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  • Jul 15 / 2018
  • Comments Off on Your Countenance is Your Living Testimony (Acts 6:1-15)
Acts: The Book of Mission, Pastor Heo, Sermons

Your Countenance is Your Living Testimony (Acts 6:1-15)

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Your Countenance is your Living Testimony

Acts 6:1-15 (Pastor Heo)

6:1 In those days when the number of disciples was increasing, the Grecian Jews among them complained against the Hebraic Jews because their widows were being overlooked in the daily distribution of food. 2 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. 3 Brothers, 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 4 and will give our attention to prayer and the ministry of the word.” 5 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. 6 They presented these men to the apostles, who prayed and laid their hands on them. 7 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.

8 Now Stephen, a man full of God’s grace and power, did great wonders and miraculous signs among the people. 9 Opposition arose, however, from members of the Synagogue of the Freedmen (as it was called)–Jews of Cyrene and Alexandria as well as the provinces of Cilicia and Asia. These men began to argue with Stephen, 10 but they could not stand up against his wisdom or the Spirit by whom he spoke. 11 Then they secretly persuaded some men to say, “We have heard Stephen speak words of blasphemy against Moses and against God.” 12 So they stirred up the people and the elders and the teachers of the law. They seized Stephen and brought him before the Sanhedrin. 13 They produced false witnesses, who testified, “This fellow never stops speaking against this holy place and against the law. 14 For we have heard him say that this Jesus of Nazareth will destroy this place and change the customs Moses handed down to us.” 15 All who were sitting in the Sanhedrin looked intently at Stephen, and they saw that his face was like the face of an angel.


In Greek, angel = “angelos” = messenger

Have you ever seen the face of an angel?

If you become a full messenger of God, your face will be like the face of an angel.

Two parts

  1. v. 1-7 Selection of 7 men
  2. v. 8-15 Arrest of Stephen before the Sanhedrin

When we read of the early church, the fellowship, breaking of bread, ministry, etc, we think they were perfect. But NO. The early church had problems just as we do today. Know that there is no perfect church. No church has ever been, nor will be perfect until Christ returns.

Today, some Christians are wandering from church to church looking for a “perfect” church. If a church were “perfect” – then it should not accept you and me as members in order to remain “perfect.” But if a church did not accept imperfect members, it would not be a biblical church.

A church does not have to be “perfect” to be a powerful witness for Christ.

Early church grew 120 -> 3,000 -> 5,000 – more and more added each day. “So the Word of God spread and ” (v. 7)

“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.”

This growth created logistical problems that would have consumed all the apostles’ time. So, in order to take care of this, they commissioned 7 men who would spend their whole lives to take care of this (deacons of the early church). In the Korean Bible, Philip is mentioned as an evangelist and one of the 7 deacons.

v. 1

“In those days when the number of disciples was increasing, the Grecian Jews among them complained against the Hebraic Jews because their widows were being overlooked in the daily distribution of food.”

At that time, almost all the early church members were Jews. There were two kinds:

  1. Hebraic Jews = Hebrew speaking (native, local) Jews (spoke Aramaic – the Semitic language)
  2. Grecian Jews = Spoke Greek, couldn’t speak Aramaic because they lived outside Israel

At that time, there was a long tradition of care for the poor in the synagogue – and the early church continued this practice. The Greek speaking Jews complained that their widows were being discriminated against.

At that time, there were many MORE widows than usual because many Jews from Greek-speaking nations had returned home to be buried with their ancestors. But, all their money was gone – because property was passed on from father to son. So widows often needed help. They had no property of their own.

In my parents’ generation, in Korea, they said, “Whole life depends on man – father in childhood, husband in marriage, son in old age.” But today is not exactly like that. But 2,000 years ago in that society, widows were totally dependent on others. But discrimination occurred because of language and class barriers.

v. 2-7

“6:2 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. 3 Brothers, 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 4 and will give our attention to prayer and the ministry of the word.” 5 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. 6 They presented these men to the apostles, who prayed and laid their hands on them. 7 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.”

So the 12 apostles called a meeting of the church and suggested the selection of 7 delegates. They chose 7 workers for this ministry of distribution and management. But there is no record about HOW they did it – but they solved this issue and the church grew, became more mature, and they experienced revival once more (growth in quality and quantity).

From this story, we can apply 3 lessons to our daily lives.

#1 Grow from problems

There is no “perfect” church – there is no “perfect” Christian

Jesus: “In this world, you will have troubles of many kinds, but take heart, for I have overcome the world.” (Matthew?)

In this earth, we live with problems – so many. But what is important is our ATTITUDE when confronting problems.

  • If we receive problems negatively, then that problem will be negative to us.
  • If we receive problems positively, then it will be positive for us and help us to grow and mature.

Met a problem? “Good.” Grow.

