5/18 Acts 9:31

31 So the church throughout all Judea and Galilee and Samaria had peace and was being built up. And walking in the fear of the Lord and in the comfort of the Holy Spirit, it multiplied.

There are seasons in our individual lives and in the church as well. Jesus' parting words were to take the gospel into all the world, starting with Jerusalem, Judea, and Samaria (Acts 1:8). The first three areas had received the message and sprouted churches in the midst of persecution. Now Saul, the leader of the persecution, had miraculously converted to faith in Jesus as the Messiah. The church was experiencing a time of peace. It was time to build up the believers. They needed to mature in their knowledge of the Lord and find their individual callings to serve, each with his or her gifts. Persecution would come again and scatter the believers to the rest of the world, but first they needed a time of being strengthened.

The believers walked in the fear of the Lord. Some believe the term "the fear of the Lord" is an antiquated idea of a vengeful God; however, it comes from the sense of the justice of God. We will all give an account of ourselves to God (Romans 14:12). God does discipline His children in love, and so, as a child obeys because his or her parents punish disobedience, in reverential fear we live to obey our heavenly Father. But equally important is the fact that those we encounter will face His wrath if they do not accept the salvation He so graciously offers them. That is why the early church was growing. They were compelled by love to share the hope they had in Jesus (2 Corinthians 5:11).

It almost seems contradictory to say the believers lived in the fear of the Lord and the comfort of the Holy Spirit. But these two do go hand in hand. When we are walking in obedience, we have the abiding comfort of the Holy Spirit. When we are disobedient, we lose that sense of peace and joy because the Spirit of God is convicting us of our actions. That's when we anticipate the discipline of our heavenly Father.

Consider: Am I presently walking in the fear of the Lord and enjoying the comfort of the Holy Spirit?