Intro. Last week we saw how God spoke to a disciple in Damascus through a vision, and we discussed the various ways by which God speaks to us.
I. THE LORD SPOKE TO HIM IN THIS VISION AND TOLD HIM TO GO TO THE STREET CALLED STRAIGHT AND INQUIRE AT THE HOUSE OF JUDAS FOR SAUL OF TARSUS. FOR BEHOLD HE PRAYETH.
A. This phrase behold "he prayeth" is signifying that he has been converted.
1. As a Pharisee, Paul had no doubt prayed very often, in fact, it was customary to go to the temple three times each day for prayer.
2. They had special prayers for all occasions.
3. They were noted for long prayers.
a. Jesus said that they thought they would be heard for their much speaking.
b. Their prayers for the most part, however, were by rote, they were memorized prayers, and there was much repetition in their prayers.
4. When Jesus declares "behold he prayeth," it is as though he had not truly prayed before.
a. Jesus told of a Pharisee who when he prayed said,
The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, God, I thank thee, that I am not as other men [are], extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican.
I fast twice in the week, I give tithes of all that I possess.
And the publican, standing afar off, would not lift up so much as [his] eyes unto heaven, but smote upon his breast, saying, God be merciful to me a sinner.
I tell you, this man went down to his house justified [rather] than the other: for every one that exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted.
5. There is prayer that is not prayer.
6. When a person prays, "Oh my God." It is possible that their god is not the true God, and thus their prayers are vain. David said,
Their gods [are] silver and gold, the work of men's hands.
They have mouths, but they speak not: eyes have they, but they see not:
They have ears, but they hear not: noses have they, but they smell not:
They have hands, but they handle not: feet have they, but they walk not: neither speak they through their throat.
7. God said through the prophet Isaiah: I am fed up with your sacrifices. Don't bother to bring any more to Me. I do not desire your fat rams; I reject your sacrifices and offerings. Your sacrifices are meaningless when you have no repentance for your sins? Your incense is repulsive, it smells rotten to Me. Your celebrations at the new moon: your Sabbath observance; your fasts; even your holy convocations are all a sham, I will have nothing to do with them. I hate and despise them. When you pray with your hands stretched out to heaven, I won't look or listen. Even though you make many prayers, I will not hear, for your hands are covered with the blood of your innocent victims that you have murdered.
a. Paul had no doubt, as a zealous Pharisee, prayed many times with his bloody hands stretched out to God, hands bloodied with the blood of the church.
b. That was not true prayer, it was not heard by God.
8. God only hears those prayers that are offered through His Son Jesus. People are greatly deceived who think that they have access directly to the Father. Any devout Jew of the Old Testament knew better than that. That veil that separated the Holy place from the Holy of Holies bore witness that a mortal sinful man could not approach the holy, infinite God.
a. Jesus said:
I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man comes to the Father, but by me.
b. The Bible says:
For [there is] one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus;
c. Jesus said:
And whatsoever ye shall ask in my name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son.
If ye shall ask any thing in my name, I will do [it].
Hitherto have ye asked nothing in my name: ask, and ye shall receive, that your joy may be full.
d. For the first time in his whole life Jesus could say "Behold he prayeth." and it was true prayer.
II. AND HATH SEEN IN A VISION A MAN NAMED ANANIAS COMING IN, AND PUTTING [HIS] HAND ON HIM, THAT HE MIGHT RECEIVE HIS SIGHT.
A. The first thing the Lord said about Saul was that he was praying.
B. The second thing is that he has seen in a vision a man named Ananias.
1. Note how that the Lord works on both ends. He gives to Ananias a vision in which he tells him to seek Saul of Tarsus, telling him where he could find him.
2. Secondly, He gives Saul a vision of this man named Ananias coming to him to lay hands on him that he might receive his sight.
3. We find that this is also true in the next chapter where Peter receives a vision from the Lord telling him that there are three men at the gate inquiring for him and to go with them and ask no questions and not to call unclean those whom the Lord had cleansed.
4. On the other end, the Centurian received a vision in which he was instructed to send messengers to Joppa to invite Peter to come to his house.
5. I have found that the Lord usually works on both ends. I would be reluctant to follow any vision for my life that the Lord gave to someone else to relate to me.
6. I have had people tell me of visions that they had of me, but I ignored them for if the Lord wants to speak to me, he knows where to find me, and He knows that I am open to Him, and would be delighted for Him to speak to me at any time.
7. When Ananias arrived at the door, Saul was expecting him. He was also expecting to be healed when Ananias laid hands on him.
C. The laying on of hands for prayer and the healing of the sick was something that was taught and practiced in the New Testament.
1. How often Jesus laid hands on the sick.
Now when the sun was setting, all they that had any sick with divers diseases brought them unto him; and he laid his hands on every one of them, and healed them.
2. Jesus said that one of the signs that would follow those that believed is that they would lay hands on the sick and they would recover.
3. We read of Paul,
And it came to pass, that the father of Publius lay sick of a fever and of a bloody flux: to whom Paul entered in, and prayed, and laid his hands on him, and healed him.
4. There have been books written by metaphysicists, such as "The Healing Touch," in which they try to imply that some type of energy can be transferred through the hands that bring healing.
5. I could lay hands on you all day and you would be none better. It is the hand of the Lord that you need laid on you.
6. I can, as His representative, lay my hand on you in His name and through me as His instrument, He can lay His hand on you and you will be healed.
7. You should never look at the instrument and glorify the instrument for what the Lord has done through the instrument.
III. THE OBJECTION OF ANANIAS. "LORD I HAVE HEARD OF THIS MAN, HOW MUCH EVIL HE HAS DONE TO YOUR SAINTS AT JERUSALEM: AND HERE HE HAS AUTHORITY FROM THE CHIEF PRIESTS TO BIND ALL THAT CALL ON YOUR NAME."
A. Saul's reputation as a persecutor of the church had reached Damascus.
1. It is quite possible that Ananias was on the list of those that Saul planned to arrest and take back to Jerusalem.
2. It is easy to understand the reluctance of Ananias to obey the command of the Lord.
3. On the other hand, it is so foolish to argue with the Lord, and that is the position that Ananias found himself in. He was arguing with the command of Jesus.
4. Have you ever thought that the Lord was wrong or mistaken?
5. Have you ever questioned the ways of the Lord?
6. Have you ever wondered why the Lord did what He did?
7. Has the Lord ever been wrong?
8. He has said that all things work together for good to those who love Him and are called according to His purpose.
a. Have you ever questioned that?
b. If not, then you are some kind of person, surely much further along the road than I.
9. The scripture asks, "Who has been His counselor?" Rom. 11:34
a. I have tried to be.
b. Here Ananias is trying to be.