Holy Shift in Deacons

Deacons were created to work in ministry for the church.

James Greer
Oct 7, 2018    
In this sermon Pastor James Greer teaches us about the role of deacons in the early church. They were created to act in servant ministry, to care for widows, so that the pastors, and apostles, and disciples could spread the Word of God. It is unclear what their purpose is in today's church, but they tend to work in administration, But an important part of this sermon is reminding the members of the church that everyone in the church is called into ministry. Video recorded at Pineville, Louisiana.


Christian Living Pastors 

messageRegarding Grammar:

This is a transcription of the sermon. People speak differently than they write, and there are common colloquialisms in this transcript that sound good when spoken, and look like bad grammar when written.

James Greer: 00:00 Hey, let's welcome the Alexandria campus. Welcome Alexandria and Darrell, and they're rocking the house in Alexandria, and I'm so thankful for it. Next Sunday it's going to be our last Sunday on Holy Shift, and I want to pray that God doesn't stop the shift. I mean it's been unbelievable, lives being changed and people joined. But I'm going to be preaching next Sunday on God's original purpose for our lives, our church, and our family. So you're going to want to be here, because when you find your original intent and purpose, it gives you an unbelievable new passion.

James Greer: 00:35 But today we're going to talk about the holy shift in deacons, and has a deacon ministry even died? Well, some of y'all don't even know what that is. Some of you new Christians are saying, I don't even know a deacon are. Praise God, you in good company. In some churches there are many deacons, some churches there's none. But the ministry of the deacons whether it's alive and well, is greatly determined by your definition of what a deacon is. You're going to learn today in essence, the truest definition of a deacon in the Bible, were servants. They ran around and took care of serving, and taking care of the widows. But see the longer that something exists, doesn't matter what it is, the easier it is the shift from the original intent and meaning of the purpose. So, what was the original intent and purpose of a deacon? It is the same original intent and purpose of every member of the church. every member of the church is to be a minister to the church.

James Greer: 01:35 But let's look at Acts chapter six, starting in verse one, it says, "Now in those days when the number of disciples was multiplied." How are the disciples doing? They were multiplying. Sometimes the church grows by addition, sometimes it shrinks by subtraction, but it was multiplied. God has blessed our church because in the last year especially, our church has been multiplying. But of course there arouse a complaint, and anytime there's something growing, there will always be a complaint. Sometimes you can replace complaint, with a concern. and it's because the widows were being neglected in their daily distribution. If you read chapter one in the living translation, he says, man, they were growing rapidly, and there was rumbling of discontent. For who spoke, the Greek women's complained that their widows,they were being discriminated against. They weren't being given as much food, on a daily distribution, as the widows of the Hebrew. So see there was discrimination, there were complaints, and truth is it was probably a concern. If there's something I want you to learn later on today, there's a difference between a complaint and a concern. A concern, you want to get better, a complaint that's a person you can't please.

James Greer: 02:53 But see, then there was twelve, they were summoning the multitude of the disciples, and they said, hey, it's not desirable that we should leave the word of God and serve tables. Now see, the preachers and teachers, the leaders they were preaching the word, teaching the word. And they said, hey, there's a mumbling arose, and therefore let's seek out among us seven men of good reputation. Stop for a minute, that's the first biblical reference that they referred to as the deacons. There was widows in the church, and they weren't being taken care of, and the disciples said, and the apostles said, hey, this is not good. It's not good that they're not being taken care of, but it's not good that we stopped doing what we're doing. So let's find seven good men, full of the Holy Spirit and wisdom, whom we may appoint over this business. Well, what's this business? It's the business of taking care of the widows. Therefore brothers seek out among you seven men, but you know, we're going to give ourselves to what? They're going to give it to the preaching and the teaching and the prayer, and the teaching of the word of God. So in Acts 6:4 it says, "And we should spend our time praying and preaching and teaching."

James Greer: 04:12 The first shift was even to have deacons. When the church began, they didn't have deacons. They didn't even have an organization, man. I mean they were just growing, and people getting saved, and lives were being changed, and they were having fellowship one to another, but the deacons meant servants. It means rendering a type of a free service. If you really looked it up, it was said they were serving so much, so fast, it stirred up dust. There were out taking care of people. The original intent of deacons was to free the pastors and leader, so they could give themselves to prayer and teaching and preaching. The original intent of deacons is to serve the widows, the ones that felt like they were being discriminated against. Where did they get the money? Yeah, if you went back in Acts chapter two, you'll see the church was growing so fast, and how they had all things in common. And it said in Acts 2:45, they sold their all possessions, they sold them. And they divided it among themselves, they continued daily with one accord in the temple, breaking bread from house to house and ate their food with gladness and simplicity of heart. Okay?

