“Open and shut doors…”
Prov 3:6 – “In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.”
In this short 12 word verse, we find one of the most precious promises of the Bible… the promise for the Lord’s leadership and guidance in our lives. But in this same verse, we find one of the most difficult aspects of the Christians life… following the path the Lord desires for our life.
One of the most frequently asked questions I’ve been asked is “How can I find God’s will for my life?”
In the next 6 blog entries we will be seeing what God’s word teaches us about this important subject…
- What is God’s will ?
- Not my will, but thine be done.
- Thus saith the Lord
- Oh what a feeling
- Open and shut doors
- Summary of the study
In part number 5 of our study lets study… “Open and shut doors…”
1Cor 16:8-9 (KJV) But I will tarry at Ephesus until Pentecost.For a great door and effectual is opened unto me, and [there are] many adversaries.
2Cor 2:12-13 (KJV) Furthermore, when I came to Troas to [preach] Christ's gospel, and a door was opened unto me of the Lord,I had no rest in my spirit, because I found not Titus my brother: but taking my leave of them, I went from thence into Macedonia.
Gal 6:9-10 (KJV)And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not.As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good unto all [men], especially unto them who are of the household of faith.
Phil 4:10 (KJV) But I rejoiced in the Lord greatly, that now at the last your care of me hath flourished again; wherein ye were also careful, but ye lacked opportunity.
Col 4:2-3 (KJV) Continue in prayer, and watch in the same with thanksgiving; Withal praying also for us, that God would open unto us a door of utterance, to speak the mystery of Christ, for which I am also in bonds:
In our previous studies, as we search for God’s will for our lives (part #1), our attitude should be one of placing the Lord’s will above any, and all, of our personal desires (part #2). We’ve also seen that knowledge and application of God’s Word is of ultimate importance (part #3).
In our last blog entry, we saw that we cannot rely on our thoughts, conscience, emotions and desires to reveal the Lord’s will to us. We must put all of these “to the test” by comparing them to the Scriptures. If they align with the principles of God’s Word then we can follow these impressions, knowing we are walking within the confines of God’s Word. If they oppose His Word, we then must recognize them as coming from our sinful flesh, worldly influences, or perhaps, even demonic influences. In any case these type of impressions must never be followed, no matter how desirable they may appear to us. (part #4)
If, after applying God’s Word to our situation and our impressions, we are still uncertain as to the path that He would have us to take, we need to also be observant towards recognizing open and closed doors of opportunity, signs of the Lord’s workings and the area of greatest need which help us determine His will for our lives.
In several places in Scripture, Paul explains how he decided upon different paths of service for Christ…
- Doors of opportunity
- Col 4:2-3 - Here, Paul asked for the prayers of others. What did he ask for? Not for prayers of deliverance from prison, but prayers that the Lord would open opportunities for Him to proclaim the gospel to the lost around him.
- Phil 4:10 - But I rejoiced in the Lord greatly, that now at the last your care of me hath flourished again; wherein ye were also careful, but ye lacked opportunity.
i. In this verse, Paul recognized that the church at Phillippi was unable to continue to support him, when the opportunity to do so had closed. Paul knew that we can only serve the Lord when the opportunity is open to us.
ii. Paul describes this idea as “redeeming the time” (Eph 5:15-17, Col 4:5-6)
iii. The Lord Himself recognized that there will come a time when we will no longer be able to serve the Lord on earth. We need to take advantage of the opportunity while it is open to us. (John 9:4)
iv. King Solomon knew this principle as well. (Eccl 9:10)
- Gal 6:9-10 – In this section of Scripture, Paul encourages all of us, that when possible, we are to take advantage of every opportunity of service that the Lord opens to us.
- Doors of opportunity and seeing the Lord’s blessings in a particular ministry.
- 1 Cor 16:8-9 – Paul decided to stay and continue to minister at Ephesus, instead of moving on to another region. Why? A “great door” of opportunity was open to him
- He had seen the Lord working among the people as he ministered to them. His ministry, through the power of the Lord, was having great effect (effectual) among the people.
- Please notice that Paul was able to discern the difference between “opposition” and a “closed door”. Paul knew that even though there was opposition to a his ministry the Lord was still allowing him to minister and to show His power.
- Paul choose to go to area of his greatest burden when more than one door was opened to him.
- 2Cor 2:12-13 – In this case, Paul had at least two doors of service opened to him. One was to continue to minister to the people of Troas, another to search for his friend Titus who had turned up missing. In this case, Paul chose to look for Titus, perhaps he was thinking that the Lord burdened his heart about the situation. Maybe, Paul felt as if he would be best used by the Lord to find his brother than to continue ministering to the people of Troas.
- If Paul made the correct choice then we can see that when we have more than one option open to us, we should ask “How can I be used the greatest in the Lord’s service?” and also “Where is the need to minister the greatest?” Paul had made the determination that Titus needed him at that time more that the people of Troas.
- There is some question as to whether Paul had done what was pleasing to the Lord by leaving to find Titus. After all, he made it plain that “ a door was opened unto me of the Lord”. Would the Lord continue to keep a door open when He did not intend for Paul to stay?
- We will never know for sure if the judgment Paul made was the correct one or not.
The one thing we can know is this… we must use great care in making our decisions based upon “open and closed doors” of opportunity. They can, at times, be difficult choices due to our emotions and fallen nature. Also, we need to see that no one is perfect. Even if Paul did make a misjudgment as to God’s will, it only shows that he was a part of fallen mankind. Even those who are the most spiritual will make mistakes in discerning His will from time to time.
THE PRACTICAL APPLICATION
For those who are saved…
We must be alert to the events surrounding us. Many times, we overlook opportunities of service that our Lord has opened to us. Also, when we are confronted with trying to discern His will concerning any given choice we are facing, we should be watching the events take place around us. It is very possible, that through the events the Lord will be eliminating, or confirming choices that will help us to see the path He would have us to take.
In our search for God’s Will to be shown to us in our lives….
Prayer Principle #5 - We must pray for the Lord’s intervention in the circumstances of our lives, using open and closed doors to help us discern His will for our lives.
For those who have never trusted in Christ…
Just as the Lord opens opportunities to serve Him for His followers, so too, the Lord has opened opportunities to become a follower of Christ. The Lord never promised how long the opportunity to trust in Him would last, but He did make it plain that the opportunity to trust in Him would end someday…
John 12:35 (KJV)
Then Jesus said unto them, Yet a little while is the light with you. Walk while ye have the light, lest darkness come upon you: for he that walketh in darkness knoweth not whither he goeth.
None of us know what tomorrow will hold. A car accident, sickness or other tragedy could bring an end to the opportunity we’ve been given to trust in Jesus as Lord and Savior. That’s why anyone who has not trusted in the Lord Jesus Christ should seek His face NOW. We have no promise of a tomorrow. We need to be ready to face eternity while we can.
If you have questions about the gracious salvation that our Lord offers to us, please feel free to refer to my blog page entitled "How to have a relationship with God" . Or, you can find any Bible teaching church, I’m sure anyone there would be glad to answer your questions about having a relationship with Almighty God.
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May the Lord bless your study of His Word. Like God’s Word… may your soul’s salvation and your life’s faithfulness be “Settled in Heaven.”