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Contemporary Comments
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"The First Church Leaders" |July 28, 2018 | Order Info

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Texts: Acts 6; Acts 7:48; Hebrews 5:11-14; Micah 6:1-16; Acts 7; Acts 8:4-25

After bankruptcy, Detroit is making a comeback. The “Good News Gang,” an inner city ministry, is helping rebuild Motown, and one man is the driving force. Pastor Matt Cripps of Metro Life Church and his team of bus drivers head to neighborhoods ridden with drugs, violence, and gangs to show kids a better life. They deliver children to the Good News Gang program. “We want to see their lives radically transformed by the power of the Gospel of Jesus,” Cripps shared. “We're knocking on their doors; praying with their families; inviting them to Good News Gang, and most importantly, we're establishing a relationship. The most important thing is that they see Jesus in us 'cause for most of them, we're the only Jesus they'll ever know.”

At first, Edward and Sharlita Martin took flack for taking part. “A lady down the street was like, ‘You let your kids get on the bus with that man? You know that’s a white man, right?’” Edward reported. “I said, ‘That don't have anything to do with it. He’s a Godly man.’ That's what I look at; I look at the Godliness. I don't care what color you are.”

Good News Gang averages over 200 children each weekend. While they enjoy the fun and games, the main focus is sharing the Gospel. “I just want everyone to know that we love Jesus—our motivation is to share the love of Jesus to the city of Detroit, a city that’s labeled as hopeless, and everyone has written off,” Cripps said. “But we know that God has not written these people off. Many of them come from homes that are filled with despair and hopelessness, but we know that through Jesus Christ there is hope.”1

It’s inspiring to see people dedicate their lives to a cause. This week’s lesson looks at some who gave their lives for Christ’s cause: the early church leaders. The original seven deacons were totally dedicated to the cause of Christ, and they expressed that dedication in their service to others. They not only took care of the physical needs of people, they helped fill their spiritual needs as well. They shared the good news that Jesus is the Messiah who fulfills the role of the Lamb of God, sacrificed for the sins of all.

Stephen was a theologian in his own right. We don’t often think of theologians today being persecuted for their teachings, but in the early church it was commonplace. As Stephen recounted Israel’s history to the Sanhedrin, and how Jesus fits perfectly into God’s covenant plan for Israel, he agitated those who had a different take on that history. It’s good to dedicate our time and talents for God’s cause. Some literally give their lives for that cause. The truth may set us free, but it will first make some of us uncomfortable.

~ cb

1. cbn.com
~ For Reflection

Connecting: As the facilitator, plug a few random phrases (suggested by group members) into a translator app. Find some obscure languages to translate the phrases into and see if anyone can guess what the language is. Discuss how a person can best become familiar with other languages and cultures.

Sharing: In Acts 6:1-7, what was the underlying issue regarding the treatment of the Hellenistic widows?
1. The Hebraic Jews practiced a subtle prejudice against the Hellenistic Jews.
2. The groups could not communicate their needs and expectations because of the language barrier.
3. God caused this to happen so that the 12 apostles would let go of their routine church duties and get on with the business of spreading the gospel.
4. Dealing with conflict on a mundane level now would help them deal with weightier issues later.
5. The church had grown too large for a handful of leaders to cover all aspects of church life, so they needed to learn how to delegate and release other members into their areas of ministry.
6. Other...

Applying: Are there any barriers in your community between people of different socio-economic classes? If yes, what specific things have you seen or experienced? Identify one practical thing that you and your friends can do to help build a bridge between these groups.

Valuing: How well do you relate to other cultures? If you determine that you could do better at this, identify some specific growth areas and give them to God in prayer. Look for opportunities to experience other cultures.