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Mary Elizabeth Baxter :: Lydia—Acts 16:12-15, 40

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The Apostle Paul was too faithful and useful a servant of God to be left without trial, and his trials were of almost every imaginable kind. His own mention of them in 2Cr 11 is witness of this. In his second missionary journey, his special trial was the lack of distinct guidance as to whither he should go. He and his companions "were forbidden of the Holy Ghost to preach the Word in Asia." They "assayed to go into Bithynia, but the Spirit suffered them not," and time passed by before they knew exactly what the mind of God was as to their movements.

But the Apostle Paul was too true to his Master to take an unguided step, and although he understood, as few others can understand, that souls were perishing, he would not take upon himself to run before the Lord in anything.

Like his Master, he waited until his hour was come. In our early spiritual life guidance is often as distinct as the father's command to a little child; but as we learn to know more of God, He calls for a closer attention, a more real and constant waiting upon Him. This seems to have been the case with Paul.

At last, an indication of the mind of God was given him in a vision. "There stood a man of Macedonia, and prayed him, saying: Come over into Macedonia, and help us." Once knowing the direction in which God pointed, he lost no time after he had seen the vision. "Immediately we endeavoured to go into Macedonia, assuredly gathering that the Lord had called us for to preach the Gospel unto them." (Act 16:10.)

The first city in Macedonia where Paul made any attempt to preach the Gospel was Philippi, which was a colony. How should he now set about evangelising the people? His ordinary way of entering into the synagogue would not answer here, for there is no mention of the synagogue. But, guided undoubtedly by God, he and his companions went on the Sabbath day "by a river side, where prayer was wont to be made." Only women were gathered at this prayer meeting, but Paul found in it the clue to the thoughts of God, and, instead of disturbing or despising the women, he sat down in the midst of them, and spoke to them of the great subject with which God had charged him as his life's mission.

Great things come from little beginnings. This first Church formed in Europe began with a women's prayer‐meeting. No doubt some of these women had heard of the true God through Jewish merchants who would bring their wares to Philippi, and their faith in their old idolatry was shaken. The eternal destiny of their husbands and children was a matter of moment to these women, and, in their darkness, and yet their earnestness, they prayed as best they could, to God for light; and in answer to these heathen enquirers, the great Apostle to the Gentiles was forbidden to preach the Word in Asia, because these seeking women needed his testimony in Europe!

One of these women, perhaps the leader of the prayer‐meeting, "Lydia, a seller of purple," who had come from the city of Thyatira, probably to establish a business in Philippi, and who had made such progress in spiritual things that she had begun to worship the true God, was one of Paul and Silas' hearers. There and then, the Spirit of God broke into her heart, and opened it, "so that she attended to the things which were spoken of Paul." She was the first European convert, and the first member of a European Church! "Not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble are called: but God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty." (1Cr 1:26-27.)

Lydia was willing to make profession of her faith by baptism, probably on the very same day. When the Holy Ghost is not resisted, He can work quickly. She was not alone in her faith, she had sought her household, and there, by the river side, husband, children, servants had heard for themselves, and learnt for themselves, the precious, inestimable truth of God; and having thus received more than any price on earth could buy, she made a petition to Paul and Silas:

"If ye have judged me to be faithful to the Lord, come into my house, and abide there."

Fearless woman! She was God's witness for His truth concerning Jesus, and not afraid of her heathen neighbours. She might lose caste, might injure her business, compromise her position and her reputation, but Lydia was true to her newly‐found Saviour. Woman as she was, she could not but think of the temporal needs of these messengers of the Gospel, and she was the first of the company of women who communicated with Paul "concerning giving and receiving," and who did well to communicate with his affliction, for they "sent once and again unto my necessity" (Phl 4:14-16), while the rich Corinthians seem never to have thought of helping him.

Of course, persecution broke out. The casting out of a demon aroused the enmity of those who profited by the ravings of Satan's victim. God's witnesses were imprisoned. And after the wonderful miracle which delivered Paul and Silas from the Philippian prison, they paid their last visit in that house of Lydia, which had become the Christian Church of the place. "And when they had seen the brethren, they comforted them, and departed." (Act 16:40.)

How many a woman has been really the first living stone of a Church or of a mission in the town in which she lived? God has many Lydias. May they be greatly multiplied-not preachers, so much as hearers; not talkers, so much as listeners, and yet they are those who facilitate the building up of the Church of Christ more than, perhaps, can ever be known by those around them.

Dorcas—Acts 9:36-43 ← Prior Section
Prophesying Women—Acts 21:7-9 Next Section →

The Blue Letter Bible ministry and the BLB Institute hold to the historical, conservative Christian faith, which includes a firm belief in the inerrancy of Scripture. Since the text and audio content provided by BLB represent a range of evangelical traditions, all of the ideas and principles conveyed in the resource materials are not necessarily affirmed, in total, by this ministry.


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