We pick up the story of Saul about to be given a new name Paul as the Lord interrupted Saul’s plans with His own plans on the Damascus Road. Don’t you love it when God intervenes because of the power of prayer? Let’s pick up the story in Acts 9.
10- 11 Now there was a believer in Damascus named Ananias. The Lord spoke to him in a vision, calling, "Ananias!" "Yes, Lord!" he replied. The Lord said, "Go over to Straight Street, to the house of Judas. When you arrive, ask for Saul of Tarsus. He is praying to me right now.
I love verse 10 and the way God works! God can use anyone He desires as long as the vessel He chooses is willing to walk in obedience. Ananias was called a believer, not a pastor, evangelist, prophet, teacher or apostle, but a believer. Once again this proves God desires to use all believers in the supernatural but we must be in position to be used. If we stay in our prayer closet (secret place) long enough and prove ourselves faithful and obedient in the small things, God will use us more and more because we have been proven faithful. The two factors of God using us is so simple, PRAY and OBEY. In Acts 9, Father God is about to save the biggest persecutor of the early church, who will go on and write two-thirds of the New Testament and He uses a believer not a person with a title or position. You never have to have a man made position to have God given power and authority. Having a man given title does not accomplish as much as a God given towel of servant hood.
12 I have shown him a vision of a man named Ananias coming in and laying his hands on him so that he can see again."
Now the story gets even more supernatural; Father God declares to Ananias that I’ve already prepared Saul about you coming to see him. See this; God gives a VISION to a BLIND, UNSAVED persecutor of the church. I’m thankful God is not limited by our thoughts and understanding of the supernatural. Many people are saved for 40 years and have never seen a vision but God gives Saul a vision which is about to play out.
God is God, a good God but a God who won’t be manipulated by our man made traditions. Remember God is always at work for us when we can see it and when we can’t. While God was talking to Ananias He was also talking to Saul! God is amazing!
13 "But Lord," exclaimed Ananias, "I've heard about the terrible things this man has done to the believers in Jerusalem! 14 And we hear that he is authorized by the leading priests to arrest every believer in Damascus."
The humanness of Ananias shows up because he had heard the reports about Saul and was caught up in “stinking thinking”, believing what man had said instead of just trusting God completely. Notice in these two verses, he heard and what he heard was contradictory to what God had planned; another reminder to control and be careful about what enters our eye and ear gates. Anything contrary to God’s Word is false regardless of where the information comes from. The information may be factual but God’s word is truth.
15 But the Lord said, "Go and do what I say. For Saul is my chosen instrument to take my message to the Gentiles and to kings, as well as to the people of Israel. 16 And I will show him how much he must suffer for me."
Now God gives Ananias insight to His plan, “Yes what you heard was true but I’m about to use Saul for my Kingdom, now go!”
17 So Ananias went and found Saul. He laid his hands on him and said, "Brother Saul, the Lord Jesus, who appeared to you on the road, has sent me so that you may get your sight back and be filled with the Holy Spirit." 18 Instantly something like scales fell from Saul's eyes, and he regained his sight. Then he got up and was baptized. 19 Afterward he ate some food and was strengthened. Saul stayed with the believers in Damascus for a few days. 20 And immediately he began preaching about Jesus in the synagogues, saying, "He is indeed the Son of God!"
What a miracle! Ananias obeyed and Saul began to see again after being blind for three days and Saul was filled with Holy Ghost and baptized (what a life change)! Verse 20 declares that immediately Saul began preaching about JESUS being the Son of God, the way to Father God. Those Saul had persecuted, he had become one of them, glory to God!
21 All who heard him were amazed. "Isn't this the same man who persecuted Jesus' followers with such devastation in Jerusalem?" they asked. "And we understand that he came here to arrest them and take them in chains to the leading priests." 22 Saul's preaching became more and more powerful, and the Jews in Damascus couldn't refute his proofs that Jesus was indeed the Messiah.
