The Power of Praying Women

Having a vision of a Macedonian begging him to come over and help us, Paul and his missionary band set out across the sea. Notice the powerful influence of women in prayer and one woman’s response.

11 Then, setting sail from Troas, we ran a straight course to Samothrace, the next day to Neapolis, 12 and from there to Philippi, a Roman colony, which is a leading city of that district of Macedonia. We stayed in that city for a number of days. 13 On the Sabbath day we went outside the city gate by the river, where we thought there was a place of prayer. We sat down and spoke to the women gathered there. 14 A woman named Lydia, a dealer in purple cloth from the city of Thyatira, who worshiped God, was listening. The Lord opened her heart to pay attention to what was spoken by Paul. 15 After she and her household were baptized, she urged us, “If you consider me a believer in the Lord, come and stay at my house.” And she persuaded us.—Acts 16:11-15

Many women in prayer opened the way for the Gospel. These ladies were meeting before Paula and Company even had the vision. God was at work within them, before he even called Paul. We can learn from both parties. From Paul: Be responsive to the Holy Spirit’s leading even if it comes in an unconventional way. From the women of Philippi: Be faithful in prayer; God will answer.  

How is my faith?

How is my prayer life?

One women in worship responded to the Gospel. Lydia is described as worshipper of God, yet she did not yet have saving faith through Jesus Christ. In her faithful worship, God revealed Himself to her. We learn God calls all people to Himself. We learn to persist in prayer. 

How consistently do I pray?

How am I open to God through worship?

That woman of influence shared the Gospel. Lydia, apparently, when straight home and shared her new, saving faith in Jesus with her whole household. The Greek word is oikos, that means family, friends, employees—her sphere of influence. 

Who is my oikos?

How am I sharing Jesus with them? 

That woman of hospitality cared for the Gospel messengers. Not only did Lydia share her faith with her entire household, she shared all that she had in her household with Paul’s missionary band. She exercised hospitality.  As a brand new Christian, she extended Christian love. 

Where can I be more gracious?

Who can I show hospitality to?

Women change the world. Prayerful, worshipful, influential, hospitable. Powerful. These Philippian women in general and Lydia in specific loved God and others. Powerful.

Restoring Righteousness

Sad bunch, those People of God. Every time we turn around they are in trouble again. Here they go in Malachi, the last Minor Prophet in our Major Stuff blog and sermon series.

God laid out pretty clear rules for His people repeatedly over a thousand plus years: I’m your God; you are my people; you obey my rules; you don’t serve other gods; you stay holy; you worship me as I desire; I’ll bless you. Period.

Simple. Right?

The problem: Simple is not always easy.

The reality: Sin is tempting to humans.

Sin is when we act like God, when we do things our way, which is invariably contrary to God's way.

So, once again, in this concluding book of the Old Testament—not only the last in book order, but written last too (430 BC)—we have Judah, God’s Chosen People, falling back into sin over simple stuff.

God asked faithfulness. God asked worship. God even prescribed how to worship.

Yet Israel was cheating the prescription. They “placed defiled food” on God’s altar and then acted like they didn’t know (1:7). They brought blemished offerings they wouldn’t give a governor, but tried to pass off on God (1:8). They called God’s table a “burden” and would “sniff at it contemptuously” (1:13).

“You might as well turn out the lights and shut the doors of the Temple,” it’s as if God says in Malachi 1:10. Ouch. Problem. Big problem.

God requested worship via the Temple sacrifice system. They had taken it so much for granted that God basically says, “Shut it down. Your worship is an insult. And you are in trouble.”

If ever, did God’s people need righteousness restored? In Malachi’s day, once upon their roller coaster history again, they needed God's imputed righteousness. But how, as 3:4 asks, could their offerings become “acceptable to the Lord, as in days gone by, as in former years?”

The Holy Refinery. The Divine Laundry. God purified them (3:2-3). Only He could restore His people to righteousness. “Then,” and note well what Malachi 3:3b says here, “the Lord will have men who will bring offerings in righteousness.

Did you catch that? In chapter one God’s people were called out for impure offerings, but here in chapter three it is not the offering that it called righteous or unrighteous, but the person offering it. Righteous people offer righteous offerings. Righteous people do righteous things. 

Righteousness comes from from God within the heart of a person. Righteousness is a gift of God, manifest in right action, but rooted in a right heart.

The righteous heart gives birth to righteous actions.

Our righteous God makes us righteous.

Ask yourself today:

  • How is my personal righteousness with God?
  • What secret sins or unforgiveness am I harboring?
  • What must I confess to God without delay?
  • How should I express thanks to God for His forgiveness? 

