Lord What Must I Do
Text: Acts 9:1-22 Speaker: Pastor Matthew Ude Festival: Easter Passages: Acts 9:1-22
Full Service Video
The Conversion of Saul (Listen)
9:1 But Saul, still breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord, went to the high priest 2 and asked him for letters to the synagogues at Damascus, so that if he found any belonging to the Way, men or women, he might bring them bound to Jerusalem. 3 Now as he went on his way, he approached Damascus, and suddenly a light from heaven shone around him. 4 And falling to the ground, he heard a voice saying to him, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?” 5 And he said, “Who are you, Lord?” And he said, “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting. 6 But rise and enter the city, and you will be told what you are to do.” 7 The men who were traveling with him stood speechless, hearing the voice but seeing no one. 8 Saul rose from the ground, and although his eyes were opened, he saw nothing. So they led him by the hand and brought him into Damascus. 9 And for three days he was without sight, and neither ate nor drank.
10 Now there was a disciple at Damascus named Ananias. The Lord said to him in a vision, “Ananias.” And he said, “Here I am, Lord.” 11 And the Lord said to him, “Rise and go to the street called Straight, and at the house of Judas look for a man of Tarsus named Saul, for behold, he is praying, 12 and he has seen in a vision a man named Ananias come in and lay his hands on him so that he might regain his sight.” 13 But Ananias answered, “Lord, I have heard from many about this man, how much evil he has done to your saints at Jerusalem. 14 And here he has authority from the chief priests to bind all who call on your name.” 15 But the Lord said to him, “Go, for he is a chosen instrument of mine to carry my name before the Gentiles and kings and the children of Israel. 16 For I will show him how much he must suffer for the sake of my name.” 17 So Ananias departed and entered the house. And laying his hands on him he said, “Brother Saul, the Lord Jesus who appeared to you on the road by which you came has sent me so that you may regain your sight and be filled with the Holy Spirit.” 18 And immediately something like scales fell from his eyes, and he regained his sight. Then he rose and was baptized; 19 and taking food, he was strengthened.
Saul Proclaims Jesus in Synagogues (Listen)
For some days he was with the disciples at Damascus. 20 And immediately he proclaimed Jesus in the synagogues, saying, “He is the Son of God.” 21 And all who heard him were amazed and said, “Is not this the man who made havoc in Jerusalem of those who called upon this name? And has he not come here for this purpose, to bring them bound before the chief priests?” 22 But Saul increased all the more in strength, and confounded the Jews who lived in Damascus by proving that Jesus was the Christ.
Lord what must I do?
Last week we saw the incredible growth of the church at Jerusalem. How the Lord blessed the preaching of the word there and “multitudes of men and women” were added daily. And so we asked ourselves the question, “how can our church be more like that church?”
Today we see the beginnings of Paul, the great and might missionary. And again each of us might wonder how can I be more like him?
Maybe not all of us want to be great missionaries traveling all over the world. But if we were able to imitate him even a little. If we were able to argue convincingly that Jesus is Christ and Lord. As Moses said, “Oh, that all the LORD’S people were prophets and that the LORD would put His Spirit upon them!” Numbers 11:29 NKJ. Wouldn’t that be great.
We would like the Lord’s guidance. We would like to do His will. We want His blessing but we just aren’t sure how. So we consider with Paul, “Lord, what must I do?”
Or course it begins with repentance. Paul’s words, “What must I do, Lord?” are a complete repudiation of everything that has gone before.
Up to this point, Paul is one of those people who thought he had it all figured out. He was born into a wealthy family. He was educated in the best schools in the empire. He dedicates his life to the Lord. He studied under Gamaliel. He was a rising star in the Jewish world. I’m sure his parents were very proud. I’m sure they told all the neighbors what a great son they had. Saul thought he had it all figured out.
But now the Lord opens the eyes of Saul to see the truth. To see that it is all a pile of worthless sticking rot. All his hard work, all his accomplishments, they are all nothing and worse than nothing they are the greatest sins.
