Acts 16:11-18

One who heard us was a woman named Lydia, from the city of Thyatira, a seller of purple goods, who was a worshiper of God

Sermon Transcript:

I invite you to take your Bibles this morning to the Book of Acts once again as we continue in our series, the Spirit at Work, to the Ends of the Earth, as we focus on the book of Acts, this second volume of Luke’s history manual, the book of Luke being the first. This is the second. And as he presents to us here, uh, an account of the early church, I’d like to read verse, uh, 11 through 18 of Acts chapter 16.

And here’s what we, what we read. So setting sail from Trus, we made a direct voyage to Samas in the following day to Minneapolis. And from there to Philippi, which is a leading city of the district of Macedonia in a Roman colony. Remained in this city some days and on the Sabbath day we went outside the gate to the riverside where we supposed there was a place of prayer.

And we sat down and spoke to the women who had come together. One who heard, one who heard us was a woman named Lydia from the city of Thara, a seller of purple goods, who is a worshiper of God. The Lord opened her heart to pay attention to what was said by Paul. And after that, after she was baptized in her household as well, she urged us, saying, if you have judged me to be faithful to the Lord, come to my house and stay.

And she prevailed upon us. As we were going to the place of prayer, we were met by a slave girl who had a spirit of divination and brought her owners much gained by fortune telling. She followed Paul and us crying out, these men are servants of the most high God who proclaimed to you the way of salvation, and this she kept doing for many days.

Paul, having become greatly annoyed, turned and said to the Spirit, I command you in the name of Jesus Christ to come out of her, and it came out of her that very hour.

I’ve learned throughout the years that not everyone loves history. I put this in the area of in incredulity and disbelief in the same way. I look at people that don’t like Lead. Zeppelin’s Stairway to heaven. J r r Tokin and Oatmeal Raisin Cookies,

But I’ve come to get it a little bit that some people are just completely turned off to the idea of dates, wars, ruler dynasties, international power struggles. But to me, history is stories. It’s the stories of people, dates and places, particular wars and conflicts. Changing of dynasties gives you some bones to hanging on.

But the life of history is the stories, the stories of people. I had a history teacher in, in college that got this, his name was Dr. Ring Inberg and Dr. Ring Inberg was a straight laced, quiet spoken, hardly a theatrical or a thespian type of personality. Very dry speaking. And the second day of class we came in, he had first day introduced himself.

You know, we had, we had gotten to know a little bit of the syllabi where the, where things were going. The second day, he comes in without a word and just starts telling us his story. He’s recounting his life, but as you’re listening to his story, you, you, you feel like this man has a personality disorder.

There’s something completely wrong, and he’s describing, you know, his feelings. He’s describing his family. And then finally you get a little context when he says, yes, the year was 1746 and he’s describing his life and you realize he’s doing a first person narrative and he’s saying things like this, I did this and my family was this way.

And, and I wondered at the time about this, and, and these were the struggles we were facing. The guy just hooked me. He just drew me in. He did this often in our classes. He made history stories. He told it from the standpoint of certainly historic, well-known figures. He’d do their first person narrative, but he also did it just the average Joe, the average Mary, and, and he’d be that person and, and he’s presenting history as the stories of people.

That’s how Luke tells his story. This is the second volume in his history book, and as he does so, as he presents this history to us, he presents people. We are now entering into Europe in Acts chapter 16. We’re gonna see in a moment the map that takes us there, but as we look at this, matter of fact, we can go ahead and bring up the map.

What’s happening here? As Paul is going to, uh, as Luke is going to present to us the story of two people whose lives are an utter contrast. The only unifying reality is both of them were radically transformed by Jesus Christ. But at this point in Paul’s life, we come to the place,

I have my weapon. Oh man, there’s options everywhere. . Okay, so, alright, I’m gonna pick one and make half of you mad. Um, but the idea, what, what we’re looking at is where are we, where are we In the book of Acts, we are beginning what’s called the second. We are on the, what’s called the second missionary journey.

If you remember the story, Luke has actual, uh, Luke has told us the story of Paul and Silas going this way. They got to about this area right in the middle here. This, this area of Antioch. And there at that moment, Paul wants to go west to Ephesus. He wants to hit the cities here, which are the heart of the urban center of Asia.

