Character study – Ananias of Damascus

The first question and a good one I might add is why do a character study on Ananias of Damascus? A good second question might be what is a character study? Another well thought out question dear reader. To answer the former, I will say that the Lord revealed some things about Ananias to me and I thought it only fitting that I share them, and as to the latter I am referring to the character of the man Ananias, not the character named Ananias for that makes it sound more like a study on Bugs Bunny and while interesting that is not my aim and he is not just some character but a real man.

There are two other Ananias’s mentioned in the Bible the first is the man who he and his wife lied to the Holy Spirit, and the second was the High Priest. We are not speaking about either one of these men. The only Biblical references to Ananias of Damascus are found in Acts 9:10-18 and Acts 22:12-16. From this text, we are able to tell some important things about this man.

First, he was a man of faith in the Lord Jesus, verse 10 of chapter 9 tells us he was a disciple of Jesus, and 22:12 tells us he was devout and highly respected. The fact that he was a disciple was evident from his response to Jesus calling his name when he responded with “Yes Lord”, unlike Saul who answered, “who are you.” Ananias knew who it was that was calling him and answered the right way “yes Lord” oh if we would answer that way every time the Lord called our name. If we would say “yes Lord” maybe we would be able to better receive what He wanted to say to us.

Second, he was a man who could be trusted by the Lord to do His will. Not only did Jesus reveal to Ananias what He wanted him to do but Jesus showed Saul in a vision that Ananias would come. He was a man that could be trusted by God to do the will of the Lord. That says a lot about a person, and I can say that I would like to be that person. The kind of man that God can come to and say, “Mike this is what I want you to do, and I have shown someone in a vision that you would be coming.” What a time that would be. Ananias could be counted on.

Thirdly we can see he was an obedient man. When the Lord told him what He wanted, Ananias told Jesus that he knew of this man Saul and that he knew he was there to arrest men like himself. He knew that the man he was being sent to lay hands on for healing had been sent to lay hands on him for imprisonment. This was not an easy task. We sometimes struggle with praying for someone in the body who God directs us to. But this would be like living in Iran and God telling you to pray and lay hands on Ayatollah Ali Khamenei the supreme leader. This man Saul was bad news, he was the one at Stephens stoning, the one who testifies of himself that he persecuted the Way. Ananias’s faith and obedience in this situation should not be quickly overlooked. It is something that we should strive for, something to be sought after.

Fourthly we will quickly look at the fact that he was bold. Acts 22:14-16

“Then he said: ‘The God of our fathers has chosen you to know his will and to see the Righteous One and to hear words from his mouth. You will be his witness to all men of what you have seen and heard. And now what are you waiting for? Get up, be baptized and wash your sins away, calling on his name.

What a statement! Did you catch it in verse 16 get up and get baptized; this was not a man who would dance around the point. He knew what he was directed to do and boy oh boy did he do it. I am not sure if I could accurately convey the point of that passage so I will not try other than again saying that Ananias was a bold believer who knew his mission and would do it.

From these texts, we can see that he was a true disciple who could be trusted, had faith, and was bold in mission for the Lord. What separated him and us? What made him so special? One word…Nothing!

That’s right he lived the life that you can live, the life I can live. 2 Peter 1:3 tells us “His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness.”

Did you catch that; He (God) has given (past tense) us everything we need to live the life He wants us to live. We must simply (and I use that word very loosely) walk in it. We must walk in the power He has already bestowed on us. If we want the life of abundance that Jesus promised in John 10:10 than all we have to do is walk in it. That does not mean there will not be hardships, or trials, or difficulties, but it does mean that we can get through all of it by His grace and for His glory.

One last thing about this great man of faith named Ananias; he was martyred in Eleutheropolis sometime in the 1st century. He faced a trial and problem, but he met that one with the same faith as the one in Acts with boldness and faithfulness to his Lord and God. May it so be with us.

