Open Doors


Our Scripture reading is Revelation 3:7-8.


[I. Introduction] Not too long ago I gave a message on the Will of God. In that message I said that the will of God becomes something of great interest to a person that gives their life over to the Lord Jesus Christ. Show me a person who does not care about the will of God and I will show you a person who is not in a right relationship with God.


If we have been born from above, deep within us is a desire for God’s will, especially as it applies to our own life. We are creatures of self-interest. That does not change. Christians want to know God’s will for their lives. Knowing God’s will for your life also has to do with God’s leading. God’s leading is into His will.


It is important to know that God’s will for you is what is best for you. It is not only best for the development of your character.  We already know that, don’t we? God puts us through things sometimes so that our character faults will fall away from us and we will become the persons that God intends us to be. Sometimes those experiences are not pleasant.


There is a famous hymn with beautiful lyrics entitled How Firm a Foundation. Some of the words are these:


When through fiery trials thy pathway shall lie,

My grace, all-sufficient, shall be thy supply;

The flame shall not harm thee; I only design

Thy dross to consume an they gold to refine.


Those lyrics are both poetic and absolutely true! God leading us down certain paths is for our own character.  But knowing God’s direction for our lives is even important for your happiness. God knows what makes us happy better than what we think makes us happy.


In that previous message I gave five principles on discovering God’s leading in your life. You could say that this is a sixth principle. (So, I could have called this message The Will of God, Part 2) It is also a path of blessing. Since last week’s sermon was on receiving blessings, this is a good follow-up.  (So, I could have called this message Convergence, Part 2) You could also say that putting into practice what was spoken last week will open doors. Yet, we still must know what to do when the doors are open. Hence, I have entitled this message, Open Doors. Today’s message will help you with that and, I trust, will bring you encouragement.


In verse 8 Jesus says, “I have set before you an open door.” What does the phrase “open door” mean?  Answer: A door represents access to another place. It is a threshold allowing one to enter another realm. Not all doors are open. In God’s sovereign oversight He opens some doors and others he wants to keep closed.


When Jesus says, “I have set before you an open door,” he is saying to the Philadelphians, “I have given you an opportunity and I do not want you to miss it.”


An open door is an opportunity to travel a path that we have not travelled.


The apostle Paul experienced this. There were times when he experienced closed doors and there were times when he experienced open doors.


But I will stay in Ephesus until Pentecost, for a wide door for effective work has opened to me, and there are many adversaries. (I Cor. 16:8-9, ESV)


Paul is in Ephesus and writing a letter to the church at Corinth. He says he will stay in Ephesus because a door has been opened for him and it is a wide door.  He refers to the opportunity he had to teach at the School of Tyrannus in Ephesus, which he made use of for two full years! (Acts 19:9) Paul recognized the opportunity to teach at the school as an open door from the Lord.


There were other times that doors were closed for the apostle.


And they went through the region of Phrygia and Galatia, having been forbidden by the Holy Spirit to speak the word in Asia. And when they had come up to Mysia, they attempted to go into Bithynia, but the Spirit of Jesus did not allow them. So, passing by Mysia, they went down to Troas. (Acts 16:6-8, ESV)


First, please take note that in verse 6 it says that the Holy Spirit forbade them to speak and then in verse 7 it says that the Spirit of Jesus did not allow them to go into Bithynia.  In these two verses The Spirit of Jesus and the Holy Spirit are used interchangeably, revealing that the Spirit of Jesus is the Holy Spirit.


We also see that the Spirit did not allow them to speak in Asia, meaning Asia Minor, present-day Turkey. How he did this we are not told. It could have been through a prophet or through a dream. Those were two common means through which the Spirit spoke in the apostolic era. Or, it could have been through the circumstances in which they found themselves. In the case of Ephesus the School of Tyrannus was opened to them. In Asia it could have been that every venue in which they tried to speak they were not allowed. So, we are not told how the Spirit forbade them to speak just that he did. It is clear that the doors in Phyrgia and Galataia were closed to them at this time. Likewise, the door to Bithynia was closed.


God, by His sovereignty, opens some doors and closed other doors.


We must see three things about open doors.


[II] Open doors can be unrecognized. There is a great quote by Thomas Edison that was true in his day but probably even more so in the current age: “Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work.”