The one voted least likely to become a Christian not only became a Christian but also a powerful, if not the most powerful, voice among the early Christian church!
Prayer Points: 1. Father help me to never give up on anyone in my circle because I know you can transform them supernaturally and use them to build Your Kingdom!
Acts 9:1 Meanwhile, Saul was uttering threats with every breath. He was eager to destroy the Lord's followers, so he went to the high priest. 2 He requested letters addressed to the synagogues in Damascus, asking their cooperation in the arrest of any followers of the Way he found there. He wanted to bring them -- both men and women -- back to Jerusalem in chains.
Saul, whom we first encountered when Stephen was being martyred for his family, is persecuting the Christians, arresting some and history indicates that he even participated in murdering Christians but God had another plan. Remember “religion not based on God’s Word” destroys and will even lead to murder whether it’s physical or by the words they speak. Jesus did not come to create another religion but rather came to build a bridge between God and man. I say it continuously but we need to hear it over and over, God loves us so much that He had a Son but wanted a family so Father God planted His Son in the ground and we became His Family. How can you not serve a God like this? It’s a little off the subject we are on but these verses are powerful:
1 Cor. 15:20 But the fact is that Christ has been raised from the dead. He has become the first of a great harvest of those who will be raised to life again. 21 So you see, just as death came into the world through a man, Adam, now the resurrection from the dead has begun through another man, Christ. 22 Everyone dies because all of us are related to Adam, the first man. But all who are related to Christ, the other man, will be given new life.
Glory to God, He sowed and now we who have accepted Jesus are His Harvest!
Back to the story: Saul was persecuting Christian men and women and there is not a doubt in my mind that the early church went to prayer about what Saul was doing. Prayer changes things and it also changes people and God was about to get Saul’s attention. Some of the early church probably wrote Saul off as hopeless and deceived but the power of prayer opened his spiritual eyes.
3 As he was nearing Damascus on this mission, a brilliant light from heaven suddenly beamed down upon him! 4 He fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to him, "Saul! Saul! Why are you persecuting me?"
I’ve got good news; God never changes so if HE did it then, He will do it now in the 21st century if we will pray with faith. We ALL have loved ones running from God, living sinful lifestyles and we need them to encounter the living God like Saul did on the Damascus Road. Stop right now and pray for those in your family who need this type of experience. There is power in believing prayer. Saul had the greatest deception of all, religious deception but God got his attention and woke him up.
5 "Who are you, sir?" Saul asked. And the voice replied, "I am Jesus, the one you are persecuting!
I would have loved to have seen Saul’s face at this moment, being knocked down was one thing, hearing a voice was another, but then knowing it was Jesus speaking totally changed his life. He was persecuting those who professed Jesus and now this Jesus was talking to him. Fear, I’m sure, gripped his heart but then the presence of the Lord brought peace in the situation.
6 Now get up and go into the city, and you will be told what you are to do."
Don’t you love it when God’s plan comes together? God had a plan for Saul before he was ever born and God’s plan did not change because Saul had made some bad choices so when he repented God’s plan began to take place in his life.
7 The men with Saul stood speechless with surprise, for they heard the sound of someone's voice, but they saw no one!
It’s hard to read the BIble and not believe in the supernatural because God is a supernatural God who still does supernatural things. Saul, even though he couldn’t see, heard the voice of God for the first time. When we blind ourselves to the things of this world, we are able to hear the voice of God clearly. When we continually feed our eyes and ears with this world, it lessens our ability to hear from the Lord.
8 As Saul picked himself up off the ground, he found that he was blind. 9 So his companions led him by the hand to Damascus. He remained there blind for three days. And all that time he went without food and water.
Saul after encountering the presence of the Lord, went on a three day fast seeking truth. Next week we will see the tremendous plan of God coming to pass for Saul.