And God says no. So he says, all right, we’re not gonna go. We’re not gonna go west, we’re gonna go north. So we’re gonna go up into here. And there’s an area called Bethia. It says he was heading towards up here. As he’s heading towards Bethia, God says no. So almost by default, apparently Paul continues towards the city of tr ass.

Here he comes to the city of tr ass. And again, they have no strategy, no plan. And while he sl asleep one night, he has this Macedonian vision. It’s described in the first verse of Act 16 Act, and, and. He says, come over and it says the next day, Paul and the boys, this is Silas and Timothy. Now at this point, they discuss it, they process it, and they come to the conclusion just like we do.

We look at the eva, the material, we look at how God seems to be leading and they made the judgment. God wants us to go over Toro as now. At that point, they’re joined by a fourth member who becomes the we in these verses. Luke joins them there, and most people believe Luke is probably from the area of Philippi and he’s traveling back to his home territory because he’s gonna stay there after Paul and the guys leave there, uh, on this journey.

But they’ve now come over and as they have come over, they’ve come to this area up here, they’re now in Greece. They land here, they go from Minneapolis and they walk 10 miles to Philippi. And as they go up into Philippi, we have this account of them meeting two ladies. Two individuals, two female characters lead the cast.

And as they come there, we see in the simple stories of these two women, a reminder of the beautiful reality of the gospel and most of all of the God of the gospel. So I’d like to look at these two gals story this morning and then draw some specific applications for us at the end. The first person we see here is Lydia an Empowered Businesswoman.

If you read her passage, you’ll notice it says, one who hurt us was a woman named Lydia from the city of Thara, a seller of purple goods. Basically what Paul and, and the guys have done, they come to the city and they find out in this Roman city, which I’ve mentioned to you before, is actually a city that was formed.

Uh uh, uh, By a general named Philip, who later became a prominent member of the entire, uh, empire. And this city named after him, was actually a place where retired veterans of Roman wars were given, uh, citizenship to live. It was a heavy military town, and Paul and, and the guys get there and there is no synagogue.

And so they went to the, uh, a place where sometimes Jews would gather in the empire. They would gather outside. It was along the riverbank and they hoped there would be some Jewish people there because Paul and the guys always went to the Jews first when they went to a city. And they came there and there is actually a gathering, but there are no men, it’s all women.

And they come and, and, and they meet this woman named Lydia and Lydia. Is described as a, a seller of purple goods from Thra. Now, Thra is my last map, I promise. Thra is over in this area again. Now we’re over here in Greece. Right? Thra was part of the Western side. It’s actually one of the seven cities of Revelation churches that he writes to.

Thara is there. She’s apparently a business woman, apparently single, that is entrepreneurial enough that she’s come over from Thara and has set up shop in Philippi. She has apparently has become a permanent residence. She owns a house there and she started a business and her business is the most famous manufacturing work in th Tyra.

It was known throughout the empire for its, its die making. Particularly purple. Purple was the, uh, color of, of, uh, regal, uh, where it was royalty. It was extremely expensive. I mean, people that wore purple were, were, were dressing in high end goods. And she is a, an individual that sells high-end stuff to high-end customers, beautiful products to beautiful people.

Basically. She’s running a high-end boutique in Philippi, but she’s not only a prominent businesswoman, she’s a worshiper of God. We read that here in these verses, and this word worshiper is an interesting one. It’s not the normal word for worshiper. It’s actually only used 10 times in the New Testament.

Eight of them are in the book of Acts. They are, it is a term that regularly refers to an individual that is a gentile. That has embraced Judaism at least partially. And I’ll give you an example. In Acts 13, it says this, it says, after the meeting of the synagogue broke up many Jews and devout, that’s the word worship, worshiping, converts to Judaism.

It’s talking about Gentiles who had started aligning their lives with the Old Testament scriptures and, and, and, and started to want to be a follower of Jehovah God. This is a moral person. This is a person who is, is trying to live an I integrist life. According to the Old Testament scriptures, she is a devout worshiper of God.

As best she knows him. She’s a successful business person. She’s moral, she’s independent. This lady is a winner. In the eyes of the world. She has it together. She’s influential, she’s prestigious, she’s affluent, and she’s even got character that’s Lydia.

