Last night brought some cool things my direction. You know that I love my job, and all around there are opportunities to serve people who are living life in various directions and in very different stages. Over the last 24 hours I have dealt with couples preparing for marriage, people battling cancer or preparing for surgery, a person so deep in depression that they are dealing with suicidal thoughts and more.
But the piece that I would like to share with you has to do with a group of people. We hosted an evening at our church called “Sunday Night @ The Community” where we seek to help our people dig in to God’s word and become part of our community groups.
I love listening to people talk about what they learn in the Bible. There were people in all stages of life sharing thoughts, reading the Bible and finding how the verses we were studying apply to our church and our lives. The passion that people shared with was incredible and inspiring.
The stories from Acts 7, 8 and 9 gave us some great insight into how God desires that we respond to Him and to lead others to know him. Over the last week I had read and re-read these passages several times soaking in as much as I could of the truth God laid out in front of me. But I saw once again that every time I read each piece there were more truths to hold on to and to apply.
Here is a piece that stuck out to me:
Acts 9:10-18 NLT
Now there was a believer in Damascus named Ananias. The Lord spoke to him in a vision, calling, “Ananias!” “Yes, Lord!” he replied. 11 The Lord said, “Go over to Straight Street, to the house of Judas. When you get there, ask for a man from Tarsus named Saul. He is praying to me right now. 12 I have shown him a vision of a man named Ananias coming in and laying hands on him so he can see again.” 13 “But Lord,” exclaimed Ananias, “I’ve heard many people talk about the terrible things this man has done to the believers in Jerusalem! 14 And he is authorized by the leading priests to arrest everyone who calls upon your name.” 15 But the Lord said, “Go, for Saul is my chosen instrument to take my message to the Gentiles and to kings, as well as to the people of Israel. 16 And I will show him how much he must suffer for my name’s sake.” 17 So Ananias went and found Saul. He laid his hands on him and said, “Brother Saul, the Lord Jesus, who appeared to you on the road, has sent me so that you might regain your sight and be filled with the Holy Spirit.” 18 Instantly something like scales fell from Saul’s eyes, and he regained his sight. Then he got up and was baptized.
This is the story of Saul meeting Jesus and his life taking a drastic turn in a new direction. Meeting Jesus had left Saul, who would have his name changed to Paul, blind. Then the story transitions to a man named Ananias.
When this man heard what God wanted him to do, to go see Saul, he was reluctant, and I think we would be a bit reluctant as well since this was the guy who watched over Stephen’s stoning not long before and who killed many who had chosen to follow Jesus.
Ananias had to make a decision to trust God and go see Saul. That took guts, but it was also a point of obedience to what God led him to do. This meeting had a great impact on both men, and God began a work that would lead generations to come to accept Jesus.
Maybe we are like Saul, or maybe we are like Ananias. We might be opposing God by living a life opposed to His will and ways. We might be a follower of Jesus that lives each day with almost no courage and conviction. Whichever is true, it is time to make a choice to do what God had called us to do.
The question is of obedience. God didn’t say give all your money or go stand on the street corner and preach. That might be part of what God calls us to do, but he simply asks for obedience. He wants to use our lives, our conviction, our words and our hearts to show others who He is. Both Saul and Ananias became living testimonies of the grace and goodness of God.
There is no telling how God will use us if we simply do what He tells us to do. Dig in to the word of God, and make it a point to obey whatever God says. There are great days ahead!