Pulpit Today Sermon
Opening Closed Doors
Robert D. Pace
(Illustration) In the 1990’s I twice travelled to Russia to plant churches. It was a team effort where American Pastors would rent theatres or large auditoriums in Moscow and, by use of translators, present the message of Jesus Christ. After several days we would then install a Russian Pastor to lead the Church. It was all occurring just after the collapse of the Soviet Union. The Russian Christians from the Underground Church told us horror stories of persecution. During the reign of Communism it had forbidden parents from even reading the Bible to their children, so you can imagine the spiritual starvation of the Russians. As I, and other American pastors, preached a simple Gospel message, nearly everyone in the congregation would walk forward to accept Christ as we made the “altar call.” On one of my visits a Russian pastor’s wife told me something. She said, “We have a saying here. “We love to lock doors.”” Here’s what she meant. You can approach a theatre or large arena that has thirty or forty doors of entrance, but only one set of doors provides passage into that particular building. It’s really frustrating, especially when a mass of people is trying to squeeze through. But it was all by Government’s design! It was Communism’s way of controlling its citizens. Locking doors was a means of “crowd control,” and showing the people that Government is in charge!
But generally speaking, everyone faces closed doors. And it’s not always a bad thing! This is why we must exercise discernment, because choosing because choosing the wrong door can lead to dangerous places. Sometimes you can bolt through a door and immediately realize you’re in the wrong place. That’s why we need to stay sensitive to the Holy Spirit. It is always appropriate to pray for God to bolt and barricade every door that is not designed for your passage.
While we understand the dangers of choosing wrong doors, I want to focus on passing through doors that enrich your welfare; doors that liberate you from a place of bondage and release you to a place of blessing. Imagine where you would be without open doors.
What if you had nothing but closed doors to friendship, education, or employment? What if doors of opportunity were always closed? Worse yet, image not being able to access God during a time of crisis and doors of prayer were barricaded?
I want to make something expressly clear: You need open doors! They are so vital to your existence that you cannot thrive without them. If you constantly face locked doors you are incarcerated! You are merely existing; not thriving. You see, prisons confine and prevent people from passing into places of freedom. That’s why they’re built with thick cement walls and cold steel doors.
But know this: There is no door so thick, none so strong, none so securely locked, that the Lord Almighty cannot simply speak His Word, and instantly unhinge it! The power of Jesus Christ opens doors that seem impenetrably shut!
That’s what Isaiah 45:1 means when it says, “[I will] open doors before you . . . I will shatter the doors of bronze and cut through their iron bars.” When the sovereign Lord speaks, no door can remain shut!
(Transition) So how do we escape a place of bondage and unhinge the doors that have us trapped? There is definitely a secret to opening locked doors and I want to investigate it.
Pray For Open Doors
(Illustration) Awhile back, I was seeking God when the Holy Spirit said, “Pray for open doors.” It was that simple! But it wasn’t inconsequential! Those words struck my heart and reverberated for weeks. I kept hearing, “Pray for open doors.” The Lord made clear to me that prayer unlocks impasses. When you read the Book of Colossians you realize the Apostle Paul understood this too. He literally penned Colossians from behind bars when he said, “pray for us that God will open a door for the Word, so that we may speak forth the mystery of Christ” (4:3).
(Insight) It’s ironic that the Apostle God used to unveil the need for open doors was often locked up, imprisoned, drifting at sea, or chained to a Roman guard. It’s because God requires His servants to personally experience the revelation He discloses to them. And when people prayed for Paul, as he was locked behind prison doors, he became an uncontainable force and launched churches all over Europe and Asia Minor.
(Application) If you have an assignment from God, you need to pray for open doors because Satan will try to impede your way. You can’t expect them to burst open like you’re walking through an automated door at a supermarket. Let’s try some deductive reasoning. Jesus said, “I am the door (John 19:9). Since Jesus is the Door, what does this make Satan? It makes him the Door Closer!
That’s why Jesus said in Matthew 7:7, “Ask and it shall be given to you; seek and you shall find; knock and the door will be opened.” Some doors won’t budge until you pray! And they won’t budge until you pray boldly, intensely, and with faith!
James 5:17 says, “Elijah was a man with a nature like ours, and he prayed earnestly that it would not rain, and it did not rain on the earth for three years and six months. (18) Then he prayed again, and the sky poured rain. . . .” Elijah’s praying sealed the skies so tightly that not even a trace of dew could lick the ground without his permission! And when he prayed again, the floodgates of heaven opened and soaked the earth with rain. Prayer has power!
(Bible Example) Look what happened when the Christians prayed for Peter who was arrested, jailed, and awaiting execution. Acts 12:5 says they “earnestly prayed for Peter.” That Greek word for “earnestly” means “they pleaded with all their heart; they stretched themselves out in prayer.”
