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Coming to Know What's Important

By Marge Patton
Saturday, March 20, 2010

Scripture Verses
Acts 17:16-34

16While Paul was waiting for them in Athens, he was greatly distressed to see that the city was full of idols. 17So he reasoned in the synagogue with the Jews and the God-fearing Greeks, as well as in the marketplace day by day with those who happened to be there. 18A group of Epicurean and Stoic philosophers began to dispute with him. Some of them asked, "What is this babbler trying to say?" Others remarked, "He seems to be advocating foreign gods." They said this because Paul was preaching the good news about Jesus and the resurrection. 19Then they took him and brought him to a meeting of the Areopagus, where they said to him, "May we know what this new teaching is that you are presenting? 20You are bringing some strange ideas to our ears, and we want to know what they mean." 21(All the Athenians and the foreigners who lived there spent their time doing nothing but talking about and listening to the latest ideas.)

 22Paul then stood up in the meeting of the Areopagus and said: "Men of Athens! I see that in every way you are very religious. 23For as I walked around and looked carefully at your objects of worship, I even found an altar with this inscription: TO AN UNKNOWN GOD. Now what you worship as something unknown I am going to proclaim to you.

 24"The God who made the world and everything in it is the Lord of heaven and earth and does not live in temples built by hands. 25And he is not served by human hands, as if he needed anything, because he himself gives all men life and breath and everything else. 26From one man he made every nation of men, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he determined the times set for them and the exact places where they should live. 27God did this so that men would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from each one of us. 28'For in him we live and move and have our being.' As some of your own poets have said, 'We are his offspring.'

 29"Therefore since we are God's offspring, we should not think that the divine being is like gold or silver or stone—an image made by man's design and skill. 30In the past God overlooked such ignorance, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent. 31For he has set a day when he will judge the world with justice by the man he has appointed. He has given proof of this to all men by raising him from the dead."

 32When they heard about the resurrection of the dead, some of them sneered, but others said, "We want to hear you again on this subject." 33At that, Paul left the Council. 34A few men became followers of Paul and believed. Among them was Dionysius, a member of the Areopagus, also a woman named Damaris, and a number of others.

Paul arrived in Athens to find a city full of idols.  Perhaps he was saddened and disillusioned by this but he took the opportunity to teach about Jesus' life and Christianity.  He used the idol labeled "Unknown God" to begin his testimony about Jesus.  Paul gave a wonderful testimony to the Athenians by flattering their religious interests, reminding them of the past, and about Jesus' life, death, and resurrection.  While Paul did not win over many people to Christianity that day, he still was serving our Lord with his testimony and faith that God would accomplish His plan.

In our world today, what idols would Paul find?  They may not be in statue form but they are still there – money, careers, power, technology devices, material things, etc.  For us as Christians we need to put these idols in proper perspective and realize that serving our Lord should be first and foremost in our lives.  When we go to the Lord with all our needs, wants, concerns, and questions we will get an answer – even if it is not the one we want or see immediately.  Paul wanted to convert many but that wasn't God's plan.  We sometimes forget that God's plan is ALWAYS better than our plan.  To gain peace, joy, hope, and God's grace we need to begin by serving Him.  Seek his guidance through prayer in all we do.  Our Lord is a loving father and wants the best for us. 

You can tell your story to others about how the Lord has changed your life.  You can show others by your actions when you serve Him today just as Jesus did when he was here in human form.  By doing this, God will reward you even though you may or may not see the seeds you plant grow.  Paul didn't win many converts in Athens; but even if there had been only one, Paul was a success.

Be the person God wants you to be, follow His plan.  Help others see that Jesus' resurrection was for us to have everlasting life.  Paul served God and was faithful even though it appeared he was unsuccessful; we need to follow Paul's example. 

Dear Lord, Help each of us to turn away from our idols and seek you so we may get to know and serve you better.  Show us the ways you want to use us as you used Paul to advance your kingdom.  Help us to tell our stories and show our love for you with the words you give us and through our actions.  Help us to become the person you want us to be who serves you and brings others to believe.  In Jesus' name, I offer up this prayer. Amen.