It's Time To Go Through Your Open Door
By Carter Conlon
"So Cornelius said, 'Four days ago I was fasting until this hour; and at the ninth hour I prayed in my house, and behold, a man stood before me in bright clothing, and said, 'Cornelius, your prayer has been heard, and your alms are remembered in the sight of God. Send therefore to Joppa and call Simon here, whose surname is Peter. He is lodging in the house of Simon, a tanner, by the sea. When he comes, he will speak to you.' So I sent to you immediately, and you have done well to come. Now therefore, we are all present before God, to hear all the things commanded you by God" (Acts 10:30–33).
This was the beginning of a phenomenal moment in history. The Scripture says that Cornelius was a man with a deep reverence for God (see Acts 10:1–2). He was a generous man, a seeker of God, yet the fullness of salvation was not yet revealed to him. Nevertheless, he had an inner hunger for God and he had even gathered his family and close friends into his house. You see, when you are hungry for God, people will gather around you. They will listen to what you have to say, for they, too, are looking for hope. They are looking for a way forward in their season of struggle and amidst their own fears.
"Then Peter opened his mouth and said: 'In truth I perceive that God shows no partiality. But in every nation whoever fears Him and works righteousness is accepted by Him. The word which God sent to the children of Israel, preaching peace through Jesus Christ—He is Lord of all—that word you know, which was proclaimed throughout all Judea, and began from Galilee after the baptism which John preached: how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power, who went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with Him. And we are witnesses of all things which He did both in the land of the Jews and in Jerusalem, whom they killed by hanging on a tree. Him God raised up on the third day, and showed Him openly, not to all the people, but to witnesses chosen before by God, even to us who ate and drank with Him after He arose from the dead. And He commanded us to preach to the people, and to testify that it is He who was ordained by God to be Judge of the living and the dead. To Him all the prophets witness that, through His name, whoever believes in Him will receive remission of sins'" (Acts 10:34–43).
Peter began to speak about how God anointed Jesus with the Holy Spirit and power. Now we do not know exactly what was going on in Cornelius' heart. We can only surmise that he was wondering something along the lines of, "Is it possible that that could be mine? Could God also anoint me with the Holy Spirit and with power? As Christ once did, can I go about doing good and healing all who are oppressed by the devil?"
"While Peter was still speaking these words, the Holy Spirit fell upon all those who heard the word. And those of the circumcision who believed were astonished, as many as came with Peter, because the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out on the Gentiles also. For they heard them speak with tongues and magnify God. Then Peter answered, 'Can anyone forbid water, that these should not be baptized who have received the Holy Spirit just as we have?' And he commanded them to be baptized in the name of the Lord" (Acts 10:44–48).
God is a gentleman and He does not force Himself on anybody. There must have been such a yearning in the hearts of these people that when Peter started speaking, they knew his words were divinely inspired. While Peter was still speaking, suddenly the Holy Spirit descended, and the people became God-gripped and began to speak with other tongues! In other words, the very thing that happened at Pentecost to the Jewish believers was now happening to the Gentile believers. They were speaking about the wonderful works of God with an ability that only God could give!
THROUGH ONE MAN
Isn't it incredible that this one man, Cornelius, became the open door to the Gentile world? Up until this point, the gospel was only for the Jew. Yet, suddenly, the door opened through one hungry heart. Cornelius could not take the gospel to the Gentile world—it would have been foolish for him to try—but God could do it through him.
In the same way, when you are willing to open your heart to God's will, beginning with your own household, and then to your friends, neighbors, and even people in places you have never been, you will discover that there is no limit to what God can do through a hungry heart.
When I was young I was very fearful, especially afraid of people in crowded rooms. I felt I had little to offer the kingdom of God, but I did have a hungry heart. I was walking the beat one day as a young cop, and I just started praying, "Lord, I want to win 100,000 people to You before I die." Then I began to be very specific in my prayer. "I don't want them to just be people who raise their hand in a service somewhere. I want them to be people who actually live for You and end up at Your throne. You will be able to look them in the eye and say, 'Well done, good and faithful servant.'"
Now at this point, I had never preached a sermon. I had no ability to speak in public whatsoever. But I had a hungry heart, and I was willing to embrace the impossible. I said, "God, I am asking You to do something so far beyond me."
