Beth Moore - Life Wide Open
My daughter, Amanda, is married to my son-in-law Curtis, who is the pastor of our church. They are a very, very fun family. They have three kids: a middle schooler, and then Annabeth my namesake is nine, and then they have this little two-year-old who came well after the other two, and we've had so much fun with her, and we are crazy about these kids. And so a couple of weeks ago, Amanda and Curtis had planned a big night for the kids. But really Curtis had not planned it at all. He would've been just as happy to sit home and watch a football game on the television, but instead Amanda said, she said, "We are going to go to the theater".
And Houston is a big city with a very, very fancy theater, and I mean it's an all-out occasion when you dress up to go. And where they live out in the suburbs, it would be a good 45-minute drive into downtown at night with all the lights, all the beauty of being in a theater and getting the kids all dressed up. It was sleeping beauty. Willow, the baby was staying home with the babysitter. It would just be the four of them. Curtis, Amanda, and Jackson and Annabeth, all going to the theater together. And they looked so forward to it. Man, they leave right on time. They went to dinner on the way, a really special dinner, an expensive dinner because it was the night of the theater. This was a special night. Everybody's really dressed up. They park, they go to all the trouble.
Notice that they got quite an ease parking which is a strange thing for a night at the theater but anyway, who cares? God had obviously opened up the parking lot for them. They had their choice of places. And they come around to the door where they can go through to the theater and it is locked tight and there are no lights on, and they're just horrified. And they pull out the tickets and it's because it is indeed the wrong night for them to be at the theatre, and it's closed.
I want to tell you something, the door to this theatre is not going to be closed. What God wants to do, you're not going to have to beat on the door to get him to do it. I've never taught this before in this kind of place. I might've gone to this or that Scripture. After 35 years, I have taught a whole lot of Scriptures. But what we're studying God has set aside for us, for us in this house and he's timed it. Why is it so important for you to know that, is because I want you to take it personally. This is meant for your particular season, for this time. Don't think there's anything coincidental about that, that he timed it right now for the exact situation you are in, for the season you are in, at the exact moment you are in, that he means it for you.
Take it personally because nobody, I believe nobody is going to leave here without having some doors divinely opened for them. And I'm going to tell you throughout the course of our lesson together why I believe I can tell you that with such assurance because there are doors God wants to open for us, and let me tell you, we want them open. Anybody game for that? All right, here's what I want you to do, I want you to turn in your Bibles to Revelation 4. It's just going to launch us. Revelation 4. Somebody say, "Open the book". That's going to become very important. Say it again. Say it one more time. Say, "I'm going to open the book". Because we don't want doors opened until the book is opened.
Anybody get what I'm saying? Because we want the doors we want to walk through open through the Word of God so that we can test them and see them. Then we want to walk through them. I want you to give a little bit of an idea in your mind of who it is we're coming before without getting a single glimpse of him. I'm reading at Revelation 4 verse 1, "After this I looked", this is John, the Revelator, "and, behold, a door standing open in heaven. The first voice which I heard speaking to me like a trumpet said, 'Come up here, and I will show what must take place after this.' At once I was in the Spirit; and behold, a throne stood in heaven, and one seated on the throne. And he who sat there had the appearance of jasper and carnelian, and around the throne was a rainbow that had the appearance of an emerald. And around the throne were 24 thrones and seated on the thrones were 24 elders clothed in white garments, with golden crowns on their heads. And from the throne came flashes of lightning and rumblings, and peals of thunder. And before the throne were burning seven torches of fire".
And it tells us "that before the throne there was a sea of glass, like crystal around the throne, on each side of the throne are four living creatures full of eyes in front and behind". And it tells us "that the four living creatures cry out day and night, 'Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty, who was and is, and is to come.' After this I looked and behold, a door standing open". He gets a glimpse of the throne room there several times in Scripture when we see that someone is given a glimpse of the throne room of God. And every single time we see it, it says that there was one seated upon the throne. That throne is occupied at all times. The glorious thing about it is that he himself is not described in this scene because he cannot be described. What is described is all of the grandeur around him, all the angelic messengers around him. The elders are around him, the crystal sea before him.
