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May 25, 2020 7:00 am
Good morning everybody is wonderful to see you while taking a Bible. Let's open it together to ask chapter 16.
If you would please. They were going to look at the life of a lady named Lydia. Lydia has the distinction of being the very first person ever to trust Jesus Christ on the continent of Europe, and we want to look at her story and after looking at her story.
We want to see what that has to do with your life in my life here in the 21st century, not a little background.
Remember that the apostle Paul is put together a new team to go out on what we know of today is his second missionary journey was Paul Silas, Timothy, and then of course Dr. Luke, who was practicing medicine intro as and decided to stop doctrine and start preaching with them.
Luke and his team is reached role as on the northwest coast of Asia minor and there. Paul has a dream where God makes it clear God wanting to sail across the Aegean Sea and over to Europe to begin in the province of Macedonia and so Paul does that and that's where we pick up the story. Here in verse 11. From Truax as we put out to sea, and sailed straight for Samothrace, and the next day, on to Minneapolis and from there we traveled to Philippi a Roman colony in the leading city of that district of Macedonia and we stayed there several days. Here's Minneapolis. The port city of Philippi. The island of Samothrace part way across. And Paul said we landed at Neapolis and then walked the 10 miles from Neapolis in land to the city of Philippi.
Now the road that Paul walked on his road called the nation way. It was actually a Roman road that connected the Eastern Roman Empire with Rome itself, and if you didn't want to sail to Rome go by.
See the way you went by land was beginning here at Neapolis on the Aegean overland to the Rocky along the Adriatic and and sailing across on a little fairy to run this CM and on to Rome.
This was the road that Paul took between Neapolis and Philippi and interestingly the road many long sections of it are still there. 2000 years later in go walk on the nation way when these guys built the road from they built the road. No potholes, no splits, we ought to get them to come build the roads in DC is all I gotta say but anyway that road is still around that what happened when Paul got the Philippi will verse 13 on the Sabbath. We went outside the city gate to the river where we expected to find a place of prayer and we sat down and began to speak to the women who were there.
Paul standard operating procedure was to go to the Jewish synagogue in any new town, but there was no synagogue in Philippi.
The wording of Jewish people to have one. So instead he went looking for whatever Jewish people. There were, and he knew they would be down by the river because to do the Jewish rituals and prayers of the Sabbath.
They needed water to do certain ritual washings and so they were down by a little broke a little stream that runs outside the ancient city of Philippi, that stream is still there today it's called Lydia stream and there's a little open-air amphitheater in go down there. You meditate read the Bible and pray is still there today. That's where Paul went and met these ladies there. Verse 14, and one of those listening with a woman named Lydia, a dealer in purple cloth from the city of five Tyra who was a worshiper of God and the Lord opened her heart to respond to Paul's message another four things we find out about Lydia from this passage number one.
The Bible tells us that originally Lydia was a native of the city of five Tyra five, Tyra was a city in the Roman province of Asia, modern-day Turkey, about 50 miles north of Ephesus, about 100 miles south of Truax as and the women of five Tyra were world-renowned for their dying industry there purple dyeing industry. They made purple dye from mollusk shells. It took 8000 mollusk shells to make 1 ounce of purple and these ladies were famous the world over for the purple that they produce.
In fact, in the Iliad, the Greek poet Homer actually mentions these ladies talking about and I quote the purple dyeing practice by the women of five Tyra Lydia was from this town. The second thing we know about Lydia is that Lydia imported and retailed this purple cloth in the city of Philippi not remember the Roman world of this date, purple was worth its weight in gold. The only people who were allowed to wear purple clothing was the Emperor himself. Roman senators high-ranking Roman military officers, Roman aristocrats and Roman government officials, but verse 12 tells us that Philippi was a Roman colony, meaning that there were all kinds a Roman bigshot like that here in the city so there was a market for purple in the city of Philippi and would Lydia did as she got all her friends back in five Tyra to ship it to work and then she retailed to the businesswoman number three we learn that Lydia was financially quite well-off to trade in this kind of expensive commodity. Lydia had to have a lot of capital at her disposal and then were going to learn just a minute. She had a house that was so big and by that not only do put up her husband or children or servants, but she was able to put Paul and Silas, and Timothy Luke up as well.
