Is God still unknown?

Acts 17:16-34

Now while Paul waited for them at Athens, his spirit was provoked within him when he saw that the city was given over to idols. Therefore he reasoned in the synagogue with the Jews and with the Gentile worshipers, and in the marketplace daily with those who happened to be there. Then certain Epicurean and Stoic philosophers encountered him. And some said, “What does this babbler want to say?”

Others said, “He seems to be a proclaimer of foreign gods,” because he preached to them Jesus and the resurrection.

And they took him and brought him to the Areopagus, saying, “May we know what this new doctrine is of which you speak?  For you are bringing some strange things to our ears. Therefore we want to know what these things mean.”  For all the Athenians and the foreigners who were there spent their time in nothing else but either to tell or to hear some new thing.

Then Paul stood in the midst of the Areopagus and said, “Men of Athens, I perceive that in all things you are very religious; for as I was passing through and considering the objects of your worship, I even found an altar with this inscription:

TO THE UNKNOWN GOD.

Therefore, the One whom you worship without knowing, Him I proclaim to you:  God, who made the world and everything in it, since He is Lord of heaven and earth, does not dwell in temples made with hands. Nor is He worshiped with men’s hands, as though He needed anything, since He gives to all life, breath, and all things. And He has made from one blood every nation of men to dwell on all the face of the earth, and has determined their preappointed times and the boundaries of their dwellings, so that they should seek the Lord, in the hope that they might grope for Him and find Him, though He is not far from each one of us;  for in Him we live and move and have our being, as also some of your own poets have said, ‘For we are also His offspring.’  Therefore, since we are the offspring of God, we ought not to think that the Divine Nature is like gold or silver or stone, something shaped by art and man’s devising.  Truly, these times of ignorance God overlooked, but now commands all men everywhere to repent, because He has appointed a day on which He will judge the world in righteousness by the Man whom He has ordained. He has given assurance of this to all by raising Him from the dead.”

And when they heard of the resurrection of the dead, some mocked, while others said, “We will hear you again on this matter.”  So Paul departed from among them.  However, some men joined him and believed, among them Dionysius the Areopagite, a woman named Damaris, and others with them.

It seems that today the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, the Father who sent Jesus, his son, is still viewed as an unknown God.  Mankind has crafted a god of their own image and worship it calling it our God.  Our God does not live in temples made by hand, he lives in our bodies, temples made by his hand.  He does not need our service; he requires that we serve one another, in his name, for his glory, in love.  “For in him we live, move and have our being.”  This we share as well as the message of Christ’s resurrection and provision for our salvation.  Our prayer is we will hear the response; “We want to hear from you again,” and also we will see a move of God’s Spirit upon the face of the earth once more, bringing those who are his to a reunion and relationship with him. “…since we are the offspring of God, we ought not to think that the Divine Nature is like gold or silver or stone, something shaped by art and man’s devising.  Truly, these times of ignorance God overlooked, but now commands all men everywhere to repent, because He has appointed a day on which He will judge the world in righteousness by the Man whom He has ordained. He has given assurance of this to all by raising Him from the dead.”  Let us say with Paul: “… in Him we live and move and have our being, …”

Advertisements

In the Word daily…

Acts 17:10-15

Then the brethren immediately sent Paul and Silas away by night to Berea. When they arrived, they went into the synagogue of the Jews.  These were more fair-minded than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness, and searched the Scriptures daily to find out whether these things were so. Therefore many of them believed, and also not a few of the Greeks, prominent women as well as men. But when the Jews from Thessalonica learned that the word of God was preached by Paul at Berea, they came there also and stirred up the crowds. Then immediately the brethren sent Paul away, to go to the sea; but both Silas and Timothy remained there. So those who conducted Paul brought him to Athens; and receiving a command for Silas and Timothy to come to him with all speed, they departed. 

Believing and so intrigued the response is to engage immediately in the study of the scriptures.  They are described as more fair-minded or as another translation states: “…more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so. …”  Searched the scriptures daily…hungry for the word of God and willing to spend the time, daily, to verify Paul’s message and to allow the Holy Spirit to bring remembrance and understanding to them.  This is just as needed today. We too can receive the word with all readiness of mind, and search the scriptures daily, whether these things are so. The impact is evident in how Paul is received; with gladness and protected when the outside influences threaten to contaminate this town as they did in Thessalonica.  We can follow the example given here to allow time, daily, to study the scriptures to verify what we are told of God.  They responded with belief, then verified with scriptures.  They allowed the Holy Spirit to bring them to understanding.  We too can be of ‘noble character’… immerse ourselves in the Word of God daily so that we are able to face the conflicts and grow, bearing fruit for the kingdom of heaven.  This is a healthy place to be, it brings us benefits in this life as well as preparing us for eternity.  Eternity begins now.  Be prepared.  Share.  Grow.  Live.  Change the focus from what is not to what is… Jesus is Lord.

