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Lydia-An Influential Businesswoman

In my last post I shared another instance where God’s servants were imprisoned for teaching God’s truths, and God sent an angel to miraculously free them. Once again, the ‘brethren’ had been together in one accord, praying fervently for Paul and Silas. This time, they were together in the home of a woman named Lydia.

Acts 16:40 “And they went out of the prison, and entered into the house of Lydia: and when they had seen the brethren, they comforted them, and departed.”

Lydia came from Thyatira, a city in the western province of Lydia in Asia Minor. Her name originally might have been the designation of her home, “a woman of Lydia.” At the time Lydia met Paul, she lived at Philippi, a leading city of Macedonia on the European continent.  As a wealthy and influential businesswoman, Lydia sold articles dyed purple, a prized color made from certain mollusks–a respectable and lucrative trade. She had a spacious home that could accommodate many guests and servants to meet their needs. This had to be a rare achievement in her day. I would say that she was indeed a hard-working, bold, and intelligent woman to have achieved the success that she enjoyed. She also was a true child of God who understood that everything she had was a blessing from the Lord, to be used for His glory.

One Sabbath day, Lydia went to the river’s shore that had been designated by the Roman authorities of Philippi as a place of prayer and worship for the Jews. There she met Paul and Silas, who had been in Philippi only a short time. While others along the river may have rejected Paul’s words about Jesus, Lydia accepted them and became a Believer. Once she believed, she made a confession of her faith to her whole world through baptism and then, she assembled her entire household, told them what had happened to her, and she asked them to believe. After her entire household accepted Christ as Saviour and were baptized, Lydia invited Paul and Silas to stay in her home. When Paul and Silas were thrown into a Philippian prison, Lydia visited them and attended to their needs. Her house became the meeting place of the first European church.

Lydia was quick to understand that what had been hers before her conversion–home, business, and possessions–now belonged to the Lord. She had a new partner, the Lord Jesus; a new purpose, to serve Him; and a new satisfaction in seeking to be effective and successful in order to glorify the Lord. Her career aspirations did not hinder her sharing the gospel with family and friends. She was not too busy to take time for hospitality – Acts 16:15 “And when she was baptized, and her household, she besought us, saying, If ye have judged me to be faithful to the Lord, come into my house, and abide there. And she constrained us.”

Lydia’s name appears in Scripture only twice. She was seemingly the first Gentile convert in Europe, the first Christian businesswoman, and the first Believer to open her home as a worship center for European Christians. Not only to Paul and the early church, but also to the generations to come, Lydia proved the importance and influence of a woman of determination, foresight, and generosity.

What a wonderful, Godly example! Oh, how we could use more like Lydia in our world today!

 
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Posted by on October 2, 2015 in Godly Women

 

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Our God can Bring Glory out of Any Situation

“Sirs, what must I do to be saved?”

A Certain Damsel Possessed with a Demon – Acts, Chapter 16:16-34 – “16 And it came to pass, as we went to prayer, a certain damsel possessed with a spirit of divination met us, which brought her masters much gain by soothsaying: The same followed Paul and us, and cried, saying, These men are the servants of the most high God, which shew unto us the way of salvation. (Even the demons know who God is! Here He is being mocked by one.) And this did she many days. But Paul, being grieved, turned and said to the spirit, I command thee in the name of Jesus Christ to come out of her. And he came out the same hour. And when her masters saw that the hope of their gains was gone, they caught Paul and Silas, and drew them into the marketplace unto the rulers, And brought them to the magistrates, saying, These men, being Jews, do exceedingly trouble our city, And teach customs, which are not lawful for us to receive, neither to observe, being Romans. And the multitude rose up together against them: and the magistrates rent off their clothes, and commanded to beat them. And when they had laid many stripes upon them, they cast them into prison, charging the jailor to keep them safely: Who, having received such a charge, thrust them into the inner prison, and made their feet fast in the stocks. And at midnight Paul and Silas prayed, and sang praises unto God: and the prisoners heard them. And suddenly there was a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison were shaken: and immediately all the doors were opened, and every one’s bands were loosed. And the keeper of the prison awaking out of his sleep, and seeing the prison doors open, he drew out his sword, and would have killed himself, supposing that the prisoners had been fled. But Paul cried with a loud voice, saying, Do thyself no harm: for we are all here. Then he called for a light, and sprang in, and came trembling, and fell down before Paul and Silas, And brought them out, and said, Sirs, what must I do to be saved? And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house. And they spake unto him the word of the Lord, and to all that were in his house. And he took them the same hour of the night, and washed their stripes; and was baptized, he and all his, straightway. And when he had brought them into his house, he set meat before them, and rejoiced, believing in God with all his house.”

Divination was widely practiced in the ancient Middle East. This attempt to contact supernatural powers sought unknown answers that usually foretold the future. The Old Testament strongly condemns such practices: Leviticus 19:26 “Ye shall not eat any thing with the blood: neither shall ye use enchantment, nor observe times.” And Jeremiah 27:9 “Therefore hearken not ye to your prophets, nor to your diviners, nor to your dreamers, nor to your enchanters, nor to your sorcerers, which speak unto you, saying, Ye shall not serve the king of Babylon:” (Having anything to do with evil spirits in any way, opens the door for them to come in and ruin our lives! They work for satan!)

Paul and Silas had come to preach in Philippi where they met a fortune-teller. We know her only as a “certain damsel possessed with a spirit of divination.” Luke recognized her phenomena as being identical to those of the priestesses of Delphi. In other words, she was not seen as merely a lunatic or skillful ventriloquist, but she was indeed possessed of a demonic spirit, giving her extraordinary powers to predict the future, which was strictly forbidden – Leviticus 19:31 “Regard not them that have familiar spirits, neither seek after wizards, to be defiled by them: I am the LORD your God.” Her masters used and abused her, receiving much money from her fortune-telling, especially by making her answer those with problems and difficulties who were more vulnerable to such deception.

The girl followed Paul and Silas for days, crying out loudly and hindering their ministry. Annoyed, Paul exorcised the problem-causing demonic spirit from the girl’s body. Deprived of their potential gain, her masters dragged Paul and Silas into the marketplace and had them beaten and imprisoned.

***In prison, however, Paul and Silas witnessed the power of the Living Christ! Not only were they miraculously delivered, but the keeper of the prison and his entire family were saved and baptized. Acts mentions no more about the fortune-telling slave girl. However, her testimony stands forever to prove that God can bring glory even out of the most harsh and unfair situations!***

 
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Posted by on September 29, 2015 in God's Love

 

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