Tag Archives: Paul

what would have happened if ananias stayed home?

The group was walking down the road. Their leader was confident he was doing the right thing. He was on a mission to cause much havoc and bring harsh persecution to a new group. Paperwork in hand, this man was well on his way to his next destination. Suddenly a bright light knocked the leader to his knees and a voice interrupted his thoughts. The once confident leader was now trembling before the Lord.

Acts 9 goes on to tell us Paul was then directed to go to Damascus. Blinded by the light, Paul had to be led by the hand to the city where he waited and prayed.

Meanwhile, “in Damascus there was a disciple named Ananias. The Lord called to him in a vision, ‘Ananias.’ ‘Yes, Lord,’ he answered. The Lord told him, ‘Go to the house of Judas on Straight Street and ask for a man from Tarsus, named Saul. For he is praying. In a vision he has seen a man named Ananias come and place his hands on him to restore his sight” (Acts 9:10-12).

At this point, Ananias was probably thinking, “Hey, wait a minute. This man has caused a lot of hardships for Christians, and you want me to walk right up to him.” No one could blame Ananias for having these thoughts. Paul’s track record prior to this day is anything but pleasant. He’s oversaw a stoning, had believers thrown in prison, and caused great difficulty for followers of Christ. Yet, the Lord had a plan for Paul’s life that started with Ananias.

Acts 9:15 says, “But the Lord said to Ananias, ‘Go, this man is my chosen instrument to proclaim my name to the Gentiles and their kings and to the people of Israel. I will show him how much he must suffer for my name.”

It is hard to argue with the Lord, so Ananias goes to the house. Ananias places his hands-on Paul, and Paul’s sight is restored. This begins Paul’s journey of following Christ. His zeal for persecuting Christians switches to exuberance for the Gospel message. Paul touched the world, but it was not before Ananias touched him.

What would have happened if Ananias refused to go?

You and I may have a “Paul” in our lives; individuals who we are influencing today to do something great tomorrow. Are we following Ananias’ example?

  • Befriending that coworker who is a little rough around the edges.
  • Trying to talk to that neighbor who seems a little standoffish.
  • Giving that applicant a shot even though we know she lives in the halfway house.
  • Allowing our faith to touch someone who may touch the world tomorrow.

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Recalculating

Recalculating is a word many of us hear as we use Google Maps, Apple Maps, or any of the GPS guidance products. We miss a turn so the app must find a new way to our destination. Missing a turn doesn’t result in being lost forever; it just means it may take a little longer to get there and it may be a little harder route.

Grace can work the same way. It can recalculate the direction our life is going. If you do not like the direction your life is going, the Lord’s grace can recalculate you to a path of hope and peace. Many people have allowed grace to change the direction they were headed.

Grace has recalculated many lives.

Here are some examples of recalculated lives.

Peter

We don’t have to look far past Jesus to see one such story. Peter was called to be one of Jesus’ disciples. He has a reputation for being spontaneous and sticking his foot in his mouth. He denied knowing Jesus three times on the night Jesus was betrayed. John tells us Jesus visited one-on-one with Peter after his resurrection, and Peter was forgiven of his mistake.

Peter was going in the right direction until he made a wrong turn, but he was not lost forever. The Lord’s grace allowed Peter to recalculate his direction, and he became instrumental in spreading the Good News.

Paul

Paul is an example of grace changing a person’s life. He spent time persecuting, even killing, Christians. In his resume of sins, Paul calls himself the chief sinner. However, in Acts 9, the Lord uses grace to recalculate Paul’s life. Paul was appointed as an Apostle and became influential in the growth of the church. It has been said Paul had to be blinded in order to see the light.

Two Anonymous Ladies

A couple of unnamed women serve as examples of life-changing grace. First, Luke 7 records Jesus having dinner at a Pharisee’s house when a woman from that town began anointing Jesus. She was so grateful for his grace she could not contain her emotions. She wept on his feet, then dried them with her hair. All we know is that she lived a sinful life. To what extent of sinfulness, we are not told. She may have made a few mistakes, or she may have been a seasoned prostitute. Either way, she was forgiven, and her life was changed.