This woman did just fine for herself. Thank you very much. Number four. We know Lydia had a serious desire to know about God. The Bible calls her a worshiper of God. The apostle Paul finds her down by the river here, praying with these Jewish ladies because it was a sincere desire in Lydia's heart to connect with this God not a critical question for the morning that we need to ask and answer is this sitting down, thereby that river did Lydia already have eternal life. Did she already have a place in heaven were wrongdoings already forgiven by God, which you already a child of God be more.
The apostle Paul showed up and shared with her the information about Jesus Christ that he did. The answer is absolutely no she had none of these things. The Greek word that you steer a worshiper of God. The reports of bombing that literally means a seer or of someone, someone who stands in all of somebody else, somebody who does homage to somebody else its use. Eight other times in the New Testament and in none of those cases, does it ever refer to a true believer in Jesus Christ.
It refers to people level. Warm fuzzy feeling about God, it refers to people who are open to God sensitive to God.
Maybe even seeking God, but never once, does it refer to someone who is cross the line and embraced Jesus Christ as their personal savior. Now Lydia had never embraced Jesus as her personal savior because she had never heard of Jesus for and the apostle Paul shows up, tells her about Jesus the Messiah and Lydia decides as verse 14 says to respond to Paul's message and to give her life to Jesus Christ. Suddenly man the deal was closed. Suddenly the process was complete. Lydia was no longer just a fear of God. Now Lydia was a child of God through faith in Jesus Christ. Now Lydia was a possessed door of eternal life. Now Lydia was a new creature in Jesus Christ and man was she excited. She ran home and she let her husband a Christ or children to Christ all or servants of Christ. Verse 15 then she and all the members of her household were baptized. She brought the whole shooting match back down to this little river and for Paul.
We will all get baptized.
The whole shooting match of us.
Can you do that and after this she invited us. Paul, Silas, Timothy Luke to her home and she said to us. If you consider me now a believer in the Lord, come and stay here at my house and she persuaded literally she forced us, that sounds kind of weird. Why would the Bible say she's forced them.
There's a reason friends. Whatever the apostle Paul went to any new city to start a church you can read about in his letters he did not accept financial contributions from anybody in that city. He would not accept hospitality from anybody in that city because he was afraid that people would misjudge his motives. They would wonder are you here to help the sheep or you here to please the sheep and so therefore you always work for a living as a tent maker.
He always stayed in his own rented places because that way he kept everything clean and it's clear he tried to resist this woman did not want to stay in her house but friends. This lady was in sales from Sam what I'm saying. This woman must've been a closing machine is all I can say because she convinces the apostle Paul to change his mind and move in with her. Which is what he does with all team and this is where we going to stop today but you know what Lydia is going to figure prominently in the ministry of the apostle Paul in the years to come will talk about that when we get there. That's as far as we want to go on the passage because we want to ask a really important question. The most important question about Lydia's experience that we see today y'all know what it is her body ready by ready here we go. 123 all right salon. So what I'm happy for Lydia. I think that's neat. I'm glad she came to Christ is the first believer in Europe. I know it's a Trivial Pursuit will what differences is made to me. Well I think that there is incredible lesson in Lydia's experience for you and me you know I had a lady in my office.
Not too long ago and she said lot I gotta tell you, I simply cannot accept the fact that a lesser person embraces Jesus Christ as their personal savior. Unless a person accepts Jesus and what he did for them on the cross and unless they do that they had no chance of going to heaven and no chance of having eternal life.
I can accept the fact that a sincere Buddhist, a sincere Muslim, a sincere Hindu, a sincere Jewish person, a sincere aborigine or pygmy if there is sincere as they know how and in following God in the religion of their choice. I cannot accept the fact that God wouldn't allow them into heaven. If there is zealous and sincere as they know how to be what you know there are a lot of people in our world who believe just like this lady does in fact I would be a bit surprised that there were some folks here this morning sitting in the audience was a will. I agree with that lady. What friends, people who hold this opinion, they would look at Lydia here in the Bible and they would say you know what Lydia was just fine before Paul ever showed up. I mean she was down there practicing her Jewish faith with zealousness and the sincerity that are down at the river praying on a Saturday morning. She didn't need the apostle Paul to come into town and evangelize her. That woman if she had died down there by the river before Paul ever showed up. She was just fine with God, she wouldn't have gone to heaven. She would have eternal life because she was just a sincere and just as zealous as she could be in following her religion in seeking after God is a very popular opinion. The only problem with this opinion is that the Bible says it's just flat wrong. You know the Bible says sincerity is not the basis on which God dispenses eternal life. The Bible says that zeal for God is not the basis on which God lets people in the heaven. As a matter of fact the Bible declares without apology that the only basis upon which God dispenses eternal life in God lets people into heaven is on the basis of personal faith in Jesus Christ. Personal reliance on the blood sacrifice of Jesus Christ. As a matter fact, the Bible actually comments to this issue of zeal for God and sincerity for God when it separated from up to a true faith in Jesus Christ and listen to what God says about this.
