What to Do When God Closes a Door – Part Two

Has God ever put you in a holding pattern? Why? Because He knows more than you and is concerned for your welfare. He wants you to make your connections.

God said, “Paul, your plans to go to Asia are out. Macedonia is your route. Don’t go East, go West, that’s the best.” Why? Because there were some connections about which God knew and Paul didn’t. You are one of those connections.

There is a reason why God rerouted Paul. God knew the territory into which Paul wanted to go was one day to be overrun by the Islamic hoards and the Christians killed off. Macedonia was on route to all the fertile fields of Europe. Beyond Europe was the mission field of England and Scotland. God knew what not even Columbus knew when he ventured westward. The door to the East was closed. The door to the West opened and eventually the gospel brought to America a land not even known of at the time God closed the Eastern door. Thank God He pointed Paul in the right direction.

How do you suppose Paul felt at the time it happened? Probably very much like you when God closes a door, frustrated.

Can we learn from Paul’s experience? Can we learn to trust God when confronted by closed doors?

Whether God’s plan UNFOLDS when your plan FOLDS depends on your interpretation of His prohibition. 

It is said of Paul he “concluding the Lord had called us to preach the gospel to them” (Acts 16:10) they went to Macedonia. How did this unfold?

Luke said “a vision appeared to Paul” (Acts 16:9). Then Luke follows by saying, “…immediately we sought to go…” (Vs. 10).

Paul and Luke partnered in taking the gospel to Asia Minor. Leadership without fellowship is futile.

Paul could not have known for sure God’s will. He acted by faith and Luke followed by faith. That is how we live –by faith. We are saved by faith and we walk by faith not by sight. The Christian life is a faith walk.

What to Do When God Closes a Door – Part One

Read Acts 16: 6 – 10

Have you ever had a vision vanish, a dream die, an aspiration expire, or an ambition annulled? Have you ever had your hopes dashed? Has God ever said “NO,” when you wanted Him to say yes?

Has there ever been a time when you thought you were really doing God’s will and God shut and barred every door you desired to have open?

Has there ever been a time when you saw your plan FOLD only to see God’s will UNFOLD?

Sometimes God has to lead us to a closed door in order to create within us a willingness to follow Him to another door, the right one. Barred doors can be a blessing in disguise.

In our text Paul asserted that he wanted to go East toward Asia. He wanted to go to Bithynia for a good reason. He wanted to go preach the gospel. What a noble intent! Notice in verse 6: “…they were forbidden by the Holy Spirit…” God said no. Why? That will be answered in subsequent posts.

God always knows more and has stronger love than we. He can see what we can’t comprehend.

Once we were returning on a flight from the Holy Land. Our route had been moved further north due to an Atlantic storm. We had been flying over nine hours and were ready to land in New York. The pilot then gave us a bonus. Without us asking for or having to pay for it he gave us a one hour tour of Nova Scotia. Around and around we went. Not exactly what we wanted. 

More than a little exasperated, I talked with a flight attendant explaining our tight connections in New York and questioning our delay. She explained there was a storm in the New York area. All fights were being held and had been notified of our delay. The reason for the delay was the pilot had knowledge of the danger and was waiting for a window in the weather that permitted him to land. He was exercising caution for our good and arranging for our connections because he wanted us to make it.

He put us in a holding pattern. I didn’t want a holding pattern. He put us in a holding pattern for our good. Why? Because he knew more than we knew and was concerned for our welfare.

Sometimes God puts us in a holding pattern. Why? Because he knows more than we and He wants us to make our connections safely.

Your Battle With Your Body – Part Two

Romans 12: 1 & 2 

The exhortation to make a presentation of your body to God is one that speaks of a definite action.  There needs to be a time when you make a definitive decision as to what you will and won’t do with your body.

This presentation is to be “holy”.  This requires renouncing sins of the old life and committing to a life of obedience.  Will you?

This presentation is to be a “living” one.  In the sacrificial system the whole burnt offering ascended to God and was not reclaimable.

This presentation is to be for “service.”

Though there is to be a definite time of decision regarding making a presentation of your body to God, it needs to be renewed daily.  This is done by daily “transforming your mind.”

“…do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own?  For you were bought at a price; therefore, glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s.”

Imagine your body in light of the following. The Greek word for glorify is “doxazo.” It means to radiate the presence of and demonstrate the ownership of God in your body. Not all bodies look like a model in a glamor shot. That is not what it means. It is a reference to looking your best modestly, to have a positive attitude, a joyous spirit, a thankful outlook, a winsome countenance, to speak encouragingly, and overall a Godly nature. Thus, you can radiate and demonstrate. Go show it.

