NT Fire Starters – Day 185: Acts 17:16-34
READ: Acts 17:16-34
THINK: How do you think God feels when He sees the ravages of sin on His creation and when people reject Him to pursue to worthless things? Now consider how those who love God should feel when they observe these things. Deeply devoted followers of Jesus sense His grief over the moral corruption and spiritual destruction all around them. But they don’t lose hope. Instead, they take action, reaching out to spiritually lost people, finding common ground and communicating Christ’s message without compromise. They find ways to relate people’s search to God’s solution.
RESPOND: Why was Paul distressed over what He saw in Athens? (See 17:16 note.) What can a person’s attitude toward sin and its effects indicate about his or her spiritual condition and relationship with God? How can you keep a balance between being grieved by the effects of sin and still demonstrating hope of what Christ can do in people’s lives? Who were the Epicurean and Stoic philosophers and how do their beliefs and practices compare with popular ideas in today’s culture? (See 17:18 note.) What are some of “the latest ideas” (v. 21) people are listening to today? How is Paul’s response to the Athenians an example to us? How did he get their attention, find common ground and appeal to their openness (vv. 22, 23, 28)? (See 17:23 note.) How did He relate the people’s search to God’s solution? Why did God create us, care for us and lay out a plan for our lives? (See 17:26-27 note.) How must we respond to God in order to have a personal relationship with Him? (See 17:30 note.) How can we engage our culture in conversation about God without being negatively influenced by the corruption in the culture?
PRAY: Pray for insight from the Holy Spirit about how to engage others in conversation about God. Pray that the minds of spiritually lost people will be aware of the deception all around them and open to the truth of Jesus.
ACT: Throughout the day, pay attention to how people follow and prioritize other things above God, rejecting His authority in their lives. At the same time, notice those who seem to be searching for answers or hope and may be open to the truth. How could you convey Jesus’ love and message to them without compromising godly principles? Look for common ground and try to get into a couple conversations today based on this exercise.