Together in Christ: 'Strength through the Spirit' — Acts 9:31

Thursday, August 29, 2024

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

Key Thought

The new believer, Saul, [1] had gone from being the early church's main persecutor to becoming the gospel's greatest proclaimer. [2] However, his powerful proclamation of Jesus as God's Messiah brought with it a great deal of opposition and concern. [3] 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:

  1. "The fear of the Lord" is living in holy reverence, childlike dependency, and genuine joy in the greatness and goodness of God.
     
  2. 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!

[1] Saul of Tarsus is also known as Paul, the apostle. His lead in persecuting the church before his conversion is well documented — Acts 7:59-8:3 and 1 Timothy 1:12-17.
[2] Acts 9:19-28.
[3] Acts 9:26-30.

Today's Prayer

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:

When I think of all this, I fall to my knees and pray to the Father, the Creator of everything in heaven and on earth. I pray that from his glorious, unlimited resources he will empower you with inner strength through his Spirit. Then Christ will make his home in your hearts as you trust in him. Your roots will grow down into God’s love and keep you strong. And may you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love is. May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully. Then you will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God.
 
Now all glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think. Glory to him in the church and in Christ Jesus through all generations forever and ever! Amen.
 ^
^ From Ephesians 3:14-21.

Related Scripture Readings

  • Acts 9:19-30
  • Acts 8:1-5

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Illustration

Illustration of Acts 9:31 NLT — 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.

About This Devotional

Together in Christ is a daily devotional that focuses on what Scripture teaches about godly living in relationships.

'Together in Christ' is written by Phil Ware.

Scripture quotations are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright ©1996, 2004, 2007, 2013, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.