Charles Stanley - Standing Before God's Open Door
This is the most exciting time in human history to be alive and serving the Lord. When I think about the awesome, unparalleled door of opportunity that stands before us, to make an impact on the entire world for the gospel of Jesus Christ, I could not be more excited. When I look back in the last century and the last millennium and see the accomplishments of man and where the church has gone and where it has grown, and then I look to see where we are today and what God has before us. Every single believer should be excited about the possibilities of becoming involved in the most important thing in all the world. And that's what I want to talk about in this message, "Standing Before God's Open Door". What do we find, what do we see, what do we feel standing before God's open door?
First Corinthians chapter sixteen. Let me give you a little background of what's happening. Paul has just finished describing the resurrection of Jesus Christ and its impact. And not only that but also what will happen to us and our bodies when we die, when we're resurrected. Then in this sixteenth chapter, he begins with telling us some of his plans. He comes down to verse eight and he says, speaking of where he has been writing this epistle from, he says, "But I will remain in Ephesus until Pentecost; for a wide door for effective service has opened to me, and there are many adversaries". A wide door of effective service is open to me and there are many adversaries.
Now, Paul uses this whole idea of door as a figure of speech for opportunity. For example, he says something similar to that in Second Corinthians chapter two and verse twelve. He talks about how the Lord has opened a door for him in Troas. And then in Colossians, that fourth chapter, a few verses there, he talks about asking the Colossians to pray for him for an open door for the truth. And so, when we think about that and think about the fact that that's what an opportunity is, it's an open door. An opportunity is a favorable time in your life and mine to either participate in something or to accomplish and achieve something. And you and I know that opportunities are not static, they don't just stay there, they come and they go. In fact, every single day of our life, you and I wake up every morning to new opportunities. Opportunities in our spiritual growth, opportunities in our vocation, opportunities in our relationship. Every day is filled with opportunities.
Now, whether we take advantage of them or not is up to us. If we're wise enough to identify a good opportunity when it comes our way or a difficult opportunity when it comes our way, if we're wise enough to be able to acknowledge it, see it, realize its potential, and step through that door, oftentimes we'll be blessed. In fact, most of the time we will. So when I think about what is implied in the very idea of an opportunity. Certainly, when I think about it from God's viewpoint, what is implied is the fact that God has a plan. That is, if God has provided an opportunity, that means that God has planned something. The second thing that's implied is this, that God has already gone on before because He is the one who opens the doors of opportunity for us. The third thing it says to me, the implication is that God is interested in accomplishing something in our life or through our life.
And the fourth thing is this, that whatever door of opportunity He opens, it means that He's already committed to enabling you and me to walk through that door and achieve whatever God has in mind. Now, also to think about some of the requirements. For example, when I think about the open doors that God has for us individually and as a church and as a nation, for example, think about the fact that what's required. Certainly the realization of being able to identify an opportunity when it stands right before us. The realization to be able to identify it. Secondly, to have the wisdom to know when to enter in. Thirdly, the faith to do so. Fourth, the courage to do so. And fifth, certainly the confidence that we can achieve and accomplish whatever is on the other side of that door, whatever opportunity that may be.
Now, all that leads me to think in terms of what the Apostle Paul said here and the awesome opportunity that stands before us. Because if you'll notice what he said. He said, "There is a wide door for effective service that is open to me and there are," as he says, "many adversaries". So, I want us to think about this whole idea. And it'll be rather easy for you to listen to this message and say, "Well, that's out yonder. That applies to someone else". Or, "That's just talking about church". No, every single one of us has a responsibility. Because God opens doors for each of us individually, then each one of us has a responsibility. Because you see, God has a plan, a personal plan for every individual. That plan involves opportunities for us to grow spiritually, opportunities with our families, our friends, our vocation, our finances, whatever it might be, there are always opportunities there. God is at work in your life and my life.
And so, when I think about this whole issue of opportunities, I'd like for us to think about it this way. And that is, the open door that stands before us. The open door that stands before us today. The most awesome door in the history of humanity. The most awesome door in the history of the church. Now, why would I say that? Simply this, because the most important thing going on in the history of humanity today, the most important thing in the mind of God, the most important thing that He intends for us to be on our mind is God's redemptive plan. That's the most important thing in the mind of God. It is the most important thing going on, on the globe, in space, whatever. There's nothing more important in the mind of God than the redemption of mankind. It is the most important thing. And therefore, because it's the most important thing, certainly He intends for every single one of us to be involved in it.
