We are looking at Paul’s apostolic ministry and the stages he and his team went through to birth a church in the city of Philippi. We saw that Paul was led by the Holy Spirit to go to this city to establish a church by planting the Gospel of the Kingdom. They literally had other plans but the Holy Spirit stopped them twice from going elsewhere and then directed them to Macedonia through a vision. The truth we discovered was that apostolic people are “sent ones,” but we need to know where God is sending us.
Scene Two – The conversion of Lydia and her household: Look at Luke’s description of Paul’s first actions in Philippi: “On the Sabbath day we went outside the gate to a riverside, where we were supposing that there would be a place of prayer.” (Acts 16:13 NAS). Paul’s first impulse was not to find a place of ministry, but rather a place of prayer.
When Paul and his team found the place of prayer, they ended up conversing with some women who had assembled: “…we sat down and spoke to the women who met there” (Acts 16:13). One of these women was Lydia , and “The Lord opened her heart to heed the things spoken by Paul (Acts 16:14b). Lydia and her household ended up being baptized, and she offered Paul’s team a place to stay.
Do we see how incredibly simple this was? Lydia’s conversion was not the product of an organized crusade or evangelism program: it occurred when Paul merely sought a place of prayer and was alert to evangelism opportunities along the way.
Scene Three – the deliverance of the slave girl: Soon after the conversion of Lydia and her household, Paul’s team was again “going to the place of prayer,” when they were approached by a slave girl who was possessed by a fortune-telling spirit (Acts 16:16 NAS). After putting up with her irritating behavior for many days, Paul cast the demon out of the girl. Another convert had been gained, but the event landed Paul and Silas in prison. Again, the convert was reached as a by-product of Paul’s quest for a place of prayer.