Conyers Church of God

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When You Don't Want To

“Doing What You Don’t Want to Do”

By Mark E. Hardgrove, D.Min.

Text: Acts 9:10-19

 
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.   NKJV

 
INTRODUCTION

Has God ever asked you to do something you didn’t want to do?  He has me have.  I was in seminary working on my Master of Divinity degree and the course schedule had one class that was required and was only offered on Tuesday evenings.  Now, I don’t know how other folks paid their way through seminary, but I worked 50 hours a week, second shift at the Hardwick stove foundry.  I was married with a child and I had to work, and I had to work second shift so that I could attend all the other classes offered during the day.

          You can see the dilemma.  I had to work during the evening, but I also had to take one class that was only offered during the evening.  So I went to see the dean to ask if he would work something out with me.  The class was basically just an introductory class that oriented students to the Master of Divinity program, so I thought perhaps I could take it as a directed study.

          To my surprise, after I laid out my problem to the dean he just looked at me and said, “I guess you need to get a different job.”  I couldn’t believe me ears or the cavalier way in which he dismissed the need for compromise.  I was steaming when I left that office.  I mean I was mad.  Thankfully, the president of the seminary was much more understanding and he quickly agreed to allow me to take the class as a directed study.  However, I was still mad at the dean.  He didn’t know it, and I tried not to show it, but every time I saw him I felt my anger begin to boil again.

          Then one day I went to chapel service and I accidentally sat down on the same row just a few empty seats from the dean.  Mark Rutland preached a powerful message and ended by saying, “Now take the hand of the person next to you and pray for them.”

          I looked around but everyone else already had someone’s hand.  I looked over and there was the dean.  God spoke to my heart and said, “Pray for him.”

          I argued with God.  I said, “I don’t want to pray for him.  If anything that man should apologize to me for the needless anxiety he has caused me to endure.”

          The dean turned in my direction and God said, “Pray for him.”  So as the dean began to walk toward me, I submitted to God and took the dean’s hand.  By this time people were already praying and I began to pray for the dean.

          Something happened at that moment.  Again, I doubt that the dean had any clue how I felt about him, and I’m sure he didn’t have any bad feelings against me.  He didn’t say what he said to be mean.  It was just his matter-of-fact way of dealing with problems.  But I knew how I felt and as I took his hand and began to pray, I felt a spiritual release.  I began to cry.  I mean I boo-hooed.  I gave him a hug and I repented of my feelings and prayed a blessing over this man’s life.

          The release of two years of pent up anger continued to flow.  I got in my car to go home after the service, but I was still crying.  I was crying so hard that I had to pull over by the side of the road and continue to cry.  I was being delivered of that anger and hatred that I was hiding in my heart.  It was a cleansing healing cry that comes with a flood of emotions after a dam of bitterness is broken.

          I finally got home and I was still crying, but I was never the same after that day.  I had forgiven the man and I had allowed God to pull out that root of bitterness from my life.  God knew that the dean didn’t need me to pray for him.  I needed to pray for him.  I was the one who needed that prayer.

          Sometimes God asks us to do things we don’t want to do, don’t feel like doing, and often argue with God about doing, but if God has directed us to do something, God has reasons that larger than we can see at the moment. 

I believe that moment of forgiveness and prayer for a man I was angry with was preparation for the day when I would find my father.  After his thirty year abandonment of our family, I was able to hug my father and tell him I loved him because God had healed me in that chapel service fifteen years earlier.  This is the power of total surrender.

I)       GOD SPEAKS TO ANANIAS

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." 

 

          Let’s face it, Ananias didn’t really want to go and pray for Saul.  First of all, Saul had been persecuting the church.  Saul had thrown innocent men and women into prison.  Paul had consented to the death of Deacon Stephen.  Saul was wreaking havoc among believers in Jerusalem.  Perhaps Ananias thought, “If Saul is blind, then praise the Lord, that should slow Saul down.  After all, he got what he deserves.”  If I had been Ananias, I would not have wanted to pray for Saul either.

          Second, what guarantee did Ananias have that Saul wouldn’t just toss him in jail too?  After all, God, if I go into the bad part of town to testify they might do me bodily harm.  I don’t want to go there.  I don’t want to pray for that man.  I don’t want to put myself in peril.  What if he asks me for money?

           Ananias had been given an unmistakable and an undeniable directive from God, but he began to argue with the Lord.  Notice what Ananias says.  He doesn’t admit to any fear on his own part, but he reminds God of how Saul had been treating God’s people.

13 “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."

