Devoted to Worshiping Together

42 And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. 43 And awe came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were being done through the apostles. 44 And all who believed were together and had all things in common. 45 And they were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need. 46 And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts, 47 praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved.

Acts 2:42-47

19 Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the holy places by the blood of Jesus, 20 by the new and living way that he opened for us through the curtain, that is, through his flesh, 21 and since we have a great priest over the house of God, 22 let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. 23 Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful. 24 And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, 25 not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.

Hebrews 10:19-25

So he came to a town of Samaria called Sychar, near the field that Jacob had given to his son Joseph. Jacob’s well was there; so Jesus, wearied as he was from his journey, was sitting beside the well. It was about the sixth hour.

A woman from Samaria came to draw water. Jesus said to her, “Give me a drink.” (For his disciples had gone away into the city to buy food.) The Samaritan woman said to him, “How is it that you, a Jew, ask for a drink from me, a woman of Samaria?” (For Jews have no dealings with Samaritans.) 10 Jesus answered her, “If you knew the gift of God, and who it is that is saying to you, ‘Give me a drink,’ you would have asked him, and he would have given you living water.” 11 The woman said to him, “Sir, you have nothing to draw water with, and the well is deep. Where do you get that living water? 12 Are you greater than our father Jacob? He gave us the well and drank from it himself, as did his sons and his livestock.” 13 Jesus said to her, “Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, 14 but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again. The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” 15 The woman said to him, “Sir, give me this water, so that I will not be thirsty or have to come here to draw water.”

16 Jesus said to her, “Go, call your husband, and come here.” 17 The woman answered him, “I have no husband.” Jesus said to her, “You are right in saying, ‘I have no husband’; 18 for you have had five husbands, and the one you now have is not your husband. What you have said is true.” 19 The woman said to him, “Sir, I perceive that you are a prophet. 20 Our fathers worshiped on this mountain, but you say that in Jerusalem is the place where people ought to worship.” 21 Jesus said to her, “Woman, believe me, the hour is coming when neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem will you worship the Father. 22 You worship what you do not know; we worship what we know, for salvation is from the Jews. 23 But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship him. 24 God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.” 25 The woman said to him, “I know that Messiah is coming (he who is called Christ). When he comes, he will tell us all things.” 26 Jesus said to her, “I who speak to you am he.”

John 4:5-26

The temple was the place where the Jewish people worshiped – much more than how we view church today. It was a cultural hub, a hub of activity for spiritual and civil happenings. It was the only lace where acts of worship (sacrifices) were done. Worship then was very different than today – it centered around sacrifices and the rituals performed by the priests. Now, worship is to be public & private and can be done everywhere. Worship today is centered on the sacrificed of Jesus.

4 For it is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins…. 11 And every priest stands daily at his service, offering repeatedly the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins. 12 But when Christ had offered for all time a single sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God, 13 waiting from that time until his enemies should be made a footstool for his feet. 14 For by a single offering he has perfected for all time those who are being sanctified. 15 And the Holy Spirit also bears witness to us; for after saying, 16 “This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days, declares the Lord: I will put my laws on their hearts, and write them on their minds,” 17 then he adds, “I will remember their sins and their lawless deeds no more.” 18 Where there is forgiveness of these, there is no longer any offering for sin.

Hebrews 10:4, 11-18

Once & for all, our sins are paid for by Jesus’ sacrifice. We don’t have to make sacrifices to cover our sins. Jesus did that! We can worship through prayer, reading the Bible, singing, listening to teachings, and meditation.

The reformation was built upon the early Christian church, built on Jesus & His mission – to make disciples, be His witness. That witness is stronger when we are together because it was filled with confidence. Worshiping together is a foretaste of the glorious daily worship in eternity with God.

Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life. We can worship together in our homes and in public buildings. Our whole self is a living sacrifice to our Lord. Although personal, we worship together to bring each other together and strengthen each other in the faith – through mutual conversation and consolation among the brothers and sisters in Christ. I receive God’s grace through you, and You receive God’s grace through me. Yes, we receive God’s grace through the Word and the Sacraments, but also through those worshiping with us.

