13 On the Sabbath we went outside the city gate to the river, where we expected to find a place of prayer. We sat down and began to speak to the women who had gathered there. 14 One of those listening was a woman from the city of Thyatira named Lydia, a dealer in purple cloth. She was a worshiper of God. The Lord opened her heart to respond to Paul’s message. 15 When she and the members of her household were baptized, she invited us to her home. “If you consider me a believer in the Lord,” she said, “come and stay at my house.” And she persuaded us.
The above occurred at 12 Philippi, a Roman colony and the leading city of that district of Macedonia. And we stayed there several days. Curious as to the location of Philippi? So was I and here is a map showing its modern day location. If you click on the link to the map, you will find Istanbul directly to the East of Philippi.
Isatanbul was at one time the world’s fourth largest city with up to 16 million inhabitants, approximately double the size of New York City. It is located on two continents and has the nickname “The Gateway to Europe and Asia” (paraphrased from the Curious Wanderer).
Philippi by comparison was a small insignificant town, primarily home to a Roman military garrison. Yet from MacLaren’s Exposition of the Bible we find This is the first record of the preaching of the Gospel in Europe, and probably the first instance of it. I make it a point to mention this as MacLaren goes on to point out
There did not seem in the whole of that great city that morning a more completely insignificant knot of people than the little weather-beaten Jew, travel-stained, of weak bodily presence, and of contemptible speech, with the handful of his attendants, who slipped out in the early morning and wended their way to the quiet little oratory, beneath the blue sky, by the side of the rushing stream, and there talked informally and familiarly to the handful of women.
This truly resonates, after all Jesus was born in a stable and when He was born Mary wrapped Him in swaddling clothes, or strips of cloth, to keep Him snug and warm. Then she gently placed the baby Jesus in a manger (Luke 2:7).
It is also true of the first king of Israel – Saul. He was a Benjamite, from the smallest tribe of Israel, and [his] clan [was] the least of all the clans of the tribe of Benjamin (1 Samuel 9:21). While Saul was tall – a full head above his fellow Israelites – he had no confidence and even after he was proclaimed king
21b when they looked for him, he was not to be found. 22 So they inquired further of the Lord, “Has the man come here yet?” And the Lord said, “Yes, he has hidden himself among the supplies.” 23 They ran and brought him out
1 Samuel 10:21b-23
A new king who hid behind the supplies and had to brought out, a seemingly inauspicious beginning.
So it was in Philippi where there was no synagogue and no male worshipers who came to hear the message Paul brought forth. However, there was Lydia, a worshiper of God who opened her heart to respond to Paul’s message. As a result she and members of her household were baptized. Think on this, have you ever had your heart opened by the Holy Spirit while listening to a message at church or participating in praise and worship or while praying at home or at church or while studying the Bible on your own at home or while admiring the beauty of God’s works that surround us? Many, if not most and maybe all, Christians have at one time or another as God lets us know He is real and He is near. This happened to Lydia because she was a worshiper of God.
If this has not happened to you at least once in your walk with Jesus, ask yourself in you are spending time worshiping God, spending time with God, acknowledging God, praying to God. He listens and He sees our hearts. What does the condition of your heart reveal to God. The heart of Lydia revealed she was a real believer and worshipper. So, are you worshiping and seeking God’s will or just going through the motions? Hopefully not the latter as He found that despicable in the Old Testament and there is no evidence that changed in the New Testament.