Faithlife Sermons

A Ministry Of Encouragement pt 2

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Introduction

How do you encourage someone? Last week I shared the story of how a woman in the church here had encouraged Jess and I. This past week I thought about that encouragement and asked myself what it was she did to encourage us. 1st, she recognized our need of encouragement. 2nd, she spoke words of encouragement. This wouldn’t have worked if it wasn’t sincere. If we are going to encourage others, we have to be sincere. Recognizing and speaking are not enough if we have no sincere words of encouragement to share!
Last week we began talking about encouragement. Specifically, the encouragement of Saul by Ananias. We discussed the need to demolish barriers if we are to have a ministry of encouragement. Ananias is commanded by God to go, lay hands on Saul, giving him back his sight and imparting the Holy Spirit. He is hesitant because he knows who Saul is and the harm he has done to the saints in Jerusalem and the harm he plans to do in Damascus. Ananias is told by God that Saul is His chosen vessel! He will bear the name of Christ before kings, Gentiles, and Jews. We ended last week with this command to Ananias to go. Today we will pick up there.
Saul the persecutor of the church has had his world turned upside down. He has realized that He has been persecuting the Messiah. He has been blinded by the light he saw on the road and he is now fasting and praying in Damascus. Into this situation, God is going to send encouragement. God is going to use Ananias to encourage Saul.
Saul the persecutor of the church has had his world turned upside down. He has realized that He has been persecuting the Messiah. He has been blinded by the light he saw on the road and he is now fasting and praying in Damascus. Into this situation, God is going to send encouragement. God is going to use Ananias to encourage Saul.
This passage challenges us to have a ministry of encouragement.
In a ministry of encouragement there are two requirements.
When we meet these requirements we are able to encourage others.
If we are going to have a ministry of encouragement our first requirement is to…

1. Identify And Demolish Barriers To Encouragement vv. 10-16

The greatest barrier to a ministry of encouragement is ourselves. We put up roadblocks.These verses identify three barriers to encouragement that must be demolished before we can fulfill this ministry.

a. The barrier of need vv. 10-12

Both the one to be encouraged, and the one to do the encouraging, must recognize the need.

b. The barrier of fear vv. 13-14

NKJVFor God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.
When God calls, He also equips us to answer the call! There is no reason to fear because God is with us.

c. The barrier of purpose vv. 15-16

God overcomes Ananias’ fear by detailing for him the purpose for which the Lord was calling Saul.
NKJVTherefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.
says (S).
The second requirement to a ministry of encouragement is to…
NKJVFor you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God.
The Saul that Ananias is being sent to is not the Saul who left Jerusalem! He has been wondrously, miraculously, and gloriously transformed! In ch. 13 that transformation will be forever recognized when Saul the persecutor becomes Paul the apostle. That is what takes place when we trust Jesus Christ as Savior! That is what is reflected in the Words “he is a chosen vessel of Mine.” That raises a question. What does a chosen vessel do? Whatever it’s owner demands! Here in vv. 15-16 the Lord gives us a kind of outline of Paul’s life. V. 15 bearing the Lord’s name before Gentiles, Kings, and Jews. V. 16 – suffering. Saul is a chosen vessel and he is going to bear the name of Christ before Gentiles, kings, and Jews. That is exactly what he does, and we will see that he begins immediately. The Lord says that Saul will bear His name. Bear – βαστάζω (bastazō) pick up; bear; carry. To bear (carry) v. — to move while holding up or supporting. Verb, aorist, active, infinitive of purpose.Bear – βαστάζω (bastazō) Every where that Saul goes he will carry the name of Christ. In v. 14 Ananias said that Saul was coming to Damascus to bind all who call on the Lord’s name. This is the same word. The name that Saul once fought so hard against, will now go with him everywhere! Saul is going to carry with him everything that Christ is. That is what the Greek idea of a name is. Saul will carry the name of Jesus before Gentiles. These are people he never would have associated with previously. He will carry the name of Jesus before kings. These are men he never would have had access to. He will carry the name of Jesus before the Jews. These are Saul’s own countrymen. Those he thought to protect through his persecution of Christians.Ananias has nothing to fear because Saul now belongs to Jesus! He is going to witness for Christ. More than that… Saul will suffer for Christ.Once again we have the use of “name”. The name Saul sought to destroy he now carries, and he is going to willingly suffer for that name. This is a transformed man.This word “show” carries with it the idea of warning. Jesus is going to tell Saul what to expect if he follows the Lord. This revelation will not sway Saul in the slightest. Later, when Saul has become Paul, he will write to Timothy that “all who live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution.” Does that sway you? Does knowing that you and I are called to suffering make us want to be a little less vocal for Christ? One of our barriers to being an encouragement to others is this question “why?” Why is God doing this or that? Why is He calling this person or that person? God revels His purpose to Ananias thus removing any final barriers to encouragement. And so we have the second requirement to have a ministry of encouragement. We need to…