I want you to know "God has an obvious affinity for openings". So obvious that some form of the word "open", so opens, opening, opened, is found 338 times in the Word of God, and I'm talking about in the ESV. It would slightly differ in a lot of the formal translations but only very slightly. So 338 times in the ESV, 233 times in the Old Testament, 105 times in the New Testament which makes a lot of sense when you think about how much longer the old is than the new. So scattered all the way beginning with Genesis, all the way through Revelation, open, open, open, open, open, 338 times. Guess which, now just let your mind go there for a minute, guess which book in the New Testament has the most occasions by a long shot. Very good. You are going to be the ultimate class.
The Book of Revelation. Don't you think that is marvelous? That Genesis the book of beginnings, it starts the whole thing but all the way through this course, God has his affinity for progressive revelation. Not this instant intimacy that we see in the Word of God, that began that way in the garden but after the fall, it becomes this progressive revelation throughout the course of the Old Testament narrative, all the way through to the prophets, all the way through to the time of silence, and then the beginning of the Book of Matthew and the gospel stories, all the way through to the end. And the very last book by no coincidence is called Revelation, because everything that has been hidden will then be revealed. And it will be the consummation of all things that God enjoys that hiddenness, because he dearly loves revelation.
I was thinking, and by the way if you are curious what the book is in the Old Testament, also by a long shot with the most occasions of some form the word open, its Ezekiel, and for essentially the same reason, in that it's a very prophetic book. It's one of the major prophets. But it's talking about in that period of time, when the spirit of God literally departed the temple in Jerusalem. Literally departed it and I mean basically closed it down. Then, of course, it's the city is overtaken and it's destroyed. All the walls come down and it's burned and all the articles of gold and silver and bronze are taken off and carried off to Babylon. But we have this picture of the Holy Spirit departing in the Book of Ezekiel, and then it's all about after it's been closed being opened back up again, in a form and an understanding that is not clear to us.
When will it be? Is it millennial? We don't know all those answers, not clearly, but this we know, anything that has gotten closed that is of God is going to find a way open, because God has an obvious affinity for openings. You've already had one in Revelation 4:1, and I've told you that more than any other one, Revelation has 25 occasions of the word "open" or "opens" or "opening" in its pages. Ezekiel has, it's the one with the most, and it has 28 occasions. You've heard one in Revelation 4:1 when we first began. Here's Revelation 11:19, "Then God's temple in heaven was opened, and the Ark of the Covenant was seen within his temple. There were flashes of lightning, rumblings, and peals of thunder, an earthquake, and heavy hail". It says in Revelation 15:5, "After this I looked, and the sanctuary of the tent of witness in heaven was opened".
Now, don't let me forget to come back to this. I've got to come back to Revelation 19 and read you one there. But let me pause there and say, how many of you, be it anybody study, be that you just read through it on your own, but has anybody studied the Old Testament tabernacle? Hold up your hand if you have because this is so significant, because you may remember in Exodus chapter 25 in verse 8, when he tells Moses that he is going to have him build a tabernacle for his dwelling place and he is to do it, he says very clearly in that chapter. You are to do it exactly according to design.
The Book of Hebrews comes along beside it and it confirms over and over that every single part of that tabernacle, where God's Spirit would dwell as the children of Israel moved through the wilderness on their way to the promised land, the long way, that every single part of it was very significant, even what we would not understand and would not know to put together, every single bit of it was tied. It was a representation on earth of something that already dwelt in heaven, so he was having him make it. He said, "You will do it by the pattern that I give you".
So everything about the earthly tabernacle, God is looking at the real thing and he's telling Moses, and then do this, and then do this by this many cubits and then go hang these kind of curtains, and you're going to put this wall around it. And he's doing all this because he's looking at the real thing while he's telling him how to build a pattern of it. Well, in this point in Revelation, the Revelator gets a glimpse into it and sees the real thing. Like I mean, there it is. There it is.
Revelation 19:11, "Then I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse. The one sitting on it is called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he judges and makes war". Revelation 20, verse 12, "And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and the books were opened. Then another book was opened, which is the book of life".
That's why I want to suggest to you is that very reason why he is purposed some things to be hidden, is so he can make them known. I mean he could have just done it other way where everything just was known from the very beginning. That's not how God likes to do things. God has a very obvious affinity for openings. He loves Revelation. He especially loves progressive revelation. And he loves taking that veil back, taking that veil back, moving us from glory to glory, giving us this glimpse and giving us the next glimpse, bringing us in step-by-step into the knowledge of the one who cannot even be known by human mind alone.
