Summary: In Acts 16 Paul received vision of a man from Macedonia to come over & help him. Paul & Silas immediately crossed the Aegean Sea to Europe to reach this man. Instead of a man, he found a woman, Lydia, Europe's first convert to Christ.
God Saves a Tender Heart: Europe’s First Convert
April 23, 2017
NOTE: A PowerPoint and ProPresenter 6 slide presentation is available for this sermon upon request at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Adapted from a sermon by Jerry Shirley on SermonCentral.com.
TEXT: Please turn in your Bibles to Acts 16
We’ve been in a series through the book of Acts for about two years now and after finishing chapter 15, we took a break to cover several other series for a while. So now we’re going to jump back into Acts.
After Paul’s first missionary journey, his conversion of Gentiles stirred up a hornet’s nest that was settled in the beginning of chapter 15 where the Apostles decided in the Jerusalem Council that Gentiles did not have to follow the Law of Moses. The second part of chapter 15 describes the first part of Paul’s second missionary journey, through what is modern day Turkey, starting some churches in new areas, and visiting some existing churches they had started on their first missionary journey.
That’s where we pick up the story, which is about to take a dramatic turn. Look with me at verses 6-8 – “Now when they had gone throughout Phrygia and the region of Galatia, and were forbidden of the Holy Ghost to preach the word in Asia, 7 After they were come to Mysia, they assayed to go into Bithynia: but the Spirit suffered them not. 8 And they passing by Mysia came down to Troas.
After travelling west through the northern part of the region of Asia, they desired to go into Bithynia, but verse 7 says, “…the Spirit suffered them not.” In modern-day English that means, “they were forbidden by the Holy Spirit.”
They tried to go SOUTH into Asia, but God said “no,” and put up a roadblock. Then they tried to go NORTH into Bithynia, and had the same response. They had come from the east, so the only direction left was west.
In chapter 16, we’ll see how God saved A TENDER HEART—a business woman named Lydia in today’s sermon; He saved A TORTURED HEART—a demon-possessed slave, in verses 16-24 in next week’s sermon; and in the following Sunday, we’ll see how He saved A TOUGHENED HEART—the Philippian jailor, in verses 25-34.
Let’s begin by seeing three things in this text about this woman named Lydia:
I. NOTE WITH ME FIRST, THE VISION – Verses 9-10 – “And they passing by Mysia came down to Troas. 9 And a vision appeared to Paul in the night; There stood a man of Macedonia, and prayed him, saying, Come over into Macedonia, and help us. 10 And after he had seen the vision, immediately we endeavoured to go into Macedonia, assuredly gathering that the Lord had called us for to preach the gospel unto them.”
Paul and Silas were seeking God’s guidance, but they had no clear direction yet. Then one night Paul had a vision of a man from Macedonia, which is on the other side of the Aegean Sea, calling him to “Come over to Mecedonia and help us.”
Now notice Paul’s response in verse 10 – Once he knew God’s plan through this vision, he and Silas sought to go over to Macedonia immediately. That may not seem so significant to you until you realize that when Paul received his vision he was still in Asia, and Macedonia was the tip of Europe! So they crossed over into Europe and as far as you and I are concerned, that’s the most important call that’s ever been made or answered! Aren’t you glad Paul had the vision and answered the call? You’re probably here today because of that one historic decision!
You may not have received a literal vision, but we’ve all received our own Macedonian call. Do you have a vision of your relatives walking toward the cliff that leads to hell? Have you answered their call—“come and help me”? Have you heard the call from broken homes—“come and help us!”?
All people have a God-shaped void inside of them, and often people try to fill that void with material things, pleasure, sex, drugs and alcohol, achievement, money, relationships and even good works and social involvement. But the ONLY thing that can fill the God-shaped void is GOD! Trying all these substitutes is their way of calling out, “Come and help us!”
Catch a vision of people in sin, calling out for a lifeline saying, “come help us!” They’re not beating down the doors of this church to get in here. We have to go to them and help them find Christ.
In fact, it’s not their responsibility to come to us; it’s our responsibility to go to them!
Illus. – When I was raising support to go to the mission field, I remember two churches that were polar opposites. One church was dying, and the other was growing and thriving.