Oh to be Obedient…
Acts 9 | The Life and Obedience of Paul and Ananias
While this week brought so many uncertainties, one thing that we knew wouldn’t change was having a space for our ministry to gather and talk about the Word of God. In the midst of social distancing, we have learned to be creative when it comes to studying God’s word tougher and so this past Sunday we tuned in via Skype to hear Rob bring us a good word as we continue in Acts this semester.
If you didn’t get the chance to join us, don’t worry! We will be writing recap posts like this one each Sunday so whether you were on the Skype call or not you can come back and have a resource to help study the scripture.
Take a minute to read through Acts 9 now.
Make your own notes, write your questions down, sit with the passage.
Now here’s some thoughts we had as we gathered this past Sunday Morning:
We started by looking to answer two simple questions: (1) So who is this Saul guy anyways? and (2) How is Saul persecuting Christ through his actions?
By looking at verses 1 and 2 we are met with the identity of someone who spent their life seeking ways to persecute followers of the Lord.
v. 1-2 "But Saul, still breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord, went to the high priest 2 and asked him for letters to the synagogues at Damascus, so that if he found any belonging to the Way, men or women, he might bring them bound to Jerusalem."
See, Saul wanted to present physical evidence of people’s disobedience to the high priest and sought to bring them back to be found guilty and worthy of murder. In verse 5 we see that Saul’s efforts to persecution the people of God was not just an account against believers, it was actually an offense against God.
v.4-5 "And falling to the ground, he heard a voice saying to him, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?” 5 And he said, “Who are you, Lord?” And he said, “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting."
Saul was very much against the mission of the Lord. Instead, he was for the mission of stopping the work of the Lord.
–> Think about times in which you have been actively against the mission of the Lord. Times you have felt an urge to reach out to a new believer to invite them in and decided not to. Times you had hours to spend doing anything you please and sat your bible to the side in order to fill your mind with trash TV. Times you have been a part of a conversation that led to gossip and hateful words and decided to add to the convo more jokes and hurt instead of diffusing the conversation back to something edifying.
It’s important to note who Saul was before Christ in an effort to see the full beauty in his part in God’s handiwork moving forward, much like it’s important for us to remain in awe that the Lord chooses to use each one of us for His work.
–> Take some time to think about who you were before Christ. What were you living for? What was the aim of your life? What was your mission? BUT GOD, being merciful chose to call you out of that identity into a new life, a new creation.
We continued to dive into the scripture reading v. 6
v. 6 "But rise and enter the city, and you will be told what you are to do."
Here we sat with the following idea:
God not only called Saul to stop doing certain things, but he called him into new action.
The following questions were asked during our conversation:
–> Why is it easier at times to simply stop doing bad things and forget that the Lord has called you to be an active member in carrying out His work here on Earth? Why do we get lazy and think we aren’t to be his workman, looking for ways to advance His Kingdom? Why do we stop short with just removing sin and forgetting that we have been called into a life on mission as instruments in our Redeemer’s Hands?
Saul was given an action to follow and a way to move forward with the Lord instead of against Him.
Sit with the idea that Saul was blinded for 3 days (v. 9). What do you think was going through his mind? What do you think the conversation between him and the Lord looked like?
While we studied Saul’s obedience in this passage, something we leaned heavy into was Ananias’ role in the story.
v. 10-12 " Now there was a disciple at Damascus named Ananias. The Lord said to him in a vision, “Ananias.” And he said, “Here I am, Lord.” 11 And the Lord said to him, “Rise and go to the street called Straight, and at the house of Judas look for a man of Tarsus named Saul, for behold, 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.”
We see God meeting Ananias with a command, and a confusing one at that. See Ananias then responds with admitting he doesn’t quite get it. Lord, you want me to go lay my hands on someone who has done so much evil? Really?
Let us find comfort in the fact that Ananias was able to voice his confusion, his doubts to His father and then choose to be obedient. The Lord was faithful to ease Ananias’s mind and remind him that He’s got in under control and is the one who decides who is to be used for the Kingdom of God, not man.
In our conversation on Skype we talked about why we like to be the judge of who get’s to bee “chosen instruments” for the Lord.
Why do we like to choose who is worthy to be used for the Lord? Worthy of our time? Worthy to be shown compassion?
Ananias could have not been obedient. He could have said, “Nah, God. I think I’m going to pass on that one. It sounds a bit far fetched”
And you know who would have missed out on something beautiful? Yes, Saul wouldn’t have been shown the light of the Lord and regained his eye sight right away. BUT, Ananias would have also missed out on being a first hand witness of the redemption of one of his brothers in Christ (v.17)
We must remember that our obedience to the Father is good not only for His Kingdom plan, but it is good for us!
Take a second to think about all of the acts of obedience that were present just in Acts 9 alone. There are so many little steps of faithfulness we must take in our daily lives as we follow God. Steps that add to our lives of obedience. Steps that keep us close to the hands of the Redeemer, the hands of the Creator of all things good.
We stopped our discussion in v.18-19 where we see Saul’s vision restored.
v. 18-19 "And immediately something like scales fell from his eyes, and he regained his sight. Then he rose and was baptized; 19 and taking food, he was strengthened."
In what ways did Saul have corrected vision? (both spiritually and physically)
There was clarity in Saul’s life, in the true way of life. Let us continue to be a people willing to be corrected, willing to be shown the way forward.
There is SO much good stuff from this passage that we could share but this is just a start to get your mind turning. Rob encouraged us as we were meeting to not simply be satisfied with reading scripture and answering the easy questions. Rather, let us continue to sit with it. Meditate on it. Let the truths lead us to prayer, to action. We must be willing to let the scripture penetrate our hearts and affect us.
Let’s continue the convo on Acts 9 with those we are speaking to this week!
Here is a list of the questions we discussed. Use the comments section of this post to write your own thoughts on each of the questions.
(1) Why is it important to know who Saul was before Christ?
(2) Why do we get lazy and simply remove the sin without adding the action of the Lord into our lives?
(3) In what ways do we let our past self negate the work the Lord can do through us?
(4) What can we learn about God’s character from this passage?
(5) What can we learn about our place in His story from this scripture?
(6) How is Ananias’ obedience something we can learn from?
Thanks for reading! Keep getting in the Word this week, it will provide such comfort and clarity in an uncertain time.