11 So, setting sail from Troas, we made a direct voyage to Samothrace, and the following day to Neapolis, 12 and from there to Philippi, which is a leading city of the district of Macedonia and a Roman colony. We remained in this city some days. 13 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.
14 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. The Lord opened her heart to pay attention to what was said by Paul. 15 And after she was baptized, and 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.
Paul had a pattern. Go to a new city and find the synagogue. He was recognized and known as a leading rabbi. The people at the synagogue would often recognize him as such and ask him if he wanted to teach. He would then teach about Jesus from whatever prophets or history that synagogue was talking about that Sabbath.
But, like Psalm 137 says, “How can we sing the songs of the LORD while in a foreign land?” They are so far from Jerusalem and into the Gentile world that there isn’t a synagogue to be found. He’s not even sure of where there might be people that want to talk about faith, religion, or God.
But Paul knows that Jewish people are going to ceremonially wash themselves before they pray. You can’t wash with cistern water that’s been sitting. You have to wash with flowing water from a spring or a river. He knows where to find that, so he goes there and looks around.
When Elijah was despairing about being the last of the prophets, God told him there were 7,000 hidden prophets that hadn’t worshipped false gods. Seven thousand Elijahs!
Sometimes we go to a strange place, or we feel like home is strange, but God is there. Not only is He there, but His people might be there too. Especially in the USA, where so many people have some concept of Christianity.
But what if this isn’t about us being the Paul that is always looking for someone to hear the Gospel? What if we flip it and see ourselves as Lydia? My habit used to be to tell those door-knockers “yeah yeah yeah, we’re christians already. Leave us alone.”
Lydia believed and then prevailed upon them with hospitality. What if we told the door-knockers, “Wow, thank you so much for preaching the Gospel to my neighborhood. Can I pray for the rest of your outreach time?” And then pray for them.
You’ll be encouraged.
They’ll be encouraged (or maybe even converted!) and the Gospel will advance.
As the Gospel prevails, let us prevail upon one another with hope and encouragement to continue onward.
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