But the gospel does something beautiful in Lydia’s life, we find the first question, who she was, is followed by how the gospel came to her. What happens on this Sabbath day. As they come there, they come and there’s a Bible study, and it’s not a preaching thing. If you’ll notice, it says in verse 13 that they came and sat down.

You know, it’s not like Paul is walking like I am. Ran, ran, you know, wandering all around, preaching at these three ladies or whatever’s there. It’s a small Bible state. It’s give and take, you know, it’s, it’s, it’s a, it’s a little gathering that’s there, but as they are there, They’re sharing the truth about Christ.

She has already sought truth. She sought to know God, but there is a work that had to happen in her life to bring her to truly be a follower of Jesus Christ. It’s described here in these verses, it says, is the Lord opened her heart to respond. The same word is used of Luke 24 when Jesus is walking on the ESUs road.

After his resurrection, he’s going with two guys that are, that have been a part of his, his his band. Not the 12, but the broader group of followers around. and they don’t recognize him, and they’re going along and he’s talking to him on the way, and he’s, he, he’s explaining truth. And they initially said, you know, he says, what, what’s going on?

And they said, wh what are you, you know, where have you, what hole have you been in? Don’t you know about Jesus? Our, our savior, our our master. And he was crucified. And, and, and so he starts telling the old Testa Christ, but it isn’t until they actually are sitting down together and Jesus takes bread and breaks it and gives it to ’em.

It says this statement in Luke 24 verse 31. And their eyes were opened and they recognized him. And at that point, he vanished from their site. Later in that chapter, he, he comes to the disciples and it says, he opened their minds. Same word. What happened with Lydia is exactly what happened with you. If you have embraced Jesus Christ is your savior.

you didn’t embrace Jesus Christ because you’re more spiritual than your brother. You didn’t embrace Jesus Christ because you have more, somehow, a more sensitive and, and more accrediting, uh, godliness that made you do what your sorority sisters didn’t do. You came to Jesus Christ because God pursued you.

God opened your eyes. And if you are here today and you’ve never embraced Jesus Christ and you sense, I feel like I’m on the outside in looking in and all these people, the, you know, the relationship with Jesus, I don’t really understand the relation part and, and, and I don’t really understand this personal walking with God.

If there’s a stirring within you, if there’s a longing within you say, I’d like to know this. I’d like to have relationship. I’d like to have this, the sense that my sins are forgive. God is pursuing you. And what is happening with Lydia is God pursued her. God opened her heart God drew Lydia to himself.

But Lydia responded, and we see here her response. It says that she responded to the prompting of God’s spirit in her life. The word respond, again, this is a fascinating word. It actually means to be devoted to it’s used in the New Testament of being addicted to. It means she was all in, her heart was, was moved by God and the resulting reality was how it always is.

When a heart is really changed by the gospel,

nothing held back utterly all in. The next thing we find is this woman is being baptized. The very first person baptized in Europe, it was actually a bit of a wild move. I mean, she’s being baptized in the name of a crucified savior. It’s like being baptized in the name and an association with a guy that’s recently gotten the electric chair.

This is probably not going to help her business. It’s probably not going to help her if she is looking for a husband. This could ostracize her. I mean, it’s bad enough. She’s Jewish and, and, and, or she’s drawn to Judaism. She’s, she’s gentile. But, and there, you know, just with this little gathering of women in this city of, of, of warriors, and now she’s embracing a savior that the Romans crucified,

but she’s in, there’s nothing hold her back wholeheartedly. She’s embracing the Christ that Paul and the others are telling her about. As reminded us, I was reflecting on Lydia’s story of a story I once heard of a guy named Tom Williams. He was an old time evangelist, came to our area and, uh, I met him and, uh, I, I knew the director of my church planning ministry, Dr.

Davis was very good friends with him. That’s more of my connection. But Tom Williams was telling the story. Uh, I, it was a tape I heard. I was listening to him tell the story of a meeting he had, and Tom Williams was an old time evangelist. I mean, he was, he was straight talker, but he was telling of a meeting he had where he was sharing the gospel and allowing people to come forward and receive Christ to Savior.