Prayer Points: Lord remove the things in my life (sin, tradition, strongholds, generational curses, false religion) that keep me from hearing your voice clearly in my life so I can fulfill my purpose.
Acts 8:25 After testifying and preaching the word of the Lord in Samaria, Peter and John returned to Jerusalem. And they stopped in many Samaritan villages along the way to preach the Good News.We are all called to go and tell the good news of Jesus Christ. The gospel is good news but God needs vessels to tell the good news and always remember someone’s eternity is dependent on your obedience.
26 As for Philip, an angel of the Lord said to him, "Go south down the desert road that runs from Jerusalem to Gaza."
Many times the direction of the Lord never agrees with our human nature or our natural thinking. Philip is in a city wide revival with people being saved, healed and filled with the Holy Ghost and then gets his next kingdom assignment. The assignment? Go to the desert. A question for all of us, “Are we willing to complete our kingdom assignment even when it requires desert surroundings”? Many are willing to be on the stage but not as many willing to serve where they cannot be seen or in control.
27 So he started out, and he met the treasurer of Ethiopia, a eunuch of great authority under the Kandake, the queen of Ethiopia. The eunuch had gone to Jerusalem to worship,
So he started out (first part of the verse) and I think everyone in the city wide revival discouraged him from going, probably questioning his ability to hear the voice of the Holy Spirit. Why would the Holy Spirit tell you to leave this revival and go to the desert? Why would God interrupt what you are doing here? But the good news is this; Philip was willing to listen and to obey the voice of the Lord so he started out not even knowing all of the assignment.
I must emphasize this point, sometimes God does not give you the whole assignment at first, but when you obey what He has told you then the rest of the assignment will become clear. Sometimes you just have to step out in faith as the Holy Spirit leads you. Abraham stepped out in faith, leaving the familiar for that which was promised and great was his reward becoming the father of many nations.
Philip started walking in the desert, pure obedience, and then we read that he met the treasurer of Ethiopia who had gone to Jerusalem to worship. A very prominent man of wealth, power and influence, a man Philip would have never met if he had not obeyed.
28 and he was now returning. Seated in his carriage, he was reading aloud from the book of the prophet Isaiah. 29 The Holy Spirit said to Philip, "Go over and walk along beside the carriage." 30 Philip ran over and heard the man reading from the prophet Isaiah. Philip asked, "Do you understand what you are reading?" 31 The man replied, "How can I, unless someone instructs me?" And he urged Philip to come up into the carriage and sit with him.
God knew this man’s heart and knew he was hungry for more of Him so Father God interrupted a city wide revival for Philip to minister to the treasurer to fill the hunger for more of God. Obedience will take you places and put you in front of people who have the platform to change nations.
32 The passage of Scripture he had been reading was this:
"He was led like a sheep to the slaughter. And as a lamb is silent before the shearers, he did not open his mouth.33 He was humiliated and received no justice. Who can speak of his descendants? For his life was taken from the earth." 34 The eunuch asked Philip, "Tell me, was the prophet talking about himself or someone else?" 35 So beginning with this same Scripture, Philip told him the Good News about Jesus. Friends that is so supernatural, it shows the will of God in action, bringing the lost into the kingdom. Obedience!
36 As they rode along, they came to some water, and the eunuch said, "Look! There's some water! Why can't I be baptized?" 38 He ordered the carriage to stop, and they went down into the water, and Philip baptized him. 39 When they came up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord snatched Philip away. The eunuch never saw him again but went on his way rejoicing. 40 Meanwhile, Philip found himself farther north at the town of Azotus. He preached the Good News there and in every town along the way until he came to Caesarea.
Obedience did not only allow a person to get saved who would influence a whole nation but it also allowed Philip to experience the supernatural. He was divinely transported from the desert to another town where he preached the good news. What a story to tell at the next family reunion or to your kids and grandkids but it would have never happened except for obedience. Remember the keys to Supernatural Kingdom Living: Prayer and Obedience.
