May 14 Devotional
Opening Prayer: Lord Jesus, help us to encounter you in such a way that it changes everything about us, both this day and every day. Amen.
Scripture: Acts 9:1-19
Journal: What do you notice about Paul in the scripture for today? What do you notice about Ananias? Which one do you relate to the best? When did you have your life transforming encounter with Jesus? What was it like? What did God do in you? How was your life different afterwards? How does that encounter effect your life today? Was there and Ananias somehow involved in that process?
Reflection: When we come to this particular place in scripture it is easy to allow the conversion of Paul to consume all of our energy and attention, and rightly so because it was truly a world changing encounter. But I think we miss something significant if we don’t give some thought and attention to the life and role of Ananias as well. Because I have a suspicion that very few of us will ever be called upon to be a Paul, but quite possibly many of us will be called to be an Ananias.
On the surface, compared to Paul’s, Ananias’ life and role and ministry seems relatively minor. All he really did was pay attention to God, listen when He spoke, and respond to God in the specific ways that God was calling him to. He went only to one man, prayed, laid his hands on him, and touched him in a way that allowed him to see again. Amazing to say the least, but not big (in terms of numbers), not flashy, and not even noticeable. There was no fame, no fanfare, and no applause. In fact, no one (other than Paul) probably even knew about it. Ananias was not called to touch thousands upon thousands - that was Paul’s job. Ananias was not called to do anything particularly heroic, again, that was Paul’s calling. Ananias was called to touch one. Specifically, all he was called to do was pay attention, listen, and go to the one to which God had called him to speak. And when he got there he was simply to speak the words God had given him, touch his eyes, and allow him to see again. I guess that’s why the name Ananias means “he whom Jehovah has graciously given.” What a great name. Ananias was God’s gracious gift - to Paul, and ultimately to all the rest of us as well.
Now I’ll have to admit that through the years I have always carried this sense within me that in ministry I was never quite doing enough. As hard as I tried, I was simply not heroic, not spectacular, and definitely not impacting thousands upon thousands. In short, I felt guilty that I was not a Paul. And somewhere deep down inside, I think I thought that I should be. But here, in this passage, God told me some amazing, and incredibly freeing news. You do not have to be a Paul, you are my Ananias. Well, you know what I mean, not literally his Ananias, but the life and the role and the ministry he has called me to is more similar to that of Ananias than that of Paul. Almost as if God was saying, “Be who I have made you to be.” How incredibly freeing. No guilt. No should. No false pressure. Just paying attention to Him, listening, going to the one he calls me to go to, placing my hands on him, telling him what God has said to me, and helping in the process of him seeing in a new way. Thanks be to God!
Prayer: for the church, for others, for myself
Hugo and Jackie are from South Africa and have two children, Marlena and John. Hugo has been the leader of a media ministry and has also been providing oversight to the PALM ministry (Preparing Arab World Leaders for Ministry) for the last few years. Their mission is to engage young people of the Arab world through new media to facilitate church planting movements in partnership with local churches. Pray today for lasting fruit in the lives of Saudi and other Gulf Arabs searching for truth in these days. You can hear from Hugo in his own words at www.reclamationstories.org.
Worldwide Development Association has a mission to serve the church worldwide by developing Christ-like character in people and equipping them to disciple others according to the pattern Jesus used to train his disciples. Cedar Springs and Global Mission Group members Carroll and Shirley Coakley are part of this organization’s international staff and serve on short-term mission teams to Myanmar. Pray today for the Coakleys.
Closing Prayer: Father, help me to always be who and what you have called me to be. Because, at the end of all things, you are not likely to ask me, “Why were you not Paul, or Peter, or Moses, or John?” but instead, “Why were you not Jim?” In your name and for your glory I pray. Amen.