From Exodus, on the way to the land of promise, Moses’ father-in-law was a Gentile priest named Jethro. He’d heard of all the news that God had done for Moses and the people of Israel – so he visited them. He saw Moses doing all things alone for all the people – from early morning until evening.

Jethro said, “What are you doing? Why are you alone as judge? Why all the people come to you from early morning to evening? You will be burned out soon. You cannot handle this job alone. Choose capable men who fear God and do not like dishonest gain, to delegate this job to, and appoint them as leaders over 1000s, 100s, 50s, and 10s.”

Yes, Moses had a big problem, but Moses received that problem with an open mind and solved it positively – so the nation grew in maturity and unity.

  • If we receive problems negatively, those problems will be negative to us.
  • If we receive problems positively, those problems will be positive to us.
  1. In school, a student can grow and learn through many problems.
  2. Also a church, or a Christian can grow through many problems.

Met a problem? “Good.” Grow.

#2 Be clear in your priorities

In your life, in your home, in church, what is your priority?

We must be careful not to miss our priority #1 because of secondary jobs.

Both spiritual and physical needs are important and must be met. But, church’s priority #1 is spiritual needs. Jesus, “Man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.”

Administrative burdens (like the distribution of food for widows) is very important, but is NOT the #1 priority for the apostles.

v. 4

“[We] will give our attention to prayer and the ministry of the word.”

In the local church, pastors are called to focus on the preaching of the Word. “I cannot do all things in AICF. I need your hands to help me. Please pray for me to pray for you. We need to pray for each other.”

So, in this story we must be very clear in our priorities – in ALL our jobs and lives.

#3 Every believer can be a minister

  • Are you a member of AICF?
  • Are you a believer in Christ?
  • Then, are you a minister of Christ in this church?

God wants every member to be a believer, and every believer to be a minister.

Requirements:

  • Believer: Believe in Christ as Savior and Lord
  • Minister: (3 things)
    1. Good reputation (integrity, faithfulness, obedience)
    2. Full of the Holy Spirit (no matter what we are doing in the local church, the guidance of the HS is essential – a Spirit-led life, focusing on Christ)
    3. Full of wisdom (“The fear of God is the foundation of wisdom” – Wisdom in Greek = “sophias” – demonstrating
      • the ability to apply God’s truth appropriately to life situations
      • the ability to get to the best ends through the best means
      • ability to put our knowledge into practice for the best outcome)

To be a minister of the local church:

  1. Good reputation
  2. Full of the HS
  3. Full of wisdom

Here are the 7 who were chosen:

v. 5

“5This 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.”

  1. Stephen
  2. Philip
  3. Procorus
  4. Nicanor
  5. Timon
  6. Parmenas
  7. Nicolas

From these 7, we can learn at least 2 things.

  1. ALL 7 of their names are Greek (they are Grecian Jews) – this would lay a good foundation for the future spread of the gospel to the Greek world
  2. Stephen and Philip’s names are put first because their ministries will be explained later (Stephen in chp 7 – the longest chapter in this book, Philip in chp 8) – even though they were chosen as ministers inside the local church, outside they were also very powerful evangelists.

Remember, no matter what ministry you’re chosen to do inside the church, you are also an evangelist outside the church.

In this record, we can see, there is NO record of what they did INSIDE the church – there is only the record of what they did OUTSIDE the church.

At that time, the Word of God spread like ripples on a pond, wider and farther over time. Like this, the Word of God spreads today. So, you do not have to change the world single-handedly. It is enough to be a part of this wave, touching the next person, until ALL have felt this wave. How important is your part.

Next, we see Stephen’s arrest.

v. 8-15

“6:8 Now Stephen, a man full of God’s grace and power, did great wonders and miraculous signs among the people. 9 Opposition arose, however, from members of the Synagogue of the Freedmen (as it was called)–Jews of Cyrene and Alexandria as well as the provinces of Cilicia and Asia. These men began to argue with Stephen, 10 but they could not stand up against his wisdom or the Spirit by whom he spoke. 11 Then they secretly persuaded some men to say, “We have heard Stephen speak words of blasphemy against Moses and against God.” 12 So they stirred up the people and the elders and the teachers of the law. They seized Stephen and brought him before the Sanhedrin. 13 They produced false witnesses, who testified, “This fellow never stops speaking against this holy place and against the law. 14 For we have heard him say that this Jesus of Nazareth will destroy this place and change the customs Moses handed down to us.” 15 All who were sitting in the Sanhedrin looked intently at Stephen, and they saw that his face was like the face of an angel.”

Stephen is one of the 7 deacons of the early church. He is said to be “full of” 5 qualities:

  1. Holy Spirit
  2. wisdom
  3. faith
  4. grace
  5. power

Stephen provides an ideal model for us to develop in our lives and ministry. It is not Peter (apostle) but Stephen for today’s Christian to develop in our character and ministry.