God cannot ignore that kind of praying! When those Christians got locked-in at Mary’s house, God ordered a breakout at the prison house. And before the guards could move a muscle, an angel had snapped Peter’s chains, opened the prison gates, and hustled him to safety.
Folks, when you get locked-in with God, prayer will give you a breakout with God! That’s why Colossians 4:2 says to “devote yourself to prayer.” Doors open when you pray! When Believers pray, angels arise to “shatter doors of bronze and cut through gates of iron.” What door do you need opened? Identify it. Be specific:
I need open doors to preach the Gospel (2 Corinthians 2:12).
I want to walk through the doors of soul-winning.
I want what the Psalmist prayed, “Open my eyes, that I may see wondrous things in your Law” (119:18).
I want a portal of revelation opened, like the prophets, so I can know things that are “freely given to me of God.”
I want an open door to the gifts of the Spirit so I can minister to others.
Jesus is the incontestable door opener and He is waiting to unlock, unhinge, or shatter any door that needs opening—doors to ministry, healing, finances, relationships, or blessing.
(Transition) Maybe someone here is thinking “Lord, I’ve twisted every key in the Kingdom and still can’t unlock a door. I’ve lowered my shoulder and rammed until there’s no ramming left in me.” That’s okay! Maybe God doesn’t want you passing through that door! Maybe He has a better plan for you. Let me explain:
Christ Makes Trips for You
(Insight) Awhile back, the Holy Spirit whispered something to me. He said, “Jesus can walk where no one else can walk” (8/8/10). In other words, when doors are closed to us it doesn’t mean Christ is locked out! Jesus can access places nobody else can access! That’s why it isn’t always necessary to board a plane and rush around the globe to solve a problem. You may not even have to cross the street, phone someone, or send an email. All that’s necessary is lifting your voice and praying to the One who “rides on the wings of the wind.” Christ can enter places totally unreachable for everybody else. And he can do it in a moment’s time! Let me illustrate it this way:
On one occasion God said to Moses, “Moses, it’s time to confront Pharaoh. Get your staff and prepare for a showdown.” When Moses obeyed, he entered Pharaoh’s court, waved his staff, and plagues of all nature befell the Egyptians. But on another occasion God said, “Moses, stay where you are. I’m sending my angel through the land to do my bidding.” And while Moses sat in his tent, the angel of God released God’s power against Egypt.
On one occasion, God told Abraham to gather his men and attack the king of Elam. When Abraham obeyed he won a mighty victory. But on another occasion the Lord said, “Abraham, sit tight. Don’t worry about the king violating your wife. I’m going to walk into his dreams and forbid him from touching Sarah.” And God’s appearance in the king’s dream was so frightening that when he awoke he didn’t dare touch Sarah or Abraham!
You see, Christ can go where no one else can go, and that means God doesn’t expect you to take every mission. But He does expect you to “ask, seek, and knock” for the door to be opened. And when you obey His command, He might personally make the trip for you!
(Transition) Notice something else about opening closed doors.
Keys Open Doors
Jesus said, “I will give you the keys to the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven” (Matthew 16:19). What did Jesus mean by that statement? Well, it’s important to understand that keys represent authority. They determine what gains entry and what is forbidden entry. And Christ has divinely vested everybody here with a set of keys for this purpose. One key is prayer, as I have emphasized, but there are other keys that unlock doors:
God has given you faith. And nothing can impede faith! Jesus said, “If you can believe, all things are possible.”
Then there is the key of God’s Word that you can speak over your situation. And God promised that His Word would “never return void.”
You have the power of the Holy Spirit to clear the way for you. And He is incontestable.
There are also keys of love, forgiveness, mercy, and gentleness that will open doors.
Paul said in 2 Corinthians 10:4, “The weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh; they are mighty through God to the pulling down of strongholds.”
If doors are bolted before you, don’t complain, use the keys of the kingdom. They open doors!
You Are A Doorkeeper!
Let me show you something about the “keys of the kingdom” that Christ bestows. Each Christian is given specific keys, according to God’s grace. But these keys don’t fit all doors! Just as a locksmith tumbles keys for specific doors, Christ has cut your Kingdom keys accordingly! That means your set of Kingdom keys represents your divine assignment! In other words, God has authorized you to manage doors and you are a doorkeeper! With keys to the Kingdom in your possession, God has granted you authority to unlock and pass through doors that would otherwise remain shut. And as a benevolent doorkeeper, he wants you to open doors for others that are struggling to get through difficult places in life.
