Teaching Series
Thursday—Culture Makers: The Elite

Series: Advancing
Message: Culture Makers: The Elite
Preacher: Japhet De Oliveira
Reflection: Paddy McCoy
Live Wonder: Jessyka Albert
Live Adventure: Jessyka Albert
Live Purpose: Kyle Smith
Editor: Becky De Oliveira

Refresh: Begin with prayer. Ask for the Holy Spirit to open your heart to new understanding and for God’s character to be revealed.

Read: Acts 17:16–33 in the New International Version (NIV). Note 1–3 insights or questions. 

Reflect: According to many scholars, the Athens of Paul’s time was covered with idols to a wide variety of different gods. In fact, one commentary suggests that there were more idols in Athens than there were people. This is part of what compelled Paul to say something. As he walked the city streets and saw idol after idol, he realized how lost the people were in having any understanding of the truth of God and the work of His Son, Jesus.

It’s easy for us today to look back on the Athenians and think, “How crazy were they? Idols for the gods of water, frogs, locusts, sun, moon, stars, and on and on and on?” But looking at our lives, I wonder how different we are. An idol can be defined as “a greatly loved or admired person, or a picture or object that is worshipped as a god.” Another way to say this is that an idol is anything in our lives that we love more than God; anything we give more time and attention to than our Heavenly Father.

I’m not going to call anyone else out, but I know there are many times I struggle with other god: the amount of time I spend on my phone either for work, social media, or the latest news; time I spend watching TV or movies; time I spend just meeting my own needs; and time I spend with friends or family at the expense of time with God. Now hear me, these things in and of themselves are not bad, but when I spend more time thinking about and being with these things than I do with my Lord, they become idols. When something has control over me as opposed to me having control over it, that thing is my idol.

So maybe I’m not all that unlike the Athenians; maybe I have too many idols in my life and I need to pray to God for His help to get rid of those things that take me away from Him. I’m pretty sure I can’t do it on my own. I’m going to need those friends we talked about earlier, and I’m going to need the power of the Holy Spirit to break the power these idols have over me, allowing me to live in accordance with the words of the Psalmist, who wrote, “‘You have said, Seek my face.’ My heart says to you, ‘Your face, Lord, do I seek’” (Psalm 27:8).

Give us the strength, Lord, to make you central in our lives, to let go of everything else that keeps us from Jesus.

Recalibrate: What are some things you wish you could do less frequently, so that you could spend more time with God?

Respond: Pray for God to reveal those things that have become idols in your life, and then for the help to displace them, making room for your relationship with Him. 

Research: Read Deuteronomy 5:6-10 and the prayer that the ancient—and modern—Jews recite daily that comes from Deuteronomy 4-5.


What are some of the idols in your life? Do you foresee these being passed down to your child? What are some ways you can intentionally remove these from your child’s life? Spend some time with God to search your heart for what takes priority in your life to create a healthier environment for your child.

What do you think an idol is? Idols are things we just can’t seem to live without! Do you think you have anything in your life you couldn’t live without? Maybe a video game or a toy? Maybe a favorite show? Do you think you could go the rest of this week without it? Ask your parents to give up an idol with you.

Idols can come in all shapes and sizes. They may not be made of stone or wood, and you may not be praying to them, but we all have things in our lives that stop us from giving our all to Jesus. What are some things getting in the way of a relationship with Jesus in your life right now?

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