The Way It Works
September 10, 2020
On the Sabbath we went a little way outside the city to a riverbank, where we thought people would be meeting for prayer, and we sat down to speak with some women who had gathered there. One of them was Lydia from Thyatira, a merchant of expensive purple cloth, who worshiped God. As she listened to us, the Lord opened her heart, and she accepted what Paul was saying. She and her household were baptized, and she asked us to be her guests. “If you agree that I am a true believer in the Lord,” she said, “come and stay at my home.” And she urged us until we agreed. Acts 16:13-15
I was fortunate to be in Greece in January. We traveled to Phillipi, Thyatira, Athens, Thessaloniki, Berea, Corinth, and other places Paul journeyed. We went to the exact riverbank in Philippi where Paul and his partners went on that Sabbath long ago. It was a cool place in the shade of trees along the riverbank. It was quite warm there even in January, and it was easy to see why this would be a welcome meeting place for groups of people. I listened intently as our native Greek guide shared the story on the bank of the shallow river. The water was a musical background as it tumbled over the large stones.
Lydia was a business woman from Thyatira with a reputation for integrity. It was customary for people who generally believed in the God of the Universe, not the Greek mythological gods, to pray. She was one of those. Other women from the area participated as well, and on Sundays this was a common gathering place. Paul and Silas asked around and ended up there at the river. Their approach was so kind and nonthreatening that the women welcomed conversation and the message they had to share. As they spoke of Jesus, Lydia recognized truth. God quickened her heart and she believed. Before the day was over she and her household committed to Jesus and were baptized. She invited Paul and Silas to come stay at her house, and after much urging they accepted. They discipled her, and many great things happened.
They had a powerful ministry in Philippi. Paul and Silas regularly returned to the riverbank at the times of prayer, and the group of believers grew. Paul cast a demon out of a slave girl, and her owners caused a riot because they could no longer make money from her fortune telling. Paul and Silas were thrown in prison, and God gave them the opportunity to win the jailer to Christ by means of an earthquake. The authorities were frightened and released them and asked them to please leave the city. They went back to Lydia’s house and encouraged the growing group of believers. Then they continued on to Thessaloniki where this house group changed the landscape of the area permanently. There are many Christ-followers there today, and this became one of the first churches in Europe. There is a beautiful church there on that site today in honor of Lydia. When we join the mission of Christ, the results are eternal.
- You never know what God will do with the people in whom you invest. Only time and eternity will show what God did when you partnered with Him. Ask Him to guide you, with wisdom, to the right people.