(Illustration) I shared earlier how God dealt with me about this message for several weeks. During that time, my wife and I visited a Methodist church. Several hundred people attended that church, which needed an automated door system to allow elderly worshipers to enter the building. The pastor appealed for donations by playing a video that featured a little old lady with a cane struggling to get through a locked door. The video showed her bumbling and fumbling and pounding on the door with her cane, but without a doorkeeper she couldn’t gain entrance. After the video, the pastor asked for a love-offering. The service continued, and just before the dismissal we heard what sounded like a hammer pounding loudly outside. Although it was distracting, we didn’t think much of it. Just before the pastor prayed the benediction we left the sanctuary and exited the building. As I shoved open the exterior door we stood before a little old lady with a cane struggling to enter the church. She was the one that had been pounding on the building during the worship service! Then, she pointed her cane directly at me and said, “Hold open that door! I’ve been standing out here twenty-two minutes waiting for somebody to let me inside.” I was stunned! I wasn’t a Methodist! I was a visitor! But by divine Providence, God ordered the drama of that video to literally play-out before us in real life. By that time, I knew God had spoken to me.
It makes perfect sense that David said, “I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of God than to dwell in the tents of wickedness.” Israel’s great king knew the grand role of opening doors to God’s presence!
Are you directing people to God’s house?
(Insight) Let me summarize this door-keeping assignment you have. First, King David was a doorkeeper. Second, Jesus, the “Son of David” was “the Door.” And then third, the Lord said to all Believers, “I give you the keys of the kingdom.” That means you have a kingly assignment! It’s an assignment of both Jesus and David. God has deputized you to manage doors. And just as you need open doors, you are the person God has deputized to open doors for another person’s breakout.
And here’s what can happen when you help someone through their shut door: Jesus said, “Blessed are the merciful, they shall receive mercy.” Paul said, “Whatever a man sows, that shall he also reap.” That means when you use your “keys to the kingdom” for someone else, God can return a breakout blessing to you!
Whenever you need an open door, either use the keys God has invested to you or pray for God to grant favor with the doorkeeper He has assigned and authorized for your passage.
(Transition) One final point about the doors we encounter.
Turn From Doors that God Closes!
Sometimes it may appear that God closes more doors than He opens. He probably does. But if God is omniscient, why shouldn’t He know how to manage our doors? When God posts a “No Trespassing” sign it’s time to turn away.
(Example) In Acts 20, the Apostle Paul decided to minister in Asia. But for no apparent reason the Holy Spirit “forbade Paul from going to Asia” (20:6). Paul then tried to minister in Bithynia, but again the Bible says “the Spirit of Jesus did not permit them” (20:8). That probably didn’t make sense to Paul, but he listened to the Lord. A few nights later, God gave Paul a dream of a man begging him to come to Macedonia. He finally detected the door that God had chosen for him.
But notice what happened when Paul obeyed God and walked through that door:
He became the focal point of a riot!
The city authorities threw him in jail!
Then an earthquake struck!
So much for following God’s advice in a dream! But then the doors of God’s goodness and grace really swung opened. It started with the angels shaking open those prison doors! And once Paul and Silas shook free they opened the door of salvation for the Jailer and both he and his family were born again. And before leaving town, Paul founded the Church at Philippi! It is this very church that Jesus addressed in our opening text when He said, “Behold, I have set before you an opened door that no one can shut.” Praise God!
You can’t predict what will happen when you obey God, but you can trust Him. Just remember that God will always meet you at the entryway of your assignment. When you arrive at your door, Christ will have already arrived! And He will have supplied a superabundance of grace for your mission.
Some years ago, I contacted the US government and secured an international passport. That tiny 3” X 5” booklet, stamped with the seal of the USA, has made it possible to travel the world and get passed the closed doors of many international borders. Without that passport, doors to those nations would have been closed.
(Illustration) But more remarkable, some years ago, the Lord gave me the idea to launch the website, PulpitToday.org. Since its inception, it has received millions of hits and has 180 of the 196 nations of the world. Praise God! Through the Internet, God has granted me the grace to enter nations, hostile to the Gospel, which would have never let me evangelize them in person. What a passport Pulpit Today has been for spreading the Gospel!
But God has given everyone here a passport for Kingdom work!
Some people have intellectual skills and as educators they can open doors of understanding to students.
Others have inventive or scientific minds, which open doors to technology and medicine.
Some people have unusual favor and they have access to City Hall, or places of government, or to influential people.
Others are mighty in prayer, and as intercessors they can compel God to impact the world in mighty ways!
Use the passport God has given you. Use the “keys to the kingdom.” Use prayer. These things will “shatter doors of bronze and cut through gates of iron.” You can’t thrive without open doors.
For a moment, let me speak to those that do not know Christ as Savior. I’m not asking you to pray for an open door, I want you to ‘walk to the door.’ Jesus said in the last book of the Bible, “I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and answers the door, I will come in.” He is knocking now; will you let Him into your heart?