Chiasm in Acts 6:1-7

Others have probably noticed this, but as I was working on Acts 6:1-7 last week, this chiasm jumped out at me:

A  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.

B  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.

C  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

D  and will give our attention to prayer and the ministry of the word.”

C1 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. 

B1  They presented these men to the apostles, who prayed and laid their hands on them.

A1  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.

Analysis:

A  Church is growing so rapidly that it experiences growing pains

B  Twelve call together all the disciples (church members) to address a pressing need

Twelve ask the disciples to choose seven Spirit-filled and wise men

So that the Twelve can give their full attention to prayer and the ministry of the Word

C1 The disciples choose seven Spirit-filled and wise men

B1 The disciples present these seven men to the apostles, who called them together, for their approval and blessing

A1 Church continues to grow and flourish

A chiasm, among other things, helps the reader to discern (consciously or subconsciously) the center of a given passage, in this case the apostolic task of prayer and the ministry of the word (D), and matters relating to or leading back to that center, in this case, the growth of Christ’s church through the agency of Spirit-filled men, the Twelve and the Seven.

Takeaway? Prayer and the ministry of the word lie at the heart of the life and ministry of the apostolic church. Pastors who believe “one holy catholic and apostolic church” (Nicene Creed) have a duty, then, to give considerable amount of time to both of these. In our rushed, busy culture, it may be necessary for us pastors remind ourselves that we have permission to spend a lot of time praying and preparing sermons. Permission, because it is our duty and holy calling.

Have you ever asked your minister whether he makes enough time, both to pray and to prepare sermons? It may lead to serious reflection on his part if he’s not doing so, or some much-needed affirmation if he is doing so, and in every case–as odd as it sounds–permission to do so.

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Published in: on May 25, 2015 at 4:31 pm  Leave a Comment  
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60th Anniversary Meditation & Prayer

I was requested to publish this from our 60th Anniversary Celebration. SOLI DEO GLORIA!

Brothers and sisters in Christ, honourable guests, neighbours, friends,

I was asked to focus on the last decade of Cloverdale Canadian Reformed Church, the better part of which I’ve been privileged to serve here. It’s impossible to cover everything, so I will just highlight a few of the great things God has done for us that make us so happy.

Psalm 126 talks about how God’s people at that time “were like those who dreamed.” God has done great things for us in Christ, and when that happens, all sorts of other things happen that only seem possible in a dream. That has been true for us, by God’s grace, over the past decade. I won’t get into all the delightful exegetical details of this beautiful Bible passage. That’s for another time. For the purposes of tonight’s celebration, I just want to highlight a few of our own dreams as a church.

One of our biggest dreams as a church, a dream that is coming true every day for us, is the mission work God has allowed us to do over the past decade. In 2004, setting up theological training in our overseas mission field was just a dream. Today it is a reality. Many church leaders are being trained and churches planted, and through them thousands of others are being reached with the gospel and provided with rich and sound biblical teaching. Many souls are coming to Christ; many others are coming to greater maturity in Christ.

The dream of being a light and witness of Christ, the King of kings and Lord of lords, has always been alive and well in this church. Ever since the first decade of our existence. I’ll share with you just one way I know that is a fact: the red-roofed church donation box in the foyer. If you haven’t seen it yet, make sure you take a look at it later. It’s on a table in the foyer, right by the front entrance.

'The red-roofed church,' one of the first donation boxes, prominently displaying in Dutch and English:  "Preach the gospel to every creature" (Mark 16:15). God's call to mission and evangelism remains a high priority 60 years later.

‘The red-roofed church,’ one of the first donation boxes, prominently displaying in Dutch and English: “Preach the gospel to every creature” (Mark 16:15). God’s call to mission and evangelism remains a high priority 60 years later.

So what’s so special about this red-roofed church? Well, displayed prominently with white letters on the red roof, both in Dutch and in English is this text from Mark 16:15:  “Preach the gospel to every creature!” More about that on Sunday afternoon.

This model-scale church building is where members placed their tithes in the early years of this church. I would imagine that a big part of the dream at that time was to gather enough money to build a church.

It’s obvious that even as they were saving up for their own house of worship, though, those early church members and their leaders—some of whom are represented here tonight, either in person or by their offspring—they saw the importance of bringing the good news of Jesus Christ into the world. Their dream was to be a light for Christ in the world. And that dream hasn’t died. It is still alive and well, and we desire to continue carrying the torch that ignited that dream.

We desire to be used by God to make that dream a reality. God has his ways of making seemingly impossible dreams come true, and we plan to hold on to that dream by God’s grace and in obedience to his call.

