Summary: How do we know when and if it is God that is speaking to us?
WHEN WE ARE CLOSE TO GOD
INTRO: Just how aware are we of God speaking to us? Just how obedient are we when we know He is telling us to do a certain thing, or go a certain place? What is the result of our obedience? our disobedience? How do we know when and if it is God that is speaking to us? These are the questions we want to answer as we consider: WHEN WE ARE CLOSE TO GOD.
When we are close to God we will be:
I. OBSERVANT (vv. 10-12).
When you are close to God, you are sensitive to His voice as He speaks to you.
Ananias was a follower of Jesus in Damascus. He had such a close relationship with God, that Jesus appeared to him in a vision.
In that vision, Jesus instructed Ananias to go to the house of Judas where Saul of Tarsus was staying. Jesus told Ananias that Saul was expecting him to come.
ILLUS: Other examples of people walking close to God and being aware of his presence are found throughout the Bible (i. e. Samuel — 1 Samuel 3:1-10; Peter — Acts 10: 9-16). In 1 Sam. 3:1 there is no open vision because of SIN! Precious there means Rare! Visions were rare and infrequent because apostacy was rampant.
What could happen in your life if you had that kind of relationship with God? What could happen in our world today if we were as sensitive as these people of old to God’s voice speaking to us?
When we are close to God, we will be:
II. OBEDIENT (vv. 13-16).
Paul’s reputation for persecuting Christians had preceded Him to Damascus. It was about a five day journey from Jerusalem to Damascus, so it is thought that some christians had made the trip to Damascus before Saul arrived to tell the believers there the reason why Saul was coming to Damascus.
Ananias was aware of how Paul had been persecuting the Christians. When God instructed Ananias to go to Judas’ house to help Paul regain his eyesight, Ananias only reminded God of Paul’s reputation. He asked God if He really knew who Saul was. He did not argue with God or refuse to go.
When God tells us that He has something for us to do, do we question Him? Argue with Him? Or, do we accept what He commands us to do and obediently follow his commands?
When you are close to God and walking with Him you are obedient to His commands and do not question what He tells you to do. How many blessings have you missed, or what vital job has been left undone because you questioned God or refused to listen to Him?
ILLUS: Jonah — at first refused to do God’s bidding, then later repented. Look at the final result! A whole city repented.
When we are close to God, there can be a great:
III. OUTCOME (vv. 17-18).
When you are close to God and walking with Him — great things are possible.
Because of Ananias’ obedience to God, regardless of what he had heard about Saul, Saul once again received his eyesight, was saved, and Baptized. From that point on, look at the change in Paul’s life. Look at what God did through Paul!
Ananias put his hands on Saul and called him Brother Saul. The importance of Ananias’ putting his hands on Paul was to now identify Paul with the Christians that he had been persecuting.
Imagine what would have happened if Ananias had been disobedient to God. What would Saul have done? Would he have continued to persecute Christians? Ananias had a divine appointment with Saul. He did not miss that appointment, and as a result, THE WHOLE WORLD WAS CHANGED!!
Have we failed to be obedient to God? Has He called us, and we have refused to answer the call? Has he told tried to send us somewhere and we have refused to go? Has he instructed us to do something and we have let it go undone? What will be the end result of our disobedience?
CONC: There are at least three lessons that we should learn from this passage:
1. God can use even the most obscure saint. Were it not for the conversion of Paul, we would never have heard of Ananias; and yet Ananias had an important part to play in the early days of evangelism.
2. We should never be afraid to obey God’s will. Ananias at first argued with God, but God had everything under control, and Ananias obeyed by faith.
3. We must never underestimate the value of one person brought to Christ. Peter and Phillip were witnessing to thousands, but Ananias was sent to only one man.
ILLUS: On April 21, 1855, Edward Kimball led one of his Sunday School boys to faith in Christ. Little did he realize that Dwight L. Moody would one day become the world’s leading evangelist.