Don't Waste Your Opportunity
· Security in Russia – batteries and baby dolls – Two grown men carrying baby dolls and batteries? A teacher in Russia – “I can use them…” We weren’t aware we were walking through an open door of ministry…
· When God opens a door of ministry for you or for this church, will you be faithful to walk through it?
1. The opportunities Christ unlocks are what’s best for you and His church.
· Philadelphia between Smyrna and Pergamum – founded by Pergamum king, Eumenes, and named for the affection he had for his brother, Attalus. (brotherly love)
· A missionary city – Strategic in spreading Greek culture (Hellenism) to the East. On a major highway – easy access and important city for trade and commerce. A Gateway city.
· Through the church at Philadelphia – Jesus giving the city a real mission – to be a strategic city for the spread of the Gospel – small church in Philadelphia was going to have a big impact in Philadelphia and beyond.
· Jesus introduces Himself to the church – The Holy and True One – divinity – Jews claiming to be the people of God, persecuting believers in Philadelphia. Jews shutting doors – Jesus opening doors. To believers: know you follow the Holy and True One – the One who holds the keys – who has opened for you the door of salvation.
· Keys = authority and access (Ill. – Church of Holy Sepulchre)
· Keys of David. Key = access and authority. Reference to Isaiah 20:20-22 – Elikiah – had been given the keys to the house of David – steward of the king’s time – if you wanted an audience with the king, you had to go through Elekiah – Jesus holds the keys of David – if you want an audience with Yahweh – you don’t go through the synagogue, the priests, etc. You go through Jesus. He holds the keys. Keys = Salvation – Only access the Father through Christ.
· Keys also = doors of opportunity. He has the ability and the authority to open up for you whatever opportunities He wants you to have in this life.
· Jesus has the key to open every door He wants us to walk through and He has the authority to close every door He doesn’t want us to walk through.
· Since Jesus is good to His people you can know that He will unlock what is best for His people.
· We all want open doors – a door to open for a promotion, to get into the school we applied for, to achieve the goal we set, make the team, etc. But, you’ve prayed for open doors and instead of doors opening you’ve had doors slammed in your face. (Thought an opportunity was opening for me to teach seminary…) You didn’t get the job, make the team, marry the person you thought you would marry, etc. Why? God knows best.
· God’s ultimate plan is not to give you the desires of your heart but instead to give you the desires of His heart. He’s orchestrating your life to accomplish His purpose in you.
· The plan: to open doors that conform you to Christ and give you a platform to share the Gospel. (NT – open door is a Gospel opportunity)
· Vs. 8 – “I have set before you an open door….” In NT, open door is used to refer to an opportunity for evangelism.
And when they arrived and gathered the church together, they declared all that God had done with them, and how he had opened a door of faith to the Gentiles. Acts 17:27
But I will stay in Ephesus until Pentecost, for a wide door for effective work has opened to me, and there are many adversaries. 1 Corinthians 16:8-9
At the same time, pray also for us, that God may open to us a door for the word, to declare the mystery of Christ, on account of which I am in prison – that I may make it clear, which is how I ought to speak. Colossians 4:3-4
2. The opportunities Christ unlocks are not without challenges.
· A door of evangelism, but not without challenges. Notice three:
o The church had little power. Small. No resources. Truth: The spread of the Gospel is not contingent on our size or our resources but on the Spirit of God choosing to work through surrendered, faithful people. We are one of the largest Baptist churches in our area. We have tremendous facilities and resources, but without the power of God, what we have doesn’t matter. God can do more with a few who are surrendered than with the masses who are non-committal in their walk with God.
o The church was opposed. By Jews. Claimed to be people of God but in reality rejected God’s Messiah and rejected God’s redeemed people. “Make them bow at your feet.” God would use Philadelphia to reach the Jews with the Gospel. We can’t let what people think of us stop us from walking through the doors God has opened for us.
o Tribulation. It was coming (persecution), and God would protect them in the midst of tribulation. Tribulation would not stifle their Gospel effectiveness. Tribulation not an excuse to not serve the Lord. You can’t say, “My life is hard. I’ll get back to serving when life gets easier.” Your season of tribulation might be your greatest season of Gospel effectiveness.
· God will open doors of opportunity for you that will lead you right into suffering and hardship, but in the midst of hardship, God will use you to be an effective witness for His Kingdom.
· Has God opened up for us a door of opportunity? Indeed! 50,000 people in a 5 mile radius - surrounded by lostness. God has placed us right in the middle of it! Back to school bash – open door – Trunk or Treat – open door – 4th of July – In January - the public elementary school every week sharing the Gospel. Open door at the middle school to minister to teachers. Open door at CSU to be on campus investing in students. Awana – 100 kids on Wednesday evenings – an open door. Boston. Russia. Central Asia. The door is wide open! Will we walk through? All of these opportunities have challenges – but that doesn’t excuse us from taking advantage of what God has opened for us. Ministry is hard, but the reward is eternal.
· God has opened doors for you. Exact school, exact job, and exact family. Might not have been what you desired, but what He desires. God has placed you where He wants you to be to grow in Christlikeness and make much of Him. Since God has opened doors:
· Don’t give excuses. We give way too many excuses as to why we cannot walk through the open door. We can’t say we don’t have resources, enough people, enough money, etc. We can’t say these people don’t want to be reached, etc. We must obey! (Hudson – I’m busy right now.) Give excuses, miss the opportunity.
· Don’t waste your opportunities. Why an open door for Philadelphia? Faithfulness. They had patiently endured. They had not denied the name of Jesus. As you grow in obedience and faithfulness God places more opportunities before you. God has opened a few doors for us, what might He open if we surrendered all to Him? And, what might happen if we waste the opportunities? The door would close. If we waste our opportunities that God has given us – the door will close. If we take our eyes off the mission and the reason why we do ministry – we will lose our effectiveness.
3. The opportunities we embrace will lead to our reward.
· A key, a door, a pillar. Those who conquer – walk by faith – prove that they belong to Jesus and Jesus will make you into a pillar in God’s temple.
· City in volcanic area – which produced fertile soil and hot springs – grapes everywhere. But, constant danger from earthquakes – destroyed in 17 AD like Sardis. People constantly fleeing the city for safety. Tiberias provided money for city to be rebuilt – renamed Neocaesarea “New City of Caesar” in honor of Tiberias.
· Jesus – stay faithful – I’m bringing you into a new city that will not be shaken, and you will not be moved. You will never have to evacuate. The reward for faithfulness. Nothing can take away what God has given us. Tribulation won’t take it nor will oppression.
· The opportunities we embrace in obedience are proof of our transformation. Not saved by obedience – but our obedience to what Christ has told us to do is proof that He is making us a pillar – proof that we belong to Him.
· Is there evidence that you have been transformed? Are you consistently obedient to walk through the doors of ministry that God has placed before you? Maybe if you evaluate your life – you have to be honest – there’s not much obedience. You’ve been a faithful church attender, a good person, etc. But you have not been surrendered to Jesus and His mission. You’re lost. Turn to the One who lived and died for you – the One who walked through a door of sacrifice and death so you could walk through the door of reconciliation with the Father and eternal life.
· Prayer: For these doors that God has opened. Pray that God would help us not to make excuses or waste these opportunities. Pray for faithfulness and obedience. Pray for changed hearts that are focused on the mission of Jesus. Pray for fruitfulness. Cry out for renewal in your life and cry out for people you know that are far from Christ whom God has given you an open door to minister to.
· Gather around front. Kneel in your pew. Gather with another believer or two.