Today's Bible Study Lesson
“Lydia: Called to Serve”
Aim: Consider how Lydia used her gifts and her place in society to support Paul’s ministry, Repent of the times we have looked down on others who have not had the same opportunities or advantages, and Serve others joyfully through whatever means are at our disposal.
Background: Acts 16:11-15, 40; 1 Corinthians 1:26-30
Bible Lesson: Acts 16:11-15, 40; 1 Corinthians 1:26-30
“And when she and her household were baptized, she begged [us], saying, "If you have judged me to be faithful to the Lord, come to my house and stay." So she persuaded us.” Acts 16:15 NKJV
- Acts 16, records a portion of Paul’s Second Missionary Journey, as he and Silas arrive in the city of Derbe and travel on to Lystra where they meet young Timothy. His mother was a Jewess and his father was a Greek. Timothy’s reputation was such that Paul wanted him to accompany them on their missionary journey. The journey was guided by the Holy Spirit who directed Paul in a vision to travel to Macedonia to preach the Gospel. Our Bible Study opens with Paul, Silas, and Timothy obediently traveling by sea to Macedonia.
- The missionary trio sailed from Troas for Samothrace (an island in the northeastern Aegean Sea) then to Neapolis (seaport of Philippi) which was ten miles from the city of Philippi. Philippi was a Roman colony and a leading city of the District of Macedonia.
- On the Sabbath, the Jewish day set aside for rest and worship, Paul and company sought a synagogue to worship; however, one did not exist in Philippi. To have a synagogue, there was a requirement that a community have ten Jewish men heading up their households and the Jewish population of Philippi was too small to have a synagogue. However, Paul and his companions joined a group of women meeting outside the city gate near the river and they shared the Gospel. One of the women in the group was Lydia, who was a business woman who merchandised purple cloth and who was a native of Thyatira.
- Thyatira was noted for the purple trade because it possessed the nature resources required for the dye to produce purple cloth which was used for royal and expensive garments. This may hint that Lydia might have been a women of means. More importantly in our lesson, Lydia’s heart was open to the Gospel message and she became the first convert in the region and was baptized. No doubt she had brought her family and others of her household to the riverside Sabbath service and after listening to Gospel, they too were converted and were baptized.
- Lydia was eager to learn more and she extended persuasive invitation to Paul and his companions to stay at her house so she and her household and perhaps others could hear more. They reluctantly accepted her invitation and stayed in Lydia’s home.
- As Paul continued to share the Gospel in the region, he miraculously freed a young slave girl of a spirit that was very profitable to her owner by fortune telling. Naturally, this infuriated the slave girl’s owner and he had Paul and Silas arrested, beaten and placed in prison. Oh, but at midnight while Paul and Silas were singing and praying, a violent earthquake shook the foundation of the prison, the doors flew open, and their chains were loosed. With this event and the absence of a single prisoner escaping, the jailer was converted upon hearing the Gospel from Paul and Silas. The magistrates who were responsible for having Paul and Silas beaten and imprisoned became aware of their Roman Citizenship, which meant that they had treated them unlawfully, immediately released them. Paul and Silas returned to Lydia’s home for a brief period before departing.
- The next section of Today’s Bible Study features a portion of Paul’s letter to the church at Corinth. He addresses the issue of some of the more affluent church members thinking of themselves more highly than they ought because of their life status, possessions, and other factors recognized by the world as important.
- Paul reminds them that being rich and powerful was not a pre-requisite for being a prominent part of God’s plan. King David was Jesse’s youngest son, a mere shepherd boy. Rahab, who was a harlot, is in the lineage of Jesus. Jesus was placed in the womb of a young virgin girl who was engaged to a common man. Jesus was born in a stable and placed in a manger and his care was entrusted to a common couple. Shepherds from the fields were chosen to spread the word of Jesus’ birth. Jesus’ disciples were fishermen and common folks. The list could go on and on demonstrating that God uses ordinary people and things to accomplish the extraordinary.
- Paul further stated that the world’s wisdom is foolishness in comparison with God’s. Through Jesus Christ comes wisdom, righteousness, sanctification, and redemption. None of these are brought about by mankind’s efforts.
- Like Lydia, we are to be willing to share our time, talent and resources in the spread of the Gospel and in the building up of the Saints.
- Like Lydia, we should hunger and thirst after righteousness and continually seek to learn more and more about Jesus and Righteousness!
- We must not be like some those in the church in Corinth and believe that our status, education, possessions or any other God given opportunities or gifts makes us better than others with fewer opportunities. We are all sinners saved by God’s Grace, humbly working out our soul’s salvation daily.
Bible Verses to Keep in Mind:
“Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all, especially to those who are of the household of faith.” Galatians 6:10 NKJV
“But now the righteousness of God apart from the law is revealed, being witnessed by the Law and the Prophets, even the righteousness of God, through faith in Jesus Christ, to all and on all who believe. For there is no difference; for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus,” Romans 3:21 - 24 NKJV
“Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.” James 1:17 KJV
“For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: [it is] the gift of God:
Not of works, lest any man should boast.” Ephesians 2:8 - 9 KJV