Acts: Day 26

Paul Preaches at the Areopagus

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Today's Text: Acts 17:1-34, Zechariah 12:10, Romans 3:21-26

Text: Acts 17:1-34, Zechariah 12:10, Romans 3:21-26

I’ve read Acts many times before, but something changed for me as I was preparing to write this. The She Reads Team suggested that, in addition to reading through the whole book of Acts, we might want to listen through the whole book as well. (There are tons of free ways to do this online. Try it!) I’d never thought to do it before, but it was remarkable.

As I simply listened to the story Paul was so adamant in telling—of his conversion, Jesus’ resurrection from the dead, and the crazy beautiful way God brought Jews and Gentiles together with the gospel of good news—I was transported from my own story and swept up into God’s. And like Paul, it made me want to share the gospel.

In Acts 17, we see that Paul continues to look for any opportunity to share the gospel of the resurrected Jesus. But while in Athens, he is greatly troubled to find that the city is full of idols.  

“…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.”
-Acts 17:23

I had to press pause on my phone. The phrase, “I looked carefully at your objects of worship” echoed in my heart.

I don’t have images in silver or gold placed throughout my house that I treat as idols, but I was so convicted as Paul spoke about worshiping an unknown god. I thought about how many things I’ve tried to replace the love of God with in my life, and I began to ask the Lord if there were currently any unknown gods I’ve been worshiping.

That’s where it began… a “re-ordering of the loves” in my heart, as Augustine called it. As of late, I’ve been searching for my worth in the way that I perform as a mom, as a daughter, and as a friend. I measure how much I matter by what other people think about me or by how they respond to me. And once again, I am so deeply convicted of ascribing more worth to what others think of me than to what God thinks of me—of what He has done for me.

I feel it deep in my bones, the discontent that comes when I look to anything other than Jesus for my identity and happiness. Tim Keller says it like this: “Disordered love always leads to misery and breakdown. The only way to reorder our loves is to love God supremely.” Loving Him first is the only way (John 14:6).

Paul goes on to proclaim to the Athenians the beautiful truth about our God:

He “made the world and everything in it” (v. 24).
He “gives everyone life and breath and all things” (v. 25).
“He is not far from each one of us,” for it’s in Him that we live (v. 27-28).
He counts us as His children (v. 29).

This is the God Paul points us to. May we learn to love Him supremely and find sweet satisfaction in His grace.

Father, forgive us for worshiping false, even unknown, gods. By Your grace, please reveal them to us. Help us to shift our gaze from all the lesser loves to You, the One true lover of our souls. By your mercy, re-order our hearts as You see fit, and teach us to worship You alone. Amen.

  SRT-Acts-Instagram26s

 

 

  • I am guilty of putting what people think about me over what God thinks of me. My prayer is that The Lord my God would teach me how to put him first. That I would believe him over anyone or anything else.

  • Thank you for the idea of listening to the Scripture! I’m going to try it.

  • Mandy S

    I connected with this today. I need this reminder on a daily basis. I am a Stay-at-home mom of two amazing little boys and sometimes I miss certain things I have had to sacrifice to get here. But this reminded me of who I am and why I do what I do. My value isn’t in how I dress or what I have or if I have my hair done or nails painted. My value is found as a daughter of the King. I do what I do for my husband and for my kids and because God called me to it. He is taking care of me day by day. I don’t know the story behind that lady I see in target with the latest fashions and freshly painted nails or the man with the kids in the brand new suv parked in the front of Publix and how they got what they have. I can’t compare myself to them because I am not writing their story and I don’t know how they got what they have or how they got to where they are. God is writing my story and that’s what I need to focus on. Thank you for saying it so well!

  • This! This is exactly where I’m at right now. I just finished reading Tim Keller’s book Counterfeit Gods and recognised my own idol of approval. My desire for the approval of others is a huge stronghold in my life, and I can see it stretching back into my childhood. It’s my prayer and heart’s desire that God would take the place of this idol in my life. I already have his unconditional love and approval. Why should that of any other human matter more?

    Thank you for this timely word! And I highly recommend Keller’s book to you all! It’s a convicting read, but it left me feeling so loved by our God.

  • This is so where I am at. Praise you Father for your grace. Father please in my heart and my sisters’ heart we echo Ellie’s prayer. Please do that in our hearts for your dear Name’s sake

  • Stephanie

    Beautiful! Lord, reorder my heart.

  • Love love love Ellie and her words! So glad she wrote for SRT!

  • Allison Barrett

    What an absolutely beautiful passage and devotional.

