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"The living God" in a world of imaginary gods

June 9, 2022

Daily Scripture

Daniel 6:20, 1 Thessalonians 1:4-10

Daniel 6

20 As he approached it, he called out to Daniel, worried: “Daniel, servant of the living God! Was your God—the one you serve so consistently—able to rescue you from the lions?”

1 Thessalonians 1

4 Brothers and sisters, you are loved by God, and we know that he has chosen you. 5 We know this because our good news didn’t come to you just in speech but also with power and the Holy Spirit and with deep conviction. You know as well as we do what kind of people we were when we were with you, which was for your sake. 6 You became imitators of us and of the Lord when you accepted the message that came from the Holy Spirit with joy in spite of great suffering. 7 As a result you became an example to all the believers in Macedonia and Achaia. 8 The message about the Lord rang out from you, not only in Macedonia and Achaia but in every place. The news about your faithfulness to God has spread so that we don’t even need to mention it. 9 People tell us about what sort of welcome we had from you and how you turned to God from idols. As a result, you are serving [or have become slaves of] the living and true God, 10 and you are waiting for his Son from heaven. His Son is Jesus, who is the one he raised from the dead and who is the one who will rescue us from the coming wrath.

Daily Reflection & Prayer

Calling God “living” may seem pretty standard to us. In a pagan world, full of believers in a pantheon of “gods” known only as images of wood and stone, it truly was a turn “from idols” to the living God. The apostle Paul echoed to the Christians in Thessalonica what the Persian king said to Daniel. It was what the Israelites saw after Elijah defeated the prophets of Baal (cf. 1 Kings 18:39), and what the prophet wrote about how absurd it was to worship a block of wood (Isaiah 44:9-17).

  • Scholar N. T. Wright summed up Paul’s message: “telling pagans that there was one true God… that this God had a true son, and had demonstrated this fact by raising him from the dead (nobody had ever said that before). And people in Thessalonica, knowing from the start the risk they would be taking, turned away from their idols to this living God, and discovered, at the same moment, suffering and joy (verse 6).” * What drew you to start or continue serving “the living God”?
  • Sadly, through the centuries people have noted that some people say they believe in God but live their lives as though there is no God, at least not a living one. Sometimes we call this “practical atheism.” What helps you to shape your entire way of life, not just your words, to reflect your commitment to the living God?

Lord Jesus, it doesn’t always fit my human expectations, but you are alive and active even in this broken, troubled world. Let my life reflect yours in words, but even more importantly in actions. Amen.

GPS Insights

Janelle Gregory

Janelle Gregory

Janelle Gregory serves on the Resurrection staff as Human Resources Lead Director. Janelle finds that her heart is constantly wrestling with the truth that she needs a Savior, and the times when she's at her very best are when she's just too tired to put up a fight.

In many museums with ancient artifacts, you’re likely to see idols made of stone, metal, or wood. It seems like nearly every belief system at the time had a version of them. If you’re like me, you’ve stood in front of cases like the one below displaying such idols and scoffed: “How could anyone possibly believe that these idols held any sort of power? They’re nothing more than ornate action figures. Did people think they’d solve their problems? How much time did they spend worshipping these lifeless items?!” My judge-o-meter skyrockets to the top as I consider how ridiculous they were to put their hope in worthless objects.

But if I’m to be honest with you, I, too, have idols. It’s just that mine may not be as easily identifiable as such, but that doesn’t mean that I don’t look to them for answers or to fill my emptiness. Here’s what mine look like:

I get embarrassed in thinking about how much power I allow them to have over me, especially when you consider that I have constant and easy access to a living and powerful God. I don’t mean to assume that you have idols as well, but I’d encourage you to assess where you turn when life gets hard, when you want to escape, or when you’re hoping to find meaning. What is it you’re worshipping? Is it power? Food? Your children? Your intellect? Your good works? It’s easy to put our trust in these kinds of lesser gods, but they’ll only ever lead to us living lesser lives. There’s one very real and living God who invites us to something far greater – to an abundant life found by putting our faith in and following him.

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Scripture quotations are taken from The Common English Bible ©2011. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

* Wright, N.T., Paul for Everyone: Galatians and Thessalonians (The New Testament for Everyone) . Westminster John Knox Press. Kindle Edition, location 1463-1467.