Happy New Year! Today is a day of firsts. To my knowledge, none of you have been in church this year until today. It is a day of firsts. Did you begin the year in the same old way? Or in the same good way you always have? Did you begin with the Word? When I woke up this morning, I immersed myself in the scriptures, like normal. Continue your good habits and lay aside your bad habits.
I want to talk about a great door that has opened. You know some doors open and some close. A great earthquake took place this week, didn't it? Since you were in church last year, a major earthquake. And everytime an earthquake happens, it ought to ring a bell in the Seventh-day Adventist mind.
In Luke 21:11 NKJV it says, "And there will be great earthquakes in various places..." But it doesn't just say earthquakes: It says great earthquakes. A well-known Adventist writer says that earthquakes will be more numerous and terrible just before the second coming of Christ and the end of the world as signs of the wold's speedy destruction. 1 SOP 82
I think time is short. Do you believe that? We don't know how small a space is between us and Eternity. We don't have that knowledge, do we? We do know that this world is doomed. The December 26 earthquake unleashed power equivalent to two million Hiroshima atomic bombs. It was so powerful it actually changed the shape of our planet. They are going to have to re-map the globe. In fact it was so powerful that the tilt of the earth on its axis is now different. This earthquake also permanently altered our clocks! Time has been changed. It has been cut short!
Luke 21:28 says, "W hen these things begin to take place, stand up and lift up your heads, because your redemption is drawing near."
120,000 or maybe many, many more men, women, girls and boys have lost their lives, I don't know how many. Many of them were Hindus or some other religion. They lost their eternity. They were unwarned. And a good deal of them were boys and girls. Were they ready?
I am told that almost no animals lost their lives. The animals got away. They fled. They evacuated they have a sense that we don't have.
Did the people have time to get ready? Did they notice that the water suddenly receded from the shoreline? Did they realize that that was an indication that they should run for their lives to higher ground? Did they immediately flee knowing that a giant tidal wave was about to wash them away?
Opportunities are here today that will not exist tomorrow for you yourself. Look at 2 Corinthians 6:2. Here God says, "...I tell you, now is the time of God's favor, now is the day of salvation." When is it? It is today. Salvation is today. Not yesterday. It is today.
Let me illustrate this with a story:
The other day I ran across a story of a man a man who had a tremendous opportunity that he missed. His friend took him for a ride one day. They rode way out in the country. They went out miles and miles into the country, off of the main road, into the boondocks near Burlap Junction. They drove off the main road and drove through groves of trees to a large uninhabited expanse of land. A few horses were grazing, and a couple of old shacks stood about. Basically nobody lived there. The friend, Walter, stopped the car, got out, and started to describe with great vividness all the imaginings of his mind, and all the wonderful things he was going to build. He wanted his friend Arthur to buy up some of the land surrounding his project to get in on the ground floor. He said "This is an opportunity for you. You could make a tremendous investment here."
But Arthur thought to himself, "You know, who in the world is going to drive twenty five miles out here into this swamp for this crazy project? The logistics of the venture are staggering."
And so Walter explained to his friend Arthur, "I can handle the main project myself. But it will take all my money. But the land bordering it, where we're standing now, you can buy. It will soon be jammed with hotels and restaurants and convention centers that will be built to accommodate the people who will come to my grand project. I want you to have the first chance. I want you to buy some of this land from me. It will increase in value hundreds of times."
"What could I say? I knew he was wrong," Arthur said later. "I knew that he had let this dream get the best of his common sense, so I mumbled something about tight with money and told him I would let him know someday."
"Someday will be too late," Walter cautioned Arthur as they walked back to the car. "You'd better move on it right now."
And so Art Linkletter turned down the opportunity to buy up all the land that surrounded what was to become Disneyworld from his friend, Walt Disney. But Art thought he was crazy. -- [James S. Hewett, Illustrations Unlimited (Wheaton: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc, 1988), p. 389. ]
I want to read you a text; our scripture reading for today. 1 Corinthians 16. This one text will be the focus of this sermon today. I want you to think about opportunities that exist today, that will not exist tomorrow, and that you need to take advantage of. The last page of 1 Corinthians. Chapter 16:8,9: 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 would like to submit to you that you have an open door before you today. And that door is 2005. That is one open door that you have. It is a new untouched year full of hundreds of days, zillions of hours and minutes. It is a brand new year. A year of opportunity for everybody here.
The text says, "a great door for effective work has opened." What is the door that is open before you? A new year. A new baby. A new Job. A marriage. A new situation. Maybe you moved. Maybe you have a new church. The winds of change are moving for you.
