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Faithful Forgotten Hero
04/29/2012
Scripture: Acts 9:10-19; John 1:22-24; Acts 22:12-1...
Track 3 of 15 in the Paul: Grace & Strength Mixed Together series
Running time: 53 minutes, 35 seconds.
The transformation of Saul of Tarsus to the Apostle Paul is nothing less than the miraculous work of the Holy Spirit. But along the way, the Holy Spirit used other obscure heroes to accomplish His work. Paul was who he was not only because of the Holy Spirit but by the faithfulness of mighty heroes for God. How different Paul might have been had they not played their role is hard to say but many of the great works of the Holy Spirit in the lives of man are done through the faithful obedience of obscure heroes.



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Mike Nobis Speaker: Mike Nobis
Sunday School Teacher, Former Elder at Madison Park Christian Church. Mike is President of JK Creative Printers & Mailing in Quincy, IL. He is married to Pam and has three children, Tom, Tyler and Jennifer. Mike has three grandchildren: Ryne, Ivy and Alicia.

View all sermons by this speaker.


Faithful Forgotten Hero

What frightens you the most? What causes you to wake up at night afraid and hiding under the covers? Why? Who frightens you the most? What person do you never want to meet in their natural surrounding?

There are some scary people out there in the world today. It seems as though evil is gaining more and more ground when it comes to evil people and the actions they take. One can’t watch the news to hear about some terrible thing that was done and the person or people behind the evil work. Some seem to be nice looking individuals but their hearts are black as night. Others just look evil, and to be honest, I never want to meet them. What is interesting to note is these people are not a new phenomenon to come into history. Evil has always been in the world since sin was introduced back in Genesis.

I personally have not experienced the situation in life when I had to flee for my life. I can only imagine the terror others had to experience and endure. When I read about and see documentaries about what happened in Europe during the 1930’s and 40’s to Jewish believers and their flight to escape the extermination of their race by the Nazis, that level of terror is something I hope never to see in my lifetime. However, I sense that for Christians in this country, a time is coming when this could be reality for the next generation to come.

What would you do and where would you go if you did have to flee for your life? Would you run or would you stay to make the best of it?

In Acts chapter 9, we are introduced to a Christian who ran for his life with his family because terror was all around them in the form of a man named Saul of Tarsus. Just like the Nazis to the Jews in Europe during the 1930’s, Judaism was to Christianity in the first century in Jerusalem and Israel. The Christians were hated, not for some heinous crime to the Jews, but for what they believed and stood for. They believed in Jesus and their actions displayed love and compassion for their fellow man. Their actions became a threat to Jewish authority because many were turning to Christianity causing Jewish control to slip away. They had to be exterminated.

Do you find any irony to the situation the Jewish authority found themselves in and the situation Judaism found itself in during the 1930’s.

I am not saying the two situations are anywhere close to being connected but I want to use the terror the Jews experienced under Hitler to explain the terror the Christians experienced under Saul of Tarsus. Was Saul like Hitler, I don’t think so but he would be the last person a Christian would want to meet just like Hitler would be the very last person a Jew would want to meet during his reign of terror.

True or False: Behind every great hero is a greater hero hidden in the shadows of anonymity.

List for me the famous Bible heroes you know? Why are the famous to you? How did they get to become heroes and famous? Who are some of the forgotten heroes behind the famous heroes of the Bible? How might our famous heroes’ lives been like if the forgotten heroes weren't there?

The transformation of Saul of Tarsus to the Apostle Paul is nothing less than the miraculous work of the Holy Spirit. But along the way, the Holy Spirit used other obscure heroes to accomplish His work. Paul was who he was not only because of the Holy Spirit but by the faithfulness of mighty heroes for God. How different Paul might have been had they not played their role is hard to say but many of the great works of the Holy Spirit in the lives of man are done through the faithful obedience of obscure heroes.

How many obscure heroes have made you who you are today in Christ? Who are the quiet ones that influenced you for Jesus that none of your friends know about? They might not be famous people to the world or the media, but to you and to the Kingdom, they are irreplaceable?

Last week we left off with the great and powerful Saul of Tarsus blind, confused and sitting alone in Damascus after being struck down off his horse by Jesus. Saul is no longer this mighty man looking to sweep away any Christian he can find in order to stomp out a group of people referred to as the Way. For three days Saul sat waiting for instructions on what to do next. Waiting for what is unknown. Saul was stressed and he was unable to eat or drink anything. Who knows what was going through his mind but I bet he recounted many times those three days the voice he heard saying, “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting”. Jesus was alive and he had to deal with that reality.

What would you do if an angel appeared in front of you and gave you a task to do? How many would faint? How many would be terrified? How many would do what he asked? Would you tell others of what happened to you or would you keep it quiet not wanting people to think you are nuts?