Many times we do not recognize an open door because it involves work and, because of our fallen nature (as well as how we were trained in our youth), we turn our eyes away from an opportunity that is meant for us. We are supposed to walk through certain doors but we discount them, not recognizing them as an open door from the Lord.


We must be able to look past any immediate discomfort and look ahead to what benefit or what advancement is afforded by walking through that door. Zig Zigler tells of this boy that went with his mother to the old general store. He liked to sneak away from his mother and when no one was looking he would dip his finger into the large barrel of molasses.

The storekeeper caught him doing this and decided to teach the boy a lesson. He picked up the boy by his britches and dunked him head first into the barrel of molasses and then set him out on the front porch of the store. But instead of crying the boy was out there praying, “God, give me the tongue to equal this opportunity.”

Alexander Graham Bell once said, "When one door closes, another opens; but we often look so long and so regretfully upon the closed door that we do not see the one which has opened for us." Not that little guy who went with his mom to the old general store. What a great attitude! What resiliency! That young fella wasn’t about to miss out on what he recognized as an extraordinary opportunity.


[III.] Open doors can be rejected.  In 1269 Kublai Khan sent a request from Peking to Rome for "a hundred wise men of the Christian religion...And so I shall be baptized, and when I shall be baptized all my baron and great men will be baptized, and their subjects baptized, and so there will be more Christian here than there are in your parts." The Mongols were then wavering in the choice of a religion. It might have been, as Kublai forecast, the greatest mass religious movement the world has ever seen. The history of all Asia would have been changed. 

But what actually happened? Pope Gregory X answered by sending just two Dominican friars. They got as far as Armenia, could endure no longer and returned home. So passed the greatest missionary opportunity in the history of the church. 


Your personal open doors can be rejected. One can see an opportunity. It may even be evident that the Lord has opened it up. But, for one reason or another, you may pass it by.


[IV.] The third thing we must know is that open doors are the path to blessing. God opens a door for us so that we will walk through it. When Jesus said to the Philadelphian church, “I have set before you an open door,” it was his desire that they walk through it. It was his desire that they make use of the opportunity.


God has opened a door for some of you. God will be opening a door for some others. He wants you to walk through that door because it will give entrance to the path of blessing. Sometimes we must step out of our comfort zone to walk through a door onto a path that may seem strange or different to us. But we must know that the Lord will walk with us every step of the way. He will uphold us and cause us to be successful!


If the Lord opens the door he will walk through it with you. And, when the Lord is with you there will be success. It is said of David:


And David had success in all his undertakings, for the LORD was with him. (I Samuel 18:14, ESV)


The Lord will uphold you, cause you to be successful, and bless you!


[V. Application and Conclusion] Alright Pastor, how do I get an open door? Remember, I said that an open door is an opportunity. We must also know that not every door is opened by the Lord. When Joseph was taken as a slave into Egypt and became the manager and ruler of Potiphar’s affairs, the Lord was with him and blessed him. Not only did he bless Joseph, but the blessings overflowed from Joseph to Potiphar (Genesis 39:5). Then Potiphar’s wife took a liking to Joseph and tempted him. An opportunity was presented to Joseph to sin but he remained faithful to the Lord. That door of opportunity was of the devil.


When an opportunity presents itself we must first discern whether any sin or a violation of biblical principles are entailed. If there are then we must close that door.


Jesus gave us the way to get a door that is opened by him!


And I tell you, ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. 10 For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened. (Luke 11:9-10, ESV)


There is parallelism here in these two verses. To ask is to sincerely seek. To sincerely seek is also to knock. All three of these expressions are synonymous. In other words, to knock is simply to ask.


The Lord has made it so simple. If we ask the Lord will open a door for us!


The problems that we sometimes have is that


  • we fail to ask,
  • we fail to recognize an open door,
  • or we find that what lies beyond the door is not what we expected so we are hard-pressed to walk through.


The solution to the first obstacle is too simple. We go to the Lord with our requests. We speak to him as a daughter does to her father or as a son goes to his father. He hears us!


The solution to recognition is taking a second look. Do not just dismiss an opportunity merely because it involves something that we may not like.


The solution to rejection is in knowing that the Lord will walk with us through the door and make us successful.


Yes, blessings await you! Sometimes beyond what we can imagine. Find your open door. Walk through it and enter into the adventure of faith.