This text also says that it is not only door, but a great door. That's what the Bible says: "A great door opened for Paul." Maybe there is a great door open for you. Maybe this will be the year that you find your Master. This might be the year you find you Mission. This might be the year you find a Mate. This might be the year you begin a new path. This might be the year of your Baptism. Maybe it's going to be the year when you embark on a brand new path that opens before you. This might be the year that you actually overcome by the power of Jesus Christ, the bad habit that you have been battling.
Not only is it a door, and it's a great door; it is an open door. I hate shut doors unless I have the key. Have you ever been locked out of your car? I like keys? They let you have access. I like open doors. An open door is an opportunity. A closed door is a dead end. It is like a wall, it shuts us out. But an open door is an opportunity for you. You go to the store and the door is closed, you know you opportunity is gone there. But here the Bible says that there is a great door that is open.
Our text continues. There is more here in the verse: It says the door has opened to me. To you. It is not just an open door, it is a door that is open to you yourself. You have an open door. Not just to somebody else, but to you personally. Here is an opportunity with your name written right on it. Could this new year be an occasion that God has created especially for you? Here is a new chance for you to start life over again. You did not get killed in the earthquake. Maybe you've noticed quite often that God beautifies the boarders of each day with a superb sunrise and sublime sunset. We stand on the boarder of a new year. We ought to beautify the borders of this year with a spiritual response to our Lord and Savior. Make it a beautiful beginning of a bright and wonderful year.
In I Corinthians 16:9 the door stands open. This is present tense in Greek. This great door stands open before me and you. Here you are offered a standing invitation. It is open and it is going to stay open. It is a continuous opportunity. This door was opened by Jesus at the Cross of Calvary. Revelation 3:8 says ...See, I have placed before you an open door that no one can shut. Nobody can shut that door.
The year 2005 is also an open door. It is a great door that stands open and continues to stand open. Open for you to enter. Ready for you to launch something new. You can embark on a new journey. You can do that. You are not stuck in a rut with no escape. You can change your life through the power of Jesus Christ. It is an opportunity for you to change your life. Things do not have to keep on going on the same old discouraging way.
Now, some doors might appear shut tight with strong security bolts and special locks. But as you advance you will discover that the closer you get to these doors, these doors open to you. And often times they will not open until you advance. The closer you get to the door the more it become open to you.
One time I was standing at a door inside the corridors of a huge hospital. It was the first time I had visited one of my members in this hospital. I was trying to get in to see them. They were in a special unit and I had no knowledge how to open the door. I looked everywhere. There was no button to push. There was no intercom system. There was no visible way to open the door. No visible way for that door to open for me. Suddenly another man came up and the door opened automatically for him and he went right on in. I thought, how did he do that? Maybe he had a sensor on his uniform that the door recognized. So I went right in behind him. I had my badge on and they said, "We're glad you're here," and I was able to visit with my member.
Each of us stands at a door. And that door is salvation. Actually the cross opened the door of salvation. It opened it for you. The door had been shut tight for how many years? For 4000 years there was no access to salvation, just a hope. But Jesus Christ opened that door of salvation. And He opened it for you. That door has your name on it. An angel could not open that door. No human could open that door. But Jesus opened the door for you.
Now, let's re read our text. 1 Corinthians 16:9, because a great door for effective work has opened to me. Now what is that work? God has a work for you in 2005. God has a purpose in your life. Maybe Doug Bachelor is coming. Maybe some big meetings are coming. Maybe you can help with an evangelistic meeting. Maybe you are going to go on a mission trip. Something has opened for you to do an effective work for Jesus Christ this year. Maybe you are a contractor and you have been building houses. Maybe it is time to build something for God. Do something special this year, just for Him.
I want to keep reading in this verse: a great door of effective work is open to me, but there are many who oppose me. I would like to submit to you that Paul found an opportunity in the open door, but he also found something else. He found opposition, adversity. In 2005 you will often find opposition with your opportunity. They come together. Your rarely find an opportunity without adversity. It just doesn't take place. I believe in 2005 you are going to find opportunity, but you are going to find opposition. You are going to find resistance. However, I would like to submit to you that you will almost always find and opportunity in opposition. Think about that. Almost always. Do you know what the secret of finding opportunity in opposition really is?
The first secret is your personal discovery that opportunity and opposition almost always come together. You buy a new car and then you have a potential for a flat tire. You never had that opportunity when you walked everywhere. You get married and you something great. A great opportunity. But you also have the potential for arguments. The opportunity brings in potential opposition that you did not have before. The magnitude of the opportunity often determines the magnitude of the opposition. Think about that. Everything has a price.
