Jump Start # 3500
Acts 16:14 And a certain woman named Lydia, from the city of Thyatira, a seller of purple fabrics, a worshiper of God, was listening; and the Lord opened her heart to respond to the things spoken by Paul.”
There was a gathering at the river. Several women were there. They had come to worship. The apostle Paul came and spoke about Jesus. Lydia was among the women. She was baptized. Such a simple story. Most of our readers have heard this preached and preached and preached.
There are several good lessons for us:
First, Lydia was a good person. She’s not selling drugs. She is not selling her body. She is away from home, yet she is worshipping God. The Ethiopian is another good person. He had been to worship in Jerusalem. He was returning home, reading Isaiah. Cornelius is another good person. He was praying to God.
This is a reminder to us that your life does not have to be a disaster before you become a Christian. We hear the horror stories of prodigals who all but ruined their lives. Miserable. Addicted. Jailed. Corrupt. Immoral. Illegal. Caught by the Gospel message, these lives change. They make great illustrations in sermons. They give hope to those who are broken and feel that God has left them.
But, those stories can also have a negative impact. What about the teen sitting in the audience who is a pretty good kid? He’s obedient to his parents. He studies hard and gets good grades. He is respectful, decent and kind. In many ways that was me. I went to a high school that had major drug and racial issues. I saw pills being passed around in class. We had a narcotic agent that led kids down the hallway in handcuffs. I saw that often. A kid sitting behind me in one class was arrested for robbing a liquor store with a gun. I didn’t get into fights. I didn’t do the drugs. I went to church every Sunday. I was a good kid, but I didn’t have Jesus. I wasn’t saved. Good as I was, I had sins in my life. When I finally understood that, I was obedient to my Savior and my faith became real.
All have sinned, is a message that needs to be understood. Lydia is doing great things. Yet, she was not a disciple of Jesus.
Second, Paul didn’t think it was a waste of time to preach to a group of women at the river bank. These women wouldn’t preach. They wouldn’t be shepherds in the church. They were a bunch of women. Paul didn’t see it that way. They were souls that Jesus died for. They were valuable to God and important to the kingdom.
Because women do not lead public worship, they can easily feel that they do not matter. They don’t count. Their voice isn’t heard. They are second class citizens. God never sees it that way, and forgive us men if that’s the impression we leave upon our beloved sisters in the kingdom. Remember, it was women who were first to the empty tomb. It was women who first brought the news of a resurrected Savior. It was women who financed the Lord and those who traveled with Him. And, in many, many congregations today, faithful women are the backbone that keeps the place going and close to the Lord. Paul met with a group of women and preached to them.
Third, as this chapter of Acts ends, we have a Philippian church made up of a group of women and a Gentile jailer. One might think, that’s not much to start with. But, like that tiny acorn, a mighty oak can come from that. It’s that Philippian church that supports Paul when no one else will. It’s that Philippian church that became so dear to the heart of Paul.
Don’t discount small beginnings. Don’t give up on simple things. Keep preaching. Keep plowing the fields of God. Keep going. Out of those small beginnings wonderful things can take place.
A group of women on a Saturday, down by the river. Open hearts and the pure message of God, and the beginning of great things.
Much to think about. Much to be thankful for.