In the Old Testament era, worship centered around the altar and involved the presentation of sacrifices to God.  With the sacrifice of the perfect Lamb of God on Calvary, this system ended.  Because the day of animal sacrifice ended, many think sacrifices to God are unnecessary.  That is wrong.  He now deserves and desires a “living sacrifice.”  He wants and deserves a walking, breathing, laughing, and loving sacrifice.

What does a living sacrifice look like?

First, it is nonconformist.  This doesn’t simply relate to avoiding external fads; it deals principally with a deeper life of purity, cleanliness, and holiness.

Second, a living sacrifice is “transformed.” The prefix “trans” means “across” or “beyond.”  To be transformed means to rise above the forms of the world.  This is transcending excellence.

This speaks of a mind-set on God.  A preoccupation with His will.  A mental commitment to use your body for Him.  This is the only way to win the battle with your body.

Your Battle With Your Body – Part One

Romans 12: 1 & 2 

Jesus took upon Himself a body in order to do the will of God the Father.  We must yield our bodies to Jesus in order for Him to continue to accomplish the will of the Father through us.

Think about that!  Take a look at your body.  It is intended to be a tool in the hand of God with which He does His work just as a hoe or shovel is in the hand of a gardener. Your body is intended to be an instrument in God’s hand with which He achieves His purpose just as a scalpel is in the hand of a surgeon.

In order to understand the spiritual application of this, let’s establish the fact that you do have to battle with your body.  As proof of this, pause to remember how you have to battle with it every morning when it is time to get up.  What a struggle!

One dear friend told me she used to have to set three alarm clocks to get up in the morning.  One was close to the bed.  Another set for a few minutes later was placed just out of reach from the bed.  A third placed beyond the range of the second was set for a few minutes later.  I can envision this person literally crawling out of bed.  It’s a battle.

Your body fights back and resists every effort to get started.  Your mind says it is time to get started but your body argues.  It protests and resists physically.

This is no less true in the spiritual realm.  Your mind and spirit desire to do a certain thing and behave in a biblical way, but your obstinate body protests.  The body has certain interests and appetites which it craves and demands.  A battle results.

Will you concede that you lose some of your biggest spiritual battles because your body wins over the spirit?  The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.

Consider these biblical insights regarding your body. 

“…do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own?  For you were bought at a price; therefore, glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s.”

We need to pray as Paul that “Christ will be magnified in my body”  (Phil. 1:20).

“And do not present your members as instruments of unrighteousness to sin, but present yourselves to God as being alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God”  (Romans 6:13).

Inventory the members of your body.  Which members afford you the greatest opposition in spiritual warfare?  Give God every member.  Give Him your hands, eyes, ears, reproductive organs, legs, stomach, and mind. There is victory in surrender. 

Chase the Lions in Your Life

The following thoughts are derived from a book entitled “Chase the Lion.”

The story of Benaiah son of Jehoiada, a valiant warrior from Kabzeel, is recorded in II Samuel 23:20.

Put yourself in Benaiah’s sandals. Your vision is obscured by falling snow and frozen breath. Out of the corner of your eye, you detect movement. Pupils dilate. Muscles flex. Adrenaline rushes. It’s a prowling lion stalking its prey—you.

For some inexplicable reason the lion turns and runs away. Benaiah tracks him in the snow until he comes to the edge of a pit. The ground has given way under the weight of the 500 pound lion and he had fallen in. Benaiah peers down into the pit. A large pair of yellow cat eyes glare back.

Benaiah backs away, turns toward the pit, runs, and jumps in. There is a defining roar and bloodcurdling warriors yell from the pit. Doubtless the lion has a manwich to dine on.       

Unexpectedly a human form slowly emerges from the pit. It is the warrior from Kabzeel, the victor. Claw marks crisscross his bloody frame. 

You are not likely to face a lion under those conditions. But you’ve got to admit, “I killed a lion in a pit on a snowy day” looks very impressive on your résumé, especially if you’re applying for a bodyguard position with the king of Israel. Benaiah not only landed his dream job as King David’s bodyguard, but his life exceeded his wildest dreams. Benaiah climbed the military chain of command all the way to the top, becoming commander in chief of Israel’s army. Way to go, Ben.

In every life comes potential life changing challenges. A time to go big or go home. You have to venture or vegetate. Some readers are old enough to recall such a transitional moment. Hopefully you took the road less traveled and a dream came true.

Fear has kept many from fulfilling their God-sized dream. 

God’s game plan for us is to play offense. Pursue with a passion God’s will for your life. You may venture and fail, but you can always do nothing and fail even worse.

Find God’s will and go after it like a lion-chaser. If after constructive thought and a prayerful search you determine God’s will let nothing hold you back from an all out effort to fulfill your dream.

When everything is said and done, God isn’t going to say, “Well said,” “Well thought,” or “Well planned.” There is one measuring stick: “Well done, good and faithful servant!”

Take as your mantra, “Thy will be done,” and go for it.