We kicked off this year with what my esteemed father-in-law sometimes calls a golden oldie. This one was on Acts 16:14c The Lord opened her heart.
There were three simple points
1. The condition of this woman
Her heart was closed to the gospel. It is how we all are by nature. She had done many good things but her heart was closed to God.
2. What happened
The Lord opened her heart. He took the first step. Today any emotional response may be confused with this but it is not the real thing. Christ is not a dead Saviour but he goes on working to this day. She was the reason Paul was kept from preaching elsewhere and why he was brought to Philippi.
3. What the result of that is
God took from her the prejudice, the scales of blindness that had been hers. The word came to her not only in word but with power and the Holy Spirit. When her heart was opened she listened to the word. Her eyes were opened to see the beauty of Jesus Christ. She experienced what Thomas Chalmers referred to as "The expulsive power of a new affection".
Two nice quotes
She heard Paul speaking and she thought, “I have never heard anyone speak like this.” She thought to herself, “What an orator he is. He really believes what he says.” She thought, “This is all making sense.” But it was not because of Paul’s eloquence or sincerity that his words were having such a transforming influence in her life. It was all due to the Lord opening her heart. I once spoke to a woman in hospital who had been involved in a minor accident outside Aberystwyth and for fear she might have had concussion they were keeping her in hospital for 24 hours. She was fed up with life, but I spoke to her about the God who is in control of all our circumstances, even the fall of the sparrow. “That God has come to this world in his Son Jesus Christ to save us,” I said. She looked back bleakly to me and she said, “Words, only words.” The gospel came to her, but in word only. When the gospel came to the Thessalonians it did not come in word only, but in power and with the Holy Spirit and with much assurance so that the Thessalonians received the gospel of Paul not as the word of men but as it is in truth the word of God. So it was when Lydia’s heart was opened she was able to respond to Paul’s message.
Douglas MacMillan and his elders were interviewing two teenage boys who had come to profess faith and were applying for church membership. “Tell us what changes have taken place in your life that would lead us to believe you have been converted,” said Douglas. Their spokesman said, “Oh, it was no change in us. The change was in you, about six months ago, when your preaching got interesting.” Of course it was no change in Douglas’ preaching. What had happened was that the Lord had opened their hearts at that time and then the preaching seemed more relevant, and the worship more enjoyable and Sunday was no longer a boring day. So as Paul opened the Scriptures using the sword of the Spirit the same Spirit of Jesus opened Lydia’s heart so that she believed what Paul said to her. She became the first convert of whom we know anything on European soil.