Summary: Open Doors Getting Started, part 2
Getting Started, part 2
October 6, 2013
I started last week by asking you to write down a couple of dates, your date of birth and 20?, which represents the date you will die. Then in between those dates I asked you to write three dashes which represent your life. We have no control over those dates but we do have lots of control over those dashes. You decide what you are going to do with the dashes and it is worth considering what to do with those dashes. It is why the psalmist prayed, 'teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom.' It is a prayer to live wisely. How many of us today want to live wisely, to live well? As Christ followers living wisely means living in light of the gospel. The most important matters in life are eternal matters, like heaven and hell. Paul had these kinds of thoughts on his mind in his prison cell, not knowing whether he was going to live or die, so he asked the Colossian church to pray for him. 'Pray also for us, that God may open to us a door for the word.' He does not ask for his safety or his freedom but that God would open a door to declare the gospel! Sitting in a prison cell wondering if he will make it out alive, he is most concerned about lost people facing a Christless eternity! With this in mind we have started a new series called “Open Doors.” Open doors is a New Testament metaphor describing how God opens an opportunity for the gospel to be shared. Let's review the first point from last week then move to the second point.
Open Doors Begin with Prayer
Remember I said that prayer breaks down when we use it like a household intercom for our comfort when it was designed to be used like a walkie talkie to call for resources and reinforcements for the spiritual battle. Prayer is the link between the trenches and command headquarters for strategic input and unlimited firepower. The chair and the intercom and the remote control are dangerous because they undermine all kinds of possibilities for ourselves, our families, our neighbors, our co-workers, our community, and the world.
First, he tells us to pray persistently. Soldiers keep walkie talkies with them all day long ready to use at a moments notice for resources and reinforcements for the ground battle. Prayer recognizes that the world, including me, needs grace and God is the great dispenser of grace.
Second, he tells us to pray watchfully. The enemy wants to distract our lives with non essentials, discourage us into thinking that the battle is lost, or that the walkie talkie just does not work. The way to overcome that attack is to be watchful, alert to the reality of the attack.
Third, he tells us to pray thankfully. Thanksgiving is the overflow of the heart from the work of God in our life or the lives of others. As this work is shared with the body of Christ, thanksgiving to God increases and his reputation spreads. Then Paul moves from encouraging them to pray to asking for prayer for himself and his team.
Open Doors in Response to Prayer
First, pray also for others. “Pray also for us.” Paul tells us that our prayer lives are to include the needs of others in body of Christ. But I think he means something more specific, like, 'pray for me as I am devoted to gospel ministry.' We should pray especially for the special forces, those who are set apart by the church for gospel ministry. I desperately need your prayer; Seth desperately needs your prayer; our Sunday School teachers desperately need your prayers; our missionaries desperately need your prayers. Think of it: the greatest preacher and missionary who ever lived, outside of Jesus himself, said that the effectiveness of his preaching was dependent upon the prayers of the church. If that is true and necessary for Paul, how more much more true and necessary for me and Seth and our Sunday School Teachers and our missionaries. What happens every Sunday in this building depends in great measure on how you pray for us.
Paul Yonggi Cho, the pastor of one great Korean church, explained the difference between what God is doing there and what he is doing here like this: "Americans stay after church and eat. We stay after church and pray."
Second, pray for open doors. We pray for open doors because God is the only one who can open doors. Three other times Paul uses this same image. Let's look at those to get a feel for what he means.
• At the end of his first missionary journey, Paul reports to the church in Antioch about what God had done, "they declared all that God had done with them, and how he had opened a door of faith to the Gentiles." God opened a door and the result was faith.