The church then had peace throughout Judea, Galilee, and Samaria, and it became stronger as the believers lived in the fear of the Lord. And with the encouragement of the Holy Spirit, it also grew in numbers.
Have you ever noticed how encouragement can change people? Let's take little kids for example. If you give them positive encouragement, they feel unstoppable. It could be the five-year-old that is trying to ride a bike. They are unfamiliar with how to use it and the proper use of balance. If you tell that five-year-old, "You can do it, I believe in you. You're so strong!" They will receive those messages and be filled with courage to pedal. If you tell that same five-year-old, "You can't do it, I don't trust you have it in you, you're not old or strong enough!" They will be crushed by the defeating words. In the same way, if you have a boss, spouse, or friend who encourages you, it can lift you to new heights.
When the Holy Spirit fell on the original disciples, He encouraged them. Look at what it says in this passage of Scripture, "With the encouragement of the Holy Spirit, it also grew in numbers." The church continued to press on because the Holy Spirit was encouraging them. It started with the original disciples who were fearful, average, and ordinary. After the Holy Spirit comes upon them, they were transformed and filled with great courage. The result was that many hear the message in Jerusalem and believe in Jesus Christ. But the movement didn't stop in the place that Jesus died. In fact, Jerusalem became the epicenter for the message of Jesus Christ to spread all throughout Israel. When people experienced the power and the presence of God living inside of them, they were transformed in the same way the disciples were. They were encouraged to not be fearful or overwhelmed, but instead, they stood with boldness and confidence. This great courage was made possible through the power of the Holy Spirit.
When you think about our world today, it is getting harder to share the truth of Jesus with others. Many believers are locked up in fear or timid to share how God has changed their life because they might be challenged or attacked. Many Christians keep quiet and let their fear get the best of them. But our faith was built on a long line of people who refused to stay silent. Through the encouragement of the Holy Spirit, they took a stand and allowed God to work through them.
Today our hope and prayer is that you would be bold. We want our church to be filled with people who refuse to be silent. We hope you would hear the same encouragement from the Holy Spirit, “You can do this, God believes in you, and you are strong enough to take a stand!”
Moving Toward Action
All of us need encouragement. In response to how the Holy Spirit encouraged and strengthened the church, take some time to process these questions in your journal below:
1. Who has been the most encouraging person that you have been around in your life?
2. What made them so encouraging and how did it make you feel to be lifted up by that person?
3. When you think about how the Holy Spirit encourages us, what are some ways that you have sensed Him lifting you up?
4. What are some ways that you can refuse to remain silent today?
Read Acts 8:26-40
As for Philip, an angel of the Lord said to him, “Go south down the desert road that runs from Jerusalem to Gaza.” So he started out, and he met the treasurer of Ethiopia, a eunuch of great authority under the Kandake, the queen of Ethiopia. The eunuch had gone to Jerusalem to worship, and he was now returning. Seated in his carriage, he was reading aloud from the book of the prophet Isaiah.
The Holy Spirit said to Philip, “Go over and walk along beside the carriage.”
Philip ran over and heard the man reading from the prophet Isaiah. Philip asked, “Do you understand what you are reading?”
The man replied, “How can I, unless someone instructs me?” And he urged Philip to come up into the carriage and sit with him.
The passage of Scripture he had been reading was this:
“He was led like a sheep to the slaughter.
And as a lamb is silent before the shearers,
he did not open his mouth.
He was humiliated and received no justice.
Who can speak of his descendants?
For his life was taken from the earth.”
The eunuch asked Philip, “Tell me, was the prophet talking about himself or someone else?” So beginning with this same Scripture, Philip told him the Good News about Jesus.
As they rode along, they came to some water, and the eunuch said, “Look! There’s some water! Why can’t I be baptized?” He ordered the carriage to stop, and they went down into the water, and Philip baptized him.
When they came up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord snatched Philip away. The eunuch never saw him again but went on his way rejoicing. Meanwhile, Philip found himself farther north at the town of Azotus. He preached the Good News there and in every town along the way until he came to Caesarea.