42. And they continued stedfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers.
A Devoted Church!
I believe that every one in church have a desire to do what is right. For if you didn’t have such a desire, chances are you wouldn’t keep coming to church. The problem is that many of us don’t know how to get from where we are to where God wants to be.
We don’t know how to make the move. We can’t go through the phase of metamorphosis. It is my belief that if we were sure of the process that it takes to get to the next step, many of us would have taken that next step a long time ago. But the process is really simply. The method has been placed right before our very eyes.
If we would only follow those principles and promises that have already been given to us, we can get to where God wants us to be. Many people today are at odds, they are wondering just what it is that God wants us to do, but I’ve told you before, the Bible is God’s Word to us, and He has already proclaimed within His Word, what He would have us to do.
He said in His Word, “Abide in me and let My Word abide in you, you can ask what you will and it shall be done unto you”. Now to abide means that you must have a constant walk with Him. Your relationship with Him must be constant. But for too long have we played with that concept. We think that we have a box God. When we need Him, we will cut the box open and pull Him out, and use Him up. But when things are okay, we will politely wrap Him back up and tape up the box until we need Him again.
As a church, we must become devoted to a relationship with Christ. Our relationship must not be brought about by unforeseen circumstances, but it must remain constant. See, the fact is that we don’t love Him because of what we want Him to do for us; we love Him for what He has already done. Our love must be a continuous thing. We can’t just come to Him on Sunday and expect everything to be alright. It’s a continuous thing. Until we get to where we have fellowship with Him constantly, we cannot be a devoted church.
We will find ourselves engaged in wrong doing when we allow our relationship with Christ to fall to a point below where it should be. That’s why David, when he fell into adultery with Bethsheba, asked God to “renew within Him that right Spirit”. David said to the master, “Restore unto me the joy of my salvation”. In other words, get me back to the fellowship that I once enjoyed with you.
Today, we must become a devoted church. Preacher and pastor today must search deep within the Word of God and find Spiritual truths, and they must become devoted to teaching these truths to God’s people. Deacons must become devoted in their assistant to the Pastor. They must devote themselves to the work of the ministry.
Choirs and Musicians must become devoted to the message of God through song. Praise Him with a loud voice. Missionaries and Brotherhood need to be devoted through the spreading of the gospel, which is the good news about Christ Jesus.
To be devoted means that your character has become loyal. As Christians, it means that we are loyal to the witness of Christ Jesus. I’m here to tell you this morning, to be loyal means that you must put everything else behind God. God must be first in your life. He must be first in your practices. He must be first in everything that you do.
When we as preacher step to the pulpit, God must be first on our agenda. When the deacons come to devotion, God must be first in their mind. When the choir gets in the choir stand to sing, God must be first in their songs. When the musician key up to play, God must be first in their music. The teacher, when they stand to teach God’s Word, God must be first in their teaching. When the Ushers stand around the wall, God must be first in their motives.
Now to become devoted means that we must discipline ourselves. Many of us have a problem with discipline. But when it comes to the gospel of Christ Jesus we must be quick to move at His command. Romans 12:11 says, “Not slothful in business; fervent in spirit; serving the Lord”.
We are not to be slow in doing the works of Christ. Fervent means that we ought to be glowing. We ought to have an intense feeling toward working for God. Church shouldn’t just be a ritual for us. It ought not to be a duty for us, but a delight to work for the Lord. We should be serious about what we are doing here each Sunday, so that it will become a part of our lives and reach out into Monday through Saturday.
As I look at the early church here in Acts 2, I find a tremendous devotion that caused them to be a church like no other. Remember these were the people, who once stood on the outside of the church, but they heard the Word of God, which pricked their hearts and they repented of their wrong. We see in the 42nd verse how these same people became a devoted church.
Now the scripture says that they “continued steadfastly”. Which means, and if you will follow this back to the original Greek, it means that “they agreed to be honest toward” doing the works of Christ. They were not playing. A lot of things would be better for the local church today, as well as the body of believers, if we had people who agreed to be honest toward the work.
Many people today have taken, twisted, and tried the word every kind of way that they know how to make it work for them. Most people today don’t really want to search for the truth, but they will take the little nuggets that they pick up off the surface and try to make it work in their situation. If we are to be a devoted church today, we must search for the truth that is found in God’s Word.
There are four things in this verse that this church agreed to be honest toward, 1) the apostle doctrine, 2) fellowship, 3) the breaking of bread, and 4) prayer. Today, if we are to be or become a devoted church, we too must find a way to be honest in these areas. We too must find a way to devour those things that will hinder our progress, and cling to and devote ourselves to those things that will help our passion.
Today, let’s talk about the things that helped the early church, to see if these same principles will help us to become a devoted church.
The Apostle Doctrine
The first thing that they devoted themselves to was the Apostle Doctrine. Now the word “doctrine” means teaching. Jesus proclaimed to us in Matt. 28:20 that we are to, “teach them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you”. If we are to follow Jesus today, then we are to follow His teaching.
