God Opens Doors

God Opens Doors

We would have much difficultly if doors refused to open for us. Why, yet, this morning, most of us have needed four or five doors to open in order just to get here to church. So, we needed, perhaps, the bedroom door so we could make our way out of our room. And, then we needed the door to the exterior of our house to open. And then, we needed the car door to open so we could get in the car and drive here. And, we needed that car door not just to open once, but we needed it to open twice. We would look rather silly still sitting in our parking lot unable to get out of our car. And then, getting out of our car, we needed a couple of more doors to open in order for us to find a place here in this sanctuary; we needed the doors of the church to be able to open. Thankfully, doors have been opened for us today, but doors that refuse to open cause us great trouble.

When I was a boy, about eight or nine years old, my two brothers, older brothers, and my sister and I decided to play a game of hide-and-seek, and I found what I considered to be the perfect hiding place in our house. At the far end of our house was a linen closet and there were several shelves, there in that linen closet, and at the bottom there was a place where I was able to move some stuff out of there, and there was about a two foot by two foot cube that I could crawl into and there hide, and I had my sister come and help me because I couldn’t close the door myself. So, she came along and closed the door for me, and. boy, you know, five minutes went by, and ten minutes, and I knew I was winning the game of hide-and-seek, and I was winning, winning, winning; no one was even coming close to guessing where I was. And, fifteen minutes went by, and by twenty minutes, I began to realize, “I might not be winning this game. There is something wrong here,” and this place that was the perfect hiding place became a place of confinement, and it became a very dark place, a very hot and sweaty place; a place of great trauma to that young soul. And, I started to yell and shout out and no one came to me, so I started banging on the door, and I tried to reach up but I couldn’t reach the knob to get out. So, I started banging on the door, and I don’t know how long it took, but it was quite a long time that I was sitting in the bottom of that linen closet until, finally, my mom heard me and she came and she opened the door and I fell out exhausted and all sweaty and so thankful to breathe in fresh air, and you know, I went then to look for my loving brothers and sister, and I found that they were outside, playing a different game without me.

Doors that refuse to open cause huge amounts of trouble for us.
I am encouraged today by our study in Acts 16 that God loves to open doors.

In our story, God opens three specific doors that allow us enter a whole new world, a whole new life, a whole new joy, and a whole new sense of wonder because of the doors that God opens for us.

In the story, the Gospel is introduced to the European Continent for the very first time. This is a momentous event in human history. As I considered this story, I asked myself how would the course of Western Civilization been different had not the events taken place in Acts 16, as they did. If the Gospel had not reached into Europe, and then spread from there, how would history have been different? You can’t hardly fathom the differences that would have taken place were it not for this one little incident, what appears to be at first, anyway, little incident that planted the seed that changed the course of human events.

God loves to open up doors so that the name of Jesus is exalted in all the world.

We are going to look at three specific doors that God opens.

First, is the door of the Gospel, the door of evangelization to the whole world.

Then there is the door of the heart and that is on an individual level where He would open up our hearts that we would receive His Grace and be changed.

And finally, the door of our home; that all of our life now, even the center of our living, our own home is changed into a place where Jesus Christ’ name is exalted.

First, we consider the door of the Gospel being opened, and we have to reflect back on some incidents that took place prior to this story. Back in Acts 15, two years have taken place since Paul and Barnabas went on their first missionary journey, as you remember in our study, and Paul and Barnabas get together and Paul says to Barnabas, “Hey, let’s go back and visit all the brothers that were won to Jesus Christ in our first missionary journey.” Paul had a very pastoral heart; he wasn’t just about evangelism, he, also, really cared for the ongoing faith of those whom he had talked to and witnessed to and enjoyed fellowship with. So, he says, “Let’s go back there,” and Barnabas says, “Great, I will go get John Mark,” and (Paul) says, “No you don’t. We are not going to take John Mark,” and Barnabas says, “Yes, we are,” and Paul says, “No,” and they come into such a sharp disagreement that there is a separation. And, at the end of Acts 15, it tells us Barnabas takes John Mark and they go on a missionary journey, and then Paul takes up a new missionary companion by the name of Silas, and we discover that Silas is perfectly suited for this next journey.

