The Christian God Uses

Acts 9:10-17

One of the most humbling truths revealed in the Word of God is that God uses you and me
to accomplish His purposes.
That is an amazing thought.
The infinite, eternal, omniscient, omnipresent, omnipotent God uses people like you and me
to do His work on earth.

Ananias was a man who was wonderfully used by God.
He was privileged to lead Saul of Tarsus into an understanding of what God wanted the
great apostle, Paul, to do.
Twice in the New Testament we read about Ananias.
We read about him in the 9th chapter and the 22nd chapter of Acts.
He is presented to us as the kind of Christian that God uses.

The Christian God uses is a member of the body of Christ.

God Works through Christians who have experienced the miracle of the new birth,
and have been made members of the body of Christ.
Jesus told Nicodemus that one must be born again to be a member of God's kingdom.
Jesus said: "Except a man be born again, he cannot see the the kingdom of God." (John 3:3)

When a person is born again, a number of things happen.
One thing that happens is that the Holy Spirit baptizes us into the body of Christ.
"For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body." (1 Corinthians 12:13)

An individual becomes a member of a local congregation by trusting Jesus Christ as Saviour,
and publicly confessing Christ by receiving believer's baptism.
Acts 2:41 gives the divine order:
"Then they that gladly received his Word were baptized; and the same day
there were added unto them about 3000 souls.
"

The Christian God uses must be living a devout Christian life.

The Bible tells us that Ananias was "a devout man." (Acts 22:12)
It also states that he had "a good report of all the Jews."
This simply means that Ananias was a devout Christian.
There was no insincerity about his life or his testimony.
He "adorned the doctrines of Christ."
That is to say, that he incarnated the teachings of the Bible in his human body.

Jesus told Saul of Tarsus that in persecuting Christians he had been persecuting the
Lord Jesus Himself, for believers are members of the body of Christ. (Acts 9:4-5)
Jesus is the Head of the church, and we, as members of the church, are members
of Christ's body.
Therefore, the disciples of the Lord, and the Lord Himself, are one.

During His earthly ministry, our Lord had an earthly body.
He lived and worked through that earthly body.
Now Jesus is in heaven, and the body of Jesus on earth is the church.
So, Jesus works through individual members of His body, the church. (1 Corinthians 12: 12-13)

Ananias, a member of that body was also greatly used by the Lord.
Ananias comes on the scene in the middle of this dramatic, traumatic story.
It's easy to miss him, and even if you've heard the story of Paul on the road to Damascus
many times before, it's quite possible you you have not thought much about Ananias.

Saul had that dramatic event in his life when God blinded him on the road to Damascus.
We can imagine that some of his companions had held his hand and led him the rest of the way
into Damascus.
Saul can neither eat nor drink; he can't even find his way around.

And, at the same time this is happening, God calls out to Ananias, and says,
"Ananias, arise and go to the street called Straight.
There you will meet a man named Saul.
Go, welcome him into the faith, because I have plans for him.
I have chosen him to be my missionary to all the Gentiles
."

Ananias can hardly believe what he hears.
"Lord, did you say, Saul?"
"Is this the same Saul who is the persecutor and destroyer of so many Christians?"

"But God simply says, "Go!"

So, Ananias goes to Straight Street in Damascus, and there, just as God had said, is Saul.
Ananias goes to him and addresses him, not as an enemy of the church, and not as the murderer
and destroyer that he is, but he addresses him as "Brother Saul."

Ananias lays hands on him indicating that God has set him aside to serve Him.
When Ananias lays hands upon Saul's head, Saul's eyesight is immediately restored,
and he is now able to eat.
Ananias baptizes him.

The change has been so dramatic that he is no longer called, Saul, but gets a new name,
representative of his new identity.
The persecutor of Christians is transformed by the call of Christ to be the "apostle of the Gentiles".
He will now be known as Paul.

