Rod Denton Induction at Elizabeth Church of Christ_2012 - Copy
As I have reflected on my life, I have concluded that life consists of a series of unfolding opportunities that God sovereignly initiates for the purpose of fulfilling His great plans. Many of these opportunities have come unannounced, some have been disguised as intrusions and some have required me to take steps of faith that have involved ‘burning my bridges’ and walking away from the world in which I was living. Opportunities usually involve paying a price, as Jesus’ disciples found out when they responded to His invitation to follow Him. They had to leave everything. Luke 5:11,28.

The Apostle Paul used the term “open doors” to describe the opportunities that he embraced in his travels. At the end of his first missionary journey, he returned to Antioch where he “gathered the church together and reported all that God had done through them and how he had OPENED A DOOR of faith to the Gentiles.” Acts 14:27.
Paul wrote to the church at Colossae asking them to “Pray that God may OPEN A DOOR for our message….and make the most of every OPPORTUNITY.” Colossians 4:3,5.
Paul wrote to the Corinthians to report of the breakthroughs he was having in preaching the gospel at Ephesus with amazing results. “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.” 1 Corinthians 16:8-9

Jesus’ life and ministry was full of opportunities to teach and heal and make disciples. On one occasion, Jesus was criticised for healing a paralysed man on the Sabbath and replied to the Jewish leaders, “Very truly I tell you, the Son can do nothing by Himself, He can do only what He sees His Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son also does. For the Father loves the Son and shows Him all He does.”
John 5:19-20. Even Jesus attributed His ministry to the opportunities that came to Him by way of open doors that the Father had prepared for Him. Henry Blackaby explained this important principle of Opportunities….God’s open doors when he wrote, “The most dramatic changes in your life will come from God’s initiatives, not yours. The people God used mightily in Scripture were all ordinary people to whom He gave divine assignments that they never could have initiated. When the Lord tells you what His plans are, trust Him and walk closely with Him. Don’t let the busyness of your present activity keep you from experiencing all that God has in store for you. You will see Him accomplish things through your life that you never dreamed were possible.”

My own life has consisted of 5 major open-door opportunities that have come in unexpected ways and unexpected times that have clearly been initiated by the Father and led to numerous minor open doors of opportunity (divine appointments) along the way. In a recent article, My Story: From Fear to Faith to an unFolding Future, I have recalled my journey that is still a work in progress today.

Paul’s life consisted of a series of opportunities that can help us to live our lives in accord with God’s open doors. To the Ephesians he wrote, “Be very careful then how you live – not as unwise but as wise, MAKING THE MOST OF EVERY OPPORTUNITY, because the days are evil. Therefore, do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is.” Ephesians 5:15-17 It is quite clear that Paul is inferring that it is possible to miss God’s open-door opportunities that come our way, hence his admonition to be very careful, to live wisely and not be foolish, so that we don’t miss God’s plan for our lives.

To summarise, God’s open door opportunities:-

    We can only understand God’s unfolding will when we live a life of intimacy with Him. We can trust Him just as Solomon wisely wrote, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways submit to Him, and He will make your paths straight.” Proverbs 3:5-6
    The first major open door from God that Sue and I experienced came most unexpectedly just six months after we were married. We received a phone call from the pastor of the largest Baptist Church in Australia in another state, unknown to us, asking us to resign our jobs, sell our house and join his ministry team to lead the ministry to youth and young adults. I initially declined his request, but after some months of waiting on God, Sue and I came to the conclusion that this unexpected request was actually an open door from God and it would be the beginning of a radical new lifetime career for us both.
    In Acts chapter 8 we read of the amazing work of revival that Philip initiated in a city in Samaria that included signs and miracles which resulted in great joy in the city. But in the midst of this amazing story, an angel of the Lord intervened and told Philip to leave the city and walk along a desert road. In some ways it seemed to defy all logic but it led Philip to speak to a high ranking person who was in charge of the treasury of Ethiopia and who would provide an open door to take the good news of Jesus to another nation. Open doors are not always obvious and neither are they always convenient. They can come with a price.
    God will not lead us through open doors without promising to provide all of our needs. In fact, faith steps are one of the keys that open the door of opportunity and the necessary provisions required. Many an opportunity has been missed because we evaluated them in the light of our own limited resources. Sue and I needed to take a faith step when we took leave without pay from our church to go through an open door for the purpose of studying in America. The most important subject I studied whilst there was, ‘Walking By Faith In God’s Provision’ as time and time again we experienced God’s timely supply of finances and accommodation to meet our needs. I never received credit for this ‘subject’ but it was the most important one I would undertake.
    There are many things that can hold us back when opportunities come knocking; fear has been one that I have battled with, less than perfect circumstances is another, inconvenient timing can be another and inadequate resources that require a faith step has been another. Charles Swindoll said, “We are all faced with a series of great opportunities brilliantly disguised as impossible situations.” 

    In 1266, the great explorer and adventurer Marco Polo met with Kubla Khan in his capital city. This fierce warrior’s heart was deeply touched by the news of Jesus Christ’s death for the world. So he sent Marco Polo back to Europe with this request to the leaders of Christianity, “Send me one hundred men skilled in your religion……and so I shall be baptised and then all my barons and great men, and then my subjects. And there shall be more Christians here than in your parts.”
    And in this opportune moment, the Christian church had been provided with an open door to reap an extraordinary harvest that was possibly unprecedented. However, history records that after some years only two missionaries came forward who were willing to endure the hardships necessary to take the Christian message to the great Mongolian empire. But even they turned back after travelling only halfway to their destiny.
    They left behind what some would say was the greatest missed opportunity in the history of the church.The church in the thirteenth century did not respond to this open door and Kubla Khan turned to Tibetan Buddhists and invited them to spread their religion throughout his empire. At one point, more than half the men in the nation were Buddhist monks.

    Whether we accept an opportunity or ignore an opportunity, we will always be left with the consequences of our decision which will either carry with it regrets or the opportunity to participate in God’s great kingdom purposes.

    “One day as these men (prophets and teachers of the church at Antioch) were worshipping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, ‘Dedicate Barnabus and Saul for the special work for which I have called them.’ So after more fasting and prayer, the men laid their hands on them and sent them on their way.” Acts 13:2-3
    Communication flows out of a relationship of intimacy and as we maintain a relationship of intimacy with our heavenly Father, we place ourselves in a position of being able to follow the prompts of the Holy Spirit that lead us to the open doors of opportunity that the Father has prepared for us. It might be a prompt to talk to the neighbour next door, or to speak to the person seated behind us after a church service, or to travel through an open door of opportunity to a faraway country like Mongolia.

To maintain a relationship of intimacy with the Father and to live with attitudes of availability and expectancy and obedience are our responsibility; to provide the open doors of opportunity is the Father’s responsibility. There is never a place where the Father isn’t at work and there is always a possibility where you might receive a prompt from the Holy Spirit to walk through an open door that “no one can close.”  Revelation 3:7