Formations lesson for Oct. 17: Taking Care of Resources : Friday, Oct. 1, 2004
October 1 2004 by Wayne Proctor

Formations lesson for Oct. 17: Taking Care of Resources : Friday, Oct. 1, 2004
Friday, Oct. 1, 2004

Formations lesson for Oct. 17: Taking Care of Resources

By Wayne Proctor
Focal Passages: Exodus 16:1-5; Acts 6:1-6

Would you rather live in a paradise or in the wilderness? Most people would choose paradise. However, sometimes the difference is more an internal spiritual state than a difference of geography.

One of the trademarks of the Exodus journey was the grumbling of the Hebrews. It wasn't long into the journey that they began wishing they had never left Egypt. Freedom didn't seem so wonderful or hopeful anymore. They had been without water for a few days and then God provided for them. They camped for a while at Elim, a place with 12 water springs and 70 palm trees, but now it was time to move on.

Our daily bread

Exodus 16:1-5

The next part of the journey was known as the wilderness or "Desert of Sin" (the word "Sin" was likely derived from "Sinai"). It proved to be a fitting name because their first impulse was to grumble and complain (sin) because of their circumstances. In their impoverished minds, their former existence in Egypt became a luxury motel with room service. They began to play the blame game, with Moses the brunt of their dissatisfaction.

What would God do and what would they have to do?

The story declares that God provided the physical food they needed. He introduced them to something they called manna, which literally means "what is it?"

While there is considerable debate as to what kind of substance manna really was, the point is that this provision had to be received according to God's directions. For five days the Hebrews could only gather what they could eat that day. The entire surplus would go to waste. On the sixth day, they could gather for two days, meaning they would have a day of rest. It worked! And, when they later complained about the lack of meat in their diet, God sent them quail until they could stand quail no more.

The lesson learned was that God faithfully gave them their daily bread. It is no wonder that in the model prayer, Jesus taught us to pray "Give us this day our daily bread." We see God's provision every day. But, are we truly thankful and satisfied?

The table waiters

Acts 6:1-6

In the Acts 6 passage we see another problem related to food. One of the marvels of the early Christian church was the willingness of people like Barnabas to give away possessions so that other's needs could be met. By pooling their resources, no one went hungry in those earliest days (Acts 2:44-46; Acts 4:34-37).

As members of the early church shared willingly of their resources, however, they found old prejudices hard to overcome, and it became apparent that widows of Greek ancestry were being neglected in the daily distribution of food. Here the problem wasn't quantity, but equity. There was enough food, but no one was taking responsibility to assure that it was distributed fairly.

Thus, the church had a dilemma. Who would manage these resources? Would it be the 12 apostles? Or, would they ask other Christian leaders to handle this situation? Their solution provided a prototype that Baptists follow today in deacon ministry. Seven men were chosen to "wait on these tables," distributing the food in a true servant ministry.

The emphasis in the story is not on the number of those chosen, but the qualities of their spiritual character: they were men full of the Holy Spirit and wisdom. They weren't untested new converts, but men who could be counted on.

We also see that this was considered to be an important job, so much so that the apostles laid hands on them and prayed as a way of commissioning them for ministry. Collectively, these servants were entrusted with the use of church resources to care for the well being of others. Today, at their best, the primary concern of deacons is for the welfare of fellow believers.

10/1/2004 12:00:00 AM by Wayne Proctor | with 0 comments

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