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Holy Habits

The Bible Reading Fellowship supports and resources the Holy Habits initiative, including the provision of this website

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Biblical Teaching

Holy Habits is about practising doing holy things until they become instinctive. In this booklet, we explore the habit of the early Christians in which ‘they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching’.

 

The opening chapters of Acts present a continuum of ministry from Jesus through the apostles. Jesus had a teaching ministry which was rooted in the Hebrew scriptures (the Old Testament of the Christian Bible). This is continued through those who were first identified as his disciples…

Fellowship

Fellowship invokes images of close, supportive, personal relationships, including: small groups of mutual care and sharing and times of prayer, study and conversation with fellow Christians, as well as being nurtured in our spiritual lives through the encouragement and companionship of our friends in the Christian community.

 

These are powerful expressions of fellowship to be celebrated, nurtured and encouraged, reminding us of our need to draw alongside one another prayerfully and supportively on our faith journey…

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Breaking Bread

The breaking of bread is a distinctive term of Luke, the author of Acts. He uses it most powerfully when Cleopas and his companion describe how Jesus had been made known to them ‘in the breaking of the bread’ (Luke 24:35).

It is not clear from Acts 2:42 how Luke is using the term when describing the life of the first Christian communities. Commentators are cagey about its use. Is it describing the act which opened a common Jewish meal? Is it a specific liturgical and sacramental act?…

Eating Together

The tradition of people eating together being a sign of God’s reign or kingdom goes way back into Judaeo-Christian history.

Jesus was rooted in and lived this tradition. Just as he shared food with all sorts and conditions of people as a sign of the inclusivity of God’s kingdom, so too did the early church. The gatherings to eat together were earthly representations of the heavenly banquet imagery that had been reinforced by Jesus through his teaching as well as his actions. Following in the footsteps of Jesus, the table fellowship of the early Christians was warm and accepting. They refused to discriminate against the marginalised. All were welcome to partake of this basic human and yet deeply sacred activity…

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Gladness and Generosity

The church was born in gladness: gladness for what God had done through the life, death and resurrection of Jesus; gladness at the outpouring of the Spirit at Pentecost. There was gladness in the home, in the temple and out on the streets.

In presenting his portrait of the Christian community, Luke notes in Acts that they had glad and generous hearts. The church embodied the extravagant generosity that is at the heart of the divine Trinitarian community. It was a prophetic countercultural symbol in a world of avarice and greed. Gladness and generosity is a joyous and a challenging Holy Habit. Do enjoy its celebratory aspects and let them be a light to others. It is often in the darkest places that the light of gladness or joy shines most brightly. You might like to explore gladness in such settings…

Serving

Serving is a Christlike way of living. Jesus himself came as one who served (Matthew 20:28). Throughout the history of the church, Christians have grappled with how to live out the good news of Jesus that the kingdom of God is both here and yet to come. Our calling as followers of Jesus is to proclaim the good news by living on earth as if in heaven. Every act of love, justice and peace is a taste of how God’s world is to be.

We live this calling personally in our daily work and in our local communities. In exploring this habit, it will be important to both honour and support those who serve day by day in all sorts of ways…

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Worship

Worship features prominently in Luke’s writings. He presents people praising God in response to experiencing God’s loving help or saving grace (Luke 2:13, 20; 19:37; Acts 3:8, etc.). Praise and worship flow from gratitude for who God is and what God has done. The first story he tells is set in the context of worship. Zechariah receives the news that his prayers have been heard and that he and Elizabeth are to have a son (Luke 1:5–13). His gospel concludes with Jesus’ ascension and the disciples worshipping him before returning to Jerusalem where ‘they were continually in the temple blessing God’ (Luke 24:53). When Acts unfurls, worship is at the heart of the early church. Spirit-filled, exuberant praise is offered in the home, the temple and on the streets.

There is a risk that we think of worship only as something that happens when Christians gather for an hour or two. While gatherings are a habit to be encouraged, there is much more to worship than this. Worship is a way of life…

Sharing Resources

In Acts 2:44–45 and 4:32–37, Luke presents pictures of the early Christian communities of disciples supporting one another and those in need in the wider community by the generous sharing of their resources. They shared and sold possessions to create a common fund which could be used to support those in need of income or resources. The fund may also have supported the apostles and, later on, the deacons and others. It was a powerfully prophetic, countercultural expression of community then. It remains so today. Much of 21st-century western culture encourages us to live separate, independent lives protecting our individuality, our privacy and our belongings. The same attitude is also becoming more prominent within the politics of nation states.

In Acts 2:44, we hear that the disciples were together and had ‘all things in common’. As you explore this habit of sharing resources, you may like to reflect on what having all things in common meant to those early Christians, and how we relate that to our lives today personally and collectively in holy living…

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Prayer

Prayer is a foundational and transformative Holy Habit, a way of being, the breath of life. It reorientates us in right relationships with God, with others and the world. It is an antidote to the selfishness of sin.

There are many helpful ways of thinking about prayer. One is by using the letters of ACTS...

Making More Disciples

The Acts 2 community was living out a divine commission given by Jesus to his first disciples.

'Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptising them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you.'

Matthew 28:19–20

As followers of Jesus today, we share that commission. But how do we do it? As you prepare to explore and adventure with making more disciples, here are two thoughts to reflect upon…

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