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November 28, 2018, 7:34 AM

Grand Openings

Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

“The Lord opened her heart” (Acts 16:14).

Stores have grand openings. One guy referred to his wife’s surgery as the grand opening! But the grandest of all openings is that which is referred to in today’s passage, Acts 16:6-15. Let’s look at three openings that took place in the text.

1. An open door. God opened the door for Paul and his companions to preach the gospel in Europe. They were summoned by a vision given to Paul during the night – probably the only time he was still long enough for God to reach him with such a message. A “man of Macedonia” begged him, “Come over to Macedonia and help us.” The response of the missionary party was prompt obedience: “We got ready at once to leave for Macedonia, concluding that God had called us to preach the gospel to them” (vv. 9-10). These missionaries had made other plans for themselves. They learned, however, that God closes doors in order to open others. They were “kept by the Holy Spirit from preaching the word in the province of Asia”; and when “they tried to enter Bithynia . . . the Spirit of Jesus would not allow them to” (vv. 6-7). God knows what is best. We can trust Him to open and close doors.

2. An open heart. Arriving in Macedonia, Paul did not find at first the man in the vision. But at a riverside prayer meeting he proclaimed Christ “to the women who had gathered there.” One of them was a devout businesswoman named Lydia, and “the Lord opened her heart to respond” in faith to the message. She influenced the members of her household to become Christians, and they were baptized (vv. 13-15). The God who opened the door for preaching opened the heart to preaching! A similar incident is recorded in Luke 24:45. The risen Christ met with His disciples, formed them into a Bible study group, and “opened their minds so they could understand the Scripture.” Open-heart surgery is a modern procedure for saving lives, but God has been doing spiritual surgery from the beginning of the gospel. By nature the heart is closed and hardened because of sin but God opens it by His convicting and faith-creating word. This radical surgery took place at “a place of prayer.” We need to generate an atmosphere in which preaching and witnessing can be done with power, and such an atmosphere is created through prayer. The open heaven will bring about the open heart.

3. An open house. After her conversion to Christ, Lydia invited the missionary party to stay at her house. Luke says, “She persuaded us” (v. 15). Whatever reluctance they had was overcome by the eagerness of this woman to share her home and food with God’s workman. There is a principle illustrated here that is unfailingly true: When God has our hearts, He also gets our possessions. Later Paul will tell of how the Macedonian churches “gave themselves first to the Lord” and then gave generously and sacrificially of their means (2 Cor. 8:1-5). When God has us, He has ours!

The door, the open heart, the open house! The sequence is logical, and all these grand openings blend together divine sovereignty and human responsibility. Only God can perform these gracious openings; but when He does, our responsibility is to trust Him completely and obey Him promptly.

Let’s pray: Wonderful Savior, come, open our hearts, and may we respond with open homes. Amen.

You are Loved!

Pastor Jason Stevens

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