Faithlife Sermons

We Can Make a Big Difference for God!

The Book of Acts  •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  Presented
0 ratings
· 79 views

We can make a big difference for God! 1. By God’s greatness (vs. 1-5). 2. By God’s grace (vs. 1-5). 3. By God's guidance (vs. 6-12). 4. By our going (vs. 13-18).

Notes
Transcript
Sermon Tone Analysis
A
D
F
J
S
Emotion
A
C
T
Language
O
C
E
A
E
Social
View more →

We Can Make a Big Difference for God!

Acts 9:1-18

Sermon by Rick Crandall

Grayson Baptist Church - Jan. 26, 2014

INTRODUCTION:

*Our God likes to use little things to make a big difference in His world. Max Lucado pointed this fact out, when he wrote:

-"That guy who gave Jesus the donkey on Palm Sunday is just one of the long line of folks who gave little things to a big God. Scripture has quite a gallery of donkey-givers. In fact, heaven may have a shrine to honor God's uncommon use of the common. It's a place you won't want to miss. Stroll through and see Rahab's rope, David's sling, and Samson's jawbone. Wrap your hand around the staff which split the sea and smote the rock." (1)

*I also think of the widow's mite, and the little boy's lunch that Jesus miraculously multiplied to feed over 5,000 men, plus women and children. God surely uses little things to make a big difference in His world. And we can see this truth tonight in the life of Ananias.

*Most every Christian knows about the incredible way God used the Apostle Paul. But God also used Ananias in a wonderful way, and God can use us too.

1. So, how can we make a big difference for God? -- First: It's by God's greatness.

*We have to keep focused on God's greatness. And in vs. 1-5, God gives us a glimpse of His greatness. We see it when the Lord revealed Himself to Saul.

1. Then Saul, still breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord, went to the high priest

2. and asked letters from him to the synagogues of Damascus, so that if he found any who were of the Way, whether men or women, he might bring them bound to Jerusalem.

3. And as he journeyed he came near Damascus, and suddenly a light shone around him from heaven.

4. Then he fell to the ground, and heard a voice saying to him, "Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me?''

5. And he said, "Who are You, Lord?'' And the Lord said, "I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting. It is hard for you to kick against the goads.''

*How great is our God? -- Great enough to keep watch over all His flock, as they were being persecuted by men like Saul, and great enough to keep His eye on those evil people who were trying to hurt the Lord's church.

*How great is our God? -- Great enough to shine brighter than the sun, great enough to knock Paul or anyone else to the ground, and great enough to strike Paul with blindness.

*But why did the Lord do that? -- Todd Coget explained that "Christ had to flash a bright light from heaven to get Saul's attention. And God had to do something drastic in Saul's life to get him to understand the truth. Christ physically blinded Saul to tell him that he was spiritually blind as well. Christ blinded Saul to let him know that he wasn't seeing the truth. He wasn't seeing God. He wasn't seeing Scriptures correctly. He wasn't seeing the Way to God. And he wasn't seeing what God wanted him to do with his life." (2)

*It turns out there are some very good reasons why Jesus blinded Saul. And the Lord has the power to do it. We serve a God who has all power. There is nothing good that He can't do!

*Listen to this description of Jesus from Colossians 1:15-17 in the New Living Translation:

15. Christ is the visible image of the invisible God. He existed before God made anything at all and is supreme over all creation.

16. Christ is the one through whom God created everything in heaven and earth. He made the things we can see and the things we can't see-kings, kingdoms, rulers, and authorities. Everything has been created through him and for him.

17. He existed before everything else began, and he holds all creation together.

*Church: That's our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ! That's our God!

2. And we can make a big difference for God, if we will be mindful of His greatness. -- But it's also by His grace.

*In 1 John 4, the Bible tells us that "God is love," and in this Scripture, we see a most amazing display of His love. God loved Paul enough to stop him on the Damascus Road that day. But this miraculous encounter is much more surprising when we remember what Saul was like at the time.

*Listen to vs. 1-2 again:

1. Then Saul, still breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord, went to the high priest

2. and asked letters from him to the synagogues of Damascus, so that if he found any who were of the Way, whether men or women, he might bring them bound to Jerusalem.

*Paul Decker said Saul "was so zealous for what he believed that if you did not agree with him, he believed you ought to die for your heresy."

*And that was what happened when Stephen the deacon was stoned to death. Acts 8:1-3 tells us:

1. Now Saul was consenting to his death. At that time a great persecution arose against the church which was at Jerusalem; and they were all scattered throughout the regions of Judea and Samaria, except the apostles.

