Acts 15:9 nlt

soap

To God we are all the same; sinners needing His grace.
Anyone who comes to Him in faith is washed clean.

When you look at someone do you see only what is different about them?
Do you celebrate the diversity of the people in the church?

Blessings this day of grace,

patricia

Picture: morgueFile

Finding God

When Paul was in Athens, waiting for Silas and Timothy to join him, he was disturbed to see the city full of idols.  He talked to the Jews and God-fearing Greeks in the synagogue and to the people in the marketplace, discussing with them idols and the worship of them.

Epicurean and Stoic philosophers, members of the Court of Areopagus, the judicial body with authority over civil and religious life in Athens, were interested in what Paul had to say.  These men spent most of their time talking about or listening to new ideas and took Paul to a meeting of the Areopagus because he was speaking of things “strange to their ears and they wanted to know what they meant”.

This was the perfect opportunity for Paul to tell them about the one true and sovereign God.  In Athens there was an altar to an “unknown god” so Paul began to tell them about this unknown god, who He is and what He has done.  He told them about the God “who made the world and everything in it…that He gives to all people life and breath and every thing”.  Paul told them God puts each person in the place they need to be when they need to be there “so they would seek God in the hope that they would feel their way toward Him and find Him”.  And he told them “Yet, He is not far from each one of us”.

It is interesting that Paul tells these men, philosophers, who study and ponder, discuss and debate, everything with everyone, that what they are doing is part of a plan, God’s plan.  They are just where they need to be at just the right time so in their searching for answers to life’s questions they will find those answers by finding God.  And he tells them that God is not in some far off place or time but near them.

What Paul said to the men of the Areopagus he says to us today. When we are looking for God going from place to place, teacher to teacher, study to study, discipline to discipline, maybe what we need to do is be still and quiet where we are for a time.

…and He determined the times set for them and the exact places where they should live.  God 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. Acts 17:26b-27 niv

God is everywhere. Not just the desert or mountain top, forest or seaside, classroom or church.  He is where we are all the time.

I wonder at all the time I spent going to places and events  looking for God, when all along He was right there with me…waiting.


Just wondering…

Here’s courage, take it…

When Paul was in Jerusalem a lot happened to him.  He was dragged from the Temple, beaten by Jews, arrested by Romans, threatened with flogging, brought before the Chief Priests and all the Council.  The Sadducees and Pharisees became so violent, the Roman Tribune feared for Paul’s life and had him taken to the Roman barracks.  While all this was happening Paul continued to testify; he continued to tell the truth about himself and about God.

Paul’s life was in jeopardy because of what he was saying.  I imagine, Paul, being human, felt some discomfort, if not fear.  It seems if he had just stopped talking he would not have been in danger of being hurt or even killed.  But Paul did not stop talking.  Through it all he refused to take the easy way, the comfortable way, and tell the people what they wanted to hear.  He kept on telling them what they needed to hear.

The following night while Paul was in the Roman barracks the Lord came and stood by him.  And after all he had been through what did the Lord have to say to him?  Did He say “well-done, now take some time off, get some rest, visit friends and family, enjoy.”  No.  The Lord gave him the next assignment.

The following night the Lord stood near Paul and said, “Take courage!  As you have testified about me in Jerusalem, so you must also testify in Rome.”

Acts 23:11 niv

As Jesus tells Paul what he must do He also gives him something.  Paul was not being sent off to Rome without resources.  He already had his testimony; and now Jesus says, “Take courage.”  He was giving to Paul what he would need for the journey to Rome and what he would need while there.

The bible is history.  It tells stories of the Saints who came before us.  But it is also about current events; what is happening to the Saints now.  The history tells us what God had people like Paul do and how He equipped them.  It is the same today.  When we read these words they are meant for us, too.  He does not leave us without resources; as He said to Paul, “Take courage,” so He says to us, “Take courage.”

Just as Paul had a testimony so do we. Now is not the time for us to rest and relax. We have an assignment, a story to tell.  We may not be sent to far away places to tell the story but we are sent.  And we are equipped by the Lord.  Just as He offered courage to Paul so he offers it to us.  It is offered not forced upon us.  We decide whether to accept or refuse.

Be strong, and let your heart take courage,
all you who wait for the Lord.

Psalm 31:24 esv

I wonder why it is hard to accept what is so freely offered to help with the assignment given?

I wonder if I do not accept what is offered thinking that  I will not  have to take the assignment?

Just wondering…