I love constructing lists. I make lists at Christmas time of each person's gifts to make certain they are equal. I write lists of what I'll cook for dinner in a given week. I then scrawl a list of what I need at the grocery store. I make lists of movies I like, projects I want to do around my house and even places I want to visit one day. Obviously, if I ever catch sight of a list in the Bible, I take note. I figure if God made a list I'd better pay attention.
This morning I reading Acts 2:22-47 which records the real meat of Peter's first sermon. Peter holds back no punches and lays the truth of Christ's death and resurrection on the line. He challenges his audience to respond and 3,000 choose Christ. I imagine myself in the crowd that day. I've been at church services where tens or hundreds respond and I am absolutely slayed with delight. What would it be like to witness thousands coming to know Jesus all at one time? Yet this isn't even the biggest miracle in the passage.
Verse 42 tells us that after their salvation, these new believers along with those already saved (about 120-See Acts 1:15), devoted themselves to four things - the apostles' teaching, fellowship, the breaking of bread and prayer. Am I dedicated to those things? I'm afraid the answer's no, so I better figure out what they are and how I can show myself dedicated to them.
- The Apostles' Teaching - Today this would be the complete Word of God. Peter used the Old Testament and what would become the New Testament in his message so no doubt that pattern continued as he and others instructed them in the faith. I too need to make reading, studying and learning the Word a priority in my life.
- Fellowship - Gathering with other believers for encouragement and friendship was a top priority in their lives. I have witnessed in my own life how difficult it is to continue in the faith when I don't have a support group to lean on. My faith is strengthened when I gather with other believers. Fellowship should be a main concern for me.
- The Breaking of Bread - I have recently learned that this is not referring to Wednesday night supper. This is a shame because the cooking is so unbelievably good here, I could totally be dedicated to it. This refers instead to the act of communion. Belonging to a Protestant evangelical church means that the Lord's Supper is offered only a few times a year. If I'm going to be devoted to something offered that infrequently, I need to plan my calendar accordingly so I can have a better chance of actually participating in it.
- Prayer - It seems the importance of prayer has been a recurring theme for me over the past few months. It is easy for me to find time to pray for myself, Scott and the kids. It's getting beyond that, I find more difficult. It requires a sacrifice of time and energy to truly pray for others, my church, my community and my country. So, the more deeply I'm willing to love others outside of my circle of six, the easier it will be to give the time and energy necessary to do so. I need to devote myself to increased love and greater prayer will follow.
When I read this list, I wanted to offer up all kinds of excuses, some of which I thought were pretty good, as to why this list really isn't practical for me. Then I realized the women doing those things had no dishwasher, no washer and dryer, no microwave and no fast food restaurants. Perhaps I have more time than I think.
Jesus, today I desperately need your help. I can not be devoted to these four things unless my heart is first fully devoted to you. I know in this place of absolute dependence, You will step in as my aid. Help me recognize even the smallest change that I could make today to take one step toward being attentive to these items on Your list. Guard me against the temptation to "mark them off", as You didn't intend these items to be accomplished but enjoyed.