home > Pastor’s Desk > 2022 > May 27th > HOW TO OPEN LIFE’S LOCKED DOORS (EASILY)


When I turned 50, I decided to do something really difficult. I enrolled in a university course to learn Biblical Greek. And, trust me when I say, this in no way is a brag – because I struggled through it and took far far longer than the average Biblical Greek student ordinarily takes to complete this course. I had to do twenty translation tests and then two major translations exams of the New Testament’s Greek text into English. I scraped through the course and somehow managed to pass it. I can testify that learning another language later in life is really hard! This is why I have the utmost respect for non-English-speaking migrants who come to our country and manage to learn English. Learning languages is not the only thing I find difficult. I envy those people who do the things easily that I find difficult to do or understand (like quadratic mathematic equations for example). Over the years I have pondered why it is that different people doing the same task can result in a person finding it incredibly easy who then gets it done quickly, and why another other person finds it next-to-impossible and as a result gives up trying to do it. I have discovered the answer to this conundrum lies in the “mat” principle.  

I was pushed hard, so that I was falling,
but the LORD helped me.
Psalm 118:13

THE MAT PRINCIPLE

Imagine coming to an impressive holiday home that someone has lent you for your holiday. It has a large imposing door with a very sophisticated locking system. The owner of the holiday house has told you that when you arrive, you can just unlock the door and go on in and make yourself at home. Somehow in this conversation you forgot to ask for a key and the owner never mentioned it. You arrive. You turn the handle on the front door but it is clearly locked. You remember what the owner said and try all sorts of ways to open the locked door. You punch in a set of random numbers into the keypad, your press your hand on the finger-print sensor, you look into the retinal scanner – but the locked door remains unlocked even after hours of trying everything conceivable to open it. Eventually the owner turns up to see how you have settled in to his holiday home. Before you can retell him about all your vain efforts to unlock the door (and he is assuming that you have only just arrived), he walks up the door, lifts the door mat, picks up the key, hands it to you, you put it in the lock and without even turning it your hear each of the locking mechanisms of door undo their bolts and the door opens!

The ‘mat principle’ of accomplishing difficult things is simply this: it’s easy when you know how. Without knowing how to do something, doing that something is very difficult! A few months ago Kim and I had to go to Victoria. I had booked a car with my usual rent-a-car business. When I walked into their office the lady asked me, “Would you like an up-grade?” I excitedly allowed them to upgrade us into a brand new X5 Hybrid BMW SUV. I was given a thingy and told where I would find the car. As long as I had the thingy, the car would start and would be able to drive it they assured me. I got the car, wiped the drool from the corners of my mouth and sat in the car. It had 27kms on the odometer! I pushed what I thought was the start button, dash lights turned on but the car didn’t start! Maybe you have to push it twice I thought. So I pushed the start button again and dash lights turned off. Oh, maybe this is just the dash lights start button? But where’s the engine start button. Unable to see any other start button, I pushed the one and only start button again. This procedure went on for some time as Kim and I sat in the undercover airport rental car park. Then a thought occurred to me: Hybrid. What if the car had actually started each time I have pressed the start button. This time, after pressing the start button I eased my foot of the brake pedal to see what would happen. The car moved! But it moved absolutely silently. It was a hybrid car and it was running on its electric motors rather than its petrol motor! I wish I had known this before I got in this new car. It’s amazing how easy things are when you have been shown how to do it or to understand it. 

¶ “For this commandment that I command you today is not too hard for you, neither is it far off.
Deuteronomy 30:11

THE MOST DIFFICULT THING NOW MADE EASY

The most impossibly difficult thing that any person could do is to make themselves sinless and therefore righteous in the eyes of God. In ancient times men like Job pondered this question (Job 9:2). These ancients were aware of how holy, just, good, and righteous God was. They also knew that compared with God they were unclean, sinful, selfish, sinners. Even though God instigated the temporary practice of animal sacrifices to remind these ancients of their true spiritual condition before Him, these bloody sacrifices never cleansed anyone’s consciences of the guilt and shame brought about by their sins (Heb. 9:9). This problem remained unsolved until God Himself took on human flesh and became one of us. He lived a sinless life and then laid down His life as the perfect sacrifice for sins of all mankind who turn to Him and receive His pardon. His sacrifice of His life now cleanses the repentant human heart from the guilt and shame of our sins (Heb. 9:14). The key to unlock this previously unlockable door — that so many people have tried to open with religion, good works, church attendance, better education, or Eastern mysticism, but have failed — is found “under the mat” and is called faith. It is our faith (our trust) in what Christ has done for us that opens the most important of Life’s Doors: the door that leads to eternal life in God’s presence. This is why Christ said that He was the Door.

¶ So Jesus again said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep.
I am the door. If anyone enters by Me, he will be saved and will go in and out and find pasture.
John 10:7, 9

Under the mat God has put “the key” to unlock the previously unlockable door: even this is a gift from God: faith.

