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Acts Chapter 9:1-18

Cross the Bridge / David McGee
The Truth Network Radio
May 19, 2021 1:00 am

Acts Chapter 9:1-18

Cross the Bridge / David McGee

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May 19, 2021 1:00 am

Cross the Bridge 41120-2

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We're supposed to be a part of God's plan to reach the world.

We are supposed to be a part of God's plan to reach the world. God wants to use you. He may not send you to India. He may not tell you to go tell somebody who's been killing Christians about him, but he may encourage you to serve in children's ministry. He may encourage you to serve in Sparkle. He may encourage you to give, because every time you do those things, you're helping to change the world.

And if you can just change one other life, you can begin to change the world. Welcome to Cross the Bridge with David McGee. David is the senior pastor of The Bridge in Kernersville, North Carolina. Did you know that you are part of God's plan to reach the world? Well, it's true, and today Pastor David tells how you can be used to change people's lives as he continues teaching in the book of Acts, chapter 9.

Now, here's David McGee with part 2 of his teaching, Who Are You, Lord? Turn with me to Acts, chapter 9, verse 1. It reads, Then Saul, still breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord, went to the high priest, and asked letters from him to the synagogues of Damascus, so that if he found any who were of the way, whether men or women, he might bring them bound to Jerusalem. As he journeyed, he came near Damascus, and suddenly a light shone around him from heaven, and then he fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to him, Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me? Verse 5, Paul answers, and he said, Who are you, Lord? Then the Lord said, I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting.

It is hard for you to kick against the goads. So he, talking about Saul, trembling and astonished, said, Lord, what do you want me to do? Then the Lord said to him, Arise and go into the city, and you will be told what you must do. And the men who journeyed with him stood speechless, hearing a voice but seeing no one. That's kind of interesting. So there was people there with Saul who heard the voice but didn't see anything. That may strike some of you as bizarre.

It's really not that bizarre. You realize there's people here this morning that will hear, but they won't see. They'll hear me talking about coming to Jesus to be forgiven of their sins, but they won't see him as their Savior. They'll hear me talking about serving the Lord and surrendering your life to him, but they won't see it. It's a sad thing.

I hope that doesn't describe you. I hope that you not only hear but see. In verse 8, then Saul arose from the ground, and when his eyes were opened, he saw no one, but they led him by the hand and brought him into Damascus, and he was three days without sight and neither ate nor drank. And we see several people in the Bible that they were given sight to. Saul was one of the few people that sight was taken from, and I think it was to allow him some time to think about what had just happened.

I mean, think about it. He was on his way to persecute the church. All of a sudden he finds out that he's working not for God. He's working against God. Do you understand there's going to be a horrible moment for some people when they get to heaven and stand in front of Jesus because they're not going to be allowed in because they've been persecuting Jesus in the name of God, in the name of religion? It's sad. I guess in a way towards other believers and followers of Jesus, we need to be a little bit tolerant.

I hate using that word. I am religiously tolerant, by the way. Whether you're a Muslim or you're Buddhist or you're Baha'i or whatever, you can all come to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ.

That's my definition of being religiously tolerant. It might be different than other people, but verse 10. Now there was a certain disciple at Damascus named Ananias, and to him the Lord said in a vision, Ananias, and he said, here I am, Lord. Verse 11, so the Lord said to him, Arise and go to the street called Straight and inquire at the house of Judas for one called Saul of Tarsus, for behold, he is praying.

Verse 12, and in a vision he has seen a man named Ananias coming in and putting his hand on him so that he might receive his sight. Let me point out first, in this part of the chapter we've got three main characters, if you will. We have Saul, we have Ananias, and we have Judas, the house of Judas. These are interesting names, aren't they? These are not names that you think of when you think of spiritual greatness. I mean, we're in the book of Samuel talking about Saul and how he just blew it over and over. A few chapters ago we were talking about how Ananias lied to the Holy Spirit and was struck dead, and then you've got Judas, who was the deceitful one who betrayed Jesus. And here we have these names popping up again, but something wonderful is going on with these three people.