Just a thought,

Mike

p.s. this is an older study from about 8 years ago but I just re-read it and thought it worth sharing again.

Acts 19 – Four Responses to the Gospel

In Acts chapter 19 we are given four responses to the Gospel message. It is sort of a unique chapter in that regard because it shows how different people or people groups can react to the message of the God’s love and grace in one short space.

The first group that is presented with the Gospel is a group of John’s former disciples. These were ones who knew of the message of repentance that was taught by John the Baptist and they had participated in John’s baptism. They had some knowledge of Jesus and desired to do the will of God but they were missing some key parts of the message. When Paul heard this, he explained to them what they were missing and baptized them into Christ and they received the Holy Spirit.

It is interesting to me that they worked with what they knew and were humble enough to admit they did not know what they did not know. I think we can all agree that we only know so much after all 1 Cor 13:9 says we know in part so we should be humble enough to admit that. The question is not do we know in part but what do we do with that fact. We should not believe every spirit but we should be willing to listen to those who are experienced in the faith and learn because there is much to learn. More importantly, we should learn that when God brings new knowledge to us we need to walk in that knowledge. We are called to learn and grow in Christ and part of the growing is walking out the new things God brings to us.

The second group was the members of the synagogue. Paul went and preached to them for three months and their response was to harden their hearts and become angry. They had no desire to turn from what they knew and instead spoke evil of the Way (Christianity).

There are some people who no matter what will not want to hear that God loves them. They have their own ideas and preconceived notions of who God is and anything outside of that is wrong. Maybe they have been hurt by the church or maybe they are just bitter but for whatever reason, they do not want to hear the Gospel. Like Paul, I would suggest you tell them anyway because some water and some reap but God gives the increase. Our job is not to decide who gets to the hear Gods message of love and reconciliation but to tell everyone. We are not in a position to decide but to deliver.

The third group is interesting because they knew the power of the Gospel and the power of Jesus but it had no place in their hearts. There was a group of men trying to cast out a demon in Jesus’ name and the demon essentially jumped them. This demon said, “Jesus I know, and Paul I acknowledge but who are you?” Jesus was known by the demon. Paul was known to belong to Jesus but these men were unknown because they were just using the name.

For the Gospel to have any power in your life, it has to be something that is in you not just known by you. I can know that cold medicine will help my cold but if I don’t get it in me then nothing changes. You can know all about God but if the love of the Father is not in you then you have nothing. James says, you believe in God good, even the demons believe that and shudder. It is not enough to know the stories or to know about God, you need to know Him and be known by Him. You can say God all day long but the question is do you respond when He says your name?

The last group just got mad because it messed with their livelihood. These men where makers of idols and for someone to walk around talking about a God who exists without human hands or intervention was not good for them. The message of the Gospel is that God so loved the world that He gave His only Son to die on a cross taking our sin and shame and then rose again three days later claiming victory over sin and the grave. This message gives you no wiggle room to please God on your own and idol worship is all about pleasing God and yourself on your own.

To move it to today you could say these men were like pimps, hustlers, and charlatans. They made their living off people trying to please themselves through self-fulfilled worship. You need this to make you happy because you are the one who needs to feel that connection. Take this drug to feel good. Take this stuff to feel better. Take this person to feel powerful. Take this to please yourself. Listen to my great wisdom to be better. Anytime you come across someone peddling that message you are going to run a high risk of making them mad telling them that you cannot please God and you cannot find satisfaction in your efforts to feel better.

Again, I would reiterate that our job is not to judge who is worthy of the message but to deliver it and to pray for all those we share it with. I would also suggest that sharing the good news is not always about giving a full presentation of the Gospel message and trying to get someone to “say the prayer.” Sometimes if not most times it is just about being real and being true. It is about letting people know that God loves them and you love them. It is about praying for people and letting them know you will pray for them. We need to be real with people and in turn, I think we will find they will be real with you.

Just a thought,

Mike