Then… the church throughout Judea, Galilee and Samaria enjoyed a time of peace and was strengthened. Living in the fear of the Lord and encouraged by the Holy Spirit, it increased in numbers. Acts 9:31
“Then” is a powerful word. It implies that something came before, and something will come next. It is like starting a new chapter, turning the page or experiencing something new. Being an optimist, then is almost always a hopeful word because it implies forward movement and I always look forward to change.
In this instance, “then” represents moving forward from a time of great unrest and persecution into a new season of blessing. The church in Jerusalem was only a few years old when Stephen, a man full of the Holy Spirit was brought before the Sanhedrin, tried and executed by stoning. That day, the Bible says that a great persecution broke out against the church, which at the time numbered nearly 10,000 strong. Followers of Jesus were scattered from Jerusalem throughout Judea and Samaria.
Luke, the writer of Acts shares the story of the incredible conversion of Saul, the main proponent of the persecution, and concludes the story with the second half of our “then.”
Acts 9:31 says: “Then”… the church throughout Judea, Galilee, and Samaria, (those young Christians who had been through the season of persecution,) enjoyed a time of peace and were strengthened. Living in the fear of the Lord and encouraged by the Holy Spirit, (the church) increased in numbers.
As I read this passage, the Holy Spirit impressed me that this needs to be the focus of my prayer each and everyday. When we are facing difficulties, it is a great time for us to look for the “Then” to begin. It is the turning of the story, the flipping of the script, the start of the next chapter, and the real reason behind the season. Faith draws us to look through the current situation and look for the “then.” Then always comes, the challenge is do we see it.
Let’s look for the “Then.”
In Christ Jesus
Holy Spirit, help us keep our eyes on Jesus so that together we would enjoy a season of peace, be strengthened, and live in the fear of the Lord. May the church find your favor, be encouraged, and increase Amen!