16. While Paul was waiting for them in Athens, he was greatly distressed to see that the city was full of idols. 17 So he reasoned in the synagogue with the Jews and the God‑fearing Greeks, as well as in the market‑place day by day with those who happened to be there. 18 A group of Epicurean and Stoic philosophers began to dispute with him. Some of them asked, ``What is this babbler trying to say?'' Others remarked, ``He seems to be advocating foreign gods.'' They said this because Paul was preaching the good news about Jesus and the resurrection. 19 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 want 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.) 22. Paul then stood up in the meeting of the Areopagus and said: ``Men 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. Now what you worship as something unknown I am going to proclaim to you. 24 ``The God who made the world and everything in it is the Lord of heaven and earth and does not live in temples built by hands. 25 And he is not served by human hands, as if he needed anything, because he himself gives all men life and breath and everything else. 26 From one man he made every nation of men, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he determined the times set for them and the exact places where they should live. 27 God did this so that men would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from each one of us. 28 `For in him we live and move and have our being.' As some of your own poets have said, `We are his offspring.' 29 ``Therefore since we are God's offspring, we should not think that the divine being is like gold or silver or stone‑ an image made by man's design and skill. 30 In the past God overlooked such ignorance, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent. 31 For he has set a day when he will judge the world with justice by the man he has appointed. He has given proof of this to all men by raising him from the dead.'' 32. When they heard about the resurrection of the dead, some of them sneered, but others said, ``We want to hear you again on this subject.'' 33 At that, Paul left the Council. 34 A few men became followers of Paul and believed. Among them was Dionysius, a member of the Areopagus, also a woman named Damaris, and a number of others.
FOR ALL THOSE BORN BEFORE 1945
WE ARE SURVIVORS!! Consider the changes we have witnessed. We were born before television, before penicillin, before polio shots, frozen foods, Xerox, plastic, contact lenses, Frisbees and the pill. We were before radar, credit cards, split atoms, laser beams and ballpoint pens, before pantyhose, dishwashers, clothes dryers, electric blankets, air conditioning, drip‑dry clothes, ‑‑‑ and before anyone walked on the moon. We got married first and then lived together. How quaint can you be? In our time closets were for clothes, not for "coming out of." Bunnies were small rabbits and rabbits were not Volkswagens. Designer jeans were scheming girls named Jean or Jeanne, and having a meaningful relationship meant getting along well with your cousins. We thought fast food was what you ate during Lent, and Outer Space was the back of the Riviera Theatre. We were before house husbands, gay rights, computer dating, dual careers and commuter marriages. We were before day‑care centers, group therapy and nursing homes. We never heard of FM radio, tape decks, electric typewriters, artificial hearts, word processors, yogurt and guys wearing earrings. For us time‑sharing meant togetherness, ‑‑ not computers or condominiums; a "chip" meant a piece of wood; hardware meant hard‑ware and software wasn't even a word. In 1940 "made in Japan" meant junk and the term "making out" referred to how you did on your exam. Pizzas, MacDonald's and instant coffee were unheard of. We hit the scene when there were 5 and 10 cent stores, where you bought things for 5 and 10 cents. Sanders and Wilson sold ice cream cones for a nickel or a dime. For one nickel you could ride a street car, make a phone call, buy a Pepsi or enough stamps to mail one letter and two post cards. You could buy a new Chevy Coupe for $600, but who could afford one? A pity too, for gas was 11 cents a gallon. In our day, cigarette smoking was fashionable. Grass was mowed. Coke was a cold drink and pot was something you cooked in. Rock music was a Grandma's lullaby and aids were helpers in the principal's office. We were certainly not before the difference between the sexes was discovered, but we were surely before the sex change. We made do with what we had. And we were the last generation so dumb to think you needed a husband to have a baby! No wonder we were so confused and there is such a generation gap today. BUT WE SURVIVED!!
WE DO NOT COME TO GOD ON OUR TERMS
- Salvation is not a negotiable matter where you come to an understanding with God.
We are in an age when the secular mentality is a "consumer" mentality. Why is this a good deal for Me? There is very little if any of the servant mentality. If I don't get something out of this then it is not worth my time. I am caring for my own interests. Somewhere along the line God wants to call people out of this mindset. Awareness is the first step. Does the knowledge that I represent Christ affect my dealings with people? Am I willing to give people reason or excuse to blame me and or my conduct for their lack of salvation? Am I willing to risk that because of me someone might discard religion to their damnation. It is possible to state your case without being totally obnoxious about it. It does take control to do that. How much am I willing to lay on the line in favor of my (1) realizing my own rights, (2) getting what I have coming, (3)
- Repentance must be a part of that experience. We must have a degree of sin-sickness. Otherwise it is merely behavior modification. There are times when we mistake repentance for sin with the sorrow of sin's consequences in our own lives. We are hurt because of the negative consequences that sin has brought into our own lives. Also we must understand that sin is something that hurts God more than it hurts us perhaps.
