Wednesday, January 21, 2009

WEDNESDAY WEEKLY WORD...behind closed doors

Finding an open door is a rare thing today. Mainly due to the crime-infested communities that we live in. We no longer feel safe behind closed doors.

When America was largely rural, people would keep their doors unlocked and in some cases they kept their doors standing wide open. Neighbors were encouraged to stop by without even calling ahead, and in some places, coming in without even knocking was common.

Today, however, doors are often double-locked and armed with security systems. Neighbors no longer "stop by", in fact often we don't even know who our neighbors are. Many apartment complexes are even secured, to get access in - you must know a access code or have someone "buzz" you in.

Modern America is quickly becoming "behind closed doors".

Building structures are not the only thing that we find being closed. Often times, because of fear, rejection or some other fatality - we close ourselves off to others. We don't let others see who we really are. We put alot of effort in protecting ourselves from one another which often times leaves us feeling isolated and alone.

When we finally do connect with others, it is usually done electronically. Seldom face to face.

We text each other.
We email each other.
We IM each other.
We facebook each other.

The advancement of technology is opening doors for new ways of communication, however, this kind of connection lacks the personal warmth of face-to-face encounters. It is closing the door for "real" relationships.

COLOSSIANS 4:2 "Devote yourselves to prayer; stay alert in it with thanksgiving. (3) At the same time, pray also for us that God may open a door to us for the message, to speak the mystery of the Messiah - for which I am in prison -"

When Paul sought out spreading the gospel of Jesus Christ, he was interested in what would open the doors. He wanted to open doors so people could experience the life-transforming power of Jesus Christ. We can see in the book of Colossians, that Paul sought the Christians in Colossae to help him in opening doors.

WHAT DID PAUL LEARN ABOUT CLOSED DOORS?

1. PRAYER
Verse 2 in chapter 4 says, "devote yourselves to prayer", Paul believed in prayer. By the time Paul wrote the book of Colossians, he had already experienced the mighty power of prayer:

  • Peter's miraculous escape from prison (Acts 12:1-17)
  • The beginning of the mission to the Gentiles by Paul and Barnabas (Acts 13:1-3)
  • The open door for that mission into Europe (Acts 16:6-10)
  • The deliverance of Paul and Silas from prison (Acts 16:16-40)

Paul and his followers learned to believe in the power of prayer! Prayer is an essential tool for us to open doors to ministering to those outside of the faith. People put up a variety of barriers to close the door to their spirit. Prayer helps to get past the barriers that others put up, and it draws on the power of the Holy Spirit to change human hearts.

2. WISDOM
Paul instructs to "walk in wisdom toward outsiders, making the most of the time." (4:5) A Christian can take a variety of approaches to witnessing to those outside of the faith, but sometimes how we handle ourselves can become a "hindering" witness. Wisdom is crucial when a door is open for Christians to share their faith with the unbeliever.

Having wisdom is knowing when to move closer to a person and show concern and when to pull back. Wisdom is knowing when to be different and when to point out how many ways we are all the same.

Jesus told His followers, "Look, I'm sending you out like sheep among wolves. Therefore be as shrewd as serpents and harmless as doves." (Matthew 10:16)

This was the approach Paul was seeking to open doors among nonbelievers. Wisdom is the key element when walking thru a door of opportunity to witness to others.

3. SPEAKING GRACIOUSLY
Verse 6 of chapter 4 says, "Your speech should always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you should answer each person."

In last week's YOUR OPINION MATTERS POLL, I polled the readers the following question, "What is most important for speech to be gracious?" The top 3 answers were:

1. 38% of those voting said that you should have a gentle tone.
2, 30% voted and said you should avoid negative or judgemental statements.
3. Another 30% polled said that being honest and sincere is important.

"Gracious" speech is speech that conveys God's grace, God's unmerited favor. If we want to open doors to nonbelievers, our speech should not be contentious, judgemental, negative or harsh. Rather, it should express God's grace, His mercy, and His love.

It should be "seasoned with salt." Salt was used in ancient times to both flavor and preserve food. Jesus is calling us to flavor the world with God's love and preserve valuable life from the snare of sin. When we speak positively into lives, the doors will open up!

WHEN IS THE LAST TIME YOU KNOCKED ON SOMEONE'S DOOR?

  • maybe a neighbor to check on them.
  • a co-worker to invite them to church.
  • a sick relative that needs Gods healing.
REVELATION 3:20 "Listen! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and have dinner with him, and he with Me."

I have been studying the book of Colossians and these are a few thoughts that I have learned this week. What a powerful thought that we have the opportunity to open a closed door just by the way we speak to others. Has your speech been gracious to a lost soul today? It is my prayer that you will join me today in seeking out someone who has closed the door to Jesus and tell them about His Grace!

YOUR OPINION MATTERS POLL: please take time to go and vote in this week's poll. I am asking about being on team. You can find it on the side bar of this blog. Your opinion really does matter!!

2 comments:

Debra said...

Laurie,

Wisdom...knowing when to come closer to a person to show concern and knowing when to pull back. This is the crucial element we have been diligently trying to teach our son right now.

Great post! Happy Wednesday to you!

Peggy said...

Blessings Laurie...Awesome WORD for WEDS. with such wisdom and great content. Open door vs. closed door
I can understand...but to me the "behind closed doors" connotates something different. But I do agree
how we are shutting ourselves off..
becoming self interested & isolated
rather than reaching out or helping.

I really think this is a packed post with lots of inspiration & great thoughts.

I am so glad that you added Col.4:3
to Col.4:2..."pray also for us that God may open a door to us for the message, to speak the mystery of the Messiah..." and I love your question to us all...Since I'm in a different world involved with "knocking on doors" closed or open,
not the best evangelist...all of this speaks to me! I always start with PRAYER! Thanks Laurie for sharing & your concern & visit, but how are you? I made my border trip(1500 mi.) so I'm in mode: recuperation right now! Back in Maz.Mexico and waiting on God for my "move" or stay & pay(which I did)At least I'm secure here & known is much easier than the unknown. Enjoy your Wed. & week!