That can't be by accident, that's by design. You know what? God's in the redemption business. And things that have happened to you that are bad and negative and painful, God wants to redeem those things. And God will actually use those things for his glory and to bless other people.

Now notice this exchange, and there is this exchange. It's a dialogue Ananias is having with the Lord, and that's important. That's your prayer time and just a monologue. You're telling God what you want, but listening to that still, small voice.

Probably not. I've never heard an audible voice, but I've heard the still, small voice many times. The Lord said, Ananias, and he said, here I am, Lord.

I want you to notice something because we see it again. Ananias answers the call. Then God tells him what he wants him to do. Ananias, here I am. In the inference there is, here I am, what do you want me to do?

God didn't say, look, I want you to do this, that, and the other. He said, you there? I'm here.

I'm with you. What do you want me to do? And then he tells him what to do. And notice it says disciple at Damascus. Disciple. See, God will find people that are willing to give of them their lives to him, and he will use them in incredible ways. But if you're holding back and you're a spectator and you're on the sidelines and you're wondering why God won't use you, it's because you're not willing to pour yourself out for the Lord. I remember years ago praying, and I was at home praying, Lord, fill me. Lord, just fill me with more of you.

And I remember that still small voice. The Lord said, you know what? There's no more room in there. You pour yourself out. And as you pour yourself out on others, I'll pour myself in. You see, we're like a cup.

We only hold so much. And if your life is filled with you, well, it can be filled with the Lord. But as you die to yourself, Jesus put it this way.

He said, if you're willing to live for me and die to yourself, it'll be incredible. But if you try to hold on to your life, that's not going to work. Many of them know firsthand the misery of that, of trying to hold on to your life.

It's very disappointing, and it's very disillusioning when you try to do that. And Jesus says, you know what? I'm willing to exchange my life for your life.

Now, let me ask you a question. Who comes out on the short end of the stick there? I mean, Jesus is willing to make that exchange for us.

Who wouldn't take that? It says, disciple, someone following the Lord. 2 Chronicles 16, 9 says this, For the eyes of the Lord run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to show themselves strong on behalf of those whose heart is loyal to Him. God's looking. Even this morning, even in this very room, God's looking and saying, Okay, who's for me? Who will step out in the ministry? Who will begin to serve me?

Who wants to see me do something incredible in their life? He's looking. You don't have to talk Him into that. He's looking for people to do that with. And I'm up here, so obviously He's fairly desperate about who He hears. Well, I'm probably overqualified.

Yeah, that might be the problem. The life lesson here, God will pour Himself into someone who wants to pour themselves out for Him. God will pour Himself into someone who wants to pour themselves out for Him. See, if you're not pouring yourself out, again, you can only hold so much and it's only a matter of time until you get stagnant.

Pour yourself out and watch what He does. How often our day just gets filled with stuff? You look back on the day and you go, Where'd the day go?

You know, other than that, like 17 hours watching television, what happened? I mean, because your day gets filled with you. And it has to be a conscious decision, Lord, I want you to fill my days. I don't want to be the thing that everything else orbits around. I want my life to orbit around you. I hope that doesn't describe your life, that it still orbits around you. You can tell sometimes with the way your sentences start out.

If you say me and I and myself a whole lot, it's a warning sign. But if you find yourself going, Oh, and the Lord did this and the Lord did that and now the Lord's doing that, that's a good sign. This is a challenging thing that He's told Ananias, and Ananias is going to respond accordingly. Verse 13, Then Ananias answered, Lord, I've heard from many about this man, how much harm he has done to your saints in Jerusalem. This is the first place, well, Matthew 27. The Old Testament, the Hebrew Scriptures, people are referred to as saints. This is the first time that we're referred to the church, the New Testament church is referred to as saints. And do you understand we're referred to as saints? And you don't have to be canonized. You don't have to go see the Pope or anything weird like that. The Bible says that if you've come to Jesus and ask Him to forgive you of your sins, you're a saint. Saint David. I like the ring of it, Saint Ken sitting over here.