2. Initiate And Dispense Blessing Through Encouragement vv. 17-19

The blessing is not ours. It is God’s blessing delivered through us. We are conduits of God’s blessing.
For Saul, this blessing takes three forms.

a. Spiritual blessing v. 17

I love this. “Ananias went his way”. God’s response of “Go because Saul is mine” is all Ananias needs! He enters Judas’ house and goes in to Saul.
This incredible and faithful man of God puts his hands on a persecutor and murderer. Ananias lays his hands on a man who had likely captured, arrested, or killed some of Ananias’ friends! Yet at God’s command, Ananias blesses Saul. God can accomplish the giving of the HS however He wants. The laying on of hands is not strictly necessary. However, it is a symbolic transfer of the Spirit and a formal recognition of Saul as a believer. I believe that also present here is an encouragement of Saul. A similar instance in Scripture is recorded in . Turn there please.
Matthew 8:2–3 NKJV
And behold, a leper came and worshiped Him, saying, “Lord, if You are willing, You can make me clean.” Then Jesus put out His hand and touched him, saying, “I am willing; be cleansed.” Immediately his leprosy was cleansed.
Jesus did not have to touch the leper to heal him. So why did he? This leper had not been touched since his leprosy was discovered. Human contact would have been an incredible blessing to him. It demonstrated the love of Christ for this outcast. Ananias touches Saul. The man who had persecuted the church and who, three days before, would have happily arrested Ananias! Christ has called us to demonstrate His love to the outcasts, those that others reject. This includes those who persecute us. Ananias touching Saul demonstrates the love of Christ.
Look at what he says. “Brother Saul”. WOW! This is faith. There is no more doubt here! No fear! No uncertainty! There is only mountain moving faith! Can you even imagine how those words must have impacted Saul? To be called brother by one of the very people he came to arrest? This word is used to describe siblings in a family. Now referring to believers as siblings.
This is what Christ-empowered forgiveness looks like.
As believers, we are to be the most forgiving people in the world. Why? Because of how much we have been forgiven! Two passages specifically call us to forgiveness. ; (S).
;
Ephesians 4:32 NKJV
And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you.
Ephesians 4:32 NKJV
And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you.
Ephesians 4
Colossians 3:13 NKJV
bearing with one another, and forgiving one another, if anyone has a complaint against another; even as Christ forgave you, so you also must do.
Colossians 3:12–13 NKJV
Therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, put on tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, longsuffering; bearing with one another, and forgiving one another, if anyone has a complaint against another; even as Christ forgave you, so you also must do.
Colossians 3:13
We don’t forgive to be forgiven, we forgive because we are forgiven! The actions of Ananias demonstrate this kind of loving forgiveness. There are times when we are called to encourage those who have hurt us. If we have not forgiven, how can we encourage?
Ananias lets Saul know exactly who he serves and that he knows everything that has happened. The Lord has revealed the whole story to Ananias. He tells Saul that the Lord has sent him to accomplish two things. 1 - Saul will receive his sight. 2 - Saul will receive the Holy Spirit. What blessing!
Ananias is God’s conduit of blessing for Saul.
Notice that he confirms all that Saul had experienced. It truly was Jesus who appeared to him! This same Jesus had the power to give his sight back. And this Jesus will give to Saul the Holy Spirit. Ananias has come because he was sent by God.
Notice that he confirms all that Saul had experienced. It truly was Jesus who appeared to him! This same Jesus had the power to give his sight back. And this Jesus will give to Saul the Holy Spirit.
Ananias is encouraging Saul through these spiritual blessings. I can say without reservation that Spiritual blessings are the greatest we will ever receive. Greater than wealth, success, or achievement.
Like Ananias here, we are sometimes enabled to be channels through which God’s blessing flows. God uses Ananias to bless Saul. How? By showing him love, forgiveness, and kindness. This is how we encourage people. Work, school, friend, sibling, spouse.
For us to be used by God to bless others, the barriers have to be removed. We talked about that last week. The barriers of need, fear, and purpose. Once they are removed, like Ananias, we must obey God and follow His direction. Not only is Ananias used to bring Spiritual blessing. God also uses him to provide…

