Monday, September 30, 2013

How is one truly devoted in worship?

They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. -Acts 2:42

While I have covered the four main points of this verse already, there is still one point I would like to highlight about it. Specifically something not listed as a point of devotion for the first generation church. Which would be worship. Why is that not mentioned? Is it a mere oversight or is there another explanation? Did they take this shift in the covenant concerning the where and how of worship dead serious? Specifically the human body becoming the temple, and what we do in the body for God’s sake as living sacrifices, or acts of worship. If so the idea of a formal ritual might have seemed redundant to that first generation church. That in their eyes that devoting themselves to the apostles’ teaching, fellowship, the breaking of bread, and prayer were their true acts of worship. Not that I’m saying that formal ritual is bad unto itself, but if your worship consists of that and that alone. Yet you’re not honoring God in your everyday life and actions, you may just be playing church; rather than engaging in true worship. True new covenant style worship is not something you do two times a week or less in fixed ways, times, and places in an obligatory and rote way. Worship is something you do sincerely everyday as you build yourself up in God’s holy image, as you inspire the people around you, as you build God’s kingdom. 

Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own? For you have been bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body. -1 Corinthians 6:19-20

 Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship. -Romans 12:1

a man in church who is oblivious to the spirit
The eyes of my heart have grown dark

Friday, September 27, 2013

Are you devoted to prayer?

They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. -Acts 2:42

Now for the final point of our Acts verse which reveals what the priorities of that first generation church was, Prayer. It’s not something I’ve spoken of much; thus far. In fact, I didn’t even include it in the four purposes of church. 

Worship, Education, Outreach, Fellowship

Well why is that you may ask. I did not include it as a separate point, for it is a concept that can be applied to all four other points. This detail seems to indicate that prayer needs to take part in every aspect of our spiritual live. It’s no wonder so much has been written on the subject. Of course, you could read every word of it, and it wouldn’t mean a thing if you didn’t actually apply the practice as intended. The question is do you? The answer might be revealed in how you treat prayer. Is Prayer something you avoid or embrace? Do you pray routinely, or only when you need something? Do you pray privately, or only with others as prompted by them? If you do pray privately, is it for just yourself, or others as well? If you do pray for others, is it for their benefit, or are you just wanting people to do as you wish? Does corporate prayer make you apprehensive for fear of being evaluated harshly just because you’re not as eloquent as the next person? Do you like to go on and on to show off that you can be  rather flowery with your prayer? The answers to these questions can speak volumes as to where your heart is at, and ultimately how spiritually healthy you are. 

God bestowing holy fire upon a man praying
Baptized by fire

Friday, September 6, 2013

Our attitudes towards Apostles' teaching

They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. -Acts 2:42

I used this verse recently in a post on fellowship. However, all these points deserve a long hard look because these were the things of top priority to that first generation church. Why should now be any different?  For now, let’s look at the first mentioned. “They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching.” As I already have gone into great detail earlier, this is an element of church that has taken a big hit recently. Many are struggling to keep Sunday schools and small groups afloat due to a lack of interest. Which begs the question, why is the church of today so apathetic towards learning more about their own beliefs? I’m sure the reasons are many and diverse, but consider this idea. 

Many generations ago the church was defined by quiet and reflective worship and ritual. A time when Biblical literacy was far greater than it is now. It makes sense, for the simple fact that church was skewed toward people on the introvert side of the scale, people who naturally gravitated to thought and learning. However, this obviously did not bode well for those who naturally favored the extrovert side of the scale. Many extroverts left the church out of pure boredom, while the more devoted said; wait a second, this dispassionate style of worship is not Biblically sound; and it was true. Evangelical and Charismatic movements helped to foster a more extrovert style of worship. Granted, the Church should not be skewed either way and it’s good to bring a little happiness and passion in the spirit back to the church. However, the pendulum might have swung too far in the opposite extreme in many cases. This new extrovert style church seems more interested in having an experience or emotional high than obtaining understanding. As we have already determined, this was not what the original church was like at all.  As Jesus said to pilate in John 18:37 “I have come to testify to the truth.” So it’s obvious why the newfound church was dedicated to what the apostles learned from Jesus. Without a good theological standard of truth to hold our experiences up to, how are we to assure that said experiences are good and righteous rather than unrighteous and sinful? Clearly there is a lot that these diverse groups of people could teach one another in a true body of Christ sort of way. However, that will not happen if we defy Biblical diversity in favor of trying to force others to think, feel, and express themselves as we do for the sake of hollow unity.  

an extrovert dueling with an introvert with their way of life
Extroverts VS Introverts