For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing;
it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.
Ephesians 2:8-9

Even finding the key under the mat is the result of us crying out to God for mercy and forgiveness. These kinds of prayers often sound like, “God help me!” “God, please forgive me.” “God, I need You.”

“God, I acknowledge that I am a sinner. I thank You that You have sent Your Son to be my sacrifice for my sins. Please cleanse me from my sin. I receive Your offer of forgiveness and I want to live a new life with Your help. Amen.”

Amen indeed. I hope that each of us can help someone ‘find the key under the mat’ that can open the door to peace with God which results in them finding the purpose for their life and the meaning behind every setback in life. The principle of God enabling us to do previously difficult things also carries over into many of things that He will enable us to do once we have opened the Door of Salvation. This is the testimony of every person who came to faith in Christ and then helped to change the world in some amazing way. As you walk with Christ and He leads you to a locked door, you might want to start your quest to unlock it by checking to see if there’s a mat at the foot of the door and whether God has placed the next key of faith there for you.

Your Pastor,

Andrew

Let me know what you think below in the comment section and feel free to share this someone who might benefit from this Pastor’s Desk.

2 Comments

  1. LYDIA

    Pastor Andrew this is a very beautiful and insightful message.
    Thank you and Amen.

    Reply
    • Gladys PArry

      Thank you for this message. I must read your book.

      Reply

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CLOSING THE DEAL

In 1871, the American evangelist, Dwight (“DL”) Moody was preaching to huge crowds each night in Chicago. At the end of each message he would give an appeal for people to either respond immediately to the gospel message he had just presented, or at least go home and consider it. But on Sunday October 8th, 1871, a huge fire broke out in Chicago. It burned through the city for days and became known as The Great Chicago Fire. Around 10,000 people were homeless as a result, and hundreds of people lost their lives. Moody was heart-broken when he realised that many of the people who had died were the people who had attended that Sunday night meeting where he had urged them to consider accepting Christ. His deep grief over this tragedy led him to make a vow that he would never again merely urge people to simply consider accepting Christ. From now on, he vowed, he would plead with all those he preached to – to immediately turn away from their sins and turn to the Saviour. DL Moody committed his life and ministry as an evangelist to be someone who would always strive to close the deal because he was now aware—more than ever—that people’s eternal destinies were in jeopardy! 

BUILDING A MOODY CHURCH

The three things that make the Christian life exciting and enthralling are the same three things that enable a believer to develop a closer relationship with God. The combination of these supernatural gifts gives the child of God an awareness that there is more, much more, to this world than we can see, touch, taste or feel. When the Christian’s faith is grounded and buttressed in God’s Word, godly prayer, and God’s house he or she flourishes. But there are forces at play that are determined to stop the believer from reaching their spiritual destiny. While we might think these enemy forces only use the fiery darts of doubt to hinder the believer’s journey to glory, there is something that they successfully use far more often: our mood. This is why, for any church to be successful, it must discover how to build moody church.

PRAYING PRAYERS

The amazing thing about prayer, is that nearly everyone does it – but hardly anyone thinks they do it well. If you visit any Christian bookstore you will notice that the largest display of books is about prayer. And it’s not just Christian bookstores where you’ll find books on prayer. Regular bookstores also sell a wide range of books on prayer (even if they do classify them as books on ‘meditation’!). One of the most frequently searched questions on Google is, “How to pray” (which then points enquirers to over 2.3 billion web pages answering their question). But in all of human history – and two thousand years before anyone but one had ever heard of Google – there was just One person who was supremely qualified to answer this question. And fortunately for those of us who really want to know the answer to this question (without having to peruse more than 2.3 billion web pages!) He gave us the answer.

WHY SOME BELIEVE

Why is it that two people can look at exactly the same evidence and can come to completely different conclusions about it? Even more puzzling is how two equally qualified scientific experts can look at the same data and utterly disagree about what it means. This happens many times in court cases where the prosecution will call their “expert witness” to give his or her professional opinion to verify that the defendant is guilty only to have the defence to present their “expert witness” who gives his or her professional opinion as to why the prosecution’s expert witness was wrong and to prove that defendant is innocent! This at least illustrates why it is not always the quality of the evidence that leads a person to accept or reject a claim. This especially apply to the claims that Jesus Christ made. Of the four accounts in the New Testament written about His life, three of them were written by eye-witnesses and the other one (Luke’s) was written by someone who interviewed many eye-witnesses. It is with interest that we turn to the last one to be John’s Gospel, where he describes dramatic proofs that Jesus was who He claimed to be. Yet despite these otherwise inexplicable proofs that at times thousands of people witnessed, many still wouldn’t believe. But it seems among those who did believe they all had one thing in common.