Then, in Chapter 16:1, they pick up another traveling companion, another fellow minister by the name of Timothy, and he a young man. His mom is a Jewess and his father is a Gentile. And so, now, there is a team of people, and there may have been others, undoubtedly there were, but these three are specifically mentioned as getting ready to go on this trip that Paul has planned.

Then we read in Verse 6, that

Paul and his companions traveled throughout the region of Phrygia and Galatia, having been kept by the Holy Spirit from preaching the word in the province of Asia

Paul wanted to move southwest in his travel, but, and this is sort of a curious phrase, isn’t it, as we read it, it says that he has

…been kept by the Holy Spirit from preaching the word…

Is there a time the Holy Spirit actually keeps us from preaching the word? Here we see, “Yes,” in this particular region, in this direction, God’s Spirit says, “No, I don’t want you to go there, Paul.” Paul had already made his itinerary; he had made his plans, but God’s Spirit says, “Okay, now it is time to change those plans.” And that is what Paul did.

We read in Verse 7, that they then come

…to the border of Mysia…

and Paul now intends to keep going north, but instead, look what happens again. They tried to enter

…the border of Mysia, they tried to enter Bithynia, but the Spirit of Jesus would not allow them to.

So, Paul, first, knocked on door number one and God says, “No, this door is closed.” So, he goes to door number two, and he knocks on that door, and that door, also, is closed. The Holy Spirit would not allow them to travel in that direction.

We don’t know exactly how the Holy Spirit communicated this. It could have been sort of an inward impression that they got, “No, this doesn’t feel right.” It could have been a circumstance, and that is what I think is most likely is, that there was some circumstance that God laid out before them that stopped them in their tracks and kept them from moving in those two directions they wanted to go. It could have been a legal circumstance where they couldn’t cross a specific border for some legal reason. It could have been a sickness that some of the team members had that they couldn’t travel in that direction. Whatever it was, it was very clear that God was constraining them from going to the place they had planned to go.

So, we read in Verse 8, then,

So they passed by Mysia and went down to Troas.

It tells us, in Verse 9,

During the night Paul had a vision of a man of Macedonia standing and begging him…

They go to Troas and across the Aegean Sea then, is Macedonia, and Paul has this vision that a man is shouting at him, “Come, help us, help us,” and

After Paul had seen the vision, we got ready at once to leave for Macedonia, concluding that God had called us to preach the gospel to them.

Just as an aside, you should notice there in Verse 10, that the author of Acts, Luke, Dr. Luke, writes the little pronoun “we,” and it indicates that Luke, himself, has joined up with this team. Up to this point, Luke is relying upon eyewitness events from other people, records and stories that Paul and others, would tell him about what happened, but now Dr. Luke travels with this team. He says, “We are going to go over, across the Aegean Sea, now.” This is what often is referred to as “Paul’s Macedonian Call,” where God sends a vision to Paul with a man calling out, “Help us, help us,” from Macedonia.

From this incident that we have just read about, I believe God wants us to learn three vital principles concerning the guidance of God in our work of advancing the name of Jesus in our world.

The first principle that we draw from this incident is that God sovereignly orchestrates His people, their lives, and their circumstances, to advance the name of His Son, Jesus. God orchestrates His people to advance the name of His Son, Jesus, in this world. God does care about the details of the movements of His people as they travel throughout this world, and they go about the work proclaiming the Good News of the Gospel, winning the lost, and He cares so much, that He becomes personally, specifically, intimately involved in the comings and the goings of His people.

There are some who teach today that God is not much concerned about leading and the details of one’s personal life. The theory is that God wants us to become mature people, and as mature people, He wants us to make mature decisions; to think through circumstances, to think through our plans and to make wise decisions, and so the counsel is, “Just be very careful in making decisions and then make them to the best of your ability and don’t worry so much about discovering God’s will or God’s plan in this regard.” But this story, I believe, contradicts such a view of God’s leading.

