Scripture Reading:  Acts 16:11-15

“One who heard us was a woman named Lydia, from the city of Thyatira, a seller of purple goods, who was a worshiper of God.  The Lord opened her heart to pay attention to what was said by Paul.”  (Acts 16:14)

After Paul, Silas and Timothy arrived in Philippi, they met a businesswoman from Thyatira, a city known for its wool and for dying.  Lydia was a worshiper of God.  She was drawn to the monotheistic God of the Jews rather than to the pantheon of the Greek and Roman gods.  Clearly, she was a religious person; but she had not heard the good news of salvation by grace through faith in Jesus Christ.

There are so many today who like Lydia are good, moral, religious people.  The problem is that they are trusting in their religion and morality to save them.  Many of these people are very difficult to reach because they are depending on their self-righteous deeds for salvation and do not see how desperate they are for God’s grace.  Many of them are hard working, nice people who have been steeped in religious traditions.  They may be worshipers of God in a generic way but they have not grasped the true meaning of the gospel.  They are trusting in their religious traditions rather than solely in Jesus Christ for their salvation.

But notice what happened to Lydia:  “The Lord opened her heart to pay attention to what was said by Paul.”  Lydia experienced the new birth.  The Holy Spirit opened her heart and gave her a new ability to hear the things of God.  The Spirit of God convinced her of her need, enlightened her mind and renewed her will.  Lydia was “born again” when her heart was opened, and she was persuaded and enabled to embrace Jesus Christ as her Lord and Savior.

The gospel is not about what we do for God; it is about what God does for us through His Son Jesus Christ.  God sent His Son to redeem us, and He and His Son sent the Holy Spirit to enlighten our hearts.  The regenerating work of the Spirit is mysterious.  He opens our hearts to hear, to understand and to embrace the Word of God.  He gives us a new ability to grasp spiritual truth and enables us to respond to that truth in repentance and faith.

O Holy Spirit, open my heart to pay attention to Your Word.  Thank You for Your mysterious work of regeneration and for Your continued work of illumination.  Thank you for all that You have done to save me from my sinful condition.


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