5 June 2023

Choose men full of the Spirit: Is your glass overflowing?

Territorial Envoy Roger Coates

Territorial Envoy Roger Coates reminds us to live out our discipleship in the best possible way.

Key text

Are you a glass half-full or glass half-empty person? Or perhaps I should ask: are you like a glass full to overflowing?

In Acts, Luke outlines the success of the early Church, starting with the 12 apostles and then joined by women and Jesus’ mother and brothers. Before Pentecost, the group numbers about 120 (see Acts 1:14 and 15). At Pentecost, 3,000 believers are added and then ‘the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved’ (Acts 2:47). What a great start! The disciples had clearly taken on board Jesus’ commission to ‘go and make disciples of all nations’ (Matthew 28:19). However, there were challenges with this rapid growth. It meant some choices needed to be made in order that the number of followers of Jesus continued to grow.

Pause and reflect

  • Consider the choices you have made to connect with God’s mission.
  • How are you growing the Kingdom of God?

I wonder how you make decisions. If you’re making a significant purchase, are you someone who spends considerable time researching everything, looking at reviews, comparing similar products before coming to a conclusion and, only then, making an informed decision? Or are you an impulsive person who goes with the first thing they see?

The early Church needed to not only remember Jesus’ teaching but also organise if it was to grow outside Jerusalem as the Great Commission commanded.

Luke gives us insight into a specific challenge. The widows of Hellenistic Jews who had become disciples were being overlooked in the daily distribution of food, so they complained against the Hebraic Jews. With the Church just getting off the ground, the focus was still in Jerusalem with Jews. If the early Church couldn’t include different kinds of Jews, namely Greek-speaking, how was it ever going to live out the Great Commission?

Photo shows a glass being filled with water.

Acts 6:6

They presented these men to the apostles, who prayed and laid their hands on them.

Read Acts 6

If the Church was not together while still in Jerusalem, how was it ever going to cross over ethnic and cultural borders and reach entirely different people groups?

The apostles looked for an internal solution to their problem. They seemed very clear on their role, and it wasn’t to be dealing with the distribution of the daily requirements. They were called to focus on preaching and prayer. However, they needed godly people to look after and care for the Church as it grew.

Pause and reflect

  • Take a moment to think about a successful team in the world of sport, business or the Church.
  • Who would you choose to join it?
  • What is it that makes that team successful?

Jesus started with a team of 12 disciples. In Acts 6, we read that it became clear that they needed more people to help them, particularly with the immediate problem of daily distribution to those in need.

They resolved to select seven men. It wasn’t enough to choose any seven men; they needed to have captured the vision and mission of the Church and be filled with the Spirit. This was about teamwork, about sharing the load and maintaining the momentum of the growing Church.

They resolved to select seven men. It wasn’t enough to choose any seven men; they needed to have captured the vision and mission of the Church and be filled with the Spirit. This was about teamwork, about sharing the load and maintaining the momentum of the growing Church.

Pause and reflect

  • We sometimes sing: ‘Spirit of the living God,/ Fall afresh on me./ Break me, melt me, mould me, fill me’ (SASB 312). What does it mean to be filled with the Spirit?
  • What did it mean for these men of the early Church?
  • What does ‘being filled with Spirit and wisdom’ mean for us?
  • How might the Holy Spirit’s infilling impact our daily lives?

For the chosen seven men, being filled with the Spirit involved practically caring for members of the Church, using their gifts and passions and, in doing so, bringing glory to God in the Church and in the world. This happens because they first give themselves totally to God for him to use.

The same can be said for us today: on our own we can achieve little, yet, with God, our willingness to be useful can achieve much in building his Kingdom.

The solution to the problem allowed the apostles to concentrate on prayer and preaching. The appointed seven embraced their role – ‘to wait on tables’ (v2) – and ensured fair treatment for all those needing food. The outcome? ‘The word of God spread. The number of disciples in Jerusalem increased rapidly, and a large number of priests became obedient to the faith’ (v7).

Love God, Love Others is our Salvation Army strapline. It comes straight from the teaching we find here in Luke. It can be a big ask! We need to be in step with God – not wanting things for ourselves but wanting God’s heart for the world in which we live today. How does being empty of self and full of the Holy Spirit impact how we live?

So, back to the question we started with. Is your glass half-full or half-empty? Or, is your glass full to overflowing, so much so that it spills out the love of God and the power of his transforming grace, splashing over the lives of those you meet?

Pause and reflect

  • What is God calling us to be in the Church today?
  • How can we live out our discipleship full of the Holy Spirit?

Bible study by

Photo of Roger Coates.

Territorial Envoy Roger Coates

Corps Leader, Reading Lower Earley

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