We thankful that the Bible not only gives us commandments but also shows us how these were applied. All throughout the book of Acts we have various acts of conversion. One of the least known is that of Lydia. We want to look at the background and conversion of Lydia.
The Open Door
- Acts 16:6-8
The Holy Spirit forbade that Paul and his company should go to the right hand or the left. So, they went forward until they came to Troas, thus stopped by the Aegean Sea. Paul had in mind one thing and the Holy Spirit had something else in mind.
Paul was going to evangelize a province, but the Holy Spirit had in mind an entire continent.
The Open Opportunity
- Acts 16:9-10
Instructions are given to Paul on where he is to go next by means of a vision. He saw a man in Macedonia saying, “Come over and help us.”
When Paul told his company what he had seen, here was their conclusion, “assuredly gathering that the Lord had called us for to preach the gospel unto them.”
The Lord is doing for Lydia and others what he had done previously for others.
"And the angel of the Lord spake unto Philip, saying, Arise, and go toward the south unto the way that goeth down from Jerusalem unto Gaza, which is desert. And he arose and went: and, behold, a man of Ethiopia, an eunuch of great authority under Candace queen of the Ethiopians, who had the charge of all her treasure, and had come to Jerusalem for to worship, Was returning, and sitting in his chariot read Esaias the prophet. Then the Spirit said unto Philip, Go near, and join thyself to this chariot."
- Acts 10:19-22
- John 7:17
God saw the honesty of Lydia, the other women, the jailer, and others.
We sing a song based upon this event, Send the Light, #572 in our hymn book.
"There's a call comes ringing o'er the restless wave, "Send the light! Send the light" There are souls to rescue, there are souls to save, Send the light! Send the light!
Chorus: Send the light the blessed gospel light; Let it shine from shore to shore! Send the light the blessed gospel light; Let it shine forevermore!
We have heard the Macedonian call today, "Send the light! Send the light!" And a golden offering at the cross we lay, Send the light! Send the light!" — by Charles H. Gabriel, 1890
The Open Ship
- Acts 16:11-12
Now that Paul and his company knows where they are going, how are they going to get there? No doubt there would be ships going to Athens, Corinth, Ephesus, etc., but would there be one going to Macedonia?
Not only was there one going to Macedonia, but it is going to get there in record time. Later, it took them five days to retrace these steps, Acts 20:6. The waters were probably very rough. So, after the return to Troas, Paul decides to walk to the next location, Acts 20:13.
On this initial trip across the Aegean Sea, the question was, would there be room for Paul and his company? Thus, we see the providential care of God in all of this.
The Open Assembly
- Acts 16:13
Where were the men of the city?
She could have reasoned, “Well, there are no men here so we will forget about worship.” Lydia was some three hundred miles away from home. She could do like many so-called Christians and have the attitude that, “No one will know if I have worshiped God or not while out of town.”
A true Christian is one “on location.” This means that no matter what the location, one is a Christian first.
Lydia was a businesswoman, but on the sabbath she closed down her work to remember the God who had created her. She was a great influence on those of her household.
The Open Heart
- Acts 16:14-15
The purple dye was the costliest of that day. Only the finest of linens were dyed purple. Royalty wore purple. To be arrayed in purple and fine linen, was to be rich.
Her business would have required much capital. She was either a Jewess or a proselyte. We do not know which one and it does not matter.
She worshipped God! The Lord opened her heart.
Brother J.W. McGarvey asked a man what this statement meant.
He replied that Lydia was totally depraved and could not understand anything spiritually until God opened her heart.
Brother McGarvey answered,
“You do not know much about this woman for she was observing the sabbath and worshiping God before she had her heart open. How could a totally depraved woman do this?”
Many believe that it takes a direct operation of the Holy Spirit to open the heart before one can be converted. Notice, she heard AND UNDERSTOOD the word Paul before her heart was opened.
"But rise, and stand upon thy feet: for I have appeared unto thee for this purpose, to make thee a minister and a witness both of these things which thou hast seen, and of those things in the which I will appear unto thee; Delivering thee from the people, and from the Gentiles, unto whom now I send thee, To open their eyes, and to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins, and inheritance among them which are sanctified by faith that is in me. — Acts 26:16-18
What is the difference between opening eyes and opening hearts?
How did God open her heart?
She knew only the teachings of Moses. Paul taught her about Jesus and the kingdom so that her eyes and heart could be opened to New Testament Christianity.
- Matthew 13:15
Jesus gave the order, they see with their eyes, they hear with their ears, and understand with their heart, then they would be converted. Once we have an understanding heart, once we have understood God's word we can be converted, and healed.
The Eunuch, Cornelius, Saul and Lydia all needed to have their eyes and hearts opened. The same is true of Apollos, me, you and others.
We need to have our hearts open. We need to be like the Bereans, who received the word and searched the scriptures, Acts 17:11.
We must hear the word of God, with understanding. It's not enough to be a hearer only, but also we must be a doer. We must believe in Jesus as the Son of God, and repent of our sins, and confess His name to be baptized for cleansing of our sins so we can be converted and walk a new and faithful life, like Lydia.
Jack McNiel, Evangelist | Resources: WVBS Sermon Outline by Wesley Simons