When God says Go

When God Says Stop

Acts 9

April 27

Acts 9:17 – Then Ananias went to the house and entered it. Placing his hands on Saul, he said, “Brother Saul, the Lord – Jesus, who appeared to you on the road as you were coming here – has sent me so that you may see again and be filled with the Holy Spirit.”

A few days ago, I shared thoughts on becoming sensitive to the Holy Spirit, instead of clinging tight to traditions of the Law.

And yesterday, I shared my thoughts on evangelizing. 

In Acts chapter nine we have an example of a new believer being asked to do what some might describe as a dangerous mission – go visit the Jewish leader who is known to breath out murderous threats against followers of Jesus. 

May I be honest? If I had been Ananias, I would have been second guessing this new gospel message and all that God was asking me to do. I may have even been tempted to just flat out disobey and tell God “no”. 

Thank goodness Ananias chose to believe God and responded in obedience. Thank goodness Ananias trusted in God’s faithfulness, even when it didn’t make any sense. Thank goodness Ananias is an example we can turn to when we are also asked to do things that take us way out of our comfort zone. 

Ananias is called a disciple – so it’s not too much of a stretch to think that he was a devoted man of prayer and scripture study. Ananias was most likely in a spiritual posture to notice when the Lord was speaking to him. He wasn’t so wrapped up in his daily routines that he didn’t know when the Lord called to him in a vision. 

On the other hand, Saul, one who was devoted to the Law, had to be struck with blindness in order for the Lord to get his attention. 

The dichotomy of how the Lord spoke to these two men is striking, but both were startling. One was approached in a vision, the other lost his vision. One was told “go”, the other was told “stop”. One had to overcome doubt and act in faith, the other had to be humbled and overcome pride. 

This story of Saul’s conversion and Ananias’ part in it, shows us that God will use whatever method necessary to get us to stop and listen in order to make an impact for His Kingdom. 

-Bethany Ligon

Questions for Reflection and Discussion

  1. Have you ever done something for God that was a reach out of your comfort zone? What was the result? Would you do it again? Would you do something even more daring – for God?
  2. When was a time God probably wanted you to GO? When was a time God probably wanted you to STOP? Ask God if He is currently calling you to GO or to STOP. Then do it.

Paul is Proof

Free Theme Days – Evidence for the Risen Jesus

Acts 9

Acts 9 5 (2)

Much of what we believe in the Christian faith is taken, understandably, on faith. However, if I had to give one story that almost shuts down the need for faith and instead have PROOF about  Jesus and the Resurrection, it would be the story of Saul/Paul and his conversion in Acts 9.

Up until the point in Acts 9, Saul has been persecuting the Christian faith. They were most likely being stoned or thrown in prison for trumped up charges. Stephen was accused of blasphemy and he was stoned to death. We all know he spoke no words of blasphemy, because the truth is not blasphemous, but that is where the Jewish leaders were.

But in Acts 9, something amazing happens, Saul gets knocked off a horse, goes down, hears the voice of a man who claimed to be Jesus, goes blind, and wanders into Damascus blind and healed by a Christian, one of the very people who he had just been persecuting.

Why does this count as proof for me?

1. Because it’s clear that Paul is not crazy. In a day and age where scholars doubt everything from the historical Moses to the historical Jesus, one would assume that when they agree on a traditional understanding, that counts for something. No scholar doubts that Paul wrote Romans. Ask for yourself, is Romans the work of a man out of his mind with guilt, that turned to follow Christ because he was driven to the small band he once hated out of a plagued conscience? There are parts of certain letters where we see Paul’s expressed sorrow (1 Corinthians 15:9, for example), and one could point to that as a case. But Romans! It’s a theological magnum opus! He is a man still gifted with all his intellect and faculties.

2. Could Paul be lying, hoping to gain wealth or fame off this new movement? We will go into this kind of theory even more in depth tomorrow, but Paul lost everything by getting on board this Jesus movement. He was persecuted, beaten, battered, and abused (2 Corinthians 11), and this after he had everything he ever wanted. He was the top dog of Judaism (Philippians 3) but he turned away from all those things so that he may follow Christ.

I encourage you to consider the persecutor-turned-evangelist Paul. What could cause a man rabidly dedicated to defending the faith of his ancestor and the honor of his God to so drastically change his tune and agree with those whom he persecuted?

For my part, it convinces me there is something going on with this Jesus movement, particularly that the leader must still be alive.

 

So, do you believe Jesus is alive?

 

-Jake Ballard

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