Speaker: Dr. Marnie Crumpler
Date: November 20, 2016
Text: Come To The Table
COME TO THE TABLE
42 They devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers.
43 Awe came upon everyone, because many wonders and signs were being done by the apostles. 44 All who believed were together and had all things in common; 45 they would sell their possessions and goods and distribute the proceeds to all, as any had need. 46 Day 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, 47 praising God and having the goodwill of all the people. And day by day the Lord added to their number those who were being saved.
New Revised Standard Version
Your Word is a lamp unto my feet. Awaken my heart so that these verses can perform this function in my life today. Where I am confused, enlighten me. Where I am anxious, calm me. Where I am wandering, restore me. Where I am complacent, inspire me. And most of all draw me closer to yourself, whom to know is life eternal.
For the early Christians fellowship was not an add-on to their busy lives; it was their life. They belonged to one another and they organized their lives around being in community with one another-gathering in a regular rhythm of prayer, scripture, and table. In our frenetic world, Christian joy comes through centering our lives on Christ and bringing the love and grace of Christ into our interactions with our community of faith and our family, especially at Thanksgiving.
1. Marnie noted some alarming trends about our society's dining habits: one in five Americans eat fast food for at least one meal a day; most Americans eat in front of the television; most Americans spend as much money per month of fast food as on groceries. Take a few moments to quietly reflect on your eating patterns-what, where, and how do you eat? How often do you dine with friends? How often do you eat out? Then prayerfully pose this question to yourself: what about my current pattern of eating needs to change? What is one step you can do to move toward that change?
2. A habit is an action that was once a conscious choice, but over time has changed to become a semi-conscious pattern. Things like your morning routine-get up, go down stairs, get coffee, stare at wall until coffee takes effect. Or, your drive to work. There are other more significant habits too-attending worship, balancing your check book, reading the Bible, paying your bills, etc. William James wrote, "All of our life, so far as it has definite form, is but a mass of habits." Take some time to take stock of your habits, good and bad. William James wrote, "All of our life, so far as it has definite form, is but a mass of habits." As your habits go, so goes your life. What one new, positive habit would you like to add to your life? How can you go about making that change?
3. The early Christians were in the habit of gathering daily. Their fellowship included sharing a meal, hearing the Bible taught, and praying together. Is this sort of Christian fellowship present in your life? If so, how can you include more people? If not, who can you reach out to in order to connect with them for this purpose?
4. Acts tells us that the Christians ate together with glad and sincere (also translated "generous" in some Bibles) hearts. Does gladness and sincerity mark your gathering with other believers?
5. Read 1 Peter 2:1-10. As believers we are being built into a "spiritual house." Notice that we are part of something bigger than ourselves-a household, a nation, a priesthood, a people. We are designed to be connected for good-how's your connection to the Body of Christ, the church? Try to put Peter's words about the church into your own words-what are we meant to be?
6. Jesus said, "You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven." He goes on to note that if salt loses its saltiness, it has no purpose. In what ways can you be a seasoning agent with friends and families during this season?
7. Marnie suggested that as we fellowship with our friends and families this week we bring three things to the table: (1) food, (2) forgiveness, and (3) favor. As you prepare to celebrate who are friends or family members for whom you can be praying? How can you prepare to be with people with whom you might not ordinarily enjoy spending time? Ask God to guide you to find one way to bless a difficult person in your life this Thanksgiving.
You are the God who created all that is, and you called it good. When you sent your Son, Jesus proclaimed that he had come to bring about abundant and full life for your children. In this season of Thanksgiving, make us thankful for the blessings that you have given to us. Grant us the wisdom to enjoy them appropriately. Make us thankful for the difficult things that have caused us to depend on you to an extent deeper than we could have imagined. Remind us of the mercies that are ours--for the things that could have happened, but did not. And as we celebrate, remind us that our feasting is but a pale foretaste of the marriage supper of the Lamb and inspire us with longing for your return.