  • Wow, this is so timely for me. After reading yesterday, I prayed and really examined myself and realized I AM putting what others think of me first before what God thinks of me. I am so thankful to have found this study. I am praying to meet someone in real life to go through it with me. I am a fairly new believer (5 years) married to unbeliever and do not have a lot of Christian friends.

  • Ellen Green

    I feel the same way! I have been struggling with sadness and sometimes even despair that I am not good enough, and don’t amount to anything worthwhile. I’m feeling this way because I am not resting in God’s finished work on the cross. I am trying to work, work, work for the “well done” when I need to rest, rest, rest in His love for me and His power to overcome the world! He IS the One true lover of my soul! Thank You, Father, for this much-needed message!

  • “And once again, I am so deeply convicted of ascribing more worth to what others think of me than to what God thinks of me—of what He has done for me.”

    Right before I read this, I journaled about how I have been worshipping Instagram and how many likes and comments I get. I KNOW that Jesus is better, I KNOW that He satisfies me and cares for me way more. I keep getting let down by the high standards of love I have decided I need from Insta. How crazy that- right after I journal and seek Him for counsel on this- He responds here through SRT. The Lord knows our every thought and action. He knew that I would crave acceptance from Insta but also knew that I would receive HIS TRUTH here! Now, that is more than enough to realize that social media could never plan my steps and give me life like my Savior does!!

  • Your favorite online reader of Acts?

    • DebbieinAZ

      I am a couple of weeks behind you all. But, since no one answered your question, I thought I would. I use “You Version”. You can go to their website, youversion.com, or download their app. They have lots of different versions of the Bible and several can be listened to. My favorite is the NIV because the man who reads it has an English accent and his voice is very soothing. God Bless you. Hope you have a great week.

  • Rhonda Elder

    This was so great and timely today. I took the time to really ponder the passage, highlighting and making mental notes. Then I decided to listen to some of Lisa Harper’s sermons on You Tube. I had never listened to her before so chose one. After it finished it automatically started playing Lisa speaking on Mother’s Day 2015. Imagine my excitement when her passage was…Acts 17. I love how God knows when I need to hear and ponder His Word more than once.

  • Wow! I needed this devotion today. It was so convicting. I struggle so much with worrying about what others think of me and am constantly looking for happiness from people. Even though I have been a believer for a long time, I still struggle with recognizing that my identity is in Christ and not in the opinions of others. Thank you Ellie for this devotion!

    • She Reads Truth

      Thanks for joining us today, Pam! Blessings to you!

      xoxo-Kaitlin

  • This past year, I have really struggled with putting other people’s opinions of me over the Lord’s. A while back, I felt God encouraging me to reorder my loves. Being a very visual/symbolic person, He led me to the concept of the concentric circles of relationship/loves in my life. in the middle is God and me, then is my husband and me followed by my kids and me…at which point there is a thick line, representing that these are my most important relationships right now. next comes close extended family and my closest friends. finally comes everyone else, including social media. I had felt criticized by a neighbor who was in the farthest out cirlce. it rocked me. once I made my circles, though, it really helped me to see whose opinions really matter in my life and helped me let go of her criticism. yet, recently I’ve ventured back into opinion worship through posting my new paintings online and revelling in comments and likes.

    srt, thank you for this devotion…so convicting, but freeing at the same time. a wonderful reminder to remember what the creator of the universe thinks of us…how much he LOVES us. thank you.

    • Amanda

      Maggie, Thank you so much for sharing your circles of relationship visual! That makes so much sense to me! I’ve always known what relationships should be first- God, family, ministry and so on…but only in my head. The visual makes it so much clearer. I struggle with allowing other peoples comments get to me and rock me more than they should. I’m going to write out my relationship circles as a constant reminder of who’s options really matter! And let everyone else’s comments roll off of my back. Thank you!

  • Filled with such a mixture of hope, fear, peace, and doubt in this messy and shaky heart of mine this morning after reading today’s devotion. Currently in the midst of a decision that if comes to pass will have me give up my “right to myself” – to change the way I have been living in a way that truly frightens me. And then there is the passage in Acts this morning about how the Lord allots our boundaries and dwelling places and well – I am beginning to wonder if my idol is myself and my comfort. Gosh, how tightly we can grip to our idols – and when they are our own selves? Sometimes it feels as though there is nothing more terrifying than letting go. After all, what will happen to us? Where will the safety net be? Regardless of what happens in my circumstances though, I am beginning to see more and more that these pit-in-the-stomach “What will you do? Who will you be for God? Where is your focus?” questions need to always be at the forefront – and sometimes it is even in the decisions alone that God wakes us up to all we have been avoiding to confront in our own makeshift safety net. Trusting this morning that I am being held, that the One who creates man and desires a relationship with us, looking over our former sins to reach down and be with us, will never let me go or see me or my family beg for bread. Convicted deeply that it is one thing to discuss idols and what is most important in light of our faith – but a whole other thing entirely to have the inner hardware and courage to live with open hands in faith.

