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Courage in Service and Fellowship

Acts 9:17-19
Then Ananias went to the house and entered it. Placing his hands on Saul, he said, "Brother Saul, the Lord - Jesus, who appeared to you on the road as you were coming here - has sent me so that you may see again and be filled with the Holy Spirit." Immediately, something like scales fell from Saul's eyes, and he could see again. He got up and was baptized, and after taking some food, he regained his strength. Saul spent several days with the disciples in Damascus. (NIVUK)

Ananias was fearful that his vision with the instruction to meet Saul might have put him in danger (Acts 9:15-16). But the Lord convinced him to trust and obey. Arriving in Judas' house in Straight Street, Ananias found Saul who was unable to see (Acts 9:11-12). He reached out to the former persecutor, greeting him warmly as a brother in Christ. Ananias said that his assignment was to restore Saul's sight through the authority of Jesus and announce the infilling of the Holy Spirit (John 20:22).

There was no delay; simple faith was rewarded as Jesus fulfilled His Word to Ananias. Saul could see again. His first action was to be baptised – confessing that he was a repentant sinner and identifying with Jesus in His death, burial and resurrection (Romans 6:3-4). His priority was to be made right with God. Then he broke his three day fast (Acts 9:9). Saul, the proud and arrogant religious zealot had humbled himself under God's mighty hand; and so now God could lift him up (1 Peter 5:5-6).

Although it was difficult, at first, for the believers in Damascus to comprehend that Saul had been converted (Acts 9:21), they took courage and welcomed him as a brother. It was a strange reversal of roles: Saul who had made Christians run away, was now wanting their fellowship; and the believers who had once feared him, now gave him their time and respect and love. Miracles had happened in Saul, Ananias and the other believers. They had all listened to the Lord and changed their minds and behaviour towards each other. God was at work in all of them.

Temperamentally we all like to be in control, keeping ourselves safe and minimising serious risk. But as disciples of Jesus we have to learn that He is the person who keeps us safe, and His commands are never greater than we can bear (1 John 5:3). We need courage for the Lord to engage in fellowship with those who have previously hurt us or who represent a current threat (Philippians 1:14). Often we need the example of other believers and they may look to us for their encouragement. All true fellowship and service can be potentially dangerous, but in the strength which the Lord gives, we can press on in confidence.

God of all strength. Thank You for the examples of those who got their courage from You to engage in fellowship and service. Forgive me for my fearfulness and unwillingness to step outside of my own comfort area. Help me to pay attention to Your Word and be willing to step out in faith as You command me. In Jesus' Name. Amen.
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© Dr Paul Adams