Now, I want you to turn, if you will, to First Timothy for a moment because you'll see exactly what that plan is involved in, and what is involved, and so how we would be involved in that. First Timothy, if you'll notice, in chapter two. He makes it very clear. When somebody says, "Well, what is redemption"? Well, redemption speaks of the salvation of mankind. And so, he says, for example, in chapter two, beginning in verse one, he says, "First of all," he says, "then, I urge the entreaties of prayers, and petitions and thanksgivings, be made on behalf of all men, for kings and all who are in authority, so that we may lead a tranquil and quiet life in all godliness and dignity. This is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth".
What is God's redemptive plan? His redemptive plan is this: His redemptive plan is that all persons be saved and come to the knowledge of the truth. That is God's simple plan. So when somebody says, "Well, what is the most important thing going on today"? I can tell you the most important thing today, tomorrow, last week, last year, last century, last millennium, the most important thing going on in the world today and until Jesus Christ comes and takes us home to heaven is God's redemptive plan. That is God's work among men to save men from their sins, transform their life, grow us up into Christlikeness, mature us as His children. That is the most important thing going on. Oftentimes we get caught up with things that the world says are so important, and the whole globe, for example, oftentimes is centered on one particular nation or one event. But the most important thing today in the mind of God is His redemptive plan, which He says very clearly is this. That is, the salvation of all men and that all men would come to the truth, come to the knowledge of the truth about Him and His ways in life.
So when I think about what Paul says here, move over to Second Timothy, chapter two for a moment, because this is the way he says it will take place. This is how God's redemptive plan will become a living reality. And that is this. He says in chapter two verse one, "You therefore, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus". "The things which you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses, entrust these to faithful men, who will be able to teach others also". Paul says, "This is the way God's redemptive plan is spread across the ages, and across the globe", how? Men will teach other people, teach other men and women and boys and girls, and they in turn will teach others, and they in turn will teach others. God's redemptive plan is not centered around a person. God's redemptive plan involves every single person.
When you trusted Jesus Christ as your personal Savior, you became involved in God's redemptive plan because you became a part of the body of Christ, a member of the church of the Lord Jesus Christ, a part of the kingdom of God. And what is the work of the kingdom? The work of the kingdom, the work of the church is, He said, "As you go, make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, Son, and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all the things that I've commanded you". And He says, "Lo, I'll be with you all the way, even to the end of this age". That is the mandate and the mission of the church. The mission of the church is not to be a social organization, though there is social functions that go on. It is not simply to be some organization, denomination, though there are organizations and denominations. It is a body of people who are committed to the Lord Jesus Christ for the purpose of doing the most important thing in the history of humanity.
The most important thing in the mind of God is the redemption of mankind. God is establishing and building His kingdom, and He's building His kingdom not with organizations, He's building His kingdom of people, people like you and me. So that the most important thing that's happening is God's redemptive plan. And because you and I have trusted Jesus Christ as our Savior, and because we want to see that happen to other people, we are involved in the most important work in all the world. So, when I think about this door of opportunity that Paul speaks of here in Corinthians, it's the same one he was referring to. It is an awesome door of opportunity because that opportunity is the opportunity to involve people in the kingdom of God. That is, to bring them to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ whereby their life is transformed, their whole future and their whole destiny is changed. That's what God is up to and that's the thing in God's mind that's the most important thing going on in the history of humanity.
No matter what you watch on television, no matter how things change, no matter what new invention, new discovery, new event, what projections there may be. The most important thing going on today, tomorrow, and until Jesus comes is the redemption of mankind, the salvation of man, and bringing man to the truth of who God is and what He's about in this world. An awesome door of opportunity. We have never had such a door of opportunity open to us. The second thing I want you to notice is Paul uses this term as a figure of speech. It is also a door of obligation. That is, we have an obligation. Not just to stand before that door, we have an obligation to walk through it. I think about what Paul said in Romans chapter one. Turn there for a moment. Romans chapter one, he begins this whole epistle by talking about who Jesus is and his understanding of Him when he says in verse four that, "He was declared to be the Son of God with power by the resurrection from the dead, according to the Spirit of holiness, Jesus Christ our Lord, through whom we have received grace and apostleship to bring about the obedience of faith among all the Gentiles, for His name's sake".
Then, here's what he says. Looking at his culture, looking at his background, seeing what that culture had contributed to him and how God had worked in his life. He says in verse fourteen, "I am," he says therefore, "under obligation both to Greeks and to the barbarians, both to the wise and to the foolish. So for my part, I am eager to preach the gospel to you who also are in Rome". Then he says here, "For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ," he says, because, "it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek". He had this awesome sense of burden and sense of obligation, why? Because the gospel had reached him. His life had been transformed. His whole destiny had been changed. He felt this obligation. Not only that, but also because of God's love for him and his love for God. His love for the Lord Jesus Christ motivated him.
