Dietrich Bonhoeffer said…
Come to church! You can do that of your own free will. You can leave your home on a Sunday morning and come to hear the sermon. If you will not, you are of your own free will excluding yourself from the place where faith is a possibility (From: The Cost of Discipleship)
Acts 16:13, 14: On the Sabbath we went outside the city gate to the river, where we expected to find a place of prayer. We sat down and began to speak to the women who had gathered there. One of those listening was a woman from the city of Thyatira named Lydia, a dealer in purple cloth. She was a worshipper of God. The Lord opened her heart to respond to Paul’s message.
Yesterday was a day of worship – like every Sunday. Christians worship together on the day that is set apart for them. In the early church Christians came together on two days – on the Sabbath and on Sundays. Sunday, the day of the Lord, the day of the resurrection of Christ, was an ordinary working day in the Roman Empire. Yet, they came together to worship and then went to work. We also know that Christians were banned from synagogues and had to find different places to worship.
Whatever the situation on different contexts were, Peter, Paul and the other apostles always found opportunities to share the gospel in different places. In Acts 16 it is next to the river. The women probably got together to worship. Not all of them were Jewish. Lydia was a businesswoman – definitely not Jewish. She was God-fearing, but not a Christian believer yet. Yet, she was interested in what Paul had to say. The passage says that she had a simple conversion. The Lord opened her heart to respond to the message of the gospel.
What seems to be an ordinary Sabbath day, became a special day in the life of this woman. If she did not go to the river with the other woman that day, she would not have heard the message. By God’s grace, she did.
I don’t know if you have been to a worship service in the last few weeks or months. Maybe you have given up on the church. Maybe you got hurt in the church. Maybe you have closed your heart to years of the gospel of Jesus Christ. Maybe you know the gospel, were brought up with it, but have left it behind and went your own way.
Bonhoeffer highlights what we see in Acts 16. If you do not use the opportunities that God still makes available to you to hear the message, you are the master of your own fate. Never blame God for not being involved in your life. He is. He urges you to start all over again to open your heart to what He has to say to you. It is words of grace. It can give new meaning to your life.
Lord, bring me back to places where you love to speak to me, in the name of Jesus Christ and by the power of your Spirit. Amen.