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When Jesus Calls | Sunday Message (Special Guest Jonathan Laurie)

A New Beginning / Greg Laurie
The Truth Network Radio
January 2, 2022 3:00 am

When Jesus Calls | Sunday Message (Special Guest Jonathan Laurie)

A New Beginning / Greg Laurie

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January 2, 2022 3:00 am

When the Lord calls us to follow Him, we have a choice to make. How will we respond? In this special message from Greg Laurie’s son, Pastor Jonathan Laurie explains that saying yes to Christ’s call is the best decision we could ever make. 

Listen in and discover the secret to Christian living in 2022!

Notes

1. Ordinary and Obedient.

God uses ordinary everyday people!

2. Supernatural and Blessed.

Scripture Referenced

Matthew 10:39

Matthew 18:3

2 Chronicles 16:9

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Hey there. Thanks for listening to the Greg Laurie Podcast, a ministry supported by Harvest Partners.

I'm Greg Laurie encouraging you. If you want to find out more about Harvest Ministries and learn more about how to become a Harvest Partner, just go to harvest.org. We're excited to see all that God has in store for us here at Harvest and our ministry, but also for you at home. You know, I really do believe there's something special about a new year. It's a new opportunity to start that reading plan that you've been meaning to get around to, to maybe join that small group, to start that new healthy way of eating, or whatever it might be. I think that there's a good opportunity in the beginning part of the year as we look forward to seeing what this year's going to be all about.

And so right now, I'm going to be talking about the Book of Acts and, really if you want to talk about the beginning of something, the Book of Acts really chronicles the launch of the first century church and and what the Holy Spirit did in and through the disciples and the apostles and it's an absolute amazing book and I'm excited to continue it with till. You know, growing up when I And I'm excited to continue it with you. You know, growing up, when I was a little kid, I loved to swim. Swimming was one of my favorite things to do. I still love swimming. I still love being in the water. I don't love pools as much. Something about the chlorine I don't really care for.

People say they have salt water, you know, filters and all this stuff. I just don't really like pools all that much. I like being in the ocean a little bit more. But when I was a kid, I loved to swim. I loved to try and, you know, be as hydrodynamic as I could under the water and, you know, try and kick like a seal or like a dolphin and just try and be as fluid as I could and swim from one side of the pool to the other.

And I loved being in the pool all the time. Today, as I'm in the ocean more often, I usually have to put a wetsuit on. And I've got to tell you, over the years, I've pretty much collected every kind of wetsuit you could ever need in this life.

The people in Hawaii are like, and that's why I live in Hawaii. We don't have to wear wetsuits here. I've worn a wetsuit in Hawaii, by the way.

It does get cold there, especially in the morning with the wind chill, can be chilly. But I've got every kind of wetsuit that you can need. I've got spring suits, you know, short arm, long leg, long leg, short arm. I've got full suits. I've got three mil. I've got five mil with hoods. I've got booties.

I've got gloves. Everything that you could possibly need to stay in the water for as long as you would need to. But I didn't need those as a kid because I spent most of my time in swimming pools. And it was an absolute blast. One of the things I like to do was hold my breath, swim side to side. And one day I was with my parents, we're sitting by the side of the pool, and I jumped in and I decided, you know, I was going to do some somersaults, you know, some front flips and back flips just in the water. I'm doing a couple of front flips and I thought, you know what, it'd be fun to see how many could I do in succession without stopping. And so I thought this was a good little challenge. So I started going, you know, one front flip, two, three, four, five, six, made all the way up to seven. At this point I'm like, okay, I'm about ready to breathe.

I'm pretty content. That's a new record for me. And something happened. As I had been spinning, my equilibrium got off. And what happened now was I began to swim up towards the surface, but something really unusual happened. My head hit a wall.

It rammed right into the concrete. I was swimming up towards the surface where I needed to get air. I was now starting to get a little panicked. And my head just goes rammed right into something that was so solid I could have sworn somebody had taken some kind of pool covering or something and placed it over the top of my head to some kind of joke. I got really scared and started going and going and hitting my head.

I was trying to break through this thing, trying to get to the surface to that much needed oxygen. But what happened was in the spinning, I had gotten a little dizzy and I was swimming the wrong direction. And so finally my equilibrium corrected itself. I realized what was happening. So I flip over, I push off the bottom and I swim to the surface and I take that deep breath of air.

