Lydia Gets Open Heart Surgery from an Unexpected Surgeon
I. Background (Acts 16:9-12)
A. Last week Paul heard a cry for help from a Macedonian man – we call it the Macedonian Call to all believers, to go and explain the Gospel
B. Acts 16:9-12 And a vision appeared to Paul in the night; There stood a man of Macedonia, and prayed him, saying, Come over into Macedonia, and help us. And after he had seen the vision, immediately we endeavoured to go into Macedonia, assuredly gathering that the Lord had called us for to preach the gospel unto them. Therefore loosing from Troas, we came with a straight course to Samothracia, and the next day to Neapolis; And from thence to Philippi, which is the chief city of that part of Macedonia, and a colony: and we were in that city abiding certain days.
C. They travelled 200 km across the Aegean Sea
D. Arrived in Philippi of Macedonia [MAP]
1. This city, and Macedonia will become a great hub of European evangelism
2. And one of the most joyful epistles will be written by Paul to these Christians in Philippi, and the Book is called, To The Philippians
E. And so the search begins… for that Macedonian Man that Paul saw in a vision back in Troas
1. They knew that God would direct their steps AS they walk – God does not direct sitting people – you and I cannot just sit at home and wait for people to come to us
F. I wonder where the Lord will take these men?
A. It’s the Sabbath (Acts 16:13)
1. Acts 16:13 And on the sabbath we went out of the city [OF PHILIPPI] by a river side, where prayer was wont to be made; and we sat down, and spake unto the women which resorted thither.
2. They are in a Gentile world now
a. It is Saturday
b. There were no synagogues in Philippi, so no Jews to talk to like they were used to
c. There were no other believers around yet either
d. They were in a foreign land, full of foreign customs, limited money – so many unknowns
e. So, they just walked alongside a river outside of town
3. And they felt a deep need to pray
a. They did not know WHY they needed to pray – there WAS something about to happen
b. Do you ever feel that need?
c. Where you are DRIVEN to find a place where you could stop everything and just call upon God for help and direction and peace? These men felt it!
4. Spoke to the women that were gathered there
a. The women were washing clothes, just talking and fellowshipping together as these three men walked past them and then stopped
b. Paul wasn’t going to miss an opportunity to bring up the resurrection
c. Now, Remember… Paul is looking for a Macedonian MAN
d. They could have just ignored these pagan women
e. But Jesus had not ignored the Samaritan woman at the well
f. So they began to talk with them
5. And, then Told them a story…
a. History is the telling of what happened in the past
b. We hear stories of world events all the time – part of history
c. The world needs to hear the greatest story ever – not from Hollywood, but from the Bible
d. Hymn, Tell Me the Story of Jesus…
1) Tell me the story of Jesus,
2) Write on my heart every word;
3) Tell me the story most precious,
4) Sweetest that ever was heard.
5) Tell how the angels, in chorus,
6) Sang as they welcomed His birth,
7) "Glory to God in the highest!
8) Peace and good tidings to earth."
9) Tell of the cross where they nailed Him,
10) Writhing in anguish and pain;
11) Tell of the grave where they laid Him,
12) Tell how He liveth again.
13) Love in that story so tender,
14) Clearer than ever I see:
15) Stay, let me weep while you whisper,
16) Love paid the ransom for me.
17) Tell me the story of Jesus,
18) Write on my heart every word;
19) Tell me the story most precious,
20) Sweetest that ever was heard.
e. Let’s keep telling this incredible story of Jesus!
f. We don’t have to have all the answers, and perfect lives – not when we have a perfect story to tell, of a Saviour, the Son of God who came for sinners!
B. They Meet a Woman Named Lydia (Acts 16:14)
1. Acts 16:14 And a certain woman named Lydia, a seller of purple, of the city of Thyatira, which worshipped God, heard us: whose heart the Lord opened, that she attended unto the things which were spoken of Paul.
2. She was a wealthy woman – a seller of purple
a. Very expensive colour to own and wear
b. Purple came from very special shell fish, and was hard to make. Making purple was a labour intensive and time-consuming job (and a smelly one, too), as it required the dye to be extracted from the glands from thousands of decaying Murex shellfish
c. This colour was popular with rich and powerful Romans, because owning them was a symbol of status. Wearing purple cloth was like wearing Gold!
3. She is from Thyatira
a. Not even from Greece of Macedonia, but from back in Turkey (Asia minor)
b. Thyatira was famous for its dyeing and colouring textile industries
c. This city is later referred to in Revelation 2:18-24 because of some problems it had
4. A Gentile woman – not a Jew
5. She knows about the God of the Bible – not totally pagan
a. Like Cornelius did
b. Like a lot of people I know
c. She worshipped God, even though she was not saved yet
d. Evidently, someone had influenced her with the Old Testament Scriptures and taught her to fear the one true God, and to worship only Him
6. But she needed to know God personally! Needed to believe the Gospel! Needed Jesus Christ in her heart!
C. Open Heart Surgery (Acts 16:14,15)
1. Acts 16:14,15 And a certain woman named Lydia, a seller of purple, of the city of Thyatira, which worshipped God, heard us: whose heart the Lord opened, that she attended unto the things which were spoken of Paul. 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.
