Summary: God opens and closes doors so that we can do His will.
“Yes We Can”
By: Rev. Kenneth Emerson Sauer,
Pastor of Parkview United Methodist Church,
Newport News, VA
What were the chances that Jeanne and I would ever meet each other?
Jeanne was born in Arkansas.
I was born in Ohio.
Jeanne grew up in Georgia and Virginia.
I grew up in Kentucky, New Jersey, and Syracuse, New York.
I wouldn’t have met Jeanne and Ben if my first job out of college had not been in Macon, Georgia…
…and I would not have ended up in Macon, Georgia if I hadn’t had so many doors closed elsewhere.
--Cause Macon wasn’t my first pick.
After having been turned down at a number of television stations…
…I packed up my car and drove down the eastern part of the country, stopping in every city that had a television station until I found someone who was willing to hire me.
I was offered my first job at a small t-v station in a place I had never even heard of before—Macon, Georgia.
I had been living a thousand miles away—in Syracuse, New York…
…just about the same distance that Tarsus—where Paul is originally from---is from Philippi…
…minus a few hundred miles.
And here I was in Macon, Georgia.
And even though Jeanne, Ben and I were all living in Macon at the same time, our paths would not have crossed if we had not attended the same church.
And even though we were living in Macon at the same time and attending the same church at the same time…a 2,000 member church…
…our paths would not have crossed if I hadn’t felt the nudge to attend choir practice one night.
And that is strange enough—given the fact that I have never had the desire to sing in a choir, and have no natural musical abilities whatsoever.
But one night I decided to go to choir rehearsal.
I met Jeanne there, and never went back to choir rehearsal again.
A friend of mine, another minister here on the Peninsula District, and I were talking the other night.
He said, “Ken I am so glad that the Holy Spirit brought us together.”
“What do you mean?” I asked.
“Well,” said my friend, “If the Holy Spirit had not called both of us into the ministry, and if we had not followed His call…
…then I wouldn’t be blessed to have such a great friendship as yours.”
Then I said, “That is such a nice thing for you to say.”
And my buddy, John LeGault at First United Methodist Church said: “I know. I thought so too.”
And we both had a good laugh.
In our Scripture Lesson for this morning we have Paul, a former Pharisaic Jew and a tent maker, who follows the guidance of the Holy Spirit and ends up being used by God to convert a wealthy business woman in Europe—Lydia—the first European convert to Christianity!
We cannot overstate Paul’s determination!
Apparently, Paul had been staying in Antioch of Pisidia, trying to decide just where he should launch a new mission thrust.
Up to this time, Asia had been the center of civilization, and so Paul and his companions decide that this would be the perfect place to preach the Gospel.
But God had other plans.
He closed the doors, through the Holy Spirit.
Then Paul decided to undertake a northern mission, so they headed northward toward Bithynia.
But once again, the Holy Spirit stopped the plans that Paul was making.
“When they came to the border of Mysia, they tried to enter Bithynia, but the Spirit of Jesus would not allow them to.”
So Paul turned and went in the only direction he could—toward Troas, a city that was close to the sea.
And this is where the Holy Spirit opened a major door!
Verses 9 and 10 read: “During the night Paul had a vision of a man of Macedonia standing and begging him, ‘Come over to Macedonia and help us.’
After Paul had seen the vision, we got ready at once to leave for Macedonia, concluding that God had called us to preach the gospel to them.”
As I said, up to this point in time, Asia had been the hub or cradle of civilization—but Europe was soon to take it’s place—not only becoming the hub of civilization, but the center of Christianity as well.
Therefore, the great call of God for Paul and his companions to evangelize Europe is one of the greatest calls in all of human history.
But Paul had to face a great number of closed doors before he was to go to the place God was calling him.
There’s a lesson in this for us.
We should never be discouraged by closed doors.
God is the One Who closes the door, and God is the One Who opens the door to the place where we are to go.