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Paul’s Encounter with Lydia

The Lord opened her heart to respond to the things spoken by Paul.
–Acts 16:14

What was Paul’s relationship to the church at Philippi? In obedience to his purpose to spread the gospel, Paul made three missionary journeys. It was on his second missionary journey that he went to Philippi. In Acts 16:9, a heavenly vision came to Paul, in which a man said, “Come over to Macedonia and help us.” So Paul made his way to Philippi, which was a Roman colony in Greece. This is the first time the gospel made it to Europe.

The first person Paul encountered in Philippi was a woman named Lydia. She was “a seller of purple fabrics” (v. 14). Purple was very expensive in those days, so Lydia was wealthy. But more importantly, verse 14 says, she was “a worshiper of God.”

Paul could have said to Lydia, “You worship God, and I worship God. I come to God through Jesus Christ, and you come to God in your own way. It doesn’t matter. We all worship the same God, and we’re going to the same place.” But he didn’t do that. Instead, he shared the gospel with her. Just because a person loves God and wants to know God, that is not enough to save that person. There’s only one way to God, and it’s through Jesus Christ. But whenever a person sincerely loves God, God will send them more light so they can hear about Jesus. God loves people so much that He is willing to go to any lengths necessary to give us the opportunity to be saved. So He sent Paul to Lydia.

Lydia listened to Paul, and God “opened her heart to respond to the things spoken by Paul” (v. 14). Don’t ever think that you can just wake up one day and say, “I think I’ll choose to be saved today.” Doesn’t happen that way. God is the one who has to open our hearts so that we can believe. The Bible says God opened her heart so that she could receive the gospel, and Paul was faithful to share it. Because of that, Lydia was saved.

By the way, if right now you have an understanding that you are a sinner and that Jesus is the only way for you to be saved, you didn’t come to that understanding on your own. God has opened your heart. He has given you the ability to believe. But just because you have that ability right now doesn’t mean you’ll always have it. That’s why it’s so important to make that decision now. Lydia responded to the light God gave her. She was saved. And she invited the apostle into her home and began the church at Philippi.

Don’t you find it interesting that the first convert in Europe was a woman? It’s time we quit treating women as second-class citizens in the kingdom of God. The Bible never does that. This businesswoman gave encouragement to starting the church at Philippi, and God used her in a powerful way.


Today’s devotion is excerpted from “Living above Your Circumstances” by Dr. Robert Jeffress, 2007.

Scripture quotations are taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.


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