James Greer: 05:24 Verse 34, None, was there anyone among them who lacked. Nobody? How can you go, and nobody lacked? Well, I can tell you. For all those who were in possession of the land, the house, they sold them and they brought into to the possessions, the things that they had sold. And you know what they did with them? Verse 35, it says this, they sold them, and laid them at the apostles feet, and they distributed to each among the needy. There was a shift even before the deacons. Now what happened was the church was on fire, everybody was coming, they were going from house to house, lives were getting saved. They were selling their possessions, they will bring them to the church, they were laying them at the feet. The apostles were dividing the money, where everybody's needs were being met. Let me ask, y'all something, you don't want to sell your possessions, and bring them to the feet, Amen? You do? No, that's the change. There was a change at that time, they were selling them, and they were bringing them to the feet. That church was really the church. The church, the real meaning of a church, it's a gathering of people celebrating the Living Jesus Christ as the son of God. That results into a movement of God, and people getting baptized. Man, that they were just rocking the house, there was a great movement of God, the people had sold their possessions and bought them to the feet of the apostles. They outgrew it, they grew so fast they couldn't take care of them.

James Greer: 06:44 The second shift, that was the first shift, the second shift was many churches and deacons lost the original intent for the deacons, and in some cases tried to become administrators instead of ministers. I'm not even sure how it took place. I'm not sure when and how, some people said the 1800's, I don't know. I know to the most part, if you don't know the real truth, the church turned over their responsibility to the government. We're still doing that today. The government's taken care of really the original intent, in the beginning was the church. The people in church no longer sold their possessions, they no longer sold everything they had, and they no longer brought them to the church leaders to be distributed. No, now the people were growing, they were multiplying. They bring 10, a minimum of the first 10 percent, to fund the charge. See, I believe as the church grew, and as it spread, the operating had the change. It was growing so fast, it was no longer just a group of people. It was no longer like just Journey Church. It was the big C, church, because people were getting saved all over the world. It wasn't just in Jerusalem. There was this huge movement.

James Greer: 08:02 And listen, in the New Testament the people, the apostles, they didn't have a church manual. Those dudes didn't even have a bible. They had one message. We believe in the death, burial, resurrection. You put Jesus Christ, death, He is alive. So what happened? What started out as a biblical principle, soon turned into an unbiblical tradition. Traditions are not bad, unless they become unbiblical. That tradition is, maybe some people will want to have soft pews. Some people want to have loud music. Some people want to do the Lord's supper every Sunday, some people want to do it once a month, some people want to do it just once a quarter. A lot of those are traditions. A tradition can be good or bad. The main thing is when something's right or wrong, what does it take to get somebody into heaven? So pastors were to focus on leading and teaching, and deacons and lay ministries, they were the focus on feeding, waiting tables. And today it's just [inaudible] the pastor's. Ephesians chapter four puts it the right way, it brings it into focus, And he himself.. That's Jesus Christ, God himself. He said he gave some apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, some pastors and some teachers. And everybody's not supposed to be the preacher or the teacher, the evangelist, and the apostles. But the reason that he called those particular people into the ministry was to equip the saints, that's you, to do the work of the ministry. You might not think you you're a saint, you might not look like a saint, but if you accepted Jesus Christ, you are a saint. Amen? And the pastor's job, and the leadership of the church's job, is to equip the people to do the work of the ministry. That's what he called us to do. That's what he called me to do. One of my original intents, one of my main purposes, I got to preach. I mean, I love to preach, amen. But we bring leadership around us, and that's not the only thing we do, we help equip people to do the work of the ministry. The deacons were over serving the food, not the church. Original intent of the deacon was to be a minister, not administrator, and it's still the same today. The holy shift, was a shift from feeding the widows, to allowing the government to take their place.

