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City of Idols (Part 2 of 3)

Acts 17:16–23, Isaiah 44:16–20
Program

You may have heard the saying “Some people are so heavenly minded that they’re of no earthly good.” That certainly wasn’t true for the apostle Paul! Learn how he engaged with the world without compromising his faith, on Truth For Life with Alistair Begg.

From the Sermon

City of Idols — Part One

Acts 17:16–23, Isaiah 44:16–20 Sermon Includes Transcript 39:29 ID: 2447

God Knows Best

God Knows Best

O Lord, my heart is not lifted up; my eyes are not raised too high; I do not occupy myself with things too great and too marvelous for me. But I have calmed and quieted my soul, like a weaned child with its mother; like a weaned child is my soul within me.

The process of weaning a child from his or her mother can be painful, but it’s necessary for healthy development and maturity. In Western culture today, weaning occurs at a young age, before the personality really starts to show. When this psalm was written, the transition away from a mother’s milk would happen much later, around the age of three.

Weaning could therefore be a confusing struggle for a child as he or she learned to go without something they had previously enjoyed. But once weaned, a child would be “calmed and quieted”; they would now understand that provision would still be made, and they would now be able to enjoy time with their mother for its own sake rather than as a means to an end. Not only that, but a weaned child would have learned that their mother knew best, even when a comfort was being withdrawn and the decision looked perplexing from their three-year-old vantage point.

As with a weaned child, it’s important for us as spiritual children to recognize that we don’t always know what’s best for ourselves. We can trust that our Father in heaven knows best. Far too often, though, our proud hearts cause us to question God’s mysterious ways. We demand to know why we are experiencing pain or trouble or loss, but without recognizing that our questions can express arrogance.

Questions are inevitable; they’re part and parcel of the journey. But true contentment is found in learning how to harness our questions. Contentment says, “Even when I can’t understand, still I can trust.” We must be careful that in our pride we don’t demand that the Potter explains why He made the pot the way He did (Isaiah 45:9). The precise will and ways of God are a mystery, but they are always good, for He is our Father.

With the Lord’s help, we can train ourselves to focus on His providence and remind ourselves that our circumstances are temporary, that our Father knows what He is doing in them, and that they cannot rob us of the joy and glory that are ultimately ours in Christ. In this our souls can be still.

In the Christian life, contentment is often gained through an experience of confusion and discomfort, as we learn to say, “My Father is in charge here and is working for my good as His child. I do not need to understand, for I can trust Him. I have Him, and He is enough for me. My soul is calm, even in this storm.” What a wonderful truth to be able to say today!

Questions for Thought

How is God calling me to think differently?

How is God reordering my heart’s affections — what I love?

What is God calling me to do as I go about my day today?

Further Reading

Taste and See That the Lord Is Good

Of David, when he changed his behavior before Abimelech, so that he drove him out, and he went away.

1I will bless the Lord at all times;

his praise shall continually be in my mouth.

2My soul makes its boast in the Lord;

let the humble hear and be glad.

3Oh, magnify the Lord with me,

and let us exalt his name together!

4I sought the Lord, and he answered me

and delivered me from all my fears.

5Those who look to him are radiant,

and their faces shall never be ashamed.

6This poor man cried, and the Lord heard him

and saved him out of all his troubles.

7The angel of the Lord encamps

around those who fear him, and delivers them.

8Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good!

Blessed is the man who takes refuge in him!

9Oh, fear the Lord, you his saints,

for those who fear him have no lack!

10The young lions suffer want and hunger;

but those who seek the Lord lack no good thing.

11Come, O children, listen to me;

I will teach you the fear of the Lord.

12What man is there who desires life

and loves many days, that he may see good?

13Keep your tongue from evil

and your lips from speaking deceit.

14Turn away from evil and do good;

seek peace and pursue it.

15The eyes of the Lord are toward the righteous

and his ears toward their cry.

16The face of the Lord is against those who do evil,

to cut off the memory of them from the earth.

17When the righteous cry for help, the Lord hears

and delivers them out of all their troubles.

18The Lord is near to the brokenhearted

and saves the crushed in spirit.

19Many are the afflictions of the righteous,

but the Lord delivers him out of them all.

20He keeps all his bones;

not one of them is broken.

21Affliction will slay the wicked,

and those who hate the righteous will be condemned.

