Devotion to God
Simply put, the Church is the collection of Jesus followers. You were not called to follow Jesus by yourself. Watch the video to learn a practical and functioning definition and description of what the Church is suppose to be.
DAY 8 | Devotion to God
In order for us live like Jesus, we must do what Jesus did. Yesterday, we shared that Jesus depended upon the Holy Spirit. Today, I want to share with you the second practice of Jesus’ ministry:
Jesus displayed devotion to God.
Now before we go into descriptions of these practices, I want to clarify that these descriptions are like paint primer. They help start the project, but they won’t complete the project. There should be enough here to get you started, but I’ve also listed additional books under each practice for suggested reading if you would like to go deeper in a particular topic.
1) Jesus practiced solitude and Sabbath.
Theologian and pastor, Dallas Willard, once stated, “Hurry is the great enemy of spiritual life in our day.”
Being transparent with you, of the four practices listed today, this is the one I struggle with the most. As a type A person who is driven to accomplish more and more, the idea of slowing down can be a difficult one. It’s easy to feel like I’m too busy to slow down and connect to God and family. However, when I read Genesis and the Gospels, I see repeatedly that God the Father and Jesus both took time for rest. If God took Sabbath after creating the entire universe, can I really say that I’m more busy that God? The answer, obviously, is no.
2 And on the seventh day God finished his work that he had done, and he rested on the seventh day from all his work that he had done. 3 So God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it God rested from all his work that he had done in creation.
In the same way, Jesus regularly got away and spent alone time with God the Father in prayer. However, there were occasions when Jesus healed people on the Sabbath which seemed to go against the religious practices of the day. Does this mean Sabbath is no longer valid? Check out what Jesus said in reply to the Pharisees.
27 And he said to them, “The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath. 28 So the Son of Man is Lord even of the Sabbath.”
Sabbath can be defined as a day set apart for celebration, connection, and rest in God. Jesus did not say that the Sabbath was bad. In fact, He said that He was the Lord of the Sabbath. The first part of the verse shows us that Sabbath actually HELPS us be the best version of our selves. Resting in God on a regular basis helps us reset, refresh, and refuel.
Do you take time each day to spend alone with God?
Do you take a day each week for celebration, connection, and rest in God?
Before you say you’re too busy, remember that God the Father created the universe and Jesus died for save the entire world, yet they expressed value for pausing and resting. Start making time this week.
Additional Resource to Go Deeper on Sabbath:
John Mark Comer, The Ruthless Elimination of Hurry.
2) Jesus prayed.
Jesus is described as getting away to pray 30 times in the Gospels. Prayer can be defined as intentionally talking with God. Words can be expressed out loud or ideas shared in your mind. It’s not about intelligence, but persistence. It’s not about length, but love. It’s about taking a humble posture before God and taking time to build with relationship with Him. It involves speaking honestly with God as well as taking time to quietly listen to what God might be speaking to your heart.
Even when Jesus was busy with ministry, He always took time to stop and pray. In fact, the busier ministry got, the more time Jesus took to pray.
15 But now even more the report about him went abroad, and great crowds gathered to hear him and to be healed of their infirmities. 16 But he would withdraw to desolate places and pray.
Jesus most famous prayer is found in Matthew 6, and longest prayer in John 17. Using Jesus’ prayer in Matthew 6:9-13, you can see different aspects of connecting with God:
1. Our Father – Presence
The fact that God is our Father means that we pray to a person and He hears us. He is close.
2. Hallowed Be Your Name – Praise
From the personal presence to God’s power, stop and praise God for who He is.
3. Your Kingdom Come… – Purpose
The purpose of prayer is to bring heaven down. As we enter His presence, we are asking God to enter our situations. While prayer might not change your circumstance, it will definitely change you.
4. Give Us This Day Our Daily Bread – Provision
When we are in need, it’s important to go to the God who provides. The same God who saves us also sustains each day. Here is where you bring your requests before Him.
5. Forgive Us Our Debts – Pardon
Notice in this section that we are asking God to do for us what we should do for others. Being forgiven and forgiving others is a key part to a growing faith. Be humble. Be honest. Be specific. Confess to God where you struggle.
6. Lead Us… Deliver Us – Protection
God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power, love, and self-control (2 Timothy 1:7). Don’t try to fight battles on your own. Instead, lean into God’s power and pray for His protection.
