There are times when we seek the will of God for our lives and it’s not forthcoming. Some people have waited for years to have their prayers for God to guide them as to what His will for them is. Others again seem to feel that God is not guiding them into His will for their lives and give up asking.
I was like this. Sometime after my conversion I prayed for God to guide me as to His will for my life. I even applied to the denominations training school for acceptance to study. I was deferred because I had not been a Christian for long enough. Thinking about this afterwards, it was the right thing to do. I stopped praying about God’s will for myself and continued being the best husband, parent, employee at work and lay worker in the Church we started, as possible. Just because I stopped praying does not mean God stopped working on the answer to those prayers. About 18 months later the answer arrived. A pastor suggested it’s time for me to study for full time ministry and within three weeks to the day I was at Bible School. For some the answers take a longer time, for others it is somewhere on the short to medium range … yet for others it is immediate!
Ac 22:10 “‘What shall I do, Lord?’ I asked. “‘Get up,’ the Lord said, ‘and go into Damascus. There you will be told all that you have been assigned to do.’
1) Paul’s question. As soon as he was aware the staggering light was Jesus’ arrival coupled to Him revealing who He was, he asks … What shall I do, Lord? He is blind, he cannot see. He is told he is persecuting the Lord Jesus, God’s Messiah. He is confronted with the reality that his campaign to destroy the Christian Church has suddenly come to an abrupt ending. He wants to know what he must do. He is blind. He cannot walk anywhere by himself. Then we realize why the companions could not hear Jesus’ voice. They, like Paul were, were bent on exterminating the Christian Church. They did not believe in Jesus as Messiah who had come and whom they as Jews had put to death on the Cross … who was buried and rose again, taking back His life before ascending into heaven from where He reigns as Lord and King. Like Paul, they did not believe this … now suddenly Paul grasps the Gospel. He understands whom Jesus of Nazareth is … they don’t. They never heard Jesus’ words. As confused as Paul was at the beginning, so were these companions. “What shall I do, Lord?” … Paul asks the risen Jesus and gets a three stage answer.
(1) Get up. He was prostrate on his face. He was lying in the sand and dust. That’s no place to be.
(2) Go into Damascus. You were heading to that city … now go there. You had intended to do Christians harm there, now you’ll be done good there.
(3) There you will receive your Gospel assignment. Naturally Paul was confused because he did not know what the future for himself was all about. Blinded and full of dust … yet aware a new task lay ahead of him. We have been through this when it happened … though now Paul is testifying to the mob who wanted his head. He is explaining that he was like them … and in the process of him trying to destroy the Church, he was met by Jesus who set before him a new pathway to protect and build the Church because what he had been doing by destroying the Church was persecuting the Risen Jesus Himself.
2) Paul’s explanation of what transpired thereafter …
(1) His companions. Remember they were oblivious as to Paul’s engagement with the Lord Jesus … so …
Ac 22:11 My companions led me by the hand into Damascus, because the brilliance of the light had blinded me.
He was blinded. He could not see. The radiant light of being in the presence of the Risen Lord robbed him of physical sight. To get to where Jesus had directed him, he needed help and those with him literally held his hand and walked him into Damascus, to the house he needed to visit. I do not suggest that some of these men did not come to faith in Jesus, but here we have a case of the world helping the Church. This happens all the time without us really being observant of it. As an example, we are educated at secular schools. We are employed mostly by non-believers. We are protected physically as well as our property cared for by the police and courts. (I am aware that some will struggle with this comment, but largely it is true). The natural gifts and abilities we have are shaped through secular education, yet used in the Church. Our general protection in itself helps us worship in Churches openly and without fear. Our employment results is us earning wages, which in turn helps us tithe ten percent or more of that income to the work of God. The world is not all bad … and in many ways it helps us as believers.
(2) Ananias. Interestingly Paul uses this part of his conversion and orders to serve Jesus to his advantage before the mob.
(a) Who Ananias was. Although we have met up with him before, look at what Paul says now.
Ac 22:12 “A man named Ananias came to see me. He was a devout observer of the law and highly respected by all the Jews living there.”
He was a bother in Christ … that is, Ananias was a follower of the Lord Jesus.
(i) He was a devout observer of the law. As a Christian, early in the Church’s existence, like many others of that day, Ananias was a godly “law” abiding Jew. This is key because he is the one who introduced Paul to Christian doctrines, yet held to the law as any orthodox Jew would.
(ii) He had a testimony that could be attested by all the Jews where he lived. He was a Christian and was literally faithful to the Word of God (the Law). His fellow Jews witnessed this and commended him. It’s almost like him saying to the mob … “You are Jews, check out who I am from both Ananias and the Jews in Damascus”.
Some of us are not interested in what people think about us … and at times this is good as we could either be placed on a pedestal and be filled with pride or we could allow what people think of us to affect our ministry for Jesus. On the other hand, like in Ananias’ case, his life was such a testimony that he was “highly respected”. That is, before people he was seen as a godly man whose credibility could be tested. Why ought we to aim to be like Ananias?
1 Pet 2:12 Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us.
The way unbelievers perceive us is important. They might not like us. They might not like our commitment to Jesus. They might not like Christianity at all. Yet … when they observe the way we live morally. As they test our ethical base. As they consider our marriages, families and the way we conduct ourselves at school, work, places of employment, with our neighbors, in society as we drive our cars, shop, engage in schooling, politics and entertainment events … they will appreciate we are different, add value to society and are loving, kind and helpful. We ought to want to be like Ananias, having an excellent testimony in society so that, at some stage God can use it to work in the hearts of those who know and see us in practice. They need to know why we are different. They need to know who controls our hearts. This ought to challenge them to consider the Lord Jesus and His free offer of the Gospel.
O God, in our weakness make us strong in Jesus. Cause us to walk on the narrow pathway to the small gate with such care that those who see us might see the Lord Jesus in us. Amen.