Worship by the Book: Gathering

We gather because we pray (42e): Jesus taught his followers how to pray, and encouraged them to bring their request to God in his name, because God knows what we need before we ask. This was not just for individual prayer, but corporate prayer as well as we see in the book of Acts. Even in chapter 1, the early believers are in prayer together before the coming of the Holy Spirit, asking God later in the chapter to give them wisdom as they choose the disciple to replace Judas. The early church was founded on prayer and our church must be as well. We pray because we want God to answer and do things beyond all we can ask, think or do. That leads us to our next point…

We gather because it’s awesome (43): The early church was in awe of the signs and wonders being performed by the apostles which were given by the Holy Spirit to authenticate the founding of the church upon Christ. The word for awe is phobos, which is the word from which we get the word phobia. It means fear. There is a sense of reverential terror in the sight of God working in powerful ways. Jesus told the disciples in Mark 16:17-20 that this would happen and it did. “And these signs will accompany those who believe: in my name they will cast out demons; they will speak in new tongues; they will pick up serpents with their hands; and if they drink any deadly poison, it will not hurt them; they will lay their hands on the sick, and they will recover.” So then the Lord Jesus, after he had spoken to them, was taken up into heaven and sat down at the right hand of God. And they went out and preached everywhere, while the Lord worked with them and confirmed the message by accompanying signs. Then the book of Acts continues with signs and wonders performed by the Holy Spirit, authenticating the authority of the disciples: Acts 5:5; 19:17. The miracle of all miracles is that God would save wretched sinners like us!

We gather because we are together(44-45): There are several things in these two verses that go with and overlap each other, so I listed them under one heading.

  1. We are like minded: Spiritual unity and spiritual oneness. Remember, my saying that unity is different than unison. Unison means everyone is singing the same song and the same part, but unity means we are all singing the same song, but with melody and harmony together. The early church centered themselves upon Jesus and he was the song they sang in harmony that was so loud people wanted to be a part of it every day.
  2. We help each other: Look at how they took care of each other: “as any had need” is clear. If there was a need, someone in the church met the need. I have had appliances installed, lights fixed, fans put in, air conditioning fixed, cars looked at, and many other things done through the gifts and talents of our church members. I am good at talking. This is what I do. I am not Bob Villa or Mike Holmes. When I am working alongside of some of you, I am pretty sure you are making up tool names just to make me feel inadequate. “Hand me the rotarygirder…” That’s not real. The joy is that all of you are good at something and the church needs your expertise to work the way God has intended us to work.
  3. We care more about people than stuff: Selling and sharing their things was a common practice among the early church and showed their commitment to taking care of other people over gaining and hoarding stuff.

We gather because we love doing so(46): They met in the temple (big meeting) and from house to house (small meetings) and there are three specific characteristics of their gatherings:

  1. Eating (46): Breaking bread language again; Probably a reference to fellowship meal.
  2. Enjoying (46): Look at how they received their food: glad and generous hearts. Glad is clear, but generous could better be translated sincere or genuine. They were happy to be together and to be sharing with each other in Christian fellowship.
  3. Exalting (47): Their gladness and sincerity resulted in adoration of God for Jesus is the head of the church. Jesus is the one who builds the church. God is the orchestrator of this. We wouldn’t do things this way, but when we all get together and see how marvelous the plans of God are for the church, we rejoice freely! How great a plan this is!

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