Fast-forward many years later to when I was standing in the fields of Nigeria, in the midst of a civil war. By local estimates, there were somewhere between 400,000 to 700,000 people gathered. You could not see an end to the crowd in any direction. I remember that first night preaching to nominal Christians, Christians, and Muslims, and talking about the worthlessness of all religion that has no compassion for its neighbor. I asked people if they were willing to open their hearts to receive Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior and about 100,000 people raised their hands to receive Christ!
I went back to my hotel room, and it suddenly dawned on me that in one hour, God had answered a prayer I had prayed years ago when all I had was a hungry heart. I got down on my knees beside my bed to give God thanks, and the first thing He spoke to my heart was, "Carter, don't limit Me. Don't put boundaries around Me. There is no limit to what can be accomplished through a hungry heart!"
THOUGH YOU HAVE LITTLE STRENGTH
In the Book of Revelation, Jesus spoke to a particular church in Philadelphia, saying, "I know your works. See, I have set before you an open door, and no one can shut it; for you have a little strength, have kept My word, and have not denied My name" (Revelation 3:8). In other words, "I know your heart hungers for Me; I know you want My presence in your life. I also know you do not have a lot of confidence in yourself or in your own abilities, but I have set before you an open door that no one can shut."
I feel God is speaking the same thing to somebody reading this today. "You only have a little strength, but you have kept My Word the best you knew how. You have tried to walk with Me, and you have not denied My name by allowing unbelief to grip your heart. You still believe that I can do what I say I will do. You still believe that all things are possible with Me. And so I have set before you an open door, and as you go through it, I will do something so powerful in and through you that people will have to acknowledge that I have loved you."
Pastor Teresa and I have known this in our lives. We have not brought to you a theory about God but an experience with Him. We have walked with God and seen what He can do. He set before us an open door, and we walked through it with little strength and no idea where it was going to lead. There was a time when Pastor Teresa and I, along with a local bus driver, started meeting every Tuesday night to pray. We were simply asking God to do what only He could do in an area of Canada that had received no lasting testimony of Christ for more than 100 years. This fortysquare mile region was known as a pastoral burnout area; in fact, I was told that nothing anybody had ever tried survived there. Yet God took three people with no strength, no training, and no ability. What we did have was a hunger to see God move.
I would pray, "Lord, there are people who say it cannot be done, but I don't believe that. I don't believe there is anything You cannot do! I don't believe there is any situation You cannot change. I simply refuse to believe that there is an area of the country where You cannot break through. God, for the sake of the people and for the glory of Your name, do something in this area!"
One night we broke through with a surge of joy! We knew we had passed through a veil of some sort, and the joy of the Lord that hit us was unspeakable! We were all in different areas of the living room, praying, when suddenly I started laughing. I was in the corner, thinking, "Boy, this is so irreverent. I shouldn't be laughing." I tried to suppress it, but my shoulders were shaking as joy bubbled up within me. Then I turned around and saw Pastor Teresa's shoulders shaking. Then I looked at the bus driver and he was laughing, too. The joy of the Lord hit all of us!
Suddenly, just a little door had opened. God began to call us to go through that door, and the rest is history. Churches were established, and many people came to Christ. In fact, people are still being fed there today. Going through that door led us into many different places and, ultimately, to New York City.
And so I encourage you to yield to God's plan for your life. You have no idea what He is willing to do through you. He has something in mind that is so much bigger than anything you ever thought your life could amount to. But it starts with a hungry heart and then one little step of faith, and then another step. Just keep going through every door He opens, and He will give you His Word, His plan, and His Spirit. He will fill you with courage, and you will be amazed at the difference your life will make in this generation!
This newsletter is an edited version of "IT'S TIME TO GO THROUGH YOUR OPEN DOOR," a sermon given on March 3, 2019 in the sanctuary of Times Square Church in New York City. Other sermons are available by visiting our website at tsc.nyc. You are welcome to make additional copies of this sermon for free distribution to friends. However, for all other forms of reproduction or electronic transmission existing copyright laws apply. This sermon cannot be posted on any website or webpage without permission from Times Square Church. Unless otherwise noted, all scripture references are from the New King James Version.