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Not Disobedient

Acts 26:19-23
'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.' (NIVUK)

King Herod Agrippa II was not uneducated, nor was he uninformed about God (Acts 26:2-3). He knew the Scriptures and the promise of the Messiah (Acts 26:26-27) but he was disobedient. So, Paul contrasted his personal response to Jesus by telling the King, "I was not disobedient …". The message was designed for his ears: despite his incestuous relationship with Bernice and his family history of murderous brutality, salvation was so near. And yet salvation was so far – because he did not want anybody else to be king except him.

Paul described his Christ-sent mission. It was international and equally for Jews and Gentiles. The first point of obedience is repentance, the second is lifestyle change (Matthew 3:7-8). It was Paul's preaching about repentance that made the religious people angry – they did not want to be told they were wrong when they thought they were doing their best. They wanted the comfort of religious actions with an unchanged heart. So did the king: he had spent a lot of money on making Jerusalem beautiful to please the Jews, but he was not going to let Jesus rule over him.

Paul's testimony was that the Lord helped him to tell the truth about Jesus, even though many became angry. He was not saying anything different to what Moses and David said about Jesus. Christ's suffering was planned by God so that forgiveness could come freely to both the Jews and the Gentiles. Agrippa was a Jew, serving the Gentile Roman Empire. If he could accept Paul's message, he would neither compromise Moses or Caesar. But first he had to obey Jesus as his Lord.

It is easy for us to accumulate theological information, know much of the Bible and pray with others. The key question is, 'Are we being obedient to Jesus by repenting of sin in every area of life, and then changing the way we live?' We can only change what we see. In some areas Satan still tries to keep us in the dark; and until the Lord puts His spotlight onto that part of our hearts through a friend, a Scripture or our conscience, we cannot see it. But when we see how much it offends Jesus and hurts others, what are we going to do? Repent, or resist the light and rebel?

God of light and love. Thank You for opening my eyes to see Jesus. But I am so sorry that I have not seen the areas of life in which I still displease You and dishonour others. I repent and ask You to show me how to live a renewed life in every area of life, so that others are blessed and You are glorified. In Jesus' Name. Amen.
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© Dr Paul Adams