That's kind of cool, isn't it? I mean, Saint and say your name. It sounds weird, but that's what God says. God says, when I look at you, I don't see all the stupid things you did. I see all the bad things you did. I see a saint. I see a saint. I see somebody who's been covered with the righteousness of my son.

Man, that don't get you excited. Now, the confusing thing is there's two people groups. There's saints who have asked Jesus to forgive them of their sins. There's sinners who have yet to ask Jesus to forgive them of their sins.

Here's the confusing part. We're saints, but we still sin. We still sin.

We still mess up occasionally. But we come to God and say, God, forgive us. God says, you're a saint. And I don't know what your family calls you. I bet they don't call you a saint.

I'm going out on a limb there. But God, who matters the most, says you're a saint. Man, you know, if you hear nothing else that encourages you, there's more than latch onto that one. We'll be right back with more from David McGee on Cross the Bridge. Right now, here's a word from associate pastor D.A.

Brown. We want to take just a minute to pray for some cities in our listening audience. Specifically, Reedsport, Roseburg, Seaside, Selma, Sprague River, and the Dalles, in Oregon, and also Hammett in Pennsylvania. Father, we thank you for these cities. We thank you for the people living in them. We pray that your Holy Spirit would pour out and draw many people into a personal, intimate relationship with Jesus. Father, we pray that many people would be healed who perhaps have had bad experiences in the past, God.

That they would receive forgiveness and forgive those in their lives who have offended them. Lord, we pray that you would draw people into Bible-teaching churches, that you would give the pastors wisdom and discernment, Father, to love the flock, to serve them well. Lord, we pray for all the city leaders, that we would honor them and respect them, and that you would give them wisdom and discernment, Father.

That it might go peaceable with us. Lord, we love you. We pray that you would bless the people living in these cities. In Jesus' name, amen. Amen.

Thank you, brother. And now, let's get back to David Magee as he continues teaching verse by verse. Verse 14. And here he has authority from the chief priest to bind all who call on your name.

This is an interesting conversation. Ananias is reminding God of things I'm thinking he already knows. I'm joking. God already knows everything. But the Lord said to him, well, if you're afraid and you're freaked out, just don't worry about it. Oh, is that not what your translation says? Look what God says.

Go! That's not very compassionate. Not very understanding. He's trying to share his fears with him. God says, go.

Go. For he has a chosen vessel of mine to bear my name before Gentiles, kings, and the children of Israel, for I will show him how many things he must suffer for my name's sake. Ananias, and it's important to understand this, Ananias is not like all of a sudden he got saved yesterday, and now God is saying, hey, look, I want you to go talk to this guy who's been out killing and persecuting and executing and imprisoning Christians. That's not what happened.

As a matter of fact, look again. It says in verse 10, a certain disciple. Ananias was a disciple.

He was following the Lord. And in the Greek, that word, it means somebody that's still learning, somebody that's continuing to follow but still learning. Do you understand you're still learning? The moment you think that you've arrived and you've got nothing else to learn, well, you're as smart as you'll ever be.

And I think far too often Christians think like that. You know, I've been digging in this Bible for, I don't know, 25 years, 30 when I was two, and I feel like I'm only scratching the surface. I'm still learning. And again, reach, teach. It's a really important part of what goes on here, the teaching aspect.

Here's one thing that might catch you off guard, because this is a little bit different. We ask that kids 11 and under go to children's ministry. Why do we do that? Because we want to set up the environment in here that we're all learning together. Now, I understand that may be very different for some of you, but let me explain. For a little while, we want to help you not necessarily be a parent, if you will, but to just sit at the feet of Jesus and hear the Word of God, because we know how hard it is.

And what's more, children's ministry, they're set up for children. The lessons based on the same passage of Scripture, but they're a little different. Why do we do that? Well, because we feel, well, we know that they retain more in that environment. They learn more. And occasionally a parent could go, no, no, no, I want my child in here. And we say, well, you take them into the café, but you know what happens? I can't tell you the number of families that have come here, and they got a little tweaked, a little upset, but then they took their child over there once or twice.

That was it. That's why their child never wanted to come back in here again. They were like, man, we sing, we clap, it's great. But I understand many of us, I was not brought up that way. I was brought up in a church, and I went to church, and I had two older brothers, and every service was almost the same in the sense that me and my brothers would fight.

