Lydia-An Influential Businesswoman

In my last post I shared another instance where God’s servants were imprisoned for teaching God’s truths, and God sent an angel to miraculously free them. Once again, the ‘brethren’ had been together in one accord, praying fervently for Paul and Silas. This time, they were together in the home of a woman named Lydia.

Acts 16:40 “And they went out of the prison, and entered into the house of Lydia: and when they had seen the brethren, they comforted them, and departed.”

Lydia came from Thyatira, a city in the western province of Lydia in Asia Minor. Her name originally might have been the designation of her home, “a woman of Lydia.” At the time Lydia met Paul, she lived at Philippi, a leading city of Macedonia on the European continent.  As a wealthy and influential businesswoman, Lydia sold articles dyed purple, a prized color made from certain mollusks–a respectable and lucrative trade. She had a spacious home that could accommodate many guests and servants to meet their needs. This had to be a rare achievement in her day. I would say that she was indeed a hard-working, bold, and intelligent woman to have achieved the success that she enjoyed. She also was a true child of God who understood that everything she had was a blessing from the Lord, to be used for His glory.

One Sabbath day, Lydia went to the river’s shore that had been designated by the Roman authorities of Philippi as a place of prayer and worship for the Jews. There she met Paul and Silas, who had been in Philippi only a short time. While others along the river may have rejected Paul’s words about Jesus, Lydia accepted them and became a Believer. Once she believed, she made a confession of her faith to her whole world through baptism and then, she assembled her entire household, told them what had happened to her, and she asked them to believe. After her entire household accepted Christ as Saviour and were baptized, Lydia invited Paul and Silas to stay in her home. When Paul and Silas were thrown into a Philippian prison, Lydia visited them and attended to their needs. Her house became the meeting place of the first European church.

Lydia was quick to understand that what had been hers before her conversion–home, business, and possessions–now belonged to the Lord. She had a new partner, the Lord Jesus; a new purpose, to serve Him; and a new satisfaction in seeking to be effective and successful in order to glorify the Lord. Her career aspirations did not hinder her sharing the gospel with family and friends. She was not too busy to take time for hospitality – Acts 16:15 “And when she was baptized, and her household, she besought us, saying, If ye have judged me to be faithful to the Lord, come into my house, and abide there. And she constrained us.”

Lydia’s name appears in Scripture only twice. She was seemingly the first Gentile convert in Europe, the first Christian businesswoman, and the first Believer to open her home as a worship center for European Christians. Not only to Paul and the early church, but also to the generations to come, Lydia proved the importance and influence of a woman of determination, foresight, and generosity.

What a wonderful, Godly example! Oh, how we could use more like Lydia in our world today!

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Posted by on October 2, 2015 in Godly Women


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Our God can Bring Glory out of Any Situation

“Sirs, what must I do to be saved?”

A Certain Damsel Possessed with a Demon – Acts, Chapter 16:16-34 – “16 And it came to pass, as we went to prayer, a certain damsel possessed with a spirit of divination met us, which brought her masters much gain by soothsaying: The same followed Paul and us, and cried, saying, These men are the servants of the most high God, which shew unto us the way of salvation. (Even the demons know who God is! Here He is being mocked by one.) And this did she many days. But Paul, being grieved, turned and said to the spirit, I command thee in the name of Jesus Christ to come out of her. And he came out the same hour. And when her masters saw that the hope of their gains was gone, they caught Paul and Silas, and drew them into the marketplace unto the rulers, And brought them to the magistrates, saying, These men, being Jews, do exceedingly trouble our city, And teach customs, which are not lawful for us to receive, neither to observe, being Romans. And the multitude rose up together against them: and the magistrates rent off their clothes, and commanded to beat them. And when they had laid many stripes upon them, they cast them into prison, charging the jailor to keep them safely: Who, having received such a charge, thrust them into the inner prison, and made their feet fast in the stocks. And at midnight Paul and Silas prayed, and sang praises unto God: and the prisoners heard them. And suddenly there was a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison were shaken: and immediately all the doors were opened, and every one’s bands were loosed. And the keeper of the prison awaking out of his sleep, and seeing the prison doors open, he drew out his sword, and would have killed himself, supposing that the prisoners had been fled. But Paul cried with a loud voice, saying, Do thyself no harm: for we are all here. Then he called for a light, and sprang in, and came trembling, and fell down before Paul and Silas, And brought them out, and said, Sirs, what must I do to be saved? And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house. And they spake unto him the word of the Lord, and to all that were in his house. And he took them the same hour of the night, and washed their stripes; and was baptized, he and all his, straightway. And when he had brought them into his house, he set meat before them, and rejoiced, believing in God with all his house.”