19 Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord,
- If my conscience is not bothered then I must be okay. God has not convicted me of that yet. Does that give me the right to do what is contrary to God's will? "Lord, when we are wrong, make us willing to change. And when we are right, make us easy to live with." (Peter Marshall)
14. We know that we have passed from death to life, because we love our brothers. Anyone who does not love remains in death. 15 Anyone who hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life in him. 16 This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers. 17 If anyone has material possessions and sees his brother in need but has no pity on him, how can the love of God be in him? 18 Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth. 19 This then is how we know that we belong to the truth, and how we set our hearts at rest in his presence 20. whenever our hearts condemn us. For God is greater than our hearts, and he knows everything. 21 Dear friends, if our hearts do not condemn us, we have confidence before God
Commitment is called for.
1. Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God‑ this is your spiritual act of worship. 2 Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is‑ his good, pleasing and perfect will. 3 For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the measure of faith God has given you.
......when people move to a new community, they choose a church on the basis of what it does for them rather than what they can do for it. This is the result of our contemporary focus on self‑fulfillment and happiness at any cost. Doctrinal lines have become so blurred that few people choose a church anymore for it's biblical teaching or
This consumer mentality also prompts people to change churches where they can have better children's programs, more appealing music, larger facilities, more convenient parking, more exciting preaching, or more energetic services.
In the church, the consumer mentality is like changing supermarkets or gas stations; the simply moves down the street to the next church of his or her choice.
This consumer mentality sometimes causes people to change churches to dodge responsibilities. They do not want to teach Sunday School. They want nothing to do with teenagers. Or they do not want to "baby‑sit" in the nursery. They simply want a church which provides inspiration and encouragement for themselves.
Such consumers view the church as a means to achieve their goals of bliss and respectability. They may even feel uncomfortable with the biblical language of sin and salvation. All of this is a subtle secular subversion taking place inside those who claim to be serious followers of the Lord Jesus.
The most pressing question for followers of the consumer mentality is, "What has the church done for me lately?"
Be Shod With Sandals
It's a new and prosperous day for true believers,
A time for "Claim it and it's yours" receivers;
Nothing but the best if you but knew it,
Everything is yours‑‑‑‑
"God's kids are due it";
Cadillacs are drawn from heaven's deposit,
Couturiers designs bulge in the closet.
In the meanwhile is towel girding out of style?
Do Florsheim‑shod disciples get footsore?
Does anyone wear sandals anymore?
I asked God for strength
that I might achieve‑
I was made weak,
that I might learn humbly
I asked for help
that I might do
I was given infirmity,
that I might do better things.
I asked for riches,
that I might be happy‑
I was given poverty,
that I might be wise.
I asked for all things,
that I might enjoy life‑
I was given life,
that I might enjoy
I got nothing that
I asked for‑
I had hoped for.
my prayers were answered.
I am, among all men,
most richly blessed.
THE GOSPEL IS NOT TO BE CONFUSED WITH THE CHARTER OF RIGHTS - If anything, it calls us to lay down our rights. Ruth Harms Calkin does a masterful job on the subject of humility in her poem:
You know, Lord, How I serve You
with great emotional fervor in the limelight.
You know how eagerly I speak for You at a Women's Club.
You know my genuine enthusiasm at a Bible study.
But how would I react, I wonder,
if You pointed to a basin of water
and asked me to wash the callused feet
of a bent and wrinkled old woman
day after day, month after month,
in a room where nobody saw and nobody knew?
In his book "The Pleasure of His Company", Roger Palms tells about two men who work for the same nonprofit organization. "One lives as the friend of God," he wrote, "the other does not." According to Palms, this is evident by the way they use their expense accounts. One always orders steak; the other does not. One always takes the most expensive room; the other does not. One says to himself, "Others are looking out for themselves; why should I be so virtuous?" The other says to himself, "When you see poor people who willingly give a dollar to help someone else, that stays with you. You can't spend that money extravagantly on yourself." We all face this battle between selfishness and Christ‑honoring obedience.