Second, John 8 tells of a woman supposedly caught in adultery. Adultery was punishable by stoning; however, Jesus gives a classic answer, “The one without sin can throw the first stone.” The crowd slowly leaves until only the woman and Jesus are remaining. Jesus grants her grace and sends her on her way to live a new life. Scripture speaks of many lives being changed because of grace, and we find the same to be true in more recent history.

John Newton

Perhaps one of the most famous illustrations of a life being recalculated by grace is that of John Newton. Newton is the writer of Amazing Grace.

After becoming established as a seaman, Newton entered the slave trade. He made many voyages with people as his cargo. Somewhere along the way, he heard of Christ and His offer of forgiveness. He became a Christian, but it took ten years for him to completely realize the horridness of human trafficking. We like to think his transformation happened overnight, but it took a few years for the Lord to form Newton’s heart. Keep in mind Christians in Newton’s day did not believe there was anything wrong with slavery. The Lord changed John Newton’s heart, his life, and used him to pin a familiar hymn.

Recalculating can take time.

Like Newton, it may take you and me a little time to get back on track. We start going in the right direction only to make another wrong turn. It happens, so don’t give up. Grace will recalculate your life once more.

It doesn’t matter how many wrong turns we’ve taken. What matters is going in the right direction now. The wrong turns are in the past, and we must leave them there. Our attention needs to be given to following the right directions when we are on the right path.

Acting

Remember to allow grace to change your direction the next time you make a wrong turn.

 

 

Grace is Enough

God said no. Three requests were made for God to remove a thorn from Paul’s flesh, but each was met with a no. “My grace is all you need,” the Lord told Paul. “My power works best in weakness.”

Are you struggling today?

Life is filled with struggles. Everyone struggles with something, and I don’t know of anyone who enjoys struggling. Our struggles are hard. They cause stress, overwhelming feelings, and anxiety. It seems struggle has a way to latch onto our weaknesses and pull with all its might. Struggle is real, and the Bible has some encouragement for us.

You and I may be struggling with several difficulties today. It could be a physical disability daily. You may be struggling financially. You are out of work, and you are having trouble finding a job. Our struggle may be watching a loved one make mistake after mistake. As we struggle, the Lord assures us, “My grace is all you need. My power is made perfect in weakness.”

God’s grace is enough in our struggles.

Paul was no stranger to struggles. He had been imprisoned, shipwrecked, beaten, and had to spend a day and night in the open sea. He shares his struggles with us, and in 2 Corinthians 12:7, he tells us he has a thorn in his flesh, but he does not reveal the source of the thorn.

There is much discussion surrounding the source of Paul’s thorn. Some scholars believe it was a visual impairment caused either by malaria or his conversion experience in Acts 9. Other scholars believe it was Paul’s past. The fact he could not forget his mistakes from the years gone by.

A better explanation is the source of Paul’s thorn was intentionally not disclosed. He knew everyone struggles with something, so Paul chose not to give us the detailed source of his thorn. One person may struggle with a physical disability, while another person struggles with a cognitive challenge. A third person may have difficulty forgetting his or her past. No matter the source of our struggle, the Bible’s encouragement to us is the same.

2 Corinthians 12 says Paul asked the Lord to take the thorn away, but God answered, “My grace is sufficient in your weaknesses.”

Paul writes in 2 Corinthians 12:9-10, “Each time he said, ‘My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.’ So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses so that the power of Christ can work through me…for when I am weak, then I am strong.”

“My grace is all you need,” the Lord says. Through his grace he strengthens us when we are weak. Through his grace he helps us with that physical disability or cognitive challenge present in life. Through his grace he wipes away yesterday’s mistakes and helps us not focus on them. His grace is all we need.

When you and I struggle, the Lord helps us through his grace. Because of the Lord’s grace, our struggles cannot prevent us from doing some amazing work.

Because of grace, our struggles can’t prevent us from doing some amazing work.

God’s grace enabled Paul to overcome barriers and do some amazing work. He authored several New Testament books, started many churches, and introduced countless people to the Lord’s grace.

God’s grace will enable you and I to overcome barriers and accomplish the purpose for which we have been called.

Acting

What is God calling you to do? Allow his grace to help you overcome struggles to accomplish your purpose.