This is what caused this man not only to be willing to be beaten and stoned and shipwrecked and going oftentimes in hunger, and he says deprived. But ending up in prison and finally giving his life, why? Because he knew who God was in Christ Jesus. He was willing to lay down his life because he knew he was involved in the most important thing in all of the history of mankind, that is the redemption of mankind. He never hesitated no matter what. Took advantage of every opportunity. For example, when he was in prison, the scripture says that for a season of time he had his own rented quarters. And so, as people would come and go, he shared the gospel, whether it was a Roman soldier or whether it was a friend. Or whether, no matter who it was, strangers who came, he was always sharing the gospel, always busy doing the most important thing. He wasn't looking for an opportunity. he took advantage of every opportunity that lay before him. So when I think about the awesome door that is before us, the wonderful opportunity.
Listen, the church of Jesus Christ has never, has never in its history ever had the possibility and the potential and, listen, and the open door of opportunity to impact the entire world no matter where they are on the face of this globe. We have never had the opportunity we have at this particular time. We have an awesome obligation. Now, listen carefully. When I think about this obligation and I think about what the scripture says in a particular Psalm that we're gonna look at in just a moment, it is intensified in my mind. This obligation is intensified in my mind when I read this passage. So, I want you to go back, if you will, to Psalm seventy-eight. Psalm seventy-eight, and I want us to look at a few verses here. And if you are a parent or if you are a grandparent or if you ever intend to be one, I want you to listen very, very carefully to this particular passage of scripture. Because as I think what the scripture says concerning our obligation, and I think about what Paul felt in his own life, and how God was working in his life, and what motivated him, his love for the Lord Jesus Christ, the lost condition of mankind, and the fact that God had commanded him, commanded him to preach the gospel.
I think about what God has commanded each of us to do. All of us are under personal obligation to share the truth that transforms men's lives and brings them out of darkness. Listen, you can live in the brightness of this nation with physical light and the sunshine that God gives us, and be walking in darkness every single day unless you know Jesus Christ as your personal savior. So when I look at what God says here, look at this seventy-eighth Psalm. Let's begin the first verse. He says, "Listen, O my people, to my instruction; incline your ears to the words of my mouth. I will open my mouth in a parable; and I will utter dark sayings of old, Which we have heard and known, and our fathers have told us".
Now, listen carefully to this passage. "We will not conceal them," that is, these truths, "from our children, but we will tell to the generation to come the praises of the LORD, and His strength and His wondrous works that He has done. For He established a testimony in Jacob, and appointed a law in Israel, which He commanded our fathers, that they should teach to their children; That the generation to come might know, even the children yet to be born, that they may arise and tell them to their children. That they should put their confidence in God, and not forget the works of God, but keep His commandments, And not be like their fathers, a stubborn and rebellious generation, a generation that did not prepare its heart, and whose spirit was not faithful to God".
Now, I want you to think about something. Every single society, every single society is only one generation from total paganism. Because if each generation, if, listen, if each generation does not propagate the truth, if each generation does not instruct their children and their children's children, if they are not taught the truth, it will only take one generation for a nation to become pagan, totally pagan. It is the lack of that teaching of and instruction that has caused us to be where we are at this time in history in the life of our own nation. We see disintegration morally everywhere. We see the effects in leadership. We see the effects in every aspect of our society. Though there may be tremendous evidences of progress in so many ways, morally we are declining. Morally it is very evident what's going on. Why? There was a time, for example, in villages and cities all across this nation that children were carried to Sunday School. Their parents took them to Sunday School.
There was a Bible on their table in the home. They instructed their children. They took the Old Testament commands as well as the New Testament commands as a, listen, as an authoritative word from the living God to instruct their children in the ways of God. And so what happened? They got busy, parents began to be busy. They began to be affluent. They sent them to schools. They sent them to nurseries. And so what happens? Children are now growing up, they're not going to Sunday School because their parents do not go. They do not go to Bible study because their parents do not go. They go to public schools and public colleges. They hear almost nothing absolutely about God, Jesus Christ, or His work. No sense of conviction about sin, but a very demoralizing kind of do what you please, when you please, as you please, criticism of the church, criticism of God, criticism of the things of God, and so what are we doing? We are raising up that generation that God has warned us that if we do not instruct our children and our grandchildren in the ways of God, we will become a pagan nation.
There was a time, for example, when we would look at other nations of the world and hear about their sin and their frivolity and their wickedness and their unbelief and all the rest. And we would look down on them and criticize them, and you know what's happened? Satan has deceived us. As we've become affluent, what have we done? Instead of trying to change, listen, change the morality of other people in the world, we have absorbed it into our own society until now we are probably worse than they. We have accepted as a lifestyle, we've accepted as a way of life sin, disobedience, and rebellion toward God, killing off our babies. Listen, instead of instructing them and counting them as gifts of God, killing them off, speaking of abortion, just killing them off, and God said, "Those yet to be born are to be instructed in the ways of God".
