Acts 17:22-31, Psalm 66:8-20, 1 Peter 3:13-22, John 14:15-21
- This is a great passage - Paul's technique for pulling in the Athenians is marvelous, strategic, effective. He reaches them on their terms, where they are. He doesn't condemn them for their beliefs, though he certainly believes he has something else to offer. But he uses what they believe to lead to the good news he wants to share. Smoothly done.
- "they would search for God and perhaps grope for him and find him - though indeed he is not far from each one of us." Hmm - I like this verse - Paul sees us all on the same ground - all humans essentially the same - searching for God. I think he's right on target - we're all searching for meaning. God is just waiting to be found by us.
- "we ought not to think that the deity is like gold, or silver, or stone, an image formed by the art and imagination of mortals." Yes - God is much more than we like to limit God to being. Even if we don't limit God through making graven images, we limit God in other ways, don't we?
- Best to read the whole Psalm for some context. Mostly a praise psalm here, but with some specific perspectives. This psalm directly addresses God's hand in leading the Israelites out of Egypt into "a spacious place."
- vs. 10-12 speak of all the 'testing' sort of tasks the people have endured at God's hands - the net, the burdens, through fire and water. Do you feel your trials have been laid out to you by God? That God has set you up to be tested? This idea has never set right with me, not quite.
- "[God] has not rejected my prayer or removed his steadfast love from me." I guess we often worry that God will do this, but I don't believe that God does this ever. Never rejects us, even if doesn't move heaven and earth for us as we'd like.
- "who will harm you if you are eager to do what is good?" Unfortunately, the answer to that question is a lengthy list! But, the author encourages us, we are still blessed, sanctified in Christ.
- "Always be ready to make your defense to anyone who demands from you an accounting for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and reverence." What a great verse. What great advice! What is your defense for the hope that is within you?
- "If you love me, you will keep my commandments." Do we love Jesus? Yes. Do we keep his commandments? Eek. I'm afraid we're not so good at this part. But Jesus reminds us that our obedience to the commandments is an expression of our love. So let's love Jesus well.
- "I will not leave you orphaned." Sometimes I think we underestimate how lonely humans are. How often, despite the people in are lives, we feel we're on our own. That's why Jesus' promise is so significant and so meaningful. We're never abandoned.
- "because I live, you also will live." These are words of promise often read at funerals. But remember that they are words for our lives now, not just speaking about some far off after-death hope.