(From Acts 9:1-31)
We all have people in our life who appear to be too far gone or too far for the salvation of Jesus to reach. I’m sure that at least one person popped into your mind. That person may even be in your own family. Maybe you were that person or still are, but somehow stumbled upon this blog today. I’m here to tell you today to not lose heart or hope and to encourage you to keep praying for these people in your lives. Don’t let what you see in the physical stop you from believing and having faith that Jesus can do a supernatural work in their lives.
I feel like if there ever was a person that was too far gone, it could have been Saul. I mean, this guy’s life mission was to murder and imprison Christians. In Acts 7:58, Stephen was stoned to death and, in Acts 8:1, it says that Saul approved of their killing him. After Stephen’s death, great persecution broke out against the church in Jerusalem, all except the apostles scattered to Judea and Samaria. Saul began to destroy the church, going house to house and dragging out both men and women and putting them in prison. But even in the midst of torture and persecution, Jesus was working.
Those who had been scattered continued to preach the word wherever they went. When people heard their words and saw miracles take place, they were saved. The persecution that Saul was doing to destroy the church, God used to spread the gospel. God can bring redemption to anyone’s story and bring so much good out of situations that seem impossible to us. Then we come to Acts 9:1, “Meanwhile, Saul was still breathing out murderous threats against the Lord’s disciples.” I think at this point he had an addiction of power that he absolutely couldn’t get enough of.
Saul then went to the high priest and asked for letters for the synagogues in Damascus so that if he found any Christians, men or women, he might take them to Jerusalem as prisoners. It is so appalling to me that the persecution of the church came from those who were the most “religious” of their time. The fact that they had Jesus at their fingertips and missed it is so crazy to me. But Saul was about to have a moment with Jesus that he couldn’t miss. He had an incredible, life-altering encounter with Jesus. He was just traveling along, I’m sure thinking up all kinds of ways to get rid of these so-called believers, when God said enough was enough. He was on the Damascus road and a bright light from heaven flashed around him. He fell to the ground and heard a voice ask him, ”Saul why do you persecute me?” It was Jesus talking to Saul. The men with him heard the voice, but saw nothing, but when Saul got up he was blind. Jesus told him to go into the city and he would be told what to do. Saul had to be led into the city and waited on the Lord.
In the city, there was a disciple named Ananias and the Lord spoke to him in a vision and gave him specific directions and to go find Saul of Tarsus, and while Saul has been praying he had a vision of a man named Ananias who came and laid hands on him to restore his sight. Ananias then began to explain to God, the creator and knower of all things, who Saul was and what he had been doing to Christians like him, as if God didn’t already know. I am quite sure he was afraid, he had heard all the warnings and stories of Saul. I am prone to look at situations without a spiritual lens and allow doubt and anxiety to kick in. John 16:33 says, “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” This scripture is a great reminder that we are to take heart in every situation, even in trouble, because Jesus has already conquered it all. After Ananias’ explanation God told him to go! That Saul is my chosen instrument to proclaim my name and I will show him how much he must suffer for my name. Ananias was obedient to God, even though he didn’t understand His plan fully. He laid hands on Saul and he was filled with the Holy Spirit and something like scales fell from his eyes!
He was radically saved and changed by the power of the Holy Spirit. Paul then proclaimed Jesus’ name with boldness and faced persecution of his own for the very thing he had persecuted others for. This is a story of so much hope for all! It is not our job to judge or decide who Jesus can or can not use. It is our responsibility to pray diligently for their salvation and that God would meet them on the road that they are on so that they may have their very own Damascus road experience. Maybe you are going to be the Ananias in someone’s life that God uses to help bring them to Jesus. In those moments where Jesus asks us to do or say things that are a little uncomfortable, we must be obedient. We don’t know how God may be planning on using that person’s life to increase His kingdom.
God, I pray right now for those people in our lives that need a supernatural encounter with you. Lord, remove the scales from their eyes and help them to find your salvation. I pray for you to put people in their path to proclaim your truth and pray against the enemy that would come to steal your Word.
Thank you Kara for reminding us of just how powerful the blood of Jesus is for restoration of even the most lost and deceived. In these days we will need to keep that forefront in our minds.
After all, His blood is powerful enough to save a wretch like me :-)
Thank you so much Kara I needed to be reminded I thank you so very much for this message I am trying to find my way back to God again.