And a woman came forward who was absolutely dressed to the nines. I mean, she had diamonds all over, extremely well groomed, extremely put together the eyes of the world. She was a winner. I mean, she had it, she came very properly, but she came to embrace Christ. And she got down to the front and he could tell that she was awkward, and she was sort of looking over her shoulder a little bit and, and there aren’t as many people maybe as she expected to be down there.

And she sort of feels like she stands out and she said, uh, she’s talking to him in private. As people are singing and, and, and, and she says, what do, what do I need to do to be saved? And he said to her, you need to bow down here and receive Jesus Christ as your savior. And she sort of glances over her shoulder, he said, looking back and she’s looking down at the floor and she said, does everybody have to kneel to do that?

And he said, no, but you do. And she dropped to her knees and embraced Christ. She was all in. And though the opinions of people certainly impacted her life. And Drew, who, Lydia is a prominent person in this town. I mean, she’s made it and she’s a woman in a, in a, in a, in a war veterans town. She must have been a presence of a personality.

But she had to be willing to say, I want this Christ. I may never get a husband. It may affect my business. I don’t care. I’m responding, which means I am devoted. I am all in. I’m, if you will, addicted to Christ. I want him. So she’s embraced as she embraces Christ. What did it do in her life? Well, she becomes the host for the church in Philippi.

In this city of retired Roman warriors, a single businesswoman becomes the cornerstone of the fledgling church. When Paul writes to the church in Philippi, which was clearly one of his favorite congregations, as a matter of fact, he says in the book of Phil Philippians. Chapter one. He says, whenever I think of you all, I’m filled with joy.

He’s talking to a group of people that are meeting in this woman’s home.

God reached into this person’s life. God drew this worldly winner to himself, but there’s another person we meet here. Her stories described in verses 16 through 18, just like to read it again quickly as we were going to the place of prayer, and they did this on the Sabbath regularly, we were met by a slave girl who had a spirit of divination and brought her owners much green by fortune telling.

She followed Paul and us crying out These men are servants of the most high God who proclaimed to you the way of salvation. and this she kept doing for many days. Paul, having become greatly annoyed, turned and said to the spirit, I command you in the name of Jesus Christ to come out of her. And he came out that very hour.

W who is she? She’s described as a slave girl. The word girl here indicates a younger woman, uh, adolescent, pre-adolescent, somewhere between 11 to 14 years old. She has a spirit of divination. Now, this is where this gets a little weird. All right, so stay with me. This word for divination is the word python, like the snake.

It is a direct reference to one of the most prominent, uh, religious experiences and activities in all of Greece on Mount. In the, in the, uh, mountainous area outside of Athens, there is a place called Delphi. Delphi is the most prominent, uh, religious site shrine in all of Greek mythology. As a matter of fact, they described it as the center of the earth.

It is where the gods made themselves known to humanity. You’ve heard of the oracle of Del Kai Delphi? Well, Delphi is the location. There’s the picture of it today, and at that mountain, and in the background is all mountains. It’s a beautiful location. The oracle was a woman and the woman was the spokesman.

The word oracle means revelation or, or prophetic messages that basically she was the mouthpiece. Now, here’s how the word Python got involved. Greek mythology has it that on this mount where the gods were trying to communicate with humans, that there was a, there was a giant snake python. Some portray it as sort of a dragon like character, but it’s the word python, this word deviation.

An Apollo is historically supposed to have come and slayed the dragon, but the voice of the dragon still speaks at Delphi for the gods. I told you this was a little weird, right? Okay. But here’s what, here’s the reality at Delphi, there is a woman in every generation who is called the Oracle. She is the head of the Priestly clan of Priestesses, but there are also a number of other priestesses.

This young girl, Was one of those priestesses. She has the spirit of Python. She is a spokesman. Now, here’s the striking reality, and if you Google it, which undoubtedly some of you will probably right now, but you will find that what they say, the primary emphasis of the spirit of Python is that they are four tellers.

They give prophetic messages.

This woman, somehow, this young girl somehow had been purchased by probably per fairly powerful people, men in Philippi, and she was giving message. Now, you can’t earn money for your owners if you’re not hitting it right with some of your prophecies. She has a spirit that is enabling her to some degree, to tell things that are coming and things are going well for these owners.

things are not going well for this young girl. She is twice in bondage. She is in bondage to the spirits that are ruling her life. Secondly, she is in bondage. She’s described as a slave and now she’s coming and, and, and, and, and it’s striking that the Greek word that is used to talk about the, the voices that came of the voice, the, of the priestesses, of the prophets of python is the word ventriloquist.