And so, here's what I want to further say to you, that the reason why some things are closed is because he has purposed them that way so that he can delight in opening them. I want to pitch out to you that it is possible that a door you have found recently closed is not going to stay closed. I mean that's up to God and that's up to how he works with you. But I'm just going to tell you that sometimes he purposes that we'll walk up to a door, and I'm talking about in our life journey, we'll come up to a door, that we really, really thought that was it, and it's shut tight. But what you may not know and what I may not know is that maybe the reason why it's shut tight is because he wants the delight of opening it. And maybe, we would not have appreciated it nearly as much if it had just swung wide open. Instead, we stood there with that sense of the way closed before us and he could delight in opening it. "God loves disclosure. Satan loves exposure".
I want you to think about what the difference would be. And yes, of course we expose things that are wrong and unjust. We know that from the book. We know from many different places in the Word of God. I'm thinking in terms specifically of Ephesians chapter 5 that says, "that we are to expose the works of darkness". But it then goes on to say but when anything is exposed by the light, it becomes visible, and anything that becomes visible, is light. In other words, when it is God's light that is exposing it, it is so that it can become light. Does anybody need to know that? That's the most beautiful concept.
Now, I want you to hang on this just a second because do you know that you would get no further than chapter 3 of Genesis before you would find the first occasion, at least in the formal translations of the word "open" or "opened". You know what it is if you're familiar with the Book of Genesis and if you're familiar with the narrative where the serpent comes to Adam and Eve, because he comes to them and said, "Did God really say that if you ate of that you'd die". "Well, God said if we eat of this, we will"... "You will not surely die. He knows that your eyes will be open and you will be a God like him". I mean why serve God when you could be God. I mean that's something the enemy is selling all over the world. I mean that, that would seem like a much better deal. I mean why would I want to submit myself to God when for crying out loud I could be one myself?
And it's the most interesting thing, because indeed after they ate, their eyes were opened. Only they did not see that there were gods. They saw that they were naked, because that's the enemy. God loves disclosure Satan loves exposure. Satan's game is to expose shame. God's aim is to disclose glory. Now, there are grand openings in the Scripture. I mean grand openings. There are times when the Scripture says, a number of times that he opened the heavens. And there's one in particular that I just absolutely love. You're fairly close to it so I'mma have you turn with me to it.
Would you turn to the first chapter of the Book of Mark 9 and 10? "In those days Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan. And when he came up", this is Jesus being baptized by John. "When he came up out of the water, immediately he saw the heavens being torn open and the Spirit descending on him like a dove". Verse 11, "And a voice came from heaven, 'You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased'".
When the other gospels give the account of this, they don't use exactly the same strength of language that Mark uses in his gospel, and it's so powerful. They say that Jesus saw the heavens open. Only Mark tells us that Jesus saw the heavens rip open. It's a very strong word in the Greek language and it means exactly what it says in many of our English translations. It means that the sky was torn. And I just wanted you to get that picture in your mind. That's so adamant and anxious was God for his Spirit to fall with that kind of a commissioning and anointing upon that Son, to be able to speak out his affection for his Son, that that dove came through that sky like it had razors for wings, tore open the heavens, descending upon him like a dove. "You are my beloved Son, and with you I am well pleased". Grand openings.
Act 14:27, it's a glorious, glorious moment and it's going to have a phrase in it that can mean a whole lot to us to care about what God is doing on the globe for the sake of the gospel in the name of Jesus Christ. It says in Acts 14:27, "And when they arrived and gathered the church together, they declared all that God had done with them", this is Paul and Barnabas, "and how he had opened a door of faith to the Gentiles". How "he had opened a door of faith to the Gentiles".
So in the Book of Acts, there comes a time when the gospel goes forth not only to the Jews, but then the door gets opened to the Gentiles. And I want you to understand something with me, that for most of us in this room that have a Gentile heritage, unless you are Jewish by a Jewish descendant, unless you come from that blood, I want you to know that that door that got opened way back then in Acts chapter 13, that's testified in Acts chapter 14, every single one of us in this room who comes from a Gentile heritage, has followed them right into that door of faith. I began thinking, listen, what I have studied this week getting prepared for you, is changing the way I'm going to start praying and I love that. I love nothing better.
