Doors of Opportunity in the Last Days
When Jesus opens a door for you, trust God and step through it
In Revelation 3:7-13, I believe we have the words of the Lord Jesus to the Church living in the last days.
In other words, I think this letter is for us.
I believe we could possibly be the generation that can indeed see the return of Jesus Christ. That’s all the more reason to pay careful attention to this crucial passage of Scripture.
When you read the passage, it seems that Jesus can’t say enough nice things about this Church. In contrast to His loving but firm words of correction to the churches of Pergamos, Thyatira, and Sardis (Revelation 2:12-3:6), the Lord has unqualified commendation for the church of Philadelphia.
In His letter to Sardis, we see a church on life support, breathing with a ventilator, and very nearly dead. Hospice has been called in, and it’s only a matter of time.
But then in this letter to the church in Philadelphia, the church seems to spring back to life. It is definitely gaining strength—but not 100 percent yet.
Think for a moment about the last time you went through an illness.
Remember those little telltale signs? Maybe there’s a spot in your throat that suddenly begins to feel scratchy or sore. You begin sniffling and maybe clearing your throat every couple minutes. You felt a little lethargic and tired.
And then the realization hits you. “Oh good grief, I’m getting sick. Do I need a COVID test?”
As the hours tick by, maybe you get a little worse. You have some nausea (I hate nausea.) Your head begins to throb. You don’t want to eat or talk to anybody. You just want to lie there. So you’re stuck in your bed or on the couch for a day—or two, or three. You begin to wonder if you’re ever going to get better.
Then one morning you wake up and your appetite has returned a little. You feel some strength returning to your body, so you jump out of bed, shower, and get dressed. Maybe you go out to exercise or go back to work.
But it’s too soon! Before long you feel weak again, and your head begins to throb. That’s when you realize, “I’m better than I was…but I’m not back to full speed yet.”
That is the picture of the Church as Jesus sees it in the last days.
Making a Comeback
It’s not a super church. It’s a church that has been sick but is returning back to life. It is the Church making a comeback. The Church being revived. In the next few paragraphs, I’d like to focus on just one aspect of these verses. With the apostle John taking dictation, here is how Jesus begins His letter.
“And to the angel of the church in Philadelphia write, ‘These things says He who is holy, He who is true, “He who has the key of David, He who opens and no one shuts, and shuts and no one opens. I know your works. See, I have set before you an open door, and no one can shut it; for you have a little strength, have kept My word, and have not denied My name.”’”—Revelation 3:7-8
Right off the bat, what’s the first thing Jesus has to say to the Church of the last days? He is saying, “What I open no one can close. And what I close, no one can open.”
In the New Testament, the phrase “open door” usually refers to opportunity. In 2 Corinthians 2:12 (NLT), for instance, the apostle Paul says, “When I came to the city of Troas to preach the Good News of Christ, the Lord opened a door of opportunity for me.”
In Acts 14:27 (NLT), when Paul and Barnabas gathered the Antioch church together to report on their missionary journeys, “they called the church together and reported everything God had done through them and how he had opened the door of faith to the Gentiles, too.”
In the same way we should pray that the Lord would open such doors in our lives as well. In fact, I think it’s something we should speak to the Lord about every day of our lives. In Colossians 4:3-4 (NLT), the apostle specifically asks this:
“Pray for us, too, that God will give us many opportunities to speak about his mysterious plan concerning Christ. That is why I am here in chains. Pray that I will proclaim this message as clearly as I should.”
As we look at the unprecedented opportunities before us, we need to bring our “A-game” and take this all very seriously. We make a big mistake if we rest on our laurels and become preoccupied with past opportunities, and yesterday’s victories.
By God’s grace, I have had the opportunity to proclaim the gospel in large-scale evangelistic events for 30 years. We have seen close to 9.8 million people in live attendance at these Harvest Crusades, and have recorded well over 500,000 professions of faith. Even so, as we undertake these events each year we never say, “It went well last year. We don’t have to worry about this year.”
No! Every year should be like our first year—because it could easily end up being our last year. Every opportunity should be taken seriously. Every open door should be treasured.
Often, I’m afraid, we believers end up thinking mostly about ourselves—our comforts, our desires, our goals—and not thinking about others, both in the body of Christ and outside the faith. We forget the fact that we are blessed to be a blessing. And we are alive in this troubled era of our nation’s history for a reason!
Jesus says to the church of Philadelphia—and I believe to us today—“Listen…I have opened the door, and I’ve got the keys.”
(Now, that is a relief. If I had them, they would be lost by now. I’m always misplacing—losing—keys.)
Here’s the point: Once a door is open, we need to walk through it, remembering we are living at a critical time in human history. As Charles Dickens wrote in A Tale of Two Cities, “It was the best of times. It was the worst of times.”
The same could be said for this year, 2022. In some ways it certainly is the worst of times. We’ve just endured a worldwide pandemic. The cultural and political divide in our nation has never been deeper. We have seen tons of Fentanyl and other lethal drugs pour across our southern border. Frankly, I can’t think of any era of our nation’s history that has been darker morally and spiritually than right now. Things only hinted at just ten years ago are being enacted today by our national and state governments, right before our very eyes. There’s no other way to describe it: Our contemporary culture in the United States has grown very dark—and is becoming darker by the day.
On the other hand…it is the best of times, because we have unprecedented opportunities to bring the gospel to our generation.
Living to the Hilt
Back in the first century, Philadelphia became something of a gateway to the east, and that strategic geographic location enabled the believers in that city to reach many cultures and people groups.
Everything was in place for God’s people in Philadelphia to have a huge impact for Christ. As Jesus had said, “See, I have set before you an open door….”
And so it is with believers today, the Church of what must surely be our world’s last days. Through the explosion of modern technology, we can accomplish things that we could never have accomplished before. TV and the internet have made the world a much smaller place, and in many ways we speak a common cultural language.
In 2020 for instance, in partnership with Kingdom Story Company, Harvest premiered its first-ever cinematic crusade, A Rush of Hope, viewed by over 2 million people in its opening weekend. In recent years, our Harvest crusades have had an amazing international audience, sometimes exceeding 700,000 in live views or in viewing the archived version.
God will open up doors of opportunity for you personally, as well, if you ask for them. Maybe there was something you always wanted to do that you have (to this point) never been able to do. Then suddenly, a door opens to you from the Lord.
When that door opens, it is very important that you go through it.
That’s the way it is with the Lord. Sometimes He will gently but firmly close a door in our lives—only to suddenly open it up again at a time and place of His own choosing.
If you have recently experienced a closed door, remember this: God only closes one door to open another. Just because a door is closed right now doesn’t mean it will always be closed. In fact, it might open up at another time—or in an unexpected way. So just be faithful with what the Lord has set before you right now. As Jim Eliot once said, “Wherever you are, be all there. Live to the hilt every situation you believe to be the will of God.”
Jesus is the One who opens and closes doors.
Watch carefully, pray expectantly, and when a door before you opens, trust God and step through it.
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