2019 01 13 Chris Khoury PAUL IN ATHENS
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Please excuse poor recording. Scripture reading: Acts 17:19-22 click title for summary

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PAUL IN ATHENS - God is not far from each one of us.

CHRIS KHOURY - SERMON SUMMARY - 13 JAN 2019

Acts 17:19-22

In the last 6 weeks come through advent and the incarnation to Christmas and Epiphany. We now go back to the book of Acts and continue to follow Paul’s missionary journey. He has left Berea and enters the city of Athens. Athens is a city of intellectual achievement. The greatest ancient philosophers came from Athens. Socrates, Plato and Aristotle.

 

A CITY OF IDOLS:

Upon entering the city Paul is greatly distressed to see that Athens was full of idols. Literally - thousands of them. Idols were everywhere. Acts 17 As was his custom, Paul goes into the synagogue and begins evangelising the city. By reasoning with the Jews and others to prove that Jesus is the Messiah. He goes out into the marketplace day after day and reasons with any who will listen to him. A group of Epicurean and Stoic philosophers began to debate with him.

Some say he is a babbler, others he is teaching about foreign gods. They decide to take him to the Areopagus.

 

Acts 17:19-21

Then 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? 20 You are bringing some strange ideas to our ears, and we would like 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.)

 

The Areopagus otherwise known as Mars Hill (named after the god of war). With no time to prepare, Paul has to stand before this distinguished audience of philosophers and teachers and present his case.

 

Acts 17:22

Paul then stood up in the meeting of the Areopagus and said: ‘People of Athens! I see that in every way you are very religious. 23 For as I walked around and looked carefully at your objects of worship, I even found an altar with this inscription: to an unknown god. So you are ignorant of the very thing you worship – and this is what I am going to proclaim to you.

 

In his presentation he reveals 4 key facts about God. v24-28

  1. God is creator of everything- giving life and breath to everyone and everything
  2. He is self sufficient
  3. God is in control - he has a plan
  4. God is approachable and accessible.

Quoting one of the Greek poets he says, “we are his offspring”

 

He then says, v18 “he is not far from any one of us.  “For in him we live and move and have our being.”

 

He then calls on them to repent because there is going to be a judgement and a resurrection.

Some sneered at him, some said that they wanted to hear more. Paul leaves the council and we are told, some of them followed him and believed. (v33) He left Athens and went to Corinth.

The things Paul said to them hold true, even for us today. I wish to focus on his words, “He is not far from each one of us.”

 

If this is true why is it that we experience so little of the presence of God?

Why does God not impact our lives more? Why does God seem so far off?

 

WHY DO I ASK THESE QUESTIONS?

Because as a pastor, this is what I see. In you, in your lives and in the lives of your families. I see it in the attitudes of some people. I can see and sense it right here in Redhill and in the lives of many of us. I see it in my own life.

 

GOD’S PROMISE THROUGHOUT THE BIBLE - “I WILL BE WITH YOU!”

When God himself came to earth he was called ‘Emmanuel’. God with us.

When Jesus left this world what were his last words?

“I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”

In the OT when Moses prayed ,

“ The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make his face to shine upon you.”

 

The scriptures teach us that God really is present right now. In fact, he is closer than you think. God is not just in the miracles or in the lives of the great Biblical characters. God is in you. In your every day ordinary life.

 

David wrote, Ps23:4

Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me;

 

We must not make the mistake in thinking that God only reveals himself in the dramatic miracles. Or when Angus Bucken gathers a million people who come together to pray and worship God. As dramatic as that might be, Paul said, “He is not far from each one of us”. We can experience God in the normal everyday activities of life.

 

SPIRITUAL GROWTH:

Can be described as our capacity to experience the presence of God. Maybe we miss him because we fail to see him in the ordinary moments of our lives.

Two points we can constantly remind ourselves of:

  1. God is always active and present in our lives whether we see or experience him or not.
  2. We can train ourselves to recognize and experience the presence of God.

 

Think of it this way. If God is everywhere, and with us and in us then it is not God who is hiding, it is us.

 

Remember what happened in the Garden of Eden after the fall. God comes down to talk with Adam and Eve. He calls out, “Where are you?” Adams answer, “I heard you in the garden and I was afraid so I hid!”

Maby we don’t experience God often enough because we sometimes choose to hide.

 

DO WE SOMETIMES HIDE FROM GOD?

Adam was afraid, so he hid from God. Don’t look at me now God. Any time we choose to do something wrong or to not do what we know is right, God, don’t look at me now! Every choice to sin - no matter how small- diminishes our capacity to experience God. A teenager who chooses to drink too much, a church member who gossips, a co-worker who makes someone else look bad, when we choose to steal a chocolate from the supermarket, or to tell a lie! When our young people decide on sexual experimentation. When we choose to co-habit rather than get married God, don’t look at me now!

 

WHAT’S THE SOLUTION?

  1. DON’T HIDE FROM GOD.

Identify the areas/ circumstances of your life where you choose to hide from God and resolve to do something about it.

 

  1. REVIEW THE DAILIES.

Take time each day to reflect on the previous days activities. Walk through yesterday in your mind or in a prayer journal. Ask yourself, where was Jesus present and at work in each scene. Go from activity to activity. Was your day filled with anxiety, trepidation or even worse, anger? How is God speaking to you through these scenes? Could you find something to be thankful for? Did God offer a word of encouragement? Did someone give you some good advise? Did God open a door and show a way forward? Is the Holy Spirit prompting you to change?

 

The more we think about God in this way the more we will train ourselves to recognise him in the normal activities of life. In the Psalms we read. “This is the day the Lord has made, let us rejoice and be glad in it.”  “God’s mercies are new every morning.” So where is God, he is closer than you think! Buy yourself a small notebook. Choose a time each day to take stock.



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