The Spirit of Stephen
Brooklyn Tabernacle is going through The Book of Acts right now, and not too far off of where our church ( http://WestchesterChapel.org ) is. As much as I travel, I've seen again and again how God leads in similar ways across the land. Here are notes from the service:
(Quotes are paraphrases of Pastor Jim Cymbala): "If the toilet needs to be cleaned, someone should clean it."
He pointed out those called to service have to be filled with the Holy Spirit in order to distribute food. Ergo not all Christians are filled with/controlled by the Holy Spirit. Nothing was menial to them. They made a big production of handing out food. Stephen was FULL of faith as well as the Holy Spirit. the word of God spread "because everyone was doing what they were supposed to be doing." They didn't teach wisdom: they found people with the gift of wisdom. Don't be discouraged because not everyone follows you: they crucified Jesus. Stephen was assigned to hand out food and keep some women from arguing, but he performed God's acts, preached the longest recorded sermon to the religious leaders and was stoned to death for it. As they were attacking him, he was so calm and full of the Holy Spirit that he had the face of an angel. He was like his master in asking the Lord not to hold their sins against them. If you're faithful in small things, He will promote you to big things.
There's the faith that receives Christ & the Holy Spirit lives in them. But some Christians are luke warm. To be filled and controlled by the Holy Spirit is about surrender. God takes possession of that which is yielded to Him.
There is an abiding in the Holy Spirit so that you can be used by the Lord. Stay connected: not like people who do a great work one day, but curse someone out the next. Pastor Cymbala's greatest desire is to walk with God, to stay connected. Is the church in better shape now than in the first century because our leaders have all the credentials? Education is great, but all of us can be led by the Spirit as the first Christians were.