Romans chapter 10 verse one Paul writes and says my heart's desire and prayer to God for my Israelite brothers is that they obtain eternal life. They don't have it yet. For I can testify on their behalf that they have zeal for God, you will never meet a person would more zeal for God than Orthodox Jewish person Balthasar testify to that. I agree that, however, there zeal is not based on knowledge.
It's not informed zeal we mean by that. Paul verse three.
They do not understand the righteous standing that God offers to give people as a gift.
Instead, they are determined to try and establish their own righteousness by their human religious activity and zeal will Paul what's the problem with that. If there is zealous as they can possibly be. In seeking God in their own religion with their own human activity.
What's wrong with that Romans chapter 3 verse 20. No one will ever be declared righteous in God's life by human activity.
That's what's wrong with that knew me as zealous as you want in human religious activity. Nobody is ever going to be right with God like that. But the Bible says and here's a great news of the Bible but God offers to give us a righteous standing in his sight reading as a gift.
So how do you get it verse 22 of Romans three this righteous standing with God comes through faith in Jesus Christ. Blood to everyone who is willing to believe both Catholic, Baptist, Jewish, Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist, animal, vegetable or mineral that make one bit of difference. The way God gives out eternal life the way God gives out a righteous standing in his life the way God grants people entry into heaven. The Bible is clear is based on personal faith in Jesus Christ.
Personal reliance on the shed blood of Jesus Christ on the cross and that is the only way God gives it out the rest of the Bible agrees with this John chapter 14 verse six Jesus said I am the way the truth and the life. Nobody dares our keyword. Nobody comes to the father. Nobody gets eternal life and gets in the habit unless they called, by way of me. Acts chapter 4 verse 12 salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven, not Bhutto. Not Confucius, not Mohammed, not Rabbi Schneerson not Joseph Smith not Mary Baker Eddy, not Ms. Cleo with her to row cards on television. There is no other name under heaven by which we can be delivered. John 336 whoever believes in Jesus Christ, has eternal life. Whoever does not believe will not see eternal life, but rather God's judgment resides on that person instead friends God is not illogical God. It does not do nonsensical things and Lydia was fine without Paul ever coming to see her if Lydia had eternal life just the way she was, if everything would Lydia was great she was already on her way to heaven. Why in the world would God take Paul half a continent having sailed across the Aegean Sea to meet her and deliver information about Jesus to her if she was perfectly fine just the way she was that the logical that's nonsensical. God knew that the truth is, Lydia was not fine just the way she was before Paul showed up. She was part way through the process of gaining eternal life, but she would never have been able to close the deal with God.
Had the apostle Paul not showed up and given her the information about Jesus Christ that he did let me see if I can explain this to us a little different way. The Bible says that there are two ways to kinds of information that God has imparted to the human race about himself. Two ways that he's done this.
The first we call general revelation general revelation comes to the human race through creation to the physical world around us. There is information in the physical world around us about God that God is put their for the human race to see here's what he says. Romans chapter 1 verse 24 God is made known to mankind. Since creation. Some of his invisible qualities which wants namely, his eternal power and his divine nature and how am I supposed to learn that about God's will is learned by means of what God has created what this verse is telling us is that any thinking person ought to be able to look around at the trees, the stars, the oceans, the complexity of our own human body and figure out there's got to be a God who made all of this somewhere. That's why Psalm 14 one says the fool has said in his heart there is no God.
All you gotta do is just look around.
