An Open Heart

Photo: Amy Konieczka, (
Photo: Amy Konieczka, (

Filling her basket with an assortment of elegantly dyed purple fabrics, Lydia realized she needed to hurry up in order to promptly arrive at the riverbank. Regularly, on the Sabbath, she met with several other women for a time of prayer at this special spot outside the city gate. Today, however, she viewed her basket and thought that perhaps she shouldn’t be mixing her business pursuit with what she considered her appointment with God. She earnestly was seeking God and who knows what could happen today.

“On the Sabbath we [the apostle Paul and his companions] went outside the city gate to the river, where we expected to find a place of prayer. We sat down and began to speak to the women who had gathered there. One of those listening was a woman named Lydia, a dealer in purple cloth from the city of Thyatira, who was a worshiper of God. The Lord opened her heart to respond to Paul’s message. When she and the members of her household were baptized, she invited us to her home. ‘If you consider me a believer in the Lord,’ she said, ‘come and stay at my house.’ And she persuaded us.” (Acts 16:13-15, NIV)

“After Paul and Silas came out of the prison, they went to Lydia’s house, where they met with the brothers and encouraged them. Then they left.” (Acts 16:40, NIV)

Scripture tells us Lydia was devout and went routinely to the riverside. In cities where there were less than ten married Jewish men, the minimum number to form a synagogue, people would gather outdoors near a river to worship. Historians believe Lydia was either a righteous Gentile or a “God-fearer” attracted to Judaism. What stands out, though, is

She was a woman of prayer who sought God.

God had prepared her heart for this encounter with the apostle Paul and his companions. This work of God in opening her heart and her positive response to the gospel message marks Lydia as the first documented convert to Christianity in Europe.

Biblical names are significant and we know Lydia was from the city of Thyatira. Well known as a center for the purple dying of fabrics, Thyatira was a city in the province or region of Lydia. Therefore, her name is probably from her place of birth—the Greek region of Lydia. Lydia was most likely a Greek living in the Roman colony of Philippi when she met Paul.

As a seller of purple cloth, which was expensive and highly prized, Lydia was a prosperous businesswoman and merchant. She was a woman of means.

Lydia was also possibly a widow, as she did not need a man’s permission or consent to invite Paul and his traveling companions back to her home. Scripture indicates she owned her home, therefore being in good circumstances. Being a prosperous businesswoman, Lydia had servants, and possibly some family members, as Paul and his companions baptized her and the other members of her household. This act of faith by her servants and family members shows she influenced and controlled the household.

Lydia demonstrates hospitality by hosting Paul and the others in her home. Prevailing upon them to stay with her reveals her determination and fervency. Her home became a place of Christian fellowship, and Paul and Silas knew it was a safe place to go to after their release from prison for proselytizing. Scripture says they met with other believers there before leaving Philippi.

Women of faith, such as Lydia, who went before us can teach us through their lives and examples. Are we setting aside our business pursuits and other interests to meet with God regularly? Are our hearts open to what the Lord has for us? How are we allowing God to use our resources and talents? Our homes? Do you find yourself widowed or single-again? If so, your life is not over and in fact, the best just might be ahead of you. Won’t you join me down by the river?

Father God, Thank you for the example of Lydia in your scriptures. Please prepare and open my heart to you and all you have for me. Allow me to use my talents and resources as a positive influence for others. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Bible Truths:

Ephesians 1:18-19a(NIV): “I pray also that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, and his incomparably great power for us who believe.”

Revelation 2:18-19 (NIV): “To the angel of the church in Thyatira write: These are the words of the Son of God, whose eyes are like blazing fire and whose feet are like burnished bronze. I know your deeds, your love and faith, your service and perseverance, and that you are now doing more than you did at first.”

© 2016 All rights reserved.

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If Only

Earlier in my adult life it seemed the “if onlys” filled many of my days:If I Only Had a

If only my husband traveled less.

If only I had a bigger house.

If only there was more money left over after paying the bills.

If only I was physically stronger.

My thinking was if all those things were in order, then I could effectively serve God.


Are you allowing your circumstances to stifle how God wants you to serve?

If we wait until everything lines up and is in order, we’ll never get anything done. God places us where He wants us, and it’s up to us to take advantage of available opportunities. Granted, there will always be conditions or surroundings we’d like to alter, but I’m heartened with what the Apostle Paul shares with the early church at Philippi: “I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.” (Philippians 4:11b-12, NIV)

Satan delights in hindering us through our circumstances. It was difficult back in the years when my husband traveled extensively for business. After many episodes of frustration, we learned to keep a detailed calendar and arrange opportunities to serve, along with setting aside precious family time, to fit in our schedule. It didn’t always work out how we would prefer on all occasions, but God was faithful to provide.

