Daily Devotions - Thursday, 9 July 2020

DAILY DEVOTIONS

Thursday, 9 July 

(The video version is available by clicking HERE )

Call to Prayer

Then the Lord said to Samuel, ‘See, I am about to do something in Israel that will make both ears of anyone who hears of it tingle.   (1 Samuel 3 : 11)

Prayer

God of the unexpected,

remind us now, as we still our hearts,

that through you nothing is impossible,

nobody is beyond your love

and everyone is full of possibilities.

Be with us now in Jesus’ name we pray.

Amen

Bible Reading : Ananias

Introduction

As I read the passage today, I’m struck that this is a story of encounters.  The first encounter is between Paul and Jesus, the second between God and Ananias and finally with Saul and Ananias.  However, it is the second encounter with Ananias that I want to focus on. We don’t know where Ananias had his encounter with God but it would be a fair assumption that it was in the quiet of his house while he was in prayer. There were no witnesses, no blinding light, just Ananias and God. In the quiet he heard the still small voice of God speak to him.

We’re told that Ananias was a faithful follower, a disciple none the less. Yet we read that Ananias didn’t leap with joy when he heard what Jesus had planned for him. Ananias knew who Saul was and what he had done and no doubt had heard what he planned to do in Damascus.

Ananias questions God, can you imagine a disciple of Jesus who knew how powerful he was. He knew that God could raise the dead to life, make the lame walk, the blind see and yet he couldn’t imagine that God could use a man who had persecuted him and killed his followers. Surely God had gotten it wrong?

The person to spread the Gospel message near and far was to be the one who, more than anyone else, had been the keenest to stamp the message out. So, against every instinct he had, Ananias got up and went to Saul. It is a reminder that sometimes God uses us in the most unexpected of ways. The question is, are you ready? So listen now to the Word of God.

Acts 9 : 1 – 19

Meanwhile Saul, still breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord, went to the high priest and asked him for letters to the synagogues at Damascus, so that if he found any who belonged to the Way, men or women, he might bring them bound to Jerusalem.

Now as he was going along and approaching Damascus, suddenly a light from heaven flashed around him.

He fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to him, “Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?”

He asked, “Who are you, Lord?” The reply came, “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting.

But get up and enter the city, and you will be told what you are to do.”

The men who were traveling with him stood speechless because they heard the voice but saw no one.

Saul got up from the ground, and though his eyes were open, he could see nothing; so they led him by the hand and brought him into Damascus.

For three days he was without sight, and neither ate nor drank.

Now there was a disciple in Damascus named Ananias. The Lord said to him in a vision, “Ananias.” He answered, “Here I am, Lord.”

The Lord said to him, “Get up and go to the street called Straight, and at the house of Judas look for a man of Tarsus named Saul. At this moment he is praying, 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.”

But Ananias answered, “Lord, I have heard from many about this man, how much evil he has done to your saints in Jerusalem; and here he has authority from the chief priests to bind all who invoke your name.”

But the Lord said to him, “Go, for he is an instrument whom I have chosen to bring my name before Gentiles and kings and before the people of Israel; I myself will show him how much he must suffer for the sake of my name.”

So Ananias went and entered the house. He laid his hands on Saul and said, “Brother Saul, the Lord Jesus, who appeared to you on your way here, has sent me so that you may regain your sight and be filled with the Holy Spirit.”

And immediately something like scales fell from his eyes, and his sight was restored. Then he got up and was baptized, and after taking some food, he regained his strength.

Prayer

Lord, we are here,
with all our faith

and all our doubt,

in all our strength and in all our weakness.

 

We join from different places,

carrying different burdens,
different expectations, different hopes

but together we pray

and together we worship you.

 

God of the road to Damascus,
shatter our smugness,

disturb our certainties
and open our hearts
to new possibilities and new truth.

 

May the scales of our preconceptions,

beliefs and mistakes
fall away and,

like Saul, may we become
the people you truly made us to be.

 

Help us like Ananias walk your path,

a path which at times terrifies us,

a path that we at times question,

a path in which we doubt your power.

Help us to take

those first steps with you

to be obedient to your calling for us.

 

Help us to hear your voice.

Help us to walk forward in faith

with the knowledge that you walk ahead of us.

In a moment silence we come to listen

to your voice and to bring those worries

that prevent us from hearing you clearly.

 

We ask this in Jesus’ name,
who lived and died and rose again

for each of us.

Amen