Someone protests, “You know, Pastor, this is in reference to the Apostles and we can’t assume that God is going to lead us in the exact same way that He led His Apostles.” And to that, I would say that is right; that is true. God is dealing with the Apostles and we can’t assume that He will lead us in the exact same way that He leads the Apostles, but we can learn from the story something of the unchangeable character of God. What is that something? I believe that this passage is teaching us that God loves to orchestrate the details of His people’s lives, in such a way, so as to magnify the name of His Son, Jesus, throughout the world. And so, God is concerned about these details.

It is true that God may not be so concerned about whether we get up in the morning and we put on a red shirt or blue shirt or green shirt, but as our lives intersect with the cause of His name, and of His Gospel, and of His Son being exalted, God is deeply concerned. God does care about these issues. So, questions like, “Where should we live to advance the Gospel?” “Who should we befriend to spread the Gospel together in exalting the name of Jesus?” “What people should we go to, to bring the Gospel?” If we are committed to being ambassadors of God, peoples whose major purpose in life is to serve God by telling the message that He has given us to tell to other people, these questions in regards to the Gospel, intersect with really common questions we ask; questions like, “Well, who should I marry?” “What profession should I get involved in?” “What city should I go to and live in?” “What house should I buy?” “What neighborhood should I live in?” Do you see, how all of these, if we have our thoughts focused on being ambassadors, these questions have very much impact upon how we exalt and lift up the name of Jesus in the world; how the Gospel is presented to people that we surround ourselves with. And so, I believe, that God is very much interested in the answers to those questions.

If we are not interested in being ambassadors of Jesus Christ, with the central purpose of our lives being to proclaim the Gospel, we should not think that God will be interested in leading us in these other areas. God’s heart is for the glory of His Son, Jesus.

The second principle we learn in regards to God’s guidance is that God uses disappointing circumstances to guide us; that God often restrains us as we move in the direction of being His ambassadors, and, this is difficult, often, for us to accept.

Think of Paul. Paul lays out his plan. He is really excited about his itinerary, and yet, not once, but two times, God says, “No! I know that is what you have planned. I know you, perhaps, even have tickets purchased, but, no, I don’t want you to go in that direction.” And, He moves him.

Paul was not waiting for God to send him a vision before he started to move, and neither should we. We should be moving in the direction of proclaiming the Gospel and if we don’t have clarity, we should be moving in some direction, trusting that God will guide us along the way. And yet, when we come to these circumstances in which God is closing a door, it is important for us not to resist God’s leading, but to yield to Him; not to push against a door that obviously has been closed, and thus get frustrated, but to yield and submit to God’s leading in our personal lives.

I am really encouraged that these Apostles didn’t have the complete plan of God all clear in their minds as to what the future held for them. I am encouraged by that because I know that is true of my life, and yet, God in His loving care and His shepherding of these Apostles, and in His shepherding of us, continues to lead, step-by-step, along the way.

There is no indication that the Apostles wrung their hands over these two closed doors, wondering how they could have got it wrong in the first place, “We must not have been in the Spirit.” “We must not have really prayed the way we were supposed to.” No, they just said, “This is the way God works, and it is disappointing,” but there is, also, no indication that they thought of just giving up and quitting.

Friend, when God closes doors, and sometimes those doors close painfully, that our fingers are still in the door jamb when the door shuts, “Ouch! That hurts!” and it is so easy for us in our service, and in our pursuit of our service to God, when a door shuts to get so discouraged, we say, “Well, I guess if I can’t go through Door Number One, Door Number Two closes now, I guess God doesn’t want me to go anywhere,” and just sit down, and be passive and no longer be active in our service to our King.

But, that is not what the Apostles did, and that is what we must resist as well. There must be no quit in us. What keeps us going? It is a simple faith that God sovereignly controls our life and that His leading never errors; His leading never errors. So, God sovereignly orchestrates the details of our lives to bring about the exaltation of the name of His Son, Jesus. God uses disappointing restraints to guide us.

The third principle we learn is God encourages us and strengthens us to pursue His agenda.