Divination was widely practiced in the ancient Middle East. This attempt to contact supernatural powers sought unknown answers that usually foretold the future. The Old Testament strongly condemns such practices: Leviticus 19:26 “Ye shall not eat any thing with the blood: neither shall ye use enchantment, nor observe times.” And Jeremiah 27:9 “Therefore hearken not ye to your prophets, nor to your diviners, nor to your dreamers, nor to your enchanters, nor to your sorcerers, which speak unto you, saying, Ye shall not serve the king of Babylon:” (Having anything to do with evil spirits in any way, opens the door for them to come in and ruin our lives! They work for satan!)

Paul and Silas had come to preach in Philippi where they met a fortune-teller. We know her only as a “certain damsel possessed with a spirit of divination.” Luke recognized her phenomena as being identical to those of the priestesses of Delphi. In other words, she was not seen as merely a lunatic or skillful ventriloquist, but she was indeed possessed of a demonic spirit, giving her extraordinary powers to predict the future, which was strictly forbidden – Leviticus 19:31 “Regard not them that have familiar spirits, neither seek after wizards, to be defiled by them: I am the LORD your God.” Her masters used and abused her, receiving much money from her fortune-telling, especially by making her answer those with problems and difficulties who were more vulnerable to such deception.

The girl followed Paul and Silas for days, crying out loudly and hindering their ministry. Annoyed, Paul exorcised the problem-causing demonic spirit from the girl’s body. Deprived of their potential gain, her masters dragged Paul and Silas into the marketplace and had them beaten and imprisoned.

***In prison, however, Paul and Silas witnessed the power of the Living Christ! Not only were they miraculously delivered, but the keeper of the prison and his entire family were saved and baptized. Acts mentions no more about the fortune-telling slave girl. However, her testimony stands forever to prove that God can bring glory even out of the most harsh and unfair situations!***

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Posted by on September 29, 2015 in God's Love


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Do You Know Him Today!?

Please Don’t Turn Him Away!

Recognize your condition – “For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God.” Romans 3:23 No one is good enough to go to Heaven on his own merit. No matter how much good we do, we still fall short.

Realize that there is a penalty for sin – “For the wages of sin is death…” Romans 6:23 Just as there are wages for good, there is punishment for wrong. The penalty for our sin is eternal death in a place called Hell.

Believe that Christ died for you – “But God commendeth His love for us in that while we were yet sinners Christ died for us.” Romans 5:8 Christ’s great love for us was shown when He died on the cross to pay our debt to sin.

Trust Christ alone as your Saviour. “For the wages of sin is death; BUT THE GIFT OF GOD IS ETERNAL LIFE THROUGH JESUS CHRIST OUR LORD.” Romans 6:23; and “For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.” Romans 10:13 Everlasting life is a gift purchased by the blood of Jesus and offered freely to those who call upon Him by faith.

“That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.” Romans 10:9-10

If you do not remember a time in your life when you asked Jesus to be your Saviour and Lord, please do so now and let me know so I can pray for you.

Pray now and confess that you are a sinner, and ask God to save you, and believe that you will receive Christ as your Saviour!

picture jesus greg olson

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Posted by on September 23, 2015 in God's Love


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“Rhoda, Fragrant Rose”

Acts 12:13-16

13 And as Peter knocked at the door of the gate, a damsel came to hearken, named Rhoda.
14 And when she knew Peter’s voice, she opened not the gate for gladness, but ran in, and told how Peter stood before the gate.
15 And they said unto her, Thou art mad. But she constantly affirmed that it was even so. Then said they, It is his angel.
16 But Peter continued knocking: and when they had opened the door, and saw him, they were astonished.

So, God sent His angel to free Peter from prison, and I must say I am always awestruck when I read the part that Peter slept soundly while in chains between two soldiers. What strong faith he must have had. As I read that the angel of the Lord “…smote Peter on the side, and raised him up…” I can’t help but think, “How could he be sleeping through this so soundly that the angel had to smack him on the side and say wake up, let’s go.” I am not sure if I could have such strong faith in such dire circumstances, but I digress. ;-)

