Friday, November 7, 2014

Church Vitality

Encouragement for your daily walk with God

I have been reading the book of Acts in my daily devotions recently and, quite frankly, I find it rather challenging. The church was alive, vibrant, growing by leaps and bounds, fearless…I could go on. How did they do it? How did they remain healthy amid the challenges of that day? The church faced various forms of persecution; Peter and John were beaten for preaching; Stephen was stoned to death; Paul was chained in prison; and more!

As I read Acts 9:31, the last sentence gripped my attention: And walking in the fear of the Lord and in the comfort of the Holy Spirit, they were multiplied. There are two things here that give us a clue as to the vitality of the early church; two things that caused them to grow in spite of their challenges. They “walked in the fear of the Lord,” and “they were comforted by the Holy Spirit.”

You may be asking, as I did, How do those two things work together to make the church what it was in the book of Acts? 

Here’s my take on it. Walking in the fear of the Lord meant that they feared God more than they feared their circumstances. That gave them immense power to endure whatever came their way. Furthermore, living in the comfort of the Holy Spirit meant that the Holy Spirit was alive, active, in their lives. He was fulfilling His ministry of teaching them the eternal truth of God’s Word, gifting them for every challenge they faced, and helping them joyfully anticipate their hope beyond this life.  

In light of these two things, they could be fearless, and that fearlessness produced in them a willingness to speak and to serve. When they spoke and served, the church was healthy. And being healthy, the church multiplied. 

It really made me think of what the church would look like today if we put those two things into practice. How about it, Christ follower. If the Christ followers in Acts could do it, WE CAN DO IT! Let’s pray to that end.

Then the churches throughout all Judea, Galilee, and Samaria had peace and were edified. And walking in the fear of the Lord and in the comfort of the Holy Spirit, they were multiplied. Acts 9:31

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