#457 (12/10/21) ADDED AND DEVOTED
Over the next three weeks, our devotionals will be based on our vision at CCP. If you are not a part of our church, I trust that you will still find these reflections helpful.
Our vision is to be a church community that is,
“Bringing people to Jesus - myself, one another and my community”
This week we are focussing on what it means to bring ‘One another’ to Jesus.
Many Christians live their lives as individuals or in their families without any real sense of identifying with a local church. Things have become more complicated as with the option to pick the best bits from different churches or ‘ministries’ on the internet. We must not allow what is good to become the enemy of God’s best. Devotion to a local church is God’s best for us. It may not be led by superstars with Hollywood production standards… but devotion to a local church is God’s method for our growth.
‘Those who accepted his message were baptised, and about three thousand were added to their number that day.’ (Acts 2:41)
After the Coming of the Holy Spirit and Peter’s first gospel sermon, three thousand were saved and added to the church community. It’s so important that we notice that new converts were ‘added to their number’. Being a part of the local church is meant to be the way of life for all Christians. In the next verse, we read of what they did together,
“They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.” (Acts 2:42)
We must ask the question, to what were they added? The answer is in the remainder of Acts 2. Devotion to teaching, fellowship, communion and prayer were at the heart of what this new church community did together.
They were devoted. This word (proskartereó) means to attend constantly, persevere, to Continue steadfastly. This speaks of a new identity. Jesus and the church were not bolted onto their existing lives. They changed their lifestyle to reflect their union with Christ and His people.
They were devoted to the apostles teaching. This is the content of the New Testament and the gospel message in particular. The Apostles teaching could be summarised as teaching about how to live in the light of the death and resurrection of Jesus.
They were devoted to ‘fellowship. Fellowship (koinónia) is could be translated partnership. It’s about partnering together for the mission of Jesus. The context gives us some examples of what biblical fellowship entails: They met together very regularly; they were generous in meeting financial needs; they were hospitable and opened their homes. They ate together.
They were devoted to ‘breaking bread’.
Breaking bread - Communion - is the act of taking bread and wine in remembrance of Jesus’ death for sin. The church is to be saturated with the gospel of God’s grace. Too often the modern church can be very inspiring about living a positive life but can too often neglect to make the gospel central.
They were devoted to ‘eating together’. ‘Breaking bread’ (v.42) probably also contains the idea of eating together (see v. 46) and is an important part of church fellowship and should be a regular feature of all of our lives.
They were devoted to Prayer. A healthy Church will be marked by devotion to praying together. I’m sure that these first disciples had all of the same pressures of work, family, tiredness… that we have. Like them, we must allow the Holy Spirit to teach us to make praying with the church a priority.
The result was growth.
‘And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.’ (Acts 2:47b)
A church that is devoted to coming to Jesus together will grow. God will add to us if we genuinely seek to come to Him together.
PRAY AND WORSHIP OUT OF THE BIBLE
In keeping with this aim of developing a personal relationship with God through prayer and worship out of the Bible, we’ll be developing our skill in meditation and prayer using the structure that we are taught in The Lord’s Prayer.
If you look at The Lord’s Prayer (Matthew 6:9-13), you’ll see that it can be broken into 4 major themes of Praise (6:9), Petitions (6:10-11), Peace-making (Matthew 6:12) and Protection (Matthew 6:13).
Using Acts 2:42-47, use the Lord’s prayer structure (below) to help you to pray.
'They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. Everyone was filled with awe at the many wonders and signs performed by the apostles. All the believers were together and had everything in common. They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need. Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.' (Acts 2:42-47)