I. 1 Tim 3:8-13; Acts 6
II. Heb. 12:1-3 [likely as good a question, text]
Deacons--where is your strength for the journey?
III. John 13:34-35 [hardest text]
Love. Deacons love. Church loves, but deacons especially love. Responsible. Facilitate ministry, care, serve. Like Jesus who is called a deacon. Never called an elder (is called the good shepherd), but is called a deacon/servant/minister.
Deacons distinguish themselves, 1 Tim 3:9. Deacons serve well.
Deacons have a wonderful reward for serving--excellent standing and great assurance in their faith. Deacons are servants, not because they are so skilled, but because they are so faithful. They are spiritual, wise, faithful, responsible.
Deacons, as well as elders, know who is here and who is not. As a group, they call on every member to facilitate ministry.
Gal 5:19-23, and such like. You and I really know who to suggest as deacons, more than we would like to admit. The SuchLikers. Not the evil suchlikers, but the good suchlikers. When needs arise, these men are RWA--ready, willing, able. When prob come--RWA. When Xns need prayer, service, encouragement, phys help, spir help, guidance--RWA. These have certain qualities, yes, but mostly these are strong in faith. These lead in service. These have found strength for the spir journey in a close walk with God--God is obviously present in their lives, they are spir disciplined, living a self-examined life that can be examined by others, spir wise through much time in the word which brings faith, selfless and thus God-like and Christ-like. These men lead in service because they lead in love. They are sacrificially generous because they want the love of God to flow through them and their resources.
If it is true that a church cannot rise above her elders, and it is--if it is true that a ch cannot rise above her preacher, and it probably is--it is is equally true that a church will not rise above her deacons. Deacons in a church set a standard that few will surpass, and when someone does, they are made elders. Deacons are leaders, designated servants, leaders in ministry.
If we should appoint men shepherds who are already pastoring, we should likewise ordain men as deacons who are already serving, ordain preachers who are already preaching, ordain evangelists who are already evangelizing, send missionaries abroad who are missionaries at home.
The Bible says amazing little about deacons. Even the qualities are not terrible demanding, the early church probably had multiplied deacons, 7 for one task in Acts 6. But not all were deacons. Why? Because deacons devote themselves to faith matters, and not all are willing to give up self to seek the God- life and the Christ-walk.
We are going to select and reaffirm, ordain deacons. This is a time for prayer, for fasting, for meditation, contemplation, examination, testing. We will determine our future, the shape of ministry, the limits of the horizon before us. Let us select men who can see a present ministry and dream about a ministry beyond the one to which they are appointed. Let us select men who will be stretched, spend hours thinking about ministry, and lead us to the heights of service, w/o which we cannot see God.
God's church is called to service. Few of us will serve automatically or autonomously. We must be led to serve. We must be encouraged to serve. We must be helped to serve. Those who serve us so we may serve others are deacons. May the tribe of those who deacon well increase--so God's church can be all it was meant to be!
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