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When God Shuts One Door He Opens Another 4/23/2017

When God Shuts One Door He Opens Another  -  Acts 16:6-12

Intro

Many times we have a lot of difficulty finding the doors that God has opened for us and the ones that He’s shut.

Another old joke goes that a young man who was a farmer was seeking to know whether to keep farming or enter the ministry, so he asked God to give him a sign. One day as he was plowing he looked up into the sky and saw a cloud formation that he thought formed the letters “PC.” As he continued to plow, it struck him, “That’s my sign! It means, “Preach Christ.’” But why not, “Plant crops,” or “Pick cotton”?

We often hear it said, ‘when God shuts one door He opens another.” Well those words aren’t found in the Bible anywhere but the statement is basically true.

I’m not sure where this phrase comes from but it likely comes from a famous quote by Alexander Graham Bell, inventor of the telephone who said “When one door closes, another opens, but we often look so long and regretfully upon the closed door that we do not see the one which has opened for us.”

Well, in the Bible we see an example of doors opening and closing in Acts 16:6-12

Read Acts 16:6-12 ‘And they went through the region of Phrygia and Galatia, having been forbidden by the Holy Spirit to speak the word in Asia. 7 And when they had come up to Mysia, they attempted to go into Bithynia, but the Spirit of Jesus did not allow them. 8 So, passing by Mysia, they went down to Troas. 9 And a vision appeared to Paul in the night: a man of Macedonia was standing there, urging him and saying, “Come over to Macedonia and help us.” 10 And when Paul[c] had seen the vision, immediately we sought to go on into Macedonia, concluding that God had called us to preach the gospel to them. 11 So, setting sail from Troas, we made a direct voyage to Samothrace, and the following day to Neapolis, 12 and from there to Philippi, which is a leading city of the[d] district of Macedonia and a Roman colony. We remained in this city some days.

Now Paul had decided to take the gospel into Asia Minor but God had other plans, doors shut. Then he tried to go into Russia, doors shut so he kept on moving west and then God opened the door for him to go into modern day Greece.

This was the first time that the Gospel had penetrated the European continent and that’s a great thing for you and I!

So let’s see what we can learn from Paul’s Experience as we apply it to our own.

I.  God Wants to Guide Us, if We’ll Let Him

  • God is personally involved in our lives, we aren’t put on this earth to just wander around aimlessly. The God of the Universe has a plan for you and I, he’s interested in us. (JK)
  • Prov 3:5-6 5 
  • Trust in the Lord with all your heart,
  •     and do not lean on your own understanding.
  • 6 In all your ways acknowledge him,
  •     and he will make straight your paths.
  • There is a lot of confusion about trying to find direction in life out there. Some people look to the stars or cards, fortune cookies, mediums and psychics, others are just paralyzed by indecision, but God wants to make His plan known to you. 

A man asked his wife, 'If you could have anything in the world for one day, what would you want?' She responded with a smile, 'Well, I'd really love to be six again.' Early the next morning, the morning of her birthday, he got her up and off they went to a nearby Waffle House for waffles and whipped cream with a tall glass of milk. Next, they headed to a local theme park. What a day! He put her on every ride in the park. The Death Slide, the Cyclone Whip, the Screaming Loop, the Wall of Fear, the Double-Ring ferris wheel--everything they had, she rode. Five hours later, she staggers out of the theme park with her husband … her head still reeling, her stomach still churning. Off to McDonald's next. He ordered her two Big Macs along with extra fries and a thick, chocolate shake. After that they took in an exciting animated movie--the latest Hollywood blockbuster. They had popcorn and Pepsis, a bag of M&Ms … topping off the day full of fabulous six-year-old adventures. Exhausted, she stumbles into the house late that evening with her husband and collapses on the bed. That was when he leaned over and softly whispered in her ear, 'Well, dear, how'd you like being six again?' One eye opened, she said, 'Well, actually, I meant my dress size.'

Boy talk about a misunderstanding!

