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Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Wednesday's Woman of the Word - Lydia

When I think about Lydia, I immediately think "seller of purple", do you?  That is what she is usually known for from what is said about her in the Bible.

However, if we read Acts 16:13-15, we will find something even more important about Lydia.

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. 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. 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.

When we first meet someone, what is usually one of the first things we ask them?  "What do you do?"  Meaning,  "Where do you work?" or "Do you work outside the home?"  We all ask questions like that, don't we?  But, Luke writes about Lydia's work and then he writes something else about Lydia - that Lydia is a worshiper of God.

Which of these things sounds the most important to you?  That Lydia is a dealer in purple cloth? (which was valuable and expensive in Bible times.  Lydia may have been a very wealthy woman because of her business.) Or that Lydia was a worshiper of God?

Many times we're impressed with worldly success, but what should impress us more is whether or not a person is a worshiper of God.  That's what we should want to be listed as a characteristic of ourselves, as well.

Luke and those with him went to the place of prayer and spoke to the women there.  When I first taught a ladies' class about Lydia a few years ago, I found this commentary (I don't have listed where the commentary was from or who wrote it - sorry!).  It explains why the women may have been out at this place of prayer:

In Jewish law a synagogue could be formed wherever there were ten male heads of households who could be in regular attendance. Failing this, a place of prayer under the open sky and near a river or the sea was to be arranged. Apparently there was no synagogue in Philippi - Paul had already been there a few days - this explains why he and his companions went a little way out of the city to the river, where they expected to find a place of prayer.

I expecially like the next part of the passage  about Lydia, which is verse 14 and 15.  It says, "The Lord opened her heart".  Up until that time, Lydia and the other women were worshipping in the only way they knew how.  They were worshipping God, but hadn't yet heard the Good News about Jesus (or at least they hadn't been converted to Christianity. Maybe they had heard of Him, but they didn't believe in Him as a Savior.) 

When the Lord opened Lydia's heart, she immediately responded. The other women with her responded, as well.  She believed what Paul taught her about Jesus and she and the others were baptized.  They all responded to the Gospel message and immediately went to work serving the Lord.  She invited Paul and his companions to her home.  She had received something very special and she wanted to give something back.

So, ask yourself these questions:
1.  What is more important to you - what you/others do for a living or whether you/they worship God?
2.  What is your response to the Good News about Jesus - that He was crucified for you?  That He was raised up for you?  That He wants to be your Savior? That He died so that you could live in Heaven for eternity?
3.  Look at Lydia's story timeline:
Lydia believed in God even before she heard about the salvation through Jesus. 
Lydia believed Paul's message about Jesus.  (Note:  Notice that Lydia's conversion was on a river bank, not in a building.)
Lydia was baptized.  (Note:  How convenient - they were on a river bank!)
Lydia began to serve.
Where are you on your timeline?

Lydia has one more verse written about her that shows she continued to be a servant. In Acts 16:40.  Paul and Silas had been in jail between the time of Lydia's conversion and this verse, but look at what it says, "After Paul and Silas came out of the prison, they went to Lydia's house, where they met with the brothers and encouraged them. Then they left."

Lydia was at the right place, at the right time, with the right heart, and with the right attitude. That is a challenge for us:  Are you and I the right woman, in the right place at the right time, with the right heart and attitude - ready for God to use?


A.Marie said...

I always love when we read about Lydia in church, and I loved reading this post about her.

I am going to ponder these words of yours today..."Are you and I the right woman, in the right place at the right time, with the right heart and attitude - ready for God to use?"

Have a wonderfully blessed day! :)

Wa Wa Waughs said...

Good reminder!

Lori said...

Thank you both!

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