Ananias was just an ordinary person, but God used him in the most amazing experience.
He had an opportunity to serve God in dedicating a man named, Saul, the persecutor
of the church, to become, Paul, who is thought to be the greatest Christian that ever lived.
What a great ministry Ananias performed for God that day.
Then, Ananias is never heard from again.

Some years ago, the Harvard University Press published a fascinating series of books
called, "A History of Private Life".

It didn't tell about kings and queens and parliaments, and prominent people.
It was about about ordinary people going about their ordinary lives.

Life in the "good old days" was not always good.
During those years, most people had to work from dawn until dusk,
just to eke out a living, just barely getting by with enough food.

When I was growing up we studied the history of the the lives and the works of great men.
These were the powerful, the mighty, the ones who leave behind statues and monuments.

But if you want to know the true history of what was going on, you would have to look beyond
those who make the headlines, to those who are earning the living, and to those
who were raising the children.
It is also true today.

I would to tell you about a family who lived in a little white frame house on a side street
in the city where I was a pastor.
This little house had just four rooms, with a small grassy lot beside the house.
I would tell you about a humble, unassuming man in his eighties who was usually wearing
bib overalls, and his wife who would be wearing her bonnet.
Often, when I would visit this Christian couple who were long time members of our church,
I would find them working in their little garden.

The couple had lived a long life for Jesus, and all who knew them would tell you
of their sincere life that was lived every day for Jesus.
They were never featured on the pages of the local newspaper.
They were not prominent in the community.
At this time in their walk for God they had no responsibility in the church.

All they did was to raise two daughters who gave themselves to be missionaries.
The older daughter served 40 years as a missionary in Africa as the head nurse
in a children's hospital, as crude as it was.
She traveled by foot or canoe to get to where there were babies who needed her attention.
The mothers in those villages were malnourished, and could not provide their milk for their babies.
There were no cows anywhere in the region, so many babies died because there was no milk.

She was so burdened for these mothers and their babies, and she was always searching for ways
to help them.
She heard about a possible solution that the Germans had developed.
She got permission to go to Germany where she learned how to plant soy beans
and make soy milk, and came back with seeds, and taught the people how to grow soy beans,
and how to make milk from them.
From that, many babies became healthy babies.

The younger sister became a missionary in the mean streets of Miami.
She and another lady missionary would walk the dangerous streets to find children
that they could invite to Vacation Bible Schools.
They would walk streets that men wouldn't walk by themselves.
Hundreds of boys and girls came to know Jesus and the lives of many families were changed
because of their ministry.

All of this because of a father and mother who lived a dedicated Christian life
before two daughters and gave them a heart to serve.

God uses ordinary people to do extraordinary things.

If you and I are to be used of the Lord, we must be yielded to the Lord.
Have you been born again -- have you become a Christian?
Have you followed Christ in New Testament believer's baptism?
Are you a member of a local church where you are actively working for Christ?

People have often ask the question, " Can't I be a Christian without joining the church?"
The answer is "Yes," you can be a Christian without joining the church,
but that would be like being:
"A student who will not go to school.
A soldier who will not join the army.
A citizen who does not pay taxes or vote.
A salesman with no customers,
A seaman on a ship without a crew.
A businessman on a deserted island.
An author without readers.
A trumpet player without an orchestra.
A parent without a family.
A football player without a team.
A politician who is a hermit.
A scientist who does not share his findings.
A bee without a hive
."
-- Source unknown

Yes, you can be a Christian without being a member of a local church, but it's absolutely abnormal,
and you'll never be a Spirit-filled Christian used of God until you become a member of a local church.

The Christian God uses will probably be a very unlikely person.

I read about a woman who had locked her keys in her car at a mall.
Not having enough money to call a locksmith, she prayed for God to help her.

Shortly after, a rough looking man came up to her, and asked if she needed any help.
She told him that her keys were locked in her car; and in no time at all, the man used a wire
and lifted the lock.

The woman thanked him, and said, that he was an answer to prayer and that he was an angel.
The man said, "Oh, I am not an angel, ma'am. I just got out of prison."

The woman looked to heaven and said, "Oh Lord, You are so good! You sent me an expert!"