The Lord opens Saul’s eyes for the first time he sees himself for what he truly is. “what must I do, Lord?” These are the words of one who is a sinner and who knows it. I’ve tried everything myself and it is a failure. Lord you teach me your way.
Something very similar happened to Joshua at the battle of AI, right after the destruction of Jericho. The children of Israel destroyed the city of Jericho and next on the list was the city of AI. Joshua sent spies up to look at the city of AI. The spies came back and said, “that is a small city, no big deal, just only send two or three thousand.” So that is what they did, but no one bothered to ask the Lord. They thought they had it covered. They thought they knew what they were doing. The men lost and came running back. Joshua tore his clothes and hair, and fell on his face before the Lord, “What happened? Why did you abandon us Lord?” The answer came back, “Israel has sinned.”
Usually exactly when we think we have it covered is when we have the greatest need to start with repentance. Lest we waste our lives doing useless and or pointless things, or even worse sinful things, thinking we are doing something great.
This repentance is of course not something we can do ourselves. It takes the power of Christ to open our hearts and eyes so that we see ourselves for what we truly are, “terrible sinners.”
In our text it takes a light greater than the Sun, three days of blindness and fasting, but most importantly it takes the voice of Christ. Repentance is necessary if we are going to accomplish anything for the Lord. Repentance is a gift from Christ which he gives us in His word.
Another important aspect of a life that actually accomplishes something is learning to listen when God speaks to us. Here we have the example of Saul for sure. He has to be taught to listen. Here we also have the example of Ananias.
Our text shows us that Ananias knew Saul was coming and why Saul was coming. Do you think that Ananias was praying for help from Saul? Do you think that when Ananias heard that Saul was coming to persecute the Christians in Damascus that he prayed to the Lord that he would save them from the hand of Saul? I think it likely, but even if he wasn’t, surely some in the church were. And God answered their prayer, yet in a way entirely different from what they were expecting.
The Christians in Damascus probably thought: Stop Saul from reaching Damascus. Help us to hide when he gets here. Cause the governor to protect us.
But God says, “no I got a better plan. I am going to convert Saul and cause him to work on our side.’
Ananias isn’t too sure about this, yet at the word of the Lord he goes.
there are many times in our lives too when we don’t really think the Lord knows what he is talking about. We doubt God and his word. Is that really the best way God?
Yet we need to learn with Ananias to go at his word. When once we know what God’s will is we need to stop raising excuses and go.
This also is not something in ourselves. This also is a gift from the Lord through His word. Through that word we not only hear His voice but learn to trust it.
Go and Do
Finally we want to get to work doing those tasks the Lord has given to us to do.
Jesus with His power brought Saul to repentance. Jesus gave him a new life in the waters of baptism. Jesus filled him with the Holy Spirit. And being filled with the Holy Spirit, Saul got up and went out and immediately preached that Jesus was the Christ.
God having given us, His word, his forgiveness, his power and to each of gifts and tasks to do, expects that we will get up and do them.
Perhaps you have heard sayings such as, “do what you can and God will take care of the rest.” Or “God helps those who help themselves.” This is not the same as what we see in our text. These sayings would imply that if we do our best God will fill in the rest for us. God will reward those who work hard. This is not what we see in our text.
It is all Jesus. Jesus calls Saul when he was still a sinner. Jesus opens his eyes and heart to recognize his sin. Jesus sends him to Damascus and baptizes him, and gives him a part and a mission in the early church. Jesus takes this sinner and makes of him a true soldier of the cross. May Jesus fill us with his grace and Holy Spirit that we also may be great soldiers of the cross.
Yet having been filled with His grace Jesus expects that we get out there and do those tasks he has sent us to do.
Ephesians 2:10 NKJ 10 For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.
The Grace of God is not an excuse for our laziness, yes it is all Him but that doesn’t mean we sitting around with popcorn watching the show.
Filled with his grace we go out to do His will.