So, setting sail from Troas, we made a direct voyage to Samothrace, and the following day to Neapolis, and from there to Philippi, which is a leading city of the district of Macedonia and a Roman colony. We remained in this city some days. Acts 16:11-12
At this point in their missionary journey, Paul and his companions have encountered a few closed doors. Some disappointing “no”s which were beyond their control and perhaps against their desires. Here we see the missionally-driven group continue on their way. They progress along in obedience rather than remain stuck in frustration or confusion. They move toward the open doors.
Finding the open door requires obedience. And it won’t necessarily be an easy road. In Paul’s case, the next open door involved both encouragement and trial. When they arrived in Philippi they must have been inspired by the faith of the women there and one in particular, Lydia. However, they were also met with a challenge: a demon-possessed slave girl who began to follow them. A merciful and miraculous healing of the oppressed girl turned into a great disturbance by her owners, which soon landed Paul and Silas in prison. How’s that for an open door?
Not all open doors are cakewalks, but they are pathways to spreading the good news of Jesus which is exactly what happened in that jail cell. The Philippian jailer and his whole household were baptized because of Paul and Silas’ witness! What joy and excitement must have filled Paul and his crew at the birth of the church in this influential city.
Open doors for the gospel and God’s work can go hand in hand with adversity. Paul says in 1 Corinthians 16:8-9, “But I will stay in Ephesus until Pentecost, for a wide door for effective work has opened to me, and there are many adversaries.” However, like Paul, as we walk in obedience we can experience the constant companionship and comfort of the Holy Spirit.
What open doors are you looking at in your life today? What emotions arise as you consider walking the path of obedience? Pray a prayer of surrender today, asking the Holy Spirit to empower you to say “yes” to open doors, even ones which may lead to adversity. Thank him for going before you and being your ever-present help in times of trouble.
By Ellen Rosenberger