My parents were completely oblivious as to what had just happened. But man, that was a little scary. My world had gotten turned upside down. I was convinced, absolutely convinced I was swimming the right way. I was swimming down into literally the bottom of the pool, thinking that it was the surface, looking at it, seeing the surface and it kind of even breaking the tension, thinking that it was where I needed to go. And I was hitting my head over and over and over.

You're like, yeah, I can tell you you've had some kind of head trauma, Jonathan. But it was a really scary thing. My world was turned upside down and I don't need to tell you what would have happened had I not realized which way was actually up. Well, many people today, they call the Christian life the upside down life.

They call it upside down living. And we called this series upside down life because in Acts chapter 17, Paul the Apostle and his ministry partner Silas were preaching in a place called Thessalonica. And as they were preaching there, as per usual, a riot broke out. Some of the people got jealous, they got upset at the message that Paul and Silas were preaching and a riot broke out. And the thing that they were charged with, they were looking for Paul and Silas, trying to drag him out.

They couldn't find them. So they found one of their other ministry companions, a guy by the name of Jason. They bring him out and the charge they leveled against him was, these who have turned the world upside down have now come here too. These men who have turned the world upside down. Now the reality is Paul and Silas weren't turning the world upside down, they were turning the world right side up, weren't they? But when you live your life according to the status quo, like these men in Thessalonica were, when you live your life going with the grain, going with the flow, listening to what culture tells you to do and following it, when you are getting angry at the things that they tell you to get angry at, when you desire the things culture tells you to desire, when you pursue the things the culture tells you to pursue, that is the equivalent of trying to find air at the bottom of a swimming pool, trying to find fulfillment, trying to find peace, trying to find purpose outside of a relationship with God will leave you empty. Paul and Silas came to preach the gospel and to tell them about Jesus who came and lived in this world, lived the perfect life, died the perfect death, and then rose again from the dead. They were preaching the gospel to these men, and these men in Thessalonica got it right when they said Paul's message was turning the world upside down, but what they failed to understand again was that their message was actually turning people right side up.

The gospel message that Paul preached was the equivalent of bringing oxygen down to an asphyxiating world. Over 2,000 years later, we are here today, and that message is still turning people's worlds upside down. Because we miss out on this concept. We miss out on the fact that our world needs to be turned upside down.

The logic of this world is not God's logic. The way to up is not always the way we think that it is. We think that, you know, usually happiness and fulfillment happen by having others serve us for starters. We think that having people go and wait on our every need, people trying to check in with us and give us all the things that we might need is going to make us happy. We think that looking out for our own priorities first is going to make us happy. We think that holding on tightly to all of our possessions is going to make us happy.

We think even asking God, God, what can you do for me? That's the way to happiness. Well, the secret to Christian living is completely contrary. It's upside down living. The way to up is down.

The way to be rich is to give away. The way to happiness is serving others and the way to happiness is not self-fulfillment, but self-denial. Jesus said, all who seek to live apart from me will lose it all, but those who let go of their lives for my sake and surrender it all to me will discover true life.

Putting God's will first in your life and pursuing that will lead you to the purpose and joy that you have been looking for in this life. That is why it's called the upside down life because of its radical approach to how we live our lives and who we model our lives after. I think that we could all agree here together that perhaps the most surprising and abrupt world being flipped upside down type conversion in all of the Bible would be that of Saul of Tarsus. Saul was a Pharisee. He was a religious leader. He was a voting member of the Sanhedrin, a violent opponent to anyone who followed the teachings of Jesus. He had one purpose in life and that was to stamp out what he believed, this Nazarene heretic, Jesus. He believed that Jesus was a heretic, that he was leading people astray and Saul did everything in his power to stop.

He was actually given approval from the chief priests in Jerusalem to go after the Christians and use any means necessary to stop the Christians. That means he used intimidation, Saul used violence, Saul used imprisonment, and Saul even was able to use death as a discouragement to anyone who would follow after Jesus. And while Saul was on his way to do this very act in Damascus, a light from heaven shone down upon him as he was on the road and a voice began to speak to him, Saul, why are you persecuting me, the voice said. And Saul, confused, bewildered as to what was happening, he said, who are you, Lord? Please don't say Jesus, please don't say Jesus. And the voice said, I am Jesus, the one who you are persecuting.

