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The Word For Today

Are You a 'Stephen'? (4)

'...Stephen, a man full of faith...' Acts 6:5 NIV

Another quality that opened the door to leadership in the church for Stephen was: faith. Oswald Chambers said, 'Faith that is sure of God, is the only kind of faith there is.' When drought hit some farming communities, faith made a little girl take her umbrella to a prayer meeting called especially to pray for rain, while all the grown-ups wore sunglasses. Faith isn't just what you say, it's what you do. And it's not just about what you can do, but what you can trust God to do.
When it comes to faith you must: (1) Feed your faith. The Bible is faith food. '...Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God' (Romans 10:17 NKJV). Note the word 'hearing'. When you read God's Word out loud, it enters your spirit through both the eye-gate and ear-gate, doubling its impact. (2) Protect your faith. When terrorists attack, they have more in mind than just blowing up a few buildings and killing some people. Their goal is to strike fear into hearts and cause others to capitulate. Jesus warned Peter that his faith was about to come under attack (Luke 22:31-32). It's not just your finances or your health or your relationships that are under attack; it's your faith! (3) Use your faith. Faith is like money; it's the currency of God's Kingdom. You must have it in order to do business with God. When Christ encountered someone who demonstrated real faith, He was ecstatic. And He always responded to them. So you must 'exercise' your faith daily, until it becomes your 'reflex action' in any given situation.

SoulFood: 2 Sam 14:21 - 17:13, Luke 6:43 - 7:10, Ps 118:19-29, Pro 18:10-12

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Are You a 'Stephen'? (3)

'Choose...men...full of...wisdom.' Acts 6:3 NIV

Another leadership qualification Stephen possessed was: wisdom. 'Seek out...men ...full of...wisdom' (Acts 6:3 NKJV). Charles Spurgeon said, 'Wisdom is the right use of knowledge.' You can have a head full of knowledge, but if you don't have the wisdom to use it properly, you can't lead people.
Just as a stream rises no higher than its source, an organisation can rise no higher than its leadership. Dr John Maxwell refers to this as the 'Law of the Lid'. In his book The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership, he writes: 'Leadership ability is the lid that determines a person's level of effectiveness. The lower an individual's ability to lead, the lower the lid on his potential. The higher their leadership, the greater their effectiveness. To give you an example, if your leadership scores an eight, then your effectiveness can never be greater than a seven. If your leadership is only a four, then your effectiveness will be no higher than a three. Your leadership ability - for better or for worse - always determines your effectiveness and the potential impact of your organisation.' Paul told Timothy, '...Give attendance to reading...' (1 Timothy 4:13 NKJV). Someone who won't read is more to be pitied than someone who can't read. The difference in what you are right now and what you'll be 25 years from now will always be in direct proportion to your reading habits, the relationships you cultivate and the time you spend with God.
Obviously Stephen was the right choice. 'Then the word of God spread and the number of the disciples multiplied greatly in Jerusalem and a great many of the priests were obedient to the faith' (Acts 6:7 NKJV).

SoulFood: 2 Sam 12:1 - 14:20, Luke 6:27-42, Ps 118:10-18, Pro 18:7-9

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Are You a 'Stephen'? (2)

'Choose...men...full of the Spirit.' Acts 6:3 NIV

Stephen was also chosen for leadership in the New Testament church because he was 'full of...the Holy Spirit' (Acts 6:5 NIV). Why is that important? Because Jesus said to His disciples: '...You shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem (your home base), and in all Judea (those within driving distance) and Samaria (places where you won't necessarily be welcomed) and to the end of the earth' (Acts 1:8 NKJV). Paul writes, '...Be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit...' (Ephesians 5:18 KJV).
The story is told of a pastor who was seen drinking a glass of wine at dinner. Seizing on Paul's words, 'Be not drunk with wine,' the deacon board called for his immediate resignation. Whereupon the pastor responded, 'Then let's all resign. You say I failed the first half of the commandment, "Be not drunk with wine." But you've all failed the second half, "Be filled with the Spirit".' Understand this: you need to be continually filled with God's Spirit. After all, you're not still running your car on the first tank of petrol you put in it, are you? There was once an advert for Brylcreem hair gel for men that said, 'A little dab'll do ya!' That doesn't work when it comes to leadership in God's Kingdom! You're either being led by the Holy Spirit - or your own spirit.
'But I have talent,' you say. Yes, and God will use it. But when it comes to building what He wants built, it's, 'Not by might, nor by power, but by My Spirit, says the Lord' (Zechariah 4:6 NKJV).

SoulFood: 2 Sam 7:18 - 11:27, Luke 6:17-26, Ps 118:1-9, Pro 18:4-6

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