Tuesday, April 10, 2007

In Other Words

“Ancient Words, ever true
Changing me, changing you
We have come with open hearts
O let the ancient words impart”

Joy in the Morning is sponsoring this week’s In Other Words. Go there to see others' interpretation of this quote.)

What’s more important than the Scripture? Not much! LOL But, it is significantly less effective if we skip that important part in the third line…an open heart! So, I went searching the Word for an open heart and found Lydia in Acts 16.

14 Now a certain woman named Lydia heard [us.] She was a seller of purple from the city of Thyatira, who worshiped God. The Lord opened her heart to heed the things spoken by Paul. 15 And when she and her household were baptized, she begged [us,] saying, "If you have judged me to be faithful to the Lord, come to my house and stay." So she persuaded us.

I’ve been focusing on some of the godly women of the Bible and their attributes in my daily reading. So, when I sought out some more info on Lydia, I found an online article from In Touch Ministries. Lydia was Europe’s first Christian convert! She was a “worshipper of God” (v14) but God opened her heart and when she heard Paul and Silas testify that Jesus was the Messiah, she was immediately baptized along with all of her household.

Lydia likely was a Gentile widow or an unmarried woman who was a Jewish convert. She is considered to have been a wealthy businesswoman. And, it also attributes several godly women characteristics to her: (this is a direct quote but with my emphases)

Vigor: Lydia had no sooner accepted Christ as her Savior than she invited His emissaries into her home. "If you have judged me to be faithful to the Lord," Lydia told Paul, "come into my house and stay" (v. 15). The New American Standard Version states that Lydia "prevailed upon" Paul’s party to stay. This wasn’t a whimsical offer. This was the impassioned plea of a woman athirst for God. Instantly, the Lord used her to house His most important minister of the early church, which penetrated Europe more extensively because of her generosity.

Sacrifice. Lydia’s business possibly suffered somewhat because of her conversion. Consider that much of the dye business was fueled either by those purchasing purple garments for royalty or by those seeking ornate dress for the images of their pagan gods. Dressing a human king is nothing more than secular trade, but, as a Christian, Lydia may have refused to sell wares to the worshippers of false gods.

"Her customers of the purple cloth or dye would probably have scoffed at the gospel of Christ, but Lydia did not wait to see," Deen writes. "She put Christ first, and business afterward."

If ever her business suffered, her mentor taught her to count it as but rubbish so that she may gain Christ. (Philippians 3:8)

Commitment. Europe’s first church likely met within the walls of Lydia’s spacious abode. She not only availed her home but likely also her vast resources to help spread the Gospel of Christ. And, most notably, she cast aside concerns of her reputation in the business community and housed prisoners—Paul and company—after they had been released from Philippi’s jail. (v. 40)

Vigorous. Impassioned. Thirsty for God. Generous. Sacrificial. Putting Christ first. A spirit of hospitality. A spirit of giving. Committed. Lived for God instead of living for her reputation.

All these things resulted from one open heart. She was simply receptive to Paul’s testimony. Do we receive with an open heart the meaning and understanding from our time in the Word? Oh, that we could do it as well as Lydia and produce so much fruit that glorifies God!


Pearls of Wisdom said...

Dear Beth,

I love your post especially about having an open heart to receive the Lords word. Thank you for sharing. I love your blog and insights.

In his endless love,

Angel ():) Pearls of Wisdom

Unashamed said...

This is interesting. I noticed right away in the Acts 16 passage that is says "the Lord opened her heart" and not "she opened her heart to the Lord". I think this is significant...and implies that when "we come with open hearts" it is because the Lord has done the opening for us - at least when it comes to Scripture. I need to give this more thought, but perhaps I will post on it.

Jenny said...

What a great close reading of the scripture! Thank you for taking the time to share it with us so that we could learn from the insights and wisdom that you have!

Dana said...

Wow, I loved this. All it really takes is an open heart. God will do the rest. I think it is interesting that you are doing a study on women in the bible. I have never done that as a study itself, sounds like a great way to focus study time. Thanks for sharing.

Denise said...

Great post, thanks for sharing.