NIV Actis 16:13 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. 14 One of those listening was a woman from the city of Thyatira named Lydia, a dealer in purple cloth. She was a worshiper of God. The Lord opened her heart to respond to Paul’s message. 15 When she and the members of her household were baptized, she invited us to her home. “If you consider me a believer in the Lord,” she said, “come and stay at my house.” And she persuaded us. [Full chapter]
Jim Williams is a bi-vocational pastor who has lived in the Canadian Maritimes, on the prairies, and currently calls Ontario home. This appeared at his blog, The Journey under the title Cooperation.
In Acts Chapter 16 we are introduced to Lydia. She was successful, wealthy and influential. She loved God but it is her response to hearing the gospel for the first time that is revealing. Scripture says that when Paul shared the news of Christ that, ‘the Lord opened her heart…’ (verse 14) As a result, Lydia received Christ a became an influential believer in the early church.
Last week I wrote of “Our Most Valuable Asset” as being our heart because from it ‘flow the springs of life.’ To enjoy the blessings of God in our lives we must protect our hearts from evil influences and open our hearts to God’s Word and Work.
We are in a dangerous state if our hearts are closed to Him. A closed heart is unable to respond to what the Lord has to say. We become resistant to Him.
Now, if our hearts are open to Him we able to respond to what the Lord has to say. We become cooperative with Him and enjoy His blessings.
1) An open heart is like fertile soil.
Fertile soil is able to turn planted seed into valuable crops. Infertile soil is useless and seed planted in it is a wasted resource.
Jesus drew an analogy of the heart condition when he spoke of fertile soil.(Mark 4) He said that some hearts are fertile places that take the seed of God’s word and turn it into something of value. Other hearts are either too hard, stony or full of weeds that are unable to produce anything of lasting value.
The real question is whether we have a heart that is fertile or infertile. Many of us would love to say that it is good soil but truthfully some of us would have to admit the opposite. What type of soil represents your heart condition? Hardened, rock infested or filled with life-choking thorns? Is your heart open to the seed of what God has to say?
2) An open heart is like mold-able clay.
In the hands of a master potter good clay can be shaped to become useful, beautiful masterpieces. Workmanship fit for the King.
The right kind of clay in a skilled potter’s hand can be made from mud to a masterpiece.When placed on a potter’s wheel, mouldable earth can become valuable enough to sit in the palaces of royalty.
God once told Jeremiah to go to the potter’s house because He had a lesson to teach him.(Jeremiah 18) He showed him that we are like earth in the hands of the Master Potter. We are but mud in His skillful hands.
The real question is therefore: what condition is our heart in the hand of God? Are we trying to cultivate a soft, mold-able heart for the Master Potter? Is our heart hard and resistant to the shaping of the Lord? God has only good plans for us. Let’s not resist but let’s allow His work in our lives.
Cooperating with God.
Lydia’s heart was opened by God to receive the truth of the gospel Paul shared. Without His grace she would not have been receptive. Scripture does tell us that Lydia loved God and sought after Him. She cooperated and God gave her an open heart.
God is encouraging us to do the same thing: to cooperate with Him and allow Him to work on our heart. After all, He desires the best for us. He is the Great Gardner and the Master Potter. He is able to make infertile soil fertile and useless dirt mold-able.
How do we cooperate with Him?
1) Invite Him.
Simply ask God to open your heart. Life has a way of making us hard-hearted. He longs to be invited into our hearts. Jesus stands at the door of our hearts knocking. He is asking for the invitation to come in. (Revelation 3:20) Why not make that decision? Why not give the invitation? You’ll be glad you did.
2) Slow down!
We often are in too much of a hurry. As Christians we want to mature, grow up and become all that God wants us to be. We want spiritual fruit but we aren’t willing to let it grow. For example, we want patience but we don’t want to wait for.
A farmer can’t rush a good harvest … it takes time … so let God do His work.
A potter can’t rush to make a masterpiece … it takes time … so let God do His work.
Slow down … surrender to the process … listen, learn, grow … have an open heart to Him … it is your most valuable asset.
Questions to ponder:
How important to you is allowing Him to make your heart fertile and mold-able? What kind of steps can you make to cooperate with God today?