Messages from Pastor Raddatz

May 1, 2022, Mount Olive Lutheran Church, Other texts for today: Revelation 5:8-14 & John 21:1-14

Acts 9:1f, Who Are You Lord?  

The benefits of God stopping us where we are!

Grace, mercy and peace to you from God our Father and from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,

            God is in the business of saving people.  Some of the people he saves are pure evil.  He can redeem evil.  Evil comes from sin and us who are in the church should remember that we still wrestle with our sins and our weaknesses.  God has to break us of our sinful ways so he can fill us and heal us.

Paul was struck blind, while he was persecuting believers of Jesus!

            The Apostle Paul was not always a follower of Jesus.  An Apostle was one who has seen Jesus and who has been taught by Jesus.   When we meet Paul in Acts 9 he is a persecuting the Christians Church.  At the beginning of the church it was called “The Way,” see verse 2.  While he was on a trip from Jerusalem to Damascus, some 130 miles, he was stopped in his tracks and struck blind.  

            Sometimes people ask, “where was God when…?  This is usually after a shocking tragedy, that we knew God could have prevented.  Some people come out of such experiences with a stronger faith because they see a higher purpose to God’s work.  He is not a genie who we can just go to get our wishes granted.  There are also some people who come out of surprising circumstances with less faith.  

            Notice Paul’s questions, “Who are you Lord” and “What do you want me to do”?  Too often believers are concerned about what other people should be doing.  Paul asks the right questions, specially “What do you want me to do”!

If God is hidden to us, is it because we are blind?

            If God is hidden to us, is because we are the ones who are blind.  Sometimes that is true.  It is also true, that, God at times seems to be hidden behind a mask.

Martin Luther referred to our vocations as the “masks” that God wears. On the surface, you see an ordinary human face—a mother, pastor, doctor, teacher, or waitress—but, beneath the outward appearance, God is serving us through them. God is hidden in human vocations. In his exposition on Psalm 147, Luther wrote:

What else is all our work to God—whether in the fields, in the garden, in the city, in the house, in war, or in government—but just such a child’s performance, by which he wants to give his gifts in the fields, at home, and everywhere else? These are the masks of God (A common term in Luther for the means employed by God to perform his work and to make himself known while remaining hidden), behind which he wants to remain concealed and do all things.  -Luther

            If you look in the Bible and try to find what is the most pleasing job to do, there is not one profession that is singled out.  He calls us to live out our faith as his agents in His world.

God revealed himself through others like Ananias

            This is why God uses people.  There are times when we wish God would reveal his whole plan to us, but many times he just reveals part of his plan.  He tells Paul to go to a man named Ananias.  He was led there like a blind man.

Ananias was an ordinary man - not an apostle, a prophet, a pastor, an evangelist, an elder, or a deacon. Yet God used him especially because he was an ordinary man. If an apostle or a prominent person had ministered to Paul, people might say Paul received his gospel from a man instead of Jesus. In the same way, God needs to use the ordinary man - there is a special work for them to do. -David Guzik

Paul was changed: now proclaiming that Jesus was the Son of God

             V. 15, “He is a chosen vessel of Mine to bear My name”: God had a call for the life of Saul. At this time, God had not even revealed that calling to Saul, though He tells Ananias first.

God considered Saul His chosen vessel long before there appeared anything worthy in Saul to choose. God knew what He could make of Saul, even when Saul or Ananias didn't know.

V. 16, “For I will show him how many things he must suffer for My name's sake”: This is almost chilling. Saul was going to leave a life of privilege to embrace a higher call, but a call with much suffering.

God breaks us from our own sinful ways to fill us with his spirit.

            There are times when God must break us so that we can be filled with his Spirit.  If Paul's conversion is a pattern, then we can share his experiences. First, Jesus must confront us with Himself, with our sin and rebellion against Him, even the sins which were done in ignorance. Then we must humbly wait for the work within us that only He can do.

Saul's conversion reminds us that at its core, salvation is something God does in us. What we do is only a response to His work in us.

Even when we are not searching for God, he is searching for us.  

May this peace which guides your heart and mind, keep you in the one true faith till life everlasting, Amen.

Your Fellow Servant,

Pastor John Raddatz

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