Now get up and go to Damascus and I will tell you what to do from there. An amazing, amazing encounter with the resurrected Jesus from this man, Saul's perspective. And when Saul stood to his feet after having this conversation, he opens up his eyes and what does he discover? He's blind. He's blind.

He can't see anything. He's blind by the hand back to Damascus by his companions. And so that's a brief little recap of what we last read together in our series and act. My dad talked about the conversion of Saul as well as Stephen. And now we're going to pick up right where that left off in Acts chapter 9, starting in verse 10, if you'd like to read there with me. It says this, Now there was a believer in Damascus named Ananias, and the Lord spoke to him in a vision calling Ananias.

Yes, Lord, he replied. The Lord said, go over to straight street, the house of Judas. And when you get there, ask for a man from Tarsus named Saul.

He is praying to me right now. I have shown him a vision of a man named Ananias coming in and laying hands on him so he can see again. But Lord exclaimed Ananias, I've heard many people talk about the terrible things this man has done to the believers in Jerusalem. And he is authorized by the leading priest to arrest everyone who calls upon your name. But the Lord said, go, for Saul is my chosen instrument to take my message to the Gentiles and to kings as well as to the people of Israel.

And I will show him how much he must suffer for my name's sake. So Ananias went and found Saul. He laid his hands on him and he said, brother Saul, the Lord Jesus who appeared to you on the road has sent me so that you might regain your sight and be filled with the Holy Spirit. Instantly, something like scales fell from Saul's eyes and he regained his sight. And then he got up and was baptized. Afterward, he stayed with the believers in Damascus for a few days.

I've titled this message When Jesus Calls. Let's put ourselves in Ananias' shoes for just a moment. He has just been asked by Jesus to go do something very uncomfortable. In his own way, Ananias had his world turned upside down. He was a good man. He had a good reputation among the people that he lived around in Damascus. And we also know that Ananias was well aware of Saul of Tarsus and his reputation and also his mission. He even knew that he was given authority to come to Damascus and go and persecute the Christians. And the priest gave him this permission.

He gave him this transcript to go and do this. And so here's Ananias. He's been called by Jesus himself to go lay hands on Saul of Tarsus, the great persecutor of the church. Just that name, Saul of Tarsus, was enough to bring fear and anxiety to anybody who was a follower of Jesus. And Ananias, he heard through the grapevine again what was going to be happening. Saul was coming around. He was going to go and persecute Christians.

He had that reputation. This would have been one of the last people that he would want to go lay hands on and pray for and minister to. This would be like a Jewish person being asked in the 1940s to go and lay hands on Adolf Hitler.

No, thank you. Lord, actually, would you mind sending this guy to hell and just killing him? But no, Ananias, he doesn't go and tell Jesus, no, I'm not going to do that.

But he does do something kind of interesting. Ananias feels like he maybe needs to fill Jesus in on a little context of the situation. He says, Jesus, Lord, you know that this is the guy who's persecuting the church? Your followers, you're aware of this, right? And you know he's also coming here to persecute and arrest us, like right now, right? You're aware of this?

Okay, just want to make sure. Maybe Ananias thought that Saul had pulled the wool somehow over Jesus' eyes and this was some kind of ambush. Who knows? But Jesus insists, don't argue, just go. I love that.

He just tells him, go and do it. I know what I'm doing. I know what this man Saul is all about. I'm well aware, but I'm doing something special.

And Ananias, I want you to go and do it. Matthew 18, three, Jesus says, I tell you the truth, unless you turn from your sins and become like little children, you will never get into the kingdom of heaven. The more time I spend with my kids, the more I see what Jesus meant in that verse. You know, as adults, when we hear something from the Lord or we read something in our quiet time or we're studying scripture and we see something that maybe challenges our way of thinking or challenges an area in our life and we're saying, Lord, are you telling me I need to change? Are you telling me this is an area in my life that perhaps is sin? Is that really the case?

We're kind of like Ananias sometimes. Is that really what you meant, Lord? Are you sure you know what you're talking about? Was that message really for me? You don't mean that I need to give that area up in my life, do I? Lord, you realize if I stop doing this, this could affect my professional career. This could really hurt me in this way.