Of course there's gotta be a God and you know if you're here today and you never trusted Jesus Christ as your real and personal savior. My appeal to you is this, please do not let the secular public education system of America educate you beyond your intelligence. Don't let them do that you don't really believe. Do you that there were carbon atoms, nitrogen atoms, oxygen atoms floating around in the abyss and suddenly the lightning struck them, and everything you see came from that you can't possibly believe that if you do, you have been educated beyond your intelligence folks. It takes more faith to believe that it doesn't believe is a God somewhere who made an all God wants you to do with your here is look around. The first step in coming into a relationship with him is to simply look around and say, my goodness, there's gotta be a God. I don't know who he is aware is, but all of this stuff just on pop about enough in the next time you see a tree. The next time you see the stars.
The next time you watch your human body in action. God says there's a message there about me that Lydia done this Lydia looked around and figured out this gotta be a God.
That's why she's down at the river pray in open somehow to connect with this God. The problem with general revelation is there's not enough information there in trees and stars and water in the human body to allow us to close the deal with God gives part way, but it won't finish the job and that's why there's another whole area of information about God revelation that God is given the human race, and he's given that information to us in what we call the Biot BLA.
This is called special revelation that is information about the person and the work of Jesus Christ about his deity. His virgin birth, his death on the cross. His sinless life, his resurrection from the dead, God's offer to give us eternal life is a gift.
If we simply trust Christ and friends before we can close the deal with God before Lydia could close the deal would God we've got to have special revelation we got to hear the information about Jesus Christ so that we got the raw material we need to make the deal with God for eternal life.
Now, if a person responds correctly to general revelation if they look around like Lydia did and they go while is gotta be a God somewhere wish I knew who he was. God takes it is his personal responsibility to get that person special revelation so they can close the deal did you do that for Lydia didn't take Paul and take Paul across an entire continent and the Aegean Sea to make sure she got the information she needed to close the deal. Yes he did and he does that for people all over the globe every single day.
Lydia was not just fine. She needed what the apostle Paul brought her and he said, but long. Maybe God in his mercy sometimes will exempt the system. I mean does a person always absolutely have to know about the person in the work of Jesus Christ in order to close the deal and have eternal life. The answer from the Bible unequivocably is yes. This is what the Bible says Romans 1013 everyone who calls on the name of the Lord Jesus Christ. Like the thief on the cross. Like Lydia did, will be delivered will be forgiven will be granted eternal life. However, there is a proper way that we have to go through in order to call on the name of the Lord and make the steelwork the next verse explains it. Romans 1014 says but how can a person call on Jesus Christ. If they haven't believed in Jesus Christ and how can a person believe in Jesus Christ. If they never heard of Jesus Christ and how can a person hear about Jesus Christ. Unless somebody goes and tells them about Jesus Christ. Verse 17 consequently say the kind of faith that works the kind of faith that closes the deal. The kind of faith that brings us eternal life. Faith comes by hearing the message of Jesus Christ and the message is heard by means of the information that God is given us in the word of God I don't I got to say it any clearer than that. What this means is that no matter how sincere a person may be, no matter how religiously zealous. A person may be in some religious system. We can't close the deal with God and get eternal life unless number one we hear the cognitive facts about Jesus Christ from the Bible.
Number two. We embrace those facts in our heart as true and number three. We then decide on the basis of those facts were going to transfer our trust off of our own human religious activity also borrow human religious effort is way to get to heaven were going to transfer our trust off of that which is what Lydia did and on to what Jesus did for us on the cross, which we just heard about. That's how we complete the deal friends. That's how we close the deal with God and get eternal life, and how in the world are we going to hear the information we need to do this folks working to hear the same way Lydia did. Somebody comes and tells us if you're here today in your follower of Christ. If you're here today and you know the minute you die here on earth and you going right to heaven. Let me tell you why you know that and why you're in the incredible position you're in today is because somebody at some point in your life told you about Jesus Christ, your mama told you your daddy told you Sunday school teacher told you your preacher told you Billy Graham told you on television. Somebody at work told you somebody in the neighborhood told you somebody on the Metro told you, you son told you you daughter told you somebody told you and that's why you where you are today in your relationship with God you can be there any other way and let me just say to the people that are all around you at work in your neighborhoods in your families who are like Lydia. They're not right.
