What’s in a Name? (3)
Pray Psalm 78.1-4.
Give ear, O my people, to my law;
Incline your ears to the words of my mouth.
I will open my mouth in a parable;
I will utter dark sayings of old,
Which we have heard and known,
And our fathers have told us.
We will not hide them from their children,
Telling to the generation to come the praises of the LORD,
And His strength and His wonderful works that He has done.
Sing Psalm 78.1-4.
(Foundation: How Firm a Foundation)
Give ear, O my people, attend to my word,
dark sayings and parables sent from the Lord,
things we have before by our fathers been told,
which we would not dare from our children withhold.
Read Acts 9.1-19; meditate on verses 15-19.
1. For what was God preparing Saul?
2. Where did that preparation begin?
Jesus had chosen Saul to “bear” His Name “before the Gentiles, kings, and the children of Israel.” He had big plans for this former persecutor, and Ananias was appointed to break the bottle of champagne over the bow of the good ship Saul. What a privilege!
Ananias went right to his task. Finding Saul, he greeted him with an amazing statement of grace: “Brother Saul…” What must Saul have thought upon hearing this? “Do I know you? How is it we are brothers?” He would learn soon enough.
Ananias did not explain everything the Lord had said to him. Jesus had said He would take care of that. Ananias only led Saul to his next step, which is what good leaders do. The falling away of (something like) scales from Saul’s eyes is meant both realistically and symbolically. His eyes had been seared by the blinding light of Christ, but now, his confusion was being dispelled, and he was beginning to “see” clearly. Conversion to Christ is both sudden and complete, and gradual and growing.
The name of “Gentiles” must have raised a few questions in Ananias’ mind. “What do the Gentiles have to do with this?” That scorned name, mentioned in the same sentence with the “children of Israel”, could have only one meaning: Jesus was aiming His grace toward the Gentiles, and the meaning and mention of that name would be forever changed. Further, He was going to begin that effort among “the disciples” (v. 19) right here, in Damascus, a Gentile city which had been an enemy of Israel as long as anyone could remember.
Christ’s way of pursuing His ongoing work never ceases to surprise and amaze.
Treasures Old and New: Matthew 13.52; Psalm 119.162
As confusing to Saul as the greeting of “Brother” from Ananias must have been, can you imagine how difficult it must have been for Ananias to say it? To lovingly “brother” someone who had murdered and imprisoned countless Christians? That must have been a stretch in faith and grace for Ananias.
But isn’t that what God’s grace is all about? I’m talking about the grace that is lovingly shown to each one of us when we accept this gift from Jesus, “who Himself bore our sins in His own body on the tree, that we, having died to sins, might live for righteousness—by whose stripes you were healed” (1 Pet. 2.24).
Our thankfulness to God, for this unearned and undeserved gift, is shown to Him by the grace we show to others. Exactly like Ananias showed to Saul.
“And with great power the apostles gave witness to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus. And great grace was upon them all” (Acts 4.33).
“Grace be with all those who love our Lord Jesus Christ in sincerity” (Eph. 6.24).
“Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom which cannot be shaken, let us have grace, by which we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear. For our God is a consuming fire” (Heb. 12.28, 29).
“…but grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” (2 Pet. 3.18).
If we are truly praying that the world will be saved, we must prepare ourselves with “Ananias grace” for those God chooses to save! Because look out, they may even be as disreputable as we. (1 Tim. 1.15) And as much in need of hearing “Brother Saul” as we, at one time, were.
What does the Lord require of us?
To do justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with our God (Mic. 6.8).
Which sounds a lot like “Ananias grace”.
1. How have you seen God’s grace at work through you?
2. In your Personal Mission Field, are there any “unlikely candidates” to receive Jesus? Are they beyond the reach of God’s grace? Explain.
3. What do we mean by saying that grace works in “next steps”?
… it is the Lord’s glory to surpass our scanty expectations, and show that those are vessels of his mercy whom we are apt to consider as objects of his vengeance. The teaching of the Holy Spirit takes away the scales of ignorance and pride from the understanding; then the sinner becomes a new creature, and endeavors to recommend the anointed Savior, the Son of God, to his former companions. Matthew Henry (1662-1714), Commentary on Acts 9.10-22
Pray Psalm 78.4-7.
Pray for the children of your church, and for all the study groups where people gather to seek the Lord in His Word. Pray that they will all increase in the Lord and in keeping His commandments.
Sing Psalm 78.4-7.
(Foundation: How Firm a Foundation)
The glorious deeds of our God in His might,
and all of the works He has done in our sight,
together with all of the words of His Law,
would we on ourselves and our children bestow.
Lord, let all our children arise and declare
the truth of the Lord every day, everywhere,
and set all their hopes in God’s wonderful Word,
and never forget all the works of the Lord.
T. M. and Susie Moore
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Except as indicated, all Scriptures are taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. For sources of all quotations, see the weekly PDF of this study. All psalms for singing are from The Ailbe Psalter (Williston: Waxed Tablet Publications, 2006), available by clicking here.