Maybe your house is small and you’re uncomfortable hosting a Bible study, small group meeting, or having the pastor over for dinner. We recently downsized our home, and yes, I do have to gather extra chairs around our family room when people come over, but it works. Through this I’ve learned people have a higher comfort level when everything isn’t perfect. Be encouraged to go ahead and take those important steps of hospitality even if the house isn’t just right.

Money woes and physical issues, along with all the other “if onlys,” take away from and delay us in living fully as God intended. Am I grateful for where God has placed me, including all the circumstances of my life, and for the unique works He has created just for me? Colossians 2:7 (NIV) exhorts me to be, “rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness.”

I know God has situated me exactly where He wants me. I must secure a strong foundation by strengthening my faith and abounding with gratitude. I’m able to firmly root myself by accepting the works He has prepared for me to do no matter what I think my situation is or what I want it to look like.

Father God, Please enable me to remove my attitude of “if only” and replace it with an attitude of “what’s possible.” Thank you for placing me exactly where you want me with my unique set of circumstances. May my life bring you glory. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Bible Truths:

1 Corinthians 7:17 (ISV): “Nevertheless, everyone should live the life that the Lord gave him and to which God called him. This is my rule in all the churches.”

1 Thessalonians 5:18 (NIV): “Give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”

© 2016 All rights reserved.

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It Comes with a Cost

Imagine owning a big home, a substantial place, where friends and fellow believers are comfortable gathering.It Comes with a Cost In this home meals are plentiful and the conversation is enlightening. Wintertime would ensure a fire burning in the fireplace, and in the summertime the air conditioning and ceiling fans provide the comfort everyone desires. Visitors know it as a safe haven where those in trouble receive acceptance, prayer occurs, and care is given.

Such was Mary’s home. It’s only two verses of scripture, and what we know of her we glean from that single passage. Acts 12:12-13 introduces us to Mary, John Mark’s mom, one of the Mary’s we encounter in the New Testament:

“When this had dawned on him, he [Peter] went to the house of Mary the mother of John, also called Mark, where many people had gathered and were praying. Peter knocked at the outer entrance, and a servant girl named Rhoda came to answer the door.” (NIV)

Let’s quickly set the scene. Herod had arrested some believers in the early church. With the goal of persecuting them, he executed James and placed Peter in prison. An angel of the Lord appeared to the Apostle Peter while he was in prison and miraculously released him. After realizing he was now free, Peter immediately knew where to go. He knew he could go to Mary’s home. She was an ally.

It appears Mary had a large home since many people were present. Scripture mentions it was her house, so scholars assume she was a widow. This spacious home was a well-known center of early Christian life and worship, and legend holds it as the location of the Upper Room. Since Peter knocked at the outer entrance, it seems there was a meeting place within the walls of her home with a large enough room or rooms for people to gather. Obviously, she was affluent, and she had at least one servant, Rhoda.

Many of us aspire being like Mary, and believe if only we had a big house and more financial freedom, we could also effectively serve God. But with these privileges and Mary’s willingness to serve, there was a cost attached which we don’t often see or consider. Her obedience, service, and hospitality involved great personal risk on her part, as the early church was encountering their first wave of persecution at this time. I see a woman who was brave; a woman who risked all she had for the early church. Later, she would have to release her son, John Mark, for him to travel with Paul on his first missionary journey (see Acts 12:25). She was a woman who was willing to let go; a woman who knew it all comes with a cost.

You may envision your  “dream” house as large and comfortably furnished. However,

Great responsibility, and often sacrifice, come with God’s provision and gifts.

Usually there is more than what we see on the surface, and we need to embrace the whole package.

Father God, So often I assume if only I had the financial means and the bigger home, I too, could serve you more effectively. What I’m realizing, though, is often there’s more than what I see on the surface. For with these gifts, come great responsibility and often sacrifice. Please enable me to open my home and practice hospitality right where you’ve placed me. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Bible Truths:

Luke 12:48 (NLT): “When someone has been given much, much will be required in return; and when someone has been entrusted with much, even more will be required.”

Romans 12:13 (NIV): “Share with God’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality.”

1 Peter 4:9 (NLT): “Cheerfully share your home with those who need a meal or a place to stay.”

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