9During the night Paul had a vision: there stood a man of Macedonia pleading with him and saying, “Come over to Macedonia and help us.” 10When he had seen the vision, we immediately tried to cross over to Macedonia, being convinced that God had called us to proclaim the good news to them. 11We set sail from Troas and took a straight course to Samothrace, the following day to Neapolis, 12and from there to Philippi, which is a leading city of the district of Macedonia and a Roman colony. We remained in this city for some days. 13On the sabbath day we went outside the gate by the river, where we supposed there was a place of prayer; and we sat down and spoke to the women who had gathered there. 14A certain woman named Lydia, a worshiper of God, was listening to us; she was from the city of Thyatira and a dealer in purple cloth. The Lord opened her heart to listen eagerly to what was said by Paul. 15When she and her household were baptized, she urged us, saying, “If you have judged me to be faithful to the Lord, come and stay at my home.” And she prevailed upon us.
Reading Scripture to Know:
- What is happening/being said?
- Why is this happening/being said?
- What does the rest of Scripture say about it?
- What does it mean?
- What does it mean for us?
Reading Scripture to Grow:
- What words or phrases stand out to you? Why?
- Where do you hear the voice of God in this Scripture?
- How does this Scripture speak to what is happening in your life?
- How does this Scripture speak to what is happening in our world?
Reflection: Do you have a special place for prayer? Is there a place that brings you peace and helps you to focus your whole attention on God? For the women in Philippi, the river outside the city was such a place. Take a look at the picture above. It is not difficult to see why a beautiful, serene river scene would invite and evoke prayer. Place yourself in the scene. Where are you: on the rocks, by the bank, in the shade of a tree, wading a little way into the calm waters? What are your eyes focused upon: the soft ripples made by the wind, the greenery towering above you, the swirling white clouds against the blue of the sky? What other members of God’s creation share this time and space with you: singing birds, swimming fish, perhaps a deer or other wildlife pausing to refresh themselves with the cool water? Be aware of God’s presence. Note the handiwork of the Almighty. You are on the cusp of a holy experience. Find your special place for communion with God. Pray, speak to God, hear his voice, and enjoy fellowship with the Holy One.
Prayer Focus: In this scene form our Scripture, the church in Philippi is being given birth. This church would remain in contact with Paul over the years and become a important witness in the Mediterranean world. Consider our own church and how it began. Faithful men and women decided to come together in worship, study, prayer, and service to be a witness to our community. Pray for the church this week, remembering why it was that our church came into existence. Ask God to pour out the Holy Spirit upon us so that we might continue the faithful work begun so many years ago. Pray that we might become a society-changing witness to those around us, that our neighbors might see Christ in the life of our church and come to know him, his love, and his saving power. Like Paul responding to the Macedonian man from his vision, whose cries to God for help might our church respond to today?
Meditation Focus: Take time this week to remember your baptism. Perhaps you were baptized as an infant or young child and so you cannot literally remember the act of your baptism. Perhaps you did not experience something as dramatic as a household baptism in which your whole family was baptized at once, in the way Lydia and her household did. The call to remember your baptism, though, is not an invitation to just recall a memory, but to remember the fact that you are baptized. Take some time to think about what happened to you in the act of baptism. How did it change you? What was its significance? When Jesus was baptized the Father affirmed that Jesus was his beloved child. Also, the Holy Spirit descended upon him and sealed him in God’s love. Transport your mind back to the time of your baptism and imagine the Spirit being poured out upon you. Hear God’s voice of love and approval being spoken over you. Remember your baptism and be glad.
Journaling Focus: How do you distinguish between your own inner voice and the voice of God? If God were to tell you something urgent, how would you know? Write about a time when you were sure that God was speaking to you and leading you to do something specific. Where were you? How did this message come to you? How did you know it was God? What was God’s message to you and why was this word spoken to you? Did you faithfully follow this message and what was the result? How might you continue to cultivate an awareness to God and God’s leading? God desires to communicate with you and lead you more deeply into loving communion with him and faithfulness to him.
Breath Prayer: Father, speak to me (us) and lead me (us).
Image Credit: © Satayu Sengsomwong | Dreamstime.com – Water stream