The Believers in Damascus had heard about Saul and his murderous threats against them. Ananias also knew Saul had traveled there with the authority from the Chief Priests to arrest them all. So you can imagine that Ananias had many excuses as to why he shouldn’t go and lay hands on this man…but God said, “Go!” And Ananias went. But somewhere between his house and the house where Saul was staying Ananias had a major heart adjustment. For when he greeted Saul, he called him Brother Saul. Brother meaning Saul had been accepted into the community of brothers and sisters in the Lord.
To me, doubt is the most debilitating and controlling weapon Satan uses against us. We can be the strongest of Christians with absolute trust and confidence in our Savior…but when the tiniest bit of doubt creeps into our minds, suddenly we’re filled with questioning, uncertainty, and apprehension. And a lot of these times it’s not that we’re doubting God …we’re doubting what God can to do through us. Self-doubt will stop God’s plans and purposes for our life…self-doubt is like telling the Lord, “You don’t know what you’re doing, I know better.” As Jesus told Thomas, “Stop doubting and believe.”
It was Roman custom to have the condemned person carry the cross on which he was to suffer through the streets as a means of spectacle, humiliation, and as a deterrent for others. But Jesus is calling us to follow Him…to purposely take up and bear that figure of shame. For on that cross our sins were brutally nailed…on that cross our redemption was sealed in blood. To the Romans, the cross was a symbol of shame…but to Believers, it’s a symbol of salvation.
When we’ve been betrayed by someone we love and trust…it takes a long time to let down our guard and trust again. We want to trust, but we draw back in apprehension that we’ll just get hurt again. It’s kind of like two porcupines dancing…desiring the companionship but afraid of the quills! But when we put our faith in Jesus…when we draw near to Him, He draws near to us. And in that coming near God, by prayer and cherished fellowship with Him, we are assured that God will never leave us or forsake us…for we learn He loves us with a never-ending love.
Living for Christ is hard…there’s no way around it. The moment you say “Yes” to Jesus, the world labels you as “One of those crazy religious people”. But it’s by those troubles we encounter that we learn perseverance and are forged into a willing vessel for God . And with each difficulty, we go from wounded to winner. As Oswald Chambers once said, “Do we appreciate the miraculous salvation of Jesus Christ enough to be our utmost for His Highest – our best for His glory?” Yes, the way is narrow and filled with difficulties, but just look where it leads.
Jesus wasn’t chastising the Disciples, He was simply speaking the truth, and fulfilling the prophecy spoken of from Zechariah. Jesus Christ is our Good Shepherd…the one Who cares for, watches over, and provides for the welfare of His flock…Christian Believers everywhere.
The writer of Hebrews is paraphrasing Habakkuk 2:3-4 in this passage. He’s stressing that our spiritual walk is made up of constant, focused, decisions to trust and obey the Lord…even when we can’t see change. He warns us against retreating or drawing back from trials simply out of fear. If you’re in the middle of a storm today, don’t allow fear to rule your life…don’t hesitate when apprehension rises in your throat…rather make a conscious decision to listen to that still small voice of the Holy Spirit and walk by faith.