22The Lord redeems the life of his servants;

none of those who take refuge in him will be condemned.

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Devotional material is taken from the Truth For Life daily devotionals by Alistair Begg, published by The Good Book Company, thegoodbook.com. Used by Truth For Life with permission. Copyright © 2021, 2022, The Good Book Company.

"You Said"

But you said, I will surely do you good.

When Jacob was on the other side of the brook Jabbok, and Esau was coming with armed men, Jacob earnestly sought God's protection, and the ground of his appeal was this: "But you said, I will surely do you good." What force is in that plea! He was holding God to His word—"You said."

The attribute of God's faithfulness is a splendid horn of the altar to lay hold upon; but the promise, which contains the attribute and something more, is mightier still—"You said, I will surely do you good." Would He say it and then not do it? "Let God be true though everyone were a liar."1 Will He not be true? Will He not keep His word? Will not every word that comes out of His lips stand fast and be fulfilled?

Solomon, at the opening of the temple, used this same mighty plea. He pleaded with God to remember the word that He had spoken to his father David and to bless that place.

When a man gives a promissory note, his honor is engaged; he signs his name, and he must honor it when the due time comes or else he loses credit. It shall never be said that God dishonors His bills. The credit of the Most High was never impeached, and never shall be. He is punctual to the second: He is never before His time, but He is never behind it. Search God's Word through, and compare it with the experience of God's people, and you will find the two tally from beginning to end. Many an ancient patriarch has said with Joshua, "Not one word has failed of all the good things that the LORD your God promised concerning you. All have come to pass."2

If you have a divine promise, you need not plead it with an "if"; you may urge it with certainty. The Lord meant to fulfill the promise or He would not have given it. God does not give His words merely to keep us quiet and to keep us hopeful for a while with the intention of putting us off in the end; but when He speaks, it is because He means to do as He has said.

1) Romans 3:4
2) Joshua 23:14

Devotional material is taken from Morning and Evening, written by C. H. Spurgeon, revised and updated by Alistair Begg. Copyright © 2003, Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers, Wheaton, IL 60187, www.crossway.org. Used by Truth For Life with written permission.

Daily Bible Reading for April 18

Leviticus 22, Psalm 28, Psalm 29, Ecclesiastes 5, 2 Timothy 1

1And the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, 2“Speak to Aaron and his sons so that they abstain from the holy things of the people of Israel, which they dedicate to me, so that they do not profane my holy name: I am the Lord. 3Say to them, ‘If any one of all your offspring throughout your generations approaches the holy things that the people of Israel dedicate to the Lord, while he has an uncleanness, that person shall be cut off from my presence: I am the Lord. 4None of the offspring of Aaron who has a leprous disease or a discharge may eat of the holy things until he is clean. Whoever touches anything that is unclean through contact with the dead or a man who has had an emission of semen, 5and whoever touches a swarming thing by which he may be made unclean or a person from whom he may take uncleanness, whatever his uncleanness may be—6the person who touches such a thing shall be unclean until the evening and shall not eat of the holy things unless he has bathed his body in water. 7When the sun goes down he shall be clean, and afterward he may eat of the holy things, because they are his food. 8He shall not eat what dies of itself or is torn by beasts, and so make himself unclean by it: I am the Lord.’ 9They shall therefore keep my charge, lest they bear sin for it and die thereby when they profane it: I am the Lord who sanctifies them.

10“A lay person shall not eat of a holy thing; no foreign guest of the priest or hired worker shall eat of a holy thing, 11but if a priest buys a slave1 as his property for money, the slave2 may eat of it, and anyone born in his house may eat of his food. 12If a priest's daughter marries a layman, she shall not eat of the contribution of the holy things. 13But if a priest's daughter is widowed or divorced and has no child and returns to her father's house, as in her youth, she may eat of her father's food; yet no lay person shall eat of it. 14And if anyone eats of a holy thing unintentionally, he shall add the fifth of its value to it and give the holy thing to the priest. 15They shall not profane the holy things of the people of Israel, which they contribute to the Lord, 16and so cause them to bear iniquity and guilt, by eating their holy things: for I am the Lord who sanctifies them.”

