The church then had peace throughout Judea, Galilee, and Samaria, and it became stronger as the believers lived in the fear of the Lord. And with the encouragement of the Holy Spirit, it also grew in numbers.
— Acts 9:31 NLT
The new believer, Saul,  had gone from being the early church's main persecutor to becoming the gospel's greatest proclaimer.  However, his powerful proclamation of Jesus as God's Messiah brought with it a great deal of opposition and concern.  When Saul left the area, persecution temporarily calmed, the church enjoyed peace, and the believers grew in strength. They remained committed to their dependency on and reverence for God. As Jesus had promised them when he left, the Holy Spirit guided and encouraged them. The Spirit's power and the disciples reverence for God empowered them to grow in numbers despite living in a hostile environment for faith in Jesus as the Messiah.
As we seek to have a heart for the lost and broken around us, we need to remember these two vital spiritual dynamics as we seek to love and reach others with the Good News:
- "The fear of the Lord" is living in holy reverence, childlike dependency, and genuine joy in the greatness and goodness of God.
- The presence of the Holy Spirit within us assures us of God's presence and power within us and the ongoing blessing of the Spirit's encouragement to sustain us.
These two spiritual qualities can enable us to be all God wants us to be as we seek to live Jesus' mission. The first is a commitment on our part to love, reverence, and rejoice in the goodness of God. The second is a gift from God through the Holy Spirit. Let's seek to honor God and receive the power of the Spirit's gifts to us by blessing others with God's grace!
Our Father in heaven, we join with the apostle Paul in his prayer for Asian believers and ask this to be true in us, as well: