Reaching out to the Lydias in our world

From his command center in the glory of heaven, the Lord directed his servant Paul to take the first step in carrying the gospel to Europe. This was a key event in the expansion of the Christian church; it was an advancement of preaching the gospel in all the world, even where we live today.

St. Luke records these events in Acts 16:11-15: From Troas we put out to sea and sailed straight for Samothrace, and the next day on to Neapolis. 12 From there we traveled to Philippi, a Roman colony and the leading city of that district of Macedonia. And we stayed there several days. 13 On the Sabbath we went outside the city gate to the river, where we expected to find a place of prayer. We sat down and began to speak to the women who had gathered there. 14 One of those listening was a woman named Lydia, a dealer in purple cloth from the city of Thyatira, who was a worshiper of God. The Lord opened her heart to respond to Paul's message. 15 When she and the members of her household were baptized, she invited us to her home. "If you consider me a believer in the Lord," she said, "come and stay at my house." And she persuaded us.

For Paul, the messenger of the gospel, there were some challenges that he confronted as he followed the Lord’s calling:

Culture – Philippi was predominantly Roman: lifestyle, language, customs, allegiance varied from the areas where Paul had been in Asia.

Religion – no synagogue in the city; apparently there was even aversion toward Jewish worship and life (cf. 16:20-21).

Those challenges didn’t dissuade Paul; he adjusted to the circumstances, explored ways to infiltrate and made the most of opportunities.  While he changed his approach and adjusted his routine, the message he spoke did not change.

Lydia was a “worshiper of God.”  She was a Gentile, a proselyte of the Jewish faith.  But there was a big void in her belief system.  Jesus was missing.  So, no doubt, Paul’s message spoke to her about the Lord Jesus, the Savior whom God sent to rescue her from the death she deserved for failing to keep God’s will perfectly.  For though she worshipped God, without Jesus her religion would result in eternal destruction.

Many people today claim that their worship of “God” is legitimate.  But devoid of Jesus Christ, their religion is false and worthless.  The Lord himself said: “He who does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent him” (John 5:23).

"The Lord opened her heart to respond to Paul’s message.”  Paul had to get out of his comfort zone as he brought the Word of God to a new area, but it was not his style or approach that caused Lydia’s conversion.  The power of the Word worked in her heart by the Holy Spirit.  Faith in Jesus was kindled in her heart by the message of grace in the gospel.  And the working of the Holy Spirit led her and those in her household to believe and be baptized.  And so it was true for them, just as it is true wherever the gospel is proclaimed: “Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved” (Mark 16:16).

In the same way, God calls his servants to preach the gospel to all creation.  That might mean approaching people even when it is uncomfortable or difficult.  But the power of God’s Word does amazing work—it brings people to faith in Jesus and saves them!


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