We see in the above Scripture that Peter went straight to the house of Mary and knocked on the door and the damsel Rhoda (whose name means rose) came to answer his knock. I can so relate to Rhoda. In her great excitement that Peter was outside the house, she forgot to open and let him in. I can see myself doing the exact same thing, “Oh, Peter, it’s you!” Shut the door and run to tell everyone, “Our prayers are answered. Praise God! Peter is at the door!” I, too, would be so elated that God had so quickly answered our prayers and that Peter was safe, I must run and tell everyone! I like to imagine God smiling down and chuckling at Rhoda’s reaction. Well, they thought she had lost her mind, and they even said maybe what she saw was his angel – it was a common Jewish belief that every Israelite was given a special guardian angel who looked like him. There they were praying constantly, crying out to God, all in one accord, for God to intervene. Yet when they were told that He had answered their prayers, they did not believe? Ahh, our humanity… Peter continued to knock and they finally opened the door and were astonished, at first. I am sure as they welcomed him in and listened to him recount how God delivered him from the jail, they praised and thanked our great YAHWEH.

Rhoda lived about 43 A.D. during the first Christian persecution of Herod Agrippa, the grandson of the infamous Herod the Great (Matthew 2). She was the maid of John Mark’s mother Mary, in whose home the small congregation in Jerusalem often gathered to pray. On this night, they had prayed long past midnight for the release of Peter from prison. Since James, the brother of John, had already been put to death, the young church feared the same fate for Peter. While they were passionately praying, Rhoda heard a knock at the gate and ran to the door. She immediately recognized Peter’s voice when he spoke to her. But, as we see above, in her excitement, she forgot to open the door. She left Peter standing outside the closed gate. She ran, bolting into the room and interrupted those praying, and with great excitement she announced that Peter was standing at the door. Rhoda never doubted whose voice she had heard. She was terribly excited but not surprised that God had heard their pleas. Unlike the others, who had to open the door and see Peter with their own eyes, Rhoda had faith great enough to know that God would answer their prayers, even in the most unexpected way. The mundane tasks assigned to her as a household servant did not keep her from experiencing the joys of being a part of kingdom business through her genuine, believing faith.

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Posted by on September 18, 2015 in God's Love


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The House of Mary


The church was growing and Barnabas was sent to Antioch to check on them, and “when he came, and had seen the grace of God, was glad, and exhorted them all, that with purpose of heart they would cleave unto the Lord.” (Acts 11:23) He then went on to Tarsus, seeking Saul. “And when he had found him, he brought him unto Antioch. And it came to pass, that a whole year they assembled themselves with the church, and taught much people. And the disciples were called Christians first in Antioch.” (Acts 11:26) The name Christians started out as a nickname, but became a means of identifying those who lived and behaved like Christ. What a great example the early church sets for us through all time. Would that today’s churches would actually behave Christ-like as did the early church.

As usual, with growth comes persecution and in Acts 12 Herod “stretched forth his hands to vex certain of the church. And he killed James the brother of John with the sword. And because he saw it pleased the Jews, he proceeded further to take Peter also. (Then were the days of unleavened bread.) And when he had apprehended him, he put him in prison, and delivered him to four quaternions of soldiers to keep him; intending after Easter to bring him forth to the people…but prayer was made without ceasing of the church unto God for him. And when Herod would have brought him forth, the same night Peter was sleeping between two soldiers, bound with two chains: and the keepers before the door kept the prison. And behold, the angel of the Lord came upon him, and a light shined in the prison: and he smote Peter on the side, and raised him up, saying, Arise up quickly. And his chains fell off from his hands. And the angel said unto him, Gird thyself, and bind on thy sandals. And so he did. And he saith unto him, Cast thy garment about thee, and follow me. And he went out, and followed him; and wist not that it was true which was done by the angel; but thought he saw a vision. When they were past the first and the second ward, they came unto the iron gate that leadeth unto the city; which opened to them of his own accord: and they went out, and passed on through one street; and forthwith the angel departed from him. And when Peter was come to himself, he said, Now I know of a surety, that the Lord hath sent his angel, and hath delivered me out of the hand of Herod, and from all the expectation of the people of the Jews. And when he had considered the thing, he came to the house of Mary the mother of John, whose surname was Mark; where many were gathered together praying.” (Acts 12: 1-12)

So we see most clearly that the early Christian church was a praying church. Now we will take a look at the woman Mary, the mother of John Mark, who graciously opened up her home to Jesus’ disciples and early church.

Scripture mentions Mary only one time. During the persecution of Herod Agrippa, this brave woman offered her house to the first group of Christians at Jerusalem as a place to worship God and to pray. Mary was a woman of means, with servants and a house large enough to accommodate the entire Jerusalem congregation. Since Scripture records no husband, Mary was probably a widow.