This isn’t the only way to pray, but I’ve used this format to add depth and breadth to my prayers in recent years, and I believe it can help you go deeper, too.
For a more simplified structure for prayer, consider the acronym P.R.A.Y. Start by Praising God. Next, Repent of sins you’ve committed and be honest with God of your struggles. Third, Ask of God the requests that are pressing on your heart. Finally, Yield to God, meaning commit to trusting God with the outcome, no matter what.
These are two examples of ways to pray, but remember that they are tools, not rules. The goal is to connect with God on a regular and personal basis.
When you tie a boat to shore with a rope and pull, you are not pulling the shore to the boat. Instead you are pulling the boat to shore. Prayer does the same thing. Pull your boat to the shore of God’s promises and commit to connecting with Him today.
Additional Resource to Go Deeper on Prayer:
Timothy Keller, Prayer.
Mark Batterson, The Circle Maker
3) Jesus used Scripture.
We live in a time where our culture no longer seems to trust the Bible at face value. Just saying “The Bible says…” doesn’t necessarily carry the weight it did thirty years ago. Thankfully, our faith is not based on a book, but on a person. Our faith is based on the Resurrection of Jesus, which sparked the movement of the church, which we now know about through reading the Bible. With questions surrounding the accuracy of the Bible we have today, do we need to even read it? Well… I have two thoughts. First, the Bible as we have it is the most reliable piece of literature of the Ancient Near East and has more evidence for it than pretty much all other ancient writings combined. There is more evidence of Scripture found throughout the world than any piece of literature, ever. It’s the most published and circulated book in all of world history, and it’s not even close. For its mass production and distribution alone, the Bible should be seen as an interesting and compelling read. If you are interested in pursuing the history of the Bible, follow the likes of men like C.S. Lewis, who became a Christian during his search.
The Bible should be valued because of its historical significance. Second, and more importantly, we should value the Bible because Jesus valued the Bible.
Did Jesus have the New Testament during His earthly ministry? No, He did not, because the New Testament depicts His story and the launch of the church. However, Jesus knew the Old Testament and knew it well. He quoted the Old Testament over 70 times in the Gospels.
3 The devil said to him, “If you are the Son of God, command this stone to become bread.” 4 And Jesus answered him, “It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone.’”
Jesus used Scripture to defeat temptation in the wilderness with Satan. Likewise, the Bible is a weapon for Christians to win spiritual battles. God created the world through speaking it into existence (Genesis 1:1). Jesus Himself was referred as the Word of God (John 1:1). There is power in the words of God. You would do well to harness the power of Scripture in your life.
2 Timothy 3:16-17
All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.
While I would encourage you to look into the additional resources section for deeper study, let me offer a simple starting point: S.O.A.P.
Scripture – Read the passage. (If you are just starting, begin in the
Gospels or start with a smaller book, like James or Colossians)
Observe – Write down what you see of there and then.
Listen to what is said. Look for what is down.
Apply – Identify what applies to you here and now.
Is there a truth to know? Is there a command to follow?
Pray – Pray asking God to help you apply what you just read.
Additional Resource to Go Deeper on Scripture:
Gordon D. Fee, How to Read the Bible for All Its Worth.
Robert M. West, How to Study the Bible
Book by Book Video Explanations:
4) Jesus worshiped.
Worship can be defined as giving everything you have to whom or what you value most. In other words, it’s attributing value to someone or something. You’ve not only been created to worship, but also created worshiping. This statement means that the question is not do you worship, but whom or what do you worship? Do your actions reflect what you value?
Jesus encountered a woman at a well in John 4 who had questions about worship. She was asking Jesus about proper place of worship, and Jesus responded with the proper posture of worship. It’s not about where you worship, but how you worship.
23 But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship him. 24 God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.”
Can you worship through singing songs? Yes. In fact, the largest book in the Bible is Psalms, which is filled with songs written to, about, and for God. While singing songs is important, worship is more than that. Worship involves our daily choices.
I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.
What you value determines what you do. What you do demonstrates what you value. Therefore, it is my prayer that your daily actions will worship God in spirit and in truth.
Additional Resource to Go Deeper on Worship:
Matt Redman, Facedown
C.J. Mahaney, Living the Cross Centered Life
John Piper, Don’t Waste Your Life
John Piper, Desiring God