Lovingly said

We are studying Ancient Greece right now in our homeschool.  Yesterday we read Acts 17, where Paul traveled to Athens.  When he arrived, his spirit was troubled when he saw that the city was given over to idols.  He went into the synagogue and the marketplace to tell people about Jesus, but it says that they called him a babbler and some said he was proclaiming foreign gods to them.

He was the outsider there, coming in and trying to change traditions and customs that were born into them.  As we have studied in our history lessons, the Greeks were devout in the worship of their gods.  They held festivals and offered sacrifices.  Temples were all around them, and their lives centered around the gods and goddesses in which they believed.  In fact, the very first Olympics was a festival to honor the god Zeus!

What I love is what Paul did next.  In Acts 17:22, Paul was standing in the midst of the Areopagus.  This was the council, the court of justice, the leaders of Athens.  He addressed them with respect and compliments.  He said, “I perceive that in all things you are very religious.”

It was true.  They were SO religious.  They could not have been more religious.  Their spiritual disciplines were very evident.  And Paul recognized this.  He continued, “For as I was passing through and considering the objects of your worship, I even found an altar with this inscription:  TO THE UNKNOWN GOD.”

From there, Paul told them about the God they did not know.

He never insulted them.  He never belittled them or put them down.  He never made them feel like they were idiots or the worst sinners in the world.  Here they were, worshiping false gods, and Paul showed them respect and treated them with dignity.  He then told them about God, who made the world and everything in it.

You with me?  I believe he allowed the Holy Spirit guide him, so he came to them in love, and with respect.  Now, some mocked him.  Some said they wanted to hear more later.  And some believed!

In love, Paul did what God asked him to do.  That’s all he had to do.  It wasn’t up to Paul to make them believe.  It was only up to him to obey God by spreading the gospel.  Likewise, it is only up to us to spread the truth, but let’s do so with love.  Let’s model the example of this courageous missionary who stood before the Greeks, and be respectful and loving and spread the truth, in love.

Those who believe that Jesus is the Son of God will be saved.  Isn’t that what it’s all about?

jamie

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On their behalf

In yesterday’s blog, I talked about how we should show love to those in pain and trials and not offer judgment and accusations, in the way that Job’s friends did.  I also mentioned how we can pray for those we know who are in pain.  I wanted to talk more on that today, because that is probably the one of the most important things we can do, and yet sometimes we neglect it.

In Matthew 8:5-13, we find the record of Jesus and a centurion.  The centurion’s servant was lying at home paralyzed, and in terribly agony and pain.  (Some versions of the Bible say he was dreadfully tormented.  yikes!)

The centurion came to Jesus, asking Him to heal his servant.  This story is powerful in so many ways.  If you haven’t read it in a while, or ever, I encourage you to read it.

The centurion knew, and acknowledged that Jesus was powerful enough that He need only speak the word and His servant could be healed.  He didn’t even require that Jesus come to his home to do it.  He knew Jesus could do it from right where He stood.

And this is the part I want to stress:  The centurion’s faith alone was great enough that Jesus marveled at it.  (vs. 10)  The servant’s faith was never called into question.  Perhaps his was just as great.  Maybe it wasn’t.  All we know is that the centurion interceded on the servant’s behalf, and that the servant was healed that same hour.

We are called not only to love our neighbors as ourselves, but also to pray for one another that we may be healed. (Ja. 5:16)

Unless they’ve told us it’s the case, we never need to tell someone that they aren’t being healed or delivered from their trial because their faith isn’t strong enough.  We need to intercede on their behalf.  We never need to accuse someone of being sick or in trials due to sin, but we need to pray for them.

What the centurion did on his servant’s behalf is an excellent example of how we should live.  Job, as well, before his children died, offered up offerings to the Lord just in case his children had sinned.  These are excellent examples of people who are going to the Lord on behalf of others.

Not everyone will be healed.  Is that hard to hear?  God has plans for people that sometimes do not include healing, because He uses people in so many different ways.  But that should never stop us from asking.  We do not know His plans.  We need to ask.  We need to seek.

Above all, though, what we need to seek, for ourselves and for each other, is a relationship with Him, which will keep us calm in every storm, every trial, and every sickness.

Let’s be interceders and never accusers,

jamie