Whose heart is God opening?
Emerging from lockdown in all its various levels with accompanying emotions, has given me a chance to process what I truly want my life to display in a post-pandemic world.
Many times, my thoughts have been drawn to the accounts of the early church written by Luke in the book of Acts, especially regarding outreach and mission, and all the excitement and possibility this brings.
Acts 16 records Paul and Silas being called in a vision to go over to Macedonia to help.
So, they changed travel plans in response to what God was saying to them, and God threw the door wide open to the message of the gospel.
There are three stories recorded by Luke. A businesswoman named Lydia, a slave girl and a local jailer.
Paul encountered such an amazing variety of people in Philippi, from different nations with different backgrounds, who were all changed by the power of the same gospel.
They were welcomed into the very same church, experiencing a joy and unity in Christ unlike anything else. Paul saw all this happen because of his obedience to change his plans and respond to a call.
However, it’s Lydia’s story that grabbed my attention in a new and striking way. Lydia was known as a businesswoman who traded in rich fabric.
She was also a woman who was a God-seeker.
Paul and Silas encountered her along with a group of women at a prayer meeting down by the river. Luke makes a bold statement about Lydia. He says of her that ‘God opened her heart to respond to the message’. He then proceeds to tell us of the powerful ripple effect of her conversion.
Lydia not only opened her heart, but she opened her home.
The bible says she and her entire family became devoted to Christ and were baptised (Acts 16:15). She also discovered the gift of hospitality and invited Paul and Silas to stay in her home.
It is thought that Lydia’s home, her business connections, and influence in Philippi led to a church being established there, and that many other people there were reached with the gospel.
In these times I believe God wants to draw our attention to those whose hearts he is opening
I think God wants to surprise us by opening the hearts of people around us. And we will find people, like Lydia, whose ‘hearts he has opened’ in places to which he is directing us.
It might be that God is asking you to use your home as a tool to reach out to others. Invitation and hospitality are amazing ways to connect with others and share the love of Jesus.
Ask God to lead you by his Spirit, and expect Him to move in unexpected places as you reach out with His love to those around you, and especially to those the Holy Spirit highlights.
And I pray we would see these days of unprecedented challenge as extraordinary days for God to open people’s hearts.
Days when we reach out to those whose hearts he is opening with his love, just like Lydia.
Beryl Glass is an Elim minister in the North West and Scottish Region, and serves on the Aspire team. She is married to James and they have three grown-up children.
First published in the September 2021 issue of Direction, Elim’s monthly magazine. Subscribe now to get Direction delivered to your home.
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