It meant they spoke with multiple voices. These were demon possessed, demonn controlled individuals. And I realize you may be out there and you may say, wait a minute, I know you said this is gonna be weird, but now you are weird . Do you really believe, I mean, I was a little with you. You like history mark, but, and, and.

Are you saying you honestly believe that there are demons that in dwell how I do? Absolutely. From cover to cover in the scripture, I think the presence of, of demonic forces is the only explanation for the unbridled in irrational evil in the world. Sin is certainly foundational in all of our lives, but the absolutely astonishing evil only has an explanation with the power of darkness involved.

So here’s this woman, we would look at her, many would look at her and say, well, she has, she has a mental illness. I mean, these voices are weird. I mean, she’s, you know what’s going on, but she has supernatural power. How the gospel came to her. We read. Somewhere early on in their ministry here with this fledgling group of people, she sees Paul and it says, she started to shout, it’s actually word shriek.

This was scary sounding stuff. As she’s announcing that these, these guys are servants of the, of the most high God demons know a lot about God. As a matter of fact, they know more than you know. They’ve had a long time to get to know who the sovereign God is. It says in the book of James James, who was the physical brother of Jesus.

James says, the devils believe in God and they tremble. They don’t embrace him. They don’t embrace salvation, which is for people, but they know. and here we find that she is presenting some things that are true. Now here’s the question. Of course, as she’s saying these things, is she crediting the, these guys or is she trying to discredit them?

I mean, is she announcing for them to get people to believe with him or is she denouncing them? I would argue for both. I think this is the tension that is going on in this young woman. I think there is a part of her that is utterly opposed and trying to discredit them. Maybe by associating the demons are trying to say, you know, if, if, if, if this seems weird enough, people are gonna get scared off from listening to Paul and his friends.

But there’s every reason to believe in this passage. There is also a little girl’s heart that is longing for this most high God that they’re talking about. Just a side note here, and then I’m gonna try to pull this together As we look at this girl who needed something that would break through her slavery and bondage, we see an interesting statement here in verse 18.

It says this, Paul became so annoyed. What this word actually means is that Paul became annoyed.

there’s no other word. He was ticked off. He, he was a dark. So dude, day after day, he turns and reacts. You know? Now we would, wouldn’t you love it if it’s said, but we would expect it to say, Paul moved with compassion for this young woman, . No, that doesn’t. It says Paul ticked off, annoyed. This is, and this is my sidebar.

This is just another way. God reminds us of the validity of the scriptural account. You know what’s been said? History is written by the victors. You know what that means? That when you’re, when you have two powers that are fighting against each other and one banquets the other, you know what you do. First of all, you write the history of it.

They’re not allowed to write the history. They’re not even allowed to keep their own history. You sponge the history. You write your own why? Cuz you want to be known how you want to be known, and you now have the power to do that. The scriptures do not present everybody in a pure light. Paul doesn’t look particularly good here.

CS Lewis, the professor of medieval history in classical literature, Oxford University of Days, gone by. Basically says this, he says, anybody that reads the New Testament and thinks it is, it is talking about legends has never read. Legends. Legends are, are these, these exaggerated picture? You never present your heroes in negative lights.

He says, the weirdness and awkwardness as the author talks about the star characters with such blatant floss would never have happened in legend. That was a sidebar. Okay, what did it do in her life?

The girl is freed she’s met, the power of the living Christ. We know that because the Python spirit doesn’t work anymore and her owners are gonna respond fairly directly in the next passage. Next week, God intervenes in the life. Of a powerful businesswoman, God intervenes in the life of a powerless young woman, young girl.

So what do we learn here? Let’s put some shoes to it. Number one, God uses the gospel, but only he can change your heart. Certainly he does use our sure in the gospel. He does use radio speakers. He, he uses all of things, but it is God that will change hearts. This is a reminder, every parent here that is crying out to God for their adult children to know Jesus.

This is a message to every young person that is, that is living alone. As some of you are and some of you young adults are the only believer in your family. Just longing to see those you have done life with the longest. Come to embrace Christ. It is ultimately not about you. You are not going to win anybody into the Kingdom of Christ.

