Devotion – the fact or quality of being devoted to a divine being : worship service; reverence, devoutness. Religious observance, divine worship; A form or prayer or worship directed to a special object or for private use.
Devotion is a powerful concept which can change everything. Our foremost objective as Christ followers is to be devoted to him and his ways. As we become devoted to him, we find the strength to live in ways previously out of our reach and serve in ways beyond our strength. I would ask, what does it mean to be a fully devoted follower of Christ and how does it change us?
We must begin with the first Christ followers – the first century disciples. In the preface to Thomas Merton’s Course in Desert Spirituality he asks this question, “If for some reason it were necessary for you to drink a pint of water taken out of the Mississippi River and you could choose where it was to be drawn out of the river—would you take a pint from the source of the river in Minnesota or from the estuary at New Orleans?” The answer is obvious, we would want to go to the source before it was polluted and changed by the great journey. I would propose we start at the beginning of the church to see what devotion meant to them.
“They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers.” (Acts 2:42) Luke, author of Acts, gives us four foundations to living the devoted life: teachings of the Apostles, fellowship(community), breaking of the bread, and prayer.
Teachings of the Apostles
This was vitally important in the time of the writing of the Book of Acts, because the disciples were eyewitnesses to the work of Jesus. They knew him. The apostles could give personal recollections of the work and teachings of Jesus. This was before the body of material was written into our New Testament. Out of these early teachings would come the teachings of the church. Today we have those teachings in our written word. We are to devote ourselves to the study of the word and all the traditions which have sprung forth from it. By study of the word, we are receiving the teachings of the apostles. It is no accident that study of the word is many times called devotions.
Perhaps this was first about the apostles but very quickly spread to mean the whole community of Christ followers. These people were and are a group of companions who share a common life. We know that the early church lived a communal life sharing all things in common. That is no longer true, but we still share the unique belief in a resurrected Lord, and that is certainly something to bring us together. I believe that fellowship around the table with meals together is an important part of the Christian life. All churches should take some time to fellowship together.
Breaking of the Bread
This is likely more that simply eating meals together. It is the communion of the body of Christ which I;s ultimately manifested in the Eucharistic celebration where we share in the sacrifice of Christ by sharing in the taking of the bread and the wine. By taking this bread and wine we become present with him in a mystical and real way. He plainly instructs us to partake of his body and blood and become one with him. The frequent observance of the Sacrament of Holy Communion is a vital part of the life of a fully devoted follower of Christ.
The Apostles devoted themselves to prayer. They still attended the Temple and participated in the regular meetings of the synagogue. Today we are not to forsake the assembly of ourselves for prayer and sacrament. Prayer goes further than the corporate prayer of the church. Each devoted follower of Christ must have times of individual prayer. Prayer is observed by words and silence. Words that come from our heart and lead us to God silence; that allows God to speak to us by his spirit. The prayer life of the Christ followers is vital.
As Christians we can live a fully devoted spiritual life by exercising these four foundational principles.
The credit belongs to those who are actually in the arena, who strive valiantly; who know the great enthusiasms, the great devotions, and spend themselves in a worthy cause; who at best know the triumph of high achievement; and who, at worst, if they fail, fail while daring greatly, so that their place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who know neither victory nor defeat.”
Every hand and every hour should be devoted to rescue the world from its insanity of guilt, and to assuage the pangs of human hearts with balm and anodyne. To pity distress is but human; to relieve it is Godlike.
It is rather for us here dedicated to the great task remaining before us, that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion.
Under democracy, one party always devotes its chief energies to trying to prove that the other party is unfit to rule – and both commonly succeed, and are right.
~~~H. L. Mencken
Discipline says, ‘I need to.’ Duty says, ‘I ought to.’ Devotion says, ‘I want to.’
The heart can think of no devotion greater than being shore to the ocean-holding the curve of one position, counting an endless repetition.
Hide yourself in God, so when a man wants to find you he will have to go there first.
~~~Shannon L. Alder
We ought not to be weary of doing little things for the love of God, who regards not the greatness of the work, but the love with which it is performed.”
To devote a portion of one’s leisure to doing something for someone else is one of the highest forms of recreation.
~~~Gerald B. Fitzgerald
I know the price of success: dedication, hard work and an unremitting devotion to the things you want to see happen.
~~~Frank Lloyd Wright
I can do all things through him who strengthens me.
I glorified You on the earth, having accomplished the work which You have given Me to do.
For if we live, we live for the Lord, or if we die, we die for the Lord; therefore whether we live or die, we are the Lord’s.
According to my earnest expectation and hope, that I will not be put to shame in anything, but that with all boldness, Christ will even now, as always, be exalted in my body, whether by life or by death.
Whether then, you eat or drink or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.
~~~1 Corinthians 10:31
You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might.
Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have: for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.
Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needs not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.
~~~2 Timothy 2:15
A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”
And behold, a lawyer stood up to put him to the test, saying, “Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?” He said to him, “What is written in the Law? How do you read it?” And he answered, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself.” And he said to him, “You have answered correctly; do this, and you will live.”
Lord, It is my greatest desire that I can become fully devoted to you and your will and way. Help me this day to learn of you so that I may know how serve you and those that you send my way. May my devotion to you light the way for others to find and follow you. Let your spirit dwell within me this day and every day.