That is not an option, that is a divine obligation of every single parent who is alive, to teach their children the truth of God's Word. He says, listen, listen to this, He says, "That the generation to come might know even the children yet to be born, that they may arise and tell them to their children". We teach our children, they teach their children, they teach their children. That's the way the gospel of Jesus Christ has been propagated down through these centuries. One telling one, parents telling their children, children telling their children, their grandchildren, their great-great-grandchildren. That's the way the gospel of Jesus Christ has penetrated our society. But now we've become too busy. Now we've become so affluent. Now we don't have time to instruct our children. Now we don't have time to talk to our grandchildren. Now we don't have time to spend time with our children, opening the Word of God. Well, we let the preacher do that.
Listen, there is no preacher, no pastor in the world who can take, listen, the place of a father and a mother or grandad or grandmom who can teach their children the ways of God, first by their life, second by instruction, thirdly by simply saying to them, "Here's what God has done in my life". Giving the illustrations of God's work in your life. You, listen, you cannot pass that on to some other generation. You cannot give that responsibility to someone else. This, listen, we have a divine obligation. It is not a matter of choice. We have the most wonderful, awesome opportunities. We stand before this door wide open to us. And I want you to notice because the next thing I want to say about this door is simply just what I've hinted at right there. When Paul said, look at that sixteenth chapter again. When he said, "For a wide door for effective service has opened to me and there are many adversaries". When he says, "A wide door has opened".
When I think about what Paul was saying about his own life, here's what he was doing. He was in this metropolitan city of Ephesus. And he was preaching the gospel and teaching the gospel there. And he saw the wonderful opportunity to make an impact on that city because it was a crossroads and people were coming and going, whether by ship or by land. And as people were converted and established that church there and they began to share the truth, then it would spread throughout all Asia. This man had a vision for, listen, for reaching the world of his day. But when I think about how Paul was limited. He said, "The wide door of opportunity has opened to me". But think about it for a moment, how limited he was in lots of ways.
The Apostle Paul either had to be there to speak himself personally of the gospel, or he could write some epistles, which he did and not very many when you think about his life and what his goal was to evangelize the Mediterranean world of his day. Or, he could train other people and have them establish churches and have them propagate the gospel, but he was very limited in lots of ways. But think about who we are and where we are today. How limited are we? Listen, what is God's redemptive plan? He says that all men, all men might be saved and come to the knowledge of the truth of who God really is through His Son, Jesus Christ. Paul was limited. How limited are we? Unlimited. Think about this for a moment. We stand at the most crucial, critical, opportune moment of time to impact the whole world with the gospel of Jesus Christ. For example, we have television, we have radio, we have short-wave, and now we have the Internet, and the printed page.
Listen, God is doing the most fantastic thing in the history of humanity when it comes to, listen, to doing the most important thing, which is the redemption of mankind. Technology, listen, men, God has given man the capacity and the ability to invent and to discover all kinds of things, and He intends for the church to take advantage because His primary purpose for doing so was simply not to increase man's finances or make progress in other ways. But listen, to get his truth, the message of the gospel of Jesus Christ, to every single person possible on the face of this earth. Well, let's think about something else for a moment. When I think about the possibility, it is a door that you and I can walk through with optimism.
Somebody says, "Well, you know, you can just forget that". Listen, we should be able to walk through with optimism. Look around you. It is a door that God has opened. We didn't have to push it open. It's not something that we have managed to do. We have a, listen, God has opened the door. He's given the Holy Spirit to live on the inside of us to give us, listen, to give us insight into His Word, to enable us through the power and the anointing of the Holy Spirit to share with our friends and those about us, or to preach it and to proclaim it to multitudes of people. We have the Holy Spirit. Not only that, we know that God doesn't open a door just to have an open door. He opens doors in order that you and I may walk through and take advantage. When I think about how the business world works, the businessman out there, he's looking for opportunities, sensitive to opportunities.
How can he make more money? How can he increase his profit? How can he enlarge his business? God's people ought to be far more sensitive about who can I reach for Jesus? Who can I tell? What opportunity do I have? When I think about some of the people in this church that I know are just that sensitive, who are just that committed to the gospel of Jesus Christ. They're ready to tell it, they do tell it, they do share it wherever they go. They've caught the passion, they've caught the vision. They understand what God's up to. They know it's the most important thing in the world. And some of these are very, very high profile business people but whose lives are first of all committed to Jesus Christ. It is a door of awesome opportunity. It is a door that you and I can walk through in enthusiasm and absolute, perfect confidence. That whatever God sends us to do, He's gonna be there, enable us to help us do it.