God has to change the heart. My wife, Marian, has recently watched a video and she, she told me all about it and it, and she has been passing it on selectively as God prompts. And it’s the story of a young man who, who utterly leaves his, his Christian heritage and gets involved in a, a, a very non-Christian lifestyle as an adult.

And this mom becomes absolutely convinced it’s him actually telling the story. But he tells the story of his mother that, um, apparently she becomes convinced that her role, while never condoning his lifestyle, which he knows her calling, is to utterly embrace her son. Her, her calling is not to try to convince him or I, you know, she’s willing to talk, but only as he is requesting that she wants him to feel welcome.

She wants him to feel embraced and shortly before she dies, just unbelievable transformation takes place in his life. And he does give his life to grace and all. But his video is actually about him telling the story after his mom was gone, of going through her journals and her records and finding the page that she had, a crumpled page that she used as her, of all the specific things.

She was constantly crying out to Christ for her boy. And as you read the list, he realized God did every one of these things. And he said, my mother didn’t even tell me I did all this. She just prayed. She just cried out to God. She cried out to the one person in the universe that has the ability to change a heart.

God is the one that has to work, and our reminder is that it will be God that is going to make the changes. You may be separated from people you love. You can pray. You may not be allowed to speak into their li. You can pray. We can cry out to God to the one alone. I remember hearing one time a guy that was very active in evangelism, but he said, I learned a long time ago that it was infinitely more important for me to talk to God about people than to talk to people about.

I’m not giving a pass to not share the gospel, but he said, I just learned God. He’s the one. It’s God. It’s God. It’s got to move. Secondly, God seeks all types to be in his family. Two women in the midst of a Roman warriors community. I mean, it’s almost, it, it, it’s, it’s so creative a story. It’s just a visual that God reaches all kinds of people, liberals, conservatives, powerful people, outsiders, according to the world’s evaluation, winners or losers, doesn’t matter.

Wherever you are today and wherever you’d place yourself today, doesn’t matter. No matter what you’ve done, doesn’t matter. This God comes among us to say, I am coming to free you. I am coming to transform you. I came that you could be forgiven. That you could enter My father’s family and I came to, to, to find new family members, and he says to you this morning, wouldn’t you want to join this family of grace?

He comes for all kinds. Third, God is extraordinarily creative. He shows his beauty to the seller of beauty. He shows his power to the powerless. God makes himself known exactly where and how we need to know him. I shared that series a while back, which basically the, the series on awe of God replacing fear with awe, and in that series,

Uh, the thing that struck me in studying the scripture where God says, do not fear every time he presents something about himself and he says, you, you don’t have to be dominated by anything else. Just be awed by me. These are the seventh day. I’m just gonna throw them again just to remind us that God creatively shows different aspects of himself in different moments in our lives, and certainly in the lives of those that need to embrace Christ.

He shows that God is stronger than anything you might face, that God is sweeter than anything you might lose, that God is sovereign over any situation you might be in, that God is standing with you any place you might go, that God is surrounding you against any danger you might encounter, that God is sufficient for any insufficiency.

You might feel that God is safer. Than anyone or anything else you might turn to. What God does is God shows himself it’s what we need. We need to be ought. These women in their own ways, in the creative working of God needed to know God, to see that God, this, this young woman, God is more powerful than even the power of Python to talk to this woman that has seemingly at all, but he says God is sweeter than anything you might lose.

Maybe you will never get a husband, Lydia. Maybe your business won’t be what you think. God is sweeter than anything you could lose. I don’t know where you are today, but maybe God’s got a message very personally to you, and he’d just say, I’m better. I’m better than anything that’s that’s involved in your, I want you to know me.

God shows himself and God is extraordinarily creative. You don’t know how that person you’re pleading for is gonna come to Christ. My guess is it’s gonna happen in a way you never saw coming. You know why? And this is it. This is it. They’re going to the Christian concert with me. It’s gonna happen . And five minutes before, of course the call comes and say, Hey, our whole family’s got covid.

And you’re just like, God, it’s over the chance. The one shot we had, he’s creative. Fourth God employs his people in the process of changing lives. I mean, Paul and the boys walked 10 miles to vilify, and I’m guessing they weren’t expecting to find a handful of women that was gonna be their men. I mean, they’re coming to the Warriors town.