2. She heard Paul and Silas preach the Gospel – “A certain woman… heard us”
a. It touched her HEART! Stirred it!
b. Romans 10:17 So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.
c. 1Corinthians 1:17,18,21
1) 1Corinthians 1:17,18 For Christ sent me not to baptize, but to preach the gospel: not with wisdom of words, lest the cross of Christ should be made of none effect. For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God.
2) It is when people HEAR these words, that they become aware of their need to repent and believe the Gospel
3) 1Corinthians 1:21 For after that in the wisdom of God the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe.
d. They told those when what Jesus said, and what Jesus did
e. And as those ladies heard them, something happened!
3. Then God marvellously opened Lydia’s heart - “whose heart the Lord opened”
a. This woman, like all mankind, needed SPIRITUAL HEART SURGERY
1) We always want people to have open minds – to be able to consider all the evidence
2) But faith does not come from the mind only, or even from the understanding
3) Faith comes from an open heart!
4) I can convince people mentally of something, but if their heart is not convinced, they will never change – nothing will ever happen
b. Lydia needed the best Surgeon in the universe – her life was at stake. She knew she couldn’t fix her heart towards God!
1) Dealing with the conversion of the soul, salvation - not remaking of the outside (God is not a beautician)!
2) He is the only One that we can trust with the job - we need Someone to operate on our heart that will do it right
3) Don’t worry about fixing the head, hands, the feet, the clothes, the car, or the mind - but rather seek for God to open the heart and remake it!
c. As she listened, and believed what Paul preached, God opened her heart
1) He UNBLOCKED it – Cleared it out it as she listen to the words of life being preached – made things simple… she was lost and Jesus can find her!
2) Softened her heart too – made it ready to believe / receive the Gospel, turn to Jesus
a) If you have a hard, bitter, hurting heart YOU cannot fix it (tried 1,000 times)
b) Your best friend cannot soften it
c) But the God who made your heart first day, can open it and fix it with scalpel of the word of God
d) Hebrews 4:12 For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.
3) She got a whole new heart (Ezekiel 36:26) A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh.
4) It will work in YOU too dear friend, if you would only believe what it says!
4. Why did Lydia need her heart opened?
a. Because we are proud and stubborn people, stuck in our own sins
b. And Satan feeds on that!
c. He keeps our hearts CLOSED and blind to God (2Corinthinas 4:3,4)
1) Satan is fine with us being religious or atheists
2) As long as we stay blind towards God’s Son
3) 2Corinthinas 4:3,4 But if our gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost: In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them.
d. That’s why we have church, hand out Gospel tracts, and tell people the story of Jesus…
e. That’s why we pray for God to open people’s hearts
f. So that people’s HEARTS would accept their condition, and repent and believe in the new life that Jesus offers, and receive the cleansing that Jesus’ blood gives (Isaiah 1:18) Come now, and let us reason together, saith the LORD: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool.
5. Lydia attended to those words being preached
a. “she attended unto the things which were spoken of Paul”
b. Ever heard of “flight attendants”? They pay attention to what you need
c. This woman hung on every word preached, and attended to, submitted to them
1) Believed that she was lost and in trouble with God
2) And that Jesus could save her from the wrath to come
d. And her simple faith in Jesus, from her heart, saved her soul!
6. All of her household believed and they were baptized – a Christian home!
a. She and her servants and family all got baptized to show they were following Jesus now
b. Baptized as believers – her own decision to publicly admit conversion
c. It was AFTER her conversion – not part of her salvation – totally separate event
d. Lydia believes the gospel, and THEN was baptized.
e. Belief, then baptism in every occurrence in the Bible – no babies baptized in the Bible!
7. A New Church was Born in her home!
a. She held on to Paul, and Silas and Timothy to hear as much from the Bible as possible
b. She attended her first church service – in her own home!
c. THIS was the beginning of the Philippian Church!
D. Spiritual Warfare Begins (Acts 16:16-24) engaged
1. Acts 16:16,17 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.
2. Back to Prayer, finally – it was still needed!
3. A Demonic Attack came out of nowhere
a. After every great victory, there is usually a spiritual attack that follows
b. It was then that they were Confronted by a Demon – mocking, affecting the audience
c. They are in Satan’s territory – in enemy territory
d. This demon-possessed woman was the source of great wealth
e. And she soured the message of the Gospel by mocking it and interrupting it
4. Rebuking the spirit (Acts 16:18) – overwhelmed the demon!
a. Acts 16:18 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.
b. THIS is how Christians fight…
1) Paul focused his attention on the spirit behind the person - the spirit of persecution
2) Paul wrestled with the spirit in the woman – not the woman
3) Ephesians 6:10-12 Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might. Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.
