An Open Door to a New Millennium 1/2/00

James 4:7-10

JESUS CHRIST, the resurrected Lord of new life, said to the church in Philadelphia, in ancient Greece, that which is applicable to our church today: “I have set before thee an open door, and no man can shut it…” (Revelation 3:8).

Together, we the redeemed of the Lord who constitute the membership of this fellowship are called “the church”. What is applicable to the church is related to the individual. No person can shut the door opened by the Lord. We can with cowering and timid spirit fail to go through it. Our negative nature can cause us to question and quibble. We alone can cause what the Lord has in mind to fail. We are often our own worst enemies.

For over a year many persons have been worried they would not survive the millennium challenge. They worried about food, utilities, heat, and other essentials. One person allegedly said, “So many things have gone wrong that if any thing else bad happens it will be the middle of next week before I can worry about it.”

Well, our Lord has seen us through the mythical door of the millennium. Now awaits us the challenge of today. If we are going to be ready to move through the open door in this new year we need to be ready spiritually.

Two posters come to mind in facing the new millennium. One pictures a group of little yellow fuzzy ducklings walking through grass too tall for them with necks stuck out. The caption is “Go forth and conquer!” Let’s! As you enter the new millennium remember these basics:

  1. Anticipate difficulties. Realistic people anticipate they will encounter challenges. Those who do are more likely to work through them as expected opportunities to be an over comer. They know every obstacle is an opportunity disguised as an impossibility.
  2. Do an advantage analysis. What is to be gained?
  3. Take small steps. Life by the yard is hard, by the inch it is a cinch.
  4. Admit your negative thoughts. Don’t leave a topic on which you have been thinking negatively without superimposing a positive thought on the same subject
  5. Give yourself credit. Segment your work and allow time for celebration. That is why God worked at creation six days and rested the seventh. It was a celebration.

Another poster pictures a caterpillar looking up at a beautiful butterfly. The caption is: “You can fly but that cocoon has got to go.” You can reach new heights, but there are old limiting things in your life that have to go.

Will James, the father of modern psychology, said, “The greatest discovery of the Twentieth Century is that you can change your life by changing your mind.” In doing so, “Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ…” James 4:7-10 lists some steps of preparation we each need to take. Therefore, now comes the practical personal part of this new millennium year’s challenge.

To be ready to go through the open door of opportunity there must be:


A. First, positively. You must “Submit yourselves therefore to God.”
This calls for a conscious willful action on your behalf. It requires you making a choice. Some persons arrogantly refuse to submit themselves. Each of us must respond to the self asked question: “Whom shall I serve, God or myself? Shall I make it my chief concern to do the will of my Heavenly Father, or shall I demand and assert my own way?”

It is said that when Aaron Burr, one of the most controversial personalities in early American life, reached the age of 21, he squarely faced the issue of whom to serve. Resolutely he decided to turn his back on the God of his fathers. As a disgraced murderer and tried for treason his body was laid to rest at the foot of the grace of his grandfather, Jonathan Edwards. Edwards was one of the most revered clergy/statesman of his era. The graves of the two illustrate the difference between one who seeks first the kingdom of God and who chooses slavery to self.

B. Second, negatively. “Resist the devil…”
The devil and his allies, the world and the flesh, have designed and do desire your spiritual destruction.

A couple of decades ago the concept of the devil was thought to be simply a clinical form of paranoia suffered by Christians. Today too much evidence exists regarding a personal devil. Devil worship even proliferates today. Its existence is a modern Frankenstein created by a society that decided it could go it alone without God. It should be expected for a decadent society always turns back to the gods of decadence. Foremost among them is devil worship.

You can’t please God while playing games with Satan. You can’t fly with the eagles by day and the owls by night. Resist the devil:
Through prayer
Bible study
Regular public worship
Association with friends who are committed Christians


A. “Cleanse your hands” = outward actions.
Review your lifestyle. What needs to be adjusted? Does Christ have first place in your life? Are you too busy for Him? If the devil can’t make you bad he will make you busy.

God’s will never includes more for you to do than the time allowed you will enable. If you are too busy for Him you are out of His will and out of your mind.

