The first followers of Jesus devoted themselves to specific practices that drew them close to God and to each other. If we recognize these habits of the early church, we too can practice these devotions in our daily lives. The church prospered and flourished by the power of the Holy Spirit channeled through the holy habits of the first disciples. The same Spirit breathes his fire into our lives if we are willing to be filled by him.
Acts 2:42 describes the scene: “They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.” The early church was committed to these things. These were not trivial pursuits, but focused, intentional ways to walk in the Way of God's Christ. This is where the believers channeled their time and their resources.
The first followers studied the scriptures together under the Apostles' guidance to understand God's word to be transformed by it. Staying focused on scripture helps us stay focused on the priorities of God’s kingdom. In 1 Timothy 4:13, Paul instructs Timothy, “Until I come, devote yourself to the public reading of Scripture, to preaching and to teaching.” If we likewise devote ourselves to scripture it will shape our lives as well. Our families are molded by scripture as we spend time studying God’s word.
The early church knew that they needed to be committed to one another. They needed each other to face the challenges that lay before them. God did not design us for isolation, but for fellowship. In our society that idolizes individualism, scripture calls us to focus on fellowship with one another.
2 Corinthians 13:11 tells us, “Finally, brothers and sisters, rejoice! Strive for full restoration, encourage one another, be of one mind, live in peace. And the God of love and peace will be with you.” Relationships matter to God, he wants our fellowship together to be an expression of unity.
Sharing a meal together and remembering Christ's sacrifice was a normal part of daily life in the early church. This was the sharing of a meal as well as participation in the sacrament of communion. They took time to not just get to know one another superficially, but to sit with one another and invest in sharing food, fellowship, and faith. The early church remembered Jesus' instructions given to the disciples over dinner and followed them. Luke 22:19 tells us, “And he took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, ‘This is my body given for you; do this in remembrance of me.’” Mealtime matters, yet eating together can be a challenge when collaborating busy schedules. How is your family taking the time to share a meal and to tell of how God is faithful in your life?
Prayer through the anointing of the Holy Spirit was the fuel that powered the early church. When our families devote themselves to prayer, great things happen. James 5:16 says, “Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.“ How is your family devoting themselves to prayer?
Caring for the concerns of others was a priority within their community; they did not want anyone to be in need. Acts 2:44-45 tells us that, “All the believers were together and had everything in common. They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need.” When the church chose to demonstrate their compassion, it was more than just words. What needs has God placed on your heart today? Choose to reach out in love!
These devotions of the early church drew the believers closer to God and to each other. May God help us to be people who follow these devotions of his heart. May he reorient the priorities of our lives to reflect His kingdom values. May we live these priorities each day in God’s kingdom!