JUNE 23

A Heart to Hear

Bible Reading: Acts 16:11-15

The term heart is used in the Bible to speak of a person’s innermost being, or as Vine’s Expository Dictionary says, “the hidden springs of the personal life.” The Greek term is kardia from which we get the word cardiac. I was on a trip to my dad’s not too long ago when I began to feel ill.  My heart was racing, and my blood pressure was too high, so I drove myself to the emergency room of the nearest hospital.  The ER doctor checked my vital signs and ordered some tests.  They did a blood test and took an ECG and some x-rays to diagnose the condition of my heart.  They let me go after my symptoms improved, and they determined that my heart was fine. Doctors can do such tests to evaluate the condition of a person’s physical heart, but it is God alone, the Great Physician, who can work to diagnose a person’s spiritual heart, and open it up to His life-renewing truth.

God providentially led Paul and his companions to the city of Philippi.  And they spent some days in the city.  On the Sabbath, they went down by the river, supposing that they might find a place of prayer.  They found some women there, including Lydia, who was a “worshipper of God.  It shouldn’t escape our notice that as these women were praying, God was working in directing Paul and his companions to them. Through their prayers, the gospel was brought to an entirely new region! Lydia was from Thyatira.  The people of that region were famous for their skill in the manufacture and use of a purple dye.  She had come to Philippi as a trader.  Since there is no mention of a husband, it may have been that she took over her husband’s business.  She had her own home in Philippi, so she had evidently been there for some time.  So, the group—Paul, Silas, Timothy and Luke—were speaking to these women who were assembled.

Paul and his companions were speaking to Lydia.  What were they saying?  No doubt they were sharing the gospel with them.  These were folks who had some understanding of the Scriptures but didn’t know about Jesus.  One would suppose that Paul’s message to them was much the same as when he had spoken in various other places of the death and resurrection of Christ, and the promise of salvation to those who believe. 

“The Lord opened her heart to pay attention to what was said by Paul” (Acts 16:14).  This is the necessary order of things.  It reminds us of the true nature of what happens when a sinner is saved by grace.  The Lord opened her heart.  Preceding her response to the gospel, the Lord was at work in opening her heart to the truth.  There can be no salvation of a soul apart from this preparatory work of the Lord.  Jesus said, “No one can come to Me, unless the Father who sent Me draws him” (John 6:44).  God’s work precedes man’s response.  Salvation happens by God’s intervention.  It is God’s work—from start to finish.  1 Corinthians 1:30, “But by His doing you are in Christ Jesus.”  Are you in Christ Jesus today?  That happened by God’s doing!  Praise God for it!

The Lord opened her heart.  It is necessary for the heart to be opened to the truth. The message of the gospel must penetrate to the deepest part of a man. The heart is desperately wicked. Apart from God’s intervention, it will hold no interest in the things of God (Jeremiah 17:9).  It will do no good to merely understand the facts of the gospel. Salvation happens when a person confesses with their mouth Jesus as Lord and believes in their heart that God raised Him from the dead (Romans 10:9).  Jesus taught of such things when He spoke of the parable of the Sower.  The Sower sowed the seed.  And it fell on hard ground, and rocky ground, and thorn-infested ground, and finally on good ground.  Only the good soil worked to bear much fruit.  The good soil is representative if soil that is first prepared.  The hard-preparatory work has been done.  As in Lydia’s case. 

Every believer must come to salvation in this same manner.  But God’s design is such that we would remain in this place—in a place where our hearts are always open so that we might pay attention to the truth of God’s Word.  This is the happy and healthy place for us as believers.  And should we find ourselves in any other place, we ought to pray that God might return us to that open-heartedness that He first bestowed in us in the beginning.

So, Lydia believed and was baptized, along with her other dependents and servants.  Paul’s first convert in Europe, she extended hospitality to Paul and his companions, as a church was born in Philippi.  And even after the salvation of the Philippian jailer and his family, it is to her home that they all preceded (Acts 16:40).

When you open your Bible, ask the Author to open your heart.

Anonymous

HEAVEN CAME DOWN

O what a wonderful, wonderful day-
Day I will never forget;
After I’d wandered in darkness away,
Jesus my Savior I met.
O what a tender, compassionate friend-
He met the need of my heart;
Shadows dispelling, With joy I am telling,
He made all the darkness depart!
Heaven came down
and glory filled my soul,
When at the cross
the Savior made me whole;
My sins were washed away
And my night was turned to day-
Heaven came down
and glory filled my soul!

Born of the Spirit with life from above
Into God’s family divine,
Justified fully through Calvary’s love,
O what a standing is mine!
And the transaction so quickly was made
When as a sinner I came,
Took of the offer Of grace He did proffer-
He saved me, O praise His dear name!
Heaven came down
and glory filled my soul,
When at the cross
the Savior made me whole;
My sins were washed away
And my night was turned to day-
Heaven came down
and glory filled my soul!

Now I’ve a hope that will surely endure
After the passing of time;
I have a future in heaven for sure.
There in those mansions sublime.
And its because of that wonderful day
What at the cross I believed;
Riches eternal And blessings supernal
From His precious hand I received.
Heaven came down
and glory filled my soul,
When at the cross
the Savior made me whole;
My sins were washed away
And my night was turned to day-
Heaven came down
and glory filled my soul!

© 1961, renewed 1989 by John W. Peterson Music Company.

Author: looking2jesus13

Having served as pastor at Lewis and Clark Bible Church, in Astoria, Oregon, for almost three decades, my wife’s cancer diagnosis led to my retirement and subsequent move to Heppner to be near our two grandchildren. I divide my time between caring for Laura and working as a part time hospice chaplain and spending time with family and spoiling my chocolate lab.

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