Sunday, May 19, 2019

[Matt's Messages] "Open Doors at PSU"

“Open Doors at PSU”
May 19, 2019
Colossians 4:2-6

Today, we are going to commission Abraham and Jordyn Skacel for their ministry to the campus of Penn State University with the international mission Cru.

Some of you may not be familiar with the ministry of Cru. Though you might know it by its original named Campus Crusade for Christ founded by Bill Bright.

Our church has supported Cru missionaries for several decades.

I’m not going to recount for you the history of Cru, but it’s worth learning about. Cru is a great ministry that has reached out to millions with the gospel of Jesus Christ since the 1960's. And it has spawned lots of great ministries like Family Life Today and Josh McDowell and Athletes in Action.

But the bread and butter of this ministry has always been reaching out to students on college campuses. "Campus Crusade for Christ."

And that’s what Abe and Jordyn have been called to do. They met each other at Cru at Penn State (so it’s obviously a great matchmaking service as well!), and they were discipled by Cru at Penn State, and trained as leaders at Cru at Penn State, and now they are called to go back to that campus as missionaries to Penn State.

And here’s what I want us to today this morning.

We’re going to elongate our break from the Gospel of Matthew one more week. This time not going to the Psalms but to the end of one of Paul’s letters to the church at Colosse.

This is in “so what” section that normally comes at the end of Paul’s letter where he gets really practical. If the first half of this letter is true, then “so what?” How should we live because we have learned the truth of the gospel?

This part comes right after the section that we love to quote about how we should do our work “as working for the Lord, not for men.” And that’s true for all of us whether or not we are campus missionaries or pastors or anything else, right? We are all supposed to do our work as working for the Lord.

Well, this next part is also for ALL of us. Not just for those who are campus missionaries or pastors or evangelists.

Paul is talking to the whole church when he writes chapter 4, verses 2-6.

I’ve got two points of application for us today from this commissioning message.

And they are for all of us, not just for Abe & Jordyn.

Application point number one:


V.2 says, “Devote yourselves to prayer...”

Devote yourselves to prayer.

I think there are at least 4 ways that we are to pray here in these 3 verses.


Paul asks that they pray for 2 SPECIFIC THINGS:

The first is in v.3: Pray, specifically, for open doors for the gospel.

And the second is in v.4, pray, specifically, for clear proclamation of the gospel.

Let’s think about those 2 specific prayer requests.  Pray specifically for open doors for the gospel. Look at v.3.

“And pray for us, too, that God may OPEN A DOOR FOR OUR MESSAGE.”

Pray specifically for Open Doors.

This means to focus in our prayer times on asking God to create opportunities for the Gospel to go out. Literally, v.3 could be translated, “pray for us that God may open a door FOR THE WORD.” That’s the gospel.

You and I are to specifically ask God to open up doors for the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Do we do that?

What percentage of our prayer-life is given over to praying for OPEN DOORS?  Either for ourselves for others?

What percentage of our prayer-life is given over to praying for OPEN DOORS? God-ordained opportunities for the Gospel to be shared with unbelievers.

5%?  10% ?  75%?

God wants you and I to pray specifically for Open Doors for the Gospel.

So, Abe and Jordyn, you need to do that. You need to be praying that doors will open at PSU for the good news of Jesus Christ.

And, church, we need to be praying that for Abe and Jordyn. “Lord, please open a door this week for Abe as he meets with students on campus.” We need to pray that. “Lord, please open doors for Jordyn as she meets with young ladies on campus.”

But we don’t need to just pray that for PSU, right?

We need to pray it for ourselves.

Pray for your family members as they go off to school or work in the morning.

“Lord, I pray for my daughter as she gets on the school bus this morning. I pray that you would OPEN A DOOR that she can share Jesus with someone in the hallway, or in the cafeteria, or during a break.”

“Lord, I pray for my husband as he heads over the mountain to work. I pray that you would OPEN A  DOOR for your Gospel so that he can boldly share the life-giving message of Jesus Christ with a co-worker, or a client, or a customer, or a supervisor, or a lunch-mate.”

You and I need to pray specifically for open doors. God says to do it, right here.

That’s one of the reasons why we have the Harvest Prayer Time once a month. We pray for those who need Jesus by name and we pray for open doors that the gospel would reach them.

Do you do this for yourself? “ Lord, I’m heading to Wal-Mart this afternoon. Would you OPEN A DOOR for your message while I’m at the store?  I’m willing to be used if you’ll open the door.”

So often, we neglect this simple kind of prayer that asks God to create opportunities for the gospel to be proclaimed. Little prayer bursts like that would make a big difference in our power in evangelism.