Fear not…

Acts 17: 1-9

Now when they had passed through Amphipolis and Apollonia, they came to Thessalonica, where there was a synagogue of the Jews. Then Paul, as his custom was, went in to them, and for three Sabbaths reasoned with them from the Scriptures, explaining and demonstrating that the Christ had to suffer and rise again from the dead, and saying, “This Jesus whom I preach to you is the Christ.” And some of them were persuaded; and a great multitude of the devout Greeks, and not a few of the leading women, joined Paul and Silas.

 But the Jews who were not persuaded, becoming envious,  took some of the evil men from the marketplace, and gathering a mob, set all the city in an uproar and attacked the house of Jason, and sought to bring them out to the people.  But when they did not find them, they dragged Jason and some brethren to the rulers of the city, crying out, “These who have turned the world upside down have come here too. Jason has harbored them, and these are all acting contrary to the decrees of Caesar, saying there is another king—Jesus.” And they troubled the crowd and the rulers of the city when they heard these things. So when they had taken security from Jason and the rest, they let them go.

 Fear of the unknown, jealousy, change, placing mankind above God all have a part in this scene.  Fear perhaps is the overriding factor.  It has as a consequence the evidence of jealousy, unwillingness to change, not wanting to step out of a place of comfort or familiarity.  Scripture says love casts out all fear.  If we are unwilling to accept the love God extends to us we find ourselves captive to fear and all its manifestations.  Many turned to Christ, believing the word being delivered by Paul and Silas.  However there were those who did not and found this new belief presented to them to be a challenge to the day-to-day life they lived.  It called for change, it presented a new way to think and do.  This change in those who accepted, challenged the authority and position of the Jews who did not accept it.  People leaving a faith brings fear of loss to those still in it and jealousy arises.  Jealousy is a destructive force that is willing to use violence to gain its objectives.  In its reaction, it also presents the possibility that the very thing it is jealous of has power to defeat it.  And God’s protection rested over Jason and the brothers.

 What is the take away?  When we share we can expect just such a reaction.  It is not rational and further emphasizes our need to rely and trust in the Lord we serve.  Keeping our focus on Him and what He has for us to do keeps us from buying into the fear that could rise up.  Fear not, a phrase often used by Jesus.  Fear not.

Time to move on…

Acts 16:35-40

And when it was day, the magistrates sent the officers, saying, “Let those men go.”

So the keeper of the prison reported these words to Paul, saying, “The magistrates have sent to let you go. Now therefore depart, and go in peace.”

But Paul said to them, “They have beaten us openly, uncondemned Romans, and have thrown us into prison. And now do they put us out secretly? No indeed! Let them come themselves and get us out.”

And the officers told these words to the magistrates, and they were afraid when they heard that they were Romans. Then they came and pleaded with them and brought them out, and asked them to depart from the city.  So they went out of the prison and entered the house of Lydia; and when they had seen the brethren, they encouraged them and departed.

 A beating, a night in jail, no trial and asked to leave all actions that mirror what Jesus experienced.  What began in the garden of Eden continues today.  The love of God is received by some with joy as in the case of the jailer and his family.  For others it is something to destroy; it is rejected as is seen in the actions of the slave girl’s owners.  The jailer and his family received and were blessed through Paul and Silas.  Now it was time for Paul to move on in peace, his work was completed and no charges were filed.  The why’s of the situation are not answered, the how’s and what’s are.  We know we serve a God who provides.  With His power we rise above our circumstances and move on.  In His will, we continue to share and encourage wherever we go.

Believe and share…

Acts 16:22-34

Then the multitude rose up together against them; and the magistrates tore off their clothes and commanded them to be beaten with rods. And when they had laid many stripes on them, they threw them into prison, commanding the jailer to keep them securely. Having received such a charge, he put them into the inner prison and fastened their feet in the stocks.

But at midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the prisoners were listening to them.  Suddenly there was a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison were shaken; and immediately all the doors were opened and everyone’s chains were loosed. And the keeper of the prison, awaking from sleep and seeing the prison doors open, supposing the prisoners had fled, drew his sword and was about to kill himself. But Paul called with a loud voice, saying, “Do yourself no harm, for we are all here.”

Then he called for a light, ran in, and fell down trembling before Paul and Silas. And he brought them out and said, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?”

So they said, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved, you and your household.” Then they spoke the word of the Lord to him and to all who were in his house.  And he took them the same hour of the night and washed their stripes. And immediately he and all his family were baptized.  Now when he had brought them into his house, he set food before them; and he rejoiced, having believed in God with all his household.