          Implicit in Ananias’ response is the fact that Saul could put him in jail as well.  But God has a plan that is larger than just healing Saul’s eyes.  Ananias, at this point doesn’t see it, he doesn’t understand the plans that God has for Saul, but God doesn’t have to explain himself to us.  He just asks us to trust and obey, for there’s no other way to be happy in Jesus, but to trust and obey.

II)      GOD’S PLAN FOR SAUL

          At this point God pulls back the veil of revelation just a little and allows Ananias to look in.

15 . . . 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." 

 

          Ananias couldn’t see it, and many in the early church wouldn’t see it either, but God had chosen Saul.  God said, “He is a chosen vessel of Mine.”  Sometimes the person God chooses doesn’t make much sense to us.  If we were picking and choosing we’d probably make completely different choices.

          I’ll be honest with you.  If I were God, I wouldn’t have chosen someone like me.  When I told my mother that God had called me into ministry, she didn’t seem to think God would choose someone like me either.  She said, “I never thought of you as a preacher.  Maybe your sister, but not you.” 

Man, when you own momma doesn’t endorse you, that’s bad.  But God affirmed his call on my life through two people I had never met before, and who had never met one another.  They both came to me with a word from God and they both said almost the exact same thing.  The second time, my wife was with me.  God knew she needed to hear it too.

          God did not choose Sault to be some kind of popular person who would be quickly embraced by the believers and forgiven by the Jewish religious elite.  Saul became a scourge to the Jews and was viewed with suspicion by the believers.  God told Ananias, “He is a chosen vessel of Mine to bear My name before Gentiles, kings, and the children of Israel.  For I will show him how many things he must suffer for My name's sake."  That was Saul’s call, “I will show him how many things he must suffer for My name’s sake.”

We live in such a spoiled generation.  People called into ministry see themselves behind the pulpits of big churches wowing the crowds.  They see themselves on TBN with the gold gilded set in the background as they move the masses to respond with shouting and large donations mailed in from around the country.

          Not Saul.  Saul was told that he would suffer for the Lord’s name’s sake.  Saul was going to go to the Gentiles, whom he had once despised.  He was going to be rejected by the people he had once tried so hard to please and by those he had worked so hard to gain approval.

          How does one respond to a call like that?  It can only come through total surrender – surrender of plans and surrender of one’s own agenda to embrace God’s agenda for your life.

          When Sun first met me, I was taking pre-med courses through the University of Maine.  I was going to be a medical doctor.  But when she and I came to the Lord, all our plans were surrendered to God.  The prayer becomes, “Not my will, but Thine be done.” 

          That’s not always easy, but it is always necessary before we can begin to enter our destiny.  Sometimes the plans we have were placed in our heart by God and surrender to God means simply that we acknowledge His leading in our life.  But sometimes it means that our life takes a radical shift and we are redirected as we surrender to God.

III)    SAUL’S SURRENDER

          Apparently Saul had heard the call of God and the plans of God and Saul surrendered completely to God’s will for his life.  Look at what happens:

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."

 

Ananias calls him “Brother Saul,” so Ananias had surrendered to God’s plan and he prayed for Saul’s sight to be restored and for Saul to be filled with the Holy Spirit.  Saul was going to need the power of the Holy Spirit to fulfill the ministry that God had designed for him.  Look at verse 18.

18 Immediately there fell from his eyes something like scales, and he received his sight at once; and he arose and was baptized.

 

Saul was healed and for the first time in his life, Saul could really see.  Not just with physical eyes, but with eyes of faith.  The next thing Saul did was to be baptized, and thereby affirm that he was in fact a true believer of Jesus Christ.

          This was the beginning of Saul’s, or Paul’s ministry.  It began with surrender.  First Ananias surrendered and did what he didn’t want to do, and then Saul surrendered his life and ministry to the call of God on his life. 

          Where there is no surrender, there can be no real satisfaction.  We may get what we want and do what we want but in the end, if we are out of God’s will, the results will ring hollow and our soul will go unsatisfied.

I’ve talked with so many people late in life who look back and admit with sadness that they had failed to follow the plans of God for their life and the result has been a harvest of bitter fruit. 

On the other hand, those who give their all lay down their lives in sweet assurance. Those who did all that God asked and gave all that they could, looked forward to hearing Him say, “Well done, thy good and faithful servant.”

CONCLUSION

          What about it church?  Have you surrendered all to Jesus, or have you held out because God was asking you to do something you didn’t want to do.  Ultimately, the only thing that will enable us to do that which we don’t won’t to do, is to love and trust God more than we love ourselves and or our own desires.

          Don’t come to the end of your life filled with regret.  Don’t let your last words be “What if.”  Surrender all to Jesus and then trust and obey.  God has a larger plan for your life than even you know.  But it will never be realized until you trust and obey.