Times proved difficult for Christ’s followers during those early turbulent years. Herod Agrippa had imprisoned Peter after killing James, the brother of John, with the sword. Yet, in spite of the risks involved, Mary courageously opened her home regularly to Christians.

After an angel miraculously escorted Peter from prison, he went immediately to Mary’s house, a familiar place of hospitality for the disciples. There he found the entire congregation praying for his release.

With the fearless example of a mother like Mary, it really is no wonder that John Mark became a missionary, church leader, and the author of the second Gospel.

II Chronicles 7:14 “If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways;

then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.”

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Posted by on September 14, 2015 in God's Love


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God is not a Respecter of Persons

Acts Chapter 10 tells us the story of the first Gentile convert to Christianity, the centurion Cornelius, and his vision from an angel of God. It was 60 + years after Christ’s death and resurrection, and Christ had confronted Saul on the Damascus road. Cornelius was a “devout” man who feared God and prayed to Him “alway.” He just did not know of his need for Salvation through Christ. Peter also received a vision, as he went to pray on the rooftop. Both men received messages from God and both men obeyed immediately. This led to Peter’s Gospel Presentation to Cornelius and his house and many others with them. See it below in Acts 10:34-48.

Acts 10:1-8

1 There was a certain man in Caesarea called Cornelius, a centurion of the band called the Italian band,
2 A devout man, and one that feared God with all his house, which gave much alms to the people, and prayed to God alway.
3 He saw in a vision evidently about the ninth hour of the day an angel of God coming in to him, and saying unto him, Cornelius.
4 And when he looked on him, he was afraid, and said, What is it, Lord? And he said unto him, Thy prayers and thine alms are come up for a memorial before God.
5 And now send men to Joppa, and call for one Simon, whose surname is Peter:
6 He lodgeth with one Simon a tanner, whose house is by the sea side: he shall tell thee what thou oughtest to do.
7 And when the angel which spake unto Cornelius was departed, he called two of his household servants, and a devout soldier of them that waited on him continually;
8 And when he had declared all these things unto them, he sent them to Joppa.

Acts 10:9-33

9 On the morrow, as they went on their journey, and drew nigh unto the city, Peter went up upon the housetop to pray about the sixth hour:
10 And he became very hungry, and would have eaten: but while they made ready, he fell into a trance,
11 And saw heaven opened, and a certain vessel descending upon him, as it had been a great sheet knit at the four corners, and let down to the earth:
12 Wherein were all manner of fourfooted beasts of the earth, and wild beasts, and creeping things, and fowls of the air.
13 And there came a voice to him, Rise, Peter; kill, and eat.
14 But Peter said, Not so, Lord; for I have never eaten any thing that is common or unclean.
15 And the voice spake unto him again the second time, What God hath cleansed, that call not thou common.
16 This was done thrice: and the vessel was received up again into heaven.
17 Now while Peter doubted in himself what this vision which he had seen should mean, behold, the men which were sent from Cornelius had made enquiry for Simon’s house, and stood before the gate,
18 And called, and asked whether Simon, which was surnamed Peter, were lodged there.
19 While Peter thought on the vision, the Spirit said unto him, Behold, three men seek thee.
20 Arise therefore, and get thee down, and go with them, doubting nothing: for I have sent them.
21 Then Peter went down to the men which were sent unto him from Cornelius; and said, Behold, I am he whom ye seek: what is the cause wherefore ye are come?
22 And they said, Cornelius the centurion, a just man, and one that feareth God, and of good report among all the nation of the Jews, was warned from God by an holy angel to send for thee into his house, and to hear words of thee.
23 Then called he them in, and lodged them. And on the morrow Peter went away with them, and certain brethren from Joppa accompanied him.
24 And the morrow after they entered into Caesarea. And Cornelius waited for them, and he had called together his kinsmen and near friends.
25 And as Peter was coming in, Cornelius met him, and fell down at his feet, and worshipped him.
26 But Peter took him up, saying, Stand up; I myself also am a man.
27 And as he talked with him, he went in, and found many that were come together.
28 And he said unto them, Ye know how that it is an unlawful thing for a man that is a Jew to keep company, or come unto one of another nation; but God hath shewed me that I should not call any man common or unclean.
29 Therefore came I unto you without gainsaying, as soon as I was sent for: I ask therefore for what intent ye have sent for me?
30 And Cornelius said, Four days ago I was fasting until this hour; and at the ninth hour I prayed in my house, and, behold, a man stood before me in bright clothing,
31 And said, Cornelius, thy prayer is heard, and thine alms are had in remembrance in the sight of God.
32 Send therefore to Joppa, and call hither Simon, whose surname is Peter; he is lodged in the house of one Simon a tanner by the sea side: who, when he cometh, shall speak unto thee.
33 Immediately therefore I sent to thee; and thou hast well done that thou art come. Now therefore are we all here present before God, to hear all things that are commanded thee of God.

