Summary: The second message in a series looking at what keeps us from really dreaming great things for God.
SEEING PAST OUR CIRCUMSTANCES
Introduction: We exist in a society that is increasingly becoming more and more polar in its beliefs. On the one end is a group, expounding the belief that we only go through life once, and as such, we should focus on making that trip as pleasurable as possible. Everywhere from beer commercials, to self-help advertisements, to the Internet, we are faced with barrage of activities and information that can make life more pleasurable. After all – you deserve it. On the other side you have a group who are convinced that everything is fated. I cannot choose to chart a course through life, rather I must make the best of the course ALREADY laid out for me. With this “bi-polar” mentality, it is easy to see how talking about a God who wants to be known can get old REAL quick, and move from acceptability to “political incorrectness”!
As we look at our text this morning, and we see the Apostle Paul embroiled in a discourse with the men of Athens – we need to understand that what we face today – either pleasure or fate, is exactly the same thing Paul faced in his day, and in his address on Mars hill in Athens.
Yet from this encounter, we can draw some conclusions. Conclusions that bring us to the point the people REALLY want to dream big. They want to expand their horizons. They just do not know WHERE to look, and this lack of knowledge leads us to small thinking, and small dreams.
OBSTACLE # 2 – OUR SIGHT
I PEOPLE ARE NOT LOOKING PAST WHAT THEY SEE
A PEOPLE ARE SEARCHING FOR SOMETHING – ACTS 17:22-23
1 PAUL COMMENTS ON THE MANY ALTARS AND THE REASON FOR THEM. PEOPLE ARE LOOKING FOR SOMETHING
a Very Religious/Very Superstitious – Want all their bases covered.
Illustration: I have noticed that Allan Iverson, the center for Philadelphia Basketball sports quite a few tattoos, some of them are religious, in fact they are multi-faceted – there are tattoos indicative of several religions. Then to top it all off, he even wears a W.W.J.D. bracelet. Maybe Allen is trying to cover all the bases too!
b Paul confronts their lack of certainty
1) Altar to unknown god
2) Worshipping in ignorance
3) Unaware of his impact
c This altar had been established to commemorate something that could not be attributed to any other deity they were aware of.
1) Paul was making them aware of their ignorance about God
2) Paul was making them aware that they were unable to see beyond what they saw.
2 WHAT KEEPS PEOPLE FROM SEEING GOD – ACTS 17:23
a The attitude that you only go around once
1) Everything is by chance
2) Happiness and pleasure are our aim in life
3) Only goal is to get all you can
Luke 12:19 And I’ll say to myself, "You have plenty of good things laid up for many years. Take life easy; eat, drink and be merry." ’
b The attitude that we cannot affect our circumstances
1) Everything is fated
2) Since I cannot change what is around me, I need to find my best place in it.
3) God is everything – everything is God
a) Sin is not an issue
b) My harmony with “god” is the issue
3 WHAT THE SOLUTION IS
a The obvious search – The people were looking to worship
b The uncertainty of being right
c God is not what we see, but the One who created what we see.
d Our purpose is not pleasure or fated, it is to seek and find God
1) Our purpose has been corrupted – Romans 1:20-21
Romans 1:20-21 For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities--his eternal power and divine nature--have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse.
21For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened.
2) God’s desire is for man to seek Him out!
Acts 17:27 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.
3) God’s desire is to meet our needs
Acts 17:25 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.
4) God seeks our fellowship with Him in order to unleash the most powerful act transforming influence in the universe
Acts 17:31 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 all men by raising him from the dead.”