I could lose money doing that, having to give this thing up. Listen, we've all got hangups, we've all got defenses that we have to work at breaking down. Recently, my little daughter, Allie, she's 11 years old, she's in fifth grade, she told me about how she shared her faith with a little boy at her school. The little boy was from China and she said he's a sweet kid and he helps out in the class a lot and so they were talking one day at the lunch tables and Allie asked him, are you religious? Do you believe in anything?

Do you go to church or anything like that? And the little boy said, no, no, actually we're not, we don't do that, we don't even celebrate Christmas, yeah, we're not religious at all actually. And then he asked her, are you? And Allie said, well, I'm a Christian and I believe in Jesus and I believe in all the things that he came and did for me. And the little boy said, oh, wow, okay. My dad sometimes says Jesus Christ, but only when he gets angry.

Does that mean that he's a bad person? And Allie responds so tactfully, she says, well, no, but it is a sin, but that's why Jesus came, because he died for our sin on the cross and that's why he came to this world so that we can have a relationship with him and we could go to heaven. And then she asked the little boy, would you like to believe in Jesus? And he said, well, I'd like to know a little bit more, let me think about it. And so the next day at school, the little boy shows up again and Allie sits down next to him and she says, hey, so what did you think about? And the little boy said, well, I thought about it and I'm not ready right now to ask Jesus into my heart. Now, he said, okay, no problem. And she went on about her day. You see, not every time we share our faith are we going to land in Apostle Paul or Pola, a Pastor Greg Laurie, where we lead all these people to Christ. That's not always going to happen, but we all have a role we can play in sharing our faith and being open about what we believe. Because the next day at school, Allie shared with another kid.

I love it. She didn't let that discourage her. That would have beaten me down, you know, getting rejected.

Nobody wants to get rejected, right? Allie didn't let that phase her. And she shared with another little girl at school and she started talking to her again.

Same thing. Oh, what do you believe? And a little girl asked her, well, what do you believe in? Allie shared her faith with her, shared what it means to be a Christian. And the little girl said, wow, that's amazing. And Allie asked her, would you like to ask Jesus into your heart? And the little girl said, yes.

And so they prayed right there at their school. That night, Allie came home and she told me what had happened. I was so excited for her. And she said, I want to take her something.

What can I take her? And I had this little track, this little kid track that my dad wrote called the Ben Born Again track. And it just kind of breaks down what it means to be a Christian. And so I said, well, you could take this to her. And she said, okay, that's nice. But I also had one of these, a brand new, New Believers Bible, just sitting on the table, wrapped in the cellophane. And she looked over at that and I said, or you could take her a New Believers Bible.

I don't know. Do you want to take a Bible to school and give that to her? And she said, I want to take the Bible. And so she gave this little girl a Bible. I love it.

I love it. So the next time that you're prompted to go do something, remember, we need to have the faith of a child. Jesus calls you to go do it. Jesus calls you to obedience.

Don't put up some smokescreen, some argument, some excuse as to why you're not going to do it. You go and you be obedient. Little Ali, she felt prompted by Jesus to go and share her faith.

She saw an opportunity and she went and she did it. Ananias was called by God to go to Saul. And while Ananias didn't necessarily agree with God, he was obedient and he went.

And that brings us to our first point, ordinary and obedient. Think of verse 10. Now there was a believer in Damascus named Ananias, and the Lord spoke to him in a vision calling Ananias, and he replied, yes, Lord.

Ananias was ordinary and Ananias was obedient. That word for believer that we just read in verse 10 is translated from the Greek word mathetes, which every time it's translated in the Bible, it's always the word disciple, disciple. Now, that doesn't mean that he was one of the 12 disciples.

It just means like a follower of Jesus. Ananias was an ordinary dude. He was an ordinary guy.

And you know what? God loves to use ordinary everyday people. You might wonder what it takes to be used by God in a powerful way. Well, look at Ananias. He's ordinary, nothing special.

In fact, nothing is ever mentioned about Ananias in the Bible ever again, not by Paul and any of the epistles or anywhere else. Now, you might think that, you know, oh man, if I had that college degree, or if I had that more prestigious position at work, or if I had a few extra thousand followers on social media, God could really use me then. You know, the funny thing is God loves to use ordinary people.

If you read the Bible, you see this big time. He used shepherds. He used fishermen. He used homemakers, construction workers, tent makers, all kinds of people that were just everyday ordinary people.