Imagine after Verse 8 takes place, when Paul had two doors shut, how discouraged he may have been, “Does God want me anywhere? Is there a place for us?” But then, suddenly, in Verse 9 and 10, what happens? God gives a most encouraging message to these Apostles: to Paul, and to Silas, and to Luke, and to Timothy. And what does He do? He sends a vision, a vision in the night of this man from Macedonia, and what is this man calling out, “Help us! Help us!” Nothing energizes us more than a call for help.

If you are a parent, you undoubtedly have had the experience of resting peacefully in your bedroom at night and you are in the most wonderful and comfortable of sleep, and you are in that state of sleep where you are having wonderful dreams and you are deep, deep into that pleasant unconsciousness. And, suddenly, piercing through the darkness of your house is this cry in a distant room, “Help me!” “Mom, Dad, Mom!” Now, if almost anything else happened to you at that point, if you are anything like me, I would roll over and go back to sleep, but the call, “Help!” or “Dad!” suddenly, what, it shoots energy and strength through every muscle and every vein of your being, and I jump out of bed and I run, going from absolute sleep and rest to now, this maniac man running through this house to get to my son and to see what’s wrong because why, I heard a cry for help. And, there is nothing that energizes us more that hearing a cry for help.

Do you see how gracious God is in encouraging his servants, “Help us,” and now this guy who is starting to get downtrodden and discouraged, energy surged, “Yes!”

I don’t expect that God will direct me through a vision. He might. I just don’t expect that He would, giving me full revelation through His Word, but what I do expect, and what I yearn for, is that God would open up my ears and open up my eyes to the cries of people all around me who are saying, “Help me!” Sometimes we get so busy with our own agenda, with our own business, and with our own lives, that we are so consumed with what is happening here that our ears aren’t even opened to hear that encouraging word that God would have us to listen to; the cry of another person. It might be in this direction. It might be in that. Whatever direction it is in, I am sure that that is where God is leading because that is how God works in His guidance, “Help us!” And, that word, if we would hear it, would energize our spiritual lives again and say, “God has an agenda for me to advance the name of His Son and to bring help and assistance to those who desperately need it, whose lives will be forever changed, if only I would hear and if only I would respond.”

Paul would say (2 Corinthians 5:20), “We are ambassadors of Jesus Christ,” and he said, “God’s love constrains us to implore you, be reconciled, be reconciled to God.”

Now in Verse 10, there is an interesting little comment; it says in regards to God’s leading, he says,

After Paul had seen the vision, we got ready at once to leave for Macedonia…

and he says,


That little word “concluding,” what does that mean? It means they put their heads together and they said, “Let’s think about this. Let’s not just go off on some emotional trip and immediately respond to something on an emotions, let’s think about this.” The leading of God in our lives is never contrary to our minds or contrary to our reason, but rather, the leading of God through His revelation, through His Spirit, works along side of our reasoning. So they got together to think about this, and they concluded, together, “This is what God wants us to do,” and a door was opened to the Gospel.

Beloved, God loves to open the door of the Gospel to use you as His ambassadors in this world. That is a great piece of news.

But, secondly, the second door that God loves to open is the door of the human heart.

I love the conversion of this dear woman by the name of Lydia.

Verse 11,

From Troas we put out to sea and sailed straight for Samothrace, and the next day on to Neapolis.

That is a trip of about one hundred fifty miles by sea and they made that trip in about two days; that is to say, they had a wind pushing them. When they come back it is going to take them five days to make the same trip, so this was great sailing on this day, and

From there we traveled to Philippi…

Neapolis is sort of a port city. From Neapolis, you travel about eight miles inland, on a paved Roman road, to the city called Philippi. Philippi gets its name from Alexander the Great’s father, Philip of Macedon. In the year 356, this city’s name was changed to Philippi; it is a Roman Colony. That means if you are a Roman Citizen and you choose to live in Philippi, Rome doesn’t collect taxes from you. Rome wanted to populate the outer areas of it’s empire with it’s own citizens, thus strengthening the empire, so it gave an incentive to live in Philippi; Philippi was a Roman Colony, so, wouldn’t that be wonderful – no taxes.

