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Last Sunday's Sermon
Pastor: Harry M. Krolus

                                                                                            DEVOTED
                                                                                            ACTS 2:42

Most of us know the name Audie Murphy, don’t we?  He was the most decorated U.S. combat soldier of World War II. Among his 37 awards and decorations, was the Medal of Honor, the highest military award for bravery that can be given to any individual in the US, for gallantry, at the risk of his life, above and beyond the call of duty. He also received every decoration for valor that our country has to offer, eleven in total, some of them more than once. He also received 5 decorations by France and Belgium.
Credited with either killing or wounding over 240 enemy soldiers, and capturing many others, he became a legend within the 3rd Infantry Division. He was wounded three times, and fought in 9 major campaigns across the European Theater.
During Murphy's 3 years of active service as a combat soldier, he became one of the best fighting combat soldiers of all time. What Audie Murphy accomplished during this period is astonishing and probably will never be repeated by another soldier. What makes his story even more remarkable is that he was no Arnold Swartzenager type. Murphy was only 5’5” and less than 120 pounds when he entered the military. But what Audie Murphy did have was a strong sense of commitment and devotion to duty.
Such commitment and devotion to duty is to be admired. Perhaps not on the same level, but we see examples of it all around us. Now, I am not one to put actors or actresses on a pedi-stool, far from it, but a few of them provide good examples of dedication and devotion to their craft.
Charlize Theron, who played a real life convicted serial murderer in the movie “Monster”, had to tone down her good looks and athletic physique for the role. She gained over 30 lbs, by gorging on doughnuts, and even shaved her eyebrows to make herself closer to character.  In the 2004 film “The Machinist”, Christian Bale lost 63 lbs on a diet of fruit and coffee in order to play an emaciated insomniac. And even the rapper, 50 emaciated himself in 2010 for his role as a football player who has cancer in the film “Things Fall Apart.” He went from weighing 214 pounds to only 160.
Yes, there are examples of devotion all around us. My father, after getting out of the service following WWII, initially found work in construction, but after getting injured on the job, decided to find employment elsewhere. As work was scarce, he ended up working as a milk man for Koontz Dairy. This was not something he aspired to as a little boy, but because he knew he needed to provide for his family; out of a sense of duty and devotion to his family, this is what he did for more that thirty years.
Let me read again the words of our text. “They devoted themselves to the apostles teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.” There are a couple of items here that we need to take a look at. The first of which is, Who are the they?
To answer this question we need to back up a little bit. Peter has been speaking to a crowd of people in Jerusalem on the day of Pentecost. There were people from all over, as recorded in the early verses of chapter two. After he had spoken, many in this crowd, about 3000, accepted Peter’s message and were baptized. Those that accepted Peter’s message are the they.
As we too accept the message Peter was proclaiming; as we too accept the message of the Gospel, we too are to be included among the they. We too are to be devoted to the apostles teaching, to the fellowship we share as brothers and sisters in Christ, to the sharing and receiving of the Lord’s Supper, and to prayer.
Now, let’s break this down so that there is no confusion. To be devoted to the apostles teaching means to accept the Word of God, in its entirety, as being authoritative for our lives. We are not truly devoted if we treat the Word of God like an ice cream shop, where we pick out certain flavors and reject others. Being devoted means that we commit ourselves and submit ourselves to the whole of it; which, of course, is the way of salvation.
To be devoted to the fellowship we share as brothers and sisters in Christ, means to recognize the importance of worship and be committed to it. We read in Hebrews 10:25, “Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another — and all the more as you see the Day approaching.”
Jesus told us that man was not created for the Sabbath, but that the Sabbath was created for man. In other words, we need the day of worship. We need the spiritual nourishment it provides through the sharing of the word and the Lord’s Supper. And, we need the spiritual support of our fellow Christians. When we elect not to come, when we choose to do something else; not only are we not being spiritually nourished, neither are we receiving needed spiritual support from our brothers and sisters in Christ. And, on top of this, neither are we are providing any spiritual support for others.
We also see here in our text that we are also to devote ourselves to the sharing of the Lord’s Supper. The Lord’s Supper is a precious, precious gift. Through it we receive the body and blood of our Lord, in a way that we may not understand, but in a way that he makes possible, for the forgiveness of our sins. It is a physical expression of absolution. It is a gift to be received with thanksgiving. It is a gift that is to be received often.
Finally, there is the issue of prayer. As people of God, we are to be devoted to prayer. One of the most inspirational things I have had the privilege of seeing was the worship and prayer life of a shut-in early in my ministry. When this lady could no longer physically come to worship on Sunday mornings, she converted the vanity in her bedroom into an altar. Every day she would spend an hour in the morning and an hour in the evening before bed worshiping her God and praying.
If you read Scripture from cover to cover you will not find any directives to spend time watching TV or chewing the fat, but you will find many references encouraging us to spend time in prayer. Time spent in prayer is one of the defining characteristics of a Christian life.
One of the most admirable qualities that could ever be attributed to any of us is the quality of devotion. We want to be devoted husband and wives. We want to be devoted parents and children and friends. But even above our devotion to our families and friends is to be our devotion to God. Such devotion is not softly spoken, but seen in the choices that we make and in the conduct of our lives.