God specializes in using ordinary people, and this is a great encouragement to all of us.
(1 Corinthians 1:26-29)

Abel was an ordinary young man who gave an excellent offering to the Lord.
Enoch pleased God.
Noah built an ark after God had asked him to do so.
Abraham lived with his wife along with his farther, when God called him out of his country.
Sarah was barren but gave birth to Isaac in her old age.

Jacob was an ordinary father who played favorites with his sons.
Joseph was a regular teenager whose brothers were jealous and sold him into slavery,
but God used all that was wrongly done to him for good.
He became second in charge in Egypt., and saved his family and Egypt from starvation.

Moses was tending sheep when God called him, and used him to deliver His people
from slavery in Egypt.
Joshua was an ordinary man with faith in God that God used to lead His people to defeat Jericho.
Rahab was a common prostitute, yet she believed God, and saved the Joshua and the spies.
There are many more examples through out the Bible.

The point is God used all these ordinary people, "who through faith subdued kingdoms,
worked righteousness, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions,
quenched the violence of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, out of weakness were made strong,
became valiant in battle, turned to fight the armies of the aliens
." (Hebrews 11:33-34).

It was a little known prophet named, Nathan, who led David to repentance.
It was a little maid who gave Naaman, the captain of the Syrian army, the good news
of how he could be free of his leprosy.
As we have said earlier, when God was ready to lead Saul of Tarsus into the assurance of salvation,
He used "a certain disciple" named, Ananias.
And God can use you!

I read about a young girl who lived at the turn of the century in 1899.
She lived outside of Philadelphia, and on a certain day she was seen crying.
The pastor of a small nearby church noticed that she was crying.
When he asked her what was wrong, she sobbed that there hadn't been enough room
in the Sunday School class for her.

Seeing her filthy clothes, the pastor guessed that she may have been turned away for other reasons.
He went back and took her into that classroom, and found a place for her in the class.
She listened and loved the Bible stories she heard each Sunday after that.

Two years later, the little girl died.
When the pastor came to make final arrangements, he discovered a coin purse with
her belongings.
Inside the coin purse was 57 cents and a slip of paper that said,
"To make the church bigger so more kids can go to the Sunday School."

The pastor told the girl's story that Sunday in church, and challenged his deacons
to raise enough money to build a bigger church.
The newspapers picked up the story.
And a realtor offered a parcel of land worth thousands of dollars on which to build the church.
When told that the church couldn't afford the asking price, he sold it to them for 57 cents.

It would seem impossible to build a church with 57 cents, but that didn't stop one little girl
from being used by God to create a miracle.

Today, you can go to Temple Baptist church of Philadelphia and Temple University.
Go and visit the Sunday School building next to Good Samaritan Hospital, where there is
more than enough room for everyone.
In one room, you will see the picture of a young girl who started it all with 57 cents.
Alongside that picture s the picture of the Reverend Dr. Russell Conwell, who multiplied
that 57 cents through countless others.

God took the very ordinary donation of a poor child of only 57 cents, and turned it
into something extraordinary!

It became the driving force that touched the heart of a landowner, and motivated the revival
of a church, and eventually, founded a University!
All because an ordinary young minister made sure an ordinary young girl went to Sunday School
one ordinary morning.

"I can do all things through Him who strengthens me."
- Philippians 4:13

I read the story of a 16 year old girl who was a chronic invalid.
Her mother was a pleasure-loving woman who could not endure the idea of being home
with her shut-in daughter.
While the mother was traveling abroad in Italy, she remembered the coming birthday
of her daughter, and sent her a rare and beautiful vase.

The girl's trained nurse brought it to the girl saying that her mother had sent it so carefully
and promptly that it came right on her birthday.
After looking at its beauty for a moment, the girl turned to the nurse and said,
"Take it away, take it away!"

She sent a message to her mother which said: "Oh, mother, do not send me anything more
--no books, no flowers, no pictures, no vases.
I just want you
!"
She only wanted her mother.

