Sunday, February 7, 2010

Being Quick to Wait Upon the Lord

A Sermon from Acts 16:11-15

Preached by Dr. Terry W. Dorsett at Mettowee Valley Church, West Pawlet, VT on January 31, 2010 and at Faith Community Church, Barre, VT on February 7, 2010


  • Paul had begun his second missionary journey, taking Silas along with him and picking up Timothy along the way.
  • Paul's plan was to revisit all the churches that he started on his first missionary trip.
  • But when he was in Troas he received a supernatural vision that he was to go to Macedonia instead and preach the Gospel.

Verses 11-12 – Then, setting sail from Troas, we ran a straight course 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.

  • Once Paul sensed a supernatural calling to do mission work in Macedonia, he altered his plans and set sail for Philippi, which was a key city in Macedonia.
  • Though they could have traveled by foot or by horse, sailing was the fastest way to travel to such coastal cities.
  • When we sense the Lord leading us to do something, we should alter our plans and obey.
  • We should start obeying just as soon as possible.
  • If we procrastinate in our obedience, our hearts may begin to grow hard.
  • If we stall long enough, we may no longer hear God's voice clearly.
  • They took a "straight course" to Philippi in response to their calling.
  • They did have to stop a couple of times along the way, but immediately started going again as soon as they could. They refused to get sidetracked.
  • Too often, we start walking in obedience to the Lord, but then something happens along the way that causes us to get sidetracked. If we don't immediately start back, we may lose our momentum, and that is very hard to regain.
  • Choosing to disobey God will always have negative effects on our lives in the long term.
  • When we choose to obey God, it often takes us to places that we did not expect to be.
  • Sometimes we end up in the LAST place we would expect to be.
  • Philippi would be the last place one would expect Paul to try to start a new church.
  • Philippi was a Roman colony, which meant it had its own government separate from the surrounding area and Paul could not count on legal protection from Jerusalem.
  • Philippi was a popular place for Roman legionaries (military officers) to retire.
  • At the time, Christianity was still a persecuted group.
  • The Roman government was suspicious of this new faith so the presence of many retired Roman military officers made Philippi an unlikely place to start a church.
  • Philippi did not have a large Jewish population, which is who Paul normally started a church with.
  • These were all reasons why Philippi was not the "perfect" place to try to start a church.
  • Yet, it was where God told Paul to go.
  • Though Philippi may not have fit Paul's normal church planting motif, it fit God's motif because God desires non-Christians to come to faith.
  • God often works in places and in ways that don't fit what we think of as normal. We must learn to listen to God's voice even when it does not seem to make sense to us.
  • Though Paul and his group immediately obeyed and changed their plans and went right to Philippi without letting anything sidetrack them, once they got there, they had to wait a while before they saw fruit from their efforts.
  • They had to "hurry up and wait."
  • It is important for us to remember that God works on His schedule, not ours.
  • God is always on time, but He is not always on OUR time.
  • Sometimes we wait so that WE will be more ready. Sometimes we wait so that OTHERS will be more ready.

Verse 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.

  • Normally Paul went to the Jewish synagogue on the Sabbath to explain to the Jews that Jesus was their long awaited Messiah.
  • But there were so few Jews in Philippi that no synagogue had been established.
  • Jewish tradition required that 10 married Jewish men were needed to establish a synagogue.
  • Apparently there were not 10 married Jewish men in the entire city or at least not ten men willing to be faithful in serving the Lord.
  • Even though the men had failed to be spiritual leaders in Philippi, some Jewish ladies would gather for prayer outside the city.
  • These ladies were faithful in following the Lord even when others failed to do so.
  • Our obedience to God should not depend on others.

Verse 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.

  • In the midst of this group of Jewish ladies was a business woman named Lydia.
  • Lydia was from the Greek city of Thyatira.
  • Lydia was a Greek name, not Jewish.
  • Scholars say that these two facts indicate that Lydia was not Jewish, but was a Gentile who was seeking to discover the real God.
  • God calls many people to follow Him and race or the religious background of one's family has no bearing on whom God calls.
  • Since there was no synagogue for Lydia to learn about God at, she attended the women's worship service held outside the city.
  • If people really want to discover the Lord, one of the best ways for them to do so is to attend a vibrant worship service with some Christians who know how to worship the Lord in spirit and in truth.
  • Vibrant worship does something to a person's heart and draws them closer to Christ.
  • Likewise, if a person is trying to discover the Lord, one of the worst things that can happen is for them to attend a worship service that is dead and boring.
  • Dead and boring worship also does something to a person's heart and pushes them away from Christ.
  • That is why it is so important that our worship is always vibrant and full of the Spirit. That may be the one week a person comes who needs a touch from God.
  • If they don't get it, they might never come back.
  • Lydia was a business woman who sold purple cloth.
  • Purple die was expensive and only rich people could afford it. If her clients were rich, then Lydia was probably doing fairly well herself.
  • God calls the "up and out" as much as He calls the "down and out." We must all listen!
  • Lydia was listening to what Paul was saying during the service.
  • She did not come just to be entertained, she came to worship and to hear from God.
  • That is why all of us should come to church, to worship with our whole heart and to hear from God.
  • If we want to really know the Lord, we must have a heart that listens.
  • We should listen to sermons at church, on the Christian radio, to Christian music, to the advice of more mature Christian friends, to the Bible in our own daily reading and to the still small voice of the Holy Spirit.
  • The Lord opened Lydia's heart so she could understand the message.
  • No one comes unless the Spirit draws. (John 6:44)
  • Think of how many sermons we heard before our heart was opened and it began to make sense to us.
  • God is the one who helps us understand His Word.
  • If we are having trouble understanding the Bible, we should pray and ask God to open our hearts and give our minds the wisdom to grasp the truth of the Bible. Then expect God to answer that prayer and help us to understand it more.

Verse 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.

  • Notice that as soon as she believed, she was baptized as an outward demonstration of her inner faith.
  • Baptism is very important for a person to experience after they become a Christian.
  • In the New Testament, no one was baptized BEFORE they became a Christian.
  • In the New Testament, EVERYONE who became a Christian got baptized by being immersed under water as a symbol of the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus.
  • Today it has become popular to be baptized in other ways and at other times than what the Bible teaches.
  • If we are struggling with understanding what the Bible says about baptism, we should pray and ask God to help us understand it better.
  • Notice that as soon as she believed, she wanted to do something to help spread the Gospel.
  • She did this by inviting the missionary team to come stay at her house.
  • Being a successful business woman, Lydia probably had a nice large home to offer.
  • We may not have a home to offer in service to the Lord, but we all have something we can do to share our faith.
  • Sharing our faith is very important for Christians to do.
  • It should be a normal part of our Christian life.
  • Though we may all share our faith in different ways, this is something we should incorporate into our daily walk with God.
  • Who have we shared our faith with lately?


  • We should seek to obey the Lord as soon as we know what He wants us to do.
  • Even as we give the Lord quick obedience, we must be patient for the Lord to open the doors that we need to walk through.
  • We must trust God to open our hearts and the hearts of others to understand God's calling on our lives.
  • We must do whatever is needed to share our faith with a broken and hurting culture.


  1. A very well prepared sermon. I am sure that it was well prayed over and well delivered. Truly expressing the purpose God intended to accomplish. Thank you Brother Terry, you are a real blessing.

  2. Great Sermon outline. Be quick to "Wait" upon the Lord can be a hard thing to do for many of us. It comes down to obedience.