God uses different methods and different types of people to reach a soul for salvation. Sometimes He starts working in a soul years before the actual act of salvation takes place. Thinking backwards I recall how dad removed us from one Sunday School and placed us into another. I had a few Sunday School Teachers over the years. One was a Second World War sergeant, another was a barber and still another was into municipal administration and today he is my brother-in-law. Each one of them made a profound impression on my life. The minister too preached the Gospel and enthused me saying he would yet see me with a dog’s collar (clerical collar). This was when I was 13.
After my Confirmation I wondered far away from the protection of the Church and the Gospel … though I never forgot what those four men had taught me. I knew what I would one day be and ran from it. Years later, once I was married and a father, a friend who was studying for the ministry shared the Gospel with me. I was far too busy with other things to be moved by what he said. Then after another year and a half (after the incident I told regarding our eldest son going to Sunday School) I found myself reading the Bible and everything those men (now 5 in total) had taught and shared started to work in my heart as I read the Bible leading to my salvation.
In some ways Saul was like this. He studied under the great teacher of the Law, Gamaliel, one of the leading voices of the day where it came to the Scriptures. When the Gospel came along and the Church started to flourish, he started to have Christians arrested, flogged and even put to death. He had heard the Gospel in the shape of Old Testament Books such as Isaiah, yet he ran to the protection of the teachers of the Law (salvation by works … which is impossible). Then we saw whilst on his way to Damascus to arrest Christians he was stopped and confronted by the Lord Jesus Christ, striking him to the earth through majestic flashing lights from glory. He was blinded, exhausted and bewildered! He was like the pizza delivery man I saw tonight who fell off his bike. He was bewildered and others needed to go to his rescue to get him up and start his bike for him. So this is where we pick up with Saul again … remembering he was told
Ac 9:5 “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting,” he replied. 6 “Now get up and go into the city, and you will be told what you must do.”
1) Saul was not alone. He had men traveling with him. They heard sounds but could not see who or what was amongst them … and they were unable to speak. They must have realized this was a supernatural happening but could not explain it.
Ac 9:7 The men traveling with Saul stood there speechless; they heard the sound but did not see anyone. Eventually Saul rises but can’t see anything, so they led him holding his hand to prevent him from falling. 8 Saul got up from the ground, but when he opened his eyes he could see nothing. So they led him by the hand into Damascus. For a three day period he was unable to see, neither did he eat or drink. 9 For three days he was blind, and did not eat or drink anything.
All Christians need brothers and sisters who are ready and eager to assist when in need. We are a family and as family we belong to each other and need to support, encourage and assist each other in practical ways.
2) Ananias is visited by the Lord. The visitation was a vision for this was a disciple … a believer in the Lord Jesus Christ!
Ac 9:10 In Damascus there was a disciple named Ananias. The Lord called to him in a vision, “Ananias!” What is interesting here is that Ananias recognized it was the Lord speaking immediately.
Look at His response … “Yes, Lord,” he answered. One of the missing ingredients in the Christian Church today is the ability and gift of listening to God! The reason Ananias was able to respond so quickly is because he had an intimate relationship with the Lord Jesus. He was a disciple. Is our inability to listen and to hear the Lord because we do not have that “discipleship intimacy” he had?
3) Jesus’ instructions to Ananias. Notice how pinpointed Jesus’ instructions are …
Ac 9:11 The Lord told him, “Go to the house of Judas on Straight Street and ask for a man from Tarsus named Saul, for he is praying. 12 In a vision he has seen a man named Ananias come and place his hands on him to restore his sight.”
Ananias is to go to a particular house in a certain street and ask for a man named Saul from Tarsus who is in prayer. In a vision this man sees another man named Ananias coming to visit him to place hands of him that will result in him having his sight returned. Today God does not generally speak like that through people. Rather He speaks through His Word. It is as direct and pointed. It’s repent and believe. It’s dress yourself with the fruits of the Spirit. It’s be holy. It’s you shall not steal, commit adultery or murder. Are you using the Bible correctly and sufficiently for God to speak to you through His Word?
4) Ananias’s fear of Saul. Word spread fast throughout the Christian community about Saul who was terrorizing the Church, arresting, imprisoning and harming believers. There was fear and panic
Ac 9:13 “Lord,” Ananias answered, “I have heard many reports about this man and all the harm he has done to your saints in Jerusalem. 14 And he has come here with authority from the chief priests to arrest all who call on your name.”
Let’s not criticize Ananias for we don’t know what we would have said to the Lord if we were living at the time and told to go to Saul, the destroyer of Churches. We will continue tomorrow but for today, consider three things:
(1) Saul never reacted against Jesus. He accepted his fate and spent time in prayer. Maybe this is a reminder to us to spend more time on our knees, especially when in grave need.
(2) When God speaks to you through His Word, be responsive by listening and doing.
(3) When God sends you on a mission, whatever it might be, do not fear because if He sends He goes with you.
O Lord, teach me to be a humble servant ready to be used. Amen.