In Isolation Thoughts 2

Hymn: Guide me O Thou Great Redeemer

Bible Reading: Acts 16. 6-15

CALLED, CONVERSION & COMPANY

We left Paul and Silas in Galatia building up the churches and encouraging the believers in their faith. It does seem strange that they were constrained in their work by the Holy Spirit and kept in the southern area. God’s purposes are not understood by us, that is why we have to trust Him to lead and guide. Paul was content to remain where God wanted him to witness. The growth of the churches was important because it provided a foundation for the future spread of the gospel into a wider area. We saw in our previous study that Barnabas had gone back to Cyprus and was ministering on that island, so we can see how the sharing of the ministry of the gospel was being effective.

Paul & Silas were always open to the Lord’s leading and they were joined in their work by a young man, Timothy. His mother was Jewish, who was a believer, and his father a Greek, so he was a man who understood both the Jew and Gentile, he understood both cultures, so was an ideal person to join the mission team. He was commended by the Christians in that area. Their work continued in that region but were again guided by the Holy Spirit and were not allowed to enter Bithynia, so they moved on to the west and came to Troas which was a seaport on the northern coast. One night, Paul had a vision of a Macedonian man begging him to come over to Macedonia. As they had been stopped by the Spirit from going to the eastern region, Paul believed that this was the call of God to go to the west. Preparations were made and the three of them set off on a ship to travel across the sea to Samothrace, then to Neapolis and finally arrived in Philippi, which was a major centre for that region. It was a Roman settlement and a strong business centre, as a trading place there would be many travellers and merchants in the city, this made it an excellent focus for gospel ministry. They did not rush into the work, but spent time settling in and finding out about the city and the environs.

On the Sabbath day they went outside the city to find the place where people met for prayer, were they surprised to find a group of women there praying? As ever, Paul took the opportunity to talk about Jesus and the gospel to these women. One of them, Lydia from Thyatira, was a wealthy businesswoman because she was a dealer in purple cloth. Purple cloth was a very expensive material, it could only be afforded by the wealthy citizens, it was made by a special colouring process and would have been in great demand among the ruling citizens. Lydia was there with the other women as she worshipped God.  She listened to what Paul and the others had to say and her heart responded to the message, she became a Christian. As had become the custom, on conversion people were baptised immediately as a sign to the world of their new life and commitment. Lydia obviously had spoken with the rest of her household and they too responded to the message and became believers, so they were all baptised.

There was an immediate impact of her conversion, she offered hospitality to Paul and the others to stay with her at her house. She had to persuade them as this was not the usual practice for men to live in a house with women, especially one who was unrelated and not part of their family. In one sense Paul was confirming her faith, her changed life and his trust in God that what he was doing was correct and within God’s will.

We see in these events how God leads: Paul was so keen to get on with the work of the gospel that he would go anywhere to share it. God said ‘No.’ He had a plan for them, and they needed to comply with it. How often are we keen and ready to move on the road we think God would want us to travel only to find the door closed, the bridge up or the route not open. Are we willing to accept God’s no as a positive option, knowing that He will give us a route along His way, not our way?

Look how it worked out, they went in the opposite direction, spreading the gospel in a totally new area, with almost immediate results. As the Psalmist says,’ Be still and know that I am God.’ We need to stop rushing in and wait for the leading of the Spirit and then we will see the results. As we have said before, waiting patiently for the Lord is not easy, we are not patient people, we want to go and get on with it in our way which may not be the Lord’s way, so stop and be guided, the outcome will always be best for us.

Finally, we saw a change in attitude to custom, are we willing to do things differently for the Lord? Perhaps our greatest witness is being different in attitude and action. We know that God’s way is best, we need to be open to His leading and trust Him in all things, looking to do His will.

Prayer

Hymn: The Head that once was crowned with thorns


Page last updated: 27th February 2021 9:14 PM
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