"They devoted themselves to the apostles teaching and to the fellowship,
to the breaking of bread and to prayer.”
to the breaking of bread and to prayer.”
I love spending time in the book of Acts. The early church was in it’s prime, especially in the first six chapters or so, before the persecution really began. The Apostles are hands on, they are in Jerusalem, with the people, teaching and discipling the new believers, people are devoted and actively seeking out opportunities to fellowship. And their numbers are growing!
It must have been an exciting time for these early believers. They were involved with something new, something exciting, something powerful, something that had the power to change lives. Not only did it have the power to change lives, the people saw changed lives on a regular basis. I imagine daily they saw the evidence of God’s power at work transforming lives.
Today, our faith isn’t anything new. Many of us are continuing in our parent’s footsteps. We grew up in the church, and for some, the same church. We sort of grew into our faith. And while most of us have stories of how that faith became real to us, the excitement has faded. Real life has demanded most of our focus. We no longer daily see the evidence of God’s power at work transforming lives. And while we do occasionally get a glimpse, witness a healing, we can quickly return to normal without thinking too much about it. Without letting it affect us.
How did we get here? This seems to be so far from what we see in the first six chapters of Acts we might even question if it’s the same faith. Have we become more intelligent, as some might say? Do we know better know? Or have we strayed so far from the practices of the early church that God’s power is diminished? And if that’s the answer, can we get it back? Do we want to get it back? Or are we too comfortable where we are?
I think there is good news here. I think we can get it back. And I think that deep down inside we want to get it back. We long for a closer fellowship with God. We long to see that fellowship lived out in our lives. We want to witness the power of God change lives in us, and in our friends, and in our community. Perhaps we’re afraid. Perhaps we just don’t know how. Perhaps we’re a little spiritually lazy.
Whatever is holding us back, the answer to how we get there is found in verses 42. The early church “devoted themselves to the apostles teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bead and to prayer.” This was their focus. And I believe that if we can change our focus, and devote ourselves to the same thing the early believers were devoted to, we will see the same power that they saw.
They were devoted to the apostles teaching. We can find the apostles teaching in the New Testament. Now all of Scripture is God breathed and good for us, but it is specifically the New Testament that was written by apostles and the earliest believers. So read all of Scripture, but devote yourself to the New Testament and what the apostles wrote and taught. Pastors are the modern-day successors of the apostles. They devote themselves to God’s Word and to prayer, so they can teach what the apostles taught. I love teaching – come and talk to me!
Fellowship was another of the things they were devoted to. They met together daily (v.46), they spent time together, they shared together, encouraging and supporting each other. If you don’t come together daily with other believers, you’re missing out on what true fellowship is all about. There is something going on in the church almost daily, there are opportunities to fellowship the way the early church did. So make sure you get yourself plugged in – devote yourself to it. Don’t let the distractions of the world take you out of fellowship with the body.
When we think of the breaking of bread, we often think of communion. In this passage, the breaking of bread was probably a common meal that included the Lord’s Supper. But it is not limited to the Lord’s Supper. Are you devoted to eating with your church family? We try to have fellowship meals monthly, are those meals a focus for you – are you devoted to them? Try to get together every time we share a meal. Sharing and discipleship happens as we break bread together.
And how about prayer? I hope you pray at home. But do you make it a practice to pray with other believers? Do you pray together? At FBC, our prayer gathering is on Tuesday nights at 6:30, but only a few come out for that time of prayer. But there is power in corporate prayer. There is power when we come together and lift each other up. There is power when we share the names of the sick, the ministries of the church, the needs of the community. There is power when the people of the church pray together.
There is power when the people of the church get together for all four of these practices. Change your focus. Put aside the concerns of the day and devote yourself to the apostles teaching, to fellowship with your church family, to breaking bread and sharing meals with other believers, and to corporate prayer, times you pray together as a church family.
The early church is a witness to the power of God exhibited when His people are devoted.