Greatly Distressed!

Sunday, September 07, 2014, 4:57 a.m. – the Lord Jesus put the song in mind, “Seek the Lord.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read Acts 17 (quoting selected verses in the NIV). I will summarize some of the passage due to its length.

Blessings and Persecutions

It appears to me from reading the book of Acts that pretty much everywhere Paul traveled in his missionary journeys that he faced a mixture of blessings - from seeing people come to faith in Jesus Christ - and persecutions and ill-treatment - from those who lacked faith and who opposed the gospel. Most of his opposition came from within the Jewish community, and in particular from the religious leaders of his day. I believe this is still true today, especially here in America. I believe that most of the strong opposition against the truth of the gospel comes from within the church and from the church leadership, and not from the world as a whole. At least, this has been my experience, and I don’t believe I am alone.

Some of his persecutors, not unlike how he was before his conversion, were so diligent and passionate about their persecution of Christians, in fact, that they pursued him wherever he went. They purposefully went into these cities to stir up persecution against him. Now, that really hurts! But, that is how Satan works. He goes all out in trying to come against the Lord’s servants in trying to stop them from doing the work of the Lord, and to stop them from spreading the gospel of our salvation. We have to know this about him so that we do not become discouraged and disheartened when we are opposed and persecuted. We must keep on in our faith and in our commitment to see that the gospel of our salvation is taken to the ends of the earth, no matter how much persecution we face in the process.

Idolatry Abounds!

While Paul was waiting for them in Athens, he was greatly distressed to see that the city was full of idols. ~ 17:16​

Paul was greatly distressed to see that Athens was a city full of idols. I wonder, “What distresses us?” Are we in anguish and grief over the idolatry within our nation, and within the church in our nation? Do we even notice all the idolatry? Do we even care?

I know that I am distressed at how TV, the Internet, and now smart phones and tablets have consumed the lives of so many people here in America, including so many within the church, to the point to where there is a serious breakdown in communication in marriages, in family relationships, and in fidelity and morality, across the board. Tablets and smart phones, especially in the hands of our children, are so dangerous. So many people, including children, now have private around-the-clock access to the internet with no or little accountability for what they are doing or seeing on there. For many it is like handing them a sex magazine and letting them take it back to their bedrooms where they have total privacy to look and to participate in the sinful behaviors endorsed by the magazine and their editors. Even parental controls can be worked around, and these children know a whole lot more about how to work these things than we will ever know. There are always backdoors.

I am also greatly distraught by all the lies and deceptions that abound these days, and by how so many people, especially Christians, buy into these lies and deceptions without ever bothering to test what they see and hear before the Lord in prayer and in the reading and studying of his word. I am disturbed within my spirit, as well, by how many people make excuses for sin, and how many justify their actions by blaming others, so that it seems, at times, that few people take personal responsibility for their own behaviors. One of the greatest feeders of this, I believe, is this false grace teaching that leaves its hearers with the notion that God’s grace gives them a free license to live however they want and to still have their ticket into heaven. So, again, they take no personal responsibility, but write it off as God’s grace covers it all, so they are all set. Oh, how easily deceived we can become!

Another disturbing factor is how the church has convinced its attendees and members that we should never get in anyone’s face about anything, because that is rude or unkind, and we should never attempt to address such things as false teaching or manipulation or deception, because that is all negative. What they want to hear are feel-good messages, and nothing that makes them feel uncomfortable. They want to hear “Peace, peace,” when there is no peace, and they like it when their leaders treat their sin wounds as though they are not serious (See Jer. 6:13-15). So many within our churches no longer put up with sound doctrine, but they surround themselves with teachers who say what their itching ears want to hear, in order to suit their fleshly desires (See 2 Tim. 4:3). They say, “Tell us pleasant things,” and “Stop confronting us with the Holy One of Israel” (See Is. 30:10-12).