To find the best God has for us we need to remember a couple of things:

II.  Don’t ask “What is God’s Will for My Life?”

  • Now I know what you’re thinking, what??? I’ve asked this question about my own life hundreds of times. But the better question is What is God’s Will?
  • These sound really similar. But the difference is real, it’s like the difference between lightning and a lightning bug. 
  •  Think with me, the focus of the first question is on me. The focus of the second question is on God. You see, God is already at work all around us, what we need to do if find where He’s working and join Him.
  • For example, in our own church we have Children’s Church, Youth Group, Small Groups, Missions planning that needs to be done, fellowship planning that needs to be done, community service planning that needs to be done, We Care ministry, outreach ministry, nursing home ministry. There is a place for you to plug in here at Lake Tyler, or in this community.
  • Here in Acts 16 God was at work saving the Gentiles. God was in the process of taking the Gospel t the Roman Empire and Paul found closed doors until he got involved with God’s plan.
  • So start looking around at where God is working and get involved. Just throw yourself into it and see what happens

Remember, God doesn’t reveal His Will all at once

Notice that God didn’t tell Paul all the details. He didn’t say go to Philippi, then to Athens, then to Corinth.” Instead God just said God and as Paul went He revealed the next step.

That’s just how God revealed His Will to Abraham. God said Go and Abraham went.

It would be nice if God said, this is who I want you to marry, this is the job I want for you, this is where I want you to retire

But following God isn’t about the destination, it’s more about the journey.

Caedmon’s call song step by step.

Oh God, You are my God, And I will ever praise You

Oh God, You are my God, And I will ever praise You

I will seek You in the morning, And I will learn to walk in Your ways

And step by step You'll lead me, And I will follow You all of my days

In order to follow God step by step we need to seek Him day by day, minute by minute. God’s not at all like math. We need Him every single day.

II.  Don’t be Crushed with Closed Doors

As Paul began to head north he encountered a closed door in Asia Minor. Then he tried to go north toward the Black Sea, another closed door.

Sometimes we can get really frustrated because it seems that a door of service is always closed.

In the Bible there are 6 or 7 times that it speaks of God “opening a door”. However there is only 1 mention of God “closing a door.” Rev 3

So it’s true that God shuts doors, but He isn’t the only one. So when you are trying to serve the Lord and a door seems to close you need to ask yourself, did God close this door?

Sometimes Satan will put obstacles in your way to discourage you, to make life difficult, to entice you to quit. So if you feel that God is leading you in a way for sure, then head on and knock that door down!

I heard a story about a fella that went to sing at a country church. While he was on stage singing the people stared bringing out snakes and passing them around. Well when he saw one of the snakes on stage he asked the pastor “where is the back door?” The pastor said, “we don’t have a back door” and the man said “well, where would you like one?”

But if God closes a door, don’t get discouraged because He has another one for you.

In Experiencing God Henry Blackaby says “when you begin to follow God and circumstances seem to close doors of opportunity, go back to the Lord and clarify what God said, He most often is not calling you to a task, but to a relationship. Through that relationship He is going to do something through your life.”

When God said no to Paul it was because He wanted to say yes to something better. Lots of times the things we think are failures turn out to be blessings in disguise.

In the late 1800’s cotton was king in the deep South. It was the sole crop and it brought a lot of prosperity to a lot of people. Well early in the 1900’s the Mexican Boll Weevil crossed the border in Texas and spread east. Turned out that little sucker loved cotton. By 1915 most cotton farmers in the South were broke. Well, one farmer decided to try growing peanuts instead and the first year he produced over 6,000 bushels. Soon other farmers decided to try to plant other crops.

What was first seen as a disaster became a tremendous opportunity as farmers were forced to diversify. In 1919 the city of Enterprise, Alabama erected a monument to the Boll Weevil. What was seen as a closed door became an open door to an even better opportunity.

III.  Keep Moving as you Look for God’s Open Door

When Paul encountered those closed doors he didn’t sulk about it. He didn’t just stop and say “Ok Lord, I’m not moving until you show me which way to go.

No he kept on moving, he went west and eventually took the gospel into Europe.

So when you encounter a closed door, don’t just stop moving. Keep on moving and God will direct your path.

What about ‘waiting on the Lord?’ This phrase is not passive at all, it’s more like a waiter at a restaurant who takes your order and serves you. So while you’re waiting on your path to open, still ask God “is there anything I can get you? Is there anything I can do for you?

We ought to always strive for spiritual momentum in our lives. I mean think about it, a boat sitting dead in the water can’t be turned by the rudder.

That boat is ‘dead in the water’ because in order for the rudder to work the boat has to be moving.

That’s the way it is with God’s Will, when we just stop altogether we are dead in the water. But if we’re active then we have forward momentum and we’re a lot easier to steer into different kinds of service.

Now sometimes you’ll be encountered by angry people. Paul had an open door in Ephesus but he got a lot of pushback.

