Summary: The focus this morning is not on St Paul but is actually on the faith of Ananias.
ANANIAS AND PAUL
Prayer to open:
Father I pray that you will speak to each one of us this morning through what I say and that what I say may be what you would have me say this morning. Through Jeus Christ our Lord. Amen
The title for this morning’s sermon is
With God, Our impossibilities become God’s possibilities
The passage that I want to look at this morning is Acts 9: 1-19: The Story of the Conversion of Saul of Tarsus - the Apostle Paul
When I was first praying about this subject it struck me that I should focus in on Ananias.
Perhaps today should not be the Conversion of St Poaul but the Courage of St Ananaias
This Ananias only turns up once in the pages of Scripture, but wow what a blockbuster.
It beats the Titanic hands down.
And he is there for prosterity.
And it seemed to me that there are three things from the passage:
1. With God our impossibilities become his possibilities
2. God can use ordinary people to achieve great things.
3. No one is too bad for the grace of God
1. With God our impossibilities become His possibilities
This was probably one of the most formative events in Early Church History. The calling of the apostle Paul.
Christ was crucified at Passover in AD 29 and has risen from the dead three days later.
The Book of Acts opens after Christ’s rising from the dead.
8 But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth."
50 Days later, the power of the Holy Spirit fell at Pentecost. The power came on the early Church to enable them to take the Gospel into the World.
As the book of Acts unfolds, we see in Chapter 6 the first church quarrel and the development of the Diaconate. This was followed very quickly by the first Christian martyr, Stephen in Chapter 7.
And we have our first glimpse of Saul of Tarsus, later to become the Apostle Paul, in Acts 7:58. At the stoning of Stephen, we read
Meanwhile, the witnesses laid their clothes at the feet of a young man named Saul.
59While they were stoning him, Stephen prayed, "Lord Jesus, receive my spirit." 60Then he fell on his knees and cried out, "Lord, do not hold this sin against them." When he had said this, he fell asleep.
8 1 And Saul was there, giving approval to his death.
Here was a man that looked hardly likely to be the Apostle to the Gentiles.
But even as Stephen was dying, he was praying for the likes of Saul of Tarsus.
"Lord, do not hold this sin against them."
If we want to see things happen:
The key is PRAYER. Let me give you a mneumonic
We have the RIGHT as Children of God to pray.
Are you exercising that Right?
Not just when we are feeling like it.
1. 2. What sort of man was Paul before his conversion
1.2.1. Satan’s Hitman in Syria
At the beginning of Chapter 9 how Paul was not apathetic to church.
He persecuted them and threw them into prison.
Not exactly the sort of person the church were counting on converting.
Yet God had other plans.
Back in May 1998, I read of Eldridge Cleaver’s death (at 62). The famous sixties leader of the Black Panthers. A gang leader who God spoke to in a spectacular way.
No one is too bad for the Grace of God
Saul was on his way to DAMASCUS doing what he thought was God’s work.
Here was this sect called the WAY claiming a crucified convict was the Son of God. This was outrageous blasphemy to a strict Pharisee’s ears.
Yet Christ met him on the way.
A Close Encounter of the Third Kind you might say.
Meeting with God had a tremendous effect on Him.
He was blinded by the presence of God and he was led by the hand into Damascus, with no idea what God was going to do.
Imagine Ananias’s joy when the Lord calls him up at night with a mission:
I imagine the conversation going something like this:
The Lord: Ananias?
Ananias: Yes Lord
The Lord: Got a job for you today, pretty high profile.
Ananias: Wow,great Lord what do you want me to do?
The Lord: I want you to go and speak to someone very important.
Ananias: Great, who ? the governor?
The Lord: Actually, no!
Ananias: Well who then?
The Lord: To Saul of Tarsus.