S (Scripture): Acts 9:31 Then the church throughout Judea, Galilee, and Samaria experienced peace and thus was strengthened. Living in the fear of the Lord and in the encouragement of the Holy Spirit, the church increased in numbers.
O (Observation): The Church is in a new phase: Following the ways of Jesus Christ. This is a fulfillment of what God had in store all along, but it is perceived as a new path for God’s people on earth. The old ways have been transformed and God’s people are having a hard time seeing what God is up to in the movement of the Holy Spirit.
Saul was persecuting those who followed Jesus Christ (and by proxy, persecuting Jesus himself). But with a personal visit by Jesus to Saul (in a vision?) Saul has now become Paul, and Paul becomes a key in spreading the Gospel to the “Greek-speaking Jews” (that is, he is able to spread the Gospel across cultural boundaries…into areas outside of Israel).
And while this is the new and uncomfortable way of doing “church,” The Spirit is certainly leading Jesus’ disciples. They fear and respect the Lord, and they are showing little resistance to the Spirit’s power in and through them. As a result: their numbers increase.
A (Application): How do we discern what the Spirit is telling us? Now, I’ll be honest: I was about to go into a diatribe on listening for the Spirit and asking about the last time you made space to listen for God. But in Saul’s/Paul’s case, Jesus came and spoke directly to him. Jesus didn’t wait for Saul to stop and reflect, Jesus just came right to him.
Sometimes it works that way, and sometimes it doesn’t. Sometimes you hear the Spirit in times of meditation and quiet, and sometimes God just gets all up in your face.
The next question to struggle with then is this: what do you do when God encounters you? Regardless of the manner in which God encounters us, we have a responsibility to respond to what God is up to.
Now we have something to work with. For me, God has been calling me to work with my Muslim brothers and sisters here in Murfreesboro, TN. God is also calling me to be vigilant in my pursuit of being a good husband and father. These are some of my callings by the Holy Spirit.
What did you do the last time God encountered you? Have you begun on this work yet? If not, what is causing the resistance? If you have begun this work, is it what you expected?
P (Prayer): Lord, help us to respond to your calling. Amen.