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  • Writer's pictureLynn Holzinger

Down to the River

On the Sabbath we went outside the city gate to the river,

Where we expected to find a place of prayer.

Acts 16:13

The Jewish community at Philippi was too small to have a synagogue so the Jews met for prayer in an open space by the Gangites River (now called Angista). This gave them the privacy, and the water they needed for Jewish purification rites.

On this particular Sabbath, Paul and Silas were in Philippi and they went to the river where they expected to find a place of prayer. When they found the place, they sat down and began speaking to the women. One of the women was Lydia. She was a seller of purple cloth. V.14 tells us she was a “worshipper of God”. I love that! As she was listening to Paul, the Lord opened her heart, and she accepted what Paul was saying. She and her family were baptized and in Philippi, she became the first follower of Jesus. By the time they left, a group of new believers had been established that included a former demon-possessed slave girl who had also been a fortune-teller, and a jailor and his whole family. When Paul and Silas left, the group was meeting in Lydia’s house. The city of Philippi was not receptive to the gospel message and the believers remained under persecution.

What I want to focus on is how God opened Lydia’s heart. Remember, she was a worshipper of God. She believed in God, but she didn’t know the truth of Jesus. When she heard it, God opened her heart. Not her…God! It is always God who draws us first. He drew our prodigals at one time. Some in our group have children who believe in God, but they don’t know what the truth is. One of these days, they will be talking with someone or listening to a message or song, or reading in a book about Jesus or even reading the Bible and God will open there heart (or eyes) to see the truth. And like Lydia, they will accept it. Even though they accepted it once before when they were younger and at some point, decided to longer accept it doesn’t mean they won’t have to accept it again (not be saved again, but affirm it again). It will take God opening their heart. That is why we pray for God to open the eyes of their heart to see the truth. It may be a little different for each one. They believe different lies and have different reasons for leaving the faith. But one thing they all need is to have their eyes/heart opened to see the truth.

If you are aware of what lies they believe, begin to cut them off in the name of Jesus. Remember what we do in prayer, goes up to the throne of God and moves His heart to respond. It may take a while for the answer to arrive, but that’s not a reason to stop praying; it’s a reason to pray even more…giving God no rest until the answer comes.

I have posted watchmen on your walls, O Jerusalem; they will never be silent day or night. You who call on the Lord, give yourselves no rest, and give him no rest till he establishes Jerusalem and makes her the praise of the earth.

Isaiah 62:6-7

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