B. “Purify your hearts” = inward attitudes.
Medical science had not progressed in that day. A common concept was that blood carried in it ideas. They became conscious thoughts when the blood flowed through the brain. It was known that the heart pumped the blood. Therefore, it was thought that the heart was the point of origin of all creative thoughts. Hence, an appeal to cleanse the heart was a directive to change the thought pattern. Don’t let your mind dwell on evil ideas. Purify your thoughts by driving out the wrong concepts and ideas with Bible oriented ideas. A critical negative spirit is a common one which needs to be purified. If you are going to think Christ thoughts the mind must be purified of negativism. “Everyone who has this hope in Him purifies himself, just as He is pure” (I John 3:2, 3).

There is a new book entitled “The Theory of Twenty-One.” The author shows as a result of research that out of every 21 people, 20 think negatively about everything. Only one is a positive person. In another book by a different author entitled “Hide-N-Seek”, persons are urged to inventory their 16 closest relatives. Be objective who among them was negative and who are positive. Most persons will conclude they were reared in a negative environment. Pray to be the “one” among 21.

C. “Draw near to God and He will draw near to you.” This is a wonderful invitation containing a wonderful promise. God has promised He won’t back off. This enables us to become more like Him.

These are three evidences of repentance. Don’t waste your pain. Let it be used of the Lord to draw you to Him.

Verse 9 in summary is speaking of repentance and a changed attitude. The expressions “laughter” and “joy” as used here are terms related to the temporary kicks a person without Christ gets out of sin. Often pious people pretend sin has no pleasures. The sinner knows better. The Bible puts it in perspective however: “the passing pleasures of sin,” (Hebrews 11:25).

Other translations refer to the temporary nature of sin’s pleasures in these ways: “The short-lived pleasures of sin,” and “the fleeting enjoyment of a sinful life.” Get the picture? Sin does afford kicks, but they have a kick-back. Whereas, in the will of the Lord there are pleasures forever more. Pick your pleasures: those with a kick-back or those providing a delight in the moment with lasting joy. In picking your pleasures be kind to your tomorrow self. Grant enjoyable memories to yourself free from regret.

The word “covenant” means an agreement or testimony. Actually, our Bible is divided into a New and Old Testament, literally, new and old covenants. A covenant is an agreement. Therefore, agree with the Lord that you are going to “humble yourself.” It can result in a new beginning. “The Land of Beginning Again” by Louise Fletcher Tarkington: So I wish that there were some wonderful place Called the Land of Beginning Again Where all out mistakes and all our heartaches, And all our poor selfish grief Could be dropped like a shabby old coat at the door And never put on again. A renewed covenant will result in guidance.

King George VI of England during World War II made the following words vital in his new year’s address: “I said to a man who stood at the gate of the year – ‘Give me a light that I may tread safely into the unknown.’ And he replied: ‘Go out into the darkness and put your hand into the hand of God. That shall be to you better than light, and safer than a known way.'” The Lord will guide persons who make a covenant with Him.

Again I say this calls for a willful personal commitment from you. You are called on to make a choice.

George Beverly Shea, a name well known in Christian music, had to make such a decision as a young man. He was offered a significant secular recording contract and a major media job. During the time he was wrestling with this decision the Lord used his Godly mother to help make the decision. She copied two verses of Scripture and placed them on the piano. Shea came in and found them and sat for a time meditating on them. Slowly his fingers began to wander across the keyboard as ever so gradually his commitment as expressed in his newly emerging song beloved by millions.
He wrote and said:
I’d rather have Jesus than silver or gold;
I’d rather be His than have riches untold;
I’d rather have Jesus than houses or lands;
I’d rather be led by His nail-scared hand.

Than to be the king of a vast domain
And be held in sin’s dread sway;
I’d rather have Jesus than anything
This world affords today.

Beverly Shea made a covenant with God. He decided to follow Jesus and that decision has influenced every other decision he has made.

Make your decision today. “Boast not thyself of tomorrow” (Proverbs 27).

God has set before us an open door, a new millennium. No person can shut it. You can refuse to go through it, however. Likewise, you can choose to go through it with Him.