Acts. 9. 19b - 31
Living in the fear of the Lord and in the comfort of the Holy Spirit, it increased in numbers.
Paul ,once Saul, has seen the "Light" on the road to Damascus and has been transformed from a hater of Christians to a Christian himself, a lover of souls and ultimately the most prolific writer about early Christianity. Here we are, in yesterday's reading, in the early days of post Resurrection listening to Luke's stories about the acts of the apostles and the building of the Body of Christ.
Can you imagine what it was like to have one like Paul among them? Perhaps without Barnabus, no-one would ever have believed in Paul. His acts had been so horrific as recently as the stoning of Stephen. But after "speaking boldly in the name of Jesus," Paul goes "in and out among them and the church throughout Judea, Galilee, and Samaria had peace and was built up."
And then this wonderful line: "Living in the fear of the Lord and in the comfort of the Holy Spirit, it increased in numbers." I am not sure about the fear of the Lord; I fear life without the Lord but not the Lord. But I am very sure about the comfort of the Holy Spirit, the third person of the Trinity, God the Sustainer, God moving among us.
Here we have a clear biblical model of how to grow our churches! Teach, preach, model, share and compare the comfort of the Holy Spirit. What does that look like in your world?
For me, it is the Hebrew word ruah which we hear in the book of Genesis meaning God's breath-wind-spirit, God moving among us and through us and with us, in us, between us and around us so that all that we say and do can and will be guided by that Divine Breath. No, that does not mean life is perfect, without pain, tragedy or conflict. But it does mean that the Divine Breath hovers around us like an eagle fluttering over its young, always ready to protect, feed and comfort.
Claim the comfort of the Holy Spirit today and try to visualize it all day long, especially when your chaos meter goes up!