THE COURAGE OF ANANIAS

 

Our lesson today comes from:

 

Acts 9:10 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.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 vessel of Mine to bear My name before Gentiles, kings, and the children of Israel.16 "For I will show him how many things he must suffer for My name's sake."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.20 Immediately he preached the Christ in the synagogues, that He is the Son of God.21 Then all who heard were amazed, and said, "Is this not he who destroyed those who called on this name in Jerusalem, and has come here for that purpose, so that he might bring them bound to the chief priests?"22 But Saul increased all the more in strength, and confounded the Jews who dwelt in Damascus, proving that this Jesus is the Christ.

 

From this text, we are going to learn how important it is for us to be courageous in the Lord and what can result from our courage.

 

Webster defines courage as a: ďMental or moral strength to venture, persevere, and withstand danger, fear or difficulty.Ē

 

Courage has always been an essential characteristic of God's people. For example, before Moses died, he challenged the children of Israel to have courage in:

 

Deuteronomy 31:6 "Be strong and of good courage, do not fear nor be afraid of them; for the LORD your God, He is the One who goes with you. He will not leave you nor forsake you."

 

Joshua also encouraged them to do the same in:

 

Joshua 1:6 "Be strong and of good courage, for to this people you shall divide as an inheritance the land which I swore to their fathers to give them.7 "Only be strong and very courageous, that you may observe to do according to all the law which Moses My servant commanded you; do not turn from it to the right hand or to the left, that you may prosper wherever you go.

 

Psalm 27:14 Wait on the LORD; Be of good courage, And He shall strengthen your heart; Wait, I say, on the LORD!

 

Finally Paul said,

 

1 Corinthians 16:13 Watch, stand fast in the faith, be brave, be strong.

 

All the verses teaches us that we must learn to be courageous in the Lord, and when we learn to be strong in the faith like this, great things can happen for the Lordís kingdom. As we examine our verses about Ananias, we are going to see why courage is so important to the Christian.

 

Acts 9:10 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."

 

The first thing we learn is that Ananiasí courage caused him to be ready because as soon as the Lord called his name he said here I am Lord. His response of readiness is the same response that many other faithful men of old had as well. For example:

 

1 Samuel 3:10 Now the LORD came and stood and called as at other times, "Samuel! Samuel!" And Samuel answered, "Speak, for Your servant hears."

 

Isaiah 6:8 Also I heard the voice of the Lord, saying: "Whom shall I send, And who will go for Us?" Then I said, "Here am I! Send me."

 

Hebrews 11:8 By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to the place which he would receive as an inheritance. And he went out, not knowing where he was going.

 

Like Ananias, these faithful men were ready to listen to the Lordís instructions, and they had the courage to carry them out. This is the same courageous attitude that we me must have today because God wants us to be ready to serve Him strong in the faith.

 

For instance, we need to be ready to preach the gospel as Paul was ready to preach it.

 

Romans 1:1 So, as much as is in me, I am ready to preach the gospel to you who are in Rome also.

 

Since we are to be ready to preach the Gospel, we must also be ready answer questions as Peter said,

 

1 Peter 3:15 But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear;

There is only one way that you and I can be ready to preach the gospel and give a defense for what believe in and that is by studying Godís Word. The more we study and learn about Godís Word, the easier it will be for us to find the courage to teach others and to defend our faith.

 

We must also be ready to do good for all people as:

 

Galatians 6:10 Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all, especially to those who are of the household of faith.

 

So, when something needs to be done that will glorify God we need to say ďHere I am LordĒ

 

Acts 9:11 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.14 "And here he has authority from the chief priests to bind all who call on Your name."

 

The second thing we learn is that even courageous men like Ananias who are ready to serve God can be hesitant at times and this can happen to the best of us from time to time. For example:

 

  • Have you ever wanted to talk to a loved one, but you were afraid of what they might think?
  • Have you ever thought about talking to a fellow employee, but you were afraid that might get mad at you?
  • Have you ever been talking to your next door neighbor, but you could not muster up enough courage to talk to them about the gospel?

