Today’s devotion is based on Acts 6:1-7, where we read of a conflict within the early Christian Church.
“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.”
I believe it is helpful that stories like this one have been included in the Bible. We would like to believe that the first church had an ideal congregation, comprised solely of consecrated, pious, people. But it wasn’t just as any Christian church today isn’t. For even, the most vibrant congregation is made up of sinful people. As much as we might try every so often, the old sinful self shows itself. There were people then, just as there are today that complain and criticize when things don’t go their way. What is important is how the early Christian Church handled the conflict. That is the lesson for us today. We like them are to listen, love, forgive and act to bring the members together. It worked then and will work today because that is living in the Lord.
Please pray with me the prayer for today. Heavenly Father, creator, and sustainer of all things, seen and unseen, thank you for sending the Holy Spirit to our congregations. You know how we by our very nature act. You know how much the Holy Spirit is needed to keep the peace, for, without the guidance of the Holy Spirit, we cannot be the congregation you want us to be before those in the world. All praise and glory to you. In Jesus’ name, I pray. Amen.