Close To Believing
As you prepare to read today’s passage, thank God for his Word and how much it means to you.
Read Acts 26:19-32
 “So then, King Agrippa, I was not disobedient to the vision from heaven.  First to those in Damascus, then to those in Jerusalem and in all Judea, and then to the Gentiles, I preached that they should repent and turn to God and demonstrate their repentance by their deeds.  That is why some Jews seized me in the temple courts and tried to kill me.  But God has helped me to this very day; so I stand here and testify to small and great alike. I am saying nothing beyond what the prophets and Moses said would happen-  that the Messiah would suffer and, as the first to rise from the dead, would bring the message of light to his own people and to the Gentiles.”  At this point Festus interrupted Paul’s defense. “You are out of your mind, Paul!” he shouted. “Your great learning is driving you insane.”  “I am not insane, most excellent Festus,” Paul replied. “What I am saying is true and reasonable.  The king is familiar with these things, and I can speak freely to him. I am convinced that none of this has escaped his notice, because it was not done in a corner.  King Agrippa, do you believe the prophets? I know you do.”  Then Agrippa said to Paul, “Do you think that in such a short time you can persuade me to be a Christian?”  Paul replied, “Short time or long-I pray to God that not only you but all who are listening to me today may become what I am, except for these chains.”  The king rose, and with him the governor and Bernice and those sitting with them.  After they left the room, they began saying to one another, “This man is not doing anything that deserves death or imprisonment.”  Agrippa said to Festus, “This man could have been set free if he had not appealed to Caesar.” Scripture taken from the Holy Bible, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society. All rights reserved throughout the world. Used by permission of International Bible Society.
ReflectHow did Paul defend his preaching to the king?
Here is the heart of Paul’s message. Christianity is not something that he and others have just invented. It is the fulfillment of all the promises of the Old Testament (22). As Christians, we trace our spiritual roots back to Abraham (Gal. 3:6,7). The Old Testament matters for us because it demonstrates what God has been doing throughout the centuries and has brought to completion in Jesus’ death and resurrection (23). This story of God’s age-long plan to save human beings cannot be ignored. We either believe it and trust ourselves to it, turning to God in repentance (20), or we reject it as Festus did. How close is Agrippa to believing (28)? It is hard to say, but Paul’s concern for others is obvious. Since meeting Jesus on the road to Damascus his greatest concern has been that people should find Jesus. How close do we come to this? How far would we go to see others come to know Jesus? Paul is in chains but knows true freedom. Others, while apparently free, are still bound up with all sorts of things that keep them from God. This is just as true today.
What things hold people back today? Pray for those you know who are or may be close to coming to Christian faith.
Lord Jesus, help me to know who to pray for that they may soon come to faith, and help me to pray for them regularly.
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