“Jesus was not a theologian, he was a God who tells stories.”
Yesterday, we took a bend in the road, landing on a personal side trip in this journey.
Today, we pick up our journey as we stand back and observe Paul at work. Paul, doing what he does best, sharing The Gospel.
Finally we reached Philippi, a major city in the Roman colony of Macedonia, and we remained there for a number of days.
When the Sabbath day came, we went outside the gates of the city to the nearby river, for there appeared to be a house of prayer and worship there. Sitting on the riverbank we struck up a conversation with some of the women who had gathered there. ~Acts 16: 12&13 TPT
There was not a synagogue in Philippi, so we can assume the Jewish population must have been small. The founding of a synagogue required ten married men. Tuck that somewhere in your heart as we peek into Paul’s easy manner.
Paul doesn’t jump right in preaching hellfire, and brimstone. Bible beating folks on their sweating brow. Rather, Paul eases in, takes a few days rest, I imagine time in prayer. Perhaps praying over the town with its inhabitants. Get a feel for the community, lean in, listen, learn who they are, how best to approach them.
Don’t you just love that? It’s as if he is pouring warm honey in hot tea. Paul is speaking truth in love just as he wrote to the Ephesians in chapter four, verse fifteen:
Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ. ~NIV
Speaking truth in love. Wouldn’t that tender a hard heart quicker than harsh judgement attached to a list of rules and regulations? Wouldn’t the delivery land softer than harshness would? Soothe a weary soul?
If you, as I have, experienced that before, then you know what I am talking about.
We must also know when and how he wants us to work.
Not having a synagogue in which to go pray, Paul, Timothy, Luke, and Silas go outside the city gate to a place of prayer by the Gangites River. It was customary for such places of prayer to be located outdoor near running water.
I love old pitchers. Pottery cracked, broken handles, faded paint. Sharp edges I run my fingers across and remember the Jesus who died for me. When I see an empty pitcher the rich symbolism of being filled speaks to me. Whispers, without being filled, I am an empty broken vessel.
My heart is drawn to Living Water. I cannot overlook the fact my disease makes one thirst as if you have just hiked a marathon through a sandy dessert blowing a nasty wind on cracked lips. The irony, the symbolism deep. Because I am physically thirsty beyond reason, I am constantly reminded to fill myself with living water.
Jesus answered, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” ~John 14:13&14
The fact that places of prayer were located by running water, speaks living water to me. Times in my life whether physical or soul ,when healing was needed, the ocean’s edge drew me.
Water, though I sink like a rock, soothes, heals, beckons me. I know beyond my knowing I cannot survive without Living Water. I want to draw it in with every part of being.
I can picture Paul as he nonchalantly slips to water’s edge, bent in prayer, moving closer to the women there. Not in a way that threatened, but in a way stirring curiosity. As he does, a woman by the name of Lydia leans closer to hear.
The NIV says it like this, “We sat down and began to speak to the women who had gathered there.”
Paul begins to speak. The Greek word here means shared. Paul shared The Gospel in this instance rather than preach it.
As Paul shares the good news with Lydia, God opens her heart to receive the message.
She devoted herself to the Lord, and we baptized her and her entire family. Afterward she urged us to stay in her home, saying, “Since I am now a believer in the old, come and stay in my house.” So we were persuaded to stay there. ~Acts 16:15 TPT
A group of women. One hears. Through one an entire household is saved.
No matter your audience, the size, the breath, share with all, and celebrate one!
The one who hears and receives.
Jesus told stories. Paul told the women by the river The Gospel Story. Tell your story, if only to the one.
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