And why is that? I believe we're told in 2 Chronicles 16, 9, which says, the eyes of the Lord run to and fro throughout the whole earth to show himself strong on behalf of those whose heart is loyal to him. God is looking for someone to show himself strong on behalf of.

God deserves the glory. And so he loves to use ordinary people to do extraordinary things. So when somebody looks at that situation, they're able to say, that person didn't get there on their own. That person wasn't able to accomplish that on their own.

There has to be something else here. And of course, that leads them to see God's hand in the situation. God uses ordinary people, and God uses extraordinary people too. I mean, shoot, Saul was definitely an extraordinary guy. God uses CEOs, He uses business owners.

He uses community leaders and politicians, and He uses, you know, professional athletes too. Here's the reality. It's all about the heart. It's all about the heart. If your attitude is, you know, that, oh, God is lucky to have someone like me, God would be stoked if I put my, you know, name in the hat and made myself available to God, He'd be lucky to use someone like me, and you even think, God couldn't do something like this without my participation. Well, friend, that's not the heart God is looking for. By the way, God can, and He will find somebody else if you don't make yourself available and you believe that God is lucky to have someone like you. The reality is, God will use somebody else, and He can use somebody else, and He doesn't need your help. You see, if your heart is prideful and what the Bible refers to as haughty, you will find out quickly that God does not need you. And so we see here, the next thing that Ananias says is not, God, do you know how prestigious I am?

Do you know how lucky you are to have somebody like me? No, He says, yes, Lord. Yes, Lord. He's obedient. I love that. The Lord says His name, and He's just like, yes, Lord, almost like He'd been sitting around waiting for the command. He's not giving the standard teenage answer, huh, huh, what, was that you, are you calling me? Can you find someone else to do it?

Oh, I did that last week. Who are you again? No, no, He's ready. He's eager to do God's will. And yes, we see He has an objection, but then when the Lord tells Him go, He goes.

And that is what we see so many failing at today, and that is being obedient to the Lord's command. Hey, listen, it's okay to not like God's will. It's okay to ask God to change His will. It's okay even to disagree with God's will. And really, we see this summarized in Jesus Himself when He's in the Garden of Gethsemane, and He's sweating great drops of blood because He was so stressed, and under so much pressure knowing what was coming in just a few hours when He would be hanging on the cross for our sin. Jesus didn't like God's will, and He asked His Father if there was any other way. He said, if there's any other way, let this cup pass from me. But then Jesus admits, He says, nevertheless, not my will, but yours be done.

That should be our heart. It's okay to disagree with God's will. It's okay to not like it. It's okay to even ask Him to change His will, but at the end of the day, we need to be willing to say, nevertheless, not my will, but your will be done. Is there something in your life that God is calling you to do that you're a little uncomfortable about? Maybe it's sharing your faith with that unbeliever at work, and they're like a, you know, vocal opponent of the Christian faith, and you're thinking, ah, maybe I'll just keep my faith to myself. I don't really want to engage with this guy. I don't want to stir the pot too much. Listen, God might be calling you to go and share that you are a Christian and go and open a dialogue with that person that might challenge you to find the answers to some questions that you don't know. You don't know the answer to.

That's okay. God might be calling you to forgive someone who hurt you. Yeah, maybe there's a person in your life that you're harboring resentment again. It could be a parent. It could be a sibling. It could be a person you had a business arrangement with, and they ripped you off and took money from you. It could be a coworker.

It could be your spouse. God's calling you to forgive that person in your life. Forgiveness is God's will for you. It could be that God is calling you to be more disciplined in the way you spend time with the Lord.

You know, it's kind of casual. You get around to it when you have time. You don't have a time set apart for the Lord. Listen, God might be calling you to be more disciplined in your relationship with Him. It might be that God is calling you away from something.

Yeah, He's calling you away from certain behaviors that maybe you struggled with, and you're realizing you can't break free from these things. Could be drugs. It could be alcohol.

It could be pornography. It might be part of your character. You're a pathological liar.

When somebody asks you a question, your first response is to cover yourself and to lie and to try and get away with it. It could be cheating, cheating on your taxes, cheating on your schoolwork, on your tests with, you know, as you're in college. It could be stealing. You know, you just like to steal little things.

You know, you take something from the store, a pack of gum, might be stealing, whatever. This is something that God is calling you away from. This is what the Bible talks about when it says we need to put off the old man and put on the new man. You may not like or agree or want God's will. You may even ask God to change His will for you.