And then, in Verse 13, they stay there several days,

And on the Sabbath we went outside the city gate to the river, where we expected to find a place of prayer. We sat down and began to speak to the women who had gathered there. One of those listening was a woman named Lydia, a dealer in purple cloth from the city of Thyatira, who was a worshiper of God. The Lord opened her heart to respond to Paul’s message.

So much is here; God is providentially at work to open Lydia’s heart to the Gospel. If God does not providentially open Lydia’s heart to Jesus, Lydia will not be open to Jesus. It is not Lydia who opens up her own heart; it is not Paul who opens up her heart so that she can respond. It is God, Himself, sovereignly working His Grace in her life to open up her heart so that she can respond to Jesus.

I want you to consider the work of God’s providence in Lydia’s life for a moment. I want you to consider, first, how God brought Paul to Philippi. We have already talked about all of the incidences that took place to get Paul to Philippi; it wasn’t in Paul’s plan to get to Philippi, was it? And yet, God, Sovereignly, providentially, worked in such a way so that, unalterably, Paul would be in Philippi at this time.

I want you to also consider how God brought Lydia to Philippi; remember, she was not from Philippi. This was not her home town. She was from Thyatira. Thyatira was a city known for its famous dyes and Lydia is a business woman; she deals in cloth treated with a particular dye, a purple dye, very expensive, very rare, that is why royalty wore purple clothe because it was so expensive. This is a high-end market and she is a business woman, either in the manufacturing, or the selling, or both, but here she is in Philippi for the purpose of doing business.

We could ask some questions in regards to Lydia. We could ask questions like, “Why is she in Philippi doing business instead of Athens or instead of Corinth?” “Why is she there at this time of the year, and not later in the year, or not earlier in the year?” We could ask all these questions, right, and if you ask Lydia that question, she would be totally unaware at the time of anything going on behind the scenes in her life. She would give you business reasons why she is in Philippi at this time of year. But, that is not why Lydia is at Philippi. The reason why Lydia is there is because God is working behind the scenes, even the business scene, in order for Lydia to be there, in this city, at the exact time that the Apostle Paul is in this city.

Friend, I urge you to trust that God is at work behind the scenes of your life; behind those details. You think, “These are such secular issues. They could have nothing to do with God working in my life,” and yet, they have everything to do with God working in our life, both to bring us to Jesus Christ and then to lead us to more likeness of Jesus’ image.

Remember how God worked providentially in Lydia’s life, and consider your own salvation, those of you who have trusted in Jesus Christ. In looking back, do you not see that there was a working of God’s providence that you couldn’t see at the time, you wouldn’t observe, and you weren’t even aware, but looking back, you say, “Yes, God placed this friend there and He placed me into this family and this town where there was this church, and there was this pastor, there was this elder, there was this Sunday school teacher. He had me at this Vacation Bible School at this particular time and I didn’t know why I went to that VBS, I just know my friend asked me to go at the time. How was it that I got connected to that friend that asked me there?”

You see all of these details of God’s providential working behind the scenes in things that we don’t even perceive that God is involved, and as we observe this, let us praise Him for His sovereign work of Grace in our life, and as we do so, let us take encouragement, and let us take boldness and courage in our witness that, though from an observable standpoint, we can see nothing of God’s powerful hand working in the lives of those that we are praying for and yearning that they will come to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ, let us know that this is the business that God is in, of providentially working behind the scenes, imperceptively often, but powerfully to bring about the redeeming Grace of His Gospel in the lives of men and women.

Perhaps you are here today and you have not committed your life to Jesus Christ. Do you observe God’s hand of providence? Do you see how He is beginning to touch you; how He has even brought you to this place for you to hear the Message of God’s free Grace, of His Gospel that Jesus loves you, that He died on the Cross for your sin, that He is offering you salvation full and free as you commit your way to Him in faith and believe in Him, trust in Him as Lydia did that day.

