Friday, May 13, 2011

Lydia - Seller of Purple

"Friday's Features" 
 Segments of Christian Testimony

Fridays we will take a look at various men and women who have been used by God to shape Christian thought, theology, and teachings. These men and women have had a major impact on Christianity. Here we will attempt to honor them. We hope to expose you to leading Church Fathers, martyrs, pioneers, pastors and teachers of both the past and present.

"...whose heart the Lord opened, that she attended unto the things which were spoken of Paul." (Acts 16:14, KJV)

One of my favorite stories in the New Testament is the story of Lydia. I love the way it is written in the King James Version versus my beloved ESV - "Lydia...whose heart the Lord opened." It sounds so much more personal and poetic than, "The Lord opened her heart to pay attention..." (ESV) Who was this Lydia?

The Apostle Paul and his new protege Timothy, along with Silas left Lystra and traveled through the region known as Phrygia and Galatia. They had tried to cross over into Asia but they were prevented from doing so. We learn from Luke who recorded this event in the historical narrative "Acts" that the Holy Spirit actually prevented them from crossing into Asia to carry out Paul's plans. Paul, Silas and Timothy traveled to Mysia and tried to enter Bithynia and again the Holy Spirit would not allow them to do so. We don't know how the Holy Spirit  prevented them from entering Bithynia. It could have been a  lack of means of travel, bad weather, or even sickness. We only know that they were forbidden from traveling in that direction. Paul and Timothy traveled to Troas where they spent the night. In a vision Paul saw a man from the region of Macedonia who said, "Come over to Macedonia and help us." It was there in Troas that Paul met a medical doctor. In this brief meeting an affinity was struck that bonded Paul and Luke together for the rest of Paul's life. Luke, left his home and practice and joined the dynamic duo and traveled the next day into Macedonia. The gospel was about to invade Europe.

Paul, Silas, Timothy and Luke came to Neapolis and then traveled to Philippi. It was here that Christianity began in Europe. In Philippi Paul would soon start a vibrant church. The story of the founding of both this church and a Christian witness in Europe is so thrilling! Luke recorded that the little party of gospel preachers were in Philippi a few days. On the Jewish sabbath this little party went out to an area on the river where Jews gathered to pray. They sat down next to a group of women and shared the gospel.

[In order to build a synagogue in a city, ten devout Jewish men had to agree to meet together for prayer. There was no synagogue in Philippi, meaning there were not enough devout Jewish men who would agree to gather for prayer. Hence, as in the exile, Jews and God-fearers would gather on river banks for prayer.]

One of the women that they sat next two and spoke to was a woman named Lydia. She was from Thyatira and she sold purple cloth and dye. We don't know why she left Thyatira and came to Philippi - maybe a business appointment caused her to come there or maybe sales demanded that she make the trip. What we do know is that Lydia had a divine and sovereign appointment with the God who created her and salvation! Luke poetically and wonderfully says, "...whose heart the Lord opened."

Lydia could not will herself to avail herself of the salvation that Paul had been sharing. She could not choose to change her mind, heart, or dead spiritual disposition. God had to do that. God opened her heart. Lydia did not open her heart because she could not open her heart. Neither did you! If you are a true child of God it is because at the exact sovereign and strategic moment of God's choosing He opened your heart to respond to the quickening work of the Holy Spirit  which enabled you to respond in faith and repentance.

Lydia was regenerated by the Spirit of God and gloriously saved. She was baptized as a believer to demonstrate the work of salvation in her heart. The same message was preached to the members of her household which would have included relatives, children, and slaves. They too had their hearts opened by God and they were regenerated by the Holy Spirit and were baptized.

Lydia prevailed upon Paul, Silas, Timothy, and Luke to stay at Lydia's house for awhile. It is possible that they used her home as a base of operations. Afterwards when Paul and Silas were arrested and beaten and then finally released from custody, Lydia took care of them and nursed their injuries.

If you remember the Philippian jailer and his household, relatives, children, and slaves also were made believers by the quickening work of the Holy Spirit. They also were baptized. From Lydia's household and the Philippian jailers household a church was born. This church became very dear to Paul and ministered to him financially several times during his missionary career.


welcome to my world of poetry said...

Lovely to be back, loved the blog
Have a great Week-end.

Michael Wright said...

Thanks for another great biography. Very interesting thoughts.

Darlene said...

I've always like the story of Lydia, the seller of purple. I like the way the KJV describes it, too.

Penned Pebbles said...

Great post and example of how God opens hearts and draws people to Himself! I thoroughly enjoy your posts! Blessings!

Persis said...

I love the verse re: God opening Lydia's heart. This story of Lydia is the reason we chose this name for our daughter.