"He left his garment in her hand, and fled, and got him out."
In contending with certain sins there remains no mode of victory but by flight. The ancient naturalists wrote much of basilisks, whose eyes fascinated their victims and rendered them easy victims; so the mere gaze of wickedness puts us in solemn danger. He who would be safe from acts of evil must haste away from occasions of it. A covenant must be made with our eyes not even to look upon the cause of temptation, for such sins only need a spark to begin with and a blaze follows in an instant. Who would wantonly enter the leper's prison and sleep amid its horrible corruption? He only who desires to be leprous himself would thus court contagion. If the mariner knew how to avoid a storm, he would do anything rather than run the risk of weathering it. Cautious pilots have no desire to try how near the quicksand they can sail, or how often they may touch a rock without springing a leak; their aim is to keep as nearly as possible in the midst of a safe channel.
This day I may be exposed to great peril, let me have the serpent's wisdom to keep out of it and avoid it. The wings of a dove may be of more use to me today than the jaws of a lion. It is true I may be an apparent loser by declining evil company, but I had better leave my cloak than lose my character; it is not needful that I should be rich, but it is imperative upon me to be pure. No ties of friendship, no chains of beauty, no flashings of talent, no shafts of ridicule must turn me from the wise resolve to flee from sin. The devil I am to resist and he will flee from me, but the lusts of the flesh, I must flee, or they will surely overcome me. O God of holiness preserve thy Josephs, that Madam Bubble bewitch them not with her vile suggestions. May the horrible trinity of the world, the flesh, and the devil, never overcome us!
"In their affliction they will seek me early."
Losses and adversities are frequently the means which the great Shepherd uses to fetch home his wandering sheep; like fierce dogs they worry the wanderers back to the fold. There is no making lions tame if they are too well fed; they must be brought down from their great strength, and their stomachs must be lowered, and then they will submit to the tamer's hand; and often have we seen the Christian rendered obedient to the Lord's will by straitness of bread and hard labour. When rich and increased in goods many professors carry their heads much too loftily, and speak exceeding boastfully. Like David, they flatter themselves, "My mountain standeth fast; I shall never be moved." When the Christian groweth wealthy, is in good repute, hath good health, and a happy family, he too often admits Mr. Carnal Security to feast at his table, and then if he be a true child of God there is a rod preparing for him. Wait awhile, and it may be you will see his substance melt away as a dream. There goes a portion of his estate--how soon the acres change hands. That debt, that dishonoured bill--how fast his losses roll in, where will they end? It is a blessed sign of divine life if when these embarrassments occur one after another he begins to be distressed about his backslidings, and betakes himself to his God. Blessed are the waves that wash the mariner upon the rock of salvation! Losses in business are often sanctified to our soul's enriching. If the chosen soul will not come to the Lord full-handed, it shall come empty. If God, in his grace, findeth no other means of making us honour him among men, he will cast us into the deep; if we fail to honour him on the pinnacle of riches, he will bring us into the valley of poverty. Yet faint not, heir of sorrow, when thou art thus rebuked, rather recognize the loving hand which chastens, and say, "I will arise, and go unto my Father."
Today's reading: Psalm 37-39, Acts 26 (NIV)View today's reading on Bible Gateway
Today's Old Testament reading: Psalm 37-39
1 Do not fret because of those who are evil
or be envious of those who do wrong;
2 for like the grass they will soon wither,
like green plants they will soon die away.
3 Trust in the LORD and do good;
dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture.
4 Take delight in the LORD,
and he will give you the desires of your heart.
5 Commit your way to the LORD;
trust in him and he will do this:
6 He will make your righteous reward shine like the dawn,
your vindication like the noonday sun.
Today's New Testament reading: Acts 26
1 Then Agrippa said to Paul, "You have permission to speak for yourself."
So Paul motioned with his hand and began his defense: 2 "King Agrippa, I consider myself fortunate to stand before you today as I make my defense against all the accusations of the Jews,3 and especially so because you are well acquainted with all the Jewish customs and controversies. Therefore, I beg you to listen to me patiently....
The Woman Who Was Diligent in Business
Scripture References: Acts 16:12-15, 40; Philippians 1:1-10
Name Meaning: Lydia, who was an Asiatic, derived her name from the country on the borders of which her native city, Thyatira, was situated. It was not an original Greek name, but probably Phoenician, and a common name meaning "bending." Readers of Horace will be familiar with Lydia as a popular name for women. There are those writers who think that it means "The Lydian," seeing Thyatira was a city of Lydia, and that her personal name is unknown.
