Weekly Bible Devotional
“Inflation & the Cycle of Blessings: The Currency of Time and Place”
Scripture for This Sunday: Acts 6:1-7
Now during those days, when the disciples were increasing in number, the Hellenists complained against the Hebrews because their widows were being neglected in the daily distribution of food. 2 And the twelve called together the whole community of the disciples and said, “It is not right that we should neglect the word of God in order to wait on tables.3 Therefore, friends, select from among yourselves seven men of good standing, full of the Spirit and of wisdom, whom we may appoint to this task, 4 while we, for our part, will devote ourselves to prayer and to serving the word.” 5 What they said pleased the whole community, and they chose Stephen, a man full of faith and the Holy Spirit, together with Philip, Prochorus, Nicanor, Timon, Parmenas, and Nicolaus, a proselyte of Antioch. 6 They had these men stand before the apostles, who prayed and laid their hands on them. 7 The word of God continued to spread; the number of the disciples increased greatly in Jerusalem, and a great many of the priests became obedient to the faith.
Notes on The Text:
The Book of Acts is the second volume written by the same author of the Gospel of Luke. The goal was to tell the story of the ministry of Jesus and of the communities of Jesus after his death and resurrection. Acts is the story of the birth of the Church and its spread from Jerusalem to Rome and from its Jewish roots to its Gentile (non-Jewish) branches/communities. The book contains sermons/speeches and events. The book records both stories of success and struggle and how the church dealt with them. In this episode from chapter 6, the early church was facing a problem. There were too many tables to serve and not enough people to do it. In addition, some people were grumbling that the leaders were ignoring the needs of the Hellenists (the Greeks) among the assembly. The leaders were accused of a bias to help those who were the hungry among the Hebrews more than those who were among the Greeks. The issue was complex. The people were questioning the motivation of the leadership. There were racial divisions and competition for resources. The leaders could have felt overwhelmed by all the needs around them and the brewing conflict. Instead, they came up with a powerful and yet simple solution. They put the solution in the hands of the people themselves to discern together who was called to leadership from their midst. They gave them some guidelines about the kind of people to be appointed: They needed to be full of the Spirit and of wisdom and of good character in the community. The solution had to come from the people themselves who are led by the power of God’s Spirit. The beautiful thing about this story is that it became the starting point for the ministry of deacons in churches all over the world. The twelve apostles realized that God was calling them to increase the number of people who are called to lead and to have a ministry that is solely focused on compassion, care, and feeding the hungry. The original deacons, the seven, were selected to serve tables. What the disciples did was establish a sustainable system that helped address the needs of the hungry in their community.
With rapid inflation, it is easy to fall into the trap of scarcity because we tend to believe that our wealth is only determined by the money we earn or have in our bank account. We are invited this week to consider our currency of time and place and how we can enhance the flow of that currency to help us face the rapid rate of inflation. I know that our church has been very intentional to invite many community groups to use the church building. None of our ministries would happen without all the people who give of their time. Yet, there is also another aspect of the giving of time and place which is about all the volunteer or helping hours each of us gives to family or community. This is where we use our time and space to help the community and those around us. Even though entertainment is now at our fingertips and the temptation is great to just sit watching TV or reading endlessly, most of us find meaning in sharing our time to help others and not just at work, but also in efforts that bring beauty, care, healing, and joy to those around us.
I invite you this week to take the time to review your use of time last week to see how it helps the flow of the six currencies:
- Describe as best you can how you spent your time last week.
- Go through the list and categorize each item according to what currency was exchanged for the time: Place, gracious leadership, relationship, truth, wellness, and money.
- As you work through this exercise, what do you notice and wonder about….
- Where your strengths are?
- Where your struggles are?
- If you were to increase your personal and your church’s/ministry’s flow of the cycle of blessings, what do you need to pay attention to? What adjustment would you make in how you spend your time?
by Kurt Struckmeyer
God of love,
source of mercy and compassion,
weave your dream for the world
into the fabric of our lives.
Remove the scales from our eyes
and lift the indifference from our hearts,
so that we may see your vision –
a new reign of justice and compassion
that will renew the earth.
Transform our lives,
so that we may accomplish your purpose.
Anoint us with your spirit
that we might bring good news to the oppressed,
bind up the brokenhearted,
and proclaim release to the captive.
Give us a new urgency
and a new commitment
to feed the hungry,
clothe the naked,
shelter the homeless,
and visit those who live in isolation.
Help us to reach out to those
whom no one else will touch,
to accept the unacceptable,
and to embrace the enemy.
Surround us with your love,
fill us with your grace,
and strengthen us for your service.
Empower us to respond to the call of Jesus –
to deny ourselves,
to take up our crosses,
and to follow.
Make us your disciples.