Do you ever wish that you had more guts when it comes to sharing your faith?

I’ve often wished that people would ask ME about the gospel, instead of me having to bring it up. But do I pray for that? That’s where the power comes from!

You and I need to pray specifically for open doors for the gospel at PSU and wherever we are.

The second SPECIFIC prayer request here is to pray for CLEAR proclamation of the gospel. Look at v.4

“And pray for us, too, that God may open a door for our message, so that we may proclaim the mystery of Christ, for which I am in chains. Pray that I may proclaim it clearly, as I should.”

Pray, specifically, for a clear presentation of the gospel.

One that is not hindered by a lot of excess stuff.  One that is hear-able.  One that is focused, plain, un-ambiguous, crystal-clear.

Pray that gospel goes out clearly.

This is really important as we pray for people that are sharing the good news like Abe and Jordyn and the Cru folks they work with.

There is so much that could be taken wrongly when we share the gospel.  And this is a prayer request that the gospel come out plain and unmistakable in its truth and glory.

Cru is world famous for these little booklets. “Have you heard of the four spiritual laws? #1.“God loves you and offers a wonderful plan for your life. #2. Man is sinful and separated from God. Therefore, he cannot know and experience God’s love and plan for his life. #3. Jesus Christ is God’s only provision for man’s sin. Through Him you can know and experience God’s love and plan for your life. #4. We must individually receive Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord; then we can know and experience God’s love and plan for our lives.”

That’s one great way of making the gospel clear.

And that’s what we need to pray SPECIFICALLY for.

Have you prayed this way recently? “Lord, I know that I am being called to share something about Christ with my neighbor. Help me to know exactly what to say so that they can understand.”

Do you ever wish that you had better answers to people’s questions? V.4 calls us to not just wish for, but to PRAY FOR IT. 

You and I are called to specifically pray for a clear presentation of the gospel.

Let’s pray this way, “Lord, I pray for Abe as he speaks to students this coming Thursday night. I pray that he would have clear thoughts and clearly express them.  Lord, I pray for my wife as she meets with her friend for coffee; that not only would you open a door for the gospel in that meeting, but that she would share the gospel clearly–and it would be right there plain as day for her friend to consider.”

Because no one gets saved without the gospel. So our gospel needs to be as clear as we can get it.

#2.  PRAY DEVOTEDLY.  Pray specifically and pray devotedly.

V.2 says, “Devote yourselves to prayer.”

Devote yourselves to prayer.

Don’t just pray occasionally for open doors.
Don’t just pray randomly for clear presentations of the gospel.
Don’t just pray haphazardly.


The Greek word rendered here “Devote yourselves” is a very strong one It’s a word that was used for people who joined the military and DEVOTED themselves to the service. (And the military is not something you are casual about, is it?!) It was a word that was used of a boat that was ALWAYS at the ready for someone to use.

Constantly, Steadfastly, Faithfully, Staunchly, Devotedly...Pray.

In v.2 he has in mind prayer for all kinds of things. Prayer for our spiritual lives, prayer for our finances, prayer for our relationships, prayer for our families, prayer for our church, prayer for our businesses, prayer for our government.

You and I are to get devoted to prayer.

And in this case, it also means to pray regularly, consistently, disciplinedly, and devotedly for open doors for the gospel. Praying without ceasing for the good news.  Praying systematically, faithfully, habitually, orderly...devotedly for the gospel.

Here’s the question.

Do you have a time set aside daily to pray? It isn’t just a good idea. It’s vital for our lives. And it’s crucial for our witness. That’s where the power is! If you don’t have one, come up with a plan right now to get devoted.

Abe and Jordyn need us to be devoted to praying for them.

And we need to be devoted to praying for ourselves.

Specifically, devotedly, and number three...

#3.  We need to pray WATCHFULLY.

This means vigilantly, alert, observant, carefully, attentively, watchfully.  V.2

“Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful...”

Being watchful.

Being aware of what God is doing...and what God might be doing. Looking forward to Christ’s return. Remember that “watchful” is almost a buzz-word for being ready for the return of Christ.

We need to pray in a watchful way.

Alert to God’s agenda.

Do you pray that God would keep your eyes open to what He is about to do?

We don’t know how much time we have until Christ returns. And so we need to be alert. We need to have our “heads-up,” so to speak. We need to be watchful.

And #4.  We need to pray THANKFULLY.

V.2 “Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful.”

Thanksgiving is to be a constant attitude in our constant prayers.

We need to see how little we deserve and how much we have and let our gratitude spill over into thankfulness in our prayers.

And we need to thank God in advance for how He is going to answer our prayers.

Especially for OPEN DOORS!