 

In my Christian life there has been several times where I failed miserable at saying something to someone when it should have been said. All this proves is that we are human and we make mistakes and fall short sometimes, but as we mature in our Christianity we must build our courage up so that we say the right things more than we do not. We need to remember what Paul said in:

 

2 Timothy 1:7 For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.

 

So the next time we allow our fears to keep us from speaking to others, we need to remind ourselves that we can gain strength from God, and we need to realize that we may be the only hope for that person to hear Godís Word. As Paul said,

 

2 Corinthians 5:11 Knowing, therefore, the terror of the Lord, we persuade men;

 

Now I do not believe that Ananias was trying to neglect what God was telling him to do, but he wanted to make sure that God wanted him to go to Saul because Saul was known as a destroyer of all things Christian. While we should keep our faith in God even in the face of death, we should use good judgment with our lives because sometimes there is nothing wrong from fleeing from certain situations. For example:

 

  • Elijah fled for his life after he killed the prophets of Baal in 1 Kings 19
  • Saul fled for his life shortly after He was converted in Acts 9

 

Even Jesus fled for His life on occasion and kept Himself from harms way:

 

John 8:59 Then they took up stones to throw at Him; but Jesus hid Himself and went out of the temple, going through the midst of them, and so passed by.

 

John 10:39 Therefore they sought again to seize Him, but He escaped out of their hand.

 

John 11:54 Therefore Jesus no longer walked openly among the Jews, but went from there into the country near the wilderness, to a city called Ephraim, and there remained with His disciples.

 

So we need to be realistic with our courage today and study the situation and make righteous judgments. While we must never compromise Godís truth even in face of death and we should fear God and not man. God does not expect us to lose our life or suffer great bodily harm if we can avoid it, and just as Jesus and Saul were not cowards for doing so neither are we. So, Ananias was not being a coward here; he was just making sure of the situation.

 

Acts 9:15 But the Lord said to him, "Go, for he is a chosen vessel of Mine to bear My name before Gentiles, kings, and the children of Israel.16 "For I will show him how many things he must suffer for My name's sake."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.

 

Once God confirmed that this was the man he wanted him to go to, his courage allowed him to be receptive to Godís Word, and he was ready to do what was needed. When he realized that God meant what He said, he was ready to obey those instructions. While God does not speak directly to us today, we can find ourselves in this same situation. Sometimes we read Godís Word and we question it. When we start thinking with our heart and we have a hard time understanding why God wants us to handle certain situations His way when it just does not seem right to us. But we need to understand that God has more wisdom than we could ever hope to have, and we must be courageous enough to trust in His ways. As Isaiah said:

 

Isaiah 55:8 " For My thoughts are not your thoughts, Nor are your ways My ways," says the LORD.9 "For as the heavens are higher than the earth, So are My ways higher than your ways, And My thoughts than your thoughts.10 "For as the rain comes down, and the snow from heaven, And do not return there, But water the earth, And make it bring forth and bud, That it may give seed to the sower And bread to the eater,11 So shall My word be that goes forth from My mouth; It shall not return to Me void, But it shall accomplish what I please, And it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it.

The writer of Proverbs says:

 

Proverbs 3:5 Trust in the LORD with all your heart, And lean not on your own understanding;6 In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He shall direct your paths.7 Do not be wise in your own eyes; Fear the LORD and depart from evil.8 It will be health to your flesh, And strength to your bones.

 

This is one of the hardest things for us to do sometimes because we think we know what is best even if God says otherwise. While there are countless examples we could look at in the Bibleí the most challenging example of this come from the time of Ezra. The Jews had been freed from their 70 years of captivity and some of them had returned to Jerusalem to rebuild their temple, walls and their lives. But there was a big problem, some the Jews had married Pagan women and had children with them, which was against the Law of Moses. In order the children of Israel to repent and get back right with God they needed to get back to Law of Moses and this would mean they would have to make some changes including their Pagan wives and children. Notice what Ezraís response was:

 

Ezra 9:2 "For they have taken some of their daughters as wives for themselves and their sons, so that the holy seed is mixed with the peoples of those lands. Indeed, the hand of the leaders and rulers has been foremost in this trespass."3 So when I heard this thing, I tore my garment and my robe, and plucked out some of the hair of my head and beard, and sat down astonished.

 

Ezra was devastated by this news because he knew that if the children of Israel were going to repent and get back right with God that they would have put away their pagan mates and their children. I do not know of any harder saying or emotion that will challenge a personís faith in God because we are talking about putting away someone that you love because God said it must be done. Ezra encouraged these Jews to love God first and to be courageous in their faith, and his encouragement paid off. Notice the Jewís response in:

 

Ezra 10:3 "Now therefore, let us make a covenant with our God to put away all these wives and those who have been born to them, according to the advice of my master and of those who tremble at the commandment of our God; and let it be done according to the law.4 "Arise, for this matter is your responsibility. We also are with you. Be of good courage, and do it."

 

Now there were some that were not willing do this because it was a hard saying, but the majority if them decided to put their emotions to the side and trust and obey Godís will even though it would be devastating to them emotionally.

 

It takes great courage to follow Godís Word sometimes especially when loved ones are involved and emotions are running high. But if we are going to trust in God and realize that His way is the best way, then we must learn to set aside our wisdom and embrace Godís wisdom no matter how much it may hurt. As Jeremiah said,

 

Jeremiah 10:23 O LORD, I know the way of man is not in himself; It is not in man who walks to direct his own steps.

 

Think of the courage it took for Ananias to go to Saul like God commanded. If he had relied on his own wisdom I do not believe he would have went, but thankfully he trusted in Godís instructions and went to Saul.

 

You and I must follow this example and always humble ourselves before the Lord realizing that He is control and He knows what is best. As Jesus said in Mat. 10:37, we must love Him more than our mother, father, or children.

 

Acts 9:18 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.20 Immediately he preached the Christ in the synagogues, that He is the Son of God.21 Then all who heard were amazed, and said, "Is this not he who destroyed those who called on this name in Jerusalem, and has come here for that purpose, so that he might bring them bound to the chief priests?"22 But Saul increased all the more in strength, and confounded the Jews who dwelt in Damascus, proving that this Jesus is the Christ.

 

Because of Ananiasí courage, great things happened for the kingdom of God. Ananias had no idea that Saul conversion would cause him to be one the apostles, or that he would go on 3 missionary journeys and covert hundreds or possible thousands of people to Christ. He had no idea that Saul end writing 13 of the books we have in our NT. This one act of courage made a huge difference in the kingdom of God. Now think about this:

 

  • What if Ananias had been afraid to say what Paul needed to hear?
  • What if he had only spoken of the existence of God?
  • What if he had preached "unity-in-diversity?Ē
  • What if he had told Paul he had the right to agree to disagree?
  • What if he had said you need to love Jesus and walked off?

 

Thankfully Ananias had the courage to say what needed to be said and Saul was converted, and he became the hardest working apostle there was. We need to keep this in mind because we never know what might be the results of your courage to speak to those around you. You may convert someone that God will bless and they may lead hundreds or thousands to Christ. So, donít ever underestimate what your courage may produce for the Lord. We just need to have the attitude that Paul did in:

 

1 Corinthians 3:5 Who then is Paul, and who is Apollos, but ministers through whom you believed, as the Lord gave to each one?6 I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the increase.7 So then neither he who plants is anything, nor he who waters, but God who gives the increase.

 

In Conclusion we have learned:

 

1. By studying the life of Ananias, we can see the kind of courage that pleases God.

2. We need be patience and tactful, but we also need to be courageous.

3. Elders need courage to contend and stand for Godís truth.

4. Preachers need courage to open their mouths and preach the Gospel.

5. Members need courage to support elders and preachers in the proclamation of the

truth.

6. It takes courage to break away from whatever is keeping us from Christ.

 

So, I hope that all of us will learn be more courageous in our faith in God in the future.

 

Adapted from Wesley Simons and David Jones outline