No One Opens or Closes Doors Outside God's Will

God opens doors no one can shut and shuts doors no one can open!.png

And to the angel of the church in Philadelphia write; These things saith he that is holy, he that is true, he that hath the key of David, he that openeth, and no man shutteth; and shutteth, and no man openeth; I know thy works: behold, I have set before thee an open door, and no man can shut it: for thou hast a little strength, and hast kept my word, and hast not denied my name. - Revelation 3:7-8

Let the glory bumps roll!  What a great verse for those of us who are weary in well doing.  God opens doors no one can shut and shuts doors no one can open.  He’s in complete control.  He will open the doors of opportunity as He sees fit and close doors that He doesn’t want us going through.  We may not understand His reasoning, but that’s okay as long as we follow His guidance.  We must let Him lead.  After all, He has the key.

We’ve been in the process of upgrading some of our home functions to smart functions.  On the whole, I’m happy with the upgrades, but there are still a few things that need a little tweaking.  For example, the smart lock on the side door doesn’t seem to be any more intelligent than the “dumb lock” we were using before.  It’s having some issues syncing with the rest of the system, which makes it unreliable at best and downright frustrating at worst.

With this particular smart lock, we are supposed to be able to approach the door (with our cell phones in our possession), at which point, the door automatically unlocks.  Sometimes it does, and other times, we’re left standing on the step, pushing buttons on our phones and eventually pulling the keys out of our pockets to open the stupid door.  Jason is trying (in his spare time) to work out the kinks in the system, and once he does, I believe the lock will be an asset rather than a nuisance.

Sometimes in life, we stumble upon doors with “smart locks” that are tuned to God’s programming.  We stand at the door, pushing buttons and wringing our hands, but all to no avail.  The doors won’t open.  So, why do we keep pounding on them?  The Bible makes it clear that God will open the right doors at the right time.  If the door in front of us isn’t opening, it’s either not the right door or not the right time.  Either way, we’re not getting in.

Other times, we come upon doors standing wide open, but we don’t enter for fear of the unknown.  What if we don’t like what’s on the other side?  What if life on that side of the door is tougher than life on this side?  Yes, the what-ifs hold us back and keep us from God’s best.  I’m not saying we should jump through every open door because that would be unwise.  That being said, if we come upon an open door, we should at least consider the possibility that God placed it there for us and seek His guidance on the matter.

We’ve seen this principle of God opening and closing doors at work in our mission endeavors.  On a particularly trying day, Jason and I were discussing how fruitless his efforts seemed.  He was making the calls, leaving messages, and sending emails, but he had nothing to show for it.  Then, a call came in from a pastor we hadn’t contacted.  We had been referred to him by a member of our mission board, and he wanted to book us for a meeting.  He even went so far as to mention that, after looking at their faith promises pledges, they were pretty sure they’d be able to take us on for support.  Talk about an open door!

Dear one, sometimes it may seem like “fate” is out to get you or like you can’t catch a break, but I want you to remember this promise—God is the doorkeeper.  If He’s closed a door in your life, there’s a reason.  Trust He has your best interest at heart and leave that door alone.  And be on the lookout for open doors and God’s guidance to go through them.  Blessings are in store for those who trust and obey, and no one can hinder that!

No One Who Works for the Lord Will Go Unrewarded

We must be on guard for how things seem or feel because that is seldom a good indicator of how things truly are..png

After taking a short break to cover the attributes of the fruit of the Spirit, I want to get back into our study on the Negatives in the Bible and see if we can finish it up. We don’t have far to go (though if I covered all of them, we’d be doing this study for months.) Let’s pick back up with what the Bible has to say about “no one.”

Have you ever been disappointed when things didn’t turn out the way you had planned? I have. And probably the most disappointing of all are the situations where I’ve done all the right things in all the right ways with all the right motives, and things still didn’t work out. It’s enough to send this little redhead running toward chocolate cake!

Isn’t it frustrating to sow the seeds and feel like we’re not reaping the harvest? We diet and exercise but don’t lose the weight. We read our Bible and pray daily but still slip carelessly into sin. We take a restful vacation but come back more tired and stressed. The pastor puts his heart and soul into his preaching yet the people seem unaffected by what he has to say. The missionary spends years on the field, hard at work in the service of the Lord, yet has only a handful of converts to show for his efforts. What’s up with that?  

The Bible teaches the principle of sowing and reaping. We know how it’s supposed to work, but sometimes it doesn’t seem to apply to our lives or our current situation. So, we begin to doubt. Maybe this sowing and reaping stuff only works for certain people or at certain times. Perhaps I’m not doing all I should do or I’m not doing it the right way. Maybe I’ve missed something along the way, and that’s why I do not see results.

More than likely, it’s none of those things. It’s just that God doesn’t operate according to our schedule. We plant seeds today and expect to see a harvest by tomorrow or next week, but growth takes time. God won’t be rushed. He has a plan, and He will fulfill it in His own good time. This makes little sense to us.  After all, wouldn’t God want to see souls saved today? Doesn’t He long for us to have the desires of our hearts? Surely, He wants the pastor to feel appreciated and the missionary to be effective, right?

I’ve probably said this a million times in my writing and a million times more in my own life when trying to comfort my confused heart—God’s ways aren’t our ways, and His thoughts aren’t our thoughts (Isaiah 55:8). What makes sense to Him often seems downright ridiculous to us because we can’t see the whole picture. And that can be discouraging. It’s disheartening when it seems our efforts aren’t paying off. Trust me, I know!