Acts 9: 10-12 In Damascus there was a disciple named Ananias. The Lord called to him in a vision, “Ananias!” “Yes, Lord,” he answered. The Lord told him, “Go to the house of Judas on Straight Street and ask for a man from Tarsus named Saul, for he is praying. In a vision he has seen a man named Ananias come and place his hands on him to restore his sight.”

There is some interesting irony in this passage. I don’t know if the Holy Spirit intended it to be this way but I just noticed it and thought it to be somewhat telling. Can you find them? Saul is staying with Judas (name of the betrayer) and the street is called straight. Saul is chasing after a group of people called the Way.

John 1:22-24 What do you say about yourself?” John replied in the words of Isaiah the prophet, “I am the voice of one calling in the desert, ‘Make straight the way for the Lord.’ Now some Pharisees who had been sent questioned him, “Why then do you baptize if you are not the Christ, nor Elijah, nor the Prophet?”

Wouldn’t it be cool if Saul of Tarsus was one of those Pharisees who were sent to check out John the Baptist? Later in scripture Saul was someone the Jewish authorities sent to do their work for them. Maybe he was here as well? Maybe the words of John also went through Saul’s mind as he sat there in Damascus waiting.

We know very little of whom Ananias was. The Bible says little of his background and in this case, it is not important. Ananias slips into the narrative of Saul out of thin air. He receives a vision that changes everything and plucks him out of obscurity into heroship for Saul. This is also when you hear the tires screeching to a halt in scripture. SAUL! You might have well said Hitler to the Jews living outside Nazi Germany. No way would a Jew who escaped the terror of Hitler willfully go back in to Germany and seek out Hitler to have a conversation…about anything, NO WAY!

If you were Ananias, what would you have done? How do you know for sure what you heard was actually from God and not a joke being played on you?

Acts 9:13-14 Lord,” Ananias answered, “I have heard many reports about this man and all the harm he has done to your saints in Jerusalem. And he has come here with authority from the chief priests to arrest all who call on your name.”

Can someone read this passage of scripture the way you might have said it if you were Ananias? Look at verse 14; let me know what fact stated here Jesus didn’t already know about? So then, why did Ananias bring it up? What was the point?

When God gives you and I a task that is very difficult, maybe laced with danger; do you think God already knows the facts? Why do we need to feel compelled to remind him again of the difficulties?

Acts 9:15-19 But the Lord said to Ananias, “GO! This man is my chosen instrument to carry my name before the Gentiles and their kings and before the people of Israel. I will show him how much he must suffer for my name.” Then Ananias went to the house and entered it. Placing his hands on Saul, he said, “Brother Saul, the Lord—Jesus, who appeared to you on the road as you were coming here—has sent me so that you may see again and be filled with the Holy Spirit.” Immediately, something like scales fell from Saul’s eyes, and he could see again. He got up and was baptized, and after taking some food, he regained his strength.

God’s response was simple…GO. God knew the commissioning of Saul required obedience of Ananias. I think it is really important to understand the role we Christians play in the salvation plan of God towards the world. God chose not to just magically cause people to accept Him. Everything about His relationship with us is relational thus everything between us and other Christians must and is relational too. It required Ananias to Go to Saul and speak to him about Jesus. I don’t think Luke recorded all of the conversation, just the conclusion of the conversation that led Saul to accept Jesus as his Lord and Savior and be baptized. In fact, Luke tells us more about the conversation later in Acts.

Acts 22:12-18 A man named Ananias came to see me. He was a devout observer of the law and highly respected by all the Jews living there. He stood beside me and said, ‘Brother Saul, receive your sight!’ And at that very moment I was able to see him. “Then he said: ‘The God of our fathers has chosen you to know his will and to see the Righteous One and to hear words from his mouth. You will be his witness to all men of what you have seen and heard. And now what are you waiting for? Get up, be baptized and wash your sins away, calling on his name.’

Of all that we read about Ananias today, what one sentence is the most important?

Acts 9:17 Then Ananias went to the house and entered it.

I don’t know about you but I believe this could be one of the most important verses in Acts for us today? There is no doubt Ananias could sense and recognized that Saul believed in Jesus and was ready to accept Him. All Ananias had to do was ask the question, do you accept Jesus as your Lord and Savior? The rest was up to the Holy Spirit. But it required Ananias to ask the question. It was so obvious to Ananias that he asked, “what are you waiting for, get up and be baptized.”

It is all about relationships. Saul entered into a relationship with Jesus by relationally identifying with the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus through the relationship with Ananias which led to a relationship with fellow believers…the Church.

Here is our message from this lesson today: Mike, GO, this man or woman is my instrument to… Are we listening and will we be faithful?