Prayer Points: Father, forgive me for every time I’ve disobeyed you. Now I commit my life to a life of prayer and obedience so I can be that vessel to increase your Kingdom!
We read in Acts 8 last week that Philip was having a city wide revival with
salvations, miracles and signs and the city was full of joy. Let’s pick up the
story in Acts 8:9: A man named Simon had been a sorcerer there for many years,
amazing the people of Samaria and claiming to be someone great. 10 Everyone,
from the least to the greatest, often spoke of him as "the Great One—the Power
of God." 11 They listened closely to him because for a long time he had astounded them with his magic. I need to remind you of this fact; God hates witchcraft and any demonic activity of the supernatural like Ouija boards, tarot cards, séances and even oroscopes.
God said this in Ex 22:18 KJV Thou shalt not suffer a witch to live. 19 Whosoever
lieth with a beast shall surely be put to death. God places the sin of witchcraft with
the sin of bestiality or sexual relations with animals. The devil is very deceiving in this area from shows on the Disney channel to the theatres and books being written today. Vampire and witch movies are at an all time high it seems because people love the supernatural, the unexplainable but it is the devil’s scheme to deceive people. Friends, shows and books like Harry Potter may seem innocent but it’s full of demonic poison allowing demonic activity into your home. If the devil can get in an inch, he will eventually take a mile.
This man Simon was very powerful in the city and some even claimed his power came
from God when it was totally demonic. God doesn’t need a crystal ball or have a
need to read the palm of your hand. Stay away from all demonic activity. All of the activities are very destructive in the lives of those who participate. God has a Supernatural far more powerful, far more knowledgeable than anything the devil can offer. So seek after God and His Presence and live a supernatural life of the Holy
Spirit. He will blow your mind!
12 But now the people believed Philip's message of Good News concerning the Kingdom
of God and the name of Jesus Christ. As a result, many men and women were baptized. 13 Then Simon himself believed and was baptized. He began following Philip wherever he went, and he was amazed by the signs and great miracles Philip performed. Remember signs, wonders and miracles will bring people to Jesus and when God does a miracle in our lives we need to share it. Testimonies of God’s amazing healing, saving and delivering power bring people to the Lord, even sorcerers!
14 When the apostles in Jerusalem heard that the people of Samaria had accepted
God's message, they sent Peter and John there. 15 As soon as they arrived, they prayed for these new believers to receive the Holy Spirit. 16 The Holy Spirit had not yet come upon any of them, for they had only been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. 17 Then Peter and John laid their hands upon these believers, and they received the Holy Spirit.
As you read this passage carefully it’s easy to see truth that denies some teachings that believe that once you get saved you get everything God has for you. The Baptism of the Holy Spirit (Acts 2) and being born again are two different supernatural experiences.
You can be saved and never filled with the baptismal of the Holy Spirit but you can never be filled with the Spirit without being saved. We can get to heaven without being filled with the Holy Ghost but it’s hard to live victorious without being full of the Spirit.
18 When Simon saw that the Spirit was given when the apostles laid their hands on
people, he offered them money to buy this power. 19 "Let me have this power, too," he exclaimed, "so that when I lay my hands on people, they will receive the Holy Spirit!" 20 But Peter replied, "May your money be destroyed with you for thinking God's gift can be bought! 21 You can have no part in this, for your heart is not right with God. 22 Repent of your wickedness and pray to the Lord. Perhaps he will forgive your evil thoughts, 23 for I can see that you are full of bitter jealousy and are held captive by sin." 24 "Pray to the Lord for me," Simon exclaimed, "that these terrible things you've said won't happen to me!"
Simon the sorcerer, even though he believed in Jesus, still needed to have a heart
change because he wanted the power of God without seeking first the presence of
the Lord. It’s dangerous to want to be used by God without wanting to know God.
