Word for the day by Christian Education Forum
A divine encounter.
"--The Lord opened her heart to pay attention to what was said by Paul” Acts 16:14
Lydia encountered God at Philippi, a Roman colony in the district of Macedonia. She was fairly well off and is widely recognized as the first convert of Paul in Europe. I love how Paul's initial plan was not to go to Philippi at all, but God forced him there. And Lydia was from Thyatira, but her work as a seller of fine purple cloth led her to Philippi. This is God working in the shadows, orchestrating His divine plan. There were sins, and a lifestyle of obligations, for which the only answer was and is the Son of God. Just like it happened for Lydia, God will always give us the opportunity to confess and repent of our sins.
The opener of hearts.
The Lord opened Lydia's heart, and it's Him who opens our hearts, allowing us to see our own wretchedness and the holiness of Him who sits on the throne. It's the Holy Spirit who convicts us of sin and righteousness and the coming judgment. Our hearts must be supernaturally opened to hear God's voice, and then opened to understand how and why we've broken His heart by our sinful nature. God used Paul to speak the truth, but it was the Holy Spirit who opened Lydia's heart and it's the Holy Spirit who continues to open our hearts.
Washed and cleansed
What can truly wash away our sins? Nothing but the blood of Jesus. Paul spoke the Gospel to her and she accepted it, and wanted to be baptized right then and there as the power of the Gospel overcame her heart. With that symbolic act, she was immersed into the death of Christ, washed by the blood of the lamb, cleansed by the water of the Word, and emerged as a born again believer empowered by the Holy Spirit. No matter how bad or guilty we feel, it's only by the finished work of Jesus on the cross and the cleansing of His word that we can accept the forgiveness that is already ours in Christ Jesus, which will then allow us to move forward with a repentant and joyous heart. Why joyous? Well how could we not be joyous in knowing that all we needed to do was freely accept and believe in the costly price He paid? How could we not be joyous in knowing that our evil hearts will not be counted against us on that day of judgment? Instead, the Savior stands in front of us and His righteousness is counted in our place for those who truly believe in Him. Where sin abounds, grace abounds that much more; praise be to God!
Prayer: Father, we thank you for grace that allows us to encounter you, recognize our sin, repent, and be freed from guilt. We love you Lord, and praise You for having loved us first. Amen
Prijo Thomas, St Andrews MTC, NY