2. And devout men carried Stephen to his burial, and made great lamentation over him.

3. As for Saul, he made havoc of the church, entering every house, and dragging off men and women, committing them to prison.

*And Decker explained: "Saul was the apparent mastermind and ringleader of Stephen's death. When the cloaks were laid at his feet, it meant that Saul was giving the official sanction to the execution.

*You see, Saul had become a religious terrorist. Saul lived by a code, a strict code. It said that if you followed Jesus, you were a heretic and you had to be removed, beaten, placed in jail, or killed. So, Saul began his mission of persecuting Christians, and it consumed him. It became his whole life. He was hunting Christians. The text describes Saul with words that describe the activity of a wild animal. Saul had become a raging fury, because his heart was filled with hatred. And his mind poisoned by prejudice." (3)

*But Jesus Christ loved him anyway. Isn't this amazing? -- That God would love someone who passionately hates Him with all his heart? Isn't it amazing that Jesus would even love Saul enough to die on the cross for him? Yet the Lord did love Saul enough to die for Him. And Jesus loved us enough to die on the cross for us.

*There is no doubt that we can see God's grace in the way Paul got saved. But don't under-estimate what the Lord has done in your own life. A couple of years ago I got a testimony from Pastor John Avant. And it can help us understand how many levers of grace God had to pull to get us where we are today.

*Here's part of what John said: "Ninety-three years ago today, a teenage boy from Alabama lay dying in the snows of Siberia, blown up, stabbed and run over by a train. He was fighting for his country in a forgotten war in Siberia at the end of World War I. But God was looking down the hallway of history, and had a plan for the future that required that young boy to live. The Lord miraculously saved him, raised him up and brought him home.

*As many of you know, that young man was my grandfather. On the anniversary of that terrible experience where he lost his leg and almost lost his life, I meditate with awe on the amazing sovereignty of God. Had he died there, I would not exist. My children would not exist. I would never have the joy of knowing you, loving you, pastoring you, and sharing life with you."

*And Pastor John asked: "Have you ever stopped to think about how amazing God's love for you is that He has been planning, preparing and working for not just hundreds -- but for thousands of years -- to ensure that you were here, that you had a chance to live and to breathe, to love Him and to love others, and to make a difference in this world?" (4)

*Church: We really have no idea of all God did to get us to the point where we were able and willing to hear the good news of Jesus Christ. But our God is full of grace! And parking on this truth will help transform our lives.

3. And we can make a big difference for God, if we will be mindful of His grace. -- But it's also by His guidance.

*Paul and Ananias both needed God's guidance in vs. 6-12:

6. So he, trembling and astonished, said, "Lord, what do You want me to do?'' And the Lord said to him, "Arise and go into the city, and you will be told what you must do.''

7. And the men who journeyed with him stood speechless, hearing a voice but seeing no one.

8. Then Saul arose from the ground, and when his eyes were opened he saw no one. But they led him by the hand and brought him into Damascus.

9. And he was three days without sight, and neither ate nor drank.

10. Now there was a certain disciple at Damascus named Ananias; and to him the Lord said in a vision, "Ananias.'' And he said, "Here I am, Lord.''

11. So the Lord said to him, "Arise and go to the street called Straight, and inquire at the house of Judas for one called Saul of Tarsus, for behold, he is praying.

12. And in a vision he has seen a man named Ananias coming in and putting his hand on him, so that he might receive his sight.''

*God guided Paul into Damascus. Then God guided Ananias to the exact place where Paul was. And we can be sure that God will guide us!

*The Lord had to use a sledge hammer to guide Paul, but there are easier ways. In vs. 10, it was much easier for God to guide Ananias, because he was already a disciple of the Lord. Ananias was trying his best to follow the Lord. And when God's guidance came in these verses, Ananias did follow the Lord.

*God will guide us just as surely as He guided Ananias. In our case, the Lord's guidance will come through His Word, and the still, small voice of His Spirit. God also guides us through wisdom from godly people, and when He guides, we need to follow, trusting in the Lord.

*One of the great preachers of the 20th Century was Peter Marshall. Listen to his prayer for God's guidance: "O God our Father, history and experience have given us so many evidences of Thy guidance to nations and to individuals that we should not doubt Thy power or Thy willingness to direct us. Give us the faith to believe that when God wants us to do or not to do any particular thing, God finds a way of letting us know it. May we not make it more difficult for Thee to guide us, but be willing to be led of Thee, that Thy will may be done in us and through us for the good of America and all mankind. This we ask in Jesus' name. Amen" (5)

*That is a great prayer for God's guidance, and we all need it.

4. We can even make a big difference for God by His guidance. -- But it's also by our going.

*We have to be willing to go for God, in spite of our fears. That's what Ananias did in vs. 13-18:

13. Then Ananias answered, "Lord, I have heard from many about this man, how much harm he has done to Your saints in Jerusalem.