James Greer: 10:14 Most people don't even know when the Bible refers to a widow. what a widow, indeed is. Most people know that God's got some principles of who we're to take care, of how we're take of them. Who were not the take care of, and why we're not taking care of them. Let me shift for a minute. Just give you some things. I want you to know that the Bible says there's widows that are widows indeed, and I'll explain to you what those are, the Bible says we should take care of them. The Bible says we're to help our family, only if they work. The Bible says there is some widows that we're not commanded to take care of, but their children are. And the Bible says we're not to take care of, and supply food and money to, people that don't work. See that's how the church has gotten so messed up. I had somebody said the other day that our church, who gives, and has food, and we do all we can. They said, sometime y'all don't want to help people that don't work. Could be right, might be. We've got all kinds of organizations, doing all kinds of things, a lot of them are not very biblical. Now listen, whatever God calls you to, if God lays upon your heart to help somebody, by all means help them, Amen. If you see a widow and you want to help them. if you see somebody not working, help them, if you see somebody at the side of the road, help them.

James Greer: 11:30 But I want you to know there's some biblical principles God set in for the church. In first Timothy 5:3, it says, "Honor the widows who are widows indeed." Honor the widows that are really widows. What do you mean really widows? If they have any children or grandchildren, oh, let them to be the first to show pity. In other words, take care of them at home and repay them, because they're parents. That's good and acceptable to God. Hey, listen. I don't know about you, but I can tell you about me. When I raised my kids, I gave my life, gave my money, gave my time, Amen. Now, when I get older, I want them to take care of me. It probably won't happen, but they should, Amen. I hope I can take care of myself, but I probably can't. But what I'm trying to tell you is this, God set it up for us to take care of our kids, and then our kids to take care of us. Amen, Brother James. If God lays something on your heart, take care of it. First Timothy 5:8 says this, "If anyone does not provide for his own." Uh oh, what if you don't provide for your kids, what if you're not providing for your family, especially for his own house, or his own family. That's why I tell you, y'all ready? That's why I always think our church, we take care of our own family before we take care of everybody else, because that's the way God set it up. If not, he's denied the faith, and he's worse than a what? Unbeliever. Another translation, he doesn't even have the faith in God at all. When somebody says they're a Christian, are y'all ready? When somebody says they're a Christian, are you ready? But they don't provide for their family and their own kids, God's word calls on a fake, a fraud, no real faith. Fake faith. Might talk real spiritual., might come to church every Sunday, might carry their Bible, might quote scripture, but when you don't help provide for your own family, the Bible says your faith is fake, and you're worse than an unbeliever.

James Greer: 13:38 Now there's physical limitations for that. People that are sick, people that are hurting. I'm the second Thessalonians 3:10, I don't think it's in there, but I'm going to read it for you, I'm going to give you a free insight. How about the people that don't work? The Bible says, for even when we were with you, second Thessalonians 3:10, we commanded you this. We didn't just ask you, we commanded you this. If any will not work, neither shall they eat. Man, we're going to put some people to work, Amen. You don't work, you don't eat. For we hear there's some that walk among you that are disorderly in manner. You know what they do? They walk around, and become busy bodies. Because they're not at work, they're getting everybody else's business. God said, hey, you don't work, you don't eat. There's biblical principles, how to operate your home, your family, and the church, and God's word be true. And even let the government, and everybody else be a liar. God's word is right, he had a principal, he had a reason why to do it. You don't work, you don't eat, we're going to have a lot of starving people if that was true.

James Greer: 14:39 Third, third back to biblical principles. Ephesians 4:11, what is he saying? For he himself. Who's he, himself? God. He gave some apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, some pastors, and some teasers. Why? For the edifying or for the equipping, for the perfecting. All [inaudible] the saints. Why? To do the work of the ministry, edifying the body of Christ. See, leaders are to be equipping the members of the church to do the ministry. That's one of the reasons God blesses our church. That's one reason we're able to read so many from Jesus Christ, because so many of you are really doing the day to day work of the ministry. You're taking care of your people, you're taking care of your class, you're taking care of the sick, you're feeding in the poor, that's the work of the ministry. I love the word equipping. I've never really done a study on it till Wednesday. It's to help complete, by putting in the proper place, and order. The word, perfecting, it's the same word, it's a picture of resetting a broken bone.