Things are not okay between them and God and the only way they can to get okay is for them to respond to the cognitive facts about Jesus in the Bible, and only whether everybody here at is that you and I open our mouths and we tell only way it's going to happen you I had a lady who comes, you come to our churches is from Israel and she just recently gave her life to Jesus. In Christianity 101 couple rounds ago came up to me couple weeks ago after the service and said you know what I'm going back to Israel for Passover. In fact, she's back in Israel right now as you said, I think I'm going to tell my mother and my father, I want to break the news that I believe Jesus is the Messiah, she said, but you know little scary and I sit way and I remember when I went to that 30 years ago. Get ready to break the news to my parents and I said there's a big part of you that says all maybe not this visit. Oh maybe not this time. But you know you can't. Given that I said to her, and I'll tell you why my dad is in heaven today. My mom is in heaven today.
My only sibling.
My brother is on his way to heaven today and you know why it's because when they got ready to close the deal with God. They had the information they needed, and the reason they had the information they needed is because I told that's how they had you'll go tell your mom and your dad.
You may be the only person in the world could ever tell him you don't go tell them you are robbing them of the information they need to close the deal with God and get eternal life that whether they're willing to do it or not.
Okay that's not your business, but if you don't tell them the information they need. They'll never be able to do it even if they are willing.
You got to go tell them and their soul is worth a little bit of embarrassment if you little embarrassing. You will scare the souls worth that you tell well, I'm confident that she's over there doing that friends that's true everybody you know when you care about.
Of course it's a little embarrassing to do this sometimes course were little nervous don't you think Paul was a little bit nervous down there in Philippi by the stream.
I think he probably was a little bit nervous, but he knew Lydia wouldn't okay he knew none of those women were okay and he knew their souls were worth a little bit of embarrassment and a little bit of fear person through that and that's why Lydia is in heaven today as Paul did, so I don't really like it like this. I really think this is fair this. I don't really I don't really like the way God wants heaven, will you know.
All I can tell you is that's tough. I mean you not wanting him, neither my dogs running heaven and God decide this is how he wants to run heaven.
That's his business. Our job is not to decide whether we like the way God is running heaven. Our job is to listen to what God tells us believe what God is telling us and adapt our behavior. According and friends are world systems trying to talk us out of this and convinces everybody spot were all spotted by his okay and you know why because number one they want to leave him alone and number two, they want to shut up and we can get into. We can't let them undermine our confidence in the truth of the word of God and the truth of the word of God is. Lydia needed Paul and your friends need you and me. Because if you don't tell them the information in the final tell of the information they need. They can't close the deal. They're not fine so my challenge to us here today is to believe what God tells us, not the propaganda of our world system and then to go out there and do what the apostle Paul did listen folks, if we did were here to tell our friends and neighbors about Jesus, we could've gone to heaven already does no other reason to stay all the stuff you followed up, you're not taken a while so we know the reason we're here is to we can do with the apostle Paul gives the Lydia may God help us to do it lovingly. Respectfully, kindly and gently but may God help us to do it but with our heads bowed and her eyes closed. I want to give you just a minute. If you're willing to offer God a little bit of a proposition. And here's a proposition I want you to think of somebody you really care about your family in your neighborhood at your office was like Lydia. They're not far and I want you to offer God this proposition. Lord, you open up the opportunity in your perfect timing. Make the circumstance just right for me to talk to them about Jesus and even though I'm a little nervous.
You have my word. I'll do it if you're willing to make that proposition for your friend or your loved one.
I want you to take these quiet moments and telling for Jesus, thanks for talking to a straight up today. Thanks for telling us the truth from the word of God. Just the way it is my prayer is that you would help us people say were followers of Christ. People say we accept the Bible is the word of God should help us to believe what you tell us about how the deal gets closed and then more that you would change our behavior change the way we relate to people around us because we believe something is true, absolutely from Scripture or I pray you would make us bold, respectful but bold in sharing Christ. I pray you would remind us people out there are not okay Lord I pray that we would deem their souls worth whatever little embarrassment and fear.
We have to face, to do what Paul did to share with them the information they need to close the deal these people. We pray for open up an opportunity soon for us to follow through Lord give us the courage to do what we said or thank you somebody told us how grateful we are helpless to do our job. Lord now and tell others.
We pray this in Jesus name, amen