But if Jesus is your Lord, you will follow in His example, just as He humbled Himself in obedience to God and died a criminal's death on the cross. A few months back with my kids, we were reading together the story of how Israel was just in this on-again, off-again relationship with God, right? You know the story. Basically, Israel, they were brought into the land of milk and honey, the promised land, the land of Canaan, and they were inhabiting it. Things were going great. God was delivering their enemies to them. He was prospering them. But the Israelites, they got comfortable. And as they got comfortable, they turned back to, you know, old patterns. And they actually turned to false gods and worship of idols and different things. And as that happened, God would send them a wake-up call. And then as the wake-up call got their attention, you know, somebody would come through the through, they'd get conquered or something like that, they would turn back to God.

And this happened over and over and over. They would turn away from God. God would send a wake-up call, get their attention, bring them back to Himself, and then they would get comfortable and they'd follow God. They'd get comfortable again, and then they'd turn away from God again, and they'd keep going back and forth, back and forth. Well, my daughter Allie, as we were talking about this, who was 10 at the time, she asked me, why did they worship other gods? Why did the people of Israel worship false idols when they knew that God was real, and they knew His power? He had done so much for them.

Why did they do that? Now, as a pastor, you know, I answered that question and talked about how people still do that today, and by following their desires rather than God's, which was the original sin of wanting to be like God. And as a stereotypical preacher, my answer was too long. It was filled with too many facts, and it probably went over her head a little bit.

But she nodded, okay, thanks, Dad. And then Christopher, my son, who is eight at the time, he's sitting listening to all of this, contemplating. He's been quiet this whole time, but he chimes in and he goes, yeah, I quote, he said this, yeah, some people won't believe because they just don't want to. They just want to do what feels good, even if they know what's wrong. It's like they know what is true, but they just want to do what they want to do. Wow, that was way better than what I said. Yeah, that's exactly right, Christopher, I told them. And so I want to ask you, where do you fall in that category?

Where are you on that spectrum? Is God showing you something you need to start doing, or is God showing you something that you need to stop doing? Ananias was obedient to a command from Jesus, even when he didn't necessarily understand it or didn't necessarily agree with it. He was an ordinary guy who was obedient to God. Verse 17 says, so Ananias, he went and he found Saul. He laid his hands on him and he said, brother Saul, the Lord Jesus who appeared to you on the road has sent me so that you might regain your sight and be filled with the Holy Spirit. Instantly, something like scales fell from Saul's eyes and he regained his sight. And then he got up and he was baptized. Afterward, he ate some food and regained his strength.

Saul stayed with the believers in Damascus for a few days. And that brings us to our second movement of this message, supernatural and blessed. Supernatural and blessed. So we see Ananias, he's an ordinary guy. He's not the top dog in the local church.

He's not a famous orator or an athlete or an influencer. He's not even a YouTuber or a socialite on the scene in Damascus, but his heart was submitted to God and willing to yield his opinion and feelings. And so he was obedient to the Lord. And so Ananias, he finds Saul right where the Lord told him he would be. And there he is, Saul, the Christian killer, the persecutor of the early church, the reason for the dispersion of the church out of Jerusalem, sitting in this guy's house, blind, humbled.

And so Ananias goes to him, lays his hand on him and he speaks to him. Now I don't know about you, but if you ever get in a room with somebody that like you kind of don't like, you kind of don't really get along with and you're like hyper aware of where they are in the room and you're just kind of trying to avoid them. And then like you're standing next to them, getting food next to each other and like the hem of their sleeve touches your shoulder and you're just like, oh, it's like, don't touch me. Like, get out of here. I don't even want to be around you. That's how much you bug me. You like overreact and whip away. No, just me. That's just how Ananias had to have felt when he saw Saul.

Like just trepidation, just like kind of repulsed, don't even want to touch this guy. I don't want to pray for you. You're Saul. You've brought so much pain. Maybe he's killed some of Ananias' friends.

We don't know. But Jesus called him to go and lay hands on Saul. And so he does. And he puts his hand on Saul and what happened next was a miracle. Instantly something like scales fell from Saul's eyes and he regained his sight.

