Ananias of Damascus and Saul and the Lord Jesus Christ
Praise be the the Lord Jesus Christ who through his Prophet Ananias restored the sight of Saint Paul!
Now, Paul before he could become a saint and believer in Jesus Christ was also called Saul. And this Saul was one of the most dangerous persecutors of Christians especially those in Jerusalem and also played part in the murder of the first martyr Stephen. So much was the persecution that the Lord Jesus as mentioned in the Book of Acts of the Apostles Chapter 9 decided to intervene personally on behalf of the Church.
Saul was not just admonished by Jesus Christ but also lost his sight due to the glory of Christ that came as light from Heaven. Then when Saul decided to walk the humble path upon hearing the voice of Jesus, he was told go to Damascus.
The Lord Jesus then worked out healing in Saul through Ananias as per the below verses in the Book of Acts:
10 And there was a certain disciple at Damascus named Ananias. And the Lord said to him in a vision, “Ananias.” And he said, “Behold, I am here, Lord.” 11 Then the Lord said to him, “Arise, and go into the street which is called Straight. And look in the house of Judas for one called Saul of Tarsus. For behold, he prays.” 12 “And in a vision, he has seen a man named Ananias coming in and putting his hands on him, so that he might receive his sight.” 13 Then Ananias answered, “Lord, I have heard from many about this man; how much evil he has done to your saints at Jerusalem. 14 “Moreover, here he has the authority of the chief priests to bind all that call on Your Name.” 15 Then the Lord said to him, “Go. For he is a vessel chosen by Me to bear My Name before the Gentiles, and Kings, and the children of Israel.16 “For I will show him how many things he must suffer for My Name’s sake.”
17 Then Ananias went, and entered that house, and put his hands on him, and said, “Brother Saul, the Lord Jesus, Who appeared to you on the way as you came, has sent me, so that you might receive your sight and be filled with the Holy Ghost.”18 And immediately something like ‘scales’ fell from his eyes. And suddenly he received sight, and arose, and was baptized, 19 and received food and was strengthened. So, Saul was with the Damascus disciples for some days.
A few lessons to learn from this:
- The Lord Jesus will bless those who follow his Word even those who are the worst of sinners that repent.
- Like Saul be ready to obey the Lord Jesus to move up to your higher calling in God.
- Like Ananias keep yourself ready in all prayer, so that when the time comes then you’re able to do great healings and good works towards those whom the Lord leads you to bring salvation and deliverance in their lives.
- If you have any doubts towards doing any good deed be humble enough to ask the Lord for his good counsel instead of rejecting doing good altogether.
- The Holy Spirit will work through you if surrender to Will of God.
Respond to God’s calling!
Now Samuel did not yet know the Lord, and the word of the Lord had not yet been revealed to him. And the Lord called Samuel again the third time. And he arose and went to Eli, and said, “Here I am, for you called me.” Then Eli perceived that the Lord was calling the boy. Therefore Eli said to Samuel, “Go, lie down; and if he calls you, you shall say, ‘Speak, Lord, for thy servant hears.’” So Samuel went and lay down in his place.
And the Lord came and stood forth, calling as at other times, “Samuel! Samuel!” And Samuel said, “Speak, for thy servant hears.” Then the Lord said to Samuel, “Behold, I am about to do a thing in Israel, at which the two ears of every one that hears it will tingle. (1 Samuel 3:7-11)
The great man of God, the prophet Samuel had his calling from God. O how many times God called him? O what if Samuel would have not taken help of Eli to understand God’s calling? O if Samuel would have never responded to God’s calling? Then God’s will for Israel by the prophet Samuel would have been affected. What a shame to lose God’s calling.
Be humble to enough to ask help of those serving the Lord God, to understand God’s will for you. Never feel to small to still yourself and keep away from the chaos of the world, to hear God’s voice. And when you finally come to know God’s for yourself, do not even hesitate to do it, fair and square. All for the glory of God!
The Wise Prophet
The wise prophet of God is humble,
And about God’s Word he doesn’t grumble.
The wise prophet keeps a record,
So we can discern about divine accord.
The wise prophet doesn’t go by impulses,
But vague and unclear thoughts he repulses.
The wise prophet takes God as his only source,
And unto evil avenues he never takes recourse.
The wise prophetess is not an exception,
For she too must avoid all deception.
The wise prophetess too depends on God’s calling,
And by her faith in the Lord she is kept from falling.
Being truly spiritually sensitive to the needs and situations of others
All praise and glory to the Lord God who sent his only begotten Son Jesus Christ to save us from sin, hell and death. Thanks be unto Him who loved us even when we were still sinners. We pray that the Holy Spirit guides us and leads us into all truth. Grant that we in the example of Christ our Lord, be truly sensitive to the needs and situations of others. All this for the glory of God. Amen.
In the Holy Scriptures we come to know of instances when the servants and prophets of God gave spiritual hope to others in trouble. This is shown in both the Old and New Testaments. A person who believes in the Lord God must be ready to be attentive to those in suffering and pain or in trouble. We are to this without compromising on our belief in the teachings of the Bible nor falling prey to tricksters.
