did you form your concept of church? You probably formed your concept of church
the same way I did. See if you can identify with this story.
Wake up. It’s Sunday morning, It’s time for church.”
don’t want to go to church.”
hush. You’re going to church. Go take a bath and put these clothes on.
Here they are, already ironed and laying on your toy chest. All you have to
do is put them on.”
I roll out of bed, wipe the sleep out of my eyes, do what my momma told me to
do. We arrive at Sunday School about 10-15 minutes late, because in Baptist
churches that is right on time. Then, we went to big church. It’s hard
for a five-year-old to stay still in big church. The only redeeming factor was
the five-minute children’s church that the youth minister did with us down
front. At 12:00, we left to go home. My dad would give me and my brother our
Sunday whippen. We would eat lunch. Then, go play.
over the years my concept of church has altered. I hope yours has also. For
many of us, our concept of church is formed by church experience. There is only
one problem. When my expectations of what church should be are based on my experience
of church, they don’t always match what God expects out of his church.
God expects the church to have its priorities straight.
text says that they were continually devoting themselves. A priority is, whatever
you are continually devoted to. Have you ever thought about what your priorities
are? The following were the priorities of the first church.
they were devoted to learning and living God’s word. The text says that
they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching. This command reminds
us of the advice the apostle Paul gave to young pastor Timothy, “Preach
the Word, be prepared in season and out of season, correct, rebuke, and encourage-with
great patience and careful instruction” (2 Tim. 3:16).
don’t know if Luke listed this as the first priority for a reason. But
I know that without the preaching and teaching of the Word of God in such a
way that Holy Spirit takes it and saves souls and transforms hearts, we cannot
be a church.
they enjoyed being together. That’s just to say that they devoted themselves
to fellowship and the breaking of bread. Baptists love to fellowship. If there
is a reason to meet, there is a reason to eat. But fellowship meant more than
just eating together; however the breaking of bread is certainly a big part
of it. It means everyone is on the same page concerning the task.
meant that they cared about the same things when it comes to the Lord’s
they prayed together. John MacArthur said that prayer is the slender nerve that
moves the muscle of omnipotence. In other words, if you want something to happen,
then you must pray for it. They would gather in homes and lift up concerns during
the week for those that were hurting.
God expects the church to be filled with awe.
seems that our churches have lost much of the awe that should come with recognizing
the great sacrifice that Jesus made to tear down the wall of sin make a way
for our eternal life. Oh sure, we are still awed today by churches. We are awed
by their beautiful buildings, great programs, wonderful activities.
when is the last time you stepped into a worship service and was awed by the
presence of God? When is the last time you were almost terrified by the feeling
that God is in this place and you are standing before his presence.
that kind of awe experience comes few and far between. Why were they continually
feeling awe and we rarely experience it? The apostles were doing many wonders
and signs. They were simply attempting things they could not accomplish without
the power of God.
God expects the church to be unified.
though with 3,000 people it was obvious that they could not all be together
at one time all the time they nevertheless thought of themselves as one and
they functioned as one. They had all things in common and continued with one
mind. They had one purpose and one goal. We can see it in the way they acted
toward each other. If one person was in need, those that had plenty would sell
something and give it to those in need. In other words, they took responsibility
for each other. These Christians could not bear to have too much when others
had so little.
process of enjoying one another, living in this community of faith just went
on and on. They had meals together. Praised God together. Their countenance
was one of gladness and sincerity of heart.
– maybe most amazing of all – they had favor with all the people.
This kind of community of faithfulness is attractive. When the lost world viewed
the church they didn’t think of hypocrisy. So it is no wonder that everyday
was a revival for them. Day by day, the Lord was adding to the number that was