And when it says scales, it's talking about like this same word used for scales talks about like fish scales, right? Like they're like something weird was over his eyes. He was completely blinded, flaky and crusty, and it just falls from Saul's eyes. Immediately, Saul stood up and he was baptized by Ananias. This ordinary man who was obedient to God was used by God to do something extraordinary, something supernatural. Blessings as you study scripture, you will see always follow obedience. Blessings always follow obedience.

The more you give to God, the more he blesses it. You give your life to him, he gives you purpose. He gives you fulfillment.

He gives you meaning. You give him your finances. You give him your tithe and your offering. Listen, God blesses you in a way that money never could.

You give him your family. He gives you a beautiful life and a legacy. And because of Saul's conversion, we read that Ananias was blessed.

In verse 31 of Acts 9, it says, the church then had peace through Judea and Galilee and Samaria, and it became stronger as the believers lived in the fear of the Lord and with the encouragement of the Holy Spirit, it also grew in numbers. And so when you are obedient to God, he will do things in and through you that you never could have before. The blessings that you receive, you could never manufacture. Listen, it doesn't take a vision of Jesus to tell you what his will is for your life.

He has revealed it to us through the Bible and through sound Bible teaching. So yeah, you know, figuring out the questions of life that we all wonder, hey, where should I buy my car? Who should I marry?

What school should I go to? These are all important things that we want to know. But the most important thing is that you are obedient and submitted to God in his revealed will, which is found in the Bible.

It's a new year, and it's a perfect time to start some new patterns. And I want to encourage all of you to check out and even join one of our online small groups, either in person or online, so you can begin digging deeper into God's Word. It's a place that you're going to find community. And as we read more about this man Saul, who soon becomes Paul, we see that he is a man surrounded all the time by spiritual community. In the highs and lows in life, the best thing we can have is fellow believers to walk alongside us through them.

But I know that there may be some watching right now who are kind of like what my son Christopher defined. You want to do what feels good, even though you know what's wrong. You know what's true, but you just want to do what you want to do. Friend, between you and me, we both know that you don't even want to do the things that you want to do anymore. You've probably seen like so many others that the desires of your heart has led you to a place of emptiness and ultimately separation from God.

Here's the reality. You are swimming for oxygen at the bottom of a pool, ramming your head into the ground believing there's air on the other side. You will not find what you were looking for in this life outside of a relationship with Jesus Christ. The obedience to God and being an ordinary person, having a heart, being willing to be used by God is the best place that you could be. I want to encourage you to turn your life to Jesus, to recognize that you are a sinner in need of a savior. You are separated from God because of your sin. If you haven't received Christ as your Lord and Savior, the Bible tells us that honestly, you're headed to hell. You're headed to eternal separation from God and you're headed to a place that God doesn't want you to go to, so much so that he sent his own son Jesus to die on the cross to make a payment for your sin. But not only that, just to save you from hell, man, that's enough right there.

No, he sent Jesus to save you from hell and to save your life and to give you a life and life more abundantly. And so today I want to encourage you, put your faith in Jesus Christ. Give your life over to him. Be like Ananias and submit your will to God.

The things that you think are right side up, usually if it's in contradiction to God, actually not usually always, it is upside down and you need to be turned right side up. You can only do that through having a relationship with Jesus Christ and having his Holy Spirit inside of you today. And so I want to encourage you right now and give you that opportunity to receive Christ as your Lord and Savior.

You can do it. It's so simple. You might be sitting in your living room watching this right now. You might be watching this just at your desk, at work, on your computer.

You might be listening to this on a podcast or in your car, wherever you are. You can call on the name of Jesus and he will meet you right where you're at. You don't need to be in any special position.

You don't need to, you know, go and face a certain direction or go to Jerusalem or some high mountain. No, you just need to call upon the name of the Lord and you will be saved. And so if you'd like to do that, pray this prayer right where you are. Pray it right here. Pray these words. Dear God, I know I'm a sinner, but I know Jesus is the Savior who died on the cross for my sin. And so I turn from my sin now and I turn to you, Jesus, I make you the Lord of my life from this moment forward. Help me to walk with you and hear from you. Lord, help me to be obedient to your call.

In Jesus' name I pray, amen. Hey everybody, thanks for listening to this podcast. To learn more about Harvest Ministries, follow this show and consider supporting it. Just go to harvest.org. And to find out how to know God personally, go to harvest.org and click on Know God.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-07-02 14:05:47 / 2023-07-02 14:24:06 / 18

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