We don't have to look, we don't have to look at all the reasons we can't, but all the reasons we can. To be willing to be used by Almighty God to do the most important thing that's going on in the face of this world. When I look at television and I listen to all the things that seem to be important in the eyes of man, and then I open this book and I think, "Well, Lord, what is it that's really important"? According to God, from Genesis to Revelation, most important thing, redemption of mankind, which means that you and I can step through the doors of opportunity that God gives us, listen, to say to Him, "God, whatever, whenever, however, and whenever, here is my heart".
You see, because all us us are under obligation, the issue's this. Want to ask you questions. At this point in your life, what are you doing, at this point in your life, what are you doing to be involved in the redemption of mankind? There are many places of service in this church, many places of service in your church, many ways and means that you and I can be involved in so many ways to propagate the gospel of Jesus Christ. Let me give you a little illustration. After the first service, the man who takes care of our sound back here, he walked in and he said, "You know, this morning I thought about something". He said, "How many Sunday mornings have I come in here and changed your battery in your mike to be sure that you had enough time for the second one"? He said, "This morning I picked up this battery and I thought to myself, 'Just how important is this? That little old battery, how important is it?'" Here's how important it is. No battery, no sound. No sound, no message recorded. No message recorded, no message proclaimed all over the world.
What is a little battery? It's not worth much in the eyes of man, but it is a simple thing. If the only thing this man did on this staff every single Sunday, walk from that board to me and change this battery to be sure it's going to last through the next message, it would be an awesome act, listen, of importance in the mind of God to get the gospel out. You, listen, if you will stop and think of those small things that seem to be so insignificant that you can do to propagate the gospel. This lady walked up to me and she said, after the service, she said, "My grandfather, he taught my father. My father taught me," and she gave me this wonderful illustration of how God had used her parents and her grandparents to teach her the truth, and how God had worked in her life and what He was doing in her life, and she suddenly realized it was the generations before that had equipped her to do and to proceed and to succeed in life where she was. One simple battery makes the difference.
Let me ask you a question. Have you looked around your house? Have you looked around your life? Have you looked at your life to ask yourself the question recently: God, what can You do in my life? How can You use me? If you have a plan for my life, which You do, You have a will for my life. There are doors of opportunity. God, what am I doing with my life? Am I spending my life... let me tell you something. The longer you live, the more you know that life gets shorter and shorter. And whatever you're gonna do in life, you better do it with all your heart and you better do it every day. You can't say, "Well, one of these days". People who say, "One of these days I'm gonna do this and one of these days I'm gonna do that". What happens? When one of these days gets there, they get sick and die and it's all over. Whatever you're gonna do, you better get busy at it.
If you want your life to count, you better start getting it counting now. Because, listen, there will come a time when you and I will come to the end of our life, and we're either gonna do one thing. This is the way most people are gonna die. They're gonna die disappointed. They're gonna die disappointed because they look back at their life and they think, "Well, what have I accomplished? What have I done? How much happiness and peace have I enjoyed? How much discontent and how much depression or how much discouragement or how much anger, how much bitterness, how much of this has absolutely conquered my life"? Most people are gonna die disappointed and most of them are gonna die afraid, afraid to face an unknown future. They've heard about God, they've heard about Jesus, they've ignored Him, they've lived a life of sin, rebellion against God. They've had the world's approval and the world's wealth, but you know what? What they haven't had is God's peace, God's salvation, God's forgiveness.
And you and I have the message to transform people's lives. They're gonna live their lives having wasted it. Oh, they may accomplish some things that the world will say that you're the most famous for this and famous for that and watching the television this week and just listening to who they say is the greatest of this and the greatest of that, and the most prominent of this and the most prominent of that, and I think, Lord, my God, my God, thank You that early in my life somebody told me that Jesus Christ was the most important person who had ever lived and the most important person in my life and no man could ever equal His impact upon my life. So when I think about this door, I can walk through it optimistically, confidently, and assured that the God who sends us, listen, the God who sends us through any door of opportunity, He, listen, He sends you there because He has a personal interest in your life. He wants to accomplish something specific and personal in your life.
Don't discredit yourself. Don't count yourself out. Don't, listen, don't discount yourself. It doesn't make any difference what your background is. It doesn't make any difference what your language, your nationality, your color, has nothing to do with it. God uses mightily people all over this world. Every language, every nation, God is using people in a mighty way to propagate the gospel. Stop discounting. Listen, stop criticizing the person you are and ask yourself the question: God, what could You do with my life? God, if I gave You my entire life, what could You do with me the rest of my life? Remember that little battery? It's a very, very small thing. But you know what, you put this battery in the right position and it, listen, it makes it possible to proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ at every single country in the world. There it is, it's not much, but it is awesomely powerful in the right place, submitted to the cause for which it was created. And my friend, the same thing can happen in your life. You have no earthly idea what God can do in your life and through you until you submit yourself to Him.
