Offbeat #9 - Lydia

On Paul’s missionary journeys, his typical strategy for sharing the gospel was to start in the synagogue. Many of the gentile cities he preached in had a Jewish presence. This was a good starting point because there were fewer barriers to overcome. Jews already worshipped Yahweh, now they just needed to be introduced to his messiah.
 
In Philippi, however, there was no synagogue and archaeological findings suggest no Jewish presence at all, so where was Paul to start? How should he present the gospel in Philippi? Well, according to Acts 16, Paul and his companions heard about a prayer meeting happening along the banks of the River Gangites. Upon arrival, they discovered a small group of gentile women, who nevertheless were worshippers of the God of the Jews. We’re told the name of one of these women, Lydia, a dealer in purple cloth.
 
In Jewish culture (of which Paul and his companions were members), women were treated as a lower class and to associate with a woman without the presence of her husband (if married) or parents (if unmarried) was tantamount to having an affair. Strike one for Lydia and her friends. Even worse for Jews was to associate with gentiles. Strike two.
 
Of course, we know that Paul’s primary mission was to preach to the gentiles, but it would have been perfectly understandable, culturally speaking, for him to avoid this gathering of women. Instead, he strikes up a conversation. We’re not told much about Lydia, but we are told that God had opened her heart to be able to hear and receive the gospel message. In response to Paul’s teaching, she and many of those in her household were baptized and became the first converts in what would become a fledging Philippian church. This church would go on to be one of Paul’s most faithful supporting churches and one that displayed generous deeds despite its monetary poverty.
 
In the case of Lydia and the other women by the river, Paul displayed sensitivity to the leadings of the Holy Spirit that overrode his biases. I wonder how many hearts that the Lord has softened toward the gospel miss out on hearing it because of Christians who assume too much. It can be easy to assume someone’s lack of openness because of their own religious background or behavior, but God penetrates even the most unsuspecting of hearts to prepare them to respond to the good news about Jesus. May we be as sensitive to the Spirit and bold with the gospel as Paul was in Philippi.

Sean's Picks

Holiness Video - The Bible Project is a massive production of videos that teach the Bible. This is an excellent resource that I have mentioned before. One of my favorite Bible Project videos is the one below that explains the theme of holiness in scripture.

Missions Spotlight:
Jennifer Marmolejos (YoungLife)

YOUNG LIFE Digital Banquet
You're INVITED!
On Thursday, Oct 29th at 7pm.
Please join us for 45 minutes of celebrating and hearing testimonies about how God has been moving this past year through BRYL!
RSVP HERE

More Updates from Jen
"Jesus didn't come to make us good, He came to give us life"... the words our Fall weekend speaker shared to a room full of teenagers and YL leaders. I particularly remember one of our senior girls' being so struck by that statement! It was like a light switch came on for her and a powerful moment of seeing God's truth completely transform her mind. For some of you YL veterans, you might notice this fall weekend was not your typical overnight at Lake Champion but it was definitely a time that helped us gain new life skills, build some muscle and set a record of killing 100's of spotted laternflies (#savethetrees). We took two days to partner with Light to Earth Sanctuary to organize their large clothing drive, garden, paint bat sheltzers and many other outdoor tasks. LTES serves as a safe oasis on Hope Hill Farm for single mothers and children who are seeking emotional and spiritual restoration. We are so grateful to have been a part of God's work there.

THANK YOU, yes YOU reading this. It is through your prayers, financial support, encouragements and/or connections that we are able to cultivate community like this for teens, talk about what truly matters and invite kids to be a part of something bigger than themselves!

Personal Praise Report:
  • My dad is finally out of quarantine (again) - he tested positive a second time but he is doing well. I finally got to see him on Saturday after WEEKS of being at a new nursing home facility and he is now continuing his doctor visits for cancer treatment. Thank you all for praying! '
Ministry Prayer Requests:
  • All details regarding our virtual banquet prep, speakers and guests.
  • Weekly Tuesday night high school campaigners (bible study) is still outside until it gets cold! Prayers for beautiful weather on Tuesdays for as long as we can. Annika is leading!
  • First Wyldlife club back on Wednesday, October 7th. Open for 6-8th graders. Junior at BRHS, Molly, is giving her first club talk! 

Grateful,
Jen Marmolejos
“But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” Ephesians 2:4-10
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