Preamble: For those born anew into the kingdom of God there comes a great enthusiasm for all things concerning the kingdom. This as it should be and there is nothing quite like the thrill of first love.
This is the wonderful experience, we are to hold on to with all our might.
Revelation 2:4 Nevertheless I have some what against thee, because thou have left thy first love .
Be enthusiastic, seek for others to lead into the kingdom, but with it all be careful to listen with care to the Holy Spirit that he might guide you. Remember….
Matthew 7:6 Give not that which is holy unto the dogs, neither cast ye your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn again and rend you.
Sometimes the greatest thing we can do is to be faithful helpers.
This reading talks about such faithfulness.
Acts 9:13-25 Then Ananias answered, Lord, I have heard by many of this man, how much evil he has done to thy saints at Jerusalem:  And here he has authority from the chief priests to bind all that call on thy name.  But the Lord said unto him, Go thy way: for he is a chosen vessel unto me, to bear my name before the Gentiles, and kings, and the children of Israel.  For I will show him how great things he must suffer for my name’s sake.  And Ananias went his way, and entered into the house; and putting his hands on him said, Brother Saul, the Lord, even Jesus, that appeared unto thee in the way as thou camest, hath sent me, that thou mightest receive thy sight, and be filled with the Holy Ghost.  And immediately there fell from his eyes as it had been scales: and he received sight forthwith, and arose, and was baptised.  And when he had received meat, he was strengthened. Then was Saul certain days with the disciples which were at Damascus.  And straightway he preached Christ in the synagogues, that he is the Son of God.  But all that heard him were amazed, and said; Is not this he that destroyed them which called on this name in Jerusalem, and came hither for that intent, that he might bring them bound unto the chief priests?  But Saul increased the more in strength, and confounded the Jews which dwelt at Damascus, proving that this is very Christ.  And after that many days were fulfilled, the Jews took counsel to kill him:  But their laying await was known of Saul. And they watched the gates day and night to kill him.  Then the disciples took him by night, and let him down by the wall in a basket.
This is one of the great stories of the church and familiar to many. This was the beginning of a great life of devotion to the Lord and the bringing to the church of much that has blessed us all down the years. Though the apostle Paul the Lord built up the faith and many were added to the church. But more than Paul’s story is involved here.
v. 21 but all who heard were amazed…. the worldly people have a lot of trouble with the idea of salvation and being born again (be ready for this)
v.23 the religious (those who had another idea or belief… Buddha? Communism? Islam? wanted to kill him!
But look what happened … a great example of discipleship
v.25 the disciples gathered around him …
This is also our task. To gather around one another when anyone is threatened by want by, by fear, by the worldly, by stress, by the demands of time … and a multitude of other things!
In our story their hearts were protective towards their brother. They realised that the Lord had placed within him a ministry. So all were responsible to care for it. The same thing today…. We are one of another.
Some of the heart attitudes of the disciples. They manifested love. Long suffering …(Paul had been a cruel persecutor)
Forgiving….No inquisition on Paul’s past wrongdoing.
Thought no evil… not suspicious in their acceptance.
Rejoiced in the truth … Paul had been saved, born again etc.
Not easily provoked … No recrimination
We need to remember that Paul had persecuted them and brought death, beatings and imprisonment to the Christians in land of the Jews. It can happen to any who accept Jesus even to this day.
It can happen to us.
Our families can scoff, can cause pain to us in many ways.
Our school friends, student associates, business colleagues can deride and make life difficult’
Our wives and husbands can cause problems.
Our friends and neighbours can turn their backs
ALL WHO WE HAVE BEEN CLOSE TO CAN BE LIKE SAUL….PERSECUTE
Can, do we forgive like these disciples?
How long, how often must we forgive …..
Jesus said …seventy times seven (this is just a way of saying always and forever).
REMEMBER PRAYER CHANGES THINGS.
They did not hesitate to help Paul.
This is the result of hearts open to the Holy Spirit. They listened to the Holy Spirit…Not to fleshly desires to get their own back
They trusted God to make all things work together for good, because they loved the Lord and had been called for His purposes.
No cry of, “Why did you stir up the Jews?”
No, “why didn’t you think before you started all this trouble?”
The disciples HELPED. They found a way of escape for Paul.
There is no mention in Scripture but I think they would have also given freely of their time in many other ways. Paul would have needed people to give him shelter and arrange ways in which he could speak to the people in that place. Getting the hall ready, being on time for the meetings, being faithful in the little things. Hasn’t changed today. There is still the same need
What they did have they gave, freely. They held on to the rope.
So also with us all even to this day.
The need to hold on, to keep a firm grip on the rope, to keep a loving heart towards the Saul’s in our lives.
Perhaps its a: husband who is unsaved, a wife? a child, son, daughter? one who is sick or troubled.?
We hold on to the rope … hold on and on …
v.25 notice that this help for Paul happened at night.. This speaks to us of the unseen ministry: none to give praise not seen by the people, no name before the congregation. But the Lord sees.
John 7:3-5 His brethren therefore said unto him, Depart hence, and go into Judaea, that thy disciples also may see the works that thou doest.  For there is no man that doeth any thing in secret, and he himself seeketh to be known openly. If thou do these things, show thyself to the world.  For neither did his brethren believe in him.
Notice here that his brothers did not believe in Him (n.b. in Him not about Him).
This is a comfort to those of us who have unbelieving family.
Jesus had to live with unbelieving brethren.
He had to wait for God’s time.
He also knew what it means to hold the rope.
Acts 1:14 These all continued with one accord in prayer and supplication, with the women, and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with his brethren.
They were in the upper room!
We tend to blame ourselves sometimes for lacking something when our witness fails to bring a loved one to Christ.
There is no need … Jesus knows.
He knows how it feels to have to wait,
when the heart is sad
when a loved one is not born again.
But the lesson is there …hold on to the rope.
Acts 2:47 Praising God, and having favour with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved.
The LORD adds.
We have our task … to hold on to the rope
Often our hands will be sore (unrecognised service) but HOLD ON!
Isaiah 40:31 But they that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.
Preached to Presbyterian Church Bega NSW