Week 51 Day 4
I. Prayer to enter the Lord’s presence:
Be still for a moment. “Lord, I give the day that is now past to you. It is yours. I give the day that is to come to you; help me to see where you are working and to join you there. Speak to me during these moments. I commit them and myself to you.”
II. Prayer of Confession:
“Lord, you are faithful to forgive me and cleanse me of my sin when I confess it to you. I confess my sin(s) of ______________. Thank you for forgiveness.” (1 John 1:9)
III. Prayer of Thanksgiving:
Choose to be thankful, speak out loud of what God has done.
“Thank you, Father, for _________________. Fill my heart and my mouth with gratitude throughout this day.”
IV. Scripture Reflection
Acts 17:16-33 While Paul was waiting for them in Athens, he was greatly distressed to see that the city was full of idols. So he reasoned in the synagogue with both Jews and God-fearing Greeks, as well as in the marketplace day by day with those who happened to be there. A group of Epicurean and Stoic philosophers began to debate 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. 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? You are bringing some strange ideas to our ears, and we would like to know what they mean.” (All the Athenians and the foreigners who lived there spent their time doing nothing but talking about and listening to the latest ideas.) Paul then stood up in the meeting of the Areopagus and said: “People of Athens! I see that in every way you are very religious. 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. So you are ignorant of the very thing you worship—and this is what I am going to proclaim to you. “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 human hands. And he is not served by human hands, as if he needed anything. Rather, he himself gives everyone life and breath and everything else. From one man he made all the nations, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he marked out their appointed times in history and the boundaries of their lands. God did this so that they would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from any one of us. ‘For in him we live and move and have our being.’ As some of your own poets have said, ‘We are his offspring.’ “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 human design and skill. In the past God overlooked such ignorance, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent. 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 everyone by raising him from the dead.” 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.” At that, Paul left the Council. Some of the people 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.
Notice that Paul didn’t use Scripture in the Areopagus but rather used some of their own thinking to direct them towards the gospel. The Areopagus was named for the Greek god of war, Ares. Paul stood in the intellectual center of the Roman empire, in the place where people would go and discuss their thoughts about what is real and important and he sought to understand them before he sought to be understood by them. He was not trying to win arguments he was seeking to win souls. He didn’t want to look smart even though that was what many of them had as their controlling ambition. Paul wanted to lead people to Christ not to impress them. He was willing to look like a fool in order to demonstrate the wisdom of God. Earlier in this passage we see Paul being mocked, he was called a “babbler.” This term of derision literally meant “seed picker.” It was an image of a little bird mindlessly pecking at seeds on the ground. The truth was Paul was brilliant, but as you read his letters and learn of his life his brilliance was not something he leaned on or took pride in. That way of life was a silly game he was not interested in playing. He had experienced the glory of God in Christ and was captivated by that vision in his life. He had lost interest in the childish game called “human pride.”
Ask God that as you move through this day and the remainder of the holiday season that he help you have a heart, mind, and mouth to “bless others not to impress others.”
V. Prayer for others:
Pray specifically for the concerns of your life and the lives of others.
VI. Prayer of commitment:
“Lord God, I commit to love you with all my heart and with all my soul and with all my strength and with all my mind and to love my neighbor as myself. Empower me today to love you and others with everything that I am.” (Luke 10:27)
This Month’s Scripture Memory:
Surely he took up our infirmities and carried our sorrows, yet we considered him stricken by God, smitten by him, and afflicted. But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed. We all like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way; and the LORD has laid him the iniquity of us all.