Yeah, let’s go to Philippi. It’s right on the main pathway. It is, I can’t remember the name of the road, but then actually a Roman Road that traveled across Europe and they’re gonna hit this prominent city of Philippi and they walked to their first ministry opportunity. You know, this is after Paul saying, we’re gonna go to offices over, you know, over there in Asia.

We’re gonna go to af, the Urban Center. God says, no. Okay, we’re gonna go up to Bethia. That’s on the Black Sea. You know, there’s a lot of people up there. Prominent people we’re gonna go, nah, I got something else. . And he comes over to Philippi. Oh my goodness, this is not why. What do he do? Paul goes charging and sits down and says, God, here I am.

Use me in Colossians, chapter four. Paul makes this interesting prayer. He says, I’m praying for you. In verse one, and then chapter two, he said in verse two of chapter four, he says this, at the same time, pray also for us that God may open to us a door for the world to the, for the word to declare the mystery of Christ.

Okay, so we think, okay, Paul’s saying, I’m, I’m about to enter on a new enterprise for the gospel. Maybe he’s anticipating, I’m going to Rome now. May, this is gonna be it. You know, my dream is fulfilled. Pray that God will open the door for me. Let me read it to you again and I’ll add the next phrase. At the same time, pray also for us that God may open to us a door for the word to declare the mystery of Christ, UNAC account of which I am in prison.

Say, Paul, what are you talking about? Open a door. You’re in a cell. Paul says, yeah, but this is where God has me. I don’t know where you are. But I know that God says, I wanna work through you here. I wanna have you just be saying, Lord, I want to have a door of utterance. I don’t have to figure it out. I don’t have to strategize.

I don’t have to memorize the book of Romans. So I’m ready to recite. Its, I just need to say God, have my heart be pliable and ready, that I might be available for the opportunities that come. God employs his people in the process of changing lives. And my last one, very simply as this, never give up. If you have a God like this, if you of a God that is creative, that shows power for the powerless that shows his beauty to, to those that adore beauty.

If he is this creative and he is this majestic, keep praying, keep leaning into him, keep going to work and say, I never get a chance to share Jesus. Maybe tomorrow. Keeping your heart open, sensitive to the Lord, because these two women’s stories remind us of what the, the, the book of the book of Acts is always trying to tell us.

The one commonality in every one of these stories is this. He wants to awes with our God. He wants to stu us with our Christ. Your Christ. Lord, we come to you this morning,

grateful to hear a little of these women’s stories. It’s interesting to know them.

It’s glorious to be reminded of the one who became their God. Lord, we want to know you more. We want to live with you more fully. We want to be like Lydia to be all in. Lord, I pray this morning for those individuals in this room or watching online right now that have never embraced this Christ as th Savior Lord.

Even now, I ask that the Spirit would be at work in speaking into their lives, that Jesus came to invite us to an eternal family. That he came for people like us, broken, sinful, self-absorbed people.

So Lord, I pray this morning, you would simply show them yourself. As we close this earth, every head bow, every eye closed. I just feel prompted to do this. Maybe you’re here and you say, pastor Mark, I feel like God is speaking to me. If you feel it way he is. Just say, pastor Mark, just with God looking and you looking right now, I, I really feel God is calling me to embrace Christ as my Savior.

Would you pray for me, pastor Mark, that I might receive Christ, that I might, that I might pass over and get on the other side of the glass and embrace Jesus Christ is Savior. If you’re like that here and nobody’s looking around but me and God just slip over your hand and say, mark, would you pray for me this morning?

Just slip your hand up and take it down. Thank you. There are others today.

Lord, we come to you today.

We love the reminder that you’re the pursuing God, that you’re the one that changes hearts. Lord, I pray and I bring now in this moment as we close, the vast hope, the vast host of people that are represented by people here today, for whom our hearts are crying out, would come to Christ. Lord in your bigness, we plead with you, for to draw them, for those that have raised their hand, for those that are sensing the calling of the Spirit, Lord, bring their hearts toward Christ today, I pray, in Jesus’ name.

Amen. Amen. Now go in peace to love and serve and enjoy the Lord. Thank.