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I read Acts 2 again today in my quiet time. Of course, this is a very familiar passage, one to which people like me give our lives. Today, this passage struck me a little differently than it has before.
 
"And all the believers met together constantly and shared everything they had" (Acts 2:44, NLT). 

 I'm struck by how devoted these believers were to one another on a daily basis. This is so different from the way the church normally operates today. They met and worshiped together daily (v. 46). They served one another daily (Acts 6:1). They studied the Scriptures daily (Acts 17:11). They encouraged one another daily (Hebrews 3:13). And the Lord added to their number daily those being saved (v. 47).

As Warren Wiersbe says, "Their Christian faith was a day-to-day reality, not a once-a-week routine. Why? Because the risen Christ was a living reality to them, and His resurrection power was at work in their lives through the Spirit."

Small groups surely nudge us a little closer in the right direction toward being a day-to-day kingdom community, but it can unfortunately just move us from a once-a-week routine to a twice-a-week routine ... unless the culture somehow changes.

We can't make this happen. Only the Holy Spirit being active in people's lives can transform a culture. It doesn't happen by developing or changing a program in the church. It happens when the Holy Spirit works in such a way that there is a deep sense of awe among the people, when people's hearts are changed from individualism, isolationism, and consumerism to looking first to the interests of others, sharing everything we have.

When that happens, the church will once again be powerful and effective and will enjoy the goodwill of all the people. When that happens--and I believe not until that happens--God will add to our number daily those who are being saved. When that happens, God will turn this world upside-down ... again. We are God's best marketing strategy!

 I'll stay committed to this and to praying that the Holy Spirit will move in such a way at our church and in his kingdom to transform people's hearts to live like this.


How can we move from a once- or twice-a-week routine back to a day-to-day community reality?
 
 What needs to change in your small group? Your church? The Church? The culture?

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Comment by Michael Mack on February 18, 2011 at 11:41pm
Elaine, Thanks so much for sharing this! You are so right. The Holy Spirit is the "culture changer." He's also the power charger! I was just writing in my book how for Jesus, living itself was ministry. Because he spent time alone with the Father, always listening to and obeying him,  ministry simply flowed from Jesus' heart. The example I give of this is when he healed the woman with bleeding issues (Luke 8:40-47). I love this. The power simply left him when she touched his cloak. What did Jesus do to "make ministry happen"? He was always available to how the Father would use him in every situation. Sounds like he's used you in similar ways! Yea God!!!
Comment by Elaine Betts on February 18, 2011 at 2:19pm
and I also meant to add that in healthy small groups that they encourage and support each other in each individual's own personal journey with the Lord....not everyone needs to be doing the same thing or going to the same places, but to rejoice and to support in  prayer with each other wherever He sends  or uses a person.....and individually as well as  collectively...a culture can be changed and His Glory manifested.
Comment by Elaine Betts on February 18, 2011 at 2:11pm

so many times we can get "bogged down" in doing things that seem right and look right, but may not be  in the Will of God for us, personally...You are right, Michael, in that the culture needs to change . The Holy Spirit is the "Culture Changer" through us, as yielded individuals.. but many times we only yield to "programs" and "groups" and not so much to Him and what He wants to do with us as individuals...Jesus never did anything apart from the Father, and neither should we...whether we are involved with the community of a small group or a larger local Body or both...we should pray as individuals.."Father what are You doing today that I can be a part of?"...then take the time to listen and go forth in His name......I remember the very first time I did this..The Holy Spirit showed me a man in a red coat coming into the Emergency room where I worked and what I was to tell him and how I was to interact with him"...I actually thought, "Wow, Elaine..too much pizza last night"...but I went to work and an hour later..this same man walked through the doors.LOL...and Jesus proceeded to do some things that only Jesus can do..I call them "Yeah God" moments :-)   .....I have been living my life praying that prayer ever since and ever since, have had the most delightful and adventurous times with  Father....as He changes the culture  and atmosphere of a person or place one or two people at a time.....I also feel that when Jesus was walking through Jericho that as He asked Father what He was doing that day, that Father said "Stop, and look up" and when Jesus did, He saw Zacchaeus up the Sycamore tree....I think we may miss opportunities to be involved with what  God wants to do because we  get busy with what we think He wants us to be doing or join the crowd in following what theythink we should be doing for the Lord (which may all look and sound great) instead of saying "Hey, what's happening today? Can I be a part of it?"...and He always says "Yes, you can". :-)

Comment by Michael Mack on February 17, 2011 at 2:22pm

Ike, I'd love to hear what others think as well. I think for one, we need to relearn how to live in healthy genuine community again. I just so happen to be writing on this very topic in my new book (Small Group Vital Signs, due out later this Spring from TOUCH). I was just writing about the fact that the church has lost this vital attribute of knowing how to live in real community, and I think we need to get it back. I don't pretend to have all the answers. I'm bathing this in prayer, because I think only God's Spirit can bring us back into this oneness that the early church seemed to have.  

 

Anyone else have thoughts?

Comment by Ike Newingham on February 17, 2011 at 9:03am

How can we move from a once- or twice-a-week routine back to a day-to-day community reality?
 

Love yo hear the anser to this question. 

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