Easter is almost here! As we prepare our hearts and minds to once again rejoice and remember the resurrection, our prayer is that we at Hope would continue to grow in our devotion to Him and to one another as His people. Our first sermon series in the book of Acts this year was titled, “A New Devotion.” We read in Acts 2:42 that the early believers “devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers.” This is an awesome picture of a people transformed by Jesus, called out by Him, and utterly devoted to Him. And, because they were so devoted to Him, they were also devoted to one another. We want to be transformed like they were transformed, and we want to be devoted like they were devoted.
THE FOCUS OF THE FAST
For the past several years, we have engaged in a twenty-one day fast leading up to Easter. Last year, we moved away from the fast to focus on community and devotion. As a pastoral team, after prayer and discussion, have decided to encourage the congregation to once again fast in anticipation of Easter. However, we are not going to provide specific items that need to be fasted from. Instead, we want each of you, after careful reflection and prayer, to make that decision on your own. It could be food, social media, sugar, coffee, or anything else you want to set aside for the sake of glorifying God through self-sacrifice.
We have provided the same daily devotionals as last year to assist us in our Bible study these next three weeks. Each devotional will lead us through the book of Acts, consider thoughts from some of the most important Christian thinkers in all of church history, and translate our knowledge of God’s word into action through a suggested step of faith. Let’s briefly consider the layout of each daily devotion.
READING & PRAYING THROUGH GOD’S WORD
One of the most important aspects of spiritual growth is carefully studying the Word of God, but many of us struggle to faithfully read it. At Hope, we believe that the Word of God is straightforward and life-giving. That is why each day begins with a section from Acts. Read through it carefully. Pray that the Holy Spirit would guide you as you seek to learn from the narrative of the early Church. Be awestruck at all that God did two-thousand years ago. Be excited for what He continues to do today.
LEARNING FROM FELLOW BELIEVERS
Although the Bible is the foundation for us as learning and growing believers, we also believe that we can learn much from the many faithful believers that have lived throughout the last two-thousands years of church history. As we consider the words of the book of Acts, we can also consider some thoughts from theologians who were themselves transformed by the Gospel and devoted to preaching it — from Ignatius to Lloyd-Jones. Remember, although the words of these theologians are beneficial, they are not God’s words. The best they can do is further point us to Him. Some of these names will be familiar, others, less so. Think of it as taking a seminar where various teachers offer a few words for thought. These reflections will provide for you a deeper appreciation for God’s work throughout church history and an enhanced application of the Gospel to your life today.
TAKING SMALL STEPS OF DEVOTION
Lastly, we want our devotion to the Lord to translate into action. Of course, works don’t save us. It is the only the perfect obedience of Jesus, His righteousness given to us, that is our hope of salvation. But we do believe that transformed and devoted hearts continually seek ways to walk in obedience. The early church’s devotion to Jesus in turn produced devotion between believers and to the lost. We hope these small steps each day will challenge you, but also, bring you joy.