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.
This is what the Lord said to Saul, (later Paul) on that hot and dusty Damascus road. When we are born again, we have a glimpse of what the Lord has in store for us…visions of the work He wants to accomplish through us. But suddenly fear and doubt take over, for the visions are so large and we feel so small and inadequate. That’s when we need to take a look at this Scripture again, for the Lord says that He was with Paul not only then, but would be into the future… revealing to him more as Paul obediently moved forward. So much, that later in his ministry, Paul proclaimed in Philippians 4:13, “I can do everything through Him who gives me strength.” Please remember this, you too can do all things through Him that gives you strength.
This time of year we are inundated with requests and pleas for donations. They call on the phone, they mail us fliers, they approach us in public places. All these overwhelming requests can turn anyone cold towards helping others…to the point of thinking, ” I can’t give, I can hardly get by with what I have!” Paul addressed this in II Corinthians 8:2 – where he explained even though the Church in Macedonia was going through severe trials and extreme poverty, their joy of the Lord overflowed and welled up into rich generosity towards others. God has proven over and over again that you can’t out give Him. So allow joy and thankfulness to fill your heart this Holiday Season as you give generously to others…not out of your lack, but out of His riches.
Earlier in the day, Paul and Silas had been stripped, severely flogged and then thrown into prison. So we now find them hours later holding their own praise and worship service to a rather captive audience of fellow prisoners and guards. They could have wallowed in their sorrow and pain, but instead chose to worship God. When we praise God in the midst of impossible situations, the atmosphere changes and with it, our attitude. Our eyes are taken off the incurable, the grief-stricken, the hopeless dilemma…and allows God to work in miraculous ways. It says here that the earthquake caused all the prison doors to open…not just the one to Paul and Silas’s cell, and that everybody’s chains came off…not just theirs. When our focus is on praise rather than on self-pity, everyone around us will be blessed.
Felix, the Governor of Judea, was well acquainted with the “Way”…in fact he was even married to a Jewess named Drusilla. So as he listened to Paul speak about faith in Jesus Christ, conviction hit a little too close to home. Conviction by the Holy Spirit is an intense persuasion…a laying bare of our personal sin, and the realization of the judgment to come if we don’t repent. Paul saw this force at work by the Holy Spirit first hand and later wrote to the Thessalonians, “Because our Gospel came to you not simply with words, but also with power, with the Holy Spirit and with deep conviction.” (I Thessalonians 1:5) Never underestimate the power of conviction by the Holy Spirit…for it is unrelenting and able to reach where no human words can.