Thursday 9 April, 2020
23 After many days had gone by, there was a conspiracy among the Jews to kill him, 24 but Saul learned of their plan. Day and night they kept close watch on the city gates in order to kill him. 25 But his followers took him by night and lowered him in a basket through an opening in the wall. 26 When he came to Jerusalem, he tried to join the disciples, but they were all afraid of him, not believing that he really was a disciple. 27 But Barnabas took him and brought him to the apostles. He told them how Saul on his journey had seen the Lord and that the Lord had spoken to him, and how in Damascus he had preached fearlessly in the name of Jesus. 28 So Saul stayed with them and moved about freely in Jerusalem, speaking boldly in the name of the Lord. 29 He talked and debated with the Hellenistic Jews,[a] but they tried to kill him. 30 When the believers learned of this, they took him down to Caesarea and sent him off to Tarsus. 31 Then the church throughout Judea, Galilee and Samaria enjoyed a time of peace and was strengthened. Living in the fear of the Lord and encouraged by the Holy Spirit, it increased in numbers.
This is an interesting passage of what it was like for the early church and its struggles to get started. I haven’t ever lived with the likelihood of losing my life for serving Jesus like Paul did. And it is pretty creative thinking to use a basket to escape with. But this was their reality, people were seriously out to kill them for their faith. But the last verse in this passage makes an interesting statement – the church grew stronger as the believers lived in the fear of the Lord.
The church could have been consumed with the fear of man. They could have removed the threat of death by choosing to do what the Jews wanted them to do, but the result of that would have been a weak or non-existent church.
Instead, the church grew stronger as it lived in the fear of the Lord. There is a direct connection between the strength of the church and the church living in the fear of the Lord.
This is not about being afraid of the Lord, instead it is following God 100 percent. Trusting him fully, obeying him completely.
And the same is true in my life. I become stronger when I live in the fear of the Lord and not in fear of people. When I am more concerned about pleasing people or not offending people, then I am usually all over the place, unstable, and weary with worry. But when I settle the issue that Jesus is Lord of my life and I follow him wholeheartedly, then he makes me strong.
Father, forgive me for when I have thought more about what people want me to do, than what you want me to do. You are Lord of my life and today, I choose to serve you.
Written by Andrew Martin
Thanks so much for your thoughts this morning Andrew. Its so hard to imagine what it would have been like in those days, but it is such an affirmation for me of the truth that we believe in that the believers were willing to risk everything, including their lives, for the calling they were given to spread the Gospel message.
Lord, may I live a life that genuinely demonstrates the faith that you have given me through your sacrifice on the cross.
I love it that the church grew, when the believers lived in the fear of the Lord and were encouraged by the Holy Spirit.
Thank you for encouraging us today.
May I walk each day like this.
Thank you so much Andrew. You write so beautifully. He IS our strength and our shield..