Welcome to Daily Steps!
A weekly devotional message with daily scripture readings, prayer prompts, and action steps to help you spend time with Jesus and strengthen your relationship with Him.
Acts 2:42-44, 47b "All the believers devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching, and to fellowship, and to sharing in meals (including the Lord’s Supper), and to prayer. A deep sense of awe came over them all, and the apostles performed many miraculous signs and wonders. And all the believers met together in one place and shared everything they had. And each day the Lord added to their fellowship those who were being saved." (NLT)
A Kingdom without Walls
Of all the changes and effects we've experienced during this pandemic, one of the most powerful ones we've witnessed is its ability to simultaneously magnify and diminish what we cherish and value. Things we thought were important prior to being stuck at home (ALL. THE. TIME!) are now inconsequential. Relationships and activities we once took for granted are now at the top of our priority list. The events of the last year have turned life on earth upside down and forced us to face many issues that we weren't even conscious of back when everything was what we all now nostalgically refer to as "normal."
Even our faith and the way we "do church" have changed from a former normal. Yet if we are all honest with ourselves, do we really want to go back to the old normal? Do we truly want to revert to everything the way it was on Sunday mornings? The latest research among people who profess to be Christians indicates that we don't want to go back to how things were. When we take a hard look at what Jesus taught about the Kingdom of Heaven and how His early followers implemented those concepts, it's clear that God doesn't want us to resume business as usual either. In the months following Pentecost, which occurred when Jesus appeared and filled His followers with the Holy Spirit, the earliest gatherings of believers were nothing short of astonishing. Acts 2:43 says, "A deep sense of awe came over them all, and the apostles performed many miraculous signs and wonders." For many of us, our cynicism kicks in, and we think, "Well, sure, they saw signs and wonders! Churches today would be radically different if Jesus appeared to us and breathed on us." But even the toughest critics in our minds have to take a back seat when we read this in verse 45: "They sold their property and possessions and shared the money with those in need." Can you even imagine how the very definition of the church would change if verses 43 and 45 were a tangible and frequent reality in today's world? Like the pandemic, the awe-inspiring changes made by this kind of church would immediately magnify and diminish what we have traditionally cherished and valued about what it means to be a Christian.
As if all of this is not a striking concept by itself, there's something noticeably absent from the descriptions of the early church found throughout Acts — buildings are not required for all of these miraculous events to occur. Gloriously designed edifices are not the centerpiece — and certainly not the catalyst — of sweeping change. The Holy Spirit moving among humble believers is the simple combination that generates magnificent results. The temple played a role initially by providing them with a physical place to gather, but it was simply a structure, as Jesus' followers now understood that His presence lived inside of them, not in the Holy of Holies (the inner sanctum of the Jewish temple). Verse 46 says they even took the holy sacraments of communion in their homes. And just to make sure they didn't get too comfortable staying in one place and getting caught up in location-based routines, God allowed the bitter hand of persecution to invade (Acts 8), forcing them to scatter and take the power of the Gospel with them everywhere.
Although we don't know the exact timeline, the pandemic is likely to end or become more manageable in the months ahead. When that time comes, we all must ask ourselves a critical question: how will I do church? Strangely, the answer has nothing to do with whether or not you decide to get up on Sunday mornings and drive to a building to hear a message. Four walls are meaningless if you aren't "doing church" in your heart. The early believers used the Greek word "koinonia" to describe the true meaning of church: a deeply satisfying fellowship characterized by mutual participation and support, intimate and trustworthy relationships, resource sharing, and an unwavering commitment to loving one another. Furthermore, they were willing to give their lives to ensure that any human being, regardless of race, creed, socioeconomic standing, or lifestyle, would be welcomed into their koinonia. Their message was the Gospel, and their source of strength and motivation was the Holy Spirit. Nothing else was required, and nothing else got in the way. If, after almost a year of experiencing church at home, you are questioning the necessity of ever going back to a building for church services, spend some time reading a chapter from Acts each day for the next 28 days. It will be great preparation for the new era awaiting us when we have the privilege to gather freely and frequently again... no matter where it happens.
Daily Bible Readings
This week, as you go through the daily readings below, ask the Holy Spirit to make each of the passages deeply personal and applicable to you. (NOTE: We suggest you read each of these passages in several different versions of the Bible, including at least one paraphrase version.) As you contemplate these passages, make time to pray before and after you read them. Write down anything the Holy Spirit whispers to your soul.
Monday — Read John 17:20-23 and Hebrews 10:24-25. Jesus prays for unity among all of those who will follow Him throughout the ages. Read His plea to the Father and search your heart for how you are and how you are not living out in obedience to Jesus’ heart-cry for those He loves. Write down your thoughts and prayers to God about your love for His body and your willingness to encourage unity among your fellow believers.
Tuesday - Read the first half of 1 Corinthians 12 (verses 1-11) and Ephesians 4:11-16. Spend a few minutes with your eyes closed and imagine what church would look like if everyone used their spiritual gifts to the fullest. Think about how the church described in Acts would appear today. What would people in your community say about it? Pray and ask God what your spiritual gifts are (if you are not aware) or which ones you may not be doing to the fullest for His kingdom. Write down what He whispers to your spirit.
Wednesday - Read the second half of 1 Corinthians 12 (verses 12-31) and Ephesians 2:10. Which verse jumps out at you the most in these passages? Journal about why you think it stands out. How do you think you may not have performed the role in the body of Christ the way He expects you to? Are you serving in a way that you shouldn’t be? How can you better focus on His primary calling for your life?
Thursday - Read Ephesians 5:22-33 and pick one verse to meditate on in prayer before the Lord. Praise Him that Jesus is the bridegroom for the church and that He loves us more than you can love your spouse or your closest loved one. What is God whispering to you about His love for you and how He wants you to love Him?
Friday - Read Matthew 25:1-13 when Jesus gives the parable of the 10 bridesmaids. How do you see this passage as being instructional for the church? Pray about the two types of bridesmaids and ask God to reveal to you what characteristics you have of each type. What is He asking you to do?
TAKE YOUR NEXT STEP
Grow closer to God each day and explore what it means to be a part of bringing the Kingdom of Heaven down to earth.
Want to Go Even Further?
If you are not already using our weekly study guide with your community group or family members, you're missing out on thought-provoking questions for discussion or individual study.
Get Your Worship On!
Do you love the worship music at Cornerstone? Then our worship YouTube channel is for you! Enjoy all your favorites now, featuring the worship teams from all of our campuses! PLUS...there is a new original song this week. You won't want to miss it!
CF Worship Channel on YouTube