That must be the pleading cry of our Saviour to us.
" Don't just give Me things -- I'd just want you!"
Jesus wants your yielded heart -- your heart and life fully given to Him.
When you give yourself fully and completely to Jesus, He knows that all else will follow.

The Christian God uses must be utterly at God's disposal.

Remember, Ananias was living close to God, and he heard Jesus speak to him.
The Lord said, "Ananias."
And he said, "Behold I am here, Lord." (Acts 9: 10)
Ananias was on speaking terms with the Lord.
Are you?

Acts 9: 10-16 reveals the intimate conversation that went on between Ananias and Jesus.
The Lord asked Ananias to go (verse 15) and Ananias went. (verse 17)
That was complete and prompt obedience.

Many years ago a man recorded his meeting with General William booth, founder of the Salvation Army
with these words:
" When I looked into his face and saw him brush back his hair from his brow, heard him speak
of the trials, and the conflicts, and the victories, I asked, ' General Booth, please tell me what has been
the secret of your success
.'"

He hesitated a second, and I saw the tears come into his eyes and flow down his cheeks,
and then he said, "I'll tell you the secret.
God has had all there was of me, and all that I have.
There have been men with greater opportunities; but from the day I got the poor of London on my heart,
and a vision of what Jesus Christ could do, I made up my mind that God would have all
there was of William booth.
And, if there is anything of power in the Salvation Army today, it is because God has had all
the adoration of my heart, all the power of my will, and all the influence of my life.
"

The listener reported these words: "I learned from William booth at the greatness
of a man's power was in the measure of his surrender
."

The Christian that God uses must be full of a Christ-like love.

The Christian God uses must be full of a Christ-like love.
When Ananias went to Saul, he did not say, "You murderer, you persecutor of the church!
You have done so much evil
!"

Notice, what Ananias did say, and notice what his attitude was.
I believe that he put his arm around Saul, and I know from verse 17 that he said, "Brother Saul."
There was great and wonderful love and compassion in those words.

This is a test of our Christianity.
When you are harmed and hurt by another Christian, are you able to go to that Christian,
and say, "Brother"?

Being able to forgive is the very essence of Christianity.
Through Christ, Saul and Ananias -- men who had been the bitterest enemies -- came together as brothers.
Jesus taught us to pray, "Forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us."
God's Word admonishes us to be kind, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, and even as God f
or Christ's sake has forgiven us.
We must have the love of Christ in our hearts.

The Christian God uses should lead others into the blessings of Christianity.

On the threshold of his new life, Ananias led Saul into the fullness of spiritual blessing,
for he showed him how to be filled with the Holy Spirit. (Acts 9:17)
Ananias knew how imperative it was for any Christian to be filled with the Holy Spirit,
if he or she is to live graciously, and serve God effectively.

The filling of the Holy Spirit is essential to the Christian life as gasoline is to an automobile.
God commands us to be filled with the Holy Spirit. (Ephesians 5:18)

Mendelssohn was visiting a cathedral containing one of the most priceless organs in Europe.
He listened to the organist, and then, asked permission to play.
" I don't know you," was the reply.
" And we don't allowed just any stranger to play upon this organ."

At last, the great musician persuaded the organist to let him play.
As Mendelssohn played, the great cathedral was filled with such music as the organist
had never heard.
With tears in his eyes, he laid his hand on Mendelssohn's shoulder.
He asked, " Who are you?"

" Mendelssohn," he answered.

The old organist was dumbfounded.
" To think," he said, " the master was here, and I nearly denied him
to play upon this organ
."

The Master is here!

"I sense an awesome moving of the Holy Spirit.
I see His countenance resting on your face.
I know that there are angels hovering all around us,
For the presence of the Lord is in this place.

"He is here, Hallelujah, He is here, Amen.
He is here, Holy Holy, I will bless His name again.
He is here, listen closely.
Hear Him calling out your name.
He is here, you can touch Him.
You will never be the same
."
-- Written by Kirk Talley


Sermon adapted from many sources by Dr. Harold L. White