Up Close and Personal with Paul Series
Acts 9:10-11 (KJB) And there was a certain disciple at Damascus, named Ananias; and to him said the Lord in a vision, Ananias. And he said, Behold, I am here, Lord. 11 And the Lord said unto him, Arise, and go into the street which is called Straight, and inquire in the house of Judas for one called Saul, of Tarsus: for, behold, he prayeth.
Wow! I hope you sincerely believe in God, know Jesus Christ, understand the power of prayer, believe in ancient visions, and seek honor and glory of God, and receive eternal rewards for your obedience in serving God, especially after reading and studying these two scripture verses.
These verses are packed with a divine accounting of events in the life of Paul after he personally met Jesus Christ on the road to Damascus, was taken to the house of Judas to spend precious time in solitude, fasting, and prayer, and even in sudden blindness, Paul was alive unto this new spiritual life.
Next, in his new life, Paul meets in the middle of the night with a man named Ananias. Please understand that this is not an ordinary gathering between two men for discussing business or personal matters. Instead, it was a sudden and divine occasion. It was both an answer to prayer in one life and a walk of obedience in the other life. Simultaneously as Paul was praying to God, (which had been taking place over several days), on this eventful night a man named Ananias received divine instruction from God in a vision and was given instruction to travel this very moment to the location where Paul was praying.
It is important to note that these directions were not vague, but very specific in nature. As a child of God, if you have ever entertained thoughts that God does not hear every detail of your prayers or does not know every aspect of your life, this record should resolve any lingering doubt in such matters for God was very detailed in His directions given to Ananias.
**God told Ananias to go at once to a street named Straight. This particular street, it seems, must have been very easy to find amongst numerous crooked roads dotting this ancient landscape. This straight road stands out, according to many scholars familiar with this area.**
**God told Ananias to go to a specific man in need. God did not point Ananias to just any man. He led him to meet with the Apostle Paul. As Ananias entered the city, he understood who he was to meet with and leaving no room for him to speak with the wrong man.**
**God sent Ananias to a particular house. The house of Judas. There was no doubt in the mind of Ananias of which residence God desired him to go for this detail was made evident.**
**Lastly, this meeting took place in the middle of the night. There is no doubt this seemingly odd timing is proof that God works in the lives of his spiritual children twenty-four hours a day, every day and night for protecting and preserving them as necessary.**
This supernatural occasion is one of many examples given for our learning throughout scripture. It is one for us to consider, especially in what seems like desperate times in our life when we may think God has not heard our prayer. Or in a time of longsuffering when the devil whispers in our ear telling us that God does not care about meeting our needs and desires.
We can know for sure that God does care for our every need and desire.
Yes, this ancient account in the life of Paul can serve to bring us hope. It gives us a great example of the supernatural nature of God and the magnitude of His presence and power available inside a personal relationship with Him through His Son Jesus Christ. This ancient divine working was not only for bringing answers to the prayers of Paul, and for Ananias to serve and savor God, for it not only personally affected the lives of these two men, but it continues to this day to make an impact on many souls.
The spiritual bottom line: There is no other reasonable explanation for this midnight meeting, other than the divine involvement of Jesus in a willing servant’s heart, at work through prayer in Paul’s changed life, and this same power is available today.
Additionally, after this meeting with Ananias, Paul spent three years in the Arabian desert (Galatians 1:17) where he was internally prepared even further for his new life of public service. With the indwelling help of God, Paul sorted out his life and called upon God in the desert and was made ready for public service of preaching and sowing seeds of the gospel message to receptive hearts.
Once Paul was readied for service at the hand of God he returned to Damascus to follow the direction and will of God for his life. The Bible tells us in (Acts 9:26) Paul attempted to join in fellowship and service with the other men of God. However, these men were afraid of him, remembering his repugnant spiritual past and they were not willing to serve alongside him or accept him into their service for God.
In (Acts 9:27) it tells us that Barnabas, a man of God from Tarsus (Paul’s hometown), stepped in to assist these men in accepting Paul into their inner circle of Disciples. Barnabas had likely grown up beside Paul and might have had his own reservations about his service until the Lord spoke to his heart concerning Paul. Further, Barnabas had an opportunity to witness Paul’s fiery preaching at Damascus and he knew firsthand that the Lord was indeed at work in his softened heart. It was by the leading of God and in conversation with Barnabas, the disciples accepted the reality of a changed life and Paul was accepted as a sincere servant of God.
Does it surprise you that Paul was first not welcomed here or in his hometown of Tarsus (Acts 9:30)? This “flavor” prejudice and rejection, whether it be in ancient times or today, should not come as a shock to him, me, or you. Even further, the hometown of Jesus did not roll out the red carpet or provide any welcome mat or committee for honoring His presence or teaching.
Nothing has changed in claiming, preaching, and defending the name of Jesus Christ, then or today. A thick and formidable cloud of rejection and hate hangs in the air, but the supernatural perpetual power and presence of God through His Son Jesus Christ slices right through it, being greater than any temporary looming evil forces at work in this world.
Just like Saul, it is necessary for us, too, to be blinded by the light of God so, like Paul, we can see God’s righteousness shining brightly, become a new creature in Christ, and divinely receive direction and eternal purpose for our lives as we sojourn in this world.
It is important to note that the Apostle Paul was also given a thorn in his flesh with these changes to further foster humility in his service to God which we look deeper into later in this series. Though God could have taken his physical infirmary away, he left it with Paul in the time he journeyed on this earth. Perhaps as a continual reminder of the weakness of his flesh and his need of the grace and mercy of God in all situations he would encounter in this world.
It is true, the Apostle Paul had a heart change, a life change. And eventually, even his name would be changed by God from Saul, which reflected his Roman heritage, to the name Paul in illustrating the presence of Jesus Christ and Paul’s sincere service for God in this world. All these changes from the road in his journey to Damascus, to his quiet time of prayer and reflection, to this meeting with Ananias, added up to Paul becoming a new man. A new creature in Christ with a transformed character and desires ready to serve and savor God rather than the god of this world while he sojourned in this world and forevermore.
**Coming in part three of this series Up Close and Personal with Paul will be given A Glimpse of Heaven as we delight in reading about Heaven as seen through the finite human eyes of The Apostle Paul.
Please read the first two parts of this series