One of the greatest days in history was the day the kingdom of Christ was launched and the church began. Jesus had been crucified fifty days earlier on Passover. Three days later he was raised from the dead, triumphant over death and all of Satan’s powers. He remained on earth with the disciples for over a month before ascending back to the Father and starting his reign as king of kings and lord of lords at the right hand of the Father. As part of his plan and fulfillment of a major promise to the disciples he had commanded them to wait in Jerusalem until they received the Holy Spirit in an overwhelming way. When the day of Pentecost arrived, God sent the Holy Spirit with a huge noise like a tornado had hit Jerusalem. The Spirit came upon the disciples and there were tongues of fire sitting upon each of then. The apostles began to speak in languages they had never learned so that people from all over the known world who were in Jerusalem for the feast could understand them speaking in their own languages. No wonder a huge crowd came together. Peter stood up with the other eleven apostles and pointed out that this was what Joel the prophet had foretold that God would pour out his Spirit on all flesh. Sons and daughters would prophesy. Old men would dream dreams and young men see visions. God would pour out his Spirit on servants, both male and female. And whoever called on the name of the Lord would be saved.
Peter explained to them that Jesus who had performed all kinds of signs and wonders among them was the Messiah that had been prophesied. He was delivered to be crucified by the very plan and purpose of God and they had taken and by wicked hands had executed him. Yet death couldn’t hold. God raised him up and had now seated him on David’s throne just as he had promised. When the people realized what they had done they were cut to the heart and cried out,
“What shall we do?”
Peter told them to repent and be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of their sins and they would receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. The promise of the Spirit was for them, their children and all who are afar off, as many as the Lord our God shall call. 3,000 people believed what he preached, repented of their sins and were baptized that day.
But notice what happened then.
“They devoted themselves to the apostles teaching, to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to the prayers.”
Being forgiven and receiving the Spirit was vital. But it wasn’t the end for them. It was the beginning of a new life. Too many see being a Christian as an event. They were baptized and became part of the church. But did you devote yourself to the four big things that should be part of every Christian life?
Did you devote yourself to the apostles teaching? We all begin the Christian life as new babies in him. We are still feeding on milk and not meat. But if we are to grow and become strong as Christians we must become devoted students of the apostles teachings or the word of God especially the New Testament. We need a daily habit of reading and studying his word. But we need also to be part of study groups or classes so we can learn from others who have had more time to learn and know His will.
Have you devoted yourself to the fellowship or partnership of other followers of Jesus? Living for Christ isn’t an individual effort, but a team activity. He built the church as a body, a family and congregation so we can help each other grow in our faith and service to God. We need the encouragement of other Christians and the correction of mistakes and failures that hinder our growth for him. Build your fellowship. That was much of the reason the writer of Hebrews told them not to forsake the assembling of themselves together like some were doing.
Have you devoted yourself to the breaking of bread? This phrase is used both for sharing meals together and for taking of the Lord’s Supper together. Most likely here it is about the Lord’s Supper. In the early church the communion and the meal together were often done together so that the communion actually came about during the serving of a regular meal. It didn’t mean that every meal together was communion but that communion fit well as part of the table fellowship that was part of their normal life together.
Have you devoted yourself to the prayers? Certainly personal and private prayers are extremely important and ought to be a regular part of our life. But that isn’t what is being talked about in this text. He is instead referring to the people getting together to pray to God about matters of great importance to the whole group. Prayer services were once common in church and in small groups but seem to have become less and less a part of the normal life of the Christians and that is a shame. We need to get together to pray about matters that are important for our families, our friends and for the church as a whole. I believe there would be far less confusion and fussing in church if there were more times when we gathered to pray.
Will you today, make up your mind to become devoted to these four major aspects of godly living? It will set your whole life for God on a good course.