You know, I mean, that's what brothers do. You're looking at me. I'm not looking at you.

He's looking at me. He's touching me. Don't touch me. Quit touching me. You know, back and forth.

He'd have a big college ring, and he would turn it around, and bam, he'd get our attention. You know, calm thyself. When he spoke in King James English, you knew you were in trouble. And so, and then, you know, it was like, okay, what did you get out of the service? I don't know.

I got bopped on the head, and I fought with my brother. And I'm sure Dad didn't get much wild because he was busy bopping us to keep us quiet because the pastor was staring at us. You know, I mean, what's the way we've always done it?

Well, that doesn't mean it's right. We want to set an atmosphere with little distractions so that you can learn because that's what disciples do. And how many of us are set in service, and there's a baby crying, and the mother thinks it's a beautiful noise, I guess.

I don't know. But, you know, everybody else is like, I can't hear. What's he saying? What do you say? What verse is that? I'm dancing on toes now.

I'm sorry. I mean, this is... So we want to set up an environment to encourage discipleship. And I tell you what.

Once you realize it's different and you're open, it's just... I've had so many people come say, you know, that was the one thing I hated about this church when I first showed up, and now I love it, that we can sit through a service and really get into the awesome things of God, and there's not a lot of distractions going on. Now, Ananias was afraid with good reason, with good reason. Saul had done these things. But God didn't say, well, because you're freaked out, because you're scared, you don't have to do any of these things. God said, go. He listened to him, but then he said, go. And I understand many of you that are serving now, you had to overcome your fear to begin serving, but you stepped outside of yourself and outside of your fear.

Man, I am speaking right to some people right now. Because your fear is not an excuse or a reason not to do something for God. He'll help you overcome your fear. He'll walk you through that fear. But far too often, you know, we think, well, really brave men, they never feel fear.

Oh, no, no, no. I've heard some of the bravest men in the world talk, and they say, you know what, I'm afraid. I'm afraid, but I don't let that fear control me.

That's the key, believer. Courage is not letting your fears decide your actions. You're afraid of getting hurt? I understand that.

Afraid of getting used? I understand that. But Jesus still said, pour yourself out, give yourself away.

Scary to go to church? I understand that. We're still supposed to get together, forsake not the assembling together is what the book of Hebrews says. The life lesson here, we are to serve the Lord, even though we have fear and security and anxieties.

We are to serve the Lord, even though we have fear and security and anxieties. We all have those. I understand that. Don't let them rule your life.

Don't let them control your life. Look at Ananias. This guy had been killing Christians. He had been imprisoning Christians. And God says, go tell him and go pray with him.

And God says, go tell him and go pray with him. Can you imagine if Ananias would not have went? He could have said no. God, I know you're telling me to do this. I'm not doing it.

What would the world look like today? I know you sit there and go, well, God probably would have sent somebody else. You know what? That's a cop out. He told Ananias to do it.

Chances are he's probably telling you to do something. And what hinges on that? I don't know. But probably more than you can imagine. Here we see Paul, Ananias in a weird way, was responsible for two-thirds of the New Testament being written because he went to see Saul.

And he didn't cop out. What will you do? And what's in the balance? Your family? Your family members? Their spiritual well-being? Their salvation? Their discipleship? Friends?

Coworkers? We don't know. I don't know. Probably more ways in the balance than you could imagine. And what does Ananias do?

Well, let's look. Verse 17, Ananias went his way and entered the house. He did what he was supposed to do. And laying his hands on him, he said, Brother Saul, the Lord Jesus who appeared to you on the road as you came, has sent me that you might receive your sight and be filled with the Holy Spirit. Little words are so important. He called him Brother Saul.

Here's this guy, and again, has been persecuting Christians, beating them up, stoning them, imprisoning them. And this guy walks in the room and says, Brother, bro. That's a beautiful thing. It's a beautiful thing to watch here, as those walls and those boundaries are broken down, as people refer to each other as brother and sister.

