For a great door and effectual is opened unto me,
and there are many adversaries.
— 1 Corinthians 16:9
Just after the collapse of the Soviet Union, through a series of very remarkable events, I found myself sitting in the central office for the national television station of a large country that had once been a part of the former Soviet Republic. A contract was laid on the table before me that gave me the privilege to broadcast the Gospel to that entire nation every day on prime-time television.
As the conversation with these national television leaders progressed, I learned that this was the first time such a door of opportunity had ever been opened to anyone since the fall of communism in the Soviet Union. As I sat and looked at the contract that lay on the table before me, I thought of Paul’s words in First Corinthians 16:9, where he said, “For a great door and effectual is opened unto me.…”
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Just as Paul once stood before a great and effectual door, at that moment I was also standing before a great door of opportunity that God was entrusting into our hands. But let’s talk for a moment about Paul’s situation. Where was he when this great and effectual door opened to him?
After Paul had waited many years for the extremely pagan city of Ephesus to open up wide for the preaching of the Gospel, the atmosphere of Ephesus was finally starting to change. Previous resistance was crumbling, and Paul’s prayers were finally being answered as the Gospel message began to conquer the city of Ephesus. First Corinthians 16:8 lets us know that Paul was in Ephesus at the time he wrote his first letter to the Corinthian church. He wrote, “But I will tarry at Ephesus until Pentecost.”
Paul’s accomplishment in Ephesus was no doubt one of his greatest works, if not the greatest. During the three years that he lived and worked in Ephesus, Paul established one of the greatest churches in world history. The revival that swept through the city was so massive that the church of Ephesus soon became the largest and most influential church in the first century.
Just as I have felt on so many occasions, Paul was keenly aware at this time that a door had opened to him that had never been opened to anyone else in human history. Notice that he wrote, “For a great door and effectual is opened unto me….” The words “unto me” come from the Greek word moi, which means uniquely to me. This was a moment when Paul was standing in the midst of an apostle’s dreams. A city was falling to the Gospel; darkness was being driven out; and the church was being established.
Paul referred to this unique, unprecedented opportunity as “a great door and effectual.” The word “great” is the Greek word mega, which always speaks of something that is huge or massive. The word “door” is the word thura. This is the Greek word for a door, but Paul uses it here as a metaphor to describe a unique opportunity.
Paul said that this huge door of opportunity “opened” to him. This word “opened” comes from the Greek word anoigo, which means to open. However, it must be noted that the tense Paul uses doesn’t describe a door that is starting to open, but rather a door that is already standing wide open. This was the opportunity of a lifetime. The doors were wide open. Paul had complete and total access to the city of Ephesus.
Paul called this unique opportunity not only a “great” door, but also an “effectual” door. The word “effectual” is the Greek word energes, from which we get the word energy. But as used in New Testament Greek, the word energes describes something that is forceful, effective, active, or powerful. Paul declared that when this door opened to him and to the Gospel, it created a divine release of God’s power that immediately began to engulf the city of Ephesus.
But notice what else often accompanies a great and effectual door of opportunity. Paul went on to say, “A great door and effectual is opened unto me, and there are many adversaries.” The word “adversaries” comes from the word antikeimai, a compound of the words anti and keimai. The word anti means against, and the word keimai means to lie, as with something that is lying around.
When these two words are compounded together, they express the idea of hostile forces that are standing in opposition to someone. These forces are literally lying all around, pitted against a common foe and just waiting for the opportunity to strike! These sneaky, sinister powers lie in wait to deceive, attack, or pry away another’s opportunity in order to steal it for themselves.
Anytime we find ourselves standing before a rare door of opportunity, people with impure motives and jealousy will appear on the scene to see how they can steal the victory we worked so hard to achieve. Paul was very aware (as I have been on many occasions in my own ministry) that there were deceptive people opposed to him who would have loved to remove him and steal the place God had given him in Ephesus.
Through the years that Denise and I have worked on the front lines of the Gospel, we’ve had a myriad of experiences with sinister people who saw our success as their opportunity. The television opportunity I mentioned earlier is just one of our many great and effectual doors for which we are so grateful. But like the apostle Paul, whenever we have stood before a great and effectual door that uniquely opened to us, the Spirit of God has made us very aware that our success was envied and coveted by others who wanted to steal it for themselves. Through these experiences, God has taught us to be wary of those who might want to take advantage of us.
You see, jealousy and covetousness in others is an unfortunate reality that often manifests when God opens a door of opportunity for you. That’s why it is so imperative that you learn how to be discerning. Those with impure motives have a way of showing up wherever people are being blessed, so don’t be surprised if it happens to you. If you’re not careful, these individuals will try to steal the victory away from you after you have worked hard to achieve it.
So if you find that God has set a unique door of opportunity before you, walk through that door by faith, expecting the power of God to be mightily released. Meanwhile, however, don’t forget to be sensitive to the Holy Spirit. He will warn you if someone tries to sneak up from behind to steal what God has dropped into your hands!
My Prayer for Today
Lord, I ask You to set a great and effectual door of opportunity before me. Please help me recognize when that door opens, for I desire to truly appreciate what You are doing in my life. At the same time, I need You to help me be spiritually discerning so I can differentiate my true friends from opportunists who might come to take advantage of me and steal this victory from my life. Give me spiritually discerning eyes to help me see who is and isn’t with me whenever a great and effectual door is uniquely opened to me for Your purposes.
I pray this in Jesus’ name!
My Confession for Today
I confess that God is setting a great and effectual door before me! I have prayed and waited for this day to come, and now is the time when God is opening that door to me. I don’t take this unique time lightly. Rather, I am grateful to God for counting me faithful to receive such a rare and special opportunity. Because God’s Spirit works in me, I am able to recognize those whom God has sent to help and those whom Satan has sent to hinder.
I declare this by faith in Jesus’ name!
Questions to Answer
1. Have you ever had a moment in your life when you realized a great and effectual door of opportunity was being given to you that had never been given to any other person you knew?
2. How did it affect you when you realized that you were standing in the midst of such a God-ordained opportunity?
3. Have you ever been taken advantage of by opportunists with impure motives who showed up when you became successful? Did you listen when the Holy Spirit spoke to your heart and tried to warn you about these opportunists?