One who heard us was a woman named Lydia, from the city of Thyatira, a seller of purple goods, who was a worshiper of God. The Lord opened her heart to pay attention to what was said by Paul (Acts 16:14, ESV).
People have said to me when I’ve asked them to receive Jesus as their Lord and Savior, “Not at this time.”
They were under conviction and had come to me asking for help. Knowing where hope is found, I told them the Good News about Jesus.
I then asked if they wanted to confess Jesus, and they replied, “Not at this time.”
I’ve observed that most who refused my invitation still have never decided to follow Jesus. God’s offer for salvation has an expiration date. We don’t get to pick and choose the timing of God opening our hearts.
In Acts 16, Paul and Silas went to the riverside outside the city of Philippi. Often, Jews in foreign lands with no temple or synagogue would gather by a river for worship. Understanding this practice, Paul and Silas (being evangelists) were strategic in finding a place to preach the gospel.
Scripture says that Lydia from Thyatira, a seller of purple goods, was in Philippi and with the other Jews alongside the river.
The book of Acts says of Lydia, and not the others at the river, “The Lord opened her heart!”
Lydia responded to the gospel preached by Paul and Silas, and she was then baptized. Under conviction of the Spirit, it was her time!
Is it your time? How about your co-workers, friends, or family members?
During my tenure as a senior pastor, I would stand in the foyer of the church, greeting visitors arriving for the service. I could tell that the Spirit of conviction was already upon some of them. When I extended an invitation at the end of my sermon, many would respond.
But some didn’t. Knowing that the Lord had already opened their hearts, I would lengthen the ministry at the end of the service to give them time, but still no response.
What would have happened to Lydia if she didn’t respond, and how about those that I’ve encountered personally or who heard my preaching and didn’t accept Jesus? Often, a hardness (resistance to the Spirit) comes by saying “no,” thus eliminating a second chance.
We should not trifle with the conviction of God.
God’s in charge of who comes into the Kingdom, and He desires all to be saved. When He gives an invitation, we should rush with no hesitation to proclaim Jesus.
Understanding the “openness to the Lord” or “conviction of the Spirit” in evangelism, I follow these principles . . .
- I pray to encounter those in my life under conviction. I can share Jesus with 100 people, but if only ten are under conviction, it’s a lot easier to have Jesus lead me to the ten!
- When I encounter someone open to Jesus, I silently pray for the right words and against the enemy distracting them.
- I keep my words simple and direct. A person under conviction might try to side-track the conversation with irrelevant comments or questions.
- I ask them specifically if they want to receive Jesus as their Lord and Savior.
As the culture becomes godless, when safety nets of money disappear, and with the tribulation of the end-times — more will come under conviction. God will soon open the hearts of many.
There is a worldwide revival coming.
Let’s pray, be prepared, and boldly proclaim Jesus.