“DOORS OF OPPORTUNITY                             By Pastor YAU

Text: Philippians 1:8-11                                          February 24, 2008.

 

INTRODUCTION:

1)    The open doors: Many Christians follow the “open door” policy in their life. They assume that when a door of opportunity opens that must be the will of God to enter it. Writer Terri Blackstock, along with many others, knows that is not necessarily true. She never openly rebelled against God, but she found herself drifting farther and farther away from Him when she walked through some open doors of opportunity, especially doors of success.

2)    The new door: “I had allowed myself to believe that God was blessing my career because He had opened so many doors,” she wrote in Soul Restoration. Although she got what she and many other writers wanted---a successful career writing romance novels for Harlequin Silhouette---she lost what she really needed: a close relationship with God and her family. When she finally admitted that her career was keeping her away from God and her family, she turned her back on success and renewed her commitment to the Lord and her family. Her writing career has since been revitalized. She has become an award winning author of Christian fiction.

 

OPPORTUNITY IN THE BIBLE: So many in the Bible: some lead to new heights while others lead to devastated tragedies.

1)    A door to sin: “You will not surely die,” the serpent said to the woman. “For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened and you will be like God knowing good and evil.” (Genesis 3:4-5)Satan offered Eve a door of opportunity to be like God so she will know good and evil.  When Eve accepted the invitation and entered that door, she brought along her husband and the human race into a never ending downward spiral of rebellion against God. To be like God is an enticing opportunity but it is a deadly one, deadly for all human race.

2)    A door of death: “Now Cain said to his brother Abel, ‘Let us go out to the field.’ And while they were in the field, Cain attacked his brother Abel and killed him.” (Genesis 4:8)When God did not look with favor on Cain’s offering as He did on Abel’s, Cain was outrageous. God explained to him the reason why He did not look with favor at his offering and told him, “If you do what is right, will you not be accepted?” (4:7)Instead of creating opportunities to do right to gain acceptance of God, Cain tricked his brother Abel to the field where he seized the opportunity of isolation and killed him. Cain had his opportunity to do right but he used it for murder.

3)    A door of failure: When the people saw that Moses was so long in coming down from the mountain, they gathered around Aaron and said, “Come, make us gods who will go before us.” When God called Moses to the mountain for 40 days and 40 nights (Exodus 24:15-18) to receive the Ten Commandments and other laws, the people grew impatient and became restless. They asked Aaron to make them idols to lead their future and Aaron followed their request. In the absence of Moses, Aaron was the leader the people looked up to. He had the opportunity to do and say things to strengthen their faith but he failed at the opportunity and made them a golden calf, an idol, as god to lead their future. (Ex. 32:24)

4)    A door of faith: Many years had passed since Terah brought his son Abram, Abram’s wife Sarai and his grandson Lot out of Ur of the idolatrous Chaldeans, he died in Haran at the age of 205. (Genesis 11:31-32)Now Abram had inherited all the properties of his father and the opportunity of building a safe home in Haran, but God offered him a different opportunity to travel to an unknown distant land called Canaan. God promised Abram that He will make his name great and he will be a blessing (to all the people in the world.) (Genesis 12:1-2)At the age of 70 Abram obeyed the call of God, uprooted his family with Lot and moved to Canaan, later called the Promised Land. Abram, later called Abraham, became a symbol of faith for all God’s children in the Bible and in today’s life.

5)    A door of courage: Many years had passed after the Israelis were captured and relocated to the kingdom of Persia, a beautiful young Israeli woman named Esther was chosen to be the queen of the powerful King Xerxes. Because of a plot by a high official in the king’s court, the Jewish people in the Persian kingdom were facing genocide. Mordecai, Esther’s cousin and guardian, sent her urgent message asking her to find a way to save her own people. He said, “If you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance for the Jews will arise from another place. And who knows but that you have come to royal position for such a time as this?” “A time” means “an opportunity.” Esther then risked her life to ask the king for an order of relief. While Esther could keep silent, stayed in the royal palaces and be safe, she chose to seize the opportunity to save her people and became a heroine in the Jewish history.

6)    A door of change: At Jesus’ time, being a tax collector was hated by the Jews but coveted by others because of the opportunity of getting rich and famous. While Levi, later called Mathew, was busy collecting taxes and most likely extra income for himself, Jesus came to him and called him to follow Jesus. The Bible says, “After this, Jesus went out and saw a tax collector by the name of Levi sitting at his tax booth. ‘Follow me,’ Jesus said to him, and Levi got up, left everything and followed him.” This same Levi invited Jesus to his home, invited many of his fellow tax collectors to dine with Jesus so they may share the joy of his giving up his profitable job to follow Jesus as the Savior of the world. (Matthew 9:9-13; Mark 2:14-17; Luke 5:27-32)This Levi, later called Matthew wrote the longest Gospel on the life of Jesus and was placed as the first book of the New Testament of the Bible. When opportunity strikes at the door of his heart, Matthew made the right choice to change his life from a tax collector to an apostle.

