Day 22

Mistaken for Gods

from the Acts reading plan

Acts 14:1-28, Colossians 4:2-4, 2 Timothy 3:10-12

BY Patti Sauls

Golden calves, Zeus, crystals, wooden statues, and teen pop stars. What do all these have in common? All have been objects of worship. They have been admired, adored, and served. There’s no denying it—the human heart is drawn to worship. We yearn to be part of a bigger story, to pin our hopes on something outside ourselves. We are wired to look for something or someone more powerful that will help us flourish and make sense of life. The question is not, “Do I worship?” The question for each of us is, “What do I worship?” 

This makes sense when we remember that we were created as worshipping beings. Our loving Creator made us to reflect His image and to enjoy Him forever. We were made to be a part of God’s big story and to live in His power and presence. We are wired to flourish when we admire, adore, and serve the Lord above all else. 

But our hearts are darkened by unbelief and we begin to look for love and meaning in other, lesser places. We see this happening to the crowds in Lystra after Barnabas and Paul healed a disabled man. The Lystrans were star-struck. They were so impressed by the powerful miracle that they thought Barnabas and Paul must be the Greek gods Zeus and Hermes gracing them with their presence in human form. They began to worship and prepare sacrifices to them.

This was the opposite of the gospel Paul and Barnabas came to preach. Instead of recognizing and turning to the one true God, the crowds doubled down on their idolatry. Barnabas and Paul tore their clothes in anguish and pleaded with the crowd, “Turn from these worthless things to the living God, who made the heaven, the earth, the sea, and everything in them” (Acts 14:15).

Unbelief and confusion cloud our thinking as well. We may not worship Zeus or wooden statues, but we look for love, security, and meaning in other, lesser places, too. Let’s be honest and ask ourselves what we are tempted to bow down to today. What do I prioritize before all else? What dominates my calendar and my checking account? What keeps me up at night? What does my mind turn to before my head even lifts off the pillow in the morning? Who or what do I feel like I can’t live without?

The restlessness we feel when we try to pin our hopes on something other than God is actually a gift. It reveals the truth that we were made to be part of God’s story, a beloved child of His eternal family. Anything other than Him leaves us wanting more. As Saint Augustine famously said, “Thou hast made us for Thyself, and our heart is restless till it rests in Thee.” What will we worship today?

Post Comments (51)

51 thoughts on "Mistaken for Gods"

  1. Traci Gendron says:

    Wow! Just wow! Patti Sauls devotion today was SO good. I wrote most of it down. As I’ve gotten older and calmer (lol), I have found myself wanting peace. Just peace. I’m not seeking out other things so much anymore. I’m slowly letting go of the idols I have had. Maybe it comes from having the knowledge that God created us for Him. That we are restless until we rest in Him. I’m not anywhere near perfect, but a work in progress. Today’s study made me think what are my idols?? Am I willing to endure persecution for Christ? If I want to follow Him, it will come. I need to be ready. To prepare. To know His Word! KATHY – thank you for this thought! “What do the people closest to me know about God because of the way I live my life?” Thank you for that comment. I’m sure I’ll be stewing on that.
    ERB – Prayers for Revel. Our dogs are such a big part of our lives. Thank you for the surrounding scripture as well.
    MARI V – prayers for your work environment.
    CANDACE SMITH – prayers for a new pastor.
    VICTORIA E – prayers!
    MELANIE – praying for your husband.
    GLORIA – beautiful prayer!

  2. Sky Hilton says:

    What a very deep reading! Im still so happy that all of the disciples rejected the praise aimed at them, and told the many people they encountered to praise God. So many of us need to aim our praise to God only, never ourselves.

    So many people put so many things before God. And it could be so many things, other than just the things we think of. It could be movies (which I have done), it could be TV shows, it could be traveling. Some of my family members love to put their problems before God- they like to focus on their problems and how much they hurt- other than focusing on Jesus. When I was younger, I use to worship so many celebrities.. and Youtube stars.. but I never felt happy or satisfied. I used to look for God in all the wrong places.

    But since God has called me back, I have no desire to worship anyone but God only. That doesn’t mean to stop being nice to people or stop giving them complements.. but that does mean to stop putting them in front of God.

    Every day I am now finding myself wanting to praise God throughout all the day. He is so good… and why wouldn’t I? He’s worth every single second, every single hour, and every single minute… all I want to be is His. I no longer want to be apart of a christ-less culture that tries to get you to worship things that will bring you no love/comfort or happiness in the end. I want to live in a culture that centered around Jesus, our savior, our Lord, and most importantly.. our everything.

    I would hope that we would stop practicing these forms of idolatry.. and put God FIRST! Nothing will ever come close to our King!

    (Also, could you please pray for my mom and sister? My sister was stood up by someone she wanted to meet… she was really depressed. And that made my mom more depressed. I believe that my mom’s faith is hanging by shreds at this point.. and it makes me so sad!! I love God so much… and don’t want her to give up! I pray so desperately that both my mom and sister to encounter Jesus in their own way.. and to not live their life without Him! )

  3. AG says:

    “It is necessary to go through many hardships to enter the kingdom of God.” This quote from today’s reading stuck out to me. May I remember this when I am facing hardships and know they are leading me to a closer and stronger relationship to God. After the reading the devotional online today, I started to think about what my mind turns to and right now it is definitely my job. Being a teacher is so tough right now and I need to remember to turn to the Lord for help and encouragement. Lord shed your light on me and your plan for how I can share your word with others around me.

  4. Mari V says:

    Victoria E. 20 weeks already? I will be praying for you.

  5. Jennifer Anapol says:

    What are my lesser god’s? The thinks I worship other than God include, myself, my daughter, control, comfort, and people’s opinions of me. It is sad to think about the amount of time that is spent worshipping these things.

  6. Ash Ramey says:

    This really has opened my eyes to what I think about all day.

  7. Dorothy says:

    Patti brought up some good points and had some good questions. Right now I will say I will worship the Lord and Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit. But God, to say it would continue if certain circumstances occurred I don’t know. I love my family dearly and if they were threatened would I deny my Lord, I don’t know. I can give up social media and TV and many other things but my family means a great deal to me.
    Lord God help me to know You are most important in my life by trusting in You all else will fall into place. Amen.
    Sisters, let’s all remember God is ALWAYS with us and be blessed.

  8. Lexi B says:

    Candace- praying for you, your pastor and for a new leader for your church.
    ERB- not a silly prayer at all; dogs are family. Praying for Revel (love the name btw)
    Victoria E- Praying for your next ultrasound
    Melanie- Praying for your husband, that he falls deeply in love with God and has a hunger to know him.
    Mari- praying for your job.
    Happy Monday Ladies; thank you all so much for your prayers and encouragement. I enjoy reading your insights each day.

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