“The greatest competitor of devotion to Jesus is service for Him. It is never, ‘Do, do’ with the Lord, but ‘Be, be’ and He will ‘do’ through you.” Oswald Chambers
They were continually devoting themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. Acts 2:42
The early church devoted themselves to four things: apostles’ teaching, fellowship, communion and prayer. It’s a rather short list. Surely some very important and imminently pressing programs are missing. What happened to VBS, short-term mission trips, community service projects, Senior Saints’ outings and youth group meetings . . . just to name a few?
Keep in mind, it is early. Just the beginning season. There will be time for more as the church matures and grows, right?
The early church – were they pacing themselves or were they identifying priorities that still matter today?
Devoted is an intense word. Blue Letter Bible explains that to be continually devoted, you must be steadfastly attentive, give unremitting care, continue all the time, persevere and not faint . . . It ought to be obvious that it’s simply impossible to be devoted to too many things. We can’t do it. It’s time to narrow our list.
This principle applies to each individual believer just as much as to the church as a whole. How quickly my life gets out of balance because I’m doing too much. I’m staying too busy; spreading myself too thin. I end up dabbling in much, devoted to nothing.
Actually, before too long, the early church fell into this trap as well. By Acts chapter six, at least one more endeavor had been added to the list of “what we’re devoted to.” A meals-on-chariot wheels ministry was in place to feed widows. Problems arose, however, when some folks complained that their widows were being neglected. The apostles found themselves confronted with too many good things needing their attention. They couldn’t do it all. Either they made sure widows got feed in a timely and just manner, or they focussed on studying and teaching God’s Word. What would it be?
“It is not desirable for us to neglect the Word of God in order to serve tables.” Acts 2:6
The apostles modeled keeping first things first. “You can’t get second things by putting them first – you can get second things only by putting first things first.” C.S. Lewis
Feeding widows is important but not enough so to knock the apostles out of their primary gifting and calling – their God ordained role in the body. So, seven men with good reputations, full of the Spirit and wisdom, were put in charge of the ministry of serving tables. The apostles said no to one good thing so they could say yes to the best – to what God had assigned them to do.
Here’s the question: are we attempting to divide our devotion? Is it time to sit with the Spirit and say, “Search me, Oh God,” so that, like the apostles of old, we can give strategic no’s that translate into God pleasing yeses?
Are our lives so full that we can’t
-be devoted to God’s Word, soaking in it regularly?
-be devoted to deep, rich, transparent community with like-minded brothers and sisters in the faith?
-be devoted to communing with our Lord, dwelling in His presence?
-be devoted to prayer, with thanksgiving, keeping alert?
“The only way to keep true to God is by a steady persistent refusal to be interested in Christian work and to be interested alone in Jesus Christ.” (Oswald Chambers) Surrender to the Spirit. Let Him subtract where needed, so you can be devoted where it matters most.