Acceptable Offerings

17And the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, 18“Speak to Aaron and his sons and all the people of Israel and say to them, When any one of the house of Israel or of the sojourners in Israel presents a burnt offering as his offering, for any of their vows or freewill offerings that they offer to the Lord, 19if it is to be accepted for you it shall be a male without blemish, of the bulls or the sheep or the goats. 20You shall not offer anything that has a blemish, for it will not be acceptable for you. 21And when anyone offers a sacrifice of peace offerings to the Lord to fulfill a vow or as a freewill offering from the herd or from the flock, to be accepted it must be perfect; there shall be no blemish in it. 22Animals blind or disabled or mutilated or having a discharge or an itch or scabs you shall not offer to the Lord or give them to the Lord as a food offering on the altar. 23You may present a bull or a lamb that has a part too long or too short for a freewill offering, but for a vow offering it cannot be accepted. 24Any animal that has its testicles bruised or crushed or torn or cut you shall not offer to the Lord; you shall not do it within your land, 25neither shall you offer as the bread of your God any such animals gotten from a foreigner. Since there is a blemish in them, because of their mutilation, they will not be accepted for you.”

26And the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, 27“When an ox or sheep or goat is born, it shall remain seven days with its mother, and from the eighth day on it shall be acceptable as a food offering to the Lord. 28But you shall not kill an ox or a sheep and her young in one day. 29And when you sacrifice a sacrifice of thanksgiving to the Lord, you shall sacrifice it so that you may be accepted. 30It shall be eaten on the same day; you shall leave none of it until morning: I am the Lord.

31“So you shall keep my commandments and do them: I am the Lord. 32And you shall not profane my holy name, that I may be sanctified among the people of Israel. I am the Lord who sanctifies you, 33who brought you out of the land of Egypt to be your God: I am the Lord.”

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Footnotes
1 22:11 Or servant; twice in this verse
2 22:11 Hebrew he

Psalm 28

The Lord Is My Strength and My Shield

Of David.

1To you, O Lord, I call;

my rock, be not deaf to me,

lest, if you be silent to me,

I become like those who go down to the pit.

2Hear the voice of my pleas for mercy,

when I cry to you for help,

when I lift up my hands

toward your most holy sanctuary.1

3Do not drag me off with the wicked,

with the workers of evil,

who speak peace with their neighbors

while evil is in their hearts.

4Give to them according to their work

and according to the evil of their deeds;

give to them according to the work of their hands;

render them their due reward.

5Because they do not regard the works of the Lord

or the work of his hands,

he will tear them down and build them up no more.

6Blessed be the Lord!

For he has heard the voice of my pleas for mercy.

7The Lord is my strength and my shield;

in him my heart trusts, and I am helped;

my heart exults,

and with my song I give thanks to him.

8The Lord is the strength of his people;2

he is the saving refuge of his anointed.

9Oh, save your people and bless your heritage!

Be their shepherd and carry them forever.

Psalm 29

Ascribe to the Lord Glory

A Psalm of David.

1Ascribe to the Lord, O heavenly beings,1

ascribe to the Lord glory and strength.

2Ascribe to the Lord the glory due his name;

worship the Lord in the splendor of holiness.2

3The voice of the Lord is over the waters;

the God of glory thunders,

the Lord, over many waters.

4The voice of the Lord is powerful;

the voice of the Lord is full of majesty.

5The voice of the Lord breaks the cedars;

the Lord breaks the cedars of Lebanon.

6He makes Lebanon to skip like a calf,

and Sirion like a young wild ox.

7The voice of the Lord flashes forth flames of fire.

8The voice of the Lord shakes the wilderness;

the Lord shakes the wilderness of Kadesh.

9The voice of the Lord makes the deer give birth3

and strips the forests bare,

and in his temple all cry, “Glory!”

10The Lord sits enthroned over the flood;

the Lord sits enthroned as king forever.

11May the Lord give strength to his people!

May the Lord bless4 his people with peace!

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Footnotes
1 28:2 Hebrew your innermost sanctuary
2 28:8 Some Hebrew manuscripts, Septuagint, Syriac; most Hebrew manuscripts is their strength
1 29:1 Hebrew sons of God, or sons of might
2 29:2 Or in holy attire
3 29:9 Revocalization yields makes the oaks to shake
4 29:11 Or The Lord will give . . . The Lord will bless

Fear God

1Guard your steps when you go to the house of God. To draw near to listen is better than to offer the sacrifice of fools, for they do not know that they are doing evil. 2 Be not rash with your mouth, nor let your heart be hasty to utter a word before God, for God is in heaven and you are on earth. Therefore let your words be few. 3For a dream comes with much business, and a fool's voice with many words.

