Acts 1:14

Verse of the Day Devotion.  Acts 1:14

“These all with one mind were continually devoting themselves to prayer, along with the women, and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with His brothers.” – Acts 1:14 

After the ascension they went back to Jerusalem, as Jesus told them. He had commanded them to wait there until they received the gift promised to them by Jesus. “And gathering them together, He commanded them not to leave Jerusalem, but to wait for what the Father had promised, which, He said, you heard of from Me; for John baptized with water, but you shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.” Acts 1:4-5.

They obeyed this command from Jesus and they returned to Jerusalem from the mount called Olivet, which is near Jerusalem, a Sabbath day’s journey away. And when they had entered, the eleven remaining apostles went to the upper room where they were staying. But not just them, for we see in an earlier verse, “along with the women, and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with His brothers.” Luke 1:14b. So those in the upper room were the eleven apostles, Mary the mother of Jesus, and Jesus’ brothers. The women mentioned included Jesus’ mother, and various others. We see in Luke the following. “And it came about soon afterwards, that He began going about from one city and village to another, proclaiming and preaching the kingdom of God; and the twelve were with Him, and also some women who had been healed of evil spirits and sicknesses: Mary who was called Magdalene, from whom seven demons had gone out, and Joanna the wife of Chuza, Herod’s steward, and Susanna, and many others who were contributing to their support out of their private means.” Luke 8:1-3.

And the purpose for being there is found in our focus verse. “These all with one mind were continually devoting themselves to prayer.” Acts 1:14a. In Acts, Luke gave a generalized review of the activity of the Christian community. The primary characteristic that marked their life together in this period was prayer, as they anticipated together the promised gift of the Spirit. However, prayer was a hallmark of the church in its early days. The time before Pentecost was a time for waiting, a time spent in prayer undoubtedly for the promised Spirit and for the power to witness. There is no effective witness without the Spirit, and the way to spiritual empowerment is to wait in prayer.

In this post, I want to ask this very important question. As the early Christians, is prayer truly a hallmark of the church in these present days? Do we see prayer as simply something we do because that is what Christians do, or is it a devoted time to spend with the eternal God who created everything that exists, including ourselves? I also ask these questions of myself as well. They are not words meant to convict anyone but to encourage us all to strengthen our relationship with Him. Of course He knows everything. He knows the deep feelings of our hearts. We should desire to spend time with Him, ourselves with God, to develop a closer relationship with Him. And we must always remember that prayer is not a one-way street. Yes, we come to Him and share our needs, desires, and our feelings. However, we must also be still and quiet, and let God speak to us as well. I find these times of comfort and joy, but also times of learning and correction. Remember what is recorded in the psalms. “Cease striving (be still) and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.” Psalm 46:10.

Throughout the Book of Psalms, we see this type of relationship between David and God. He shared everything with God, and God provided what he needed; be it things, comfort, correction, etc. And David welcomed it all, and thus his relationship with God was strong and intimate.  I encourage us all to look at Psalm 25. David bears his heart to God, asking Him to guide him in every aspect of life. God desires this type of relationship with us. Take the time to pray, speaking and listening to Him. There are great blessings in both aspects.

William Funkhouser MDiv, ThD, Founder and President of True Devotion Ministries.

Acts 2:42

Verse of the Day Devotion:  Acts 2:42  

“They were continually devoting themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.” – Acts 2:42

One of the more important aspects of our Christian walk is the idea of fellowship and supporting each other.  First, I want to present a quote from the Book of Ecclesiastes which points this out so clearly.  “Two are better than one because they have a good return for their labor. For if either of them falls, the one will lift up his companion. But woe to the one who falls when there is not another to lift him up. Furthermore, if two lie down together they keep warm, but how can one be warm alone?  And if one can overpower him who is alone, two can resist him. A cord of three strands is not quickly torn apart.” Ecclesiastes 4:9-12.  Solomon, whom many scholars believe is the writer of Ecclesiastes points out the importance of not separating ourselves from others.  Simply put, if you are alone who will help you when you fall, who will help you in times of need, and who will fight for you when danger is imminent?

These ideas are found in our focus verse from Acts.  What Luke is pointing out is that Christians need to be in fellowship with each other in order keep each other accountable, encouraged and strong in the truth.  Back in the first century there was much persecution upon the church.  The Jewish leadership hated them for they considered Christianity as an attempt to usurp their position and the Romans were against them because they considered Christianity as a new religion and this was forbidden in the areas they were in control over.

The first part of our focus verse says, “They were continually devoting themselves to the apostles’ teaching.” Act 2:42a.  They were to be always devoted to learning all they could about their new life in Christ.  What did it entail?  What did it not?  This was especially critical for the Jews who were always taught that obedience to the Law of Moses was the critical factor in obeying God, and they needed to understand that it went far beyond that.  Also, as they grew in the faith they would be less likely to walk away and more able to train others they come across.   They would also come together in fellowship, often times in sharing a meal.  This was important in developing strong and Godly relationships which created bonds that were not easily broken.  And lastly, with equal if not more importance with the others, they met to pray together.  They came to God regularly to pray that their faith may be strengthened and increase as they grow in God, and for the extension of the kingdom of Christ via the salvation of more and more people. 

And note the accomplishments that were seen in the first century church.  They were built up on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, of which Jesus Christ and His teachings were the cornerstone.  And not only were they built up in the faith, but they steadfastly continued in this doctrine received through the leaders from Christ, learning more so as to grow in their relationship with Him.  Thirdly, they were separated from the world and instead lived in holy Christian fellowship and building all up who were with them.  They frequently spent time speaking of those things that God, through Christ, did for them through His sacrifice.  And they continued in prayers, knowing it was through this communion with God that they were now His children and they looked to Him for all things, including the beautiful relationship they had with Him.

 These things were done in order that the church would grow, not only in numbers but in devotion and strength and love for God almighty.  And this is the type of lifestyle we need to live as well.  As the times get more difficult and as the world begins to persecute Christians even more harshly, we need to come together to encourage each other, supporting our brothers and sisters in Christ, and together helping those who do not know Christ to accept the sacrifice He made for them through His death on the cross.  This is why we are here, and through the Holy Spirit, we have the means to live this life.  Let us all make the decision to make the Acts 2 lifestyle ours and show the world the reality of who we are and this life we have taken hold of.  The church in the first century grew incredibly.  Wouldn’t it be great to see the true church grow in the same way in this generation?

William Funkhouser MDiv, ThD, Founder and President of True Devotion Ministries.