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The early Christians devoted themselves to
Apostle's teaching
Breaking of Bread
Fellowship
Prayer


Ok... they went to church, heard great sermons and had a pot luck dinner afterward. Right?

Maybe. Maybe they did more than that!

Apostles's teaching.
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.

Fellowship.
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
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!!!
Amen!

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Comment by Audine Haynes on March 29, 2009 at 6:18pm
Thanks for including me. This is what we all need more of.
Comment by Destinys Prince on March 29, 2009 at 5:52pm
They also went from house to house teach, preaching and healing those in need. This is also something that should be done. I have seen great Church growth when believers opened up their homes to offer Bible study and prayer meeting groups! It is at times easier to invite the lost to fellowship there in the home rather inviting them directly to Church services. I have seen the Spirit of God move more so in these smaller home cell groups and meet the needs of people one on one and when the needs are meet this way whether it be salvation, deliverance or healing, Jesus is there to meet the needs of all and the home prayer meeting group grows, as so does the Church of Jesus! Blessings!
Comment by Howard Sherman on March 29, 2009 at 3:43pm
Juanita,

Thanks so much for inviting me to your network.

I have many things I would like to share with you that I have a burden for as well as insights to.
Would you mind if I shared them with you via email so as not to take up "space" on your network?
Comment by Jack Frost on March 29, 2009 at 3:16pm
And so the church functions as it was intended when it works within these principles. I have found many believers across the nation that love being the church in this manner. Almost without exception, all of our stops have brought us into contact and ongoing relationships with people that, when offered this as a true option to system, desire greatly to see this be the norm for their church. At the same time, it is so difficult to bring the systems that have become sacred to our current church society into a realm that can accept these premises. It is as though they are incompatible with each other. What I think would be great is when people that are a part of the system as we see it grasp these concepts and begin to put them into practice, leaving the structure of the institution behind. Not suggesting the system be discarded; only that these principles become a daily part of our lives so they are lived before all we are in contact with. When we live the Love of Jesus before the people we are next to, they cannot help but begin to see how this impacts our lives and is the driving force of how we live.
Comment by Julie White on March 29, 2009 at 3:14pm
Thank you for refreshing our minds on what the early Christians devoted themselves to. We have gotten off track to some extent. They were such a community of believers where those things (apostle's teaching, breaking of bread, fellowship & pray) were a natural part of their lifes. It just flowed. For us, we have gotten so overwhelmed and out of kilter that it doesn't just flow for us. We need to reposition ourselves in a way that it will happen more naturally. I love the idea of breaking bread together when we purposefully share meals together, making relationships a priority, and that when we come together it is not always just for fun, but making it a priority to go deeper by sharing needs & praying for one another. We need to love, encourage & motivate each other to practice these things & to be all that He wants us to be & do what he created us to do. We each need to do our part so the whole comes together.....so that He will be lifted up & glorified!
Comment by debrah on March 29, 2009 at 2:26pm
Excellent post Junita! and FaithByGrace thank you for a word in due season..I so much needed to hear that. I have gone for awhile trying to 'Approptiate" humility...God has another plan -He is working it in me and through this process not only I but others see all the gunk that is there...but Praise be to God...the others have responded with love and compassion -when necessary they would wield the truth of God's word with truth and compassion...loving me too much to allow me to remain in that condition and yet always willing to express love and mercy. I know that I still have so far to go but the Lord enables us to walk the @times hard truth -He always stands by us. What a blessing God offers us to be a blessing to each other.
Comment by Juanita on March 29, 2009 at 2:15pm
FaithByGrace and Cheryl ~~ thank you!

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