Private intimacy with the Father produces public power. But make sure your
motives are pure for wanting to be used in God’s Kingdom!
Prayer point: Father use me in your Kingdom but most of all let me know you as my
Acts 8:1 Saul was one of the witnesses and he agreed completely with the killing of Stephen. A great wave of persecution began that day, sweeping over the church in Jerusalem; and all the believers except the apostles were scattered through the regions of Judea and Samaria. 2 (Some devout men came and buried Stephen with great mourning.)
The early was church full of power, full of zeal, full of the Holy Spirit and revival had broken out with the lost coming to the truth daily. It’s wonderful except for the fact that revival brings persecution. Friends, we think we are persecuted for our beliefs but there are so many overseas that die daily for their faith. Persecution is more than someone making fun of us or not agreeing with us and calling us names. Real persecution is when a machine gun is stuck to your head and you are told to renounce Christ or die. This is what was happening in this passage.
3 But Saul was going everywhere to destroy the church. He went from house to house, dragging out both men and women to throw them into prison.
In the next chapter Saul meets Jesus and is radically changed but right now he is becoming the greatest persecutor of the early Christians, throwing men and women believers in jail and many believe he was even murdering some believers.
4 But the believers who were scattered preached the Good News about Jesus wherever they went.
When persecution hits a believer that is Holy Ghost filled it doesn’t stop them, it empowers them the more to spread the good news. I’m thankful the early church loved Jesus so much that they were even willing to lay down their lives (dying to self and sometimes dying physical deaths).
5 Philip, for example, went to the city of Samaria and told the people there about the Messiah. 6 Crowds listened intently to Philip because they were eager to hear his message and see the miraculous signs he did. 7 Many evil spirits were cast out, screaming as they left their victims. And many who had been paralyzed or lame were healed. 8 So there was great joy in that city.
Philip, one of the original twelve disciples, not apostles, went to Samaria and a revival broke out. People are still eager to hear a message if it’s demonstrated with power. Read these verses slowly and meditate on them:
1 Cor 4:20 For the kingdom of God is not in word, but in power.
1 Thess 1:5 For when we brought you the Good News, it was not only with words but also with power, for the Holy Spirit gave you full assurance that what we said was true. 1 Cor 2:4 And my speech and my preaching was not with enticing words of man's wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power:
This is where we, as the church, have got to get back to; the word demonstrated with signs, miracles and wonders after the word is preached or taught. Social clubs will bring a crowd, programs will build a congregation but the church (the bride of Christ) has got to be a living organism full of the Word and Power.
It’s not the power that we seek, it’s the power giver, and it’s the presence of Jehovah God that we must seek out of relationship. I don’t want to be used by God and Him not know me.
Matt 7:22 Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? 23 And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.
As I ministered last Sunday about the difference between the Anointing and the Glory, we were reminded the Anointing is the power to accomplish certain acts in God’s Kingdom (casting out devils, healing the sick, etc.) but the Glory is simply God’s presence (relationship). In the Garden of Eden the Glory of God covered Adam and Eve until sin broke the fellowship and lifted. (Sin Destroys) So God, still wanting to be close to mankind, confined Himself to the place called the Holy of Holies which was in a tent and later in a temple. It was only when Jesus restored relationship back between God and man, when Jesus cried it is finished on the cross and the veil was rent, that God once again resides with mankind. Now we are the temple, we carry God’s Presence; what an awesome honor and responsibility! To carry God’s presence you must know Father God in the secret place of prayer, you must spend time with Him on a consistent basis, you must shun evil knowing it will offend His Presence because He is still a Holy God.
Over and over we read this about the early church; they were filled with the Holy Spirit and with power. Simply put they were walking in God’s Glory. They spent time in the word, in prayer and in seeking after knowing Father God.
Prayer Point: Father God I ask you to show me areas in my life where I’ve grown cold and complacent so I can repent and return to my first love for you. Let me carry your Glory!