But God knows too, and He’s provided a promise for times like these—no one who acts in His name will be unrewarded. No one! If we have sowed in the name of the Lord, we will reap the rewards. If we have sacrificed our time or talents for Him, He’ll make sure we lack nothing. He’s keeping a record. He’s paying attention. He knows what seeds we are sowing, and He already has a plan on how He will reward those efforts. Check out these verses:

And whosoever shall give to drink unto one of these little ones a cup of cold water only in the name of a disciple, verily I say unto you, he shall in no wise lose his reward.
— Matthew 10:42
Then Peter began to say unto him, Lo, we have left all, and have followed thee. And Jesus answered and said, Verily I say unto you, There is no man that hath left house, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for my sake, and the gospel’s, But he shall receive an hundredfold now in this time, houses, and brethren, and sisters, and mothers, and children, and lands, with persecutions; and in the world to come eternal life.
— Mark 10:28-30
 Then Peter said, Lo, we have left all and followed thee. And he said unto them, Verily I say unto you, There is no man that hath left house, or parents, or brethren, or wife, or children, for the kingdom of God’s sake, Who shall not receive manifold more in this present time, and in the world to come life everlasting.
— Luke 18:28-30

Serving God will cost us something. It is a sacrifice. There’s no doubt about it. But it also reaps rewards beyond our comprehension. Now, let me add here, we should never serve God merely for compensation but rather out of our love for Him. Service is a natural outflow of love. But even so, it can become wearying when those efforts seem for naught. Note that sentence carefully—the efforts seem like they’re not making a difference. We must be on guard for how things seem or feel because that is seldom a good indicator of how things truly are. That’s why it’s so important to cling to the truth. God made it clear that when we work in His name and for His kingdom that our work will not be in vain. Let’s take Him at His word and rejoice in the waiting time!

A Small But Powerful Weapon

October 27, 20194 o'clock in the afternoonAdventure Drive Country ClubMontgomery, Ohio.png

I’m sure we are all familiar with the passages in the Bible where Satan tempts Jesus in the wilderness. Many devotions, lessons, messages, and songs have been created from the many critical points within the story. But it wasn’t until a recent reading that I noticed one of Satan’s most potent weapons hidden there in plain sight. Such a small thing. So easy to overlook. And even easier to fall for.

Then was Jesus led up of the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted of the devil. And when he had fasted forty days and forty nights, he was afterward an hungred. And when the tempter came to him, he said, If thou be the Son of God, command that these stones be made bread. But he answered and said, It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God. Then the devil taketh him up into the holy city, and setteth him on a pinnacle of the temple, And saith unto him, If thou be the Son of God, cast thyself down: for it is written, He shall give his angels charge concerning thee: and in their hands they shall bear thee up, lest at any time thou dash thy foot against a stone. Jesus said unto him, It is written again, Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God. Again, the devil taketh him up into an exceeding high mountain, and sheweth him all the kingdoms of the world, and the glory of them; And saith unto him, All these things will I give thee, if thou wilt fall down and worship me. Then saith Jesus unto him, Get thee hence, Satan: for it is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve. Then the devil leaveth him, and, behold, angels came and ministered unto him.
— Matthew 4:1-11

Did you see it? That little word “if,” the keyword for Satan’s tool of doubt. “If thou be the Son of God, change these stones to bread.” “If thou be the Son of God, cast thyself down.” “You can have all of this if you’ll bow down to me.” With that seemingly insignificant two-letter word, Satan questioned both the identity and character of Jesus and strove to get Jesus to do the same. And he assaults us the same way on a regular basis.

If God really loved you, He wouldn’t allow this to be happening in your life.

If you’re really saved, you wouldn’t be depressed, so you must not have gotten the real thing.

If God were on your side, you wouldn’t feel so alone in this world.

If God really watched out for you, He would have kept your family together.

If your husband loved you, he wouldn’t work such long hours.

If your wife loved you, she would want to stay home instead of working a job.

You can have everything you want in life if you’re willing to break a few rules.

If you follow me, I’ll show you what you’ve been missing by being a goodie two shoes.

All your problems will float away if you take this new drug.

See what I mean? And for every “if” statement I listed, there are hundreds more. Whatever your situation or mood, the enemy has an “if” for you. Here’s the tricky part. During that heated moment or discouraging situation, those “if” statements make sense. They seem logical and right. But they’re not. They result from the father of lies playing to our emotions and trying to get us to turn our backs on God. If he can make us doubt who we are in Christ, how much God loves us, and the other promises of Scripture, he’s well on his way to defeating us.

That’s why it’s imperative we fight these attacks the same way Jesus did—with the TRUTH. For each of the enemy’s “if” statements, Jesus quoted a Scripture back to Satan. Not just any verse, but one that addressed Satan’s claims. Jesus fought with the Word of God, and we should too. When the enemy gives us an “if,” let’s fight back with the truth of God’s Word. Find a verse or a few verses that relate to your situation, and when Satan comes hissing with all those “ifs,” give him an earful of truth. If you don’t know where to begin or can’t find a Bible verse to help you, ask your pastor or spiritual mentor. I’m sure they would be happy to help you. Or you can contact me, and I’ll help you find one. I know I’ve searched the Scripture often enough for my own weapons, and I’m always amazed at what God shows me.

Don’t fall for the enemy’s “ifs.” It’s a trick, a tactic, but never the truth. Be strong, and don’t fall for the attack. But when it comes (and the attacks will come), be armed with the Word of God. Satan has no defense against that, and he will have no choice but to flee. Before I close, though, I feel I better say this—Don’t expect to win the battle with Scripture if you don’t believe what you’re quoting. It’s not about letting words fly. It’s about claiming the truth and applying it to your life where you are. So, I urge you, get in that Bible. Find those weapons and believe them with all your heart.