Friday, May 16, 2014

Paul & Ananias story 2 (Psalms 146:7-8, Acts 9:7-31)

"Paul waiting in blindness"
thought he should have a Roman nose : )

Adobe Photoshop
© Karen Kyle Ericson, all rights reserved.

We've been having lots of storms in the USA lately.  In New Jersey, we're getting sun one day and then more rain.  Then some humidity.  We are tired and worn out from these storms.  I turn on all my lights in my studio to cheer myself up.  But, something extraordinary is also taking place.  After Hurricane Sandy the plants looked bad.  Azaleas quit blooming, trees looked dead.  

I went for a walk the other day.  Our plants are more beautiful than ever before!  It's like that with our life storms.  The bad stuff makes us stronger and more beautiful.  One of the trees that hasn't bloomed in 3 years is now full of buds and leaves!  There's always hope, for us too.

Back to the story of Paul and Ananias...
The Lord sets prisoners free,
8 the Lord gives sight to the blind,
the Lord lifts up those who are bowed down,
the Lord loves the righteous.
(Psalms 146:7-8 NIV)
7 And the men who journeyed with him stood speechless, hearing a voice but seeing no one. 8 Then Saul arose from the ground, and when his eyes were opened he saw no one. But they led him by the hand and brought him into Damascus. 9 And he was three days without sight, and neither ate nor drank.
This would be so humbling for the mighty Pharisee, "Saul."  He couldn't do anything but pray.  Not only did Jesus talk to him, the others heard it too.  There were witnesses.  It must've been such a humbling time.  He was wrong; he'd spilled innocent blood.  That would be horrifying in itself.  But to hear the voice of God.  Yikes!  He was a good man following what he thought was the law.  

10 Now there was a certain disciple at Damascus named Ananias; and to him the Lord said in a vision, “Ananias.”
And he said, “Here I am, Lord.”
11 So the Lord said to him, “Arise and go to the street called Straight, and inquire at the house of Judas for one called Saul of Tarsus, for behold, he is praying. 12 And in a vision he has seen a man named Ananias coming in and putting his hand on him, so that he might receive his sight.
I admire Ananias : )  The Lord speaks and He is listening.  It would take great faith to do what God asked of him.  I hope I would be so willing if something came up with someone like Paul.  Sometimes God asks us to do things that aren't easy or comfortable.

13 Then Ananias answered, “Lord, I have heard from many about this man, how much harm he has done to Your saints in Jerusalem. 14 And here he has authority from the chief priests to bind all who call on Your name.”
15 But the Lord said to him, “ Go, for he is a chosen vessel of Mine to bear My name before Gentiles, kings, and the children of Israel. 16 For I will show him how many things he must suffer for My name's sake.”
17 And Ananias went his way and entered the house; and laying his hands on him he said, “Brother Saul, the Lord Jesus, who appeared to you on the road as you came, has sent me that you may receive your sight and be filled with the Holy Spirit.” 18 Immediately there fell from his eyes something like scales, and he received his sight at once; and he arose and was baptized.
19 So when he had received food, he was strengthened. Then Saul spent some days with the disciples at Damascus.
Ananias is a great servant.  He took a huge leap of faith to help Saul.  I hope I would be so faithful if I faced a similar situation.  When I am scared, like when I'm ministering in a dangerous place.  I pray for the Holy Spirit to help me and then the peace and joy comes. So we should never feel we are on our own in our faith or ministry.

20 Immediately he preached the Christ in the synagogues, that He is the Son of God.
21 Then all who heard were amazed, and said, “Is this not he who destroyed those who called on this name in Jerusalem, and has come here for that purpose, so that he might bring them bound to the chief priests?”
22 But Saul increased all the more in strength, and confounded the Jews who dwelt in Damascus, proving that this Jesus is the Christ.
Like I said before, Paul is an all or nothing guy.  "Immediately"  he goes out to set things straight.  Jesus IS the Son of God.  He confused the Jews and moved forward to build up the body of Christ.  They no longer had a fighter on their side.  We don't know everything about Paul, but I suspect he was a driver.  He saw the goal and went for it.  Anyone who wasn't going with him could stay behind.  That's that.

23 Now after many days were past, the Jews plotted to kill him. 24 But their plot became known to Saul. And they watched the gates day and night, to kill him. 25 Then the disciples took him by night and let him down through the wall in a large basket.
The Jewish leaders weren't happy.  All their plans had been destroyed.  But the disciples in Damascus must've come to love him because they helped him escape.  Now that's forgiveness isn't it?

26 And when Saul had come to Jerusalem, he tried to join the disciples; but they were all afraid of him, and did not believe that he was a disciple. 27 But Barnabas took him and brought him to the apostles. And he declared to them how he had seen the Lord on the road, and that He had spoken to him, and how he had preached boldly at Damascus in the name of Jesus. 28 So he was with them at Jerusalem, coming in and going out. 29 And he spoke boldly in the name of the Lord Jesus and disputed against the Hellenists, but they attempted to kill him. 30 When the brethren found out, they brought him down to Caesarea and sent him out to Tarsus.
Hellenists were Jews who adopted Greek ways.  Barnabas was a good man according to Luke (whom it is believed wrote the book of Acts).  It's also believed that Saul and Barnabas may have learned under Gamaliel at the same time.  If that is so, then they would've been good friends already.  I'm sure that would've helped Paul out quite a bit.

31 Then the churches throughout all Judea, Galilee, and Samaria had peace and were edified. And walking in the fear of the Lord and in the comfort of the Holy Spirit, they were multiplied.
Did God choose the right man or what?  God sees inside our hearts, He forms us in our Mother's womb.  He has plans for all of us.  We just need to pray and listen.
(Acts 9:7-31 NKJV)

Great song from Tanner Clark, "Do not be afraid" (link)

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