That word again….

Have you ever heard someone talk about their devotions and you feel the cringe..the sense of guilt that you just can’t seem to get it right. Or is it something you do on occasion when you get 5 minutes to yourself? This word devotion is a word I find myself cringing at because it hauls up memories of sitting at the breakfast table AND the dinner table (yep.. twice a day) every single day of my teens with  my family (who really struggled to love each  but we did devotions!!!) mum and dad had the best of intention..devotions  in the morning meant pulling out the little book that described some ‘unreached people group’ who had never heard about Jesus and praying for them as a family. I really didn’t care about them because the  priorities for this ‘spirit-filled’ teen was getting to school on time and getting my hair looking right so I could fit in wiht my friends and not stand out as strange. As I have ‘matured’ , the word devotions hasn’t bought much relief. As a young adult devotions meant sitting in a cafe and writing in my journal about how tough my life was without money or boyfriends or direction or family and writing out prayers or scriptures to encourage myself that life will get better when I am married and living somewhere other than there…. As a young mum, ‘devotions‘ was the one word that could send me from tired to feeling exhausted and overwhelmed and unbalanced in a nano second..who has tie to pick up their bible let alone read it … Devotions has to mean more than the guilt we feel when we can’t reach our quota or the rapid we feel when we do….

Those who accepted his message were baptized, and about three thousand were added to their number that day. They DEVOTED themselves to the apostlesʼ teaching AND to fellowship, AND to the breaking of bread AND to prayer. Everyone was filled with awe at the many wonders and signs performed by the apostles. ALL the believers were together and had everything in common. They sold property and possessions to give to ANYONE who had need. EVERY day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of ALL the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.”Acts 2:41-47 

I wish I could have seen Luke’s face as he scribed these portions of scripture written to the lovers of God describing these events as they hapened. Had he just returned from a gathering of believers where he had seen one of his patients get healed or heard someone speak for the first time? Had he just heard one of the apostles preach for the first time?  Had he just returned from a prayer meeting? Had he felt the power of the Holy Spirit again that night and seen a friend turn to Christ? Had he seen a needy family receive food from a wealthy stranger? Had he seen the crowd at the temple gates trying to get in to hear the apostles teaching?  He was watching the visual and very real fruit of a gathering of believers who had been filled with the Holy Spirit…and he used the word DEVOTED…

In the context of excelerated growth, a handful of believers went from 120 to 3000 in one day and GOD added to their number on a daily basis. God added…which means he trusted this gathering of believers enough to keep adding to it…and keep pouring out what he had promised he would. ..hi spirit on all flesh…

It is not that these people were not devoted before…it is what they are devoted to that changes.

I don’t know what these people had been DEVOTED to? Family, household duties, family and temple rituals, work,  the meeting of the daily needs,  education, the business of trade and living under Roman rule, earning wages and paying taxes and doing the daily grind…but this portion of Acts 2 highlights what devotion looks like for those who are being saved.  I wonder what church community would be like if devotions reflected Acts 2? What would it feel like if the handful of  believers in Bendigo had a 2400%increase in our numbers in one day. 

What had been important and a priority before would no longer matter.  How would the word DEVOTED change and what we are devoted to change? Would we care about what we care about today? Am I prioritising now and devoted to things right now that really don’t matter?

As a mum I wonder if my kids will encounter the Holy Spirit in a context that leads them to devote themselves to things that are different to the kids of their generation? As a mum what do my kids see in our lives as a priority and what do they see us devoted to..when I say devotions..do they think signs, wonders and answers to prayer? Do they think of revelation and they read Bibke stories  and God speaking to them directly? Do they think of miracles as a result of our roayers around our dining room table. 

Do they see us devoted to things that are not in the chapter two list?  These things may be important but I want them to know that devotion is more than reading a scripture before bed or doing a journal entry for school for their Christian studies teacher.  

As a pastor, I read this verse and think about the crazy logistics of what 3000 being added to our number would create? The beauty of this picture is, it is the people who take care of the logistics not the pastors and leaders. I would love to have a copy he podcasts from the apostles teachings of that day? What did they prioritise in their teaching for new believers some of whom would have seen Jesus but many of whom would not. SOme of these belviers would have been the one to crucify Jesus and some would have been there yelling ‘cruscify him’. As the apostles teach,  the people devote themselves to what is taught. I am so ready for an outpouring of the Holy Spirit that creates this sort of devotion. Imagine putting on a discipleship course and having 3000 turn up (2400%) . 
The cry of my heart this week as I have sat in this passage is that DEVOTIONS (being devoted) will be  more than being committed to reading my bible but rather an internal shift in piroties as a result of God’s spirit being poured out over me. When generosity flows as a result of the Holy Spirit showing me needs rather than a preacher telling me to be give more… when being devoted is not about being devoted to what meets my needs, or what meets the needs of those I feel close to…

Devotion…when listening  to the Holy Spirit and hearing his words is a priority and diminishing the importance of my internal dialogue or the opinions of others and my past. 

When fellowship  means more  than attending church on  a Sunday and leaving before the last song is sung…and when devotion to fellowship is lead by the people not by the pastors…

When breaking bread is not something we do occasionally in a church service but something we do when we gather as believers…

When we make food not to I,press our neighbours wiht our culinary skills or feed hungry teens but create intentional opportunities to remember the significance of Christ and his story written over our own. 

When church community and hosting people in my home is a joy and not a burden not by sticking a smile on my face and enduring it but responding wiht the joy to what the Holy Spirit is doing and inviting others to experience it around my table.  

When a a messy kitchen speaks of love share  and a door wide open to invite others into our mess touched by grace. 

When our homes become a place to gather not to hide…

When spirituality is outworked in the context of community not individuality…

This passage does not reflect the heart of a hermit withdrawing to seek God but one seeking God and finding him in the context of others, where repesment is not found in isolation but community.

When prayer becomes a reflection to untidy and agreement,  the undergirding of community and the breeding ground for the faith and the miraculous rather than a meeting to attend and be seen. 

There is something beautiful that happens when the Holy Spirit overrides our daily wants and needs  with his grace and power, and his leading that leading to personal and corporate devotion. This word devoted is overriding my experience wiht revaltion…

When Jesus said ‘abide in me’ I love that the  Aramaic word for abide is related to the word  ‘devoted to’ it speaks about a verb that is a continuum……..oh that we wouldn’t make devotions about an add on, a once off or a guilt ridden factor of our daily grind but about an abiding, a reminding, a commitment to being a deep rooted, planted way of doing  life.

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