Peninsula Community Church
Door of Opportunity
July 3, 2016
Colossians 4:1-6 Continue steadfastly in prayer, being watchful in it with thanksgiving. At the same time, pray also for us, that God may open to us a door for the word, to declare the mystery of Christ, on account of which I am in prison— that I may make it clear, which is how I ought to speak. Walk in wisdom toward outsiders, making the best use of the time. Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person.
Over the last few weeks we have looked at three different doors found in Scripture. We have examined the door of hope, the door of faith, and the door of invitation. Each of these doors teach us something about the grandeur of God’s grace and His love for His people. By examining the door of hope we found that our sorrows, our disappointments, and our troubles can all be turned into a door of hope. We also found that God uses our difficult experiences and the victory that comes from Christ as a means to reach others with a message of hope and comfort. Secondly, we looked at the door of faith and found that true faith is based on truth and reality and is not a rejection of either. And then last week we looked at the door of invitation and that Christ is at the door of our heart seeking an entrance way into our hearts because He wants to live with us and not just visit.
Today, I would like to look at a third door and that is the door of opportunity. As we look over the landscape of our current society and the condition of our world, we could be discouraged and we could sense that things are hopeless. If that is your reaction to where our society has fallen, your feelings might be justified because when we look at our world we find that sin and immorality is running amok. Right is wrong and wrong is right. Look at the issues that confront us today: Isis, mass shootings, extreme liberalism, financial crisis, broken homes, an ever growing drug culture, the destruction of the moral fiber of our nation, the acceptance of all kinds of sexual perversion, and so on. As we deal with these issues, we need to know that the problem is not guns. The problem is not gay and lesbians. The problem is not drugs. We have lost our moral footing and it seems we are on a slippery slope headed to destruction.
But, while things may seem bleak and hopeless let me remind you that the Valley of Achor; the valley of sorrow, disappointment, and trouble can be turned into a door of hope. God wants to transform us and He wants to use us to transform our society. The fact of the matter is that God is providing ample opportunity for us to share the message of grace and hope to a world that is hurting, fearful, and discouraged. There is also a door of faith that allows us to step into the unknown and the dark places of our lives. We are also reminded that Christ is standing at the door of our heart and is seeking access into our inner most being. Do we have a long way to go? Yes! But there is hope!
Why do I believe there is hope? First of all we find that Jesus is the Word made flesh. A couple of weeks ago Clayton and I had a conversation about how the Word was made flesh and dwelled among us. While this is a passage that can be easily quoted, it is harder to grasp the concept in its fullest sense. The Word, the King, the God of all creation became flesh and dwelt among us. He did not come to dwell outside of our lives as some disconnected energy or force but He came to dwell in us. Here is the point. As believers we know that the Word became flesh and therefore we know that He lives in us and has the power to bring change. And because Christ is in us we become Christ in the flesh to those we encounter. In other words, Christ is wrapped up in our personalities. He is manifested through our lives. The Word became flesh, He dwelled among and now He lives in us so that we can touch the world.
Just a couple of days ago my sister-in-law made bacon wrapped corn on the grilled. She wrapped the corn with bacon and then replaced the husk and then grilled it. When we ate the corn we found that the corn had the flavor of bacon. We carry with us the flavor of Christ with us wherever we go. We exude His odor and flavor as we live out life.
The second Scripture reminds us that if He is lifted up, He will draw all men to Himself (John 12:32). Notice that it is He who is lifted up. It is not our church. It is not our doctrine. It is not our personality. Jesus said that if He were lifted up, He would draw all men to Himself. So here is the question? Where do you see Christ being lifted up in your life? Where is He being manifested as the Lord of your life? Where is He living through you? If these things are evident in you God will provide a door of opportunity for you to share love with others. He will draw people to you because He is being lifted up. By lifting up Christ you will find that Jesus will draw all men to Himself. Remember what Jesus said. He stated that we are the light of the world and that light can not be hidden (Matthew 5:14). We are the salt of the earth (Matthew 5:13). We can effect society for good or bad. Paul also reminded us that we are ambassadors of Christ (2 Corinthians 5:20). We are His representatives in this world. We have been called to go into all of the world and preach the gospel (Mark 16:15-18). Note that we do not make ourselves salt, or light, or ambassadors. We are already salt and light, and we are ambassadors because of Christ living is us.