You know, I am 60 and I have had a relationship with Jesus since I was a little girl. I gave my life in front of... I made my profession of faith when I was nine years old and was baptized, but I had already begun to have a relationship with him prior to that. As a little girl, I was just mesmerized by it. Absolutely memorized by it. Now, all of these years just, just I'm walking with him however I wobbled, however many times I rolled in the ditch, the times he had to pull me out of a pit, but I'd had this relationship thing going with him for some 50 plus years.
Started studying Scripture like a maniac when I was 27, so 33 years. And nothing delights me more than learning a new way to pray or a new way to approach the throne of God. Nothing delights me more than that and that's his way. There's always something fresh, that it's the same Word but there's a fresh impact of the Spirit on it, animating it at all times. And that's what happening for me because here's what it's saying, there are doors he opens for faith. That's what we already praying about, our workplaces, about neighborhoods, about other countries, about places that mean something to us in the name of Jesus. We can't open that door, there's nothing we can do to push that door open, but we can pray that God will open a door of faith because that is exactly what he's done.
Now, the Bible makes numerous references to times that God opens the heavens. Sometimes, it's in reference to rain, sometimes it's in reference to blessing and sometimes it's in reference to sights of glory. I love this in Ezekiel 1:1 where it says, because I love the precision of it. "In the 30th year, in the 4th month, on the 5th day of the month, as I was among the exiles by the River Chebar canal, the heavens were opened, and I saw visions of God".
Don't you know you'd write that day down? I mean like it was in the 40th year, in the sixth month, on the third day. It was 12:30 in the afternoon. You'd have a downside to a tee because there is nothing like getting a divine glimpse. Acts 7:56 says of Stephen just before his death, as the first Christian martyr, "Behold, I see heavens opened, and the Son of man standing at the right hand of God". But I also want you to see is that there may be some openings that don't have quite the same grandeur, but any God opening is a divine opening. And any opening that only he could open is something that we want to celebrate and walk through.
This is where you and I come in because whomever you are, whatever you are skilled to do, wherever you live, whatever your background, whatever your skills and your talents, whatever your age, whatever your family of origin, whatever your relationships in your present, whatever it may be, I need you to know something. If you are in Christ, there is a plan for your life and it doesn't matter whether you score a one, a four, or a seven on the Enneagram. It doesn't matter whether you're a reformer, a helper, achiever, individualist, an investigator, a loyalist, enthusiast, or a challenger. Here's what I'm gonna tell you something. If you are in Christ, your life is set apart to make kingdom impact on planet Earth. Planet Earth.
Your life was meant and my life was meant, not just to bear fruit, but to bear much fruit, high kingdom impact on planet Earth while we are here. And there is this, like, predetermined, there's this plan. Our lives are meant to mean something. And there's this plan, there's this route what I want to pitch out to you and there is this route for your own missionary journey, just as clearly as there would be for Paul. We can look back on his and we can trace it through. Do you know when yours comes to fruition and you're home with Jesus, you will have had your own missionary journey.
I mean, we are on mission whether we're bank tellers, whether we are public school teachers, whether you are in some kind of career in medicine, whether you are a policeman, whether you are in areas of finance or in areas of government, wherever it may be. If you are homeschooling, homemaking, if you are landscaping for a living, it doesn't matter what it is you do, it doesn't matter what your skill level is, it doesn't matter what your education is, if you are in Christ, there is a plan that God wants to continue to execute in your life that brings you through a route that is your own mission on this planet.
And the thing about it is that there is a series of doors on your journey that need opening. Very specific doors. I don't know those for you, you don't know those for me. But there are gonna be doors we come to that are gonna be shut. Some of 'em we're gonna figure out, "Well, I mean, that wasn't my door". Others of them, we're gonna know that he intended for us to stand there, partner with him in prayer until those things opened up. Anybody know what I'm talking about to 'em tonight? See, because here's the beauty of it. You cannot fulfill your plan, that route that he has predetermined for you and for me. We're not gonna fulfill it on our own haphazardly or half-heartedly. We're not gonna do it.