UNPACKING CHRISTIANITY

home > Pastor's Desk > 2022 > JUNE 3rd > UNPACKING CHRISTIANITY UNPACKING CHRISTIANITY I have a thing for bags. Not shopping bags or lady’s handbags, but manly bags - functional bags. A few years back I became fed-up with the number of bags I was...

JESUS ATE with SINNERS!

This confrontation of the All-Good meeting face-to-face with Serpent-breath in the wilderness didn’t go the way the Dragon had become accustomed to. Even more baffling to him was what the Eternal Son did next. Rather than going to the supposed ‘rulers of this world’ He went to the despised and inconsequential: the people of His hometown, Nazareth and those in the socio-economically challenged region of Galilee. 

¶ And He came to Nazareth, where He had been brought up. And as was His custom, He went to the synagogue on the Sabbath day, and He stood up to read…When they heard these things, all in the synagogue were filled with wrath. And they rose up and drove him out of the town and brought him to the brow of the hill on which their town was built, so that they could throw him down the cliff. But passing through their midst, he went away.
¶ Now when the sun was setting, all those who had any who were sick with various diseases brought them to Him, and He laid His hands on every one of them and healed them. And demons also came out of many, crying, “You are the Son of God!” But He rebuked them and would not allow them to speak, because they knew that He was the Christ.
Luke 4:16, 28-29, 40-41

Even more baffling to the Satan was that instead whipping up the mobs and leading a rebellion, the Christ went to the shunned, the despised, the broken, the humiliated, as their dinner Guest! It seemed like an odd strategy, especially to those who had been longing for so long for the arrival of the Promised One…

CHRISTIANITY IS A PROPOSAL NOT AN IMPOSAL

I do not want to give anyone the impression that Christian is just a set of intellectually propositions. It is much more but it is certainly not less. One of the propositions that we Christians make is that Christianity is a spiritual transformation of a soul. While its propositions are true, they are not just true, they invoke a miraculous transformation in a human being. Jesus described this as being “born again” (John 3:3). The New Testament describes the moment this happens as being a transaction with God where we surrender our life and our sin to Him and He gives us His life and His pardon (1Jn. 1:8-9)! This transaction includes a hope that goes beyond the grave. God the Father adopts all those who turn to Him. It results a new way of seeing life and the world. The things that once troubled us no longer do, because we have a growing confidence that God has a plan and is currently outworking that plan. If you have never surrendered your life in a transaction with God, you can now. You are just one prayer away from peace with God and purpose for your life – both now and beyond the grave! The choice is yours. We can’t impose this offer from God on you, but I do have a proposition for you.

DIVINELY PRECIOUS TRIPLETS

Some of the profound truths in the Bible are expressed in just three words. The late J.I. Packer, one of the world’s most respected modern theologians, was asked to sum up the gospel message. He did so in just three words: “God saves sinners.” Many of the most eloquent prayers ever uttered have consisted of no more than three words: “Help me Lord”, “Thank You God”, “God save me”, “Please heal her.” One of the greatest royal invitations only consisted of three words: “Come unto Me.” Three words is all it takes to start an exciting journey: “Come and see.” Many of these three words statements, prayers, and invitations, have become divinely precious triplets that have rescued a lost soul, repaired a broken relationship, and replenished the worn-out.  

ETERNAL LIFE IS NOT JUST MERELY A MATTER OF TIME

The beauty of John 3:16 is that it is so simple it can be understood even by a child; and yet, as a believer’s knowledge of God and His Word grows, he or she will come to discover that there is a wealth of spiritually-satisfying treasure to be mined! In its simplest form, Jesus died so that all those who turn to Him in trust will go to heaven after leaving this life. Dig a little deeper though, and you also discover that the eternal life on offer is not merely about a location (‘heaven’) or a duration of time—but a quality of life and status of existence that elevates the believer into a glorified state with God Himself (Rom. 8:17; 1John 3:2). Our lives are now the training ground for our status as co-regents and co-rulers with Christ over all of His redeemed creation (1Cor. 6:2-3)! 

WHAT WOULD YOU DO IF YOU FOUND A NEWBORN BABY AT YOUR DOORSTEP?

What would you do if you found a newborn baby that someone had left at your door? Hopefully your answer sounds similar to “I’d take care him or her.” What if it wasn’t a baby? What if it was a young child or a teenager, or an adult, who turned up at your door requesting to be helped? I hope that each of us would also be prepared to help whoever it was. What if it was not an abandoned child, a youth, or an adult? And what if it was not your front door? Instead, how might we each respond if it was a spiritually abandoned, and spiritually hungry, person who turned up at our church seeking help to know how to be saved? While you might feel a similar compassion as you might have felt for the child at your door, you may not be as confident in how you would spiritually help this person seeking a spiritual connection for God through Jesus Christ. “Where would I begin?” “How could I be an effective discipler of a new believer?” you might ask. Well, I’m glad you’ve asked. For any Christian to effectively disciple a new believer it must involve an individual, a small group, and a congregation.