42 They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. 43 Everyone was filled with awe at the many wonders and signs performed by the apostles. 44 All the believers were together and had everything in common. 45 They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need. 46 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, 47 praising God and enjoying the favour of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.
This morning we read through this passage again at our Blokes Breakfast… I asked people to see what word or phrase God ‘highlighted’ and interestingly the word ‘Devoted’ was the winner.
Conversation moved to talk about the number of Churches that say they want to be an Acts 2 Church, which normally means a desire to see signs and wonders, and God growing his Church (Acts 43 & 47).
Yet to be an Acts 2 Church isn’t simply about desiring the signs, wonders or even growth, these are symptoms of something much more important, they stem from our devotion to Christ and to the things of his heart.
We explored the word devotion, a word not used much today, it means both unwavering commitment and the ultimate of dedication but coming from a place of sacrificial love.
Seeking an Acts 2 Church is not like pursuing some Holy Grail, where we have to ‘tick the boxes’ of things listed in this passage (good things though they are) but primarily about (as my friend Paddy says) “Our hearts, touching his heart”. Unless these things stems from our love relationship with the Father, then they simply become good works, without love they are simple “a ringing cymbal or a clanging gong).
Are we people like David who was a man after Gods own heart?
Perhaps we need to grasp Augustine’s idea of “Love God and do whatever you please”? this isn’t a licence for any behaviour we fancy, but rather when we truly love our God, our will becomes entwined with his, and we love and long for his Kingdom.
Unless we seek God for himself, seek his face not just the works of his hands, we never fully know what it means to be the Church as God intended us to be.
Is perhaps the struggle the Western Church stems ultimately not from its lack of resources, but actually its lack of devotion.
Perhaps like the Church of Ephesus we have forsaken our first love?
Perhaps like the Church of Laodicea we are not as devoted to our Saviour as we should be an have “become neither hot nor cold”?
So, when we let God have our heart, we will long for his word -the apostles teaching, the words from the mouth of our Saviour, when we love God we love his people too, when we love God we remember his good news and his sacrifice made for us all, when we love God we come to him in prayer.
This isn’t a new commandment, earlier in Scripture we read “if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land”.
Jesus instructed his disciples to “Seek first the Kingdom of God” -which means to first seek the King and his Kingdom, treasure him before all else.
Too often we seek the treasure (as in the gifts) but we neglect that pearl of great price (Christ himself).
If we truly want to be an Acts 2 Church, it starts within us, in our hearts, with our devotion…
It starts with “Loving the Lord your God with all of your heart, mind and strength” and from that overflow enables us to “Love our Neighbour as ourselves”,