Praying through Acts- Chapter 9

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Acts 9:1–2 NKJV
1 Then Saul, still breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord, went to the high priest 2 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.
Tonight, we’re in our ninth week of praying through Acts. We will look at chapter 9.
As we’ve prayed through Acts, we’ve built off of the foundation of Acts 1:8. God promised power when the Holy Spirit comes upon us.
Why does God want us to have His power?
The key reason for God’s power is to witness. There are secondary blessings to being filled with the Holy Spirit, these include:
a greater understanding and desire for God’s word
a deeper walk with God
a stronger passion for God’s presence
a prayer language
But all of these are secondary to receiving God’s power to witness.
The church in Acts knew their responsibility to reach the entire world with the gospel of Jesus Christ. Therefore, they prayed continuously.
As they prayed, God fulfilled His promise to send His power.
Acts 1 - promise of power
Acts 2 - received power
Acts 3 - exercised power
Acts 4 - prayed for more power
Acts 5- people lied and God displayed His power
Acts 6- conflict arose and God used people of power to help the church
Acts 7- Stephen reminded them of God’s power in history
Acts 8- walked in power to spread Gospel in Samaria
Now, we will see how God’s power came to reach the worst of sinners, Saul of Tarsus. We met him at the end of Acts 7. When the religious people stoned Stephen, Saul help their coats for them.
He worked with the Jewish leaders to stop the followers of the Way. They didn’t call them Christians at this point, they merely were people who followed the way, the truth, and the life.
Saul was zealous to stop the church for he viewed them as the problem in society. In his mind, if the church would stop preaching about Jesus, God would respond and sent the Messiah.
Paul was about to find out that Jesus is the Messiah!
As we look at Acts 9, I want us to think of someone in our lives who is not right with God. At the end of my message, we will pray for those who needs the Lord.
God can save even those who seem “unsaveable.”But it requires God’s power and Holy Spirit conviction.
God needs people who will pray for those who are far from Him.
When we pray for the lost, I want us to think of three areas where God is at work. He’s: [Working on Their Hearts], [Working on My Heart], and [Working in Our Hearts].
Let’s begin
1. Working on Their Hearts
Acts 9:3–6 NKJV
3 As he journeyed he came near Damascus, and suddenly a light shone around him from heaven. 4 Then he fell to the ground, and heard a voice saying to him, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me?” 5 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.” 6 So he, 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.”
By all accounts, Saul was as far from God as possible. He had legal authority to incarcerate Christians by throwing them in jail. He created so many problems, many Christians fled from Jerusalem for their lives.
Now, he hears there is a group of Christians in Damascus. He received legal authority to take them and imprison them. However, something amazing happened on the way.
As he and his companions walked toward Damascus, a bright light began to shine down from heaven. And Saul heard a voice speak to him.
The voice asked, Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?
The fact that the voice said his name twice would have got the attention of this faithful Jewish man. He now joined the ranks of men like Abraham, Jacob, Moses, and Samuel of people who heard God call their name twice.
He asked for the voice to identify itself. From the sky, Jesus introduced Himself to Saul and informed him, you are not only coming against my followers, you are persecuting me.
Notice verse five, it is hard for you to kick against the goads. A goad was a stick used for moving along a team of oxen.
Underneath the surface, it is likely that God was already working on Saul’s heart and he was running from God’s conviction.
Before God saves someone, He starts to work on their hearts.
It might be in the service when they hear the gospel for the first time. Or it might be over days, weeks, or even months.
I have read that when Muslims come to Christ, it normally happens after months to years of visions or dreams of Jesus.
Therefore, we must remember, a lot of work went into a person’s salvation. It starts as God begins to show Himself to them. Eventually when the time is right, He will speak to them and they will have the choice to listen or not.
2. Working on My Heart
Acts 9:10–13 NKJV
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.” 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. 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.” 13 Then Ananias answered, “Lord, I have heard from many about this man, how much harm he has done to Your saints in Jerusalem.
As Saul gets struck blind, his companions take them a certain house in Damascus. Inside the house was a man named Ananias, a disciple of Christ, not the one who lied to the Holy Spirit.
God spoke to him to inform him, I am sending someone your way that he needs prayer. I can almost hear it now:
Jesus— Ananias, you will lead someone to me!
Ananias—great that is an answer to my prayers.
Jesus— you will also pray him through to the Holy Spirit baptism.
Ananias— wonderful, I love seeing people get filled.
Jesus— I will also use this man to preach before gentiles and kings!
Ananias— amazing, we need to get the gospel out as soon as possible! What is this person’s name?
Jesus— Saul of Tarsus!
Ananias— WHAT? Don’t you know that he persecutes people who are devoted to you? He even has authority to imprison people, and I might be next?
God was working on Saul’s heart, but he also had to work on Ananias’s heart. In his mind, Saul was too rough and too far gone for God to save him.
However, the Lord revealed His plan, specifically that He had a plan for Saul. So Ananias obeyed and did what God instructed.
Sometimes as we pray for the lost, the enemy wants us to think, the person we’re praying for is too lost and too far from God. But no one is too far from God that He cannot save.
Other times, there might be people who’ve hurt or offended us and we have trouble forgiving them when God is ready to forgive them.
What we have to do is to as God to work in MY heart. Soften my heart for those who are not right with you!
As God works on their heart and my heart, the moment will come when He...
3. Works in Our Hearts
Acts 9:17–19 NKJV
17 And Ananias went his way and entered the house; 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 may receive your sight and be filled with the Holy Spirit.” 18 Immediately there fell from his eyes something like scales, and he received his sight at once; and he arose and was baptized. 19 So when he had received food, he was strengthened. Then Saul spent some days with the disciples at Damascus.
Ananias obeyed and even began to speak to Saul about God’s plan for Him. He prayed for Saul and through the prayers of Ananias, God opened Saul’s eyes and he was saved.
Then Ananias prayed for Saul and he was filled with the Holy Spirit. He then baptized Saul and word began to spread about the change in Saul’s life.
Ananias had him to the house and they ate together, no doubt remembering all the good God accomplished.
I wonder how Ananias felt moving forward. I would say and he and Saul ended up having a good relationship. Ananias had to have been proud of what God did in the man he once deemed unsaveable.
Salvation can change the lives of those who have just received Christ and those who prayed for their soul.
God did a work in Saul’s life, but also in Ananias’s life, showing that He can and will save those who seem to far gone.
Years after God changed Saul’s life, Paul, his new name, shared his testimony.
1 Timothy 1:12–17 NKJV
12 And I thank Christ Jesus our Lord who has enabled me, because He counted me faithful, putting me into the ministry, 13 although I was formerly a blasphemer, a persecutor, and an insolent man; but I obtained mercy because I did it ignorantly in unbelief. 14 And the grace of our Lord was exceedingly abundant, with faith and love which are in Christ Jesus. 15 This is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am chief. 16 However, for this reason I obtained mercy, that in me first Jesus Christ might show all longsuffering, as a pattern to those who are going to believe on Him for everlasting life. 17 Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, to God who alone is wise, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen.
Tonight as we pray, I know we all have someone on our heart who is not right with God. We have those on our hearts who are lost and backslidden or backsliding.
But their condition can change and God can give them a testimony. If He saved Saul, who was the worst of sinners, what can He do for our families.
We must believe that He can and wants to change the lives of those we love.
As we bring our lost loved ones to this altar, let’s pray for God to:
Work on their hearts
Work on my heart
Work in our hearts
MY sister is a testimony of fervent prayer for her soul. Bekah and I prayed and God has answered! I know He can do that for each of us!
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