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Sunday, May 28, 2017

Bible Study: Lydia

On the Sabbath day we went outside of the city by a riverside, where we supposed there was a place of prayer, and we sat down, and spoke to the women who had come together. A certain woman named Lydia, a seller of purple, of the city of Thyatira, one who worshiped God, heard us; whose heart the Lord opened to listen to the things which were spoken by Paul. When she and her household were baptized, she begged us, saying, “If you have judged me to be faithful to the Lord, come into my house, and stay.” So she persuaded us.

— Acts 16:13-15 WEB*

On his second missionary trip, Paul visited the Roman colony of Philippi (FILL-uh-pie) along with Silas, Luke and Timothy. Philippi was on the famous Egnatian Road—a trade route from Asia to Rome. The city was important during the New Testament due to its agriculture, location, functioning gold mines, and Roman status.

Lydia was a businessworman whose name may have come from the Hellenistic district where the town of Thyatira (thigh-uh-TIE-ruh) was. Thyatira had a Jewish settlement where Lydia may have learned of Yahweh, the LORD. Thyatira was famous for purple dyes made from murex shellfish, or less expensively from the juice of the madder root. Lydia sold purple cloths in Philippi.

Few Jews lived in Philippi, so there was no synagogue. Jewish law decreed that a synagogue could be formed when there were 10 males who could attend regularly. Otherwise a place of prayer was organized by water. Lydia met to pray with other Jewish women outside the city gates by the Gangites River.

While Lydia believed in God, she didn’t understand the full message of the Gospel. When Paul spoke, the Lord, “opened her heart”.

Lydia invited the missionaries to stay at her home. She provided for their needs, allowing them to use their time preaching and teaching. Her home may have later become the center for the church in Philippi.

Welcoming people into your home, helping someone move bringing a meal to someone who is sick—all these are ways of being nice. These acts are not very glamorous, yet they are absolutely necessary to show Jesus’ love to others. It’s how a Christian is known.

By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another. — James 5:13-17

Lydia’s simple act of hospitality was a reflection of the love she had for Jesus. Not only was she being nice to Paul and his friends she was freeing them up to spread the Gospel.

Being nice to others is motivated by Jesus’ love. It is showing His love to those around you.

Ask Jesus for His help to let His love flow freely from you. Just as He used Lydia’s gift and talents to help Paul, He has given you gifts and talents to use to show love to others.

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* WEB – the World English Bible, a Public Domain, Modern English translation of the Holy Bible developed by Rainbow Missions, Inc. URL: http://ebible.org

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