Today’s readings.. (Ezra 5,6), (Hosea 7), (Acts 25,26)

It is Luke “the beloved physician” (Col. 4 v.14) who travelled with Paul in the later years of his preaching – for it is evident he was with him when he returned to Jerusalem (Acts 21 v.17) and Paul was arrested. The detailed account we are reading is therefore an eye witness account, and Luke shows himself in many ways to be a diligent historian as sceptics trying to prove otherwise have had to admit..
We read the 3 fascinating speeches Paul gave in his defense in which he stresses how his life was turned around on the road to Damascus to cause him to preach the message of Jesus “to open their eyes so that they may turn from darkness to light … that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in me.” [26 v.18]   Genuine faith brings us into a position of ‘holiness.’ Read Heb. 12 v.14
The “darkness” in the world was dramatically pierced by that light, indeed only 300 years later  Christianity became the official religion of the Roman Empire.  However – history shows how the teaching of Jesus and the Apostles had become seriously corrupted by that time.  Nevertheless God’s word endures in written form, and now brings “light” into the minds of those who will take its message seriously and respond to what they read.   Paul is one of the outstanding examples for them to follow.   We noted today how Paul said to King Agrippa, “to this day I have had the help that comes from God” [v.22] and his letters and what Luke has written illustrate this.
Paul is ready to appeal and challenge everyone, great or small, as to what they believe about the meaning and purpose of their lives. He says to the king, “do you believe the prophets?  I know that you believe.” [v.27] to which the king responds, “In a short time would you persuade me to be a Christian?”
Maybe some have too much time!  Many are not sufficiently conscious of “the help that comes from God” and fail to read the scriptures daily and allow God’s word to live in their hearts and minds.  For ourselves, and we know it is the case with others, it is only when we look back on the varied pathways of life one fully realizes the help that has come from God. Do you want that help?  Do you need that help?  Can you sense that help in the pathways of life you have travelled?  Key questions to meditate on today.

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