Family Connections: Scripture does not supply us with any information regarding Lydia's background apart from the fact that she lived in Thyatira which was one of the Macedonian colonies. From names discovered on monuments it is evident that the city was the melting pot of many nations, and that the chief object of worship was Apollo, who was worshiped as the sun-god under the name of Tyrinnus. There was also a strong Jewish element in the city maintaining faith in Jehovah. Lydia, one of the prominent women of Thyatira, is presented to us in various ways, namely:
As a Business Woman
Thyatira was conspicuous for its many guilds which were united by common pursuits and religious rites. One of these guilds was that of dyers. The water of the area was so well-adapted for dyeing, that no other place could produce the scarlet cloth out of which fezzes were so brilliantly and so permanently dyed. This unique purple dye brought the city universal renown. Lydia was a well-known seller of this product (Acts 16:14 ), and typifies a successful business woman in a prosperous city. Ability, enthusiasm, singleness of purpose and mental acumen were hers, and she prospered greatly in an honorable and extensive calling of "selling purple." Lydia was an example of the comparatively independent position some women attained to in Asia Minor. That she became prosperous in business is seen in that she owned a spacious home, and had servants to care for her.
As a Devout Woman
While it is not certain whether Lydia was of Jewish descent it is evident that she was a Jewish proselyte. "She worshipped God," we are told. Often business people are so engrossed in their affairs as to have no time for religion. But Lydia, in spite of all her secular obligations, found time to worship according to the Jewish faith. Daily she made her way to the riverside where prayer was wont to be made. She knew that in order to successfuly meet the stiff competition of the Philippian traders, she needed grace as well as knowledge. At that riverside prayer meeting perhaps she met other Jewish dyers, and with them eagerly waited upon the ministry of Paul and his companions.
As a Seeking Woman
Although sincerely religious, Lydia was not a Christian. She did, however, have a hunger for a deeper spiritual experience. The mind is closed against the full truth either from ignorance or prejudice and cannot discern it, or from pride and perversity and will not admit it. Ignorance was responsible for Lydia's closed mind, but as she attended to the truth of Christ which Paul spoke of in conversational style in that small seated Jewish gathering, the light dawned, and her heart opened to receive that Christ as her Saviour. As Chrysostom puts it, "To open is the part of God, and to pay attention that of the woman." Her faith was born through hearing the Word of God (Psalm 119:18, 130; Luke 24:45).
As a Christian Woman
As an evidence of her surrender to the claims of Christ she was baptized, "the waters of Europe then first being sacramentally used to seal her faith and God's forgiveness in Christ." Her conversion was declared by a public confession, and such was her enthusiasm that she immediately told her household what had happened, and all within it likewise believed and were baptized as disciples of the same Saviour. Thus Lydia had the honor of being Paul's first European convert--the forerunner of a mighty host to honor the Lord. Becoming a Christian did not make her less of a successful business woman. Now she had Christ as her Senior Partner and with Him we can imagine that trade remained good and that much of her profit was used to assist His servants in the work of the Gospel.
As a Hospitable Woman
Lydia's transformation of life was evidenced by her eagerness to give missionaries the hospitality of her fine home. Truth in her heart was manifested in kindness to each other--as they ought to be! "Be ye kind one to another." First came Lydia's faith, then the winning of her servants to Christ, then her love in gracious hospitality, and finally her reception of Paul and Silas into her home after their discharge from prison, bruised and battered though they were. She was not ashamed of the Lord's prisoners (see 1 Timothy 5:10; Hebrews 13:2 ; 1 Peter 4:9). While benefiting from Lydia's generous hospitality Paul warned all present of the terrible trials before them, and then parting from godly Lydia, praised God for all she had meant to him and his companions.
As a Consecrated Woman
Lydia always had "open house" for the saints of God and her home became a center of Christian fellowship in Philippi with perhaps the first Christian church being formed therein. When Paul came to write his letter to the Philippians, we can rest assured that Lydia was included in all the saints at Philippi to whom he sent his salutations (Philippians 1:1-7); and was also in his mind as one of those women who labored with him in the Gospel (Philippians 4:3). William Ramsay thinks that Lydia may have been either Euodia or Syntyche ( Philippians 4:2).
When Paul penned the triple exhortation--"Not slothful in business, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord" (Romans 12:11), we do not know whether he had his hospitable convert, Lydia, in mind. She certainly exemplified these three virtues, and grace can be ours to emulate them.
"Not slothful in business"
If our business is honorable and we are diligent in it, and if we are the Lord's, we have the assurance that if we honor Him in all transactions, He will honor us. He places no premium upon idleness or indolence. Did not Paul say that if we are not willing to work we have no right to eat?