See, it takes the Spirit in order to even do what God has called us to do. We're incapable of doing it in our humanity and in our own flesh. There are doors that we're meant to go through that only God can open for us. These are such wonderful verses, you've probably heard 'em numerous times. Matthew 7:7-8: "Ask", Jesus says, "and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened".
I want this to sink into somebody that really never has grasped this before. Or maybe you have this stronghold of insecurity or maybe it's more than that. Maybe it's what I had for a good part of my life. I mean, you just call it, like, self-hatred, self-loathing, something in you that says, "There is no way on earth God could ever enjoy me. The best God could do with me is tolerate me". Has anybody besides me ever had that notion in your mind? And are you the same one that could tell somebody else how much God enjoys his relationship with them but when it comes to you, no part of that resonates with you? Reality is you can't even imagine that.
Well, what if I said to you tonight that the glorious beauty is that a great part of God's joy is opening doors that we've knocked on. I mean, why couldn't we just, like, stand at 'em, you know? For whatever reason, according to the Word of God, one of the things that he loves is for us to do this right here. Why? I mean, can't he see us standing here? There's something about the knock. He's going, "Ask me. Knock, seek". Why? Because he is calling us into partnership because he enjoys the interaction. I need that to land with somebody in this room tonight because somebody doesn't get that. You don't get that God enjoys his interaction with you, like, he loves the fact that you're gonna go to that door, that you're asking so that he can give, that you'll seek so he can cause you to find, that you would just go to the trouble to knock.
I'm so glad you knocked and because you did, here's what I'm gonna do. You know what? Sometimes I find that that door was a little bit different than the one I thought I was knocking on but somehow or another when I seek, I do find Jesus. When I ask, if I don't get what I asked for, I still get Jesus. When I knock and it might not have been the door I was expecting, on the other side of it is something that I realize down the road I wanted more and that was Jesus himself. God can purpose a door to be shut, for the pure pleasure of opening it. In other words, opening that door for you is a tremendous delight to God. Not that you just walked up to it and there it was, and we'll have some of those, we're gonna talk about some of those, where it's like God is holding a remote control in his hand.
This is what happened to Peter in Acts chapter 12 when Peter was sound asleep in his prison cell, waiting to be executed, and what happened instead was an angel appears to him and says, "Get up, we're leaving". And it says: "As he came to the gate, when he came to the doors, they just"... except when he gets to the house where the church is meeting together, praying for him and they don't open the door, isn't that just like it? God will open all sorts of doors but the people of God, somehow they can keep a door shut like nobody's business. Has anybody ever noticed that but me? That can be a really strange, strange component in the journey with God but it can be so. If we never encounter doors shut tight, how would we ever know the exhilaration of him opening them? He likes the partnership, the fact that we'll engage with him.
I'm gonna tell you something. There are some doors that are not gonna come open without us partnering with God in prayer. And here's something else. This is gonna really touch on how narcissistic we are if we have any interest in this whatsoever. Some doors for other people will not open unless we are part of the intercession to pray those things open. God will test us over and over again to see will we only pray for things to happen that directly affect us? Or would we engage as partners in prayer for God to open doors for other people? I love how Paul describes this phenomenon because he says and I'm gonna just paraphrase this: "Would you pray for us so that then the joy may be multiplied for you when it happens"? And when we gather together with other people and we start praying for them in a way they need, I mean, they desperately need something to happen here, desperately need an open door, desperately need this to happen.
And we begin to partner with him in prayer, even though it has no direct impact on our lives whatsoever, the impact that it has is joy. We're a part of something divine. We prayed that God would open a door and he did it and he did it and he did it. He can open any door all by himself. He can plow it down. The fact is, he wants us to partner with him. I love Colossians 4:3 if you desire to jot that address down and let me read it to you. Colossians 4:3, Paul's talking to the brothers at Colossae and he says, "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". Listen to that again: "That God may open to us a door for the word". I think I'm supposed to really guide some people through the Scriptures. I love it so much and I wanna share it with someone. This is giving us terminology to pray. "That God may open to us a door for the word". Pray it and see what God will do. Watch for those doors to open.
Now I want you to go with me to what will be just key to us, key to us. Go with me to 1 Corinthians chapter 16. Now, 1 Corinthians 16:8-9, so this is Paul. He's ending his first letter to the brothers and sisters in Corinth and he says in verse 5, let me start it there to keep it in context. "I will visit with you after passing through Macedonia, for I intend to pass through Macedonia, and perhaps I will stay with you or even spend the winter, so that you may help me on my journey, wherever I go. For I do not want to see you just in passing. I wanna spend some time with you, if the Lord permits".
