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An Open Door of Effective Work

7/2/17

Today, I would like to share about how God opens doors, or creates opportunities, for us. We are
His co-laborers, meaning that we work together with God here on earth. Ideally, He is like the
hand and we are like a glove. God works in us and through us. He is the one who prepares us for
the work, gives us the burden, creates the opportunity, and opens the heart of the people. God is
the one who orchestrates things such that we have the opportunity to do His work effectively.
When God opens a door, our work is not only possible, but it is very effective and powerful.

The early disciples recognized that God had opened a door for them to share the gospel to the
Gentiles.

Acts 14:27
On arriving there, they gathered the church together and reported all that God had done through
them and how he had opened a door of faith to the Gentiles.

For thousands of years, the Law of God was preached among the Gentiles with relatively few
converts. Now, the disciples recognized that something was different. A door was now open that
had been shut.

When God opens doors for us, our ministry is very effective. Paul writes about this in his first
letter to the Corinthians.

1 Corinthians 16:8-9
8 But I will stay on at Ephesus until Pentecost, 9 because a great door for effective work has
opened to me, and there are many who oppose me.

Thankfully in this case, we don’t have to wonder about the specifics of what Paul is talking about
because we have a lot of them recorded in the Book of Acts. Acts 19 provides the details about
Paul’s ministry in Ephesus.

Acts 19:1-20

What an exciting time! Ephesus was the main city in the province of Asia. Paul and his
coworkers used it as a base of operations to spread the gospel to the cities nearby, including
Laodicea and Colossae. God’s hand was on Paul and his coworkers in Ephesus and Paul
recognized that God had opened “a great door of effective work” to him. Paul spent more than
two years there while God confirmed his message with many signs and wonders. As you
continue to read in the Book of Acts, you see that Paul’s ministry was so effective that the
silversmiths who made idol images were worried that they would go out of business!

Paul was taking full advantage of this open door. He was “making hay while the sun shines.” He
recognized the hand of God in what was happening, and that it wasn’t his own wisdom or power
that was making things happen, but the work of the Holy Spirit in himself, in his circumstances,
and in his hearers.

But God also closes doors. Paul had also recognized the work of the Holy Spirit in blocking
some things that Paul had planned on doing.

Acts 16:6-7
6 Paul and his companions traveled throughout the region of Phrygia and Galatia, having been
kept by the Holy Spirit from preaching the word in the province of Asia. 7 When they came to the
border of Mysia, they tried to enter Bithynia, but the Spirit of Jesus would not allow them to.

Paul had earlier tried to enter the province of Asia, but he sensed that the Holy Spirit did not
want him to do that. We don’t know the specifics here … maybe it was a dream or some
circumstances that led Paul to believe that God was blocking him. But the point is that it was not
time. God had not opened the door yet.

Why doesn’t God always open every door? We will not know fully while we are here on earth,
but part of it definitely has to do with timing. It may not be the right time. Perhaps the people we
are ministering to are not ready. When Paul preached the gospel in Athens, only a handful of
people believed. Yet when Paul travelled to the next city, Corinth, we see the beginnings of one
of the great apostolic churches as many people turn to Christ.

Perhaps the reason that God does not open every door is that we ourselves are not ready and God
needs to prepare us first. Before he spent more than two years of effective ministry in Ephesus,
Paul had many decades of preparation. All those years spent studying the Law under Gamaliel,
the years that Paul spent in the desert, and the time that he spent with Barnabas in Antioch
learning how to teach the faith to Gentiles—all of this was preparation for Paul to be God’s
instrument at Ephesus.

What does this mean for us?

Lesson 1 - Be patient, diligent, and faithful.
We need to be faithful in what God gives us to do. We should see everything as a learning
opportunity. We need to prepare ourselves to be used by Him so that we are ready when the door
is open.

If God has given you the opportunity to advance in your career, then remember Him. He may use
your position to bring others to know Him. I admire some leaders in the world of technology
because they are unashamedly Christian, such as VMware CEO Pat Gelsinger and the inventor
of the Perl programming language, Larry Wall.

At New Hope, you can do a lot to prepare yourself to be used by God in greater ways. Perhaps
someday, God will send you to help a smaller church. If you learn how to mentor people or play
the guitar now, you can use those skills later. Be ready for when God opens the door!

View everything as an opportunity to learn and improve. God sometimes needs to change
something in our character and it takes time. We may need to learn humility or to depend on Him
more. We may not be ready for God’s open door because of a character weakness that God needs
to smooth out, like filing down an edge or straightening a bent piece of metal. Moses needed to
spend time in the desert, David needed to spend time in the fields, and Peter needed to learn
humility and dependence on God.

Lesson 2 – Keep trying the doors!

We can learn a lot from Paul’s example. He was eager to do God’s work, but recognized that
God had not opened some doors yet. So he tried different things. We should not sit around
waiting for God to do things for us. It is OK to try. It not OK to not try at all.

God is the one who opens and shuts doors.

Revelation 3:7-8
7 “To the angel of the church in Philadelphia write: These are the words of him who is holy and
true, who holds the key of David. What he opens no one can shut, and what he shuts no one can
open. 8 I know your deeds. See, I have placed before you an open door that no one can shut. I
know that you have little strength, yet you have kept my word and have not denied my name.

As a church, we should recognize that God has opened a door for us and is opening more.
Definitely, God has opened a door in regards to Ps. Lao’s mission work. Today, Ps. Lao,
Tammy, Cindy, and my parents are in Toronto ministering to Laotian Christians in Canada.
In Seattle, I believe that God is preparing our church to reap a harvest. You can sense that more
people are spiritually thirsty. God has His time for this city, but we need to be ready. This year,
we will finish the sanctuary remodel so that we can fit more people. Let’s fill this room!