30th April 2014

Responding to God’s Grace

Final part of a Series 

“One of those listening was a woman from the city of Thyatira named Lydia, a dealer in purple cloth.  She was a worshipper of God.  The Lord opened her heart to respond to Paul’s message.”
Acts 16:14 (NIV) 

Finally on 31st December 2008 we were able to bring our daughter Lydia home from hospital, 13 weeks and one day after she was born.  She still needed to gain a lot of weight – more than 99.6% of babies her age were bigger – and she had ongoing hospital appointments until after her second birthday.  There was still a risk of long term development issues.  But it was a time of great joy and hope at the start of a New Year.  And five years later I am very happy to report that Lydia is now at school and continuing to do very well. 

I couldn’t finish this story though without mention of another Lydia who we find in the Bible.  In Acts 16:12-13 we read that Paul, Silas and Timothy travelled to Philippi.  Just outside the city gate they went to a place of prayer by the river, where they, “…sat down and began to speak to the women who had gathered there.”  And as we see from verse 14, one of them called Lydia opened her heart to the message.  This prompts us to consider whether we too have opened our hearts to the gospel of grace?  But it goes beyond that, raising the question as to whether we can also share it with others as we have opportunity, that their hearts may be opened as well.  In verse 15 we see a wonderful response of hospitality, and also that Lydia must have immediately shared what she’d heard with others close to her.  “When she and the members of her household were baptised, she invited us to her home.  ‘If you consider me a believer in the Lord,’ she said, ‘come and stay at my house.’  And she persuaded us.” 

The final mention of the biblical Lydia is in verse 40, after Paul and Silas have been imprisoned and miraculously released.  “After Paul and Silas came out of the prison, they went to Lydia’s house, where they met with the brothers and sisters and encouraged them.  Then they left.”  So only four verses in the Bible tell us about this Lydia.  It is a story of simple belief, simple hospitality and simple encouragement.  But that is a great place to start in responding to God’s amazing grace, the grace we experienced so powerfully in the early life of our daughter. 

I hope that through this series I’ve been able to convey just a little of that experience, and you will feel able to celebrate God’s wonderful grace in the life of Lydia and in the lives of all of us.  We thank God for the lovely, beautiful girl He’s given us, and for sparing her life when we thought we were going to lose her.  God is good, God is gracious, and God loves all His children, including you and me and Lydia.  I pray that her story may be as inspiring to you as it has been to us. 

Prayer
Almighty God, to you be the glory for the incomparable riches of your grace that you have shared not just in the life of Lydia but in the lives of all of us.  Help us to respond in faith and share your love and grace with others as we have opportunity.  In Jesus’ name.
Amen
 

Study by Simon Williams

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 *You can read previous episodes of this study by going to the archive button on the website www.daybyday.org.uk and finding the dates 6, 13, 20 & 27 November 2013.  This series resumed on 26 March ,2, 9, 16 & 23 April 2014.  

Lydia Williams 9 for 2014-04-30About the Author:
Simon Williams is active in the Cambridge Congregation of the Worldwide Church of God.

Local Congregation:
Worldwide Church of God Cambridge
Comberton Village Hall
Green End
Comberton
CAMBRIDGE
CB23 7DY

Meeting time:
Saturday 2:00 pm

Local Congregational Contact:
Bill Lee
Email:  cambridge@wcg.org.uk

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