Secondly, learn that opposition is not always bad. Resistance often brings out the best in people. Like the bristlecone pine, hanging on, growing way up at the timberline. It contends with opposition almost every day, but in the process it becomes exceedingly strong. At the timberline of life we develop special spiritual strength that you would not have if the opposition wasn't there.
That gnarled twisted tree could not overcome the opposition if it were not for the nourishment and moisture it finds in the soil. Jesus will provide you the power to overcome the opposition in your spiritual life that you might face in the new year.
Thirdly, you need to enter that door. Paul entered the door. And because of that we have a whole book in the Bible. He entered the door of opportunity at Ephesus. And you need to enter the door of opportunity that God will present before you. Maybe you are graduating from Southern Adventist University this year. Maybe you are getting married this year. Maybe something is happening for you this year. There is an opportunity. You will have speed bumps. You will have chuck holes. But God will help you to weave your way through. You cannot advance until you enter the door. Just standing there, you will never advance. So go in and see what God has waiting for you.
Fourth, Colossians 4:5 says ...make the most of every opportunity. If you have a spiritual opportunity this year, maybe you bought a new Bible. That's an opportunity, isn't it. Read that Bible! Maybe you are going to determine this year, "I am going to go to prayer meeting. I am going to do something different for the Lord." Then do it. Paul could have focused on the opposition and bypassed his opportunity to do God's will. Never allow the opposition to eclipse what God has in mind for you to do. This new year may have many opportunities that you will bypass because you focus on the opposition instead of focusing on the opportunity?
Jesus provides the power for you to overcome the opposition. Maybe you have stood there by the door long enough. Maybe it is time to actually enter into a new relationship with Jesus. Maybe it is time for you to actually stop swearing. Maybe it is time to let Jesus actually change your life! Let's enter in the door!
I was reading in Manuscript Releases 21, "Now there is a new year coming, and as the light is streaming from the open door, every one of us should thirst for more and more of its illuminating power because the earth is growing darker and darker every day" [21MR page 226]. We don't know how many more earthquakes are going to come. We don't know what is going to happen this year. What terrorist strikes are going to come upon America and upon the world. We don't know. But I will tell you that the opportunity is there for you to do something bigger in 2005 than you did in 2004, for Jesus Christ. So be zealous in your Christian experience. Be on fire for Jesus.
How will it be at the new year that is just opening? We need to stand at its commencement to present ourselves to God one hundred percent. Totally to God. As you enter upon a new year, let it be with an earnest resolve to have your course onward and upward. Let your life be more elevated and exalted than it has hitherto been. Make it your aim not to seek your own interest and pleasure, but to advance the cause of your Redeemer. A new year is opening before us, and what shall its record be? You look back upon the past year, and you see many things that you would be glad to have different, that you wish had been better.
Look at Ephesians 5:15, 16. Here is some admonition that benefits our lives. If your life is languishing, if your life needs some strength, Be very careful, then, how you live not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil.
We can each begin this new year with a clean, unspotted record. We can ask the Lord, "Please shower upon me your gift of forgiveness. Bless me in ways more numerous than I ever deserve. Quickly, give to me at the beginning of this year the strength that I need to live the Christian life. To live an unspotted record before the Lord. Give me spiritual opportunities. Give me the strength to go through the adversities that will come to me.
You need to keep your record in the hands of Jesus. Let Him erase the old way. Maybe you have lost loved ones this year. Is that going to destroy your spiritual life? Don't let it. Be faithful to Jesus. Look at John 10:9. We are told what the door is. We don't have to guess what the door is. It is more than a new year. More than a new opportunity or a new job. Jesus says in John 10:9 KJV "I am the door: by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture.". Isn't that beautiful? That door is there. But it will not benefit you unless you enter in with Jesus Christ.
I am going to ask you, are you ready for 2005? Are you ready for a new experience with Jesus this year? Are you really going to roll up your spiritual sleeves? Some of you are new officers in our church. Are you going to do you very best for Jesus this year? You need a new standing to under gird your spiritual life. And you can have that if you ask the Lord for it. I am going to ask you, if the end of time where to come, if there were to be a tidal wave that would come upon you this year, would you be ready? If you were to die tonight, are you actually ready? Are you right with Jesus? You can be! You can be ready.
How many of you would like to give your heart to Jesus? How many of you would life to commit, maybe for the first time, your heart to Jesus Christ? How many of you have not been baptized and want to be baptized for Jesus? Let's be ready for Jesus to come! Let's be ready in 2005. Let's be ready today!
Hymn of Praise: #20, O Praise Ye the Lord Scripture: 1 Corinthians. 16:8-9 Hymn of Response: #365, O Zion, Haste 050101 564
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last updated January 3, 2005 by Bob Beckett.