Sunday afternoon was a red-letter day for me. The Tuesday and Wednesday Bible study groups got together to worship God in praise, song, prayer, fellowship and study of His Word. For me it is a wonderful privilege to be part of this group of Christians who are honestly seeking a deeper relationship with God.
For a number of people it was the first time they had ever met and new friendships were quickly forged and the room was filled with laughter and fellowship. I find it interesting that complete strangers can enter a room and because of a common interest (it doesn’t have to be Christianity) can soon be talking like long lost friends.
In the New Testament, on the day of Pentecost, the disciples went out into the streets as street preachers. They shared the Gospel and thousands responded by accepting Christ, repenting of their sins and receiving the Holy Spirit into their lives. But, now what was to happen to those people? What would be the look of the early New Testament church? I believe it would look a lot like our Sunday afternoon meeting.
Luke tells us in Acts 2, “They devoted themselves to the apostle’s teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread, and to prayer.” v. 42 Luke goes on to state, “Everyone was filled with awe, and many wonders and miraculous signs were done by the apostles. All the believers were together and had everything in common. Selling their possessions and goods, they gave to anyone as he 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 2:43-47
If we read this section of Acts carefully we notice the New Testament model for worship unfolding. These early Christians worshipped in home groups or what we would now call house churches. They studied the words of the Apostles, which now we have written down in the form of the Bible. They prayed for each other as well as the success of their witness in the community. They broke bread together and had fellowship. From the text we can see that they also became less concerned about themselves and gave of their finances, influence and time to those who had need. Today in churches we take offerings up to keep the system functioning. But in the early church they used their money for helping the poor and the needy.
The fact that they met in their homes for worship didn’t keep them from going up to the Temple courts. There they worshipped together and witnessed to their fellow Jews about Christ. Luke then goes on for the second time in this short passage, verses 42-47, to repeat that they broke bread in their homes and ate together.
I got to thinking about these verses, when I came home Sunday evening, and noticed something that I missed in previous readings. There is no doubt the early church got together, probably many times during the week to pray, study, have fellowship and break bread, but it is verse 46 and 47 that gives life to the verses. We could meet together everyday but if we don’t meet, “with glad and sincere hearts,” we will never have honest worship. The only reason the early church could praise God and enjoy the favor of all the people and see scores of people come to Christ, was because they came to Christ with glad hearts.
Sunday afternoon was like that for me. From the moment we began to sing praises to God till the last prayers you knew the Holy Spirit was with us. The two hours of teaching flew by with people sharing their views on the Scripture study and a wonderful testimony from one of the ladies that touched all our hearts regarding the grace of God. After the worship time was over many of us stayed and talked, shared a meal and got to know each other better. As I drove home last night it was with a “glad and sincere heart” for God’s blessings on us and His great love for us.
I can’t encourage you enough to either start or join an existing small fellowship group in your town or city. In both the groups Ruth and I belong to, they started out with just a few people in each of them and have grown through word of mouth. Besides growing closer to God I have made a couple of dozen really good friendships through the groups and I wouldn’t change that for anything.
If you live in the St. Andrews or St. Stephen area you are more than welcome to join with us in fellowship and study. Just contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I will be more than glad to direct you to one of our studies.