Family Unity

Acts 2:1; 42-47 (ESV)

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

I have always read this passage thinking solely of a church setting. They all gathered, they devoted to teaching and fellowship, etc.

This past week, when I was thinking about this passage, I thought what happens if I apply these verses to my home life?

I mean the early church was pretty unified, so maybe these disciplines helped create unity with themselves, and if applied to home perhaps we can have more unity in the family.

We are all believers, and we gather together every day with each, so how well do we match up to the early church?

  • Are we devoted to teachings?
    • No
  • Are we devoted to the fellowship?
    • Yes
  • Breaking of Bread and Prayer?
    • Yes
  • Do we share our possessions?
    • Yes
  • Do we attend church together?
    • Yes
  • Generous?
    • Depends – we have young kids.

Not to shabby with the assessment, but the one that stuck out to me was the very first.

Devoted to teaching.

We have separate devotions, but we don’t share our thoughts. So there is learning but no teaching.

Even though we are missing one occasionally two (again we have two young kids), that one is a huge one. Teaching is fundamental in the upbringing of kids. So we have changed this, and it wasn’t very hard.

We just read the Gospel Passage from Book of Common Prayer at dinnertime, and then we ask one question. One question usually gives five to ten minutes of discussion with each other.

That is it. Have we been unified? Time will tell, but dinnertime has been more meaningful and thought provocating.

Give it a try yourself.

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1 Peter Bible Study: Stay Together And Live At Peace With Everyone

In this week’s Bible Study we are talking about why Christians need to stay together, and live at peace with everyone.

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Read 1 Peter 2:13 – 4:11

Reflect on this passage (1 Peter 3:8-12)

Finally, all of you, have unity of mind, sympathy, brotherly love, a tender heart, and a humble mind. Do not repay evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary, bless, for to this you were called, that you may obtain a blessing. For “Whoever desires to love life and see good days, let him keep his tongue from evil and his lips from speaking deceit; let him turn away from evil and do good; let him seek peace and pursue it. For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous, and his ears are open to their prayer. But the face of the Lord is against those who do evil.”

After reading this passage in context, jot down some of your initial thoughts.

Peter moves away from talking about the submission of slaves, wives and husbands to talking about Christians in general.

Question: Keeping the previous sections about submission in mind, how does Peter expand that idea from slaves and married couples to all Christians? 

Something to keep in mind, when reading this section, is that at this time Christians were being persecuted.  Peter is writing a general ethical principle that he deems to be a requirement for all Christians to have in their life, even though the world is opposing both their lifestyle and existence.

Inside the Church

Peter calls for all Christians to have five things within in the Church.  He calls for the Church to have  (1) unity of mind, (2) sympathy, (3) brotherly love, (4) a tender heart, and (5) a humble mind.  This is not an individual church or denomination, this is the worldwide Christian community.  It is not a call for harmony only within a certain doctrine, but harmony in the entirety of the Gospel.  Does this mean we drop denominational barriers?  No, but it means that we don’t make denominations a barrier in order for someone to be saved.  I can live with harmony over communion differences, but I cannot live in harmony over someone who does not acknowledge the Father, Son and Holy Spirit as one God.  I can pray for them, but I cannot consider them brothers or sisters.

Outside the Church

Peter than talks about how Christians are to act outside the church. He calls for us not to retaliate with evil.  Christians are not only known for their love, but also for their peacefulness.  Instead of gossiping, or speaking ill of someone, we should have words of blessings and praises.

Question:  Why is it important for us to live both within and outside the church in this way? 

Peter tells us that our God is watching over us every moment of every day.  Although evil people may be around and they may find temporary success in their plots and schemes, their ultimate demise will happen.  It might not happen in this world, but God does not forget and the unrighteous will be judged for their wrongdoings.

Now living for Christ is easy to say, but difficult to do.  It is hard to live in harmony with other believers.  It is hard not to retaliate against those that say bad things about us.  So what? Just because it’s hard doesn’t mean you don’t try to live God’s way every day.

Question: How can you live in harmony with other Christians and with blessings for non-Christians?

For Parents

This is an important lesson not just for adults but also for our children.  Because of their immaturity, they will be burdened by Christians and non-Christians.

Faithful believers may yell at them for misbehaving.  They may get an evil eye from their leaders.

In school, their peers may insult them for personal matters.  They might be questioned for their faith if they can’t stay the over night on Saturday because of church Sunday morning.

Those are just a few examples of things that might happen and those things might leave a sour taste in your child’s mouth about the Church and God.

Question: How can you teach and model 1 Peter 3:8-9 with your children? 

Are You Radiating Joy

While Jesus was having dinner at Matthew’s house, many tax collectors and sinners came and ate with him and his disciples. When the Pharisees saw this, they asked his disciples, “Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?” On hearing this, Jesus said, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. 13 But go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice.’ For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.” Then John’s disciples came and asked him, “How is it that we and the Pharisees fast often, but your disciples do not fast?” Jesus answered, “How can the guests of the bridegroom mourn while he is with them? The time will come when the bridegroom will be taken from them; then they will fast. (Matthew 9:10 – 15)

Have you thought of how Jesus relaxed? Many pictures of Jesus show him in terms of a somber, melancholy tone. But look at the scripture above. We see Jesus sitting down in the midst of dinner, having a joyful time with friends and sinners. How do we know that He has a joyful time? Because when the religion bullies come to question Jesus, he uses a parable of a wedding day. Last time I checked, weddings are not supposed to sad, but rather a celebration.

Christian living is supposed to be a joyful experience, especially in the midst of those who do not believe Christ to be the savior. One of the elements of Holy Spirit, which is in all Christians is joy.

So the question for you, “Is your life, a radiation of joy, a component of your testimony to your faith in Jesus Christ?”