Daily Devotionals

Loving God With All My Soul

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“While Paul was waiting for them in Athens, he was greatly distressed to see that the city was full of idols. So he reasoned in the synagogue with the Jews and the God-fearing Greeks, as well as in the marketplace day by day with those who happened to be there. … Paul then stood up in the meeting of the Areopagus and said: ‘Men of Athens! … 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 hands.’” Acts 17: 16-17, 22, 24


A couple of weeks ago, I traveled with my youngest son to Athens, Greece for the primary purpose of visiting my oldest son, who has been studying abroad this semester.  Talking for hours over plates of spanakopita or roasted lamb, ferrying through the azure Aegean Sea, and hearing stories about gods like Poseidon, Athena and Zeus, it was all unchartered territory for me and piqued my curiosity about this city steeped in history.  One story in particular resonated with me– one that had more familiarity to me, one that is a part of my own story.  


From atop the temple marked Acropolis, our tour guide pointed toward an enormous rock named Areopagus commonly referred to as Mars Hill or the spot where Apostle Paul first told the Greeks about Jesus and his resurrection.  Paul’s speech, which is written in Acts 17 and hangs in bronze at the bottom of Mars Hill, wasn’t so popular at first.  Our tour guide said it created quite a stir as philosophers and other community leaders scoffed at this new Christianity.  The story is told that Paul had to escape through a secret route to protect himself from the Athenians he angered.  


Standing on high ground with gigantic temples towering behind me, I thought how intimidating it must have been for Apostle Paul to speak out in boldness there!  It must have taken such bravery to speak convincingly about unconventional beliefs, like a resurrection, to a city where ancient gods were visibly honored, but Paul did it anyway because he loved God that much.  He loved God with all his soul, and I felt just a tinge of that when I reached out and touched the rock on which Paul once stood.  


Just as our sovereign God would have it, even amid all the scoffers, Paul’s message that day fell on the ears of just a few people who became followers.  “Among them was Dionysius, a member of the Araeopagus, also a woman named Damaris….” (Acts 17: 34)  As a man whose heart and soul were rooted in loving the Lord, Paul followed God’s instruction by walking and speaking out.  Then, God did the rest.  Paul planted the seed, and God made it grow.      


I asked the tour guide the predominant religion in Greece today.  His answer:  Christianity (Christian Orthodox).  Praise the Lord!  


Prayer:  Sovereign Lord, thank you for Apostle Paul’s bravery in entering unfamiliar lands to spread the Good News about your Son and the resurrection.  Thank you for those whose hearts were changed that day — Dionysius and Damaris — and help us be more like all three of them as we have opportunities each day to tell others about your love.  Lord, guide us in loving you more and more daily, with all our hearts, minds, and souls.  In Christ’s name, we pray.  Amen.


Submitted by Caroline Bennett