James Greer: 15:39 And what it's saying is the staff, y'all should equip people in the churches. And you go out and find people, and you help equip them and train them to do what needs to be to make the church complete. It's not always what you want to do. It's not always where you want to be. You might not want to clean the bathroom, you might not want to work in there. But what you do, the real original intent for the pastor and the leaders to equip the church is find out where the church is broken, where it has a problem, and help other people in the church fulfill that. You become complete. You become a whole. You become functioning like God wanted you to do. That is good. Journey Church, that's what you do to a big extent. That's why we're reaching, we already had 250 something people join this year alone. That's why we've already baptized 110 people, because you're doing the work of the ministry.

James Greer: 16:30 All right, let me give you some insights about the holy shift in church. First, healthy churches grow. Acts 6:1 says, and the number of the followers was growing. Healthy things grow, healthy couples grow, healthy children grow, healthy things grow, and healthy things produce fruit. If you're not growing, it's because you're not healthy. So you go the doctor's, a physician, God himself, find out where we're not healthy, and you get some help where you can grow. Spiritual growth is the only guarantee that your life is going to get better. But growing things change, change brings loss and loss brings pain, that's why everybody doesn't want to grow. Can I tell you, every time you grow, there's a change. Every time or change, you lose something, every time you lose something that causes pain. So the only way to spiritually grow, is to raise your own personal threshold of pain. You know there's some people don't want the church to grow, don't you? There's some people that come to church, they don't want it to grow. But I mean God's called us to grow. If we're healthy, we grow, amen.

James Greer: 17:32 Number two. The growth causes problems. That we have problems, you have problems, we all have problems, Amen. See the number of follower, they were growing, but you know what started happening at the same time? The Greek's began to follow, they began to argue or complain. I say they had a concern that they weren't being taken care of like the others. The real problem was their church was growing so fast, they didn't know how to handle it. It was a true concern. The real truth is there's some complaints that are true, and need to be addressed, Amen. Some complaints need to be addressed as concerns, Amen. Some complaints, it would not matter what you did in the world, they would not be happy. They're going to grind, they're going to complain. Do you know it's really easy to know what type of person someone is. When I was young in the ministry, I never understood that, and I was always in turmoil. I said man, I don't know this person complaining, this person's concerned, I don't know. I can tell you, it happens in your family too, it'll happen at church. There's those who gripe, there's those who give. Those people that gripe the most, give the least, they're complainer's. I tell you what, I've been in church almost 40 years. I can tell you the people that usually gripe the most, do the least, and give the least. That's called a complainer. All you've got to do is check the heart. Yeah, Matthew 6:21 says, 'Where your treasure is, your heart is also." Right? You want to know where your heart is, you want to know where the complainer's heart is, you want to know if it's concern. Check their heart. Do they give, do they tithe, do they serve? They're probably concerned. Are you giving? Are you tithing? Are you serving? Are you part of the ministry? See, I personally say, every member is a minister, every person helps make the church go. When we say yes, were you excited, reaching people for Jesus Christ across the river? Did you support it, are you a part of it? You know?

James Greer: 19:33 The main way you know where you're at, the main way, is there any fruit in your life or are you just a fault finder? See, fault finders are a fake faith. I I use this all the time. I ask myself, am I having fruit in my life, or am I just finding fault in my life? Is that person, do they have fruit in their life, or do they just have fault finding in their life? I want to be a fruit finder, not a fault finder. A a fault finder many times doesn't have fruit in their life, so they're trying to find fault in those people that have fruit in their life. Anyway, sorry. Most all problems are a result of unmet need, and unmet expectations. Most time when you fight in your marriage, it's because there's either unmet need, or unmet expectations. The widows expected to be treated better and they weren't. See, that wasn't a complaint, it was a true concern.

James Greer: 20:39 You know, it says the 12 went out and said, we shouldn't serve tables, let's choose 12 among us, let them be the deacons. And everybody liked the idea and it pleased the whole multitude. How do you deal with conflict? Are you ready? Expectation versus reality. what happens in the middle is called conflict. We've got a little paper we hand out, it should be in the back, on the Next Step counter if you want one. And the distant between the expectation and reality. the further it is, the greater the conflict. In other words, I said, Hey Mama, hey Debbie, I'm going to be home at 10:00, and it gets to be 11:00 and then it's 12:00. The farther away it gets from the reality, and the expectation, the more conflict when I come walking in at 12:00. She's going to say what I thought you are going to be home at 10:00, and because I wasn't and I didn't meet the expectation, we have what's called conflict. You'll have conflict in your family, you have conflict in your marriage, and everybody tells me that we just never have been in a fight. You scare me to death. You're either lying, or you got married, and got divorced. I mean, there's something because we all have conflict, Amen. But learn the better you can explain the expectation, the less conflict would be.