4) How many times do you speak of your problem, instead of the spirit behind the problem?
5) How many arguments have you had with someone – stupid arguments? When your fight is with the spirit behind them!
c. Paul used a greater power than the spirit in that woman and overwhelmed that demon
1) He used the name of JESUS - Not of Peter, or Mary, or Padre Pio
2) And the demon fled from her heart and life!
3) The demon-possessed woman gets freed from her bondage! He comes out!
d. So, Pray using Christ’s powerful name AGAINST whatever spirit is at work against your marriage, your sanity, your joy, your children, your friends and co-workers
e. You and I have no power
f. But Jesus has all power
5. But the battle is not over – the powers that be now act – goes from bad to worse
a. Acts 16:19 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,
b. Acts 16:20 And brought them to the magistrates, saying, These men, being Jews, do exceedingly trouble our city,
c. Acts 16:21 And teach customs, which are not lawful for us to receive, neither to observe, being Romans.
d. Acts 16:22 And the multitude rose up together against them: and the magistrates rent off their clothes, and commanded to beat them.
e. Acts 16:23 And when they had laid many stripes upon them, they cast them into prison, charging the jailor to keep them safely:
f. Acts 16:24 Who, having received such a charge, thrust them into the inner prison, and made their feet fast in the stocks.
g. Everyone now knew that there was a greater power than in the Roman and Greek gods of stone and wood – the power of Jesus Christ!
h. That’s when her Masters/Owners Arrested Paul and Silas (16:19)
1) These are her pimps – they USED her for their own wealth
2) They grab Paul and Silas
i. Accuse Paul and Silas in front of the mob (16:20,21) – like they did Jesus
1) Of teaching things different than the normal custom
2) Even of doing things that “Romans” didn’t do – like abandoning idols and icons
j. The mob decides to beat / whip them (16:22,23) many stripes / lashes across their backs
1) Mob rule like it was when Jesus was crucified
2) Why were they whipping Paul and Silas? Because their sales had collapsed with that woman no longer filled with demons
3) So they publicly humiliated them, and whipped them, and mocked them
k. Then imprisoned them (16:24)
1) Thrown into the deepest, darkest prison cell
2) Locked their feet in stocks on the floor so they were unable to move
3) Sitting in death and excrement
4) The stench was unbelievable
l. The situation looks pretty bad! They are being made to suffer, even though they have done nothing but good
E. Suffering Doing the Will of God
1. When living the Christian life, expect to suffer – to find it hard, and opposed
2. If you follow Jesus, you are going to have troubles
a. Jesus made no promise of prosperity, or only happiness or endless joy and the good life in THIS life… no!
b. John 16:33 These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.
c. 2Timothy 3:12 Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution.
3. Why? Why were these two Christian men Suffering?
a. Because of the world’s demonic hatred of Christ
1) These four men (Paul, Silas, Timothy and Luke) had brought the news to Macedonia of Jesus being alive and being the only Saviour from the judgment of our sin
2) And amazingly, the people had an unnatural hatred of that name
3) It is still the same today!
4) People don’t even know WHY they get angry at that name – it is demonic
5) That’s why we are not retaliatory when we have been hurt
6) It’s why we seek no revenge – God will take care of our enemies
7) Because this is a spiritual war we are in, and people don’t even know it
b. Because people were getting saved from Satan’s grasp
1) First, Lydia had gotten saved
2) Now a second woman had gotten saved and was freed from demonic possession
3) The world does not mind you believing whatever you want – just don’t influence anyone – leave that to Hollywood and the internet
4) When people get saved, all hell breaks loose in panic and wrath
c. Because this is not our home
1) The devil can’t hurt our soul anymore, so he seeks to destroy everything else!
2) This world is as bad as it gets for us – it will be worth it all when we get home
3) Just make sure YOU are saved, because otherwise, this is as good as it gets
d. To affect and reach someone else
1) There is someone… a Macedonian… that Paul and Silas would NEVER have met, or been able to witness to, if they had not suffered wrongfully
2) All of the beatings, and abuse was so someone would hear the Gospel and get saved
3) More about meeting the Macedonian Man next week!
F. The Power of Praise (Acts 16:25) I have to stop here
1. Acts 16:25 And at midnight Paul and Silas prayed, and sang praises unto God: and the prisoners heard them.
2. There is something absolutely marvellous about to happen in those prison walls
3. And we will have to pick it up next Sunday
4. You can read about it for yourself here in Acts 16
A. How To Get Your Heart Fixed like Lydia’s
1. Listen to God’s Word - It is like an X-Ray machine, scanning your heart, and life, and revealing its flaws, and the only hope, found in Jesus
2. Accept Your Condition - Most reject the Bible’s scan of their heart and just ignore it
3. Yield to God’s Hand in your Heart as He works - Complete Surrender to every word, and no matter how low they take you
4. Leave a Different Person – God Changes Every Life that comes to Him
B. With Every Victory, Expect Troubles – you are going against the world
C. Just Practice Your Praise – you will need it!