Learning To Speak Into Challenging Moments


Now while Paul was waiting for them at Athens, his spirit was provoked within him as he saw that the city was full of idols. So he reasoned in the synagogue with the Jews and the devout persons, and in the marketplace every day with those who happened to be there. Some of the Epicurean and Stoic philosophers also conversed with him. And some said, "What does this babbler wish to say?" Others said, "He seems to be a preacher of foreign divinities"—because he was preaching Jesus and the resurrection. And they took him and brought him to the Areopagus, saying, "May we know what this new teaching is that you are presenting? For you bring some strange things to our ears. We wish to know therefore what these things mean." Now all the Athenians and the foreigners who lived there would spend their time in nothing except telling or hearing something new.— Acts 17:16-21

As we read this, we need to realize that Paul is about to launch Christian doctrine into the epicenter of philosophical thought. At this point in history, Athens had been the center of education for the Greek and Roman world for the last 200 years. Some of the worlds' most recognized teachers and students spent their time in Athens. Take, for example, Socrates, known best for giving us the Socratic Method. Next, consider that one of his students was Plato. His most memorable teachings were on the three functions of the soul – reason, emotion, and desire. And then Aristotle, a student of Plato, who was the first to develop a formal way of reasoning – known as the field of logic. And of course, Epicurus, the founder of Epicureanism, advocated that the greatest good was to seek the absence of pain, which is referenced in the text today.

But what I find especially interesting is how Paul handles this epic moment. For the first time, as he stands with the greatest of teachers and philosophers of the day, he reasons with them and presents a rather compelling case for Jesus Christ. While some might back down from this overwhelming moment, Paul does not. He appears to be a dwarf amount giants. And yet, something fantastic happens.

Paul indwelled by the Holy Spirit, is emotionally provoked. And he is provoked by this one thing — the abundance of idols. Keep in mind, in Paul's world, he has never been exposed to anything like he sees in Athens. In the Jewish culture creating an image, or an idol, of any kind, was entirely forbidden by the second commandment. This meant Jews were rarely in the presence of any constructed image. But in Athens, they were everywhere. It was a forest of idols. There were massive statues everywhere constructed to emperors, warriors, politicians, and teachers — and most notable were those idols that people worshipped. And this is greatly disturbing to Paul.

And yet Paul gets to work. This short, odd-looking, muscular, beaten, yet brave man starts reasoning with them. He heads to the synagogue, and the marketplace will battle with the predominant philosophies of the time and does this in a unique way. And to discover what he says, you will have to tune in for the devotional tomorrow.

But here is what I want you to see today. One man indwelled by the Holy Spirit alone in Athens is greater than this world's more notable teachers or man-made philosophy. Nothing can compete with a man who is indwelled by the Spirit of God, knows the truth of God, and speaks the truth of God. And all that is needed is a willing man to stand against the philosophies of this world.

I believe we are given moments like this all the time — little moments where we are called to speak up. And we might have a number of them daily with colleagues, friends, or even with our family. And it is usually in these small moments where the Spirit trains us to speak up for Jesus. Just like Paul, we have to be trained to speak up in lesser places like Antioch, Lystra, Iconium, Troas, Philippi, and Berea before we are ever ready to speak up in the Areopagus of Athens.

So consider right now where you may have silenced that Spirit within you. And then go and speak about your faith today. Be unashamed of the name of Jesus. A God above all gods, and one who brings down the strongholds and philosophies of this world.

ASK THIS: Where can you share about Jesus today? (Share below).

DO THIS: Share a story or testimony about Jesus.

PRAY THIS: God, give me an opportunity to speak your name today.

PLAY THIS: I Speak Jesus — Here Be Lions.


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Learning To Speak Into Challenging Moments

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8 thoughts on “Learning To Speak Into Challenging Moments

  1. Trent says:

    When I feel that unction or inclination to speak, then my mind mulls it over a bit and says “no….better just not, sounds silly, or let someone else do a better job” I feel saddened and empty. When I feel the unction/inclination and speak no matter how “frivolous” a word or comment, I feel like I have just conquered the world. Feel good inside. Feel right. Lord, may I speak your name and your word before my mind and flesh has a chance to talk me out of it!

  2. JB says:

    Awesome thoughts, Vince! I woke up this morning thinking about, “You must not make for yourself an idol of any kind or an image of anything in the heavens or on earth or in the sea.” Hold on…what??? But what about this cross that I want to wear to remind me of God??? Oh yeah…He said, “I AM”… “don’t use that something that you created to remember ME. Just put ME first in your mind and on your heart, and keep ME there.. I AM the Lord Your God.”

    I just need to remember that He wants to be my ALL, and that He wants to be represented by little ol’ me through my life, by the way that I honor Him, and tell others about Him! I pray that I can do that today!

    Thanks for your words, Vince.

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