    Blessings to you all this morning sisters. Praying that you all, as I am, have the courage to really seek the Lord for wisdom and strength as we examine all the false things we are clinging to, even if that means something terrifying to you. Praying that even when we doubt His promises ARE truly for US (not just for the elusive “them”), and that He really has a plan for US – and even when it seems like letting go and trusting His plans is downright insane, that we stand fast in hope and faith, knowing that we are standing on the Rock of all Rocks, who just so happens to love us with an everlasting love. I am determined this morning to reach out my hand, however feebly, to the Lord and ask Him to meet me in this weak and fragile state I struggle to come to terms with and actively seek to avoid, to ask Him to give me peace that I may know with certainty that He loves me. I pray, dear women, that you may know how deep and how wide His love is for you, too.

    • Maggie

      praying with you for courage to open your hands, heart, and plans to God’s leading and love. He’s truly got you.

    • Susie

      Beautiful thank you for your heart this morning it really touched me

    • Shelbs

      Praying for you, sister! He will always clothe you, despite our fears

  • Caroline

    This is such a good reminder. Any time we take our minds off Christ we will be hurt or dissapointed, which in turn reminds us that we must fix our eyes on HIM and not the circumstances around us!

    http://www.in-due-time.com

  • I love the phrase “re-order our hearts” it reminds me that God never wants to be second in line, I need to always put Him first. And thank you for encouraging me to ask God to reveal any unknown gods that I am worshipping.

  • THESSALONICA
    Most rejected the word and caused trouble.

    BEREA
    JEWS received the word, examining the scripture daily to see if these things were true. Verse 11

    ATHENS
    Full of idols
    Paul used there idol “Unknown god” to tell the people about the true God.
    Paul also used there poets quote.
    “FOR WE ARE INDEED HIS OFFSPRINGS” Paul told the people so the divine being is not like your idols.

    MY TAKE FOR THE DAY
    LORD HELP ME TO OPEN MY EYES AND USE WHAT IS RIGHT IN FRONT OF ME TO SHARE THE GOSPEL WITH OTHERS.

  • Keri Underwood

    I love Tim Keller, the words God gives him to say always bless me so much! I also love Acts 17:24-25 it’s just so powerful! I’m joining you in today’s prayer. I think we can all use work in loving Him more supremely. Love this word today!

    http://www.littlelightonahill.com

  • Today’s lesson reminds me that when I hear something being said/taught/preached as “truth” that I am to search the Scriptures to see if it is true or not.

    • Melissa

      Me too, such a great reminder to read scripture for yourself. Very encouraging that verse is in the bible.

  • These words felt like a love letter for me this morning, as I’ve been examining my “place”. I, too, have fallen into the rut of a slow lean towards the opinions of folks in this world instead of the One who made it all. The past months have surprised us with a plethora of unpleasant unexpecteds in a season we could really use the breathing room, which has left me inhaling the worries of life, instead of exhaling the freedoms … in other words, I’ve mistakenly placed myself on a pillar of others’ worth instead of God’s worth because of worries masquerading as “importants”. I, too, hear loud and clear that I need a ”’re-ordering of the loves’ in my heart” … God is so good and I am incredibly thankful that His opinion of me and His love of me are ALL that really matter! ~ B

    • sarah gorsuch

      Absolutely! I’m sorry it’s been such a hectic season, but aren’t those seasons the times when God shows up and reminds us of His grace in the midst of it all? What a beautiful display of His care for us. Praying He pours out His goodness and grace on you as you walk through this season in faith and trust of our Good Shepherd. :)

  • “Re-ordering of loves…” What a beautiful way to put it. I am so grateful to have found SRT and all of you. I don’t comment very often but this app and all of on this devotional journey have made a huge impact for good in my life. Your words touch my heart and give me peace and hope. Thank you all for that.

  • churchmouse

    I’m so impressed with Paul’s faithfulness in preaching the Gospel regardless of the results. Some were persuaded. Some became jealous. Some formed a mob and started a riot. Paul keeps going. Some welcomed the message with eagerness. Some examined the Scriptures. Many believed, including a number of prominent Greek women (imagine!). Some agitated and disturbed the crowds. Paul keeps going. Some argued and some challenged his reasoning. Some ridiculed. Some joined him and believed. Varied results for sure . But Paul keeps going. Undeterred because he knows the Truth. Truth has him stand firm. Truth moves him forward. And Truth will do the same for us if we are willing to just keep going. Yes Lord. Here I am. Send me. Amen.

