interpretation because of two main aspects in this context: 1] the church becomes a viable Threat to the Empire and to the Institution. People now begin to pay attention. 2] The opposition of the Evil One.
What I find so interesting and provocative is the people that choose to oppose Stephen and the early church [and in part, continues to be the case]. The opposition comes from religious folks and what’s the disinction between these religious folks that stone Stephen and let’s say…us.
The answer obviously is Jesus. But it’s not just the truth, theology or orthodoxy of Jesus. It’s also the life, way, and expression of Jesus which is why I think words and concepts like Grace, Mercy, Compassion, Kindness – shouldn’t just be words. They must always accompany our Belief in Jesus.
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