Listen, you can't give yourself to anything any more worthy than simply the propagation of the gospel of Jesus Christ. I look at all these people in the sports world. They have to be consumed by what they're doing. I want to say something to you, that's fine, I have no objection to that, but be sure that nothing consumes you more than the person of Jesus Christ in your life, for the person for whom you were created and the gospel for whom you were created to propagate. When I think about this awesome door of opportunity, I think about the options. What are the options? Well, only two options. First of all, I can accept the fact that God has created me, or you can accept the fact that God has created you with a specific purpose in mind, a plan for your life, a direction for your life, something He wants you to achieve. Why would He have created you?
Something He wants you to achieve in life, somebody's life He wants you to make an impact in. And you can walk through that door saying, "God, use me. Here is my life: heart, soul, mind and body. God, take me, use me any way You see fit, but God, deliver me from waste. Deliver me from wasting my life. Deliver me from misapplying my talents and my gifts and my abilities in life". Or, you can stand outside the door and justify your excuses for not walking through. You can stand outside the door because you're afraid of criticism, afraid of failure, and afraid of rejection. You can stand outside the door because you doubt that God could use you. You stand outside the door because your priorities are misplaced. You're just so busy doing other things, you have no time for God. You could stand outside the door, excuse yourself, justify the actions of your life, and miss, listen, and miss the awesome blessing of growing up and maturing as a godly person, missing the awesome blessings that God has in store for you as a result of your obedience and walking through these doors.
Am I saying that all the doors of opportunity are easy? No. Some doors are difficult. It was not easy for the Apostle Paul to take beating after beating. It was not easy for him to be stoned. It was not easy sitting in a prison when he could have been preaching the gospel of Jesus Christ. But he did. Do you think today in heaven he regrets one single stone, one single, listen, one single smack of the whip? Do you think he regrets any of that? Absolutely not! Because listen, the blessings of God are and will be enjoyed for eternity. One of the problems, you know, one of the reasons that people don't walk through the door, they're short-sighted. They're short-sighted. Let me ask you a question. See, if you're short-sighted. A short-sighted person is usually looking at today. Short-sighted person is usually looking at financial security. Will I have enough? What will I be, looking at my health?
Listen, God wants our sight elongated. He wants us to see into the future. He wants us to see what our potential is. He wants us to see what He can do through us. He wants us to see what our capacity and our capabilities and our gifts and our talents given to Him fully and completely. Now, think about it. God has given you all the talents, all the abilities, all the gifts that you need to walk through those doors of opportunity and to accomplish and achieve the very things that God has set in mind for you. And part of that will always be, listen, being a part of and enabling God to build His kingdom, listen, as we depend upon Him, trust in Him, rely upon Him, His kingdom, and people His kingdom for all eternity. That is, that is a part of our obligation. It is the most important thing in life. And many people will stand outside the door, unbelief, too busy doing other things, too busy to go to church, too busy to read the Bible, too busy to be instructed, too busy to go, listen, too busy to pray.
And so what do they do? You fill your life full of things and time and events that have no lasting consequence. And when it's all over, it's like pure confetti, falling, falling, falling. For the moment it seems to be enjoyable. Listen, you've got to think about eternity. You've gotta think about the future. You've gotta think about what God's purpose was when He created you. You've gotta think about standing before the Lord Jesus Christ and giving an account for your life. This is an awesome time of opportunity for you to stop and think, God, what did You create me for? What do You want to do in my life? What am I capable of achieving? What am I capable of accomplishing? God, how can You use me till I breathe my last breath? That is the only way we can look at it and be honest before God, why? Because we don't belong to ourselves.
My friend, if you think you, yourself, and I think about it this way: me, myself and I. When I think about these three belonging to me, forget it! He says you and I have been bought with a price, the price is the blood of Jesus Christ, His only begotten Son. The Bible says that you and I who are believers are His purchased possession. Listen, we're His purchased possession. We belong to Him, He owns us. He has a right to dictate, He has a right to govern. He has a right to guide, He has a right to take away and to give. He's Almighty God. He has a right to tell us what we're to do with our time and our energies and our efforts and our gifts and talents and abilities and finances and all the rest. He's God! We need to get our vision right. And when our short-sightedness becomes elongated, and we begin to see from God's perspective, we want to walk through those doors of opportunity. We want to be the persons God wants us to be. We don't want to waste our life. We want every single day to count. We want to look for those ways that our life can count every day.
