BOOK BY BOOK BIBLE STUDY
BIBLE STUDY LESSON
For the week beginning Sunday May 13, 2012
CHANGING YOUR HEART WILL CHANGE YOUR HOME
(Your belief in GOD can impact your entire household)
Acts 16:1-15 chronicles the story of the beginning of the Apostle Paul’s second missionary journey, which, for the first time, would lead him into Europe. Along with Silas, and later, Timothy and Luke, Paul travels into the ancient Greek kingdom of Macedonia, which, at that time (around A.D. 50), was a province of the Roman Empire. The men had persistently tried to go north, deeper into the peninsula of Asia Minor (modern-day Turkey), but the SPIRIT OF JESUS, by way of some unexplained methods, had not allowed them to enter. With the issue of the basis of “Gentile inclusion into the Church” officially settled at the Acts 15 council, Paul, now sets out with Silas, who had replaced Barnabas, on his second missionary journey. Paul and Barnabas had split after a disagreement concerning Barnabas’ cousin John Mark. Paul had become disappointed with John Mark, because he abandoned them on their first missionary journey, while at Perga of Pamphylia (Acts 13:13). Barnabas and John Mark had already set sail for Barnabas’ homeland, the island of Cyprus, to begin working their mission there.
Meanwhile, Paul and Silas make their first stop in Derbe, and then, move on to Lystra, the home of Timothy, where Paul had preached on his first missionary journey and was stoned by an angry mob and left for dead. The people there had thought that he and Barnabas were the Greek gods Hermes and Zeus after they had healed a cripple man. However, some Jews came down later from Antioch and Iconium and turned the people against them, causing them to have to flee to Derbe (Acts 14:8-19).
While in Lystra, they meet the young Disciple Timothy, whose mother was a Jewish believer, but whose father was a Greek. Timothy was well respected by the believers in Lystra and Iconium, and so Paul asked him to join them on their mission. Out of respect for the opinion of the Jews in that area who knew Timothy’s father was a Greek, Paul arranged for Timothy to be circumcised before they left. The three men then traveled from town to town explaining the decision made by the Apostles and Elders at Jerusalem, during the Acts 15 council, that, “Gentiles did not have to be circumcised to become Christians”.
Next, Paul, Silas, and Timothy traveled through the area of Phrygia and Galatia, as the HOLY SPIRIT would not let them go any farther into Asia Minor, at that time. They traveled on to Mysia, and again, tried to go north, this time, into Bithynia, however, the SPIRIT OF JESUS compelled them, instead, into the city of Troas. It is here that the author of GOD, Luke, joins the journey, and it is here that GOD shows Paul a vision, telling him to go to Macedonia (Europe) and preach the Gospel there. So they boarded a boat and sailed from Troas to the island of Samothrace. They spent the night there, and, the following day, they landed in the port city of Neapolis. They then went to the neighboring major city of Philippi, a Roman colony at that time, in the district of Macedonia. There they abided for three days.
On the Sabbath, they went down to the riverbank, where the people, who were worshipers of GOD, met to pray. They sat down to talk to some of the women, who had come together there. One of them, Lydia of Thyatira, who was a merchant of expensive purple cloth and a devout worshiper of GOD, listened intently and opened up her heart to what Paul and his companions were saying about CHRIST. She accepted what they were saying and was baptized, along with other members of her family. Lydia insisted that Paul and his entourage come to her house as her special guests. She and her family had, that day, become the first Europeans in recorded Scripture to accept CHRIST into their lives, and this was truly a cause for celebration.
And so we see, at a time when it seemed that all doors were being shut to Paul and his companions, it turns out that GOD, in HIS infinite wisdom, had something much greater in store for those who were willing to work according to HIS will. It must have seemed strange to Paul, being blocked from the Roman province of Asia by the HOLY SPIRIT, but no one can ever know and understand the eternal plan of GOD. Ironically, as history would have it, Asia Minor would become the place that was to contain all of the recipients of the letters to the seven churches mentioned in the Book of Revelation by the Apostle John.
Paul and his entourage were then compelled to go the route of Alexander the great, whom GOD had used some 400 years earlier to spread the Greek language and culture all over world. HE had, by doing so, set the stage for the writing of the New Testament, of which Paul himself, would be its most prolific writer. The world had already seen the translation of the Old Testament Hebrew Scriptures into what then had became, the universal Greek language of the “Septuagint” (Greek version of the Old Testament) at Alexandria over 200 years earlier.
Paul, Silas, Luke, and Timothy all believed in the sovereignty of GOD over all things. And we can see, quite vividly, throughout the Book of Acts, how that belief impacted their everyday life and travels. And as for the Thyatiran woman, Lydia, and her family, they, in a very special sense, had become immortalized, through their faith and belief in CHRIST. They will forever be remembered as being the first European family to accept our LORD and SAVIOR, JESUS CHRIST. And her first act as a Christian was, ironically, to invite other Christian people into her home. It is the kind of human action that CHRIST had, years earlier, commanded us to perform.
Before we can offer our love, charity, and ministry to people in the Church, and, in the world, we must first show, and be able to offer that same love, charity, and ministry to people within our own homes. Oftentimes we look at home as a place where we go to shut the world out, but equally, it should be a place with an open door. The effectiveness of our ministry at church is always predicated upon the life we live at home. The way to a changed home, church, job, and life, has always been, through a changed heart.
(1). Reflect on why you think the home is important to GOD.
(2). Accepting CHRIST, and having a personal relationship with HIM, not only
saves you, but it can also save the lives of those in your household as well.
Explore ways through scripture, as to how you can apply GOD’s word to rescue
family members from a life of sin and self-destruction.
(3). Once GOD changes your heart, be diligent in your efforts to plant the seed of
the word of GOD into someone else’s heart, starting in your own household,
and then, working your way out into the community.
When you pray, thank GOD for Christian families and households that can be used as models to show unbelievers all the advantages of having HIM within their family structure. Ask HIM to help you to be strong and, to stay within HIS will at all times, so that you may always be an effective tool in helping family and others to spiritually strengthen their households.
KEY VERSE: Acts 16:15