“Distressed To Action”

January 31, 2013

Winter cabin (photo by Greg Schneider)
This winter cabin in the northern Pennsylvania mountains sure looks welcoming!
(Photo by Greg Schneider)

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“Distressed To Action”

“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 the Jews and the God-fearing Greeks, as well as in the marketplace day by day with those who happened to be there” (Acts 17:16,17).

Walking through Washington last Friday there was much to cause distress. Of course we were there for the March For Life and thus a focus for us was the matter of abortion. However we also consider the many ungodly and socially destructive policies coming out of the Capitol and in some ways, although not idols in the sense of those which distressed Paul, they are in a spiritual sense the idols of modern man rejecting God.

Public "art" in Washington DCHowever in a literal sense we were sadly amused and distressed at more than a few “public art” displays, no doubt paid for by taxpayer funds. Of course some art displays revealed a recognizable creative skill such as the stately sculptures but others appear to be rusting pieces of steel randomly stacked in an asymmetrical pile. I suppose you have to be a modern art “expert” to appreciate it but I’ve seen more attractive piles of metal in scrapyards!

Faith and Action headquarters in Washington DCYesterday, while visiting with our friend, Lee, we talked about a ministry located directly across from the Supreme Court Building. It seeks to provide a source of light and witness to that spiritually dark city. In fact there is a large stone engraving of the Ten Commandments in front of their building. Rob Schenck is a minister to elected and appointed officials in Washington, leading a ministry called “Faith and Action” which seeks to affect the hearts and minds of public policy makers in America with the mandate given by Christ in the two Great Commandments: “Love God With All Your Heart, Soul, Mind and Strength”, and “Love Your Neighbor As Yourself”.

Athens was the intellectual and cultural center of the ancient world, a beautiful city that is a popular tourist destination to this day. In the providence of God Paul was led there and while waiting for his ministry associates, Silas and Timothy, he ministered to the people there in Athens. Redeeming the time while reaching out to others’ spiritual needs is a shining example for us yet today.

But what struck Paul and was recorded by the historian was his being “greatly distressed to see that the city was full of idols”. When we walk in the light we should be distressed by darkness. The verses that follow reveal that this distress did not lead Paul to despair but to a bold proclamation of the truth that brings light.

Paul saw the city from a spiritual perspective. Being grounded in his knowledge of the Law of God he was “greatly distressed to see that the city was full of idols” (v. 16). I understand these idols are among the tourist attractions of Athens yet today but to Paul they were a stark reminder of man’s ignorance and disobedience to God. Rather than being impressed Paul was distressed. As we walk with a spiritual perspective this should be our reaction as well, even to the many wonders of our modern day “Athens”.

Paul did not remain silent or intimidated, but “reasoned”, first with the religiously inclined “in the Synagogue with the Jews and the God-fearing Greeks”, and then to everyone “in the marketplace day by day with those who happened to be there.”  The word translated to “reason” is “dialegomai” from which we get “dialogue” in English.  It means “to say thoroughly, i.e. discuss.”

We need to realize that in God’s providence He has placed each of us where we are and His will is that we walk and speak out as His witnesses. Today boldly look for appropriate times to speak out and express your faith. Many will ignore or mock you. Others will say, “we want to hear you again on this subject” as they did in Athens (v.32).  But some will believe (v.34).

Today all over the world we encourage you to check your distress level at the darkness that surrounds you and like Paul boldly speak out letting God’s light shine brightly through you!

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying manDaily prayer: Father, there are numerous subject matters that are troubling to the believer as darkness continues to spread throughout our land. What a blessing to know that the darkness of sin cannot overcome the light of Truth revealed through Jesus who is the Way, the Truth, the Life.  But we, as believers, must be very careful not to distort, dilute, or digress from Your Biblical instruction. We ask that those walking in darkness will see the light of Christ shining through us. It is in Jesus’ name that we pray. Amen.

Cake for Short family
We’ve been praying for a dear family who is going through a difficult time so Brooksyne gave them a cake and used her rudimentary cake decorating skills to let them know of our prayers. But when I read over the message on the cake I realized it sounded as though we were praying for little people, when in fact, “Short” is simply their last name.

Today’s Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources

“Tell Them”  Video  Andrae Crouch

“Endless Grace”  Video  Jonathan and Lisa

New featureNew Feature: I would like to begin sharing articles I come across in the course of studying for these messages or just poking around the vast internet. In most cases they are not necessarily related to the daily message but may be of interest to our readers. These articles will only be posted once and there will be new ones each post assuming I come across material that I feel may be of interest.

The Christian divorce rate myth (what you’ve heard is wrong)

Encouragement in a time of fear

A Little Leaven Chronicles the sad state of affairs in so many of the mega churches. I agree with a sentiment from Eternity Matters who wrote, “Please give me a ‘boring’ service in a plain building where the Bible is preached accurately verse-by-verse and theologically sound songs are done.”

I am reading this sermon titled, “FILLING UP THE MEASURE OF INIQUITY” by Charles Spurgeon in prep for a future message. Read it and imagine listening to this w/o the aid of PowerPoint!  And we think our generation is so much smarter than previous generations.

Rob Schenk shares an interesting first hand, eye witness account of a service he attended in Washington last week.

Pastor friend Joe Sherer has an excellent message about dealing with church conflict. audio

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