Summary: Worship is how to open closed doors.

I have a door at my house, it’s the door to a closet in our bonus room. It’s where my kids' toys are all kept and so when I instruct them to clean up the bonus room, the toys just get tossed into the closet and then they shut the door real quick and hope for the best. So when you open that door, beware because you never know what’s behind the door and you never know what’s going to fall out of the door on top of you. How many of you have a closet door like that at home, where you’re a little bit scared to open it? Yeah, that’s a few of us. If you didn’t just raise your hand, we’re glad you’re here Martha Stewart! Maybe you could help the rest of us get organized!

There’s a particular game behind the door though that I want to introduce you today, if you’re got little kids, my kids have pretty much outgrown this game, but if you’ve got little kids, you’ll appreciate this game, it’s called “Don’t Break The Ice.” Anybody played this game? I need a volunteer to compete against here, and the good news is that the pressure is off if you’re watching me via video, you just get to watch somebody else make a fool of themselves, but let me just choose YOU. Come on up here! On every campus, put your hands together for my volunteer who didn’t volunteer! Ok, so here’s how you play the game, each of us have a little hammer device and we take turns knocking out blocks of ice and the one who hits the block of ice and makes this little man fall down and die, loses. Ok? Simple enough?

I started thinking this week, what would it feel like to be that little man? To have circumstances outside of your control taking whacks at everything that keeps you feeling safe and secure. Ultimately to be standing on what feels like the last block of ice and have it knocked out from under you by something that you have absolutely no control over and then it dawned on me. That’s how many of you feel today. You feel like the little man in the game. You’re barely hanging on. The ice is getting chipped away. If it’s not one thing it’s another. And you’re not quite sure what to do, you’re not quite sure where to turn, you’re not quite sure if things will ever change, and if you were to be honest today, you’re not quite sure how much more you can endure. Everyday for you is like a game of "don’t break the ice." And if you feel that way today. If you feel like things are crumbling around you and door after door after door keeps shutting or maybe you’re afraid that the next door that opens everything is going to come falling out on top of you, then I’ve got some really good news for you today.

Today if you are stuck behind a closed door of a dead end job or a closed door of unemployment or maybe there’s a closed door of health or a door that’s closed on a relationship or maybe you’ve got an addiction and the door to freedom just feels closed or the door to a financial breakthrough is closed, I don’t know what doors are closed in your life. I don’t know what has you feeling trapped like there’s no way out, but today I do know what opens closed doors. I know what opens

• closed doors of painful circumstances.

• Closed doors of frustrating moments.

• Closed doors of doubt and disappointment and despair.

And I want to teach you today what will open those doors in your life and mine because the Bible demonstrates for us how to open the doors that are closed in our lives and I want to show you this from the life of Paul in the Bible and we’re going to pick up in the middle of his story really. Because Paul has been traveling from one province to another, from one town and one city and one area to another to proclaim the message of Jesus and ultimately to start churches and just before the story we’re about to read, Paul has been following God’s hand through a series of doors. If you’ve been here the last couple of weeks, we’ve talked about following God and knowing His will through the doors of life. Well, finally, Paul walks through one particular door and he has a pretty interesting encounter. I want you to look at it with me, I think you’re going to be able to relate to parts of this story.

The Bible says, Acts 16:16-26 NIV: Once when we were going to the place of prayer, we were met by a female slave who had a spirit by which she predicted the future. She earned a great deal of money for her owners by fortune-telling. (can I stop right there and tell you my favorite fortune-telling story? Years ago, Tabitha my wife and I were travelling through Suffolk and there was a sign for a business and it said something like Madam Zelda, palm readings and fortune telling and then we looked and Madam Zelda’s building had caught on fire and burned to the ground. And Tabitha said to me, I wonder if she knew that was going to happen? That had nothing to do with the sermon, just random humor. Anyways, it said that this the fortune teller) She followed Paul and the rest of us, shouting, “These men are servants of the Most High God, who are telling you the way to be saved.” She kept this up for many days. (just following them around yelling this and it says) Finally Paul became so annoyed that he turned around and said to the spirit, “In the name of Jesus Christ I command you to come out of her!” At that moment the spirit left her. (Can you imagine this? Everywhere he went, this girl is following him yelling the same thing over and over and over again and Paul gets annoyed. In fact, I like this tactic of Paul, I’m thinking about trying this the next time I get annoyed over something. Like the next time I see Dora the Explorer on tv, I’m just toing to shout it out, in the name of Jesus, turn it off! Is there any cartoon more annoying? Anyways it says) When her owners realized that their hope of making money was gone, (watch what happens here. In fact, I want you to read the underlined words out loud with me, on every campus, It says) they seized Paul and Silas and dragged them into the marketplace to face the authorities. They brought them before the magistrates and said, “These men are Jews, and are throwing our city into an uproar by advocating customs unlawful for us Romans to accept or practice.” The crowd joined in the attack against Paul and Silas, and the magistrates ordered them to be stripped and beaten with rods. After they had been severely flogged, they were thrown into prison, and the jailer was commanded to guard them carefully. When he received these orders, he put them in the inner cell and fastened their feet in the stocks.

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