Insolence and Disrespect

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. ~ 17:17-18​

Another serious issue I believe we are faced with in our society today is the breakdown of respect and/or honor for those in positions of authority over us, or for those older than us, or just in general for one another. I believe TV, social media, Memes on social media, video games, movies, music, etc. are all feeders of attitudes and actions showing much disrespect for one another. Even Christians are entertained by and participate in the making fun of others for their own enjoyment and pleasure. Parents are considered old fogies who don’t know anything, and many parents allow and even feed this disrespect with their children when they cater to their temper tantrums and when they feel as though their job is to keep their children constantly entertained and happy all the time.

Along with disrespect comes the entitlement mentality, so that this generation not only displays much disrespect, but it is also given to ungratefulness and selfishness. Scripture warns us about such a time as this when it tells us about the terrible times of the last days.

People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God— having a form of godliness but denying its power. Have nothing to do with such people. ~ 2 Tim. 3:2-5​

To Repent

After Paul was called a “babbler” who didn’t know what he was talking about, or whose words seemed foolish to those who listened, he was then taken to a meeting where he was asked to explain to the people this strange teaching that they were hearing from him. So, he told them how he had seen that they were a religious people, and that he had even found an altar with the inscription: “To an unknown god.” From this he went on to tell them about this “unknown God,” i.e. the God who made the world and everything in it. He told them that God does not live in temples built by human hands. He is the giver of life, and the one who determines our appointed times and even the boundaries of our lands (or where we will live). “God did this so we would seek him and perhaps reach out and find him.”

“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.” ~ 17:29-31​

Today, I believe, the Lord Jesus gave me a practical application of this truth to today. I believe he is greatly distressed over the insolence, rudeness, disrespect, entitlement mindset, ungratefulness, ungodliness, and worldliness of this generation of church here in America. I believe he is also significantly concerned over the false teaching, the cries for “Tell us only pleasant things,” the lack of discernment and fidelity, and the idolatry; the lies and deception, and the breakdown of marriages, families, and true fellowship within the body of Christ. As well, I believe he is seriously troubled over all the immorality, lack of accountability, and loss of taking personal responsibility for sin; false grace teaching, and lack of parental control and/or concern over what our children are viewing or are participating in. I also believe he is distressed over all the complacency, apathy, selfishness, and “Let’s all just have fun” mentality within today’s church and present generation.

He is commanding people everywhere to repent. This is not optional. This message is to the unsaved, but it is also to his idolatrous and adulterous church here in America and everywhere (See the Letters to the churches in Rev. 2-3). He will come in judgment in these last days, and he will judge his adulterous and idolatrous church, too. I believe very much so that he will take us back in time, not only to when we first strayed from him so that we can repent of our sin and be healed, but also he will take us back in time in removing from us all our idols so that we listen to him, we will repent of our sins, and so we will worship and serve him only, and will love one another as he loves us. I don’t know when this will take place, but I feel in my spirit that it is soon. So, he is asking that we seek him so we can, perhaps, reach out and find him while he still may be found.

Seek the Lord / An Original Work / July 20, 2012
Based off Isaiah 55

“Come to Me all you who thirst; come to waters.
Listen to Me, and eat what’s good today,
And your soul will delight in richest of fare.
Give ear to Me, and you will live.
I have made an eternal covenant with you.
Wash in the blood of the Lamb.”

Seek the Lord while He may be found; call on Him.
Let the wicked forsake his way, in truth.
Let him turn to the Lord, and he will receive mercy.
Freely, God pardons him.
“For My thoughts are not your thoughts,
Nor are your ways My ways,”
declares the Lord, our God.

“My word that goes out of My mouth is truthful.
It will not return to Me unfulfilled.
My word will accomplish all that I desire,
And achieve the goal I intend.
You will go in joy, and be led forth in peace.
The mountains will burst into song… before you,
And all of the trees clap their hands.”
Sue said:
...he will take us back in time in removing from us all our idols so that we listen to him...
Appreciate your post, Sue. The quote reminded of a favorite portion of scripture from
Isaiah 26~

12) LORD, thou wilt ordain peace for us: for thou also hast
wrought all our works in us.
13) O LORD our god, other lords beside thee have had
dominion over us: but by thee only will we make mention
of thy name.

What a promise... to have the name of the Lord, sincerely
on our lips... as we learn to die to our own life and live in
quickening life made available through Jesus.