We’re thrilled to tell you that our newest (in)courage Bible study, Create in Me a Heart of Mercy, is available TODAY! Cue the confetti! This Bible study completes the set of Create in Me a Heart of… studies. It features the real-life, going-first kind of stories you love from our (in)courage writers, and an in-depth yet accessible Scripture study — like the excerpt we’re sharing below, written by Dorina Lazo Gilmore-Young. Read on for a taste of Create in Me a Heart of Mercy:
And on the Sabbath day, we went outside the gate to the riverside, where we supposed there was a place of prayer, and we sat down and spoke to the women who had come together. 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. And after she was baptized, and her household as well, she urged us, saying, “If you have judged me to be faithful to the Lord, come to my house and stay.” And she prevailed upon us.
Acts 16:13–15 (ESV)
Lydia’s story serves as an example of how the gospel was spreading to new areas and how God in His mercy calls people from all walks of life to build His kingdom. Paul is traveling throughout Macedonia, Achaia, and Asia at this point in his missionary journey. He meets Lydia down by the river in Philippi, a Roman colony in Macedonia.
Lydia was a businesswoman from the city of Thyatira, which was in the Roman province of Lydda in Asia Minor, and was known for its production of purple dye and dyed goods. We learn from the text that Lydia was a “dealer in purple cloth,” a product that was extremely expensive and was purchased only by royalty and people of wealth. In other words, Lydia had connections and resources.
With careful reading, we learn that Lydia worships and fears God but doesn’t know the full picture of the gospel. The passage tells us that “the Lord opened her heart to pay attention to what was said by Paul” (Acts 16:14). This detail shows the way God was actively working in this situation and how His mercy brings another daughter into His family. When Lydia hears Paul share the good news about Jesus—His death, resurrection, and forgiveness of sins — she becomes a true believer. In fact, she becomes the first recorded convert to Christianity in Europe.
Let’s lean into the text to see what Lydia does after she makes a decision to believe in Jesus: “After she was baptized, and her household as well” (Acts 16:15). Immediately after believing in Jesus, Lydia decides to get baptized. (After all, they were down by the river, so why not?!) Lydia then proceeds to lead her entire household—including her servants and any family members old enough to comprehend — to believe in Jesus Christ and get baptized as well. God’s mercy extends not just to Lydia but to her entire clan.
After sharing her newfound belief with those closest to her, Lydia then uses her gift of hospitality and invites Paul to stay with her. Her home eventually becomes the base of operations for the church in Philippi. She is a prime example of a woman who uses her gifts of hospitality, leadership, and influence for God’s glory.
Hospitality at its basic level is the generous and gracious treatment of guests, and it’s one way we can show the kindness of God to others. I love hosting Bible study groups, my daughter’s track and field team, friends passing through town, our mom’s prayer group from school, and our church life group. Making them feel welcome and cared for allows me to pass on the mercy God has shown me.
Food is my love language, and nourishing people well at my table is a gift. Whether it’s cooking up an Italian meal using my mama’s manicotti recipe or grilling burgers and veggies, it’s important to me that food is abundant and people feel welcome. Through food, I can make people feel special and loved in the same way God reminds me that I’m wonderfully made and completely adored.
Although it often involves opening one’s home, hospitality doesn’t have to look a certain way. You don’t have to serve up fancy food or have a big house. You can take food on the road and bless people by delivering meals after they have a new baby or when they are sick or have buried a loved one. Hospitality is our opportunity to respond to God’s mercy by offering kindness and tender care to others.
Lydia opened her heart to the gospel and her whole family received God’s mercy. She in turn opened her home to the Philippi community, and many others had a space to form and grow in their faith.
Hebrews 13:2 reminds us, “Don’t forget to show hospitality to strangers, for some who have done this have entertained angels without realizing it!” (NLT). Who can you extend hospitality to by inviting them into your home or out for a cup of coffee? Maybe God has given you a home that has a guest room or a bigger yard where you can host a Bible study. Perhaps hospitality looks like inviting someone to sit next to you in class or striking up a conversation with someone on the bus. Whatever it looks like for you, consider allowing God to open your heart through hospitality as His mercy overflows to those around you.
DEAR JESUS, I’m humbled by the way You extended mercy and hospitality to me through Your sacrifice on the cross. Thank You for welcoming me into Your family when I didn’t deserve it. I’m longing to show hospitality to others like Lydia did. Open my heart and the doors of opportunity. Amen.
by Dorina Lazo Gilmore-Young, excerpted from the BRAND NEW Create in Me a Heart of Mercy Bible Study
The Create in Me a Heart of Mercy Bible Study is the fourth and final in our series of these studies, and it’s now available wherever books are sold! (You’ll love all four studies, but you don’t have to do them in any particular order! So feel free to jump right in with Heart of Mercy.)
And what would a launch day celebration be without a giveaway?!
To celebrate the release of Create in Me a Heart of Mercy, we’re giving away FIVE HUGE gift bundles!* Just leave a comment on this post telling us where you have seen mercy in your life recently and you’ll be entered to win a bundle that includes:
- A copy of EACH of the four Create in Me a Heart of… Bible Studies
- A CSB (in)courage Devotional Bible
- Ideas Scripture Journal with Comfort Promises
We’re thrilled that this Bible study is able to be in your hands. Get your copy and learn what God says about mercy. Sign up here and we’ll send you the first whole week of Create in Me a Heart of Mercy for FREE so you can start right away!
Let’s seek hearts of mercy — together.
Join Becky Keife for a conversation with Dorina this weekend on the (in)courage podcast. AND stay tuned for details about our summer Online Bible Study featuring (you guessed it) Create in Me a Heart of Mercy. Don’t miss it!