Turn To The Living God

“Men, why are you doing these things? We also are men with the same nature as you, and preach to you that you should turn from these useless things to the living God, who made the heaven, the earth, the sea, and all things that are in them" - Acts 14:15

The heart must daily turn to God. If our hearts do not turn toward God, there are innumerable false thrones and idols that our hearts will bow down to. This is why the psalmist said, "How long, O you sons of men, Will you turn my glory to shame? How long will you love worthlessness And seek falsehood?" (Psalm 4:2)

Our hearts belong to God and we must give our full allegiance and adoration to Him alone!
When Paul the Apostle came to the knowledge of the truth, he was resolved to spend every day of his life serving the Lord and testifying to the grace of God. While on his first missionary journey, Paul preached the gospel openly but his words were like a sword that divided the people. This is what Simeon revealed about Jesus from His early infancy, when he blessed Jesus in the temple, saying, “Behold, this Child is destined for the fall and rising of many in Israel, and for a sign which will be spoken against (yes, a sword will pierce through your own soul also), that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed" (Luke 2:34-35).

There is no room for middle ground with the Lord Jesus. We are either FOR Christ or AGAINST Him...but we cannot be partial or divided since our position before God entirely depends on our faith in Him.

Everything on the earth went wrong by one simple turn away from God's will and blessings toward the deceiving words of the devil. After that initial false turn, the heart of mankind has remained easily susceptible to turn toward useless things.

Even as the people tried to poison the minds of others against him, Paul could not be deterred from his mission. He was decided and determined to know nothing among the people "except Jesus Christ and Him crucified" (1 Cor. 2:2).

What was true with the psalmist was also true with Paul, as it is written, "Many are my persecutors and my enemies, Yet I do not turn from Your testimonies" (Ps 119:157).

O how easy it is for the thoughts of man to turn in the wrong direction. This is what Paul feared for Christians of his generation as he would later write, "But I fear, lest somehow, as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness, so your minds may be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ" (2 Cor. 11:3).

Since Paul was resolved not to turn away, He could be used as an instrument to turn others toward Christ. He knew that the people needed to come to the saving knowledge of Christ and all things were possible if they believed in the power of God.

After seeing that a crippled man from birth was responsive to his preaching and had faith to be healed, Paul looked straight into his eyes and said with a loud voice, "Stand up straight on your feet!" (Acts 14:10). This man immediately leaped and walked...but the people who witnessed this began to believe not in Paul's message of Christ but rather in the greatness of Paul and Barnabas. They thought the gods had come down to them in the likeness of men but they were unaware that Jesus was the One who had come down.

Instead of understanding that God sent Jesus to rescue the world from our sins, they turned toward Paul and Barnabas and called the Zeus and Hermes. The legends of the false gods were deeply embedded in them and they could not easily turn and believe in the power of Christ. But Paul reminded them that they too were just ordinary men with the same nature as they had and did all he could to turn their attention back toward God.

As Psalm 115 states, "Not unto us, O LORD, not unto us, But to Your name give glory, Because of Your mercy, Because of Your truth. Why should the Gentiles say, “So where is their God?” But our God is in heaven; He does whatever He pleases."

Paul continued to point both Jews and Gentiles toward Christ. However, one day it almost cost him his life. A group of devout Jews gathered together and stoned him and dragged out of the city, leaving him to die. But God was not done with Paul! And dear saint God is not done with you either!

What happened next was nothing short of a miracle...
The disciples there gathered around Paul and before their eyes he rose up. And what did Paul do after enduring such terrible persecution?

The Scriptures tell us that he got up and departed only to stand up shortly thereafter to preach the Gospel in another city in the days that followed. Amazing! Paul did not back down or lose faith but instead he was even MORE emboldened to preach Christ!

Are you getting weary or are you getting wise?
Are you resolved to press on or are you ready to give up?

When Paul TURNED to Jesus, his life TURNED into a mission and nothing could take him away from it. He continued to make disciples by preaching the gospel and teaching the ways of Christ. He returned "strengthening the souls of the disciples, exhorting them to continue in the faith, and saying, “We must through many tribulations enter the kingdom of God" (Acts 14:22).

So don't grow weary saints...our hope draws near!

Later, Paul would write these words to the believers in Corinth:
"We are hard-pressed on every side, yet not crushed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed— always carrying about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our body. For we who live are always delivered to death for Jesus’ sake, that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh. So then death is working in us, but life in you" (2 Cor. 4:8-12).

In the final analysis, Paul was not just committed to seeing people turn to the living God and being saved in Christ but in seeing true churches established...that would train up the believers in the faith to become a community of faithful disciples who would make more disciples and express the living Christ toward each other and the world. Therefore, he "appointed elders" and "commended them to the grace of God for the work which they had completed" (Acts 14:23-24).

Acts in Action Challenge Points:
TAKE SERIOUS the call to speak the Good News of Jesus.
TAKE NOTICE of the responses you receive from others.
TAKE TIME to invest in those who are truly interested.