Well, when I think about that door of opportunity, listen to what he says. He says there are options. We can stand outside and miss it all or we can walk through, pay whatever price is necessary, and watch what God does. Then, I think about the fact this whole idea of the open door, and I say this briefly because this is what I've been saying from the very beginning of this message on purpose, and that is, listen, this door of opportunity through which you and I walk, we must, listen, we must choose ownership. This is my responsibility. I can't give somebody else this. Nobody else, listen, nobody else can walk through the specific door of opportunity God has provided for you. That door of opportunity, for example, for a church may be to reach out to other countries of the world to propagate the gospel, but you know what? I have a place in that. You have a place in that in your church, in this church. Nobody, listen, nobody can walk through God's door that He's opened for you because you know what? Nobody else can obey God for you. Somebody else may get the job done, but they won't get your job done that God has for you. They'll get the job done that God has for them. There are no substitutes.
If God opens a door for your life, He has something specific for your life to accomplish. Only you can walk through it. We must, listen, we must accept ownership of responsibility and privilege that God has given us. We live in the midst of awesome opportunities to impact the next generation. Impacting, reaching the hearts of the next generation. We can stand outside the door and give excuses, or we can walk through the door. And when I think about the rewards for walking through the door, I think about two verses of scripture. Look, if you will, sixteenth, fifteenth chapter of First Corinthians, fifty-eighth verse. Listen to what he said. He says, "Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your toil is not in vain in the Lord". In other words, there's no way that you and I can serve God, give Him anything, and it be ignored. He doesn't ignore anything. Whether it's time, whether it's love, whether it's money, whether it's the message, you and I cannot give anything that it's in vain, that it has no good end.
Now, I want you to turn, if you will, over to Hebrews chapter six for a moment. And when you get a little discouraged and what's going on in your life and your service for the Lord, you just turn to this sixth chapter of Hebrews. Listen to this. Listen, it is so foolish to stand outside the door of opportunity that God gives you and make some excuse and justify your unwillingness to walk through and be obedient to God. Listen to this. Chapter six verse ten, he says, "For God is not unjust so as to forget your work and the love which you have shown toward His name, in having ministered and in still ministering to the saints". You know what he says, He says God would consider Himself unjust to forget our labor for Him.
Now, here's what I want you to remember. This is a day in which we want to be blessed today and we want to have our desires fulfilled today and we want all of our wishes to come true today, and so we're the today kind of people. This is everything's got to be instant. I want you to think about something. When it comes to serving the Lord, don't serve God just looking for the blessing today. Remember this. In many ways, you and I will be blessed every day in our service to God. But what I don't want you to ever forget is this. Whatever you and I do on a given day, in a given moment, in a given hour of the day, or for years of our life, we have an endless eternity to enjoy the rewards of those labors, an endless eternity. So many people are so short-sighted. The question's: What am I gonna get out of it now? That's not the question.
Listen, if you've gotta be thinking about rewards, think about the eternal reward. It's rewards that you and I cannot even fathom, the way God will bless us and honor us. And the, listen, the way He will exalt us, what He will do for us in an eternal heaven. You say, "Well, that's just some pie", it's not pie in the sky, it's truth in the Word. It is truth in the Word. And listen, God, for every single one of us who is a believer, we've seen so much evidence that is, listen, it is absolutely undeniable evidence that the Word of God is true from beginning to end. And there's no way you and I could ever count. There's no way we could ever discuss adequately all the rewards of the people of God as they serve the Lord. Now, one last thing the Apostle Paul said in this verse. Listen, verse sixteen, chapter sixteen, verse nine, "For a wide door for effective service has opened to me, and there are many adversaries". Will it be easy to walk through some of these doors? Absolutely not. He says they're adversaries.
Now, watch this carefully. When I think about what the obstacles are, for example. If I'm gonna walk through this door, He says, these adversaries, they're doubt. What about? "Well, I wonder, I wonder, can God really use me"? And as we've said, fear of criticism and rejection, and fear of failure. When I think about what the real obstacles are, don't try to put them on the devil. The real obstacles are these things we have to think about continually. And that is, whether I'm short-sighted. And one of the primary things is just pure, downright sin. If I have sin in my life, living disobediently before God, it's gonna be difficult for me to walk through a door of opportunity with confidence and assurance that I'm walking in the will of God and doing what God says and will be able to accomplish the work of God.
So therefore, I must deal with that. And so the obstacles, most of them are in our minds or in our hearts. Don't blame it on the devil, he's behind it all. Listen, but don't say, "Well, the devil made me do it". The devil can't make you do anything if you're a child of God. The obstacles to obedience, most of them begin right here: I can't, I may fail, I fear. What will they say? I'll be criticized. I'll be rejected. Well, I don't have time. You know one of the primary problems, misplaced priorities. Say it again, misplaced priorities.
