HPC – Acts 17 Place and Time 6/1/19
Reading Acts 17:24 – 28 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. 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. 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. 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. For in Him we live and move and have our being. As some of your own poets have said – we are His offspring.
It has been some time since we shared a quote from that most famous of all philosophers – Winnie the Pooh. And I thought it good to be reminded of perhaps his most famous quote – “when you have looked for something everywhere it is not, you simply have to look where it is, and there you will find it”.
I think we are all always looking – looking for something. At any time in our lives, we search for different things – answers, meaning, companionship, purpose, fulfillment, validation, peace ….. And so often we look in all the wrong places. And we simply need to look in the right place.
My mom shared a whatsapp message with me. One of these things everyone forwards to everyone else because it’s meaningful or funny. This one was all about old age. It said things like – most seniors never get enough exercise. In His wisdom, God decreed that seniors become forgetful so they would have to search for their glasses, keys and others things thus doing more walking. I even find I’m doing more walking these days!
It also went on to say things like – health nuts are going to feel stupid someday, lying in hospital, dying of nothing.
In fact good health is merely the slowest possible rate at which one can die.
And so I ask – is it possible to die healthy?
We all know we will all die one day. But I think we think about death the wrong way. And so I wanted to share something from another great philosopher – Snoopy.
Charlie Brown – one day we will die Snoopy.
Snoopy – yes, but every other day we will live.
It is at this time of the year that we so often take a deep breath, looking forward, make resolutions, look for answers, seek for something – and renew purpose and direction and commitment in our lives.
And yet I wonder how many of us determine to live by Snoopy’s philosophy – today, I will live. And in the context, Snoopy is not talking about just staying alive until we die – he is talking about being fully alive – being healthy each day I live. That’s Snoopy’s challenge to us – but I believe it is God’s challenge to us as well – every single day – fully alive and to live. Our focus on living, not dying.
We do grow weary in difficult times – and then I think we do start to seek for answers, meaning, purpose, fulfillment, validation, peace, and too often we look in the wrong places. And it does not matter how many places you look, you will only find these things in the one and only place that they are.
Jesus said – I came that you might have life and have it to the full.
So what is the key to living this full healthy life, by God’s standards? What would God call a successful life – even in the most difficult of times?
To start with – it is believing that God made the world and everything in it. Sounds like a simple enough thing to believe! Did He? Man is determined to prove that everything came about by some other means. Even many Christians try desperately hard to come up with some sort of alternative or compromise to “God made the earth and everything in it” – because what that means is, everything then belongs to Him.
1 Cor 10:26 The earth is the Lord’s and everything in it.
If you truly believed this – how would it change things for you? How would you live differently today, and tomorrow – if with all your heart you actually believed that everything belongs to God?
This means that I belong to God. It means, I answer to Him – He does not answer to me. He has all the rights, I have none. He makes the rules – I do not. He is the Creator, I am the created. It means you belong to Him – you are His property!
Is that just the most incredible beautiful Truth for you – or something you rebel against? The root of all sin is not wanting to be owned by God. The created rejecting the Creator.
God made man, God made the nations – He chose your exact time and place – because you are His.
In fact every single human being is His. How then do we look upon others with contempt? How do we boast about anything?
He gives life and all things. It is not only His air that we breathe, it is by His decree that we take every breath. He holds all life in His hands. And anything we have is by His decree and His decree only. He has the final say every single time. How does that make you feel – eternally grateful, or does that rub a little rough?
From our text also need to understand – God does not live in temples built by human hands, and He is not served by human hands as if He needed anything. Do you believe this? Is this how you live and conduct yourself in your worship of Him?
He is not reliant on us for anything – not one single thing! Thank goodness – what a terrible burden that would be for us to bare – in this context how would one serve the God who created the billions of galaxies?
We however are reliant on Him for everything.
All other religions are about what you have to do for God. True Christianity, is all about what God has done for us. When Paul wrote this text he was in Athens, full of philosophers and deep thinkers – pity they didn’t have Winnie or Pooh or Snoopy – but they had Paul; and he said to them there – 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 to an unknown God. I want to proclaim to you this God – and then he says the things from our reading this morning.
This is all about the difference between religion and faith in Jesus. In religion there are many objects of worship – for us, there is only Jesus. He does not live in temples, church buildings – He is not served by us as if He needed anything. No, He is different to every other god. He came to serve us, because He loves us, because He made us, because we belong to Him.
But even Christianity can and has been made into a religion. It’s not about what we do for God – we don’t go to meet Him and serve Him in special places. It’s all about what we do with Him – it is all about being in Him and He in us all the time, everywhere.
God created and He placed each of us exactly where and when He wants us – that’s today, now. And He has done all this so that – we would seek Him, and perhaps reach out for Him and find Him.
Is that what your whole life is about? Seeking God, reaching out for Him, and finding Him? This is a continuous process.
Seeking God. It does not matter what you are looking for or seeking – we have to seek God first.
Reaching out for Him. Do you want Him? Or do you just want Him to give you what you want? This reaching is like reaching out to take something for yourself. Do you want the One True God for yourself? Or to just be part of a religion?
Finding Him. If you do want Him – you will most certainly find Him – this is His promise to us, because it is His delight to give Himself to us. In finding Him you find personal relationship with God the Creator. In fact, He is not far, He is not hard to find at all. He is waiting with arms open wide.
For in Him we live and move and have our being!
In Him we live. We really are dependent on Him for absolutely everything. He has given us life, and it is in Him we live and are alive. The created can only find it’s life in the Creator.
In Him we move. It is in Him and with Him then that determines everything we do and why. In Him alone do we find purpose, direction, meaning.
In Him we have our being. It is in Him and Him alone that we have value, fulfillment, meaning, validation, identity. We are not being anything if we are not being in Him.
I want to encourage you all today – life is tough – but the Word tells us to be transformed by the renewing of your mind. We need to change the way we think, and that will change the way we feel and that will change what we do and why. But it all starts with what you believe. Are you willing to believe God at His Word? Or are you taking someone else’s word for it?
God made the world and everything in it. He is the Lord of the Heavens and the earth. He gives you life and breath and everything else. It was His decree that we should inhabit the whole earth and He determined the times and the exact place that you should live.
And He did all this for two reasons. One that we might seek Him and reach out to Him and find Him. This, right now is the best place and time in all the universe for you and God.
God is doing everything He can to get the attention of every single person who is alive today – He always has. He’s doing everything He can to save each and every person. Even planning down to the last detail the best time and place for every single person.
We know of one other reason we are on this earth. In Genesis we are told to inhabit the whole earth – to take care of it. We are stewards of what belongs to God. Firstly we belong to God, then everything else.
You belong right here and now – by God’s decree and by God’s mandate. And even the nations and the governments are a part of God’s plan – for you! That you might have everything when you find Him and have Him.
You belong and you have a job to do. We are to be the best we can be with whatever we have right now! Not tomorrow, not when the economy is right, not when the politics change.
You belong right here right now by God’s decree to do God’s bidding – because you are His offspring.
And God’s bidding – once we have found Him and have Him? It is our job to help others find Him.
And so we are delighted to tell you that this year we are again running the MSM (Mission Shaped Ministry) course. Maybe many of you have heard of Fresh Expressions (FE) and being the Missional Church. That’s what this course is all about. We are starting early February – we would love you all to do this course – to discover your part in God’s plan, in God’s Kingdom, in God’s Mission – for you to find true answers, meaning, purpose, fulfillment, validation, identity, peace.
May God Bless you this year – as you seek Him reach out and find Him.