Acts 10:34-48

34 Then Peter opened his mouth, and said, Of a truth I perceive that God is no respecter of persons:
35 But in every nation he that feareth him, and worketh righteousness, is accepted with him.
36 The word which God sent unto the children of Israel, preaching peace by Jesus Christ: (he is Lord of all:)
37 That word, I say, ye know, which was published throughout all Judaea, and began from Galilee, after the baptism which John preached;
38 How God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Ghost and with power: who went about doing good, and healing all that were oppressed of the devil; for God was with him.
39 And we are witnesses of all things which he did both in the land of the Jews, and in Jerusalem; whom they slew and hanged on a tree:
40 Him God raised up the third day, and shewed him openly;
41 Not to all the people, but unto witnesses chosen before God, even to us, who did eat and drink with him after he rose from the dead.
42 And he commanded us to preach unto the people, and to testify that it is he which was ordained of God to be the Judge of quick and dead.
43 To him give all the prophets witness, that through his name whosoever believeth in him shall receive remission of sins.
44 While Peter yet spake these words, the Holy Ghost fell on all them which heard the word.
45 And they of the circumcision which believed were astonished, as many as came with Peter, because that on the Gentiles also was poured out the gift of the Holy Ghost.
46 For they heard them speak with tongues, and magnify God. Then answered Peter,
47 Can any man forbid water, that these should not be baptized, which have received the Holy Ghost as well as we?
48 And he commanded them to be baptized in the name of the Lord. Then prayed they him to tarry certain days.

I thank my Heavenly Father that Salvation through the blood of Jesus Christ is available to ALL mankind, not just to the Jews.

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Posted by on August 26, 2015 in God's Love


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“I Will Shew Him My Salvation”

Psalm 91:14-16 “Because he hath set his love upon me, therefore will I deliver him: I will set him on high, because he hath known my name. He shall call upon me, and I will answer him: I will be with him in trouble; I will deliver him, and honour him. With long life will I satisfy him, and shew him my salvation.” (Part VII of D.L. Moody’s Sermon “The Ninety-First Psalm”)

VII. “I Will Shew Him My Salvation” That is a sweet promise! God can say to the angels – “Hark to that man that was once down in the depths, down in the gutter, but now he is lifted up and set upon My throne with My Son.” Thank God for the riches of His grace in CHRIST Jesus!

I believe we do not learn the fringe of the subject of Salvation down here. When our Master was on earth, He said He had many more things to say, but He could not reveal them to His disciples because they were not ready to receive them. But when we go yonder, where these mortal bodies have put on immortality, when our spiritual faculties are loosed from the thraldom (the state of being under control of another person; bondage; slavery) of the flesh, I believe we shall be able to take more in. God will lead us from glory to glory, and show us the fullness of our Salvation. Don’t you think Moses knew more at the Mount of Transfiguration than he did at Pisgah? Did not Christ talk with him then about the death He was to accomplish at Jerusalem? Moses could not have received that truth before, any more than the disciples could, but when he had received his glorified body, Christ could show him everything. (End of The Ninety-First Psalm Sermon)

(It is beyond human comprehension to understand all that is involved in the Sanctification process to our Heavenly, Glorified state. No matter how hard I try, my mind cannot totally grasp everything that happens when we go from mortality to immortality. It makes my brain hurt to try, so I have come to the conclusion that it really does not matter to me. It is enough, for now, to just know that it will happen. On the other hand, I sometimes wish with all of my heart that I could understand things that God allows while we walk through this state of mortality like, Why do the righteous, who are doing all they can to live Godly lives, end up being the ones who are so persecuted and hurt by evil ones who are of this world, and it appears that it is the evil ones who prosper and seem to get away with their sin? It breaks my heart. I know that in the end those who remain evil will face the consequences of their evilness in the end, so I strive to trust that God is in control and He has a purpose for everything. Romans 8:28. God’s Word tells us “My thoughts are not your thoughts…” and “For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.” 1 Corinthians 13:12 I know that once I see my Saviour face-to-face all will be understood; all questions will be answered. But, will I really care about these things then? Perhaps not. Anna)

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Posted by on August 20, 2015 in God's Love


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