If God wanted to, He could put any one of us or all of us flat on our back so that we could not move a single muscle. And it'd be amazing that the world would go on without us, isn't it? Or He can give you energy and good health and strength. And you sit here, you sit there, people of good health, strength, energy, time, abilities, talents, finances, whatever you need, listen, vessels created by God, for God, and I ask you the question: In what way are you personally involved in the most important thing that's going on in the history of humanity, and that is the redemption of mankind? Well, what's the answer? What's the solution to these obstacles? Whether it's the devil or whether it is my thinking. Two things. If the problem is sin, repentance. Confess it and turn away from it, walk away from it. Very simple; I didn't say it was easy, but simple.
Secondly, refocus my attention off my obstacles and off the devil, onto God, this almighty, awesome God who, listen, who has indwelt us with the Holy Spirit, and who has promised to enable you and me to achieve and accomplish successfully every single thing He requires of us. Which leaves me totally inexcusable for not being willing to walk through the doors of opportunity because I think the door is too big or too small, that somebody else can do it better. I don't have time, I'm not capable, I'm not gifted. Listen, God doesn't listen to any of that stuff. Remember this, that the God who opened the door knew all about you and me before He opened that door. And secondly, He knew all about the obstacles and had them under His control before He ever opened the door of opportunity.
We are men and women inexcusable and we are men and women who live in the most crucial, critical, listen, who live in the most opportune time in the history of the church. This is it! Because from what we do at this point on is going to make a difference in generations to come. And I know what you're saying. "Well, what can I, I'm just one". So was Jesus, so was Paul, so were saints by the hundreds and the thousands down through the years. Listen, it isn't just what I do individually. It is what I do individually in my relationship to Christ, but it's what we do together.
Now, here's the question. In the light of this message, God has opened the door of opportunity for all of us. What are you gonna do with your life from this point on? You belong to God. What are you gonna do with your life? Are you going to invest it in what, in the mind of Almighty God, is the most important thing going on in the history of humanity?
You see, doesn't make any difference what your vocation is. God can take your vocation and use you in the propagation of the gospel, whether it is building a church, building a parking lot, parking automobiles for people to be able to come in, ushering, teaching, instructing, singing, playing a musical instrument. Sharing your testimony in your business. Sitting down with your children tonight before you go to bed and confessing to them that you have failed to instruct them in the ways of God, you've left that to somebody else. You want to ask them to forgive you for that. And beginning tonight, just with the simple things that you know, say to them, "Let me tell you what God has taught me in my life". You can get started today making the impact in your life upon the lives of other people. We're just down to two alternatives. Just two, no options. You say, "Well, I'm leaving". It's too late. Here are the options.
- I will accept the fact that God has a plan and a purpose for my life.
- I will accept the fact that the most important thing going on in this world is the redemption of mankind.
- I will accept the fact that God has opened doors of opportunity for me every day.
- I will accept the fact that I belong to a fellowship of people who are committed to evangelizing the world.
- I am committed to the fact that I will find a place of service.
- I will begin to be sensitive to opportunities.
- I will invest my life every day in ways that will bring about the best good for the most people, especially their salvation, their redemption, their eternal life.
Alternative number one, best one. The next one, you can stay on the bench. You can just sit it out and watch the game. But I want to tell you, you're gonna miss the thrill of one wonderful play after the other of people trusting Jesus Christ as their Savior. And when the game of life's all over and you lie down to die and you look back with regrets that cannot be changed, you will be sorry. And my friend, if you've never trusted Jesus Christ, you will be eternally sorrowful. We don't preach judgment to scare people. We simply preach the love of Christ. That's the message of the gospel. God loves us. That's why He sent Jesus, and that's why He sends us to speak the truth.
If you've never trusted Jesus Christ as your Savior, let me explain how you do that. You acknowledge that He is the living Son of God, testified to in the scripture. You accept the truth that He went to the cross and died on that cross and paid your sin-debt in full. That's why we call it an atoning death. It paid for something. His death paid for your sin. And when you confess your sin and ask God to forgive you and to cleanse you and you say to Him:
I am receiving Jesus. I am accepting Jesus Christ as my personal Savior. I believe the testimony of scripture. And Father, I'm accepting You as my God, Your Son as my Savior.
In that moment, your eternal destiny is changed. The Spirit of God seals you as a child of God so that you're eternally secure. And now you step in the will of God at that point. And now you can invest your life so that, from that point on, your life begins to count and you begin to be involved in the greatest work in the history of humanity, the redemption of mankind. That is the best alternative.