 “…what must I do to be saved?…”Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved, you and your household.”  That’s the only requirement for salvation.  We are judged guilty, our selfish lifestyle and our sins judge us.  But Jesus took the penalty for us so that all we need do is believe…believe on the Lord Jesus Christ; He was and is who He says He is and He did and does what He says He will do.  The messengers found suffering for delivering the message, but did not allow the attack to destroy them.  Rather than give in to the pain and offense they prayed and sang to God; the prisoners listened and the message was once again being delivered.  God does the work; He grants the salvation, He gave life to His creation, He hears and answers.  This time God’s answer brought salvation to the jailer and his family.  The message continues to be delivered.  A simple message with a powerful effect upon all who hear.  Regardless of what it brings our way we will be found faithful to deliver the message and those who hear will find the same joy the jailer experienced.  “…he rejoiced, having believed in God with all his household.”  We believe and we share.  That is enough.

“I Believe”

I believe for every drop of rain that falls           

A flower grows,     

I believe that somewhere in the darkest night                    

A candle glows,                                                

I believe for everyone who goes astray,

Someone will come to show the way,

I believe, I believe.

I believe above the storm a smallest prayer                          

Will still be heard,                                         

I believe that someone in the great somewhere                                           

Hears every word,                                                   

Every time I hear a newborn baby cry,                             

Or touch a leaf, or see the sky,                                                  

Then I know why,                                             sky-01.jpg

I believe

Tom Jones

That someone in the great somewhere is real, the Lord God of creation.

Under attack…

Acts 16:16 – 21

Now it happened, as we went to prayer, that a certain slave girl possessed with a spirit of divination met us, who brought her masters much profit by fortune-telling.  This girl followed Paul and us, and cried out, saying, “These men are the servants of the Most High God, who proclaim to us the way of salvation.” And this she did for many days.

But Paul, greatly annoyed, turned and said to the spirit, “I command you in the name of Jesus Christ to come out of her.” And he came out that very hour.  But when her masters saw that their hope of profit was gone, they seized Paul and Silas and dragged them into the marketplace to the authorities.

And they brought them to the magistrates, and said, “These men, being Jews, exceedingly trouble our city; and they teach customs which are not lawful for us, being Romans, to receive or observe.”

 This is the killing of the Golden Goose.  This young girl was the golden goose, laying golden eggs for her masters.  They did not prevent her from harassing the two sent to that town by the Holy Spirit, Paul and Silas.  The spirit that enabled her to be a source of income was not of God and Paul obeys the prompting of the Holy Spirit. In the name of Jesus  it leaves the girl and with it  goes the income for the owners.  Freedom for the girl from the bondage of darkness is obtained, but the bondage to love of money continues for the owners.  Freedom comes with a price.  Freeing the cripple to walk, freeing the sick, now freeing from spiritual bondage all brought conflict and suffering to the messengers.  Paul finds himself brought before the magistrates, facing the arm of the law for removing the source of income.  There is no mercy for the young slave and before this no mercy for the ill.  The law reigns supreme; man’s law.   And those freed from the law find themselves in conflict with it and facing suffering at the hands of humanity.

 When we share we risk the same conflict.  The work of the Holy Spirit can bring us to a place of suffering as we are obedient.  Are we prepared to face that conflict and that suffering?  Our laws  today begin to strangle the message of freedom and salvation through Christ.  Some already face consequences within our legal system for their sharing of the word of God.  Are we prepared, is our love for Christ deep enough?  Questions to take us into a place of reflection and searching.  If we are allowing the everyday things of this life to interfere now, how can we withstand a conflict that becomes more personal and potentially harmful?  The tree that continues to stand in spite of drought, floods, wind storms, heat and cold, is a tree that is rooted and strong.  Let us take care to be that tree planted by the stream that brings forth fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither  Remain close to the stream of life found in scripture, become fruitful as we study, pray and learn of the Holy Spirit what God has for us, and our leaves will not wither with the storms, we will remain strong in Him.

Faithful…

Acts 16:11-15

Therefore, sailing from Troas, we ran a straight course to Samothrace, and the next day came to Neapolis, and from there to Philippi, which is the foremost city of that part of Macedonia, a colony. And we were staying in that city for some days. And on the Sabbath day we went out of the city to the riverside, where prayer was customarily made; and we sat down and spoke to the women who met there. Now a certain woman named Lydia heard us. She was a seller of purple from the city of Thyatira, who worshiped God. The Lord opened her heart to heed the things spoken by Paul.  And when she and her household were baptized, she begged us, saying, “If you have judged me to be faithful to the Lord, come to my house and stay.” So she persuaded us.

 There is one who seeks the Lord, hears the message of salvation provided through the Son, Jesus and responds.  With her response comes  a place from which to continue the work of God.  When we seek the Lord, He responds.  When we are faithful to the prompting of the Holy Spirit we become a part of the active, working kingdom of God.  Blessings abound for the giver and the receiver. Be found faithful, there may be one who is seeking that needs to hear the message we share.