Summary: God tests our faith when He closes doors, but this leads to an even better open door.
Thank you for the opportunity to share with you again. I’ve been asked several times, “Are you ready?” My answer is, I’m never ready. When it’s time you do it relying on God’s help. So let’s do that now.
I like hearing Ptr Jonas mid life stories. All the time, I’m thinking, I want to come back in 20 years and hear what you have to say.
I’ve appreciated our series on faith. Because we cannot live the Christian life without it. The writer of Hebrews puts it so well when he tells us this.
Hebrews 11:6 And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.
Do you want to please God? Look at your neighbor and say, “I want to please God.” If you want to please God you must live by faith.
I’ve seen Every Nation Bangkok move forward by faith. It was just a little over 2 years ago when I was visiting and Ptr Jonas was telling me how we used to meet at Alexander Hotel. He told me this place is 4 times bigger than the place we had at the Alexander Hotel. And we’re just getting ready to move again. God is working as we move forward by faith.
2 years ago I visited Every Nation Macau. We were meeting in someone’s living room. A couple months later I went back to Macau and we were meeting in Grandview Hotel. God is working as we move forward by faith.
I appreciated what Ptr Ross shared last week, when he said, “Faith is not the ability to manipulate God.” Faith is not expecting He will always do what we want.
I was really excited when Ptr Jonas asked me to share a few weeks ago. Immediately I thought of what I want to share with you today. It’s not a pleasant topic, as we all want to move forward by faith and see God work. But I think it’s something we need to look at if we are going to be men and women of faith. And I’m talking about what happens when things don’t go the way we planned. Or what happens when God closes a door? What happens when God says no?
I can give you several examples of this in 3 areas. Most of us have to work. Some time ago I was living in Houston and I was in a job that really wasn’t going anywhere. I love to travel. And I did find a job that involved world wide travel. I applied for it and was invited for an interview. I didn’t get the job. It was hard because it looked like a good opportunity for me.
What about missions? Some of you are wanting to serve God as missionaries. You pray about going to a certain country, but you are denied a visa. Some of you have been through this before.
And what about “marriage life?” I had to include this one. Several years ago I met a woman at church who I had met briefly 20 years before. We both went to Dallas Theological Seminary. After church she came up to me and said she would like to meet with me sometime. I thought, yes yes yes. So we had a nice visit, and I wanted to see her more. I sent her an email thanking her for our time together but I didn’t hear back from her. A couple weeks later I saw her at church. After talking to her for a few minutes, it became very clear that she did not want to go out with me again. I was devastated.
When something like this happens, we become disillusioned. We might even get angry with God. We’re doing everything we’re supposed to be doing. We’re cultivating a walk with God, and we’re obeying Him in all areas as best as we know. Often it’s not because of anything we are doing or not doing. But the door closes. It’s cold. It’s impersonal. And to make matters worse, God usually doesn’t tell us why.
Do you want your faith to grow? Look at your neighbor and say, “I want my faith to grow.” Because faith grows through testing. I want us to look at someone who really lived by faith and encountered closed doors. Our passage is Acts 16: 6-10.
Acts 16:6-10 Paul and his companions traveled throughout the region of Phrygia and Galatia,, having been kept by the Holy Spirit from preaching the word in the province of Asia. 7 When they came to the border of Mysia, they tried to enter Bithynia, but the Spirit of Jesus would not allow them to. 8 So they passed by Mysia and went down to Troas. 9 During the night Paul had a vision of a man of Macedonia standing and begging him, "Come over to Macedonia and help us." 10 After Paul had seen the vision, we got ready at once to leave for Macedonia, concluding that God had called us to preach the gospel to them.