I am aware today that there are some false teachers. I am aware that some preachers are teaching things only for self gratification. But I too am aware that there is going to be a judgment one day. And I know if I tell you something things that will lead you astray; I’ve got to give account of it during the judgment. The things that you’ve got to worry about, is when you false accuse me, when you say things about me that’s not true, because one day you are going to have to stand at the judgment too, and you will have to answer for those wrong things that you said.
Right now, I am the “watchman” for your soul. God has given me the vision for this church. And you know when we talk about vision a lot of people think that it talking about what I as a pastor can do to help this local church. No, that’s not what a vision should be, but it should be what I as pastor can do to help this church become devoted to doing the works of Christ.
See, we are not here to promote ourselves, but we are here to praise Christ Jesus. These folks devoted themselves to the teaching that the Apostle taught. These Apostles taught them how to come together and praise God. Today we are facing a similar battle that they faced then.
During those days they there was a struggle between the religious leaders. See, Christianity was just beginning to be recognized. The Scribes and Pharisees were holding fast to the Law, and the Apostles were teaching a new law, a new order, and it was focused on the works of Christ Jesus. Today we’ve got Pastors fighting Deacons. Choirs competing with other choirs. Churches competing with other churches. WE are facing the same battles.
Today, if we should become a devoted church, we must listen to the Apostle’s teaching. As I said on last week, we must listen to it to the point where we will become doer of the Word, and not hearers only. Every since I’ve been here, I’ve been teaching you that in order for us a church family to make it; we’ve got to love one another.
We’ve got to put our differences behind us and move on. We’ve got to become honest toward loving one another. If there is someone that you can get alone with today, be honest with yourself, stop fooling yourself, and start working on yourself, so that you can move to a greater and better relationship with this person.
See, the only way that we can have a working relationship with God, is that we have a working relationship with one another. God said in His word, “How can you say that you love me, whom you have not seen, but you hate your sisters and brothers whom you walk with daily”. See, my point is, unless you become honest with these teaching, like I said on last week, all that you are doing is just playing church.
You must devote yourself to the teaching of the Word of God. See, you can’t play around with how you give to the church, because I’ve been teaching you the correct way to give. Either you do it God’s way or not at all. You can’t play around with forgiving one another, God has command all of us to forgive one another even as He has forgiven you.
The next thing they continued steadfastly in was fellowship. I’ve been teaching you that fellowship is very important. Fellowship is vital to the life of any church. More and more of us would learn how to get alone better with each other, if we would spend more time with each other.
See, fellowship is about spending time with each other. A husband and wife that fights a lot, only needs to increase their fellowship. Time, teaches us the character and conduct of the next person. I might say something and not mean anything negative by what I said, but because you don’t know my character, you might think that I’m being negative. And because I don’t know your character, I don’t know exactly how I should say what I’m saying.
When we come together often and talk to one another and learn one another’s character, then we can learn how to get alone with one another. We can get on one accord. You will know things that hurts my feelings, and I will know the things that hurts your feelings and when we are honest with that, we will find ourselves going through less and less problems.
I think that I need to say this before I move any further, It’s not just having fellowship that will make things better, but it’s being honest with our fellowship. What are you saying pastor? What I mean is you can spend time together with someone, but still not have fellowship with them. That’s what we do all the time. We come together but we won’t talk to one another. As long as we will come here and there is a few we will talk too and many that we won’t talk too, we are not doing any good by coming together.
Fellowship means “to participate”. When we get a new member, and we give them the right hand of fellowship, what we are doing is giving that person the right to participate with us in getting the word our. We are giving them a part in this ministry. Fellowship means “to communicate with one another”. Unless we learn how to talk with each and everyone here, then we are not being honest with fellowship. If we are not honest with fellowship, we can’t become a devoted church.
The Bible teaches fellowship. Yeah, you can be saved any where and at any time, but the bible says, “Forsaken not the assembling of yourselves together”. These folks in Acts came together not just once a week, but the scriptures tells us in verse 46, that these were things that they did DAILY.
See, we, as a church today, we don’t fellowship enough. We should be out here daily doing something that will help us to get the Word of God out to those who don’t know Him. Our motto is that, “We are sharing Jesus Christ with those who don’t know Him, we are nurturing those who do, we are building strong Christians”. I like that. But my question is, how can we do that if the ones who are already here are not fellowshipping with one another?
Breaking of Bread
The next thing that they were honest in and they continued steadfastly toward the breaking of bread. I want you to see something here. Every time that this church came together, they had communion. Communion, like fellowship is important. It teaches us to remember those things that Jesus Christ did for us. That why we don’t praise Him like we should, because we don’t remember those things that He done of us.
The breaking of bread means communion. It’s one of the Baptist ordinances, the other one being the Baptism. I don’t know how the church of today got to where they are with this, but some where down the line, we missed the mark. Every time this church would come together they would remember the things Christ Jesus did for them One Friday.
