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Purpose: Acts 6:5-8 Understanding Motivation is part 2 of 4 of the Bible exposition of Get Motivated for the Kingdom of God on Acts 6-7 that explains Stephen's motivation. Right purpose + sufficient power + enduring hope = good motivation.
Get Motivated! (6:8-7:60) | Mp3 Podcast
A. Understanding Motivation (Acts 6:5-8) |
B. Uncompromising Motivation (Acts 6:9-15)
C. Affirming Motivation (Acts 7:1-60)
“And the statement found approval with the whole congregation; and they chose Stephen, a man full of faith and of the Holy Spirit, and Philip, Prochorus, Nicanor, Timon, Parmenas and Nicolas, a proselyte from Antioch.” “And Stephen, full of grace and power, was performing great wonders and signs among the people.” (Acts 6:5,8).
We do not know much about Stephen’s life, but somehow he came to know the Lord, probably in one of the early revival movements such as in Acts 2. He evidently was a Hellenistic Jew that was chosen by the early church to help care for the tables. Hellenistic refers to the Greek influence on his life. He probably came from overseas rather than being brought up in a Hebrew society.
Stephen was specifically said to be, “a man full of faith and of the Holy Spirit.” We find that he was willing to take responsibility on such as being a deacon in the church overseeing the care of widows so that others could preach and pray.
Later in Acts 6:8 Stephen is described as “full of grace and power, was performing great wonders and signs among the people.” We do not fully understand what this might mean. The scriptures do not say more than this. God was doing many miracles through him.
He was a powerful speaker from God and God was using him. He was no doubt one key person God was using to expand His kingdom at that time (Acts 6:7).
Motivation seems to be comprised of three parts: purpose, promise and power. Each will be explained. Right purpose + sufficient power + enduring hope = good motivation. The world and many believers focus on the wrong thing and therefore loose hope, energy and direction. God has given His children the best. Let’s regain what we might have lost.
We first need to properly understand what we are doing. People get excited about doing all sorts of things, religious or not. Many are vain and immoral. Others are what I call trivial. Some are good.
But even if we are purposed to do good things like saving the planet, animals or people, it does not make it necessarily the right purpose for us. We need to think at a more basic level to build the right foundation. We need to make our purpose in life agreeable to what God has for us.
Although this might sound too vague, it is sufficient. God has first called us to be devoted to Him and this is to drive us rather than the individual targets which change. (This is the same point as determining what is the motivation for living, our purpose of life.) More than this, God has a vast number of things for us to do including the way we might do something or the attitudes with which we do them.
Let’s think of the highly motivated Stephen. God has His purpose for him. He was fully devoted to accomplishing those things for which God called him. He and we can make that same conclusion through verses like Ephesians 2:10.
“For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them” (Ephesians 2:10).
God has predetermined the works that we should do. He has prepared them beforehand. When we make it our purpose to accomplish these things, then we can say that we are properly aligned to do God’s will. Yes, we will need to regularly meet with God and study His Word to discern what those things are that He has called us to do, but at least we are rightly focused or purposed.
In our hearts we can excitedly look forward to doing what God has called us to do that day. Jesus told us to live day by day (Matthew 6:33-36). Seek Him and what He has prepared for you that day. Having done that, you busily trying to do God’s works in His way whether it is helping someone move, giving insight to a colleague on figuring out a problem, praying for the pastor or reaching the lost. You can be a child, wife, single or father. It does not matter.
God has prepared those works and He wants to accomplish all the ones that He has set out for you. No one can take this from you. We will speak about this later from another perspective.
One might ask if it is fair to use Stephen as a reference point for our own lives. I would suggest that it is. We need to see that we all are uniquely made with our own gifts and callings. This is understood.
No one of us should think that if he is not doing the things that Stephen did are failures. That is ridiculous (though we often compare ourselves to others around us). We all are focused on doing our own part - uniquely yours to do. God has given us all equal opportunities to carry out His will each day.
Many live for the wrong purpose of life. They are looking for meaning apart from God’s will. They think it has to do with the vanities or immoralities of the world. We need to regularly check the purpose for our lives. Some might seem to do great things for God or mankind, but this does not mean that this is what God has for them.
Do not judge them, but care for your own soul. People can wrongly use their gifts. They might want people to admire them or for them to be better off. These are temptations. They will come but make them go by all the more determining to devotedly accomplish what God has for you.
This is a long introduction but it is important for us to understand Stephen and what we are to learn from his life. Our purpose for examining his life is not to be him but to observe how he was able to be used of the Lord. Let’s continue by looking at the description of him.
There are two doublets said of Stephen. The first is that he was ‘Full of faith and of the Holy Spirit’ (Acts 6:5). We might be rightly purposed but at the same time we need to allow the Spirit of God to work through us.