  • I am so happy to see Ellie writing- I admire her and her family so much, and it lifted my soul to hear her words of wisdom this morning.

  • I love that “reordering of loves” as Augustine put it. It’s something intentional. We have to make the effort to find the idols in our lives and reorder our hearts so that Christ is once again our first love.

  • Thank you so much for this… I definitely needed to be pointed towards my own idol worship today! If it helps anyone else… I was so convicted I made a physical list of all my “objects of worship” and then went through the list one by one praying over each, and crossing it out, replacing it with “God”. It was beautiful and I felt so covered by grace!

    • Margaret

      I think that’s a great idea! So many people suggest writing lists of things that are our blessings, but it’s an entirely different ordeal to be honest with ourselves, and to lay bear our weaknesses by dragging our idols into the light. It’s not nearly as warm and fuzzy as the “thankfulness” exercise

  • So touched by these words this morning. Speaks directly to my heart, since im going through a season in which God is working in my heart. We tempt to focus so much on the labels that people give us through our careers, possessions, and economical status versus who we truly are. Society focuses on the superficial and we tempt to get lost in that idea and start to judge our own lifes through their eyes. God may we see ourselves as you see us as beautiful children of God which are loved unconditionally. May we break away from all those little Gods that try to get our attention and take your place in our hearts. May we only seek you and focus on the things from above. May we be bold speakers of your word. May we live a life that reflects you in us. Amen!

  • I had to lay it all out there for Him. Am I doing His will or my own. I want to glorify Jesus in all I do and I don’t know for sure if Young Living Essential Oils is where He wants me. Please pray that I will keep my heart open to His direction and calling.
    Show me your way Lord. Teach me your paths. Amen

  • Sarah Gorsuch

    On top of the AWESOME sermon at Mars Hill that we read in these verses, this also stood out to me:
    “These men who have turned the world upside down have come here also, 7 and Jason has received them, and they are all acting against the decrees of Caesar, saying that there is another king, Jesus.”
    And I have to ask myself:
    Am I turning the world upside down with the message of the gospel???
    Would people be able to say that about me???
    Am I willing to be laughed at and reviled for the name of Jesus?
    I mean, I am just so blown away by their boldness! Oh, LORD forgive me for my weakness and fear of man! Oh, that I’d love the name of Jesus more than I love my own name and reputation!

  • Sarah Gorsuch

    On top of the AWESOME sermon at Mars Hill that we read in these verses, this also stood out to me:
    “These men who have turned the world upside down have come here also, 7 and Jason has received them, and they are all acting against the decrees of Caesar, saying that there is another king, Jesus.”
    And I have to ask myself:
    Am I turning the world upside down with the message of the gospel???
    Would people be able to say that about me???
    Am I willing to be laughed at and reviled for the name of Jesus?
    I mean, I am just so blown away by their boldness! Oh, LORD forgive me for my weakness and fear of man! Oh, that I’d love the name of Jesus more than I love my own name and reputation!

    • Anne

      Amen, I am convicted by your comment Sara “I mean, I am just so blown away by their boldness! Oh, LORD forgive me for my weakness and fear of man!” I pray that I not be a lukewarm Christian, that as you said I would love the name of Jesus more than anything as Paul and the others in Acts.

      • sarahgorsuch

        Yes, Anne! That’s my prayer too! I’ve found that self-sufficiency is the enemy to passion. That when I become self-sufficient and lukewarm, it’s due to my own pride and lack of seeing my own need for Jesus. (Lord, forgive me!) I wrote about my story in a blog post, called Suffering as a Grace: My Story about just that. I think the early Christians suffered immensely, but that can be humbling and bring about a passion we didn’t even know existed within us! I pray that the post encourages you! You can check it out here:
        http://www.sarahgorsuch.com

    • Nancy

      Right there with you Sarah, without excuse!!

    • Halee

      Sarah,
      Your comment has really opened my eyes this morning. I’m sitting here thinking “I have become closer to Jesus only for me. It’s time to show others how amazing He is as well”.

      Thanks!!

      • sarah gorsuch

        Absolutely! So thankful God used my little comment to open your eyes! Praying for OUR boldness as we work to LOVE JESUS, live to make His name great!!! Blessings to you, friend! :)

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