When the believers heard about [the attempts to murder Saul], they took him down to Caesarea and sent him away to Tarsus, his hometown.
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 9:30-31 NLT
This summary is Luke's way of saying that the message of Jesus and the growth of believers are unstoppable. The Holy Spirit empowered the believers for this growth. I pray that it can truthfully be said that this unstoppable growth occurs in my generation also! But I cannot help but wonder how Saul felt. He had turned his life around completely. He gave up everything that he once held dear about his Jewish faith. Then, he was sent to his hometown for his own protection, and the church grew without him in the picture. Saul had clearly been effective in his teaching about Jesus, but he also knew that his continued presence in Jerusalem was a threat both to him and to the church, so he left. His leaving ended the immediate threat and, in this case, the church did well without him. We know that he was glad for the growth, but ouch! Things went better when he was out of the picture. That had to be discouraging! It appears that Paul went silent for a decade while the dust settled and he was refined.
O Holy Spirit, please empower us through times of challenge to overcome the circumstances of the moment and be ready for new people to come into your Kingdom. Even in the most discouraging moments for us personally, we pray for you to stir us up as God's children and empower us to new things. In Jesus' name, we pray. Amen.
Related Scripture Readings
- Ephesians 1:15-23; 3:14-21
- Galatians 2:15-18; 2 Timothy 1:3-14
Other Devotionals from Heartlight for Sunday, May 21, 2023
About This Devotional
Unstoppable! is a one-year devotional guide through the book of Acts. Each devotional consists of a scripture passage, a reflection and a prayer. The reflection opens up the day's scripture and shows how it challenges one to live for Jesus.
Unstoppable! 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.