“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.”
Acts 16:14 (NIV)
As a small child I apparently had a rather large voice. When I was indoors enjoying a noisy game my mother would often urge me to leave and go outside to play. Occasionally she would say, “Gordon, you have a voice that could wake the dead!”
I recall not being sure if this comment was one to be proud of or to be sorry about. Of course, as I grew up and matured, I learned to be calm and softer spoken. However, there was a prophetic aspect to my mother’s comment that proved to be dramatic.
In over 46 years of preaching and speaking to individuals about Jesus, there is a way in which my voice has awakened the dead! Let me explain.
The context of our verse for today (Acts 16:11-16) is about Paul preaching the Gospel to some women. Apparently after he had been speaking for a while one of the ladies present suddenly began to listen very carefully to the apostolic message and she accepted the truths Paul spoke about. What happened to cause her to respond to the teaching? The verse tells us. “The Lord opened her heart” and then she responded.
This woman was in the same spiritual state as all of us before we hear the Gospel message. We are spiritually “dead”. When the message is preached and we respond it is because God opens our hearts as He did with Lydia so long ago.
Elsewhere Paul explains it like this: “But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved. And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus…” Ephesians 2:4-6 (NIV)
So God used Paul’s voice that day to raise the dead—the spiritually dead, that is. Over the years of my ministry, God has been pleased to do the same thing many times when I have been preaching or telling some person the Good News about Jesus.
Do not get discouraged because a loved one is not responding to your witness to Jesus. Do not be distressed that they do not seem to understand the preacher who tells the old, old story of Jesus and His love.
Instead, pray to the Lord to “wake the dead”. Remind the Lord that this person needs to be brought to life as He brought you to life. Never give up on a person because they have scorned the invitation to believe in Jesus. The real issue is not how dead someone is in sin, but if God can perform a resurrection or not. Keep working with those you want to see come in faith to Jesus and some day you too will discover you have a voice that wakes the dead!