 

FACETS OF OPPORTUNITY:

1)   Opportunity, the definition According to Encyclopedic Dictionary, the 2 volumes book published by Reader’s Digest, “opportunity” means “an opening,” “good chance” and “favorable juncture.” In relating to our everyday life, opportunities are times or situations that provide favorable chances or opening for us to make things happen. Usually people see opportunities in a positive way.

2)   Opportunity is neutral: While most people may see opportunities in a positive way they are neither good nor evil. They are openings in which we make decisions to do good or evil. They provide the “opening” for us to enter into making results or consequences. One may choose an “opening” to do good such as Abraham, Esther and Matthew. Others may choose that “opening” to do evil such as Eve, Cain and Aaron. To classify opportunity as good or bad is not a fair and balanced judgment. It is how we use them that matters.

3)   Opportunity is a test: Since opportunity is neither good nor evil, it is up to us to make it good or evil. How people handle opportunity is a test of their character, nature of life and inclination of thoughts. If a man is with good character, good nature of life and pure thoughts, he will most likely use opportunity to advance good for himself, his family, people around him and His God. Others with poor character, selfish nature in their life and unclean inclination in their thoughts, they will use opportunity to expose their evil on the inside. How one uses an opportunity shows what kind of man he is.

4)   Opportunity strikes again: While many believe that opportunity never strikes twice, God is here to prove them wrong. Our God is not a stingy God. He is both gracious and generous to give us more than one chance. He always gives us a second chance to come back from our former failures. Just look at the people in the Bible from the terrible Israelis to the so called giants, they all have failed God more than once but God always gave them another opportunity to come back to Him. He is the same God today. If you have failed in your past, He is ready and willing to give you another opportunity.

 

HOW TO HANDLE OPPORTUNITY? (Phil. 1:8-11)

1)    With affection of Jesus: “God can testify how I long for all of you with the affection (the heart) of Christ Jesus.” (1:8)In dealing with the Christians in the church at Philippi, Paul had the same kind of affection to them as that same heart of Jesus. How do we handle opportunities? Handle them with the affection or the heart of Christ Jesus. Ask yourself if Jesus is facing the same opportunity, what would he do in this situation?

2)    With much prayer: “And this is my prayer:” (1:9a) Since not all open doors are from God for good purposes, we need to seek His guidance and leadership with much prayer before we jump into the boat. Pray and see clearly what kind of opportunity is this before making any move or commitment is the next important step.

3)    With knowledge and insight: “You may abound more and more in knowledge and insight.” (1:9b)Definitely Paul was talking about spiritual knowledge and godly insight. Check with the Bible, God’s commands and with spiritual leaders in God’s family. Share with them the “opportunity” and seek their input and guidance to make sure you will enter the right doors.

4)    With proper discernment: “So that you may be able to discern what is best and pure and blameless.” (1:10)Before you jump into a decision when facing an opportunity, ask yourself if this is the best for you, your family, for God and His name. You also need to ask if your motive is pure and blameless to take that opportunity. You need to ask this hard question: motive and consequence.

5)    With righteous fruits: “Filled with the fruits of righteousness.” (1:11a)This is about the potential outcome, the purpose of the opportunity. Whatever decision we may make facing choices or opportunity, we need to see into the future, the purpose, the goal, the fruits of our choice, to see if they are of righteous nature, if this is right in the eyes of God.

6)    With glory and praise: “To the glory and praises of God.” (1:11b) This is about how God and His name will be affected by your choice of entering the door of opportunity. Will your decision of entering into that door of opportunity bring glory and praises to God or blame and shame to His name? Will Christians around you be strengthened in their faith or will they stumbled by you? Will people on the outside say good things about God because of your choice or will you give them the chance to blaspheme God’s name?

 

CONCLUSION:

1)   Treat them with respect: Opportunities are important parts of life experience. They provide us doors or conditions favorable for pursuit. We need to be thankful for opportunities given to us by God, family, friends and society. Do not let them slip through your fingers without making the best use of them for maximum results.

2)   Treat them with caution: Since not all opportunities are from God for our best interest, we need to approach them with maximum caution. Examine their purpose, goal, costs and consequences from all faces. Seek God’s wisdom and advice of spiritual leaders before entering into unknown territories with uncertainty.

3)   God’s best opportunity: That is the opportunity to accept His call to salvation. You have nothing to lose when you enter into a close relationship with God through faith in Jesus Christ. God has a best plan for you life and He is ready to show you if you ask Him to enter into your heart.