1) Full of faith and of the Holy Spirit
2) Full of grace and power
This is the power of proper motivation. We are not relying on our strength, our wisdom or our connections.
It is quite the opposite. We need face what we do not have and depend upon the Lord which is indicated by these very words.
Faith means that Stephen believed the Lord. We all probably have saving faith. This brings one into a right relationship with the Lord through belief in Christ. That faith, however, matures and enables us to regularly discern the Lord’s presence and purpose in one’s life. He believed God.
This reminds me of David when he went out to battle. A faith in God’s presence makes a difference. We need to trust God to get it done.
This week I was told it would cost more than $1,000 to fix our van. I instantly thought of “Cash for clunkers” program until I remembered that I had to buy a new van to get that sum. Oh, well. The converter had deteriorated and would not pass inspection. I was thinking of this during my devotions time. It was at that time I thought of the truth that I was blessed of the Lord. Yes, I am blessed as His child.
So instead of doubting God’s good purposes, I deliberately trusted Him and thanked Him for this disguised blessing. Notice the faith that was active here. Instead of a $1000 bill, they on their own decided to patch the catalytic converter and fixed things up for one fourth of the price. God worked on my behalf because His blessing is in my life. Trusting the Lord here was one of His appointed works for me that day.
The Holy Spirit is the very means we are to accomplish God’s Work. Jesus did things in the power of the Spirit. Stephen also was a man through whom the Holy Spirit could easily work. We can be sure that he was a man that kept himself pure and holy. He sought God’s will for His life and the Lord mightily worked through him.
Again, we should not always think that we will do great healings and things like this. We instead look to the Lord’s Spirit to work in and through us when patiently and kindly caring for our children, a stubborn husband or boss. Think back on the fruit of the Holy Spirit and you will see more what I mean (Galatians 5:22-23).
Should we assume that the Holy Spirit and our faith is connected. Without faith, we will strive to do it on our own strength and resources. With faith, we can do all things!
Stephen also was a man of grace and power (Acts 6:8). The word ‘grace’ is a largely Christian term that describes the good things that God brings into our lives that we do not deserve. The term ‘grace’ here depicts the amount of extra blessing poured out into Stephen’s life.
Contrary to modern motivation speakers, he did not simply believe in himself or thought he deserved this chance. It is not because he was a great man or did special things. God simply gave it to Him because of His gracious purpose. We should keep in mind that the Lord did say how He distributed His grace.
He who is faithful in a very little thing is faithful also in much; and he who is unrighteous in a very little thing is unrighteous also in much. If therefore you have not been faithful in the use of unrighteous mammon, who will entrust the true riches to you? And if you have not been faithful in the use of that which is another’s, who will give you that which is your own? (Luke 16:10-12).
It is possible that Stephen had shown himself faithful with a little. Have you?
Stephen also was a man of power. There is no doubt this is all linked up to the Holy Spirit working in His life like He did in Jesus. Stephen was a no one in the church. He was not an apostle. He was not brought up in Hebrew circles. He was chosen to serve tables for the widows.
In His case special power was given to him to heal and do great wonders. In our lives we will get all the energy and power we need to carry out the good works that God has called us to do.
We should also see that Stephen was described ‘full of’ these special graces. This meant that he emptied himself of self so that the Holy Spirit could fully work in his life. Stephen like us had one vessel, one body. He chose to have God fully dwell in his life.
God wants to mightily work in each of our lives. As God’s children, we likewise have the living God in us through the indwelling Holy Spirit. The problem is that we have so much earthly passion that it keeps us from being heavenly filled. ￼We do everything in our own resources rather than trusting Him.
Let me ask you, “How would someone describe you?” What are you full of? Could someone at least say, “I see a little of the Holy Spirit in you?” What are you seeking in this life. Have you set yourself apart for God’s purpose? After dedicating our lives to God in gratefulness to saving us, we often go back on our commitment.
Let us be more like Stephen. God will give us the power to accomplish what he deigns to do through our lives no matter how many miracles are needed. The miracles are easy for God but to get us to the point of faith is the bigger challenge!
True motivation comes as we line ourselves up to do God’s will. He loves to occupy our whole hearts and take over. When we persistently focus on obtaining what we want rather than what He wants, He will hold back graces you would otherwise receive. Instead acknowledge what God has for your life and see how God will fill you to do His will to glorify Him.
His powerful grace and filling of the Holy Spirit should not be a rare thing, but since the church is worldly, caught up with herself rather than the Lord, she finds little grace. What are you full of? Motivation starts with a purpose aligned with the purposes God has made us.
Our energy levels are heightened when we see His extraordinary grace working in our lives for the benefit of others. Can you see how motivation works?
So far we have discussed purpose and power. We will see in this next point,however, the important place of promise (i.e. hope) in a strong and enduring motivation.
Continue -> B. Uncompromising Motivation (Acts 6:9-15)
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