Date: Friday, July 5
Scripture: Acts 9:26-31
Verse: Living in the fear of the Lord and in the comfort of the Holy Spirit, it increased in numbers. (Acts 9:31b)
Fear is powerful. It can cause us to spring into action, or paralyze us. It can embolden us or cause us to cower. Fear can get us out of bed in a heartbeat to check on a child, can give us courage to put ourselves in harms way for the sake of someone we love, or fight our way through a difficulty. Fear can also make us want to shrivel up in a corner, stay in bed all day, or run as far and as fast as we can.
There is much to fear in this passage. The Apostles fear Saul when he arrives in Jerusalem (v 26). Saul fears the Hellenists who were attempting to kill him (v 29). Yet neither allows their fear to control them. Saul continues to preach, even in the face of persecution. The Apostles accept Saul as a disciple of Jesus and send him off to perform the ministry to which he has been called. The last verse of today’s reading tells us how they could do these things. There was another fear driving them through fear for themselves. The church was “living in fear of the Lord and in the comfort of the Holy Spirit.”
“Fear of the Lord” is a strange phrase with which we often struggle. We know God is loving, so there should be nothing to fear. What then, we ask, does the Bible mean by “fear of the Lord”? For me, it all comes down to motivation. At times I more afraid of harm that might be done to me, when I ought to be afraid of walking away from my relationship with God. My “fear” is not of being punished by God for not living up to his standard, but rather that I will choose myself over God.
I like the way this passage pairs “fear of the Lord” with “comfort of the Holy Spirit.” W/hen we are living for God, we know peace even in the midst of the struggles of life. When God is primary, our fears, anxieties, worries, difficulties, brokenness, troubles, and the rest of life are put into an eternal perspective. We have the courage to carry on and work through our issues. “Fear of the Lord” and “comfort of the Holy Spirit” give us the courage to overcome our ordinary anxieties to do the work to which God has called us.
Prayer: When I am afraid, Lord Jesus, remind me of your peace, comfort, and eternal perspective. Amen.
Action: Pray about that which you fear. Ask God for courage to act for him in spite of your fears.
Respond: What are some tips you would give others for overcoming fear? Answer by clicking “Leave a Comment” below. If you are receiving this via email, click the title at the top of the email to take you to the devotion webpage where you can leave a comment.