Monday, May 14, 2012

Acts 16:11-15

Summary retelling of Acts 16:11-15

Paul and his friends arrive in Macedonia and they head straight for one of the biggest cities: Philippi.  They scouted out the city for a few days and when the time for Sabbath worship came they went to the river’s edge to pray.  There were some women who had gathered there for prayer, so Paul and his friends talked with them.  One of them was named Lydia, and she was a dealer in purple cloth from the city of Thyatira (in Asia Minor).  God opened her heart and she began to pay attention to Paul’s teaching.  Furthermore, she was baptized – her whole household – and once she was baptized she invited Paul and his friends to come and stay with her family.

Thoughts for Today
First Thought:
This is one of my favorite passages of scripture.  The church that Paul establishes in Philippi is often called the greatest and most faithful church that Paul helped to found in the Christian faith.  They were a small congregation, but they were noted for always putting God first and taking their faith life seriously.  Paul’s letter to them once he leaves (we call it the book of Philippians) is truly a letter of spirituality and genuine encouragement in the faith.  This story tells us how it was that this wonderful place of faith was born.  It was born out of a group of women who were willing to listen.  They were willing to submit to the truth.  They were willing to change and become something greater – something that God saw in them.

How cool is it that we get to see the origins of one of the most faithful early missionary communities?  What about the story of their foundation inspires you?

Second Thought:
Notice that they met beside water to pray.  This tells us that there likely was no synagogue in Philippi.  Paul always starts in the synagogue if there is one, so the fact that Paul doesn’t go to a synagogue tips us off that there wasn’t likely a synagogue.  Whenever it came time to pray and the Jews didn’t have a local synagogue, they would seek out running water.  Running water has always been a sign of God’s Spirit, so it makes for a natural place to pray.

Why is it neat to think that perhaps one of the greatest missionary churches started without even having a building in which to worship?  What does this passage seem to speak to us about which is more important: seeking a place where God is present or having a building where we can go?

Third Thought:
I also love this passage because it shows us the true Paul.  Here Paul openly prays with women.  He openly speaks to women.  In fact, once the women are baptized Paul even goes and accepts hospitality from the women.  Paul was no misogynist (person who believes women are lower than men) as many want to make Paul out to be.  In fact, it is the women that begin the church in Philippi!  This passage is one of the greatest passages to illustrate that Paul was trying to break down the barriers between Jews/Gentiles as well as men/women.  If we genuinely believe Paul was following the Holy Spirit, there is no reason to think that women cannot play predominant roles in the church.  There is no reason to think that women can’t be leaders in the church.  Certainly Lydia is a great example of leadership in the church in Philippi.

Does this passage help you admire Paul’s work in the ancient culture?  How does this passage help you know that Paul genuinely believed what he wrote in Galatians 3:28?

Passage for Tomorrow: Acts 16:16-18
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