“Welcome! I”m so glad you’re here!” Lydia speaks to each person who comes into her home. She’s excited about the evening. She’s looking forward to sharing dinner with friends. But she is even more excited to share with them an idea she has.
A simple meal of bread, figs, and cheese is spread. Several of her friends add wine and olives.
As they sit down together, Lydia can hardly wait to tell them what she is thinking. “You all remember Paul, right?”
“Of course we do, Lydia.” The burly man passes an olive to his wife and she smiles back at him.
Lydia grins and thinks back to the night that this jailer met Paul and Silas. He had been on guard the night that they landed in prison. He pushed them down the stairs into to the inner jail. He fastened their feet in stocks. And he sat guard at the top of the stone steps, listening as Silas and Paul prayed and sang and prayed and sang.
“Who are these men?” he thought as he did the unthinkable … and drifted off to sleep.
Suddenly, the floor began to shake and the foundation began to shift beneath the stone prison. The doors of the cells flew open. And the shackles binding the prisoners clicked open as if keys had been simultaneously inserted in the locks of each and every one.
The jailer jerked awake to the chaos of an earthquake in progress. As the foundation buckled beneath his feet, his eyes landed on the open doors to Paul and Silas’ cell.
His mind flew threw the possibilities and settled on his only option. He thought of the wife and children he would leave, but as he drew his sword from its sheath, he knew he had no choice. Before he could send the blade through his heart, Paul called out, “Don’t kill yourself. We are all here!”
The sword clattered to the ground. In disbelieve the jailer called, “Torch! I need a torch!” And when he peered down into the inner prison he saw that this prisoner, Paul, told the truth.
He had heard their singing. He had heard their praying. And now he saw with his eyes that something was different about these men. Somehow Paul and Silas had been given the opportunity to escape, but they didn’t. They stayed right there. Whatever they had, he wanted.
Of course he remembered Paul.
Lydia smiled at her dear friend. “Well, I was praying last night, and God kept bringing Paul to my mind. You all know he’s in Rome now and in house prison. I believe God wants us to send a gift to him just like we did when he left us to go to Macedonia. Just like we did when he was in Thessalonica.”
Epaphroditus jumped up. “Yes! And I’ll take it to him!”
Over the course of a few days, Epaphroditus prepared himself and a team to travel the long road to Rome.
Throughout the city, people began to talk about the early days of the church in Jerusalem when believers sold their possessions and used the proceeds to care for those in their midst. They prayed, and talked, and sold their possessions, and laughed as they brought the money to Lydia.
With tears and joy, she finally had to say, “Enough, my friends. We have enough.”
The next day, believers met at Lydia’s house. They gathered around Epaphroditus and his team. They laid hands on them and prayed for their safety, and health, and for Paul. They prayed God would use their sacrifice to advance his Kingdom and bless Paul.
But the blessing isn’t only for Paul. The blessing is also for the Philippians.
Your earthly treasures aren’t bad. They just don’t bring the return that they will if you invest them in the causes that are on God’s heart. Lydia and her friends knew this. When you invest in eternity, you are making an investment that truly will last, and will actually increase in value. You get interest.
When you financially support organizations that match your passions, you are partnering with them to advance causes that you believe in. You get to join in their work and become a co-laborer. You get partnership.
Honestly, when we choose to give sacrificially, we won’t be able to buy as much stuff. But God promises that he will make sure that we have what we really need. Not want, but need. And honestly, what we need most of all is the provision of Christ in us and with us all the time. You get provision.
When we open our fists and trust God with our 100% of our money, we can expect that God will bless us. What causes is God inviting you to join him in advancing? What organizations or individuals is he asking you to financially support?
Leave a comment and tell me know an organization or two that you love to financially support. Be sure and leave a link too so that we can check them out.
I’m so glad you’ve joined us Riverside! Welcome! Lydia’s heart was opened to the gospel when Paul met her and her friends by the riverside. He told them about Jesus and Lydia said, “I’m in!” From this little gathering of praying and worshipping women, a church was born. My desire is to see women gather, just like Lydia and her friends to learn about Jesus and declare “I’m in!” If you’d like to tell me a bit about your journey, I’d love to hear from you. Just write me at firstname.lastname@example.org.