Have you ever not gone someplace because you thought, "I wanna go when I can really stay a little while. So I don't wanna just pass through. I wanna come and stay a little while". This is part of what he's saying. And it says in verse 8, "But I will stay in Ephesus until Pentecost, for a wide door for effective work has opened to me, and there are many adversaries". This time, I'm gonna read it out of the NIV because I get adversaries and I think you do too but it's got a word that I think really, really has a punch to it. It says this, NIV: "But I will stay on at Ephesus until Pentecost, because a great door for effective work has opened to me, and there are many who oppose me".
I don't know if you are comfortable writing in your Bible but, if you are, I want you to take your pen and I want you to circle the word "and" that comes in between God having opened a great and effectual door and then it says, "and there are many who oppose me". And there are many adversaries. Admit with me that nothing makes sense to us in our natural thinking about that terminology. Maybe if there was "but" there instead of "and", we'd get it a little bit better but the fact that there is "and" and it's in every single one of your formal translations, that he says, "A great and effectual door has opened wide for me and there are many who oppose me".
Let that just drop in your head and try to make sense of that from a natural standpoint. Because here's what happens. What you and I would assume is that anyplace there's a whole lot of opposition, that door is closed. Somebody say, "Hallelujah". I mean, that's gonna be my natural assumption that when I am at a door and there is much opposition, then I'm already gonna assume right here that door cannot be opened. Look at how adversarial they are on the other side of that door. If there are many who oppose me, I have to assume that is a closed door. Only that is exactly the wrong assumption from the verse he is making a very big point with. Because he's saying, "Listen, you cannot believe how wide open this door is for such an effectual work and you also would not believe how many oppose me".
What on the ever-loving earth is going on there? I want you to write down number three because this is gonna become so important. If we really take this traction in our walk with God, we are gonna see things happen like this and we're gonna know it and we're gonna be able to recognize it when we see it and know not to call something a closed door just because there's opposition. Never assume opposition is the sign hanging on a closed door, never. Can't be it. Too much opposition there. That cannot possibly be a door I'm supposed to walk through.
Okay, I want you to say it to me. Number three, "Never assume opposition is the sign hanging on a closed door". It never means that we can assume it's closed. What it can mean is that a wide open door has been set before us and there is much opposition. What do we do with that? I want you to write down an equation. I love equations and this is a gospel equation. This is some gospel math before us, just these couple of words here. I want you to write down: "Opposition does not equal closed door". We wish it did but it doesn't. Would be easier if it did, but that's not what it says. Opposition does not equal a closed door.
I want you to go with me. Let's see here. I want you to go with me to Acts. Now, leave something here 'cause we're coming right back to it. Acts 19 and 20 and I wanna show you a little bit of Paul's missionary journey where Ephesus was concerned. "And I'm gonna stay on in Ephesus because God has opened a really wide door for me, an effective door for me, I'm staying here, and there are many who oppose me".
So okay, what does this look like? Because sometimes, hostile shuts down the gospel. Would somebody say that that's true? That there are some times where there's an environment that is so hostile to the gospel that it is just like shut down. Until God does something there, until he moves in hearts or he's gotta open a door of faith there because it is so hostile to the gospel, nothing is happening there. But there are other times when hostile is begging for the gospel. There are times when you've got a hostile person in your life, very hostile to the gospel, that has a soul begging for it. What in the world do you do with that? Here's what I wanna throw out to you. There is a critical key to an open door in an environment that is hostile to the gospel. I mean, critical.
Now, let me tell you something. I wanna stop here. Don't let me forget to go back to it 'cause that would be one of my major points that I would just miss. But stay with me here for just a second. If right now you're thinking, "Man, I was hoping it would be a different kind of lesson. I didn't really want it to be on that we're, you know, supposed to be carrying the gospel torch". It's everything we're doing here. Once we're saved, it's the reason why we're on earth, that we live out the love of Jesus, that we demonstrate it in our deeds, in our joy, in our peace, when everything is just, like, turned upside down.
