Recorded on November 10th, 2019
Where is God in your day when you are stressed? What are your idols? The American dream can be an idol, though we may not have the statues, we have the idols.
Transcript of Sermon:
[Music] today’s scripture is found in your bulletin it’s acts 17:24 through 31 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 is needed as if he needed anything rather he himself gives everyone life and breath and everything else from one man he made all the nations that they should inhabit the whole earth and he marked out their appointed times in history and the boundaries of their lands God did this so that they would seek Him and perhaps reach out for him and find him though he is not far away from any 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 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 overlooks 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 this is the word of God for the people of God so there was a time in my life actually most of my growing up here’s where I spend all of my days being babysat when I was not at school by the television it was just a kind of rule of my home my mother was a single mother we lived a lot of years with my grandparents but even then my grandfather worked and my grandmother loved days of our lives so that was a good one but truly once we moved out of my grandparents house my sisters and I would get home from school and we would just watch TV that’s what we did and so the biggest influences in my life growing up were TV and the school system so when I grew up the things that I wanted to do the things that I wanted to be were number one I wanted to be a cast member on Kids Incorporated now if you didn’t grow up in the 80s you have no idea what I’m talking about when I say Kids Incorporated so you can just think of it as something like the Mickey Mouse Club or maybe something like Fame but I wanted to be one of those silly people who like danced and saying I cannot dance and I cannot sing and I have no skill whatsoever but because I saw it on TV and these people I thought were really cool I wanted to be one of those people and then as I grew up and got a little bit older and kids incorporated was no longer cool I wanted to be one of the ridiculous human beings that you see on MTV Oh God forgive me for the things that I wanted to do when I was growing up but I mean if I could have been on any of their reality TV shows I might have done it thank God I couldn’t do it I don’t know why I couldn’t do it but I never tried it but boy I probably would have done it and you would have video of me acting like a really ridiculous human being because I thought that that was a cool thing to do because that was what formed me and trained me when I was growing up I would have been baby and um Oh golly it just went away in dirty dancing thank you thank you friend I would have been any of those people because those were the things that formed me and grew me when I was growing up that and the school system what the school system taught me so what those things taught me were being pretty is really really really important being smart on TV is not necessarily so important but pretty and cute smart for girls maybe not um silly school system taught me Oh power and fame people knowing your name was important dancing was important singing was important I knew I didn’t have those but then school told me that if I could make a lot of money I would be happy so the school taught me that I needed to stay in school I needed to go to school and I needed to find a career where I could make a lot of money and take care of a family that’s all they really cared about was keeping me in school and then going to college and then finding a career that would make a lot of money because that’s the way that you have the American dream and I think everybody in here no matter what your generation was all sought after or searched after some form of the American dream each generation had different forms of the American dream there was Leave It to Beaver that put out a certain form of the American dream they had separate beds when they were married there’s something to that I’m telling you nobody steals your covers when there’s separate beds I’m just sayin but everybody has some form of the American dream that they kind of somebody pushed into their life whether it was your parents whether it was TV whether it was news the news puts out there a form of the American dream but it’s pushed at us and it’s pushed at us it’s pushed at us as if it is the thing that we should be going after regardless my kids have it mom what do you think I should be when I grew up what do I get at and I’m constantly telling them because I’ve learned this is my second career I’m still in school because golly why not you know you have one master’s degree two is better because that’s the way it works in this world especially if you can continue to pay for both of them at the same time that’s even better because then the school they like that they let him they get your money the American dream and in our society the American dream has become a form of idolatry seeking after it and what it holds for you because every one of us have a slightly different version of what that looks like but every version holds some similarities money security family and whatever the nuances of yours is we’ve all been told on some level or another that this is the thing we should be chasing after and what we see here in this piece of axe is that idolatry is something that we are going to be held account for in our lives not only that but idolatry chasing after these things will never ever ever satisfy us produce the happiness that we’re told that it will produce never because the only thing that can satisfy and produce the happiness that we have been chasing after since the day that we understood that we should be chasing after something the only thing that can do that is God so let’s look at this piece of X we have been in acts for quite some time we were nearing the end of our journey of Acts last week Alan thank you so much for being here and doing that he talked to you about the beginning of Paul and Barnabus ministry Paul and Barnabas were in ministry doing work together we’ve moved on to chapter 17 and in chapter 17 what you see is that Paul is now with Silas Paul and Silas and Timothy end up in Thessalonica and in Thessalonica they’re doing the work of sharing Jesus sharing the news the good news of Jesus and they do it so well that people get mad surprised do we see a theme like everywhere that we have gone in this journey you see people sharing about Jesus and then everybody getting mad either getting saved or getting mad there’s kind of two versions of what happens and so they leave Thessalonica and they go to Berea and in Berea they get a really great response from almost everybody such a great response that the people in Thessalonica hear about it and they hear that nobody’s mad so they send people to Berea to be mad because nobody in Berea is mad I mean come on