God’s work in Lydia’s life is a process. She, first, was a worshiper of God, the text tells us; we might call that a “seeker” today and she was a seeker because God was already seeking after her. After all, the Bible tells us that there is no one who seeks after God, and yet, here Lydia is seeking. Why is that, because God is at work already, before her conversion, drawing her to Himself?

God’s providential plan, and His work, does not take place in cold isolation from human decisions, but rather, God’s providential Grace, His sovereign Grace, works along side of human decisions that we make.

There are three specific commitments that Lydia made that connected her and opened her to the full storehouse of God’s Grace, and we desire more of God’s Grace in our lives, we should observe what took place in hers.

The first commitment that she made was that she committed herself to joining with others in prayer and worship of God.

All of us need God’s sovereign Grace daily. If we are believers in Jesus Christ, we need His sovereign Grace to grow into Christ’s likeness. If we are not a believer in Jesus Christ, we need His Sovereign Grace to work so that we could understand who Jesus is and how we can come to Him. But, all of us need God’s Sovereign Grace, and here we see Lydia committing herself to joining others in prayer and that is the place where God meets her with His Grace.

It tells us that Paul, Silas, Timothy, and Luke, expect

…to find a place of prayer.

They usually went to the synagogue, but there is not one in Philippi. Do you want to know why? Because, in order to establish a synagogue, you had to have ten Jewish men who were committed to that synagogue and Philippi didn’t have ten Jewish men; in fact, we don’t know if Philippi had any Jewish men that honored God, but they looked and they said, “Surely there is someone in the city that God is working; that God wouldn’t send us here if there is not someone.” So, they went down to the river and there at the riverbed they saw this small group of women, and they are gathered together, they are praying together, they are reading the Scripture together; they want to worship God together.

It is interesting, because there are many reasons that Lydia could have given on why she needn’t go to a prayer meeting on that day. She could have said, “You know, I am a really busy business women and business is bustling, and if I take a whole day off I’ll never catch up with the work.” She could have thought to herself, “You know, I am in a foreign city, and if I were in Thyatira, my home town with my family, I would go and worship in the synagogue, but I am in this foreign city and I don’t even know the people over there!” She could have said, “You know, I have one day a week in my hard work schedule to rest and this is it. I can’t go.” But, this is not what Lydia did. What did she do? She committed herself to getting together with God’s people, to listen to His Word and to pray together.

It is not that God’s Grace can’t meet us in our own private homes or as we are going about our own agenda. It is not that God’s Grace can’t break through a hard heart, but it is that most often, as God works, it is because we desire Him to, and we commit our ways to being in places where His Grace flows freely, and God loves to honor the gathering of His people. God loves, particularly, to honor prayer when people get together and just call out to Him in dependence upon Him.

I would urge you to gathering together with God’s people to pray. I would urge you; that is where there is a full measure of God’s Sovereign Grace flowing freely and fully. You look at that little prayer group and you say, “You know, I don’t think much is happening there.” In fact, if you were a visitor to Philippi, walking along the road and say, “Hey, tell me some things I should see in Philippi today.” “Oh, there is this temple over here.” “Oh, there is this amphitheater over there.” “Oh, you got to go down this street and see that,” but not one tourist guide would tell you about a little prayer meeting along a river. And yet, let us think, if we were to evaluate the things that took place that were really significant in Philippi that day, what would be the event that shook the world? It would be an event that no one, hardly anyone else in Philippi even took notice of, it would be some women going down to the riverside, and it is on the basis of what happened at that prayer meeting that the whole Western World was turned upside down with the Gospel. What an exciting time!

The second commitment that Lydia made was that she committed herself to listening.

We see in Verse 14,

One of those listening was a woman named Lydia…

Again, God can pound upon the heart and soul of our heart with the Truth in such a way as to break open even the most rebellious of spirits, but most often, He works as we open up our ears and as we are eager to listen to what He has to say to us. And here was her posture, as she sat by the riverside as Paul was teaching, “Let me hear. Let me listen to everything he is saying because what he is saying is so important.”