Challenge Questions:

  • Who is my focus on when I worship?
  • When I am worshiping Jesus with others, is it Jesus and me or Jesus and we? (There’s nothing wrong with personal and private worship, but there is value in worshiping together. This is about when we are worshiping together.)
  • How does the “we” in worship help me in my confidence, steadfastness, and hope?
  • When we are devoted to worship in Sprit and truth together, how can our witness accomplish Jesus’ call to us to make disciples?

Everything in Common

Acts 2:44-45, 4:32-37, John 17:6-11

In Acts, that they shared and had everything in common was not a command for how to live in Christian life, but a description of how they lived as Christians. First, their culture was very different than our American culture. They love in a culture that was collectivistic – concerned about the community. Whereas, our American culture is individualistic. Neither is wrong, but they are different!

In Jerusalem, there were two cultures:

  1. Roman: based on heredity, property, wealth
  2. Jewish: based on family and purity

The Christian culture is different from both in that we are welcoming of all no matter their family, wealth, health, or whatever. Furthermore, each member of the Christian community is equally valuable and precious.

Galatians 3:26-29

John 17:10-11

Even Jesus considered nothing to be His, not even His own disciples. Jesus became one with us when he came to earth. He bore our sins as His and paid the price so we could have life through Him. Because He lives, we live. We have everything in common with Jesus! Sins, forgiveness, salvation, & eternal life.

In the early church, they had everything in common because their everything was Jesus. Christian community is more about “we” more than “me.” Communities like this are a reflections of Jesus.

Luke 17:1-10

  • faith is marked by actions
  • turning to God to rely on
  • recognize its not me, but God

If we are doing what we’re supposed to do – our duty – what we are indebted to do – obligated… it’s not above and beyond, & we’re not all that, but still unworthy servants. We need Jesus! He did the hard things, the above & beyond – died on the cross paying the price for all sin – my sin. Therefore, he gets all the glory! All the credit. We are restored to God.

We are indebted to Jesus and that’s why we need to turn to Him & trust Him because He can do so much more than I can imagine with a greater love and compassion for me that I can imagine!

Apostles’ Final Teachings

When you are at your worst, who is walking with who?

Luke 22 is all about the upper room.

v.35-38: Before they were so full of faith, they lacked nothing. God provided. Remember those days of faithfulness in the darkness…

v. 47-51: What are you relying on?

God or the sword? Kingdom of God or kingdom of darkness? Faith or things of this world? There are only two options!

You are either working in and advancing the kingdom of one or the other.

Nothing is impossible for God. God still provides!

Jesus walks with us even at our worst… and doesn’t leave us that way.

These are my notes from this sermon message.

The Pharisee and the Tax Collector

Luke 18:9-14 ~ My Sermon Notes from the service today.

Who was Jesus talking to?
Those confident in their own righteousness & looked down on others

… that I’m not like other people…
It’s our nature to compare ourselves to others – as better than, or at least not as bad as…

The reality?
We are all the same. Sinners, fallen short of the glory of God.

Galatians 6:4
But let each one test his own work, and then his reason to boast will be in himself alone and not in his neighbor.

“comparison is the thief of joy”

— Theodore Roosevelt

“God have mercy on me, a sinner.”

Actions are louder than words. The actions in the story? stood apart, didn’t look up to God, beat his breast. He didn’t even consider himself worthy to approach God.

Be humble before God, or be humbled. – Luke 15:14

God can exalt us WAY more than we can exalt ourselves.

Jesus sees us through the loving eyes of compassion. We are not the standard of comparison, Jesus is.

Prodigal Son

Luke 15:11-32

The older son’s relationship with the father is based on obligation, whereas the younger son’s relationship basis transformed from selfish rebellion to humble submission. The father’s relationship with the sons is based on unconditional love.

There’s also a whole works vs. grace vibe in this story as well as obligation vs. sacrifice element. What is your motivation/attitude regarding the inheritance we receive from the Father?