The example of Eli the priest of God at Shiloh
Hannah was barren and so didn’t have any children. She faced a lot of ridicule and humiliation from others. So when she prayed to the Lord God at the place of worship at Shiloh she was deep anguish and desperation. Eli initially thought she was drunk but on questioning her found that her pain was strong. So he said to her “Go in peace, and the God of Israel grant your petition that you have made to him” and then we read in 1 Samuel Chapter 1 that ‘And in due time Hannah conceived and bore a son, and she called his name Samuel, for she said, “I have asked for him from the Lord” ‘. There would be no prophet Samuel born unless Eli blessed Hannah in the name of the Lord God.
This was not the only time that Eli did good. We read in 1 Samuel 3 as to how Eli helped the child Samuel hear the voice of the Lord God which then helped Samuel eventually realize his calling from the Lord God to be his prophet unto the people of Israel. Again, there was no way Samuel would know he is to be God’s prophet unless Eli helped him to be attentive to the Lord God.
The example of the prophet Elijah and Widow of Zarephath
17 After this the son of the woman, the mistress of the house, became ill. And his illness was so severe that there was no breath left in him. 18 And she said to Elijah, “What have you against me, O man of God? You have come to me to bring my sin to remembrance and to cause the death of my son!” 19 And he said to her, “Give me your son.” And he took him from her arms and carried him up into the upper chamber where he lodged, and laid him on his own bed. 20 And he cried to the Lord, “O Lord my God, have you brought calamity even upon the widow with whom I sojourn, by killing her son?” 21 Then he stretched himself upon the child three times and cried to the Lord, “O Lord my God, let this child’s life come into him again.” 22 And the Lord listened to the voice of Elijah. And the life of the child came into him again, and he revived. 23 And Elijah took the child and brought him down from the upper chamber into the house and delivered him to his mother. And Elijah said, “See, your son lives.” 24 And the woman said to Elijah, “Now I know that you are a man of God, and that the word of the Lord in your mouth is truth.” (1 Kings 17:17-24)
If the prophet Elijah would have refused to pray for the dead son, then the widow of Zarephath would live in despair. But in truth, he had compassion on them and God heard his voice and the child came back to life again.
The example of the Apostles Peter and John with the Beggar at the temple gate
1 Now Peter and John were going up to the temple at the hour of prayer, the ninth hour. 2 And a man lame from birth was being carried, whom they laid daily at the gate of the temple that is called the Beautiful Gate to ask alms of those entering the temple. 3 Seeing Peter and John about to go into the temple, he asked to receive alms. 4 And Peter directed his gaze at him, as did John, and said, “Look at us.” 5 And he fixed his attention on them, expecting to receive something from them. 6 But Peter said, “I have no silver and gold, but what I do have I give to you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk!”7 And he took him by the right hand and raised him up, and immediately his feet and ankles were made strong. 8 And leaping up he stood and began to walk, and entered the temple with them, walking and leaping and praising God. 9 And all the people saw him walking and praising God, 10 and recognized him as the one who sat at the Beautiful Gate of the temple, asking for alms. And they were filled with wonder and amazement at what had happened to him. (Acts 3:1-10)
Though they didn’t have silver nor gold, the Apostles Peter and John had something precious. They had faith in the name of Jesus Christ. And by this faith, did Peter make the crippled beggar walk normally. They too acted with trust in the Lord so that they can bless this beggar.
What about your example in life?
From all the above examples you see one thing in common, the prophets, priests and apostles were spiritually sensitive to the needs and situations of others. They didn’t dwell on the ‘I will only pray’ approach to help others in trouble. They gave counsel, preached deliverance, gave healing and raised the dead besides interceding for others. Do not get into the stupidity of ‘prayer only’ when you see someone who needs rescue from danger be it hunger, sickness, poverty.
14 What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him? 15 If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacking in daily food,16 and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and filled,” without giving them the things needed for the body, what good is that? 17 So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead. 18 But someone will say, “You have faith and I have works.” Show me your faith apart from your works, and I will show you my faith by my works. 19 You believe that God is one; you do well. Even the demons believe—and shudder! 20 Do you want to be shown, you foolish person, that faith apart from works is useless? 21 Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered up his son Isaac on the altar? 22 You see that faith was active along with his works, and faith was completed by his works; 23 and the Scripture was fulfilled that says, “Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness”—and he was called a friend of God. (James 2:14-23)
Do not say that you don’t have any opportunity nor the time to care for others. If anyone insists on saying he doesn’t have time and opportunities to be spiritually sensitive to the needs of others, then he might as well add that he doesn’t have the desire and will power for that as well.
When you read the newspapers, do you read about crimes or someone in suffering due to grave illness? If yes, then do you then pray about such things? Or do you switch to the sports and entertainment pages which are at time full of the vain acts of vain people taking bribes and changing their spouses every few months? Do you pray against acts of unjust violence across the world? Or do you enjoy watching movies that glorify murder and robbery?
Suppose if you know of a relative or friend in need of a job, do you too start searching suitable jobs for them? Or do you spend time gossiping about them? If your church announces a time of prayer and fasting for a preacher who’s gone missing after entering into a nation hostile to the Gospel, do you actually care to do what is told? Or do you want to go to some amusement park which coincides with the time of intercession?
Not everyone reading this can pray and heal others instantly or gradually. Not everyone can raise the dead. But then does anything in the Bible say that you are not to ask for such gifts from Christ our Lord? If not, then do ask and ask in faith, hope and love till you receive. Don’t lose heart but pray. I’ve seen people getting healed after I pray for them and I give the whole credit to the Lord God for his mercy and power. I still am praying for the power to raise the dead. God only knows when I shall receive it but I will keep asking him in faith or expect some better gift for his glory alone.
In the Christian faith many people have certain gifts from God in the supernatural such as healing, deliverance and casting out demons. While some are yet to receive them. You might not have supernatural powers manifest as yet, but you do have the Word of God. Then if anyone needs scriptural counsel, are you willing to help out to whatever level you have learnt so far? Or are you suddenly after years of church going and Bible study, are going to say you don’t know the Bible? Even if that is your reality, I don’t judge you but encourage to get reading and studying the Bible with more sincerity that you ever had.
Resolve that you will be more spiritually sensitive to help others all for the glory of God. Pray that you won’t be discouraged by the ungrateful but will continue to fight the good fight against evil in the name of Jesus. Ask that the Holy Spirit leads you do all this in safety and without being deceived by anyone, and God will surely look at your faith and answer you in his time and way. Sincerity is the key in all this.
Christ be with you.
The specific will of God for you (Part 1)
You must try to know the specific will of God for yourself. In certain Christian circles this is also called as knowing your vocation in Christ or your specific role in the Church. This might be being a preacher of the Word of God, a prophet, an intercessor, teacher, evangelist etc so that you build your brothers and sisters in the Lord Jesus.
And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ (Ephesians 4:11-12)
Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it. Here are some of the parts God has appointed for the church: first are apostles, second are prophets, third are teachers, then those who do miracles, those who have the gift of healing, those who can help others, those who have the gift of leadership, those who speak in unknown languages. (1 Corinthians 12:27-28)
You need to keep yourself open to the will of God and attentive to the Holy Spirit. This means that you are determined to be in union with Christ and hold on to the Gospel in your daily life. Let me make is real to you, suppose you feel that God is calling you to overseas missionary work then in your local church do you care for the salvation of the people over there? Do you pray that they are always sinless and in the love of God? Do you like to hear the preaching of the word of God and do you yourself like to read it? Do you feel compassion for the lost? Are you willing to die rather than give up on Christ? Are you willing to get no thanks and no appreciation from majority of the people you are preaching to, but are still will to move on and preach to the next group of people?
If you said a yes to all these questions, then its a sign that your actions are in sync with your calling of being a preacher. But if there’s even a single no, then you need to check your motivation for being a preacher either by yourself or with a sincere and mature Christian. Better to correct your desires now, than realizing it the hard way when you are on an overseas missionary assignment and you realize that you feel too lazy to preach or can’t handle rejection by the people. It could be a serious matter of shame to the ministry that sent you abroad if they realize that you are NOT preaching the gospel but are held up in worthless pursuits.
The same standards apply for being a Bible teacher, prophet, apostle etc for the Lord Jesus. You need to get your actions in sync with your holy calling in the Lord Jesus. Before anything else, you need to pray about the specific will of God in your life. You must never walk into any position of work for God without praying to God about it. It’s a sign of discernment and a sign of respect.
You need to be very specific in your prayer to God for knowing what he specifically calls you to be. Sometimes you can say ‘God make me the person you want me to be’ and wait for your answer. It doesn’t have to be that you will hear a voice audibly. You may just get a strong feeling in your heart that desires to serve God in so and so way, then check if is consistent with the Bible’s teachings. Patience is important here. You will need to be patient as the answer may not come immediately. This where it’s important that you speak to people who waited on the Lord Jesus and then by him are following their specific calling in God.
Even when I didn’t know what was the specific will of God, I wouldn’t waste my time with the skeptics and impious to get me the answers. I couldn’t immediately get to speak to people who came to know the specific will of God. But here’s what I did, I read about their experiences. It read how Christians in the past few years understood the will of God. I didn’t bypass the Bible. The story of how the prophet Samuel received his calling from God as a prophet inspired me. I was thrilled to know how Elisha was chosen Elijah due to the Lord God’s instructions to Elijah. Then in the due course of time, I actually go to speak to people in the flesh who by prayer, tears and hard experiences came to know of what God specifically wanted of them. Some of these individuals didn’t have to undergo hardships to know God’s will. It was surprisingly simple for them. But all in all, everyone who received the specific will of God had a thing in common; the unrelenting desire to know God’s will.
So for anyone who desires to know the specific will of God, have a strong desire towards it. I’m not talking about mere emotions but actions that are in sync with it. This desire should manifest in holiness. You can’t be yelling, shouting to the world that you are searching God’s will. Keep it between yourself and God and only few trusted spiritually mature Christians. You need not be proud. Be humble in spirit and in action. This should get you closer to know the specific will of God.