#carmelprays – Acts 17:16-34
Opening Song: Holy Uncreated One
Read Scripture: Acts 17:16-34
In today’s passage, we learn that Paul continued to proclaim the good news of God’s kingdom in Athens. What made Athens slightly different from the other cities and places Paul had passed through was that it was especially rich in culture and history, and was home to many educated scholars and philosophers. Many of them saw Paul’s gospel as yet another set of philosophical ideas they could engage with and debate over.
To connect with his audience, Paul weaved some references the Athenians could relate to, such as in v28 (“… As some of your own poets have said…”), into his sharing of the gospel. Nevertheless, the crux of his proclamation remained the same as before. In v24-28, Paul shares a few key takeaways on the characteristics of God which remain just as important to us now as they did to the people of Paul’s time.
v24: The God who made the world and everything in it is the Lord of heaven and earth…
We are reminded that God created our entire universe, every star in the dark expanse of space, every blade of grass and every fish in the sea. He has given thought to all the known and unknown details of our world. God rules over the spiritual realm and has control over life and death.
v24-25: …and does not live in temples built by human hands. And He is not served by human hands, as if He needed anything.
God cannot be contained in or represented by statues and temples created by humans. He does not need to be worshipped or presented with sacrificial objects, for He is greater and more powerful than the fleeting, material structures and items humans have to offer.
v25: …He Himself gives everyone life and breath and everything else.
Similarly to v24, God created us and gave us the ability to breathe, think and live our lives. As the children’s worship song goes, “every move I make, I make in You / You make me move, Jesus”. Without God, we simply would not be living.
v26: …He marked out their appointed times in history and the boundaries of their lands.
God has a place and plan for each one of us. Though at times it may seem like God has abandoned us or left us helpless in the dirt, this is never the case. God does not make mistakes or forget about us, no matter how insignificant we may think we are.
The events that unfold before us are all part of what God has intended. As we like to say, everything really is part of “God’s plan”. No matter how uncertain or tumultuous the road ahead, the comfort we have is that God has charted a path for us and will be there for us, even in the biggest of storms.
Though the road ahead may be scary and uncertain, we can be encouraged and comforted by Paul’s rich description of our Lord, that He is ever present, always constant and all powerful. Let us seek, reach out for and find Him.
Pray in Response
Lord, thank you for Your boundless love and grace. You have made the world and everything in it. Indeed You are the Lord of heaven and earth, and have given everyone life and breath and everything else.
Teach us to put more trust in Your plans for us. Teach us to cast our worries of the unknown on You, for You always have the best of intentions for us, and have charted a path for us. Teach us to actively seek you, reach out for and find You. Thank You for blessing us with this time of devotion and meditation on Your Word. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
Response Song: I’ll Give Thanks
By Fide Lai