That's an awesome thing. Verse 18, immediately there fell from his eyes something like scales, and he received his sight at once. And he arose and was baptized. And what's interesting is we're not going to hear of this Ananias again, other than the retelling of this story.

And yet he played such an incredible part. What do you want your legacy to be? What do you want to leave behind?

See, here's the deal. Every one of us, should Jesus stay here? A hundred percent of us are going to die.

We're going to die. What do you want to be remembered for? Well, he said he was going to start going to church, but then he died. That's what you want to be remembered for? Well, he was born, he lived, he got saved, he died, and he's buried right here.

And that's it. You want that on your tombstone? Not me. Not me. I want to change the world.

I'm not shy about that. And maybe you're sitting there going, that sounds overly ambitious. Well, that's what Jesus told me to do, and I'm stupid enough to think he can do it through us. And what's amazing is now other people are having this same hallucination with me.

Because it's happening. And all you have to do is step out. See, God wants to use us. And see, here's a scary verse to me. To whom much has been given, much is required. God's done an amazing thing in our midst.

And he probably has great expectations on what this body will do for him. So we need to continue to pour out to others. We're supposed to be a part of God's plan to reach the world.

We are supposed to be a part of God's plan to reach the world. God wants to use you. He may not send you to India. He may not tell you to go tell somebody that's been killing Christians about him. But he may encourage you to serve in children's ministry. He may encourage you to serve in Sparkle.

He may encourage you to give. Because every time you do those things, you're helping to change the world. And if you can just change one other life, impact one other life other than your own, you can begin to change the world. But your world change starts with you.

It doesn't start outside of you. You have to be willing to say, well, first of all, if you're sitting in here this morning and you're not sure if you've ever been forgiven of your sins or you've never asked Jesus to forgive you of your sins, I want to give you that opportunity in just a moment. But if you're in here this morning and you've already prayed that prayer, God wants to continue that work. And God is encouraging each person to make that small step towards him. Yeah, if you have a history of making small steps for God, at some point he's going to ask you to make a big one.

But it's after that, he who has been faithful in small things will be found faithful in the big ones. Let me encourage you to begin your adventure with God now. Friend, do you know for sure that your sins have been forgiven?

You can know right now. I want to lead you in a short, simple prayer simply telling God you're sorry and asking him to help you to live for him. Now, God wants you to pray this prayer so much that he died to give you the opportunity and the ability to ask him to forgive you.

Please pray this prayer with me out loud right now. Dear Jesus, I believe you died for me, that I could be forgiven. And I believe you were raised from the dead, that I could have a new life. And I've done wrong things. I have sinned.

And I'm sorry. Please forgive me of all those things. Please give me the power to live for you all of my days. In Jesus' name.

Amen. Friend, if you prayed that prayer, according to the Bible, you've been forgiven. You've been born again. So congratulations, friend.

You just made the greatest decision that you will ever make. God bless you. If you prayed that prayer with David for the first time, we'd love to hear from you. Visit crossthebridge.com and click on God's Plan for New Life to receive our First Steps package with helpful resources to help you begin your walk with Christ. God wants to bless you and encourage your relationships today. Whether you are married, considering marriage, or engaged to be married, we have a resource for you. Pastor David wants to send you his four-part video series, Allies Stay Friends. Allow God to minister to your marriage through His Word today. This was an unforgettable weekend that encouraged many marriages, and you and your spouse can be encouraged too. Allies Stay Friends is our thanks for your generous gift today to help more people hear God's truth on this station and beyond so they can cross the bridge from death to life. Please visit crossthebridge.com today to give a gift of any amount and get your copy of Allies Stay Friends. Well, DA, before we go, what are some ways that we can bless our listeners? Each day you can wake up with encouragement from Pastor David through the Word of God with his email devotional, life lessons to consider, a daily reading plan, and a thought to meditate on throughout your day from the heart of David McGee. Those are terrific, and it's easy and it's free. So folks, sign up today at crossthebridge.com. Thanks again for listening, and join us next time as David McGee continues teaching verse by verse through the Book of Acts.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-11-17 08:33:57 / 2023-11-17 08:45:59 / 12

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