b. Physical blessing v. 18

The order of events here is important. Saul received his sight and was given the Holy Spirit simultaneously. Baptism comes after that.
The healing of Saul’s eyes is instantaneous. Sometimes when blindness was healed by Jesus it was gradual. Here it was immediate.
Something like scales fall from Saul’s eyes and he can see. I love the imagery here. All of us experience this at salvation. But for most it is the spiritual scales that fall from our eyes.
Turn to .
2 Corinthians 4:2–6 NKJV
But we have renounced the hidden things of shame, not walking in craftiness nor handling the word of God deceitfully, but by manifestation of the truth commending ourselves to every man’s conscience in the sight of God. But even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing, whose minds the god of this age has blinded, who do not believe, lest the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine on them. For we do not preach ourselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord, and ourselves your bondservants for Jesus’ sake. For it is the God who commanded light to shine out of darkness, who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.
2 Corinthians 4:2-6When we are in unbelief, we are blinded by Satan. But then God shines a light into our sin darkened hearts! The light of His glory in Jesus Christ shines on us and we are finally able to see! Saul was able to experience this both spiritually and physically.Saul’s sight is restored “at once”. The same is true Spiritually. I have heard countless stories over the years about how the Word of God made immediate sense when someone came to Christ. The blindness is gone. The light has come. When we come to Christ we are set free from sin caused blindness.As soon as Saul can see, he gets up and is baptized. Baptism doesn’t save. He is already saved. How do we know? He already has the Spirit! As we have pointed out previously, baptism is an identification. Saul the persecutor has identified himself with those he persecuted.Purely from the standpoint of human reasoning; something dramatic had to have happened in this man’s life for this change to take place! Saul has been baptized as a follower of Jesus Christ! These physical acts of blessing, the scales falling off, the blindness ending, the baptism, all demonstrate the power of what has happened to Saul. The Spiritual blessing has been immediately followed by physical blessing. Talk about being encouraged! Saul has been transformed! He can see, he has been baptized. Saul has been incredibly blessed through Ananias. Blessed spiritually, blessed physically, and now he receives…
When we are in unbelief, we are blinded by Satan. But then God shines a light into our sin darkened hearts! The light of His glory in Jesus Christ shines on us and we are finally able to see! Saul was able to experience this both spiritually and physically.
Saul’s sight is restored “at once”. The same is true Spiritually. I have heard countless stories over the years about how the Word of God made immediate sense when someone came to Christ. The blindness is gone. The light has come.
When we come to Christ we are set free from sin caused blindness.
Our worldview changes! Our outlook changes. Our view of self changes. It is changed by Jesus Christ.
As soon as Saul can see, he gets up and is baptized. Baptism doesn’t save. He is already saved. How do we know? He already has the Spirit! makes this very clear (S).
Romans 8:9 NKJV
But you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you. Now if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he is not His.
Ananias has come, laid hands on Saul, and Saul received the Holy Spirit. He is a believer! He is saved! As we have pointed out previously, baptism is an identification.
Saul the persecutor has identified himself with those he persecuted.
Purely from the standpoint of human reasoning; something dramatic had to have happened in this man’s life for this change to take place! Saul has been baptized as a follower of Jesus Christ! These physical acts of blessing, the scales falling off, the blindness ending, the baptism, all demonstrate the power of what has happened to Saul. The Spiritual blessing has been immediately followed by physical blessing.
Here is where many in our culture today get things backwards. For many, physical blessing is the measure of spirituality. Now, God does bless physically. However, spiritual blessing is greater. Spiritual blessing is assured. tells us that we have already been blessed with every spiritual blessing (S).
Ephesians 1:3 NKJV
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ,
speaks of riches as uncertain and not to be expected for believers (S).
1 Timothy 6:17–19 NKJV
Command those who are rich in this present age not to be haughty, nor to trust in uncertain riches but in the living God, who gives us richly all things to enjoy. Let them do good, that they be rich in good works, ready to give, willing to share, storing up for themselves a good foundation for the time to come, that they may lay hold on eternal life.
Ananias doesn’t come to Saul and offer him money to encourage him! He calls him brother, helps him see, and baptizes him. Even the physical blessings have spiritual elements to them.
How do you bless someone physically? By meeting a need that they have! Saul needed his sight restored. Needed the HS. Needed to be baptized. Think about those you encounter throughout the week. What needs do they have that you could meet?
Talk about being encouraged! Saul has been transformed! He can see, he has been baptized. Saul has been incredibly blessed through Ananias. Blessed spiritually, blessed physically, and now he receives…

