Summary: As we begin a new year, one with many opportunities of ministry, we must be prepared spiritually to recognized the doors opened by God as He invites us to be a part of His work. Growth is His business - Service is ours!
You have often heard me mention the name J. Vernon Mcgee. He began and developed the famous radio program “Thru the Bible” that is still broadcast today. Above their welcome desk was this verse.
READ REVELATION 3.8
This verse is on the bottom of all of my church emails after God used it last year to lift my spirits!
‘I know your deeds’ – KJV ‘I know thy works’ – NKJV ‘I know your works’
To the little church of Philadelphia, Jesus says, - “I know the toil of your labor”.
I began to take great comfort and challenge in that verse last year (probably as Vernon McGee did as he began the new and small radio program). It’s serves as a reminder that God is looking for fruit from His churches; He is looking for works in the lives of believers. His business is growth!
Sometimes we get so wrapped up in growth that we forget our mission – to “make disciples”.
Ephesians 2:10 (NIV)
10 For we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.
We are God’s ‘workmanship’ – While it’s meaning is as a masterpiece, the GRK ‘poiema’ is also a word from which we get the English word “poem”. We – THE CHURCH – are his poem – created by Him to do ‘good works which GOD prepared in advance’.
(back to last part of Rev. 3.8)
‘I know that you have little strength’
The church may have been a small church and even may have had little impact upon the city, but
‘you have kept my word and have not denied my name’
but it had obeyed and had not denied God.
It’s not quantity that God is interested in, but quality. It’s not size God is interested in, but what we do with what He’s given.
THIS YEAR, 2010--
let’s quit worrying about our size and instead work on our labor as a family of God! Let’s allow God to worry about our size!
(back to front of verse)
‘I have placed before thee an open door that no one can shut’
Even to this little, seemingly small, insignificant church – God placed an open door of opportunity!
This could be a door of joy from the Lord to a knowledge of the Scriptures
This could be a door of service as they worked to help others by any number of ways
We don’t know the open door, only that they took advantage of it !
There will be many opportunities of service for us in 2010!
- Doors of Learning from our Knowledge of His Word
- Doors of Service and Ministry as we work to care for others.
The REAL question is… NOW WHAT DOOR BUT INSTEAD “HOW WILL WE RESPOND?”
There is something else to notice that the Lord wrote to this small church.
Sometimes GOD shuts the doors
READ REV. 3.7b
Philadelphia was a small church in a difficult area with no prestige and no wealth, and were evidently very discouraged because it hadn’t grown. It’s members felt as though they should have done better.
But notice Christ had no words of rebuke for this small, seemingly insignificant church.
They may have been small -- “you have little strength”-- and again, they may have had little impact on the city, but they obeyed and had not denied God (“8-kept my word and not denied my name”). They had been a faithful church in a difficult area.
What’s important is how we respond to the OPEN/CLOSED doors of God
- Some pack up their cookies and go home
- Some cause trouble and still try and smear the names of some
- Some become a “seat warmer”
Others take a different route!
- Others learn from their disappointments, hurts, and mistakes
- Others have learned from God’s Word and Prayed for the church
- Others have continued to seek God
Others allow God to prepare them for new and great doors
TURN TO ACTS 16
ILLUSTRATION: Paul Himself
When Paul, Silas, and Timothy were working in Galatia, God was using the team in tremendous ways…
READ ACTS 16.5
Everywhere they went it was happening! As they continued to travel and see great things – just as we and many others have strived to do to grow the Kingdom of God, but then they hit a CLOSED DOOR that was SHUT BY GOD.
READ ACTS 16.6-7
TWICE God closed the doors to enter ASIA. Now notice how they responded …
READ ACTS 16.8
The Great Paul – the Great Minister – shut down by God – twice. I’m sure if someone would have asked him where he was going, his response would have been “I don’t really know”!
His team didn’t question God, His timing, what anyone was doing wrong. They didn’t pack up their bags saying “nothing is happening here”. They didn’t look for things wrong. They continued working until God opened another door.