He was also a skilled debater, minister, and preacher. He is a record holder.

  • In church history, since the resurrection of Christ, Stephen is the first non-apostle to whom miracles are ascribed.
  • The first non-apostle who was arrested and tried before the Sanhedrin.
  • The first non-apostle whose sermon is recorded in the Bible (the longest in the NT).
  • The first martyr in church history.

They could not match Stephen’s wisdom and power – so their only choice was to destroy him. The Sanhedrin’s treatment of him parallels the way they treated Jesus.

  1. Hired false witnesses
  2. Stirred up the people saying he was attacking Moses, the Law, the temple
  3. Executed Stephen

As he stood before the Sanhedrin, his face glowed like the face of an angel. In Exodus, when Moses talked to God on Mt. Sinai, his face shone. Also, Jesus’ face shone at the Transfiguration. And here, Stephen’s face shone.

Very important lesson:

We face this lost world (and others) with our face. Our face is a living testimony – our countenance – should exude rightness and warmth. Our face should reflect unearthly peace and joy that comes from knowing Jesus Christ. Are you a walking advertisement for Christ? Can others look at your face and see something different? Something attractive?

This is a big challenge from Stephen.

  • God bless our face.
  • God bless our countenance – because we can be witnesses to the lost world through our word, breathing, character, face, and faith.

We can be strong witnesses to the lost world through our countenance. Shining?

“My face is evangelizing. My countenance is evangelizing.”

Let’s pray.

  • Jul 03 / 2016
  • Comments Off on Haggai: Give Careful Thought to Your Ways (1:1-15, 2:7-9)
It's All About Jesus, Pastor Heo, Sermons

Haggai: Give Careful Thought to Your Ways (1:1-15, 2:7-9)

07.03.2016

07.03.2016-PHeo

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  • Aug 24 / 2014
  • Comments Off on The Son’s Return (Luke 15:11-24)
Guest Speaker, Sermons

The Son’s Return (Luke 15:11-24)

08.24.2014

08.24.2014-MissionarySeo

Sermon Notes

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The Son Returns

Luke 15:11-24 (Missionary Seo)

The Parable of the Lost Son

11 Jesus continued: “There was a man who had two sons. 12 The younger one said to his father, ‘Father, give me my share of the estate.’ So he divided his property between them. 13 “Not long after that, the younger son got together all he had, set off for a distant country and there squandered his wealth in wild living. 14 After he had spent everything, there was a severe famine in that whole country, and he began to be in need. 15 So he went and hired himself out to a citizen of that country, who sent him to his fields to feed pigs. 16 He longed to fill his stomach with the pods that the pigs were eating, but no one gave him anything. 17 “When he came to his senses, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired men have food to spare, and here I am starving to death! 18 I will set out and go back to my father and say to him: Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. 19 I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me like one of your hired men.’ 20 So he got up and went to his father. “But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him. 21 “The son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son. ‘ 22 “But the father said to his servants, ‘Quick! Bring the best robe and put it on him. Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. 23 Bring the fattened calf and kill it. Let’s have a feast and celebrate. 24 For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’ So they began to celebrate.


Last year, we went to Mongolia in August. We got a call from my university and they said, “We have no more time. Come to China quickly, pack everything, and go back to your home country quickly.”

We contacted the head of Paul Mission and decided not to go back to China. After our retreat, we came back to Korea – about 2 months. Then we went to the US for a sabbatical year. We always prayed “Why were we expelled from China?”

My daughter Haneul is asking “We want to go back home.” We ask, “Where is your home?” She said, “China.” We came back to Korea last month and are very uncomfortable staying here because this is not our home.

This concept forms the basis for this sermon.

  1. Where is your home?
  2. Who is your father?

<< See three pictures: Joseon, …, Rembrant >>

Today’s passage goes like this:

One younger son asked his father: “Give me my inheritance.” The father divided the estate, the son went away with all his money and possessions to a foreign land – where he WASTED it.

At that time, a severe famine came, and he was starving. He was hired to feed pigs, and here at his lowest point, he realized “Hey, my father’s hired men have food to eat!”

So, he went back home with this idea, “I’ve sinned against God and against my father and I’m no longer worthy to be called his son.”

But when he was still a long way off, the father saw him coming and ran to meet him and kiss him. The son confessed his poverty of spirit to his father, and the father brushed it aside and said, “Bring the best robe and my ring and the fattened calf! Let’s celebrate my son’s return!”

The story goes like this:

First Son

“Give me my portion” – at this time I think of my younger daughter. From a few months ago, she always said, “No!” and “Mine!” This is life with a two-year-old 🙂 “That’s mine! Give me now!”

