Read - Acts 9v31
Message - Scott Woodburn
If Saul was quickly discovering the cost of following Jesus, the persecution he once headed was seeing a surprising result in the local church. We are told in today’s verse that the church had peace, growth, the fear of the Lord and the comfort of the Holy Spirit. This is a wonderful understated description of Christ’s bride and I pray that we will all live to see such days in our own fellowships.
If the world hated these Christians, thankfully they loved one another. It is a good and pleasant thing when the church dwells in unity and the fellowship throughout Judea, Galilee and Samaria had peace. The church on earth is made up of sinful men and women and so disputes will always exist, but when disunity rears its ugly head may we strive for peace with those for whom Christ died. May we forgive and forget quickly and may we be swift to repent in our own part of any dispute.
The church in those days was being built up by the Apostles’ teaching and once more in Acts we are challenged by the fact that at the heart of the fellowship was the Word of God. These weren’t fellowships tired out by running endless organisations, instead they gathered to be taught and to hear God speak. The result was that they were built up in their faith. How does this building up occur? When we are committed to the ordinary means of grace. We may have the biggest BB in the district and our sung praise is the right balance of old and new and each year we send a team of volunteers to the deepest reaches of Eastern Europe but if our gatherings to sit under the Word of God are empty, what’s everything else for?
I suspect the difference between the church then and the church now is that back then they walked in the fear of the Lord. What does Luke mean by that? I’ve written much about the fear of the Lord in these devotions and I know you’ll forgive me as I do so again. We do not fear the Lord as a servant fears their master, we fear the Lord as a child fears their father. We love Him, we know that He is holy in all His ways, we do not wish to offend Him, we love His Word, we love His church, simply put we fear the Lord. May the fear of the Lord increase in our fellowships and may we tremble as we remember that we do not play games with a “god” of wood or stone, but we gather before the great “I AM”.
As we fear the Lord we enjoy the Spirit’s comfort. He draws near to help us when we are weak. He guides us as we seek to understand the Word. He constantly directs our gaze to Jesus. He prays for us when we do not know how to pray. No wonder Jesus called the Holy Spirit the comforter. We have not been left alone to face this world. We have the fellowship of the saints and the Holy Spirit who dwells with each Christian. As the Spirit brought comfort to existing Christians, so too did He call new Christians as the church multiplied across the region.
We know that often our churches do not look like this wonderful verse, but today we turn to prayer and not despair. Father, these are troubled days for the church of Jesus Christ but today we pray your word. Make our fellowships places of peace where Christians grow, sinners are converted, the fear of the Lord abounds and the Spirit’s comfort is received. Build your church we pray. In Jesus’ name. Amen.
Q7 What are the decrees of God? The decrees of God are his eternal purpose, according to the counsel of his will, whereby, for his own glory, he hath foreordained whatsoever comes to pass.