Life Together by Dietrich Bonhoeffer

I was recently reminded of this book and even used it in a devotional earlier today. It’s a really great book. Two of my favorite bits:

On Prayer

“The prayer of the morning will determine the day… The temptations which the working day brings with it will be overcome by this break-through to God. Decisions which our work demands will be simpler and easier when they are made, not in the fear of men, but solely in the presence of God. ‘Whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men’ (Col. 3:23). Even routine mechanical work will be performed more patiently when it is done with the knowledge of God and His command. Our strength and energy for work increase when we have prayed God to give us the strength we need for our daily work.”

page 71

“And we may be certain that our prayer will be heard, because it is a response to God’s Word and promise.

page 85

On Meditation

“It is one of the particular difficulties of meditation that our thoughts are likely to wander and go their own way, toward other persons or to some events in our life. Much as this may distress and shame us again and again, we must not lose heart and become anxious, or even conclude that meditation is really not something for us. When this happens it is often a help not to snatch back our thoughts convulsively, but quite calmly to incorporate into our prayer the people and the events to which our thoughts keep straying and thus in all patience return to the starting point of the meditation.”

page 85

I am the Bowl

I loved this sermon message!

I am the bowl, and the fruits of the spirit are put into me by God. Gifts!

The fruits of the spirit are not goals to reach for, they are evidence of God’s spirit in you. If you’re focusing on these qualities as goals, you are seeing where you fall short – your failures. If you are seeing them as evidence of God’s grace… well, that’s a whole different ball game.

Have a listen!

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.
– Galatians 5:22-23 (ESV)

God’s Weapon

Jesus could have struck down Satan any way He chose. After all, He was the Son of God with an endless arsenal. But, instead, He engaged the enemy with the only weapon that guarantees victory: the sword of the Spirit, or the Word of God (Ephesians 6:17).

What would Jesus do? Use the Word of God!

And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. – Ephesians 6:17 (NASB)

I don’t know about you, but I don’t think of weapons and battlefields in everyday life. That is unless I get trapped into yet again arguing with a strong-willed child. That definitely feels like a battlefield!

There is no weapon more powerful than God’s Word.

So, if you find yourself on a battlefield feeling alone, don’t lose heart and don’t reach for the wrong weapon. You are not alone, and you have the best weapon ever! God’s Word is the weapon that will bring you victory, comfort, and provision.

What weapons do I normally reach for? Overeating, yelling, running away (me time!), or drinking. Yeah – those don’t work so well at all! What about when I lecture the kids on what is right? What about when I am right!? Those never really work so well either.

I really need to do a better job of using God’s Word in my daily life rather than only having it as something I read and study. Lord, help me do that better.

If you don’t follow Jennifer Rothschild’s blog, you should! Her writings often encourage while convicting me. These excerpts are from her article The One Weapon You Need to Fight Any Battle.

Interesting Bible Study

I’m reading my Chronological plan in ESV, and my “real” Bible is NIV. This really isn’t a big deal, but I’ve grown to love the ESV translation. So, I decided it was time to buy an ESV Bible. I got a lovely purple ESV Bible with only one column and no red letters to distract – it is all God’s Word, after all.

It is odd to have a Bible without any notes and highlights in it! I decided to go through my old Bible page by page and transfer my notes over. This turned out to be an odd little Bible Study:

  • Why did I highlight that passage?
  • What does that note mean?
  • What is that reference that I wrote down?

It has been very, very interesting! I finished this little project yesterday. It took me all week!

I knew I had some Bibles from when I first became Christian hiding around somewhere. I decided to dig them out, and go through those as well. My first Bible is interesting – I highlighted the gist of the stories – not really significant scriptures for growth or understanding. I was just learning the story back then. Now, my notes take apart the stories, include original language notes, and life application notes. I never really realized my growth like that before – kind of cool.

My favorite notes to come across are the hearts, stars and letter P’s I drew in. I didn’t know I hearted so many verses! The stars I drew were verses that impacted me in some way. The P’s are promises of God. It is such a joy to find and re-read these verses.

My new Bible is already becoming a rich landscape of all my learning thus far, and there’s so much more in there!
I just love it.

Whether you get a new Bible or not, pull your trusty companion out sometime, and go through it page by page seeing again all that you marked, learned, and loved. You’ll be blessed by it.