At this time, in the 21st century, if we go to our own fathers and say like this, then how do our fathers think? Rude! In the Jewish society at this time, was this rude or not? In that time, if that happened, it meant “Father, I consider you DEAD. Please die!” So, this younger one is VERY rude.

In the spiritual concept of this, the portion the second son has taken is NOT actually his. This is his father’s portion. If the father divides his portion before he dies, still the estate belongs to the father. Only after death, the estate will transfer ownership to the sons.

We, as Christians, always say, “Everything comes from our Father God.” We say this about materials, time, relationships. Everything is from God. But, how about you?

When I prepared this sermon, I was thinking, “Of course, everything is from God, so everything is yours!” But when I spend my hard-earned money on something, I think, “Oh, no. That now belongs to me.” It’s very hard for me to share something I buy.

In this story, let’s not only consider the son who left, but WHY he left.

Why would he leave his father’s love? Have you ever experienced this leaving?

Let me share my story:

I was in China for 3.5 years. At that time, I was really happy because I saw several students lives changed and many people accepted Jesus Christ as their Savior. BUT, then they accept him again, and again. Up to 5 times! Something is wrong here. Why do they do 5 times what is accomplished in 1 time? It’s because they do not doubt who Jesus is.

Some other students accept Christ and devote themselves to him and want to become missionaries too. “Wow! God is working and alive in this situation!” At that time, this was the situation in my life. So, I prepared for another journey that God prepared.

Second Son

The second son said “bring all the things” and he packed all his bags and went to another country.

Actually, he left already BEFORE he was leaving.

Spiritually and emotionally, he was GONE before his body left his father’s estate.

The foreign country in this story = this life.
He wastes money on bars, nightlife, possessions. He thinks, “Great! My money! I’ll do whatever I want with it!”

He loved the world (yes, he “loved” his father too… but the world MORE).
He set his priorities:

  1. The world
  2. His father’s love

What are your priorities? Which is #1?

  1. God, Family, Work?
  2. Church, God, Work, Money, Family?

If we love money, we cannot serve God. “A man cannot serve two Masters.” (Jesus)

He loved the world more than his father at that time.

There is a similar parable in the book of Luke 18:18-30 – the Parable of the Rich Official:

“One day, the rich young ruler came to Jesus and said, ‘How can I get eternal life?’ Jesus said, ‘You know the Law and the Prophets, keep all the commandments and you’ll get eternal life.’ The rich young ruler said, ‘From childhood I’ve done this.’ So Jesus said, ‘Then do this one more thing: Sell all you have and give to the poor.’ The man walked away sad.”

His priorities were also on Money first, and Eternal Life secondly.

#3: Let’s see the rest of this parable.

The second son said, “Father, I’ve sinned against you and against God. I’m no longer worthy to be called you son.” This was repeated twice in the parable. Was this important? No – the son thought that with the third part (”I’m no longer worthy to be called your son”) he just wanted to please his father.

As a father, I know that the relationship between a father and son CANNOT be broken easily.

The second son thinks, “I’ll go to be a slave.”

The father doesn’t even listen to what his son says. He accepts him back into his arms readily.

The son didn’t truly understand his father.
“If I do this, father will be pleased. If I buy this, or have a good body, father will be pleased.” No. Your Father is pleased JUST WITH YOU. You need to nothing but be you, just to exist, your Father is pleased with you. Just to be in his presence, and he’ll be pleased. Let us not be confused any longer.

In conclusion, I think we should go back to our place. Our rightful place is in our Father’s arms.

“From a LONG distance away, he recognized him and RAN to meet him.” If we go back to our Father, even taking a single step, the Father will see and RUN to meet us.

Before closing, here’s a final story:

A couple days ago, a graduate student came to my house and has spent two days with us. I saw two lives: a graduate student of Yonsei, and a graduate student of another school. One had a hard time, the other, Hyansun-In, had parents who had a high rank in the Communist Party – doctors in the hospital. Usually, with that kind of family background, the student hates or doesn’t accept Christianity, but I was very happy that he accepted Christ.
During that time, there was a big life event: he went to Hanyang university as an exchange student. Every class, the professor began with a prayer. During that single semester, she accepted Christ as she was in the church doing as other members were doing.

Now, she remembers everything. At that time, she came to Jeonju and we went to Hanok village, but we forgot everything. We went back again and she remembered everything.

In her life, that was very precious. At that time, and also this time, I also have some kind of problem with priorities.

We are staying here for just one month and preparing things. My wife will go to China for 5 days from Monday. Also, my student came to town. I have much to do, and some burden – but spending time with that student was happy.

Questions:


  1. What’s your priority? Money or God?
  2. Do you still think you can serve both?
  3. Then how can we spend our money and time and relationships (in a godly manner)?

Let’s pray.

So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God. Listen