When we lived in Arkansas, we had the opportunity to see huge fields of cotton that gave meaning to this expression. Just imagine four hundred acres of cotton, a literal sea of white, ready to be harvested. The Lord said, “Lift up your eyes, and look on the fields; for they are white already to harvest” (John 4:35). These words are echoed by the apostle Paul as he spoke of an “open door” or a “door of utterance” (1 Corinthians 15:9; 2 Corinthians 1:12; Colossians 4:3). John wrote of the “open door” which no man can shut (Revelation 3:8). Opportunity “knocks,” it does not beat the door down. As we drive into the Antelope Valley and stop at Vista Point to view the valley, we are reminded of opportunity. Living in the valley are approximately 300,000 souls in need of the gospel. This writing concerns itself with opportunities that are ours to teach God’s Word and our preparation and determination to take advantage of these opportunities. To be a Christian is not a dead belief, but a vibrant way of life that deeply affects our standard of conduct. A part of that conduct is our consciousness that those about us are lost.
Let us pray for an “open door.” The apostle Paul asked the Colossians to pray for him, “that God would open unto us a door of utterance, to speak the mystery of Christ” (Colossians 4:3). It is right to pray for opportunities. Perhaps the very reason things are not more favorable for the growth of the church is our inability to see that we live in a “lost and dying world” and our apathy to pray for it. James said, “the fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much” (James 5:16). To fervently pray for opportunity means to rid ourselves of the fear of the responsibility associated with open doors. This can be done by preparation.
Let us get past “me-ism” (concern only with ourselves). Too many of us focus so entirely upon ourselves, “me first,” that we fail to see opportunities and therefore fail to act when they abound. Paul said some would become “lovers of self” (2 Timothy 3:2). Yet, the same apostle taught that we are to “bear the infirmities of the weak, and not to please ourselves. Let each one of us please his neighbor for that which is good, unto edifying” (Romans 15:1-2). Even among brethren there is opportunity to teach. Paul said, “Let no man seek his own, but (each) his neighbor's (good)” (1 Corinthians 10:24). Paul also said, “Not looking each of you to his own things, but each of you also to the things of others” (Philippians 2:4). Wouldn’t that go a long way in our efforts to teach others? What a “door” of opportunity we have to restore those who have become wayward (Galatians 6:1; James 5:19-20).
Let us believe in the power of the gospel. The gospel is the power of God unto salvation (Romans 1:16). In a world that held the gospel in contempt, Paul with the threat of persecution preached it boldly. Paul had seen the gospel at work among Jews first and also among Greeks. “The words of eternal life” are words that are “living and active” (Hebrews 4:12). The gospel is ever relevant and can transform your neighbor and mine if they will receive it with the realization that it is the revelation of God. Evidence of this truth is seen in every example of conversion in the book of Acts. Indeed, we have in our possession the power of God to change lives, but failure to proclaim it results in continued ungodly living that sends people to hell! Jesus commanded, “Enter ye in by the narrow gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many are they that enter in thereby” (Matthew 7:13-14). On that broad way leading unto destruction will be someone’s mother, father, grandparent, friend, neighbor or work partner. In that great day of judgment will they say, “You met me day by day and knew I was astray, Yet never mentioned Him to me”?
Let us be aware of the unconverted. There are masses of souls who are hungering and thirsting for the truth. Many question their religious convictions. They know they are at sea without chart or compass. We have a great opportunity. Indeed, the fields are white unto harvest and the laborers are so few. In Acts 8, those who were scattered as a result of the persecution, “went about preaching the word.” Until we understand that the success of personal work is dependent upon each one personally working, opportunities will go by the wayside.
Reaping the harvest of lost souls will not occur by accident. Let us prepare ourselves for the greatest work on earth. Someone has said that there are four hinges upon which the gates of opportunity swing: initiative, insight, industry, and integrity. Surely, we have integrity, but what about the others. Let us never forget that procrastination is the grave in which opportunity is buried.
by Micky Galloway
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