but well you know people like that in your life that are gonna do that so in Berea Paul and Timothy and Silas decide to split up they send Paul to Athens and Timothy and Silas say in Berea and while Paul is in Athens waiting for Timothy and Silas because they always do ministry together Paul has never done ministry on his own yet he’s never preached on his own yet so he’s simply waiting he’s waiting for his friends and as he’s waiting walking around listen to it scripture tells us it says while Paul is waiting for them in Athens he’s greatly distressed to see the city so full of idols 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 happen to be there a group of epicurean and stoic philosophers began to debate with him some of them asked what is this blabber ER trying to say others remarked he seems to be advocating for in God’s they said this because Paul was preaching the good news about Jesus and the resurrection then they took him and brought him to a meeting in the ergo pass where they said to him may we know what this new teaching is that you are presenting you are bringing some strange ideas to our ears and we would like to know what they mean so there Paul is just hanging out trying to wait for his friends but as he sees all of these idols his spirit and the Holy Spirit inside of him become so distressed that he can no longer wait because what he sees is a group of people so enslaved to the things of the world around him he can’t help but share the freedom that he knows he has in Jesus he cannot wait for his friends any longer because he knows these people are enslaved to their idol worship now you and I don’t make little images out of our idols we don’t do that anymore we don’t create little golden statues or silver statues and put them up and go and pray to them we just live our lives in a way that honors our idols we live our lives in worship to our idols if you look at the checking account of our time spent in our life you will be able to see what your idols are who your idols are in my life I’ve been able to see that I spend way too much time at the idol worship of pleasure of escapism reading books which is not bad watching TV which is not bad in and of itself those things are not bad things yesterday I watched seven hours of SEC football I am a California girl and I watched seven hours of football college football on top of that now once in my life did I ever think that would happen but I did good and it’s not bad on its own but what you look at the accumulation of your life and the accumulation of the time that you spend and how you devote your time where are your priorities and how are you prioritizing your time where is God in your day where is God in your life when you are stressed what are you doing with your stress are you watching TV instead of dealing with the stress are you watching TV to escape are you drinking are you eating what are you doing what are your idols we have them the American Dream is an idol work even good work even if you work in the ministry work can become an idol because you put it above God you put it above or even equal to God in this American life that we live we put our four walls of our home the kids that live in it their education our retirement all of that stuff we make it the most important thing in our life not our relationship with God in our education system we make making money and choosing a career based on wow how much money you’re gonna make number one instead of saying you know what what is God calling you to do who did God create you to be what skills did he give you use that to choose what you should do in your life and then maybe just baby you will feel fulfilled this is what Paul saw when he was in Athens though we may not have the statues we have the idols and so Paul goes before this group and the Epicureans were people who worshipped at pleasure anything that was pleasurable well we Americans are really good at that we’ve extended pleasure to things that I didn’t even know existed oh my gosh and then the Stoics were wisdom anything that was smart and wise though that’s the best thing in the world well we’re good at that too and then Paul tells them what Janet read to us he said the God who made the world and everything in it is the lord of heaven and earth and this God does not live in temples built by human hands or in idols and he is not served by humans there’s nothing that you and I can do to serve this God he doesn’t need anything from us rather he gives everyone life and breath and everything else from one man he made all the nations that they should inhabit the whole earth and he marked out their appropriated times in history and the boundaries of their lands God did this so that they would seek Him and perhaps reach out and find him though he is not far from any one of us because it is in him that we live and move and have our being we live and move and have our being and God you see the reason why we are constantly searching and seeking from the beginning of time why every generation has been searching for its own iteration of the American dream and it’s not just in America all cultures search and seek for something the reason why is because we were created to seek and to search but not for fortune and not for fame and not for the right girlfriend and the right boyfriend or the right husband the right relationship not for the right job we were meant to seek after God that burning desire in your soul that you can’t ever seem to Quelch or to quench that restlessness inside of you will never ever be filled with money it will never be filled with food there’s not enough pie on this earth even if Julie makes it that will satisfy your soul there is not enough human relationships to satisfy that burning desire the only thing that will ultimately satisfy you in life is a growing relationship with Christ and until we realize that and learn to put aside these things that are not bad of themselves but bad when we use them wrong we will always be searching we will never be satisfied and we will never experience joy the way that we were created and meant to experience joy so the challenge to us today is this no matter what season you’re in in your life I know you’re still searching and you’re guiding people who are searching whether it’s your grandkids your kids or yourself as you search and as you guide others who are searching remind them the one who created them the one who created you is the one with the answers God’s the ultimate guide and what he wants is a relationship and what he offers his answers is peace and his joy is there anything in your life that has ever given that to you in a way where you’ve been able to live and move and breathe consistently let’s pray God I thank you so much for creating us and loving us enough to chase after us even when we chased after everything else in this world besides you teach us to hunger for you first knowing that everything else will fall into place when we put you in the forefront of our lives it’s in the name of Jesus that we pray, Amen.