One of the reasons why we are not as devoted as we should be is because Passion Friday has become a once a year thing for us. Once a year we celebrate Good Friday. As a church, we really don’t celebrate it because it is overshadowed by Easter Sunday. I know, none of us like the ideal of how Jesus had to suffer for us during Friday, but on the other hand, we must never forget it either. We’ve first got to remember Him dying in order for us to rejoice in His Resurrection.
The breaking of bread brings this day back to our remembrance. It speaks of His broken body. How they whipped Him until His flesh was literally torn off of His body. It speaks of the blood that He shed for us. They whipped Him until His blood literally ran down the streets and gutters of Jerusalem.
When Jesus gave this ordinance to the disciples in Luke 22:19, He said, “And he took bread, and gave thanks, and brake it, and gave unto them saying, “This is my body which is given for you; this do in remembrance of me. Likewise also the cup after supper, saying, This cup is the new testament in my blood, which is shed for you”.
Jesus commanded us as a church to do this in remembrance of Him. And it hurts me to see people who won’t take the communion. Many of you who won’t take it, loves to use as a standard the time when Paul talked about being unworthy. But remember Paul was a devoted man. He was devoted to doing what was right.
We miss the point in what Paul said. Paul said that he would lay it down, go get thing right with the brother, come back and take the communion. Now he wasn’t saying don’t take it at all, and that is what we do. I need to tell you when you don’t take it, you are putting yourself under the judgment of Christ Jesus, because He is the one who commanded that we do it in remembrance of the things that He done for us.
The last thing that this church done was to remain in prayer constantly. I’m convinced this morning that the biggest problem of the church today is that we don’t pray enough. Most of us when we do pray, we are asking God for things that will only benefit us. As I said last week, we turn in a grocery list to God. God do this and God do that. We are praying that God will move in each of our situations. We are praying that God will elevate us to a new level.
We are praying that God would just give, give, and keep on giving to us. But prayer should be a practice of thanksgiving. We shouldn’t wait until Sunday to be thankful to God. We should be thankful to Him always.
I want you to notice something here. These people were praying in the Spirit. They were praying as the Holy Ghost gave them utterance. They were speaking with OTHER tongues, OTHER dialects. Not UNKNOWN, but OTHER.
Now watch this, prayer is when we are talking to God. God knows all languages. Nothing is unknown to God. I’m convinced today that we haven’t been praying right. We haven’t been praying enough. I’m convinced that we haven’t been praying daily like we ought too.
The bible tells us that men ought to always pray.
It says, that we are to pray without ceasing. Oh Lord.
I’m reminded of how this church went into prayer. Prayer is a form of praise to God.
Verse 47 says, they were, “praising God, and having favour with all the people”.
Yeah, Yea Lord.
I believe that when we learn how to praise God,
God will show favour in our lives.
I believe that God will give us back our shelter, where the storms clouds of life roar.
I believe that God will resume our progress, where there is now so many problems.
I believe that God will stabilize us, where we are now faced with suffering.
When we become a devote church
When we can learn how to love one another.
When we can devote ourselves to walk in the teaching of the man of God.
When we can devote ourselves to having true fellowship with one another.
When we can devote ourselves to breaking bread with one another.
When we can devote ourselves to praying without ceasing.
I believe that God will show up in our circumstances.
I heard somebody say, when God shows up, He will show out.
He showed up on the Day of Pentecost. My bible tells me that 3,000 souls were added to the church. That sounds to me, like God showed out.
He showed out down in Bethlehem, Brought forth a child, born of a virgin. Lying in a manger, wrapped in swaddling clothes. That sounds to me like, God showed out.
He showed out, at a wedding one day. All the wine had run out.
And Jesus said, fill the water pots, when they began to drink,
He had turned water into wine,
That sounds to me like, God showed out.
He showed out at a funeral procession. They were marching down the streets of Jerusalem. And they had professional mourners there,
They were crying, weeping and mourning,
But Jesus stopped the procession, made the dead to get up and walk.
That sounds like to me, that God showed out.
He showed out, by the Sea of Galilee. Jesus stepped off the ship, and met a boy that was possessed with demons. The demons started talking to Jesus, but Jesus commanded that they come out of the little boy, cast in a herd of swine.
The swine went running down a steep hill, and drowned in the sea,
That sounds like to me, that God showed out.
He showed out on Calvary’s Hill one Day.
They caught my Lord and your God,
One Thursday night.
Whipped Him all night long. He never said a mumbling word.
They took Him to Pilate, but Pilate said, I find no fault in this Man.
But the crowd cried out Crucify Him, Crucify Him.
They hung Him, on the cross.
They nailed His hand and they nailed His feet.
They speared Him, in the side.
But I heard, that Sun refused to shine, the Moon, dripped down in blood.
The centurion went running down the streets saying, “Surely, this must be the Son of God”