c. Practical blessing v. 19

This verse is one of my favorites in the section. It is so practical! Saul has been fasting for 3 days considering all that he had done and all that it meant for Jesus to be alive, in heaven, and intimately connected to His followers. Now Saul has trusted Christ, had his sight restored, and been publicly baptized. The time for fasting is over. When Christ comes, when He answers our prayers, the time for fasting is over! I am not saying we shouldn’t fast as believers, but there is an end. When answer comes or time limit is reached.
Saul eats food and is strengthened. There is nothing mystical or mysterious about this. When we eat, we are strengthened! Yet the fact that this is stated demonstrates the strain that Saul had been under. This is often what happens in salvation. Conviction comes and it is crushing. Situations and circumstances pile up until a crisis, a breaking point is reached. It is decision time. I think of Joshua, standing before the nation of Israel and calling them to choose who they will serve. It is decision time! Later in Acts we see this same crisis point, this same moment of decision when Paul is standing before Agrippa. Turn to .
Acts 26:25–29 NKJV
But he said, “I am not mad, most noble Festus, but speak the words of truth and reason. For the king, before whom I also speak freely, knows these things; for I am convinced that none of these things escapes his attention, since this thing was not done in a corner. King Agrippa, do you believe the prophets? I know that you do believe.” Then Agrippa said to Paul, “You almost persuade me to become a Christian.” And Paul said, “I would to God that not only you, but also all who hear me today, might become both almost and altogether such as I am, except for these chains.”
The time of decision arrived for Agrippa, and he chose wrong! He let it pass without believing in Jesus. This time of crisis, this time of decision has now passed for Saul. He has chosen Christ. He eats food and is strengthened.
God cares about meeting practical needs.
Saul has a need for food, and that need is met. But he has another need. A need for fellowship. Food and fellowship are two of our most basic needs.
He spends time with the disciples in Damascus. Oh to be a fly on the wall as Saul sits with these brothers and sisters and begins to learn of Christ. I love the aspect of fellowship here. A new believer being introduced to the teachings of Christ through his new brothers and sisters! This is what I believe lies at the heart of (S).
Hebrews 10:24–25 NKJV
And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching.
The purpose of assembling is to encourage and strengthen each other and stir each other up! That’s what it taking place here. Saul gets firsthand experience with the difference Christ makes in our lives.
Saul gets firsthand experience with the difference Christ makes in our lives.
These people are apparently welcoming to Saul. They don’t separate from him. He is welcomed and encouraged. Again we see divine forgiveness.
These people are apparently welcoming to Saul. They don’t separate from him. He is welcomed and encouraged. Again we see divine forgiveness.
Practical blessing requires only a willingness and the ability to recognize what is required. Saul has some practical needs that the body of Christ and Ananias meet.
When the body of Christ functions this way, it is powerful. How do we react when a persecutor becomes a brother? Do we even believe they can?I mean really believe it. Saul needed encouragement and it comes through Ananias and the others in Damascus.

Conclusion

What a roller coaster! Ananias had to overcome barriers before he could encourage Saul.
What barriers are preventing you and me from having a ministry of encouragement?
Do we recognize our own need to be encouraged?
We have the opportunity to bring spiritual, physical, and practical blessing to others.
Will we allow God to use us as conduits of His blessing and through us encourage others?
That is the choice that is before us today.
Yes, there is fear. There may even be legitimate fear. But that doesn’t free us from encouraging those who need it.
We need to see the needs of others and trust that God has a plan and purpose that He will work out through our encouragement of others.
This week, may we encourage and bless others spiritually, physically, and practically.
This means we need to be aware of the needs of others and have a willingness to meet them.
PRAY
When we are discouraged, we need to take our focus off of ourselves. That is what the song “count your blessings” is about. I want us to be challenged to be a blessing that others count when they are discouraged. Sing with me
#338 At Calvary
#563 “Count Your Blessings”
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