Imagine if we grasped these two primary doctrinal ideas. If He has come into the world and has invaded our hearts and our lives and if He is lifted up, He will draw all men unto Himself. What else could we ask for. Our job is made easier as it takes the pressure off of us. We manifest His presence in our life and we lift Him up and He does the rest.
How is this accomplished? I would submit to you that Paul gives us an outline of how this is done. First, it begins and ends with prayer. Paul prayed that God would open a door of opportunity to share Christ with others. His prayer was for himself but it was others focused in that He wanted be an effective minister of the Gospel. Let me ask you a question. How often do you ask God to open a door of opportunity to share your faith with others? How often do you ask God to lead you to those who need God? I can tell you from personal experience that if you seek God and ask God to open doors, He will.
Let me share with you a personal illustration on how this works. It is not some story of grandeur but it is one that illustrates the power of prayer. Almost every morning I pray that God would open a door of opportunity for me to share my faith with others. I did that on Wednesday morning. When I woke up I found that the sump pump in the basement had a leak. I examined the problem and went up to Ace to get the part. I quickly grabbed the part that I thought I needed and made my way to the cashier. In doing so, I passed one of the employees that I knew. I greeted him but his answer was less than a joyous one. He seemed to be discouraged. He was with a customer so I could not talk with him. When I arrived home, I found that I had picked up the wrong part and had to go back to Ace to return it. When I went to the cashier I found that the cashier was none other than the person I had encountered easier and sensed that something was up. So I asked him again, “how are you?” I noted that he did not sound very good before. He turned to me and thanked me for asking and noted that his wife had a lump on her neck that has raised some concern because she has battled cancer before. I told him that we would be praying for him and asked if there was anything I could do for him. I noted that we believed in the power of prayer and the fact that God is able to do an amazing work. I also noted that we would mention his request to our congregation. He thanked me and stated that he felt better already. You see I lifted Christ and invited Christ to do His work in this young man.
Secondly, we need to walk in wisdom toward those that are outsiders. The point here is that we must meet people where they are and we must focus on answering the questions they are asking. Too often we try to answer questions that people are not asking. We have done a disservice to God and His kingdom by showing a lack of wisdom toward those who do not know Christ. We must also understand that those we encounter are not the enemy to be destroyed or hated but they are a creation of God who needs Christ. You see, sometimes, we expect others to live as believers when they have not accepted Christ. And then, we also try and slam the Bible down their throats rather than building relationships.
Thirdly, we make the best use of our time by watching for opportunities to share the love of Christ. Paul is saying is that we should not waste the opportunities that are presented to us. I love one of the themes of the VBS. The kids participating in VBS are encouraged to look for ways they see God blessing. I would encourage you to watch for God opportunities to share Christ with others and then step through those doors as they are opened to you. If you are sensitive to the work of God in your life, He will open doors. When we are faithful to obedience in this regard, He is faithful to open doors.
Fourth, let your speech be gracious. Notice two things here. Our speech is to be seasoned with salt. Salt is a preservative but it also adds to the taste of food. But too much salt turns one off. If we read Scripture we know that we do not need to become salt, we are already salt. I had a friend that when he would sit to eat, he would automatically reach for the salt and add it to his food. He would never check the saltiness of the food he would simply add the salt and then he would readily admit that he had added too much. Why do we need to have the right seasoning? It is so that we know how to answer those with whom we encounter.
In the final analysis, if we ask God for open doors, He will do so. When that happens we must go through the doors with grace, wisdom and through obedience. And then we will find that God will do a great work in and through us.
For an audio of this message go to http://pccministry.org/media.php?pageID=14
Copyright © 2016 All Rights Reserved Robert W. Odom