Just think about this: The church of Jesus Christ is the most ethnically diverse body of people anywhere in the world. I have it on reliable authority that the city of Surrey, which had Cloverdale as its first town centre, is one of the most ethnically and socially diverse cities in Canada. This is also reflected, to a degree, among us.

Back in the first decade, the church membership list consisted mostly of Dutch-European names, most of them either beginning with Van or Vander, or ending with Veld or Hof or Horst—names and families that are still well-known and deeply cherished among us.

Six decades later, however, our church family mosaic has become even richer and more diverse. Family names like Li and Wu, Chang and Zhang and Dong, Jubenvill and Diack, Lazzara and Hansen, Shei and Burongo and Kalombo have become just as familiar and dear to us. Our church family now has a beautiful blend of many different nationalities.

Our hope and prayer is that our ethnic diversity will continue to grow richer as the years pass, and as God continues to bring all the nations of the earth to Jesus. We were like those who dreamed. Let’s stay that way. Let’s continue to hold God’s Word high, and be obedient to his call, as a church in the world, as a church that belongs to the everlasting kingdom of our Lord Jesus Christ.

PRAYER

Gracious Father, for the joy of being your people,for a gracious sense of your favour in the past, your goodness in the present, and your promises for the future, we give thanks to you, through the Spirit of our Lord Jesus Christ. Thank you, O Father, that so often in this building, and whenever and wherever this your congregation has gathered over the past 60 years, you have been present with us, and spoken your word to us through the reading and the preaching of the gospel.

That among us the waters of baptism have continued to flow—for the forgiveness of our sins in the blood of Jesus, and for a rich welcome into your eternal kingdom.

That among us the bread of life, which is Jesus Christ, has continued to nourish our bodies and souls for eternal life.

We pray, as you are the God who knows our past, and who sees us now, and has planned our future, that as you lead us into another decade of church life, we may have a sense that our past is bathed in your pardoning grace, that our present is held by your strong hand, and that our glorious future in Jesus Christ and his eternal kingdom has been once and for all secured.

For the many gifts that you have distributed among us, many of which have been on beautiful display this evening, we give you thanks.

For the fellowship and love of Jesus Christ and his Spirit that binds us together,as brothers and sisters, as families,as a variety of people brought together as one in Christ, we give you thanks.

For the friendship and love of those who have joined and greeted us tonight,
as neighbours, as friends, as past members and leaders among us, as charter members, we give you thanks.

Give us, both as people and as a church, wills that bow happily to you, affections that rise in love towards you, and lives that more and more please you.

Bless this church. And through us be pleased to bless this city, this province, this land, this world.

All for Jesus, for the sake his kingdom, for your glory, through your mighty Spirit.

To you, O God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, be all glory, as it was in the beginning, is now, and forever shall be, world without end.

AMEN.

Puny preacher-man

I can’t let Reformation Day 495 pass without a citation from my beloved father, brother, and fellow pastor, John Calvin (1509-1564). What he says here is a great encouragement to preachers who feel unequal to the task, and is humbling to preachers who are up on themselves.

For by this means [God] first declares his regard for us when from among men he takes some to serve as his ambassadors in the world [cf. 2 Cor 5:20], to be interpreters of his secret will and, in short, to represent his person. And by this evidence he proves it to be no idle speaking that he often calls us temples [1 Cor 3:16-17; 6:19; 2 Cor 6:16], since from the lips of men, as from the sanctuary, he gives his answers to men.

Again, this is the best and most useful exercise in humility, when he accustoms us to obey his Word, even though it be preached through men like us and sometimes even by those of lower worth than we. If he spoke from heaven, it would not be surprising if his sacred oracles were to be reverently received without delay by the ears and minds of all. For who would not dread the presence of his power? Who would not be stricken down at the sight of such great majesty? Who would not be confounded at such boundless splendour? But when a puny man risen from the dust speaks in God’s name, at this point we best evidence our piety and obedience toward God if we show ourselves teachable toward his minister, although he excels us in nothing. It was for this reason, then, that he hid the treasure of his heavenly wisdom in weak and earthen vessels [2 Cor 4:7] in order to prove more surely how much we should esteem it.

Institutes of the Christian Religion, 4.3.1 (Italics and emphasis mine)

Pastors of clay

 

How are your pastor and his loved ones doing? A couple pastors weigh in.

Why do pastors get depressed? | Practical Shepherding.

Published in: on July 26, 2011 at 11:49 am  Leave a Comment  
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