And, such is the posture of each one of us as we come before God’s Word, whether it is taught publicly, or whether we are listening to God in private through our own reading, we want our ears to be wide open to hear what He has to say. If we do not have our ears open to even the plainest of Truths that God would have for us to received to change our lives, it will be lost upon us.

I love the story of a man who wished to make a certain point clear and he, finally in frustration, he said, “Why, it is a plain and A, B, C!” And, another person came up to him and said, “Yeah, but the people you are talking to are ‘DEF’!”

The third response, or commitment, is that Lydia committed herself to believing; to respond to the Message in Verse 14. That is what you and I must do if we are to benefit from the Grace of God. The Lord opened her heart, and then it says,

…to respond…

She responded. God opened her heart, but Lydia responded.

The door of the Gospel, the door of the heart, and lastly, we want to talk about the door of the home.

In Verse 15,

When she and the members of her household were baptized…

and that is always is with people who believe – they are baptized!

We can’t emphasize baptism too much. Oh, there are some who do; who emphasize baptism is a requirement for regeneration, but we know that that is not true from the Word of God, and so it is impossible to emphasized baptism too much. I urge you, if you are a believer in Jesus Christ, be baptized. It is interesting if God said in His Word, “In order to be forgiven, in order to have a home in Heaven, you must be baptized.” How many of us would sign up today, “I haven’t been baptized, yet. I’m scared! I need to get into the waters of baptism to be saved eternally.” And yet, when God says, “No, don’t do it on the basis of fear; don’t do in on the basis of condemnation. Come because you love me.” And we say, “Well, maybe I will think about that.” That is not what Lydia did. She didn’t consider at all whether she should be baptized, she knew she should and she was baptized.

And then what happens?

…she invited us to her home.

And, she even persuaded them. She said, “No, really, I really want you there.”

Whenever we have a heart that is open to God, our home becomes open for Him to use us in service to Him, and that is what Lydia did.

The history of the church is filled with examples of the necessity of hospitality for the mission of Christ’s church to go forward and for the name of Jesus Christ to be lifted up. Already we see in Acts 2, they went house to house and taught in homes, and met there. We see Simon the Tanner opening his home to Peter. We see Cornelius opening his home to God’s messengers. We see Mary; remember, opening her home for a prayer meeting. And then, here we see, of course, Lydia. Later we will see the Philippian jailer, and there are others we can mention, but the idea here that we don’t want to miss is this, is that God intends for our homes to be places of ministry, places where the love of Jesus Christ is communicated, but where God’s messengers find a place of rest and where those who don’t know Jesus Christ find a place of light.

We often fail in this ministry of hospitality because we have a performance view of hospitality. You know what the Bible does, it liberates us from performance as a means of hospitality, and what I mean by that is it is ironic, isn’t it, that we often are not hospitable because we want to be good hosts. In other words, “In order to be hospitable, I have to be this kind of host. And, to be this kind of host there is so much stress and it seems impossible. I have to have a home that is always clean, and we have three kids running around this place. Or, I have to be able to set a table like Emeril does, as he presents it before people. And so, in order to be a good host, I don’t think I can measure up, and so, in my desire to be a good host, I am never opening my home.”

And, that is never what the Bible is talking about when it talks about hospitality, and the Bible commands us to be hospitable: Hebrews 13:2; Romans 12:13; 1 Peter 4:9;

Be hospitable to one another without complaint.

What does it mean to be hospitable? It means that we just desire for others to enter into our lives, to see us as we are, and for us to love them and for them to have an opportunity to love us. It might mean a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. It might be sitting in a room with toys strewn about and the books in the bookshelf are disheveled because our kids just knocked them all off.

Hospitality is not performance. When it becomes performance, we get ourselves stressed out so we can’t be ourselves and be a friend. And the people whom we are trying to be hospitable to, they also sense that there is this tension and they can’t be relaxed. And so, when God opens our heart, He also opens our home.

We serve a wonderful God who opens doors. He opens the door to the Gospel so that we can share Christ with others. He opens the door of our heart so that we can receive Him, and then that we can remain in Him. And, He opens the door of our home so that all of our lives become a sphere of ministry to others in Jesus name.

Thank God, He opens doors.