4When you vow a vow to God, do not delay paying it, for he has no pleasure in fools. Pay what you vow. 5It is better that you should not vow than that you should vow and not pay. 6Let not your mouth lead you1 into sin, and do not say before the messenger2 that it was a mistake. Why should God be angry at your voice and destroy the work of your hands? 7For when dreams increase and words grow many, there is vanity;3 but4 God is the one you must fear.

The Vanity of Wealth and Honor

8If you see in a province the oppression of the poor and the violation of justice and righteousness, do not be amazed at the matter, for the high official is watched by a higher, and there are yet higher ones over them. 9But this is gain for a land in every way: a king committed to cultivated fields.5

10He who loves money will not be satisfied with money, nor he who loves wealth with his income; this also is vanity. 11When goods increase, they increase who eat them, and what advantage has their owner but to see them with his eyes? 12Sweet is the sleep of a laborer, whether he eats little or much, but the full stomach of the rich will not let him sleep.

13There is a grievous evil that I have seen under the sun: riches were kept by their owner to his hurt, 14and those riches were lost in a bad venture. And he is father of a son, but he has nothing in his hand. 15As he came from his mother's womb he shall go again, naked as he came, and shall take nothing for his toil that he may carry away in his hand. 16This also is a grievous evil: just as he came, so shall he go, and what gain is there to him who toils for the wind? 17Moreover, all his days he eats in darkness in much vexation and sickness and anger.

18Behold, what I have seen to be good and fitting is to eat and drink and find enjoyment6 in all the toil with which one toils under the sun the few days of his life that God has given him, for this is his lot. 19Everyone also to whom God has given wealth and possessions and power to enjoy them, and to accept his lot and rejoice in his toil—this is the gift of God. 20For he will not much remember the days of his life because God keeps him occupied with joy in his heart.

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Footnotes
1 5:6 Hebrew your flesh
2 5:6 Or angel
3 5:7 The Hebrew term hebel can refer to a “vapor” or “mere breath”; also verse 10 (see note on 1:2)
4 5:7 Or For when dreams and vanities increase, words also grow many; but
5 5:9 The meaning of the Hebrew verse is uncertain
6 5:18 Or and see good

Greeting

1Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God according to the promise of the life that is in Christ Jesus,

2To Timothy, my beloved child:

Grace, mercy, and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord.

Guard the Deposit Entrusted to You

3I thank God whom I serve, as did my ancestors, with a clear conscience, as I remember you constantly in my prayers night and day. 4As I remember your tears, I long to see you, that I may be filled with joy. 5I am reminded of your sincere faith, a faith that dwelt first in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice and now, I am sure, dwells in you as well. 6For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands, 7for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.

8Therefore do not be ashamed of the testimony about our Lord, nor of me his prisoner, but share in suffering for the gospel by the power of God, 9who saved us and called us to1 a holy calling, not because of our works but because of his own purpose and grace, which he gave us in Christ Jesus before the ages began,2 10and which now has been manifested through the appearing of our Savior Christ Jesus, who abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel, 11for which I was appointed a preacher and apostle and teacher, 12which is why I suffer as I do. But I am not ashamed, for I know whom I have believed, and I am convinced that he is able to guard until that Day what has been entrusted to me.3 13Follow the pattern of the sound4 words that you have heard from me, in the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus. 14By the Holy Spirit who dwells within us, guard the good deposit entrusted to you.

15You are aware that all who are in Asia turned away from me, among whom are Phygelus and Hermogenes. 16May the Lord grant mercy to the household of Onesiphorus, for he often refreshed me and was not ashamed of my chains, 17but when he arrived in Rome he searched for me earnestly and found me—18may the Lord grant him to find mercy from the Lord on that Day!—and you well know all the service he rendered at Ephesus.

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Footnotes
1 1:9 Or with
2 1:9 Greek before times eternal
3 1:12 Or what I have entrusted to him; Greek my deposit
4 1:13 Or healthy
Today’s Bible Reading material is taken from McCheyne Bible reading plan and used by Truth For Life with permission. Scripture taken from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version. Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved. Text provided by the Crossway Bibles Web Service.

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