James Greer: 22:00 Four. Don't run from conflict, don't run from problems, because they'll just get bigger. The longer you run from them, the bigger they get. I used try to ignore them, whether they were at church, or at home with them, whatever it is. No, no, no, he addressed them, they liked the idea, it pleased the multitude. Act's 6:7, you ready? The word spread. Why did the word spread? They had a concern, they had a conflict, and they took care of it. And the numbers of the disciples now multiplied greatly. Now, I believe if they wouldn't have taken care of the problem, they wouldn't addressed that, I don't think that would've happened. I love it when God's word said, and the word of God spread. Journey Church, that's what I want us to do. I want us, our life, to be spreading the word of God. Because when you spread the word of God, the disciples multitude greatly, and the churches grow fast. You understand when you have unity like they did, and you have the right people in the right position in the ministry, it gets multiplication instead of just simply addition. God's word has spread, and multiplied greatly.

James Greer: 23:06 So in closing, I'm going to ask you something. You Ready? Number one has God's word spread into your heart? No worries when I say that, there's a time that you accept Jesus Christ as your personal savior, and then it spread from there. See we're not in the secret service business. I mean if you've never invited Jesus Christ into your heart, today is the day to do that. Number two, are you helping spread the word? God's word said, his word will not return void. In other words you've got the word, now you're spreading the word. Have you found a place in the ministry? Somebody said, well yeah, I'm not a deacon. No, no, no, nope, nope, nope, no, you're a minister though. Same word, minister. Every member here is a minister. Maybe you need us to help you find your place in the ministry, I don't know, but you don't have a ministry. Most ministries are not platform ministries, most ministries are servant ministries. When you come up here, y'all don't have any idea what goes on behind the scene. When you see the words appear, and the sound, you don't know what goes on behind the scene. When you go to the nursery, go to the bathroom, I mean there's people cleaning them. When people travel up the parking lot, there's parking lot attendants that are waiving, all that's ministry. You know what I think? I think everybody out front is pre-evangelist. They're out there making people that walk in be more receptive.

James Greer: 24:35 Have you been spreading the wrong word? That's called gossip. That's listening and talking to things, that you are not part of the problem, and you're not part of the solution. And the hardest place to do that is your own home, your own family, and then your church family. If you're listening to things, and you're talking about things, and you're not part of the problem, you're not part of the solution, just learn to keep your mouth shut. Don't gossip. You Ready? Does your life have fruit, or have you become a fault finder? When you are a fruit finder, you look for fruit in your own life. When you're a fruit finder, you look to your life, how can I produce more fruit in my life? When you're a fault finder, you often look at the faults of other people, and many times those particular people have fruit. But since you don't have fruit, listen, you want self-justification. You know what I call them? You're ready. Religious liars, religious liars. They come to church, and they talk good, look good, they have no fruit in their life. They don't have any love, they don't have any joy, they don't have any peace, but they look for fault in other people's life. Journey Church, we're blessed. We don't ever need to take our unity for granted. We'll never need to take, that it takes us all to reach, I hope one day, more of the world for Jesus Christ.

James Greer: 26:07 So as I close I want you to know first of all, if you share your saved, you'd go to heaven. If you're helping spread the word, you have a ministry, and you're examining the fruit you have in your life, would you stand? Let me pray with you, and pray for you.

James Greer: 26:26 God, I thank you for your word. I thank you for Journey Church. God, we are so blessed to have so many ministers at our church, I pray that we don't take it for granted, but I pray that their faith would be in you God, and not people. I pray today, God, if there's those that the word of God has not spread in their heart, they've never invited you into their heart, they've never spread your word to somebody else, that today would be the day they would come and say, hey man, I need Christ in my heart. I need to be spreading the word, I need to be part of helping mending broken relationships, that's what God's word does. I need to come and follow through in public baptism, the death, the burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ. I need to come and join Journey Church today. I need to come and bring my burdens, and my problems, and my hurts, and my sorrows, and my hang ups, I just need to bring them to the altar today. Whatever God's called you to do, I pray that you let him have his will, and his way, in your life. It's in Jesus' name I pray. Amen.

Recorded in Pineville, Louisiana.
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Journey Church
2900 Donahue Ferry Rd
Pineville, Louisiana 71360