“I pray today, Lord, that you would OPEN A DOOR for me at work to share Christ with my co-workers. Help me to make a part of your gospel clear to them today. And Lord, however you answer this prayer, thank you in advance for what you are going to do.”

I’m not saying that we should thank Him in advance for doing exactly as we have asked, because He refuses to be boxed-in by our prayers. But we know that He loves to answer our prayers and always does what is best with them. So, we can thank Him in advance.We can overflow with thanksgiving as we devote ourselves to prayer.

Application Point #1.  Pray for Open Doors.

Pray Specifically.
Pray Devotedly.
Pray Watchfully.
And Pray Thankfully.

Application Point Number Two for both the Skacels and for all of us.


It’s not enough to just pray.

We must pray! But we can’t stop there.

We must walk through the doors that God opens for us. Look at verse 5.

“Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity.  Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.”

Abe & Jordyn, “Walk Through Open Doors at PSU.”

Church Family, “Walk Through Open Doors wherever the Lord opens them before you.”

I see three ways we’re supposed to do that here in Colossians 4.

First, we need to:


V.5 again, “Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders.”

The key word there is ACT.  Behavior.  What your life says about Christ is almost as important as what your mouth says about Christ.

Be wise in the way you act toward people outside of Jesus Christ. 

Walk the Walk.

Be a consistent Christian.

Remember what we prayed for Simon last week from Colossians 3:12, “As God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience.” That’s right here in the context.

That’s walking the walk. That’s living like a Christ-follower!

When a non-Christian sees someone living like out...OPEN DOORS are right ahead!

One of the greatest joys you can ever have is when someone takes you aside and says, “There’s something different about you. You aren’t like the rest of us. What is it?  I want what you have. Would you share it with me?”

That comes from living the life 24/7.  Not just on Sundays at 10:30am.  But Mondays at 2:30pm.  On Fridays at 10:45pm.  24/7.

The door is always open for Walking the Walk before unbelievers.

And then, secondly:


V.5 again.

“Make the most of every opportunity.”

The word here for “make the most” is a word that shoppers would like.

It’s the word for grabbing a bargain.

Like on Black Friday shopping! People standing in line in the cold for hours and hours to get a fantastic deal. And when time is right, they SNAP-IT-UP!  No waiting.  No hesitation. They know a good deal when they see it, and [WHOOOMMF!] that dress is hers. That smartphone is his.

They make the most of each opportunity.

That’s what this word here means.  Snap it up.  Grab it before someone else takes it off the shelf.  Now’s the time.


God loves to open doors. And we must walk through them.

It would probably be better to say, “Leap through open doors!”

When you see an opening for the gospel, jump in there.  Don’t hesitate!  Grab it while you can.

Abe & Jordyn, Lanse Free Church, if you want to be used by the Lord to see people come to faith in Christ, then walk the walk before them and then snap-up each opportunity that comes your way.

And you do that by saying words.

No one gets saved without words. 

Your walk is vital, but your words are essential.

And last but not least:


“Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.”

Grace, here, probably refers to the gentleness and winsomeness with which you share the gospel. But it also probably refers to the content of your speech. That you would talk about the GRACE of God in Jesus Christ.  That you can’t get to heaven by your works.  You can’t win your way there.  You must trust in the grace of God.  You must receive what Christ did for you on the Cross to be saved.  It’s a gift, it’s grace. You don’t deserve it.  You deserve Hell, but God offers grace.

That’s what our words should be full of. Full of grace.

And full of salt.  Salt could mean two different things.  Salt was a preservative for life.  So it would be life-full words.  Words that communicate the abundant life Christ offers.  Or salt was also (as it is today) something that adds flavor.  So, it would mean zesty-words.  Words full of wit and life and tact and winsomeness.

“Not boring” would be another way of putting it.  Don’t sound like a broken record or a life-less machine when you are talking about the GREAT NEWS in the world!

Your words about the gospel should contain some passion, some spark, some twinkle of zesty-ness to enliven the conversation.

Jesus Christ is the most amazing person that ever will live, there should be some razmataz when we take up his name in our conversations.

You and I must walk through the open doors that God provides.

Walking the walk, snapping-up the opportunities, and talking the talk, sharing the Gospel with words seasoned with grace and salt.

Abe & Jordyn, I believe that the Lord will be opening many many doors for you at PSU. This is YOUR TIME to reach students for Jesus Christ.

We’re all going to pray for that. We’re going to pray specifically, devotedly, watchfully, and thankfully.

And not just for you but for us, too.

And we’re going commission you today to walk through those open doors as the Lord opens them.

Walking the walking–snapping-up each opportunity as they come, and sharing the gospel with words full of grace and salt with the students at Penn State University and beyond.