Jul. 11, 2021
"Jesus' Power Pulls Us Through"
(Our Vacation Bible School Theme: August 2-6)
Acts 9:1-19 & Philippians 4:13
“I can do all things through Christ, who gives me strength.”
a. It all begins with recognizing the call of Christ and responding to that call.
b. Christ’s call to Saul on the Road to Damascus and Christ’s call to Ananias to visit Saul in Damascus both provide insight into the nature of Christ’s call.
2. The Story:
a. This passage is most typically known as Saul’s conversion story—his Damascus Road Experience.
b. This encounter started Saul down a new path that would make him the most fruitful evangelist and church planter of the early church and the most prolific writer in the New Testament.
c. Paul would be given an assignment to change the world.
d. This passage also describes an encounter—less dramatic and less well known—between Jesus and Ananias.
e. Ananias was given an assignment to change the world for one person.
f. While we may never be called to be a Paul, every follower of Christ will be called to be and Ananias.
3. Jesus And His Contrasting Calls:
a. Ananias knew and followed Jesus—Paul knew of Jesus.
b. In Damascus, Ananias hears from Jesus—On the road to Damascus, Saul encounters Jesus.
c. Two very different encounters, but both are important to the future of the Church.
4. Observations From This Passage:
a. Jesus is willing to give assignments to those who recognize his voice and to those who don’t.
i. Jesus is willing to give assignments to those who are faithfully walking the path of discipleship and to those who are walking the wrong way entirely.
ii. You don’t have to get your life entirely together before Jesus will consider calling you.
iii. Jesus will continue to call us for the rest of our lives.
b. If the Lord wants to get your attention, He is quite capable of doing it.
i. Ananias seemed to be tuned into the Lord and when the Lord called, he heard him immediately.
ii. Saul was tuned into one thing—His zealous pursuit of followers of the Way—He was completely focused on the wrong thing.
iii. Jesus did whatever it took to get Saul’s attention.
“Now as he was going along and approaching Damascus, suddenly a light from heaven flashed around him. He fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to him, ‘Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?’…Saul got up from the ground, and though his eyes were open, he could see nothing; so they led him by the hand and brought him into Damascus. For three days he was without sight, and neither ate nor drank.”
Acts 9:3-4, 8-9
c. God has his own reasons for handing out assignments…this assignment to this person and that assignment to that person.
i. Do you ever wonder why God went to the trouble to get Saul’s attention when he already had people like Ananias around?
ii. God chose an active and “murderous” persecutor of His Church, to carry the Good News to the Gentiles. (Based on results, I guess God knew what he was doing.)
iii. Do you suppose Ananias ever wondered why he did get selected to go to Saul?
iv. Ananias was the chosen one who got the assignment to risk arrest and possible death by confronting Saul. (Based on results, I guess God knew what he was doing.)
d. Sometimes when the Lord calls, the next thing you must do is wait.
“Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?” He asked, “Who are you, Lord?” The reply came, “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting. But get up and enter the city, and you will be told what you are to do.”
i. For three days he could see nothing but darkness…he waited. God had a tremendous task to set before Saul, but his first task was to wait.
ii. He could not do this task under his own power or with his own wisdom. Christ would be his strength and lead him one step at a time.
e. Sometimes when the Lord calls, the next thing you must do is go.
“Lord, I have heard from many about this man, how much evil he has done to your saints in Jerusalem; and here he has authority from the chief priests to bind all who invoke your name.” But the Lord said to him, “Go” for he is an instrument whom I have chosen…”
i. When God gives you an assignment, you always have the choice to say “yes” or “no.” You have the freedom to obey or disobey.
ii. However, sometimes it’s clear that you have to say “yes” even when everything in you is crying out in fear “no, no, no!”
f. Sometimes when the Lord calls, He must do a lot of changing in you before you can go out and change the world.
i. When Saul lost his sight for three days, it was more than just physical blindness—The Lord was letting Saul know just how blind he had been.
His rejection of Jesus was the result of spiritual blindness.
His zeal in persecuting the Church was the result of spiritual blindness.
Even his devotion to the Law was a blind devotion.
ii . When Ananias laid his hands upon Saul and the scales fell from his eyes, more was going on than a physical healing of damaged eyes.
The Lord was signaling to Saul the dramatic changes that would happen in his life now that he could see Jesus clearly.
Before Saul could even be given his assignment, he had to repent and turn from old ways.
Before Saul could even be given his assignment, the Lord had to do a lot of healing within him.
Before Saul could be given his assignment, he had to come to know Jesus.
g. Sometimes when the Lord calls, it will turn your life upside down and nothing will ever be the same again; sometimes when the Lord calls, it is simply time to do your task and return to your life.
i. Either way, when the Lord calls, He often calls you and me out of our comfort zone.
ii. Saul was focused on a purpose of his own, but the Lord called, and nothing was ever the same again.
iii. Ananias heard the Lord call, and he responded—For one moment he stepped into the spotlight in response to God’s call—Then he stepped into the background again and went on with his life.
a. The Lord provided Saul with everything he needed to fulfill his assignment.
b. The Lord provided Ananias with everything he needed to fulfill his assignment.
c. The Lord provides you and me with everything we need to fulfill our assignments.
d. But it is totally dependent on us tapping into the power of Christ, who gives us strength.