Acts 16 v 11-15, 40.
A woman walked quickly out of the city to a spot by the river where a prayer meeting was going to be held. Her name was Lydia and she was a fairly wealthy and important person. She owned a business and had a large home with many servants. Lydia was called a ‘seller of purple’. Thyatira was the name of the city where Lydia was born, and it was famous for it’s scarlet and purple dyes. Maybe Lydia’s father was a seller of purple too and she learnt how to dye cloth from him. But she now lived in Philippi, and probably imported the purple cloth and sold it in her shop. Purple was the colour that kings and rich men wore, so Lydia would be an important business woman if she sold those things, and well known by them. Although she had a big house and many servants, and she would have worn the best of clothes, she wasn’t snobby. Instead she was very friendly and hospitable. She loved having folk in her home.
She worshipped God, but yet she didn’t know much about Jesus. It was because she wanted to please God that she was off to this prayer meeting now. The Jews apparently needed 10 men who worshipped God in a town, before they could build a synagogue (That’s a temple or church).
Maybe there weren’t 10 Jewish men here yet that loved God, so that could be why the prayer meeting was being held outside by the river.
Lydia arrived and sat down. Some strangers were there. The apostle Paul and his 3 friends had arrived from a town called Troas that very day, and they wanted to speak to the people about Jesus and God. Paul told them all how Jesus, God’s son, had come to earth as a baby, then grown up and died on the cross. He also told them all how Jesus had come alive again and by this, shown that death had no power over him. Then Paul explained that Jesus was punished for all the sins of the world. We should be punished for the things we do wrong, but Jesus was willing to be punished instead of us because he loved us so much. And that if we trust in Jesus, we can have our sins forgiven and belong in God’s family. Lydia listened very carefully. She was interested to hear all this and she believed all that Paul said. After the meeting she went and asked Paul heaps more questions. “How can I have my sins forgiven, be sure I belong to God?” So Paul explained – “all of us have sin in our heart. And sin isn’t allowed in Heaven. Also sin and wrongdoing has to be punished. But God loves us and wants to save us. So He sent His Son Jesus to be punished instead of us. It gives us the chance to choose to pray to God and ask Him to forgive our sins and come and live in our hearts. That way we become His child, and when we die we go to Heaven.”
Lydia understood it all. And she wanted to belong to God’s family, so she asked God to take away her sin and He did. What do we call a person who has done that? (a Christian)
Lydia was now at peace in her heart. She wanted everyone to know what God had done for her. Up she jumped and away she hurried, back home. She met a few people on her way and stopped and told them about God. Then she hurried on to her house. There she gathered all her servants together and shared with them about God and what she had learned. The Bible tells us that that all in Lydia’s house believed in God too.
Do you know what a missionary is? (tells people about God)
Lydia was a missionary in that she told people about what God had done for her. We don’t have to go to another country to be a missionary, or stand up and preach in church. We too can be missionaries like Lydia. We can tell our families and friends about God. We can be missionaries at school, or home, playing or working. We have to carry on with our normal life, but we can tell others how to be Christians and act in a way that pleases God. School will still be the same – but the difference is that Jesus will be living in us and helping us with our work and play.
Although Lydia was rich and important, she was also friendly and helpful. We should always be friendly and helpful to everyone too. That pleases God and shows others how Christians should act.
1. Where did Lydia come from? (Thyatira)
2. Where was she living now? (Philippi)
3. Who came and spoke at the meeting? (Paul)
4. What did Lydia sell? (Purple)
5. Where was the meeting held? (River)
6. Who did Lydia sell material to? (Rich)
7. Who did Paul talk about? (Jesus)
8. What did Lydia become? (Missionary)