THE WORLD IS A BETTER PLACE
The world is a better place because Michelangelo didn't say, "I don't do ceilings."
The world is a better place because a German monk named Martin Luther didn't say, "I don't do doors."
The world is a better place because an Oxford Don named John Wesley didn't say, "I don't do fields."
The world is a better place because Moses didn't say, "I don't do rivers."
The world is a better place because Noah didn't say, "I don't do arks."
The world is a better place because Jeremiah didn't say, "I don't do weeping."
The world is a better place because Amos didn't say, "I don't do speeches."
The world is a better place because Rahab didn't say, "I don't do carpets."
The world is a better place because Ruth didn't say, "I don't do mothers‑in‑law."
The world is a better place because David didn't say, "I don't do giants."
The world is a better place because Peter didn't say, "I don't do Gentiles."
The world is a better place because Mary didn't say, "I don't do virgin births."
The world is a better place because Mary Magdalene didn't say, "I don't do feet."
The world is a better place because John didn't say, "I don't do deserts."
The world is a better place because Paul didn't say, "I don't do letters."
The world is a better place because Jesus didn't say, I don't do crosses."
With the gift of anticipation we will risk our faith.
THERE IS NOTHING "IN IT" FOR YOU THAT WOULD APPEAL TO THE NATURAL HUMAN SIDE OF YOU. (materialism, etc.) - What the gospel offers is something that appeals to your spiritual nature. Things that money can never purchase.
Shirley MacLaine, the award‑winning actress granted an interview to the Washington Post back in 1977. In that interview she tipped her hand:
The most pleasurable journey you take is through yourself ...the only sustaining love is with yourself...When you look back on your life and try to figure out where you've been and where you're going, when you look at your work, your love affairs, your marriages, your children, your pain, your happiness‑‑when you examine all that closely, what you really find out is that the only person you really go to bed with is yourself...The only thing you have is working to the consummation of your own identity. And that's what I've been trying to do all my life.
It's really sad that Shirley has never discovered the truth of what Jesus said, "Whosoever wishes to save his life shall love it."
One of Hitler's closest associates was Albert Speer, who served as his minister of supply and who's productive genius was responsible for harnessing the power of German industry to the need for weapons. In his book "Inside the Third Reich" he paints a very interesting portrait of Hitler:
I suppose if Adolf Hitler ever had a friend, I would have been that friend. Hitler could fascinate. He wallowed in his own charisma, but he could not respond to friendship. Instinctively, he repelled it. The normal sympathies that normal men and women enjoy were just not in him. At the core of the place where his heart should be, Hitler was a hollow man. He was empty. We, who were close to him or thought we were, all came to sense this, however slowly. You couldn't even enjoy eating cherries with
him. We all were simply projections of his gigantic ego.
Success exposes a man to the pressure of people and thus tempts him to hold on to his gains by means of fleshly methods and practices, and to let himself be ruled wholly by the dictatorial demands of incessant expansion. Success can go to my head, and will unless I remember that it is God who accomplishes the work, that He can continue to do so without my help, and that He will be able to make out with other means whenever He cuts me down to size.
He that hath a gospel,
To loose upon mankind,
Though he serve it utterly‑‑‑
Body, soul and mind‑‑‑
Though he go to Calvary
Daily for it's gain‑‑‑
It is his disciple
Shall make his labor vain.
He that hath a Gospel,
For all earth to own‑‑‑
Though he etch it on the steel,
Or carve it on the stone‑‑‑
Not to be misdoubted
Through the after‑days‑‑‑
It is His Disciple
Shall read it many ways.
It is His Disciple
(Ere those bones are dust)
Who shall change the Charter
Who split the trust‑‑‑
Rationalise the Claim,
Preaching that the Master
Would have done the same.
It is His Disciple
Who shall tell us how
Much the Master would have scrapped
Had he lived till now‑‑‑
What he would have modified
Of what he said before‑‑‑
I It is His Disciple
Shall do this and more ......
He that hath a Gospel
Whereby heaven is won
(Carpenter or Cameleer,
Or Maya's dreaming son),
Many swords shall pierce Him,
Mingling blood with gall;
But His Own Disciple
Shall wound Him worst of all!
1. Unless there is a clear definable reason for my doing something that makes sense in terms of personal benefit or cause, recruitment will be difficult. what reasons can I give a person to be saved?
2. There must be a new commitment to excellence in ministry.
3. We must be committed to use the time that people have to offer in the wisest possible manner.