14. And here he has authority from the chief priests to bind all who call on Your name.''

15. But the Lord said to him, "Go, for he is a chosen vessel of Mine to bear My name before Gentiles, kings, and the children of Israel.

16. For I will show him how many things he must suffer for My name's sake.''

17. And Ananias went his way and entered the house; and laying his hands on him he said, "Brother Saul, the Lord Jesus, who appeared to you on the road as you came, has sent me that you may receive your sight and be filled with the Holy Spirit.''

18. Immediately there fell from his eyes something like scales, and he received his sight at once; and he arose and was baptized.

*It's an old cliché, but God really does want us to get out of our comfort zones, even when the difficulties are real. In vs. 13-14, Ananias had some very legitimate fears. Again, he spoke to the Lord and said:

13. . . "Lord, I have heard from many about this man, how much harm he has done to Your saints in Jerusalem.

14. And here he has authority from the chief priests to bind all who call on Your name.''

*Saul was a terrible threat to Ananias. He was facing chains, a jail cell, possible torture, and death.

*Also think about the hardships the Apostle Paul would face as he followed the Lord. Remember what the Lord said about Paul in vs. 15-16, "He is a chosen vessel of Mine to bear My name before Gentiles, kings, and the children of Israel." So far, so good, but then the Lord said, "For I will show him how many things he must suffer for My name's sake."

*The Lord didn't sugar-coat Paul's future at all! And there is always a price to pay for following the Lord. It can be scary at times, but our faith can overcome all of our fears. And that's what happened to Ananias. So in vs. 17, "Ananias went his way and entered the house; and laying his hands on him he said, 'Brother Saul, the Lord Jesus, who appeared to you on the road as you came, has sent me that you may receive your sight and be filled with the Holy Spirit.'''

*Ananias' faith overcame his fears, and he was willing to go. Then, great things started to happen to Paul in vs. 18: "Immediately there fell from his eyes something like scales, and he received his sight at once; and he arose and was baptized."

*That was just the beginning, and we will see many more victories in the life of Paul. We will see victories that continue today, and will stretch out to all eternity.

*We don't know what would have happened if Ananias had given in to his fears. But we know for sure that God used his life to make an incredible difference in our world.

*And we can be like Ananias! Our faith can overcome our fears, so we can go. We can go, and we will see more great things happen for the cause of Christ. There is no telling how much God can use people like you and me.

*Henry Blackaby gave the example of some Baptist missionaries who followed the guidance of God. And Blackaby said, "Because the mission belongs to God, He takes the responsibility for guiding a willing group of people to the proper destination. God guided Abraham, and God can guide His people today. He cares as much about this generation as any other.

*More than two hundred years ago Adoniram Judson and Luther Rice heard God's call and left America to go to India. On arrival, they were baptized by William Carey. But they were not allowed to serve in India, so Judson and his wife, Ann, went to Burma. Because their support would no longer come from the Congregationalists who sent them out as missionaries, Rice returned to America to raise money. From his efforts came the Triennial Baptist Convention, the precursor to the American Baptist Convention and the Southern Baptist Convention. Judson served for six years before he saw his first convert."

*Then Henry Blackaby said: "I visited (Burma) in 1999. The Baptist Convention there had 700,000 members. Judson could not have imagined that his work would bless so many people. And Rice could never have imagined that the Southern Baptist Convention he helped start would become the largest missionary-sending body in the world."

CONCLUSION:

*God used Ananias in a wonderful way. God used Adoniram Judson and Luther Rice in a wonderful way. And God can use us too! -- By His greatness, by His grace, by His guidance, and by our going.

*So as we bow for prayer, let your faith overcome your fears.

(1) Max Lucado, "And the Angels Were Silent" - "The Guy with the Donkey," pp. 55-56 - Source: Sermons.com email 03142002

(2) Adapted from SermonCentral sermon "From Persecuting to Preaching" by Todd Coget - Acts 9 1-22 - 05262002

(3) SermonCentral sermon "Extreme Makeover - Spiritual Edition" by Paul Decker - Acts 9:1-19

(4) From: dr.javant@gmail.com - 01102012

(5) "Mr. Jones, Meet the Master - Sermons and Prayers of Peter Marshall" Copyright 1949, 1950 by Fleming H. Revell Company - New York - p. 33

(6) "On Mission with God - Living God's Purpose for His Glory" by Avery T. Willis, Jr. and Henry T. Blackaby - LifeWay Press, Nashville, Tennessee - 2001 - pp. 46-47

Related Media
Related Sermons