"Fervent in spirit"
Moffatt's translation is suggestive here. He expresses it, "Maintain the spiritual glow," which, by God's grace Lydia was able to do as she cared for her business interests and pursuits which were no bar to her spirituality. Too often, we allow the secular to rob us of our glow. Our affection becomes too set on things below.
"Serving the Lord"
Lydia not only sold her dyes--she served her Saviour. She stayed in business that she might have the money to help God's servants in their ministry. How her generous care of Paul and Silas, and of many others, must have cheered their hearts. Lydia was, first of all, a consecrated Christian, then a conscientious business woman who continued to sell her purple dyes for the glory of God. When we reach heaven, we shall find this "seller of purple" wearing more superior garments, robes not stained even with the notable dye of Thyatira, but "washed and made white in the blood of the Lamb."
[Dā'vid] - beloved. The youngest son of the eight sons of Jesse the Bethlehemite, the second and greatest of Israel's kings, the eloquent poet and one of the most prominent figures in the history of the world (Ruth 4:17, 22; 1 Sam. 16:13).
The Man After God's Own Heart
Volumes have been written on the trials and triumphs of David, a mountain peak among Bible characters, who was carefully chosen as Israel's second king by God Himself. David's father, Jesse, was a man of no great rank who lived in the little town of Bethlehem. In his youth David was trained to tend his father's sheep. Being the youngest of the family he was not brought into public notice, yet it pleased God to raise him from a low estate and set him upon the throne. He was overlooked by the prophet Samuel, but the prophet obeyed when God said, "Arise anoint him, this is he." All we can do in this study is to offer a brief sketch of David's eventful life. We view him as:
I. A Warrior. David was courageous as a champion and a great soldier (1 Sam. 17:40; 2 Sam. 5:7). His fight with Goliath the giant made him a marked man. He had not the training of a soldier. As yet he had not reached the years of manhood. Dressed like a poor country shepherd lad, he had no weapons save his sling. Never were two warriors more unequally matched, but when David was victorious over Goliath there was no empty boasting, no reliance upon his own powers. God gave the victory and David gave Him all the glory. He became a man of war and because of that was not allowed to build the Temple ( 1 Chron. 28:3).
II. As a Musician. Because he was a skilful player on the harp he found himself in the presence of the wretched king, Saul, who could only be soothed by David's music. Poetic genius made him the sweet psalmist of Israel, and no poet has been so constantly used and quoted through the ages. His majestic psalms are the masterpiece of spiritual literature.
III. As a Saint. David was accepted as a child of God. The general trend of his life was spiritual (1 Sam. 13:14; 1 Kings 15:5 ). What other man has had the reputation of being known as a man after God's own heart? Such an expression does not refer to any remarkable goodness in David, but to him as one whom God had chosen to be the ruler of His people. He was the man according to God's special choice. His psalms of praise, worship and meditation indicate the God-ward direction of his life.
IV. As a Sinner. David violated a divine law (Deut. 17:17; 2 Sam. 5:13), yielded to his gross sin in a period of ease (2 Sam. 11) and was rebuked by the prophet Nathan ( 2 Sam. 12). David stained his character by his sin against Uriah and by the deceitful way he gained this gallant soldier's wife as his own. Such a grievous sin brought the bitterest anguish of heart. David's confession was not a cold, formal acknowledgment of guilt, but a true and heartfelt humbling of himself before God and a deep cry for pardon and restoration to divine favor as psalms thirty-two and fifty-one clearly prove.
V. As a Prophet. David had a prophetic gift given to few. He was one of those holy men of old moved by the Holy Spirit to set forth many glorious truths related to Christ as Saviour and Messiah. When we come to the New Testament we find the Psalms quoted from more often than any other part of the Old Testament.
VI. As a Type. Not only did David prophesy about Christ, he resembled Him in many ways. For example:
Both were born in the humble town of Bethlehem.
Both were of low estate on earth, having no rank to boast of, no wealth to recommend them to the world.
Both were shepherds - the one caring for sheep, the other for souls.
Both were sorely oppressed and persecuted but opened not their mouths.
Both came to kingship. David subdued his foes and had a kingdom stretching from shore to shore. Jesus was born a King, and is to have an everlasting Kingdom.
VII. As a Star. Does not the children's hymn urge us to be "a star in someone's sky?" David has lighted many a spiritual traveler on the way to heaven. Glory alone will reveal what his psalms meant to Christ and to His followers in all ages. Yet he is nothing compared to the Sun of Righteousness Himself. None can compare to David's greater son, the Lord Jesus Christ, who died and rose again to become our Saviour, Friend and King.