When the Church Prospers
"Then the churches throughout all Judea, Galilee, and Samaria had peace and were edified. And walking in the fear of the Lord and in the comfort of the Holy Spirit, they were multiplied." (Acts 9:31)
There is a way that prospers and propels the church no matter how hard the ground may be, how intensely the persecution rises, or how contradicting and opposing the culture may be to the gospel. The key is where each of us place our roots and if the living water has an outlet in our lives.
Psalm 1 reminds us that if we are satisfied in the Lord and saturated in His Word, we will "be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that brings forth its fruit in its season, whose leaf also shall not wither; and whatever he does shall prosper" (Psalm 1:2-3).
The BE before DO principle is wonderfully shown when we know WHO WE ARE in Christ and then overflow by DOING WHAT GOD HAS CALLED US TO DO for Christ.
The problem is often that we are too imbalanced and gravitate toward one extreme or another. We lose one area of spiritual reality by focusing only on the one area that we are more comfortable with. We must learn to live between the tensions.
For example, some have a healthy fear of God but are bound up with such fear of doing wrong that they end up with a spiritual paralysis that cripples them from moving forward because they have no release or reliance on trusting in the power of the Spirit. Others are so comforted in the Holy Spirit and God's amazing grace but they have lost their reverential awe of God and no longer living set apart from this corrupt world because they have stopped pursuing the holiness of God. We must have both reverence and release.
The early church at this stage shows us how to live in the fullness of God and within the holy tensions of Scriptures as they walked "in the fear of the Lord AND in the comfort of the Holy Spirit."
When God's glory had filled the tabernacle in the Old Covenant, Aaron's sons took a casual approach to their faith and went into the holy place to make an offering that was not commanded of the LORD. While everyone else was prostrate before God and worshipping at the manifestation of God's glory, they went inside the tent and did what was profane. As a result, the Scriptures reveal that God sent fire down and struck them down, just as He did with Ananias and Sapphira in Acts 5. This brought holy fear to all.
The revelation that came through Moses to Aaron went as follows: “This is what the LORD spoke, saying: ‘By those who come near Me I must be regarded as holy; And before all the people I must be glorified’” (Lev.10:3).
Solomon concluded that to "Fear God and keep His commandments" was the whole duty of man in Ecclesiastes 12:13 and would write this principle in Proverbs 19:23, "The fear of the LORD leads to life, And he who has it will abide in satisfaction; He will not be visited with evil."
Since God does not change, we must give heed to these warning and reminders in Scripture and live before the holiness of God and yet be comforted by the grace that we have been freely given through the sacrificial death and victorious resurrection of Christ. We must never lose sight of the holiness of God but we must know that we can come boldly to the throne of grace today (Heb. 4:16).
In the end of Acts 9, we see Peter living out this reality and believing in God's power to heal a certain disciple named Aeneas. God uses him to perform another consecutive miracle when he raised a dear sister namedTabitha (Dorcas) from the dead, where we learn that she had a compassionate ministry of mercy by making garments for the widows in her community. Thus, we all have a part to play to allow God to work in and through us.
What makes the church prosper is that each and every believer learns to share their gift, releasing their INNER SPRING OF LIFE, so that Christ is seen and ministering through every member of the body.
The Church Prospers when…
Christ becomes our Purpose (Phil 1:21)
Peace rules within our hearts (Col 3:15)
Reverence and Release are both present (Acts 9:31)
Power is evident in our ministry (1 Thes 1:5)
Every member functions in their gifts (Eph 4:15)
May God show us that THE Gospel is truly OUR Gospel and we all must believe it, own it, be transformed by it, and let it produce fruit in and through our lives to impact others in our sphere of influence. Let us learn to do all things unto Christ and see our home spaces and work places become our mission field for the glory of God and the sake of others.
"For our gospel did not come to you in word only, but also in power, and in the Holy Spirit and in much assurance, as you know what kind of men we were among you for your sake." (1 Thes. 1:5)
ACTS IN ACTION Challenge Point:
Ask the Lord to increase your reverential awe of Him
Pray for God’s power to be revealed in your life
Use your gifts to bless and build up others