Acts 9:17-19 - God Enables You to Serve
Today, my message is entitled "God Enables You to Serve!" I will be speaking from Acts 9:17-19 which tells the story of how God enabled Ananias to minister to Saul, and empowered Saul, who became Paul, to minister across the world. God will enable you to serve also.
As background, let us recall the dramatic event that brought about Saul's conversion (Acts 9:1-19; 22:3-16 and 26:12-20). Saul obtained permission from the high priests to go from Jerusalem to Damascus to arrest people of "the Way" and take them to Jerusalem. When he was approaching Damascus, several things happened: (1) a light from heaven suddenly shone around him, (2) he fell to the ground, (3) a voice spoke to him, (4) Jesus identified Himself to Saul, (5) Jesus told him to enter the city, (6) Saul rose from the ground blind, and (7) others led him to Damascus. This was a powerful, life-changing experience for Paul.
Moreover, God called upon Ananias to minister to Saul. We will consider several points with regard to the empowerment of Ananias and Saul for their ministries. God always enables His servants to fulfill His call upon their lives.
One, God sent Ananias to help Saul.
Saul was taken to the house of Judas. Meanwhile, Ananias was persuaded by means of a vision to go and minister to Saul. In Acts 9:10-16 we read:
10 Now there was a disciple at Damascus named Ananias; and the Lord said to him in a vision, "Ananias." And he said, "Here I am, Lord."
11 And the Lord said to him, "Get up and go to the street called Straight, and inquire at the house of Judas for a man from Tarsus named Saul, for he is praying, 12 and he has seen in a vision a man named Ananias come in and lay his hands on him, so that he might regain his sight."
Many of us can recall times when God used us to minister to others! By His Spirit the Lord led us to speak words of encouragement to someone. We helped them on their way. Also, many people, like Saul, have had another believer come with supportive messages and prayer to help. Most of us can call the names of several individuals who have been especially helpful to us.
Two, God revealed to Ananias what Saul's mission would be.
When God spoke to Ananias, he expressed his concern to God. He spoke to God about the harm that Saul had done to the saints in Jerusalem. Furthermore, he was concerned about the fact that the chief priests had given Saul authority to bind all those who called on the name of Jesus. However, in reply, God revealed Saul's future mission to Ananias. God said (Acts 9:15-16):
15 "Go, for he is a chosen instrument of Mine, to bear My name before the Gentiles and kings and the sons of Israel;
16 for I will show him how much he must suffer for My name's sake."
Sometimes God calls upon us to deliver help and encouragement to others. He will enable us to do this for Him. And God will enlighten us sufficiently for our task. It may be our privilege to pray for individuals who will become mighty servants of the Lord. Let us be prepared to serve!
Three, God met Saul's need and enabled him for his task.
When Ananias met with Saul, he explained to him why he had come. The Lord had sent him so that Saul would regain his sight and be filled with the Spirit.
Ananias laid hands of Saul (Acts 22:13) and while he was speaking the scales fell off the eyes of Saul. He was healed and could see. Luke does not report that Saul was filled with the Spirit at that moment but it is a safe conclusion that he was. Soon the ministry of Saul would demonstrate that he was filled with the Spirit.
Very often, when God calls us to a special task, we feel inadequate for the task. This is not bad. Rather that sense of inadequacy causes us to turn to God for His help. Our weakness becomes a strength in His hands.
Four, Saul immediately was baptized.
Given Saul's history as a persecutor of the saints, it was especially important that him to be baptized in water. By submitting to baptism Saul testified to the saving grace of Jesus Christ. He identified with the believers whom he formerly persecuted. In addition this was a moment when the body of Christ recognized Saul's conversion and his identification with Christ. We, too, must be baptized and be clearly identified with Christ. This is foundational to our lives and ministries.
God's dealings with Ananias and Saul are very encouraging to us. God enabled Ananias to perform His task of speaking to Saul and praying for him. Then God empowered Saul for his apostolic ministry. We can be assured that God is very interested in us. He will help us do what he calls us to do. He may ask us to encourage someone else or He may call upon another person to strengthen us. All is His good and empowering hands! Let us rely on Him!
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