Summary: God specializes in surprises on the other side of a closed door.
Have you ever been surprised by what’s behind the door? I told you last week that my older brother used to wait behind closed doors just to scare the heeby jeebies out of me. That was always a surprise. In fact, last week I did this thing where all throughout my sermon I opened and closed the door and by about the 4th or 5th service I started to get a little freaked out that someone was going to try to be funny and that they were going to be waiting behind the door when I opened it on stage…I would’ve likely had a heart attack! Because there’s something about opening the door to reveal a surprise.
I think that’s why as a kid I used to love watching 2 shows on TV, and if you’re in your mid 30’s like I am, you probably loved these shows too. The Price Is Right and Let’s Make A Deal. Anybody else a fan of those shows? Yeah, both of those shows knew the art of the reveal. They would open the door to reveal…A NEW CAR! And it was always like the most exciting moment of daytime television!
Surprised by what was behind the door. The other night at about 8:30 or 9:00 our doorbell rang and Tabitha, my wife, was like, who is that? We weren’t expecting anybody, and my doorbell doesn’t ring that often at 9:00 at night, so I’m going to tell you where my mind went for those few seconds before we opened the door. Some of you are going to think I’m crazy, and I might be, but here’s where my mind went. Ok? When that doorbell rang, immediately I pictured in my mind this publisher’s clearing house moment outside my door. I did, I know it sounds crazy, but let me explain. About a month earlier I had entered to win the HGTV dream home because one of my life goals is to live on the water. If you think I can preach a good sermon now you just wait until that sermon is written from an office with a water view, and if you win the HGTV dream home they give you like a million bucks and then I could go buy a house on the water. So in that moment, the doorbell rings and I just knew it was HGTV and I was going to open my door to cameras and lights and a big check and bouquets of balloons and a key to my dream house. Needless to say, it wasn’t HGTV. Surprise! It was my mother in law!
Yeah, surprises lie behind the door and today I want to tell you that I believe that God’s got a surprise in store for you behind the door and you can’t see it and you’re not expecting it, in fact, you know nothing about it, but behind every closed door, God is at work preparing a new opportunity, a new beginning, a better surprise than you ever dreamed of. God works in the most unexpected circumstances for your good and it’s often behind closed doors.
I want to prove it to you today from the Bible, I want to show you a fascinating story that I think we can learn so much from about the surprises of God. The Bible tells us this story, it says Acts 12:1-16 NIV: It was about this time that King Herod arrested some who belonged to the church, intending to persecute them. He had James, the brother of John, put to death with the sword. When he saw that this met with approval among the Jews, he proceeded to seize Peter also. This happened during the Festival of Unleavened Bread.
(I want to stop for a minute and make sure you get the context of this story. In the beginning of this movement, this movement we now know of as the church and Christianity, it was viewed as quite the threat to Judaism and honestly to the Roman government so there was a great deal of persecution against the early followers of Christ. But I want to make sure you know something, those closest to Jesus knew that this was a cause worth dying for. That following Christ, and carrying on His mission was worth giving your life for. Did you see it? James, one of the early disciples was slaughtered for his faith and now Peter, maybe you remember Peter. Walking on water Peter. Outspoken Peter. Denied Jesus Peter. Leader of the early Church Peter has been arrested and it’s quite likely that his fate is the same as James’. He’s going to be killed for following Jesus.
And I know that seems like a foreign concept to us today, but it truly isn’t. Did you know that Christians are the most persecuted religious group worldwide? That an average of 100 Christians around the world are killed each and every month for their faith. 100 a month! Things aren’t as different from the Bible as they might seem. You and I are just ridiculously blessed to live in a country of freedom where we gather to worship without the threat of persecution. 100 a month give their lives. What does it cost you to follow Jesus?