Thursday, August 3, 2017
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Over the years, I've had the privilege of meeting a lot of men and women who work in law enforcement and man do I appreciate and respect them. Some of them have helped out with security at events where I've spoken. In one city, I met some pretty impressive guys who worked on a SWAT team; those guys were sent in as rapid assault teams in those particularly dangerous situations. Bobby was one of them. They called him "The Slammer." Sounds like someone from the World Wrestling Federation. But they call Bobby that because he's the one who takes out the door when they're raiding a residence. And looking at how he's built (I mean, I think his arm is bigger than my waist) you can see they picked the right man for the job. If you want a door removed, "he da man!"
I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "How to Get Into a Closed Heart."
That often can be the toughest door of all to get open-the door on a closed heart, maybe you can think of somebody who's got one right now, especially if that heart is closed to Jesus. That's really hard. Somewhere in your personal world, there's a person whose only hope for this life and the next life is Jesus. But so far, their heart seems closed to Him. Key words: so far.
Our word for today from the Word of God demonstrates a powerful work that God does that changes the closed heart equation. Paul had just landed in his new mission field of Europe, in the town of Philippi. Near the river, he and his team met a successful businesswoman named Lydia. And Acts 16:14 says, "The Lord opened her heart to respond to Paul's message." Paul found a door God had already opened. But, then, he of all people would have understood the power of God to open a heart. After all, was there ever a heart more closed to Jesus than his heart when he was Saul of Tarsus-a hit man against Christians? But God showed up in a way he couldn't ignore and, in a moment, slammed open that locked and bolted door.
It's important for you to remember why you are where you are. Jesus has positioned you there to give the people there a chance to know Him; to have a chance at heaven. You are that chance. But maybe you've been intimidated or frustrated by closed doors in your community, in outreach opportunities, in individual hearts. Maybe even in the heart of one you care about very deeply. Here's some good news: the Lord who opened your heart knows exactly what's needed to open theirs so He can do His life-saving work through you. My friends on that SWAT team don't wait for the door to open, they go to the door before it opens, believing that their "Slammer" will get it down.
That's what you have to do. You can go to the door with your personal Hope Story, with the story of Jesus and let God do the rest.
The Bible makes clear that the Father is the One who draws them to Jesus (John 6:44), that God will literally give you the words when it's time. Paul asked people to pray that "whenever I open my mouth, words may be given me" (Ephesians 6:19). That's a good prayer. The reason you can dare to open your mouth and tell them about the man who died for them is this: it's not about you. It's all about Him. You show up and let Him do His life-saving thing through you.
Here's an empowering prayer from Colossians 4:3-4, "Pray that God may open a door for our message ... pray that I may proclaim it clearly." Every day, pray what I call that three-open prayer: "Lord, open a door" (that's like a natural opportunity to bring up your relationship with Jesus), then "Lord, open their heart," and then "Lord, open my mouth!" And by the way, you don't need to say, "If it be Your will." It is!
God's going to provide an opportunity, God's going to open a heart, God will convict of sin, God will give you the words, and God will draw them to Jesus. It may not happen all at once, but it may never happen if you don't go to the door and give them a chance to hear what Jesus can do. Jesus has come to where you are to rescue people you know, and He's inviting you to go in with Him. I can tell you this, you will never do anything more important in your life!