“NEVER SAY ‘NEVER’ AGAIN” By Pastor YAU
Text: Acts 9:1-9, 20-22 December 12, 2010.
1) The Berlin Wall: A German Christian lived in West Berlin used to travel to the East side of the city to encourage Christians who were under constant surveillance and harassment. More than once he was stopped, detained, questioned by the East Berlin border guards at Checkpoint Charlie. In 1988, he brought his children to the Berlin Wall and told them, “Take a good look at this wall, because someday you will bring your children to this wall and it will still be standing here.” But a year later, the wall was gone.
2) The Damascus Road: When Saul of Tarsus was breathing out murderous threats against the early Christians, no one could have imagined that he would ever become a believer of Christ. We would imagine that Christians would have said, “Never. Not a chance!” But it was on his way to arrest believers of Christ in Damascus, this enemy of Christ was transformed. He was not just changed to a believer but a soldier of Christ. The text today shows us that Jesus confronted him in a blinding light, changed the course of his life and commissioned him for something no one else has ever done before. Within only a few days of that life-changing event, Saul was preaching that Jesus was Christ, the Son of God in the synagogues of Damascus. (Acts 9:20-21)
WHY DO WE SAY “NEVER”?
1) We are just human: Anyone who has a normal brain and normal life experience will admit that we are really just human beings. The first big defective of being human is we have very limit power to do things we want to do. Anything beyond our human ability, we will say: “No way, this will never work.” There are things that are beyond human ability.
2) We are being realistic: The word realistic comes from the root word “real.” To be realistic means we understand in facts of our ability in comparison to things we want to achieve and make reasonable decision. It is a wise and practical step to take when face with problems and challenges beyond our means. Some may credit being realistic is wise and smart way of life. So when things are impossible, just say “No. Never.”
3) We are afraid to fail: No one likes to fail in anything. When we see things that are either very difficult or just impossible, we say “No, never.” Fear of failure urges us to stay away from things we think they may risk our safety net. The easiest way to stay safe is to say “No. Never.”
4) We are just plain lazy: If you have encountered lazy people with things that may take some effort to do, the first thing you will hear them say is: “No, it won’t work. It never will.” Pushing things away with “never” will never get any thing worthy done, but it covers the true color of lazy people.
NEVER SAY NEVER TO GOD:
1) God said He is the Almighty: “When Abraham was 99 years old, the Lord appeared to him and said: I am God Almighty.” (Genesis 17:1) This is the name God gave to himself when he changed the names of Abram to Abraham and Sarai’s name to Sarah. God promised them that they will have a son and they will give him the name Isaac. God revealed His name to them to assure them of His power in fulfilling His promise.
2) Jacob acknowledged God Almighty: When Jacob blessed his children before he died, he said, “Because of your father’s God who helps you, because of the Almighty who blesses you.” (Genesis 49:25) Although the people of Israel were in a foreign country, Jacob foretold his children the blessings of the Almighty in the future. He wanted his children to know that the blessings he pronounced on them were not from their father but from the Almighty God.
3) Isaiah prophesied the Almighty: In the darkness of the captivity, Prophet Isaiah told God’s people the coming of a Messiah who will deliver them not just form the oppression of a foreign king but the bondage of sin. He called the Messiah: “For to us a child is born, to us a Son is given, and the government shall be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, the Everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace.” (Isaiah 9:6) With the five titles of God, Isaiah included the “Almighty God” to give the captives hope that they will eventually return to their homeland.
4) The angel verified God’s power: In the divine incarnation of Jesus, Mary wasn’t sure how the words of God could work on her, “How would this be since I am a virgin?” The angel of God assured her that “For nothing is impossible with God.” (Luke 1:34, 37) God doesn’t work the way we human work. God’s power will not be limited human understanding. There are over 50 listings in the Bible address God as the “Almighty.” This word literally means “all powerful” from which the doctrine of omnipotence was derived. Since God is Almighty, we will never say “never” to Him.
TRUST GOD AND HIS POWER: (Acts 9:1-9, 20-22)
1) God changes worst people: “Meanwhile, Saul was till breathing out murderous threats against the Lord’s disciples. He went to the high priest and asked him for letters to the synagogues in Damascus, so that if he found any there who belonged to the Way. Whether men or women, he might take them as prisoners to Jerusalem ” (Acts 9:1-2) The Way means the Christian faith. As to the danger and persecution on the early Christians, Saul was a super champion who has wholeheartedly tried every way he could to fight against this new Way. Saul, late changed to Paul, confessed that he was the worst sinner among all the sinners of the world. (1 Timothy 1:15) But it is on the worst sinner and the ardent enemy of God’s plans of salvation, God did what no one would ever imagine. If God can change Saul to Paul, He can change anyone else.
2) God works in worst places: “When Saul neared Damascus on his journey, suddenly a light from heaven flashed around him.” (9:3) Remember Naaman, the Syrian General, who prided the water of the rivers in Damascus much better than that of the River Jordan? Don’t you agree that any spot in the Promised Land, particularly in Jerusalem, might be a better place to do a miracle to change a sinner into a saint? Why did God choose the road to Damascus, Syria, an ardent enemy of the people of Israel and her God, Jehovah? Often times, we judge God and the way He does things by our finite wisdom and limited insight. God chose the road to a foreign country as the beech head for the worldwide mission endeavor much larger than Jerusalem.
3) God overrides human wisdom: “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.” (9:15)When God inspired Ananias in a vision of his plan in choosing Saul, Ananias was doubtful. He reminded God of the awful things Saul did in Jerusalem and what he was intended to do in Damascus as if God didn’t know. God has to convince him by explaining the purpose He has on Saul. The good thing we see is that Ananias didn’t insist his opposition. He did what God had told him to do with Saul.
4) God’s power will never fail: “Saul spent several days with the disciples in Damascus. Then he began to preach in synagogues that Jesus is the Son of God.” (9:19-20)No one would predict what would Saul do after Jesus called him. He was dedicated to disrupt and defeat the Way that believed Jesus is the Son of God. But only a few days later, he was preaching the Way he opposed so much with his life. Who could have imagined some thing like this? Jesus reassured the disciples on the power of God saying, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” (Matthew 19:26)
1) Believe in God’s power: One of the best benefits of believing in God is believe in His power besides His love. God’s power can do anything to anyone at anytime in any place under any circumstance regardless of our doubt, opposition or disbelief. No one can limit the power of God by his finite understanding. We need to acknowledge that His thought is higher than our thoughts and His way is higher than our way. (Isaiah 55:8)
2) Allow God to change us: We need to learn from Paul, be ready and obedient to allow God to change us, to make us better and more effective witnesses to accomplish His work and serve Him in His church. Do not settle with less but aim high in obedience like Mary when is call to serve God’s purpose by saying: “I am the Lord’s servant. May it be to me as you have said.” (Luke 1:38)
3) Never say never to God: God is looking to save everyone who will accept His call to believe in Him. Call on the name of Jesus and ask him to be the Lord of your life and the Savior of your soul. If you believe in your heart, confess in your mouth, you will be saved. (Romans 10:9-10)