If people can’t see what God is doing,they stumble all over themselves; But when they attend to what he reveals, they are most blessed.
Acts 16:9-15 Common English Bible (CEB)
A vision of a man from Macedonia came to Paul during the night. He stood urging Paul, “Come over to Macedonia and help us!” Immediately after he saw the vision, we prepared to leave for the province of Macedonia, concluding that God had called us to proclaim the good news to them.
We sailed from Troas straight for Samothrace and came to Neapolis the following day. From there we went to Philippi, a city of Macedonia’s first district and a Roman colony. We stayed in that city several days. On the Sabbath we went outside the city gate to the riverbank, where we thought there might be a place for prayer. We sat down and began to talk with the women who had gathered. One of those women was Lydia, a Gentile God-worshipper from the city of Thyatira, a dealer in purple cloth. As she listened, the Lord enabled her to embrace Paul’s message. Once she and her household were baptized, she urged, “Now that you have decided that I am a believer in the Lord, come and stay in my house.” And she persuaded us.
This past week has been a difficult one for our nation. Following three days of high profile shootings we are left feeling scared and angry. We don't know what to say and we are unsure of what to do.
What we can't do is ignore what is happening around us. We can't ignore the emotions involved. We can't ignore the innocent deaths among the black community or among the police who serve our society.
Here at OPCC, we've been in discussion these past few weeks about our core values and how these values might help us seek God's vision for our church and for the world. This week we focus on Serving With Heart. What does this mean in the current climate of our nation?
In our scripture selection from the book of Acts, we find Paul on his travels. He's just met Timothy who joins him in sharing the gospel message. They attempt to enter Asia but we are told the Spirit wouldn't allow them to speak there. Paul then has a vision of a man from Macedonia who urges him to come to their aid.
Paul and his companions immediately set out on the road with the conviction they are to proclaim the good news in Macedonia. After some time they arrive in the Macedonian city of Phillipi, a Roman colony.
What I find most interesting in this text occurs on the Sabbath when Paul's group decide to go find a place of prayer. They didn't go to the synagogue or any other place within the city. Instead they leave through the city gates and head to the river.
At the river, they encounter a Gentile woman named Lydia. Lydia not only listened to Paul's message but she and her entire household are baptized on the spot. She then persuades this group of missionaries to stay at her home during their mission in Macedonia.
This text reminds us that long before our current world of unrest, Paul and Lydia stretched the acceptable boundaries of their ancient world. They opened themselves up to God's leading and served with their hearts.
Join us on Sunday morning, July 10, as we dig deeper into these scriptures and talk about ways they might have a message for us today.