Meditations on Acts 17:24-25

Transcript of Midweek Meditations podcast episode aired on Wednesday, 20th May 2020.

One of the challenges of parenting is realising I, as a parent, cannot determine my child’s life. I can provide them with food and clothes, but I can’t make them grow healthy and strong. I can provide an education, but I can’t make them smart or wise. I can provide a roof over their heads, but I can’t protect them from every little thing in life. For all I can do for them, there’s a lot I can’t do…

This doesn’t apply only to parenting, but life itself. There’s so much we can do, but if we’re honest, there’s a lot we can’t do. Yet for many of us, it’s the things we can’t do that seem to burden us and cause us anxiety. For the Christian though, we’re not left without hope.

Acts 17:24-25

Let’s turn to God’s Word; our meditation today comes from Acts 17:24–25:

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.

Acts 17:24–25 (NIV)

This comes from Paul’s speech to the people of Athens. Athens was a city filled with temples to various gods, including one “to an unknown God.” Priests and priestesses served the gods in each one of these temples. They served the gods with sacrifices to meet their needs and seek their favour. But the Christian God is different. How?

Lord of heaven and earth

As Paul says, this God “made the world and everything in it.” Unlike so many other gods, ancient and modern, this God isn’t God over one aspect of life. The Asgardian god, Thor, for example, is the god of thunder. But this God is “Lord of heaven and earth” because he “made the world and everything in it.”

This means his authority and power isn’t confined or restricted to one domain of life. This means you don’t need to make different sacrifices to different gods to cover your bases. This means you don’t need to keep track of where you stand with each god.

Also, this God “does not live in temples built by human hands.” What does that mean? For the Christian, it means you can approach God anywhere at any time. There’s no temple you need to visit. There’s no pilgrimage you need to take. There’s no special place to meet God. He’s the Lord of heaven and earth, heaven and earth are his temple. When you need to meet with God, he’s there.

How good is that? How convenient is that? Whenever we need God, we can approach him. We don’t need to perform some ritual or make some sacrifice, we can just come to God. In those moments when we’re anxious or burdened by life, we can turn to him right there and then. This is one of the great blessings Christians enjoy, we can come to God at any time, anywhere.

The Great High Priest

As we come to God, we can come—as it were—empty-handed. There’s no offering or sacrifice needed to come before God. You don’t need to please or appease God. God isn’t “served by human hands” for he lacks nothing. But a priest, in fact, a great high priest does serve God. Just not a human one…

We read in Hebrews 4:14–16:

Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has ascended into heaven, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess. […] Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.

Hebrews 4:14, 16 (NIV)

Jesus, the Son of God, is our great high priest. He made the ultimate sacrifice, so that we no longer need to make sacrifices before God. That’s why we can “approach God’s throne of grace with confidence so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”

If it’s not enough that the Lord of heaven and earth invites us to come into his presence, he gives us his Son. Both as a sacrifice for our sin, removing us of guilt and judgment, and as a high priest to intercede on our behalf.

The gift of life

And this is the kicker, we don’t bring anything to God, we don’t bring offerings or sacrifices, we don’t serve him. In fact, it’s the total opposite, no “he himself gives everyone life and breath and everything else.” We don’t give to God, no God gives to us. He gives us life, the breath of life, and all that we need. As it were, the Lord of heaven and earth serves our needs.

Now I’m not saying God is our servant to do what we want, but we need to recognise there is nothing we can do to serve God. He doesn’t need it. Instead, in his mercy and grace, he gives us all we need. He gives us life. The God who made the world and everything in it gives us all we need.

Yes, there’s a lot in life that you can’t do. There’s a lot you can’t control. But you’re not left on your own, instead God invites you to come to him and trust him. So, will you come to God today and seek his mercy and grace? Will you come in confidence because of Jesus’ sacrifice? Will you come knowing Jesus stands before God for you? Whatever thoughts cloud your mind, whatever anxiety fills your heart, whatever burden weighs you down, will you come to God and seek life in him?

Let’s pray.

Prayer

Creator God who made the world and everything in it, Lord of heaven and earth, thank you we can come to you now. Thank you Jesus, for you are our great high priest. We come with anxious thoughts, burdened hearts, and worries of life and we seek your mercy and grace for today. Will you give us today life? Breath into us life and sustain us for this day. Help us to trust you for all that we need. Help us to come to you each day and trust in your goodness to us. In Jesus’ name, amen.

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