May 2 – May 8, 2017

WORD

42They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers.  43Awe came upon everyone, because many wonders and signs were being done by the apostles.  44All who believed were together and had all things in common; 45they would sell their possessions and goods and distribute the proceeds to all, as any had need.  46Day by day, as they spent much time together in the temple, they broke bread at home and ate their food with glad and generous hearts, 47praising God and having the goodwill of all the people.  And day by day the Lord added to their number those who were being saved.

Acts 2:42-47

Reading Scripture to Know:

  • What is happening/being said? (Observation)
  • Why is this happening/being said? (Interpretation)
  • What does the rest of Scripture say about it? (Evaluation)
  • What does it mean? (Understanding)
  • What does it mean for us? (Application)

Reading Scripture to Grow:

  • What words or phrases stand out to you? Why?
  • Where do you hear the voice of God in this Scripture?
  • How do you see the character of God reflected in this Scripture?
  • How does this Scripture reveal God?
  • How does this Scripture expose humanity and its need for God?
  • How does this Scripture speak to what is happening in your life?
  • How does this Scripture speak to what is happening in our world?
  • What might God want to communicate to you (us) this week through this Scripture?

Scripture Reads Me:

  • This passage makes me feel…
  • This passage makes me think about…
  • This passage reminds me of…
  • This passage teaches me that God is…
  • This passages teaches me that I am…
  • This passage challenges me to…

Reflection: They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers.

What does the word devotion mean to you?  Perhaps you think of a loyal pet, like the sweet dog above, who remains faithful to you and brings you happiness and companionship.  Perhaps an image of a couple celebrating their 50th wedding anniversary would define devotion for you.  Many of us would be inspired by considering the devotion shown by Jesus Christ, to both us and to the Father, in giving his life for the world.

How do you show devotion to others?  Specifically, if someone asked you if you were devoted to God, how would you answer and what evidence would you give of your devotion?  Would your devotion be found in words or in actions?  If you would use actions to demonstrate your devotion, what would these actions be?

For the earlier disciples, who gathered in communities following the resurrection and ascension of Jesus, devotion was shown in communal acts of learning, presence, sacrament, and prayer.  Last week in the sermon I spoke of two of these specifically – learning (through Scripture) and sacrament.  These are evidences of our devotion to God still today.  Connection to God in prayer and connection to others in practicing open, encouraging, and loving presence are also our responsibility today.

We speak much of prayer, as we should.  It is one of the major callings of my life and I hope it is the same for you.  We do not, however, speak as much of practicing such open, encouraging, and loving presence.  Author Rochelle Melander calls such action “generous presence.”  It is known by others names, too, such as spiritual companionship and fellowship (what this passage names it as).

How do you offer evidence of God’s love and care to others in the ways in which you are present with them?  Are you rushed, dismissive, and preoccupied?  Or are you patient, engaged, and giving of your time and attention?  How might you offer someone the gift of “generous presence” this week?  How might you show that you are devoted to God by devoting yourself to caring for someone else through the practice of fellowship?

Daily Readings: 

  • Tuesday, May 2 – Hosea 12
  • Wednesday, May 3 – Hosea 13
  • Thursday, May 4 – Hosea 14
  • Friday, May 5 – Daniel 1
  • Saturday, May 6 – Daniel 2
  • Sunday, May 7 – Daniel 3
  • Monday, May 8 –  Daniel 4

SPIRIT

Prayer Focus: Day by day the Lord added to their number those who were being saved.

Do you ever pray for your salvation?  Some of us might not think we need to pray in such ways because we can look back to a date in our past in which we experienced a salvation moment.  Our salvation, though, is an active experience.  Jesus Christ has given us the gift of salvation and it is up to us to choose to live within that salvation daily.  We are called to claim salvation today and every day!  We regularly experience sin, temptation, pains, disappointments, and attitudes from which we need salvation.  Think about what you might need to be saved from this week.  Pray that God would be with you in the saving power of Jesus Christ.  Trust God to give you the strength to overcome what threatens you.  Let God work the wonders of salvation within you this week.  Pray fervently that others might experience this saving grace of God as well.  Remember that the apostle Paul wrote in different places in his letters that we have been saved, we are saved, and we will be saved.  God’s salvation for us is a past, present, and future reality.  So embrace your salvation today!

Meditation Focus: Day by day, as they spent much time together in the temple…

Some weeks, the most time we spend in the church is the single hour of communal worship on Sunday.  But how often do you spend time in the temple?  Our bodies are called temples of God’s Spirit and within each part of us can we can construct a temple of God’s presence.  Our hearts and minds can become such temples as well.  As you spend time with God this week, focus your attention on that word, temple.  Ask God to bring it to the forefront of your mind as you go about your normal business this week.  How might you cultivate your heart, mind, and body into temples of God’s presence?  What informal temples does God bring your attention to this week – in your office, in your home, and in your community?  How might every experience of your day be transformed into a temple experience?

Journaling Focus: All who believed were together and had all things in common; they would sell their possessions and goods and distribute the proceeds to all, as any had need. 

What is your initial reaction to this passage?  It definitely flies in the face of our own capitalistic mindset.  We cling tightly to our possessions and struggle with sharing (even though we have been taught to share since we were children!).  Coveting and amassing things is a major problem in our society.  Write about how you understand this passage and what this passage is calling us to do today.  How might you be more giving and sharing?  How do your possessions possess you?  What sacrifices do you think the early Christians had to make to live out this reality?  Are you willing to make similar sacrifices?  Why/why not?

Holy Action: 

Write a note to someone in your community of faith, expressing your appreciation for that person.  Let them know what their friendship means to you and your faith.  Then send that note to them – in the mail, by text, or by email.  Express your appreciation for those who form the community of devoted disciples along with you!

Breath Prayer: Father, form us into your community.

 

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