We're so glad that you've joined us today!
Lois did our lesson this week, and requested that we listen to this hymn, "It Is Well With My Soul."
Horatio G. Spafford wrote the text to this hymn. His son only son died of pneumonia. He then lost everything in the Chicago fire of 1871. He planned to travel with his wife and four daughters back to England. However, Spafford was detained with business at the last minute, and his family traveled without him. The ship they were on sank, killing all four of his daughters. When his wife reached Cardiff, Wales, Mrs. Spafford sent a telegram to her husband: "Saved Alone."
Spafford immediately went to join her. The words were said to be written as he approached the area of the ocean where the ship carrying his daughters sank.
When we met together in person, we share our joys and concerns. Take some time to think about the last week. Who might you pray for? What prayer requests do you have? If you have any that you would like to share, you can add them as a comment below. When you are ready, pray the prayer below, including any prayer requests we may have.
Lord our God,
blessed is the one who comes in your name!
Gather us in your gentle presence
as a hen shelters her brood
beneath her wings.
Finish the work you have begun in us
so that we may show your glory;
through Jesus Christ our peace.
[Pray for any requests here.]
This week's lesson is on Acts 16:11-15,40 and 1 Corinthians 1:26-30.
This is our last lesson on women in the New Testament. Our lesson today is about Lydia from Thyatira Paul, Silas and others joined Luke and they traveled to Phillippi. There was no synagogue but a group met outside the city gates by the river. This prayer group seems to have consisted solely of women. One who was listening was Lydia who was a dealer in purple cloth. She was a worshipper of God. The Lord open her heart to Paul’s message For Lydia to specialize in purple cloth was to deal in luxury’s items so it is likely that Lydia had a prosperous business. Lydia respond to Paul’s message with faith. Her and her household was baptized.
As an outpouring of gratitude to God for accepting her into his family, Lydia invited Paul and his companions to her home to stay for awhile This offer was dangerous for both of them. Lydia because she was inviting men into her home that was teaching a way of life a lot of people didn’t understand and might effect her business and Paul and his companions because they were Jewish men visiting in the home of a Gentile woman.
After Paul and Silas came out of prison after being arrested for casting out a spirit of divination out of a fortune teller slave girl, they returned to Lydia’s. Their unjust treatment of the missionaries was traumatic for them and their new congregation. This became a time for all to be encouraged.
Lydia’s home in Philippi surely became the initial meeting place for this group of believers. Her legacy of hospitality, service and faithfulness endured in this church. Out of her humble prayer group would spring the greatest church in Asia Minor. The fledgling church began with women. The church grew in part thanks to Lydia’s hospitality.
The lesson continues with 1 Corinthians 25-30. Paul reminded the Corinthian Christians of what they had been before coming to Christ. Their church did not begin with leaders who had great education, widespread social influence or distinguished families. Doubly, Paul may have wanted to remind the Corinthians that their mostly Gentile backgrounds had prevented them from attaining any standing among God’s people before.
All human wisdom and power are finite things and minuscule when compared to the power and wisdom of God God is all powerful and all knowing.
God does not often choose to dazzle people into belief by displays of might and intelligence.
We are reminded of Peter, who, when told that Jesus would accomplish the Father’s will by Jesus’ humiliation, suffering, death and resurrection in Jerusalem, exclaimed, “Never, Lord’ Peter did not expect the Messiah to bring victory through death.
In the Roman world nothing was as lowly than a cross, the torture-execution for the worst criminals. Christian today see the cross as a comforting and victorious symbol. Many of us wear the cross as jewelry. Not so in Paul’s day. The cross was shameful: nothing could be more despised among polite society. But God does not play by society’s rules or expectations. A Christian seeing a cross in the first century would be struck by the completely unexpected and humbling circumstances of Jesus’ sacrifice. What is scandalous to us may be glorious to God
The Holy Spirit works holiness in us, teaching us to identify sin and empowering us to overcome it and produce the fruits of the Spirit. This allows us to live holy lives that would be impossible without God’s power.
Redemption is a term associated with being freed from slavery. We have not only been bought by the blood of Jesus-we have been set free from our slavery to sin.
Though the cross God has made a way for us to be restored to fellowship with him. This is our salvation in Jesus Christ.
A : Serving as God Desires
Our last four weeks have explored the examples of Anna, the prophetess daughters of Phillip, the Samaritan woman, Mary Magdalene and Priscilla. In Lydia’s case, she made use of her status and wealth to serve God. Her influence bought her household to Christ and had a ripple effect in Philippi. Her prosperous business allowed her to host Paul and his companions in her house, as well as the church that would grow from their efforts. These efforts were not accomplished for the glory of Lydia or Paul. Both sought only to follow Christ and lead others to him.
We might summarize the accounts from this unit and say that each woman served where God gave her the opportunity and gifting. The same holds true today. When a woman senses God’s calling on her to use her job, her social connections and/or spiritual gifts he gave her for the glory , she can and will find a way to serve. While the same is true for men, the nature of women’s ministries has often been less visible and sometimes less critical in spreading the gospel.
B. Glorying in the Cross
As Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians, God chose the cross to show his wisdom instead of using what is honored and revered in any human society And the foolish of the world became the wisdom of God. God still uses his people following the way of the cross to show his wisdom to the world. Let us continue to seek his wisdom and remain open to other “foolish “ things God may choose in place of the “wise” In this way, we seek only God’s glory.
Lord God, all Christians need places to serve! May we answer you as you call us to the right place at the right time and gift us in the right way to do your will. We pray in Jesus’ name. Amen
Today's benediction is from the New International Version.
Next week, we start a new quarter. The spring lessons will be on the topic of Prophets Faithful to God's Covenant, featuring passages from the Old Testament. The scripture for next week will be Deuteronomy 18:15-22.
The document below has the devotional readings for each day, and a chart with the Old Testament prophets.
We are a small, rural Presbyterian church in southwestern Pennsylvania.