The early Christians devoted themselves to
Breaking of Bread
Ok... they went to church, heard great sermons and had a pot luck dinner afterward. Right?
Maybe. Maybe they did more than that!
Way back then, the apostles were there among the people and they taught the people. Great. And, we have many of their words written down, so we can continue to review these words every week when we meet collectively. That way and through daily Bible reading and meditation, we, too will be devoting ourselves to the Apostle's teachings.
Now, let's dig a little deeper. The apostles were 'sent out' to enlarge the Kingdom. They planted new works. They improved existing works. Then, they sent others out. If we are going to listen to this type of teaching ~apostle's teaching~ we are going to be listening to people who challenge us to go out, plant new works and who challenge us to labor in new works. If we respond to this type of teaching, we're going to do it. This is what extends the Kingdom beyond the status quo... continually being sent out to do ministry. Every one of us has a ministry - a special work that God calls us to do. God wants to enlarge our ministry. We need to be stirred by the apolstle's teaching to actually do it ~~ to be sent out to take responibility for and to do the ministry (service) that God has prepared us for!
Breaking of Bread.
Hmmm... maybe they were hung up on having communion all the time?
Well, probably not.
Breaking bread is eating together. And, when they ate together - they set aside a solemn moment where they used the cup (what they were drinking) and the bread (the bread they were eating) to remember Jesus together. We, of course, have turned this into a rite. While there is nothing wrong with sharing communinion when we congregate, if we only celebrate then, I think we miss something. By just celebrating communion in our 'services', we miss the opportunity to declare Christ to those friends and family who gather with us for meals. We often wonder how to share Christ with them. How about at the next family gathering we celebrate communion and ask them to participate if they have come to the point where communion is REAL in their life... the place where they have appropriated Christ's sacrifice for their sins.
And, let's not forget to gather and eat with other believers. Life can be too busy. It can push shared family meals and meals with the other members of the body out of our lives. Let's guard against this and break bread together.
God himself is a community: Father, Son and Holy Spirit. He made us in his image... We are not complete unless we are in community with him and in community with each other. The early church DEVOTED itself to fellowship. Do you know that surveys say that the average American can name only THREE people who they feel really care about them and their welfare. That includes spouses, parents, children, friends and members of their church. This is a national crisis. We wonder why civilation around us is unraveling -- it is because relationships have unraveled. There is only one cure - just as they did, we need to devote ourselves to following Christ. We must devote ourselves to being involved with others ~~ to really care for them, to spend time with them, know them, understand them, serve them and love them.
Prayer... We can think of prayer and worship as an event. And, if we are not careful, that is just how it works out - prayer and worship become an event that happens on Sunday morning. But, God wants prayer and worship to be a lifestyle. Every day. We should pray and worship in our hearts, prayer 'closets' (which might just be our car on the drive in to work!) and at all times. When we gather with other believers, we have the opportunity to gather in His name as well. If we gather in His name, Jesus shows up. He is part of the gathering. While He is there, we need to take the time to talk to him - together. Whatever we bind in heaven will be bound in earth; whatever we ask according to his will, He will do. God moves us to prayer and then He moves. When we gather, let's not gather just for fun and enjoying one another's company. Let's invite Jesus to also be in our midst and also make our requests and thanksgiving known to Him.
The early church gathered for the Apostles' teaching, for the breaking of bread, for fellowship and prayer. Let us likewise devote ourselves to all of these things!!!