Job 14-16 Acts 9:22-43
“The church everywhere in Judea, Galilee, and Samaria had a time of peace and became stronger. Respecting the Lord by the way they lived, and being encouraged by the Holy Spirit, the group of believers continued to grow.” (Acts 9:31 NCV)
Saul’s conversion changed the atmosphere. The attacks focused on him, until he left for Tarsus. When he left, the church had a time of peace. The peace allowed the church to rest and grow stronger. The NCV translates the next phrase as “respecting the Lord” while most versions translate it “fear of the Lord,” but both show a lifestyle that showed off the difference God makes in the lives of believers. They lived right, and the Holy Spirit encouraged them. The church grew spiritually and physically because of the peace they were experiencing.
Some would quibble over the difference between respecting the Lord and fearing the Lord. I like the translation of “respect” because many take the word “fear” in a way that would have believers cringing that God will zap them if they do wrong. “Respect” gets the point across of how we should live. Do I live in fear of the Lord? Yes, but it’s not a crippling fear that keeps me from acting, worried that God will punish me if I do wrong. I want to live in a way that honors Him because I know how much He’s done for me and I fear doing something that will hurt Him. My fear is that if I engage in sinful activities, others will see those behaviors and use them as an excuse to claim that they don’t need God because He doesn’t make a difference in the lives of believers. My fear of God is not a mind-numbing, activity stopping emotion, it’s shown in the way I respect God and recognizing that the way I live affects others. We’re living in a relatively peaceful time for the church. Our lives should reflect the joy we have because of God’s love for us. We should experience the encouragement of the Holy Spirit, who will encourage us as we live according to God’s ways. While our world continues to fall away from God’s standards, we have the opportunity to live and love in a way that can draw people back to God. We must always do that.
Lord, thank You for Your love. Thank You for the peace that we experience in our world today, a peace that passes understanding. Help me to live in a way that honors You and draws other to You.
Scripture taken from the New Century Version®. Copyright © 2005 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved