During this LEARNING TO HEAR series I’m taking a different approach to these devotionals. I want to us work harder at searching the scriptures for ourselves. We will use the ‘Come to Jesus Daily’ method below to help us with this. It’s well worth the hard work involved!
‘Then the church throughout Judea, Galilee and Samaria enjoyed a time of peace and was strengthened. Living (Walking) in the fear of the Lord and encouraged (Comforted) by the Holy Spirit, it increased (Multiplied) in numbers.’ (Acts 9:31)
I’ve included my reflections on today’s text below. However, I encourage you to pray and spend time reflecting (writing can be helpful) using the 5 questions below before reading my thoughts.
i. †GOSPEL - 'Gaze on the cross'- What does this text reveal about salvation through Jesus?
ii. UP – What does this text say about God – His worth, character, attributes, will, promises…?
iii. IN – What does this say about me, the church and how we are to relate? Is there a promise to believe, command to do, attitude to have, something to avoid, is there forgiveness to seek or give?
iv. OUT – What does this say about my community and mission?
v. DO - This has two components. Firstly, list as many possible ways that you can think of that one might apply the text (actions or attitudes). Secondly, hear - Pray about how the Holy Spirit is leading you, specifically, to respond.
What are the sorts of things that we can glean from Acts 9:31? Through the gospel, these people had become God’s church because they have been forgiven and united together in Christ.
Along with unity, the members of this church had a new loving reverence - 'fear' - and enjoy the encouragement of the Holy Spirit in their lives.
Through the gospel the separation and distance caused by our sin has been removed. We can walk with God and find peace and encouragement as this first church did.
This text - the story of this church - is recorded by inspiration of the Holy Spirit; God pays special attention to His church. He may allow them to go through periods of trial, but He remains with them and for them. In fact, He uses our distresses to draw us to Himself and do a deep work in us.
The Father wants you to be healthy; this entails enjoying His peace, that He strengthen you, that you fear Him and no other and that you be comforted by the Holy Spirit as you walk with Him each day.
He wants you to ‘walk’ with Him in a closer way. Times of fear or challenge reveal our spiritual health; fear and challenge reveals who or what were are really ‘walking’ after and what or who we are trusting. If we are not truly walking with God and being filled with the Holy Spirit each day, we will fear people and be led into compromise in many ways. The Bible writes,
‘The fear of man lays a snare, but whoever trusts in the Lord is safe.’ (Proverbs 29:25)
Jesus promises us the peace, strength, awe, and the comfort of the Holy Spirit,
‘But very truly I tell you, it is for your good that I am going away. Unless I go away, the Advocate will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you.’ (John 16:7)
This text ends with the growth of the church,
‘Then the church…encouraged (Comforted) by the Holy Spirit, it increased (Multiplied) in numbers.’