Then when God gives us an opportunity with our mouths and we're gonna get to that in just a little while, but this is why we're here. Not to be lights that are hidden under a bowl and in a bubble but that we're meant to carry the torch of the gospel, that our lives make people want to taste the things of God because somehow, something about it seems appealing on us. It's why we're here, it's why we're here. And here's the other thing about it 'cause we think, "Well, dang, I mean, that's not even fun". We don't understand that the paradox is that the reason why we are not happy and flourishing is because we have made it so much about us that we're miserable. He said, "Here's the thing that you lose your life in me and you'll find it".
See, this is the big irony. This is the paradox. And this will be the test of every human being who will ever live to a conscious-enough age to make the decision of self or Christ, is would we believe this notion, this gospel truth, that somehow I'm gonna find my life in losing it. And I'm going to end up losing my life in making everything about my life. That somehow, the relief of everything not having to be about me and my ego is where I'm freed up for joy. Can I see somebody's hand in the house if you've noticed that? We're so folded in and he's gonna unfold us in the house. So back to this, there is a critical key to an open door in an environment hostile to the gospel, and it's called patience. It's called patience.
So if you've got somebody or somebodies in your life hostile to the gospel, what do you do? What do you do? Either God says, "That's, you know, that's not gonna be now, I can tell you that". So hostile that they don't want anything to do with it. But on the other hand, when God just, like, sets that on you that, "No, I'm hanging in here. I'm hanging in here. This, I'm going for", then what it takes is patience. Did you notice back in 1 Corinthians chapter 16:8-9 that he said, "But I'm gonna stay on in Ephesus till Pentecost". There was all sorts of hostile.
During the Acts 19:20, I'm gonna show you a little bit of it. Acts 19 and 20, when he says "Pentecost", Pentecost was probably very, very significant to the early church. That was their birthday, just like you and I would celebrate our birthday, you just celebrate your anniversary, this was the birthday of the church. This was when the Holy Spirit fell upon them, and the church was multiplied into thousands and it was their birthday. So it was very, very important..
Acts 19 and 20, I wanna read 19:8 through 10: "And he entered the synagogue", this is Paul. "He entered the synagogue and for three months spoke boldly, reasoning, persuading them about the kingdom of God. But when some became stubborn and continued in unbelief, speaking evil of the Way before the congregation, he withdrew from them and took the disciples with him, reasoning daily in the hall of Tyrannus. They continued for two years, so that all the residents of Asia heard the word of the Lord, both Jews and Greeks".
Now hold there just a second because this is so profound. So he's there. He spends three months. He doesn't give up easy. We can't just give up easy. He doesn't give up easy. He spends three months there and he keeps teaching and keeps teaching where there are some that are so hostile to it that they're causing all sorts of disturbance and he can't even, some of you that are teachers in a classroom, you know what this is like because you have some kids that make such a disturbance you can hardly even teach the ones that really do want to learn.
This was the situation for Paul in Ephesus. So what does he do? He takes the ones that are really serious about learning and he pulls them to the side. Sounds a whole lot like Jesus, doesn't it? And then he trains them and because of that, and he's gonna end up spending three years there in Ephesus, because of that, it spreads all over the place. I want you to hear 20. Go to Acts chapter 20 and hear verses 31 through 32 because he's now with the Ephesian elders. He's seeing them outside of Ephesus. He's met up with them because he believes with all of his heart that he will never see them again.
And he says in Acts 20:31-32, listen to this, "Therefore be alert, remembering that for three years I did not cease night or day to admonish every one with tears. And now I commend you to God and to the word of his grace, which is able to build you up and to give you the inheritance among all who are sanctified". He said, "Remember that I served you for three solid years and I never quit crying over you". I don't know if that speaks to anybody besides me, but didn't he call that a "great and effectual door"? That was the door. That was Ephesus. And he still said, "I mean, it was a great and effectual open door".
Here are just a few things I wanna throw out at you that I have learned about open doors along the way. One thing: opposition is normative. Oppression is noteworthy. You and I have got to learn how to discern the difference between regular opposition we're gonna have. It's normal in the believing life. Why? Because we are living in a place that is not our home. We are not of this world. Our citizenship is in heaven. Once we are born again in Christ, we are transferred into the kingdom of light but we are still living surrounded by darkness. Of course we're gonna have opposition.