Restoring Righteousness is the twelve and final entry in our Major Stuff from the Minor Prophets series of posts and sermons. You can read all those posts in the previous weeks herein. You can hear any of those sermons via iTunes or our church podcast page. Please share this post and leave comments as you wish.

Prioritizing God

Have you ever had one of those times where it seemed as if nothing was going your way?

You worked hard. You did it right. You gave your all. Yet you got little in return.

You satisfy a need. Answer the request. Fill the bill. Yet it doesn’t seem enough.

You do everything you can. Everything you should. Dot every “i” & cross every “t”. Yet something unexpected happens.

You earn a good living. You get paid well. You have plenty of stuff. You even have stuff for your stuff. Yet you never seem to have enough money to meet the month. 

If you have ever had any of the above happen to you, then welcome to the Club. The Club of Misplaced Focus. Our membership goes way back to 520 BC, the second year of King Darius of Persia as Haggai addresses. You can read of these exact challenges—under-compensated, unsatisfied, unprepared, unfulfilled—in Haggai 1:6.

So what’s the problem?

Why don’t I get the expected return for my effort?

Why can’t I seem satisfy my nagging need?

Why aren’t I ready for everything, try as I might?

Why doesn’t my income cover all my expenses?

Could my problem be the same as those of God’s people that Haggai prophesied to? Misplaced focus? Unprioritized God? The Nation of Judah had been carried off into exile in 586 BC. Was freed to return home by the Edict of Cyrus in 538 BC. And home they went. Restored their homes. Worked to get things back to normal. And got back to life without an oppressive, foreign overlord. Yet they forgot God. 

God asked about their misplaced focus citing that they were living “in paneled (translate, ‘nice’) houses, while this house remains in ruin?” (1:4). “This house” wasn’t just any house. It was His house—the Temple—His dwelling among His people, THE place where His people could worship Him. 

“Give careful thought to your ways,” God said in Haggai 1:5. Your ways. Your focus. Your priorities. They had taken care of themselves. Yet they neglected God. He alone was their Covenant Father, Redeemer, Provider, and the One, True God.

Priorities. It may not always be the case—but it certainly could be the case—that my circumstances of being under-compensated, unsatisfied, unprepared, and unfulfilled are as a result of God trying to get my attention in a language I understand. God speaks Human. He knows selfishness is our native language.  

Don’t misunderstand me.

It’s not wrong to expect a fair return for your labor.

It’s not wrong to desire satisfaction from any pursuit.

It is not wrong to want to be prepared for anything.

It is not wrong to make a good living to provide for your family and others. 

It is wrong to forget God in the process of living the very life He has given me. God speaks human. God will get my attention. Sometimes using ways that make me uncomfortable. 

Do not forget God. Honor Him. Worship Him. Thank Him. Serve Him. Prioritize Him.

Read or listen to all of Haggai here on YouVersion. It’s only 38 verses. And consider these questions:

  • Where does my personal relationship with God rank in my current priorities?
  • How can I place a sharper focus on my love relationship with God?
  • What has to change in order for prioritizing God to really happen? What do I have to start or stop? 

This post based on Haggai is the tenth post from a series of twelve, Major Stuff from the Minor Prophets. Please share this post using the link below or subscribe to this site via email at the top right. You are welcome to leave your comments below as well. To hear the related sermon, subscribe via iTunes or visit here next Monday.


This Wednesday morning our rough & tumble four year old, John Mark, was ready for his first day of preschool.  Ever.  Big brother & big sister had already left for elementary school.  In fifth & second grades, they were old pros.  And, besides, they'd started school last week.  Now for three afternoons a week at three hours each he'd be in school too.  He was so excited.

He ate breakfast with purpose.

He got dressed without delay.

He was ready for the day.

Then he asked his Mama, "When do I get to go to preschool?"

"After lunch, John Mark."

"Can we eat lunch now?," he queried.

As adults we know that my wife meant four hours later.  As a kid he was ready to move the hands of time. Whatever it took to get to preschool sooner was whatever he was willing to do.  Two meals in a row not being too much.

What do we look forward to so much that we'd speed up time?

Eat a second meal when we are already full from the first?

Do we anticipate anything like that?

It is Sunday afternoon now.  We had an amazing worship service this morning.  I am so thankful for God's presence.  For the love of an amazing church family one for another.  I look forward to days like today.

Are we willing to move time to expereince God this way regularly?

Do we anticipate time alone with God so much that we'll do whatever it take?

Would we surrender our own desires to find God's?

Would that God would give us such divine anticipation.