Anxiety and Fear–Acts 9:31

God Running is a place for anyone who wants to (or even anyone who wants to want to) love Jesus more deeply, follow Jesus more closely, and love people the way Jesus wants us to.

In our last post from the book of Acts we looked at the actions Paul took as a new follower of Jesus. And we also saw the violent reaction to what Paul did, and we learned how Paul ultimately responded emotionally to the turmoil he experienced. If you’re interested you can read more here: Here’s Why You Might Feel Like Your Life is being Destroyed–Acts 9:19-31.

Today we’ll learn about one important reason the earliest followers of Jesus experienced peace and the comfort of the Holy Spirit.

Acts 9:31

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.

Acts 9:31

The church is experiencing peace and is being built up at this point in our story. And I can’t help but notice that the church is also walking in fear of the Lord and in the comfort of the Holy Spirit. Seems like these things might be connected.

What Happened to the Little Boy’s Fears in the Remote Cabin

The way these early Jesus followers were walking in the fear of the Lord reminds me of a friend of mine who owned a cabin in a remote location. This place is in a secluded spot about a one day hike from the Pacific Crest Trail in Oregon. One of my friend’s neighbors was a University professor who kept a pen full of wolves, coyotes, and dogs. You could hear them howling at night. They would also interbreed and apparently a few escaped because there were wolf-dog hybrid sightings in the area from time to time. I had my own encounter with these escapees one night when — while I was using the outhouse — I was surrounded by howling canines. Besides this unusual neighbor, other “neighbors” included mountain lions, bobcats, and bears. I also had the experience of walking in those woods on my friend’s property after the sun went down. Those woods are so thick, I can tell you I’ve never been in a darker place outdoors than I was in that forest that night. All this to say, my friend’s place could be intimidating, even to an adult, let alone to the grade school age visitor you’re about to be introduced to.

One time this little boy, a family member, came to visit my friend for a few days and when his mother dropped him off she shared that she often had trouble getting him to go to sleep at night. I know this woman (and her son too) and she’s a really good person. But as mom’s sometimes do, she was in the habit of allowing her son to have his own way. So at the time of these events, he was spoiled and not accustomed to living with limits and boundaries.

The first night at my friend’s cabin, when bedtime came, this little boy put up a fuss.

“I can’t go to bed because I’m afraid,” he said.

My friend didn’t wait for the boy’s excuses to escalate. Instead he bent down to his level, looked him in the eye, and said very deliberately, “Listen, I’ll protect you from everything. So when you’re with me, you don’t have to be afraid of anything, except for one thing: me. Do you understand?”

The little boy nodded, and within a few minutes he fell asleep. And he went to bed just fine every night, for the rest of his stay. In fact, when it was time to go back to his mother, he cried, because he wanted to stay with my friend at his cabin.

Walking in the Fear of the Lord

That’s how it is with God. He wants you to know you don’t have to be afraid. He wants you to know, when you’re with Him, you don’t have to be afraid of anything, except for one thing: Him. There’s a peace that comes with that. There’s such a thing as healthy fear. I think that’s the reason these early Jesus followers from today’s passage experienced peace. Their peace was similar to the peace my friend’s visitor experienced.

With everything going on in the world today maybe you’re struggling with anxiety and you feel like you’re being torn down.

You should know that Jesus wants you to walk in the fear of the Lord so you don’t have to be anxious anymore.

Jesus wants you to know the fear of the Father so you can be built up.

Jesus wants you to walk in the fear of the Lord so you can experience the kind of peace those earliest Jesus followers experienced.

“Father, have mercy on me and on the dear person reading this prayer right now. Please intervene in our lives and help us to be like those early Jesus followers who walked in the fear of You. Fill us with faith in You. Fill us with trust in You. Build us up Lord and comfort us with Your Holy Spirit.

“Have mercy on us Father.

“In Jesus name we ask these things of You.

“Amen.”

“There is nothing to be dreaded in human ills except sin—not poverty, or disease, or insult, or ill treatment, or dishonor, or death, which people call the worst of evils. To those who love spiritual wisdom, these things are only the names of disasters, names that have no substance. No, the true disaster is to offend God, to do anything that displeases him.”

— St. John Chrysostom, A Year with the Church Fathers, p. 334

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Love Like Jesus begins with the story of how after a life of regular church attendance and Bible study, Bennett was challenged by a pastor to study Jesus. That led to an obsessive seven year deep dive. After pouring over Jesus’ every interaction with another human being, he realized he was doing a much better job of studying Jesus’ words than he was following Jesus’ words and example. The honest and fearless revelations of Bennett’s own moral failures affirm he wrote this book for himself as much as for others.

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  • How to respond to critics the way Jesus did.
  • How to love unlovable people the way Jesus did.
  • How to survive a life of loving like Jesus (or how not to become a Christian doormat).
  • How Jesus didn’t love everyone the same (and why you shouldn’t either).
  • How Jesus guarded his heart by taking care of himself–he even napped–and why you should do the same.
  • How Jesus loved his betrayer Judas, even to the very end.

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One Comment on “Anxiety and Fear–Acts 9:31

  1. Pingback: How to Become a Different Person–Acts 9:31 | God Running

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