“And He has made from one blood every nation of men to dwell on all the face of the earth, and has determined their preappointed times and the boundaries of their dwellings, so that they should seek the Lord, in the hope that they might grope for Him and find Him, though He is not far from each one of us;” — Acts 17:26-27 NKJV

Is there hope for America? Is there hope for the world today?

In spite of everything happening in the world that could indicate that it is hopeless, as long as there is hope for you, me or any individual, the answer is a resounding yes. There is hope for America, there is hope for the world.

The enemy wants us to see the magnitude of evil around us. He wants to magnify the pain, the devastation, the division and hatred. He wants to so clutter our vision with the mess going on and increase the volume to blaring levels so that we can neither see nor hear what is well within our reach.

To better understand these verses, let’s consider the context and examine the operative words in the text we are considering.

Paul is in the Greek city of Athens waiting for Silas and Timothy to join him. While he waits, his heart is broken over the vast lostness of the people. As a result he spends his time sharing the message of salvation through Jesus, in the synagogue and also in the marketplace with whoever happened to be there.

While teaching an evangelism class years ago I mentioned the titles of many evangelism courses that I had taught down through the years. It drew the question: “Which evangelism course is the best?” My answer was a simple, “Whichever one you will use!”

You see Paul saw the lostness in Athens and verse 16 noted it this way:

“His spirit was provoked within him when he saw that the city was given over to idols.”

Let’s face it, when it comes to you and me sharing our faith in the marketplace, our evangelistic templates are not what matters. What matters is that our “spirit must be provoked within us.”

All the knowledge in the world minus a heart that bleeds for souls will ultimately and utterly fail if there is an absence of being urged on by God through the Holy Spirit.

For it is the heart plea of the believer that is most convincing and convicting to the sinner’s ear.

The context is relevant. Paul was totally surrounded by a society that was lost and without Christ. His heart was provoked to action.

We too are surrounded by a society that needs a savior. When our heart is provoked within us to change that, then we will find ourselves unable to just sit quietly and wait for others to share the message.

Perhaps the most needful reminder is found in the final phrase: “That they should seek the Lord, in the hope that they might grope for Him and find Him, though He is not far from each one of us;” — V. 27.

In this world that seems so hopeless, we can find in this verse the needed motivation to become an active witness. Here’s the breakdown:

If we “Grope” (feel in KJV) — it’s a verb; to search by reaching for.

We will “Find” — this word does not need defining.

“He is not far from us.”

That’s it! Paul knew that salvation is within reach of anyone who will actively reach out to Christ. Paul knew Christ could be easily found because He is not far away.

Paul, who was once a “Hebrew of Hebrews,” now realized that ... “And He has made from one blood every nation of men to dwell on all the face of the earth.” — V. 26

Paul lost his condescending attitude on the road to Damascus. Paul laid down his prejudice toward gentiles when he met Jesus. Paul understood that these lost Athenians were within an arm’s length of redemption and they were only one heartbeat away from eternity.

Their only hope was to hear the good news, the gospel ... from someone whose heart was broken.

In these troubled days when every indication seems to validate that we are in the prophetic “perilous times” of the last days, we would do well to remember that the race is one and if we share the good news with a heart that is broken, their race can be won!

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Dr. Dennis Cagle is the founder of Xaltm LLC who has been a pastor for 36 years and currently works as a church consultant. He is a former resident of McMinn County and current resident of Tellico Plains. He can be contacted at xaltm@yahoo.com

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