1 Cor 16:9 for a wide door for effective work has opened to me, and there are many adversaries.

So when you face opposition don’t immediately assume that God is not directing you in that path. Ask yourself, does this just seem right to me or will God be glorified if I proceed? Then push on.

And when you know where to go, go immediately. Acts 16:10 says they ‘sailed immediately’. They sailed west and made a ‘straight line’ to the coast. I mean they had a heavenly tailwind!

And when you’re in God’s Will you’ve got a Heavenly tailwind too!

IV.  Don’t Depend on “Doors” alone to find God’s Will

Using circumstances alone can be dicey when determining God’s Will.

Circumstances can be deceiving when we view them from the wrong perspective.

Blackaby wrote “Be very careful how you interpret circumstances. Many times we jump to a conclusion too quickly. A whole lot of wrong things can happen if you try to look at God from the middle of circumstances. When you face difficult or confusing circumstances, the Spirit of God will take the Word of God and help you understand your circumstances from God’s perspective.”

It used to be that the old Sears Catalog had three levels of quality for the same product. For example you could buy a chainsaw and you could get one that was good, then there’d be one with more horsepower and it would be better, then one that had a better chain and more power and it would be best.

Well when it comes to finding God’s Will here are some things to think about.

Good- Circumstances.

These can often be God’s guide for us. Sometimes you can determine God’s Will by just looking at your circumstances.

Psalm 32:8-9 I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go;

    I will counsel you with my eye upon you.

9 Be not like a horse or a mule, without understanding,

    which must be curbed with bit and bridle,

    or it will not stay near you

They key is have a close relationship with God so that He can guide you with His eye, and you can view your circumstances from God’s point of view.

Better- Holy Spirit

This is His internal guide. In Acts 16 Paul says that the Holy Spirit prevented Paul from going into Asia Minor. Ten he says that Paul was prevented by the Spirit of Christ. Those are two and the same.

The Holy Spirit is the Spirit of Jesus and of the Living God.

John 14:18-20  “I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. 19 Yet a little while and the world will see me no more, but you will see me. Because I live, you also will live. 20 In that day you will know that I am in my Father, and you in me, and I in you.

Isaiah 30:21 And your ears shall hear a word behind you, saying, “This is the way, walk in it,” when you turn to the right or when you turn to the left.

Have you ever heard God’s still small voice.

In 1898 Frances Barraud was living in Liverpool. His brother gave him a dog named Nippur because he liked to nip at the heels of visitors. Barraud was fascinated with gramophones which played back recorded voices. He recorded his own voice and the gramophone and as he was playing it Nippur cocked his head and barked at the sound. Barraud painted a picture of the moment called “listening for his master’s voice” and it became the logo or RCA.

Are you tuned in to your master’s voice?

Best: God’s Word

To know God’s Will we may need circumstances, but we certainly will need the Holy Spirit and the Bible.

The Bible is God’s eternal guide.

This requires being a serious and consistent student of His Word.

Psalm 119:104-105 Through your precepts I get understanding;

    therefore I hate every false way.

Your word is a lamp to my feet

    and a light to my path

When we study God’s Word we learn to avoid the wrong paths. God’s Word will leap off the page at us to let us know we are off path or that we need to reroute our path.

So pick a book at a time, read it chapter by chapter and make notes on what the Bible is saying to you. Pray for the Lord to apply it to your life.

So in knowing God’s Will look for 3 greenlights, Circumstances, Holy Spirit, and the Word, when all 3 are giving you the green light then you may proceed. But remember not to come to a complete stop in the meantime!

Conclusion

A 67 yr old man, known only as "PH," has become the first documented case of someone who hears people speak before seeing their lips move. He describes it as experiencing life as though he were watching a badly dubbed sci-fi flick.

The dubbing effect began as PH was recovering from a recent surgery. So pronounced is the anomaly that PH even hears his own voice before he senses his own lips moving.

According to New Scientist Magazine:

Light and sound travel at different speeds, so when someone speaks, visual and auditory inputs arrive at our eyes and ears at different times. The signals are then processed at different rates in the brain. Despite this, we perceive the events as happening simultaneously.

Somehow, in PH's case, his sight and hearing have gotten out of sync. Researchers are looking for a way to slow down PH's hearing so that it once again matches his sight.

“The will of God is not something you add to your life. It’s a course you choose. You either line yourself up with the Son of God…or you capitulate to the principle which governs the rest of the world.” Elisabeth Elliot