Why God Closes Doors By Sarah Martin

DOOR CLOSED

I sat with my computer on my lap and Google at my fingertips. Surly this search would come up fruitful and all of my heart troubles would be alleviated by one confirmation from the ever knowledgeable, all knowing search engine. I typed in this phrase into the little box with the eyeglass…

When God shuts a door, He opens a window.

After years of seeing this phrase on those cutesy little posters with kittens perched on windows, I was for sure this tidbit of wisdom was straight up truth from the Bible. Right? Weren’t there songs in the 90’s on our mixed tapes that assured us that when we sat in front of a closed door, God would absolutely open a window of bigger and better opportunities?

My friend Google kindly dropped the news to me… “When God closes a door, He opens a window” is not, in fact, in the Bible. I’m not sure what concerned me more: that this well-known Christian cliché was not in the Word or the fact that I had no good reason for my season of camping out in front of that proverbial closed door.

Three months prior, I sat dreaming and planning and creating my agenda. As I made moves to set these dreams and plans into motion, I abruptly received “no’s” or “not right now” or “no way!” The echo of those doors slamming in my face rings in my ears to this day. After a couple of months and a hurt heart, I couldn’t help but recognize the Lord was doing something here. I wasn’t sure what He was up to but I knew this was pivotal moment in my life and in my understanding of who He is. You see, I’m am really good at kicking doors open and making things happen. At the beginning of my closed door season I stood ready with my super cute cowboy boots ready to kick the doors open and make my dreams and plans come true. But when my “feet” grew tired of kicking to no avail, I surrendered.

Lord, I get it. You have me in front of a “no.” I will sit here and wait. I will not pop my head up to peek around for that open window in which I was for sure you would open right now. Have your way. I surrender.

That one prayer changed it all. God showed me that what He would do IN me during this season of waiting is of more value than what He would or would not do WITH me. I found freedom in that moment to lay my dreams and plans and agenda in front of the closed door and began to seek after God. I mean, really seek after Him through His word and through intentional prayer and worship.

Have you found yourself with the echo of closed doors –– “no’s” and “not yet’s” and “no way!”? Can I take a moment to encourage you straight from experience? Embrace it! Take some time to prayerfully ask God…

What do I need to learn about YOU during this season of waiting?

What do I need to learn about myself in front of these closed doors?

What do You need to root out in my heart and in my spirit to prepare me if and when You say “Go!”?

I timidly asked these questions, too. When we are licking our wounds from closed doors it certainly isn’t fun to go deep with the Lord and seek out the greater purpose. Our Father knows our hopes and dreams. He also has a greater Kingdom purpose and plan and in His sovereign ways, the Lord melds the two together all the while holding our tender heart. Our job is to sit, wait, and obediently trust His ways. This is the Scripture that convinced me this inward work is just as exciting and valuable as my hopes and dreams––what God would hopefully do WITH me.

“I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. If anyone does not abide in me he is thrown away like a branch and withers; and the branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned. If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples. 9 As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love. 10 If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love. 11 These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full.”(John 15: 5-11)

As I abided, sat ever close to Jesus, He did His work in me.

Sometimes the pain was unbearable. Oh but His gentle hand. All in love…

He rooted out pride.

He rooted out my obsession with control.

He rooted out pride some more.

Simply abide. Take some time to soak in His truth. Sit with Jesus in prayer and allow God to use your season of waiting to take you to a new level of faith, trust, love, mercy, joy…whatever it is that He is doing IN you. It will be so worth it. Trust me. I’ve been through it and made it to the other side. I’m better for it and so will you be, my friend!

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Rededicating Your Life to Christ | By S. Michael Houdman

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“Rededicating your life to Christ” is a popular concept in modern Christian culture. It’s a decision made by a Christian who has fallen away from the practices of Christianity to turn back to Christ and strive to follow Him more completely. The act of suddenly returning to Christ is spoken of indirectly in Galatians 6:1, where the church is exhorted to restore sinful believers by gently confronting them. Rededication is popular among older children and young adults who grew up in the church. Christians who were saved at a young age may come to realize that their understanding of what it means to follow Jesus was incomplete. In a desire to consciously choose to adhere to a newfound, deeper understanding of the gospel, believers may “rededicate” themselves to Christ.

However, falling away and returning to God is not how the Christian walk is supposed to look. Romans 12:1–2explains that spiritual maturity is a gradual, ongoing process. Jesus said that to follow Him we should take up our cross daily (Luke 9:23). And 1 Corinthians 9:24 and Hebrews 12:1 speak of the Christian life as a race, meant to be run every day. Many people rededicate after every sin. It’s easy to get caught in a cycle of rededicating, striving to follow Jesus closely, failing, and rededicating again. But habitual sin is not a problem solved by rededicating. It’s a deeper issue that can only be solved with a greater understanding of the grace and love of God.

Still, rededication is a useful tool. It’s a way to deliberately reject sin and renew a love for Christ. The disciples went through a rededication of sorts when they saw the risen Jesus. Their half-hearted devotion turned into a desire to pour out their lives for His service. In the same way, whether because of a conviction about a sinful lifestyle or a greater understanding of the gift of Christ, we can choose to abandon our shallow devotion to Christ and devote ourselves to Him more fully.

Image by My Morning Boost

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GOD THE JUST BY JONATHAN FEHR

Background

“Yet the Lord longs to be gracious to you; He rises to show you compassion. For the Lord is a God of justice. Blessed are all who wait for Him!” Isaiah 30:18

A good friend of mine — only 24 — was recently diagnosed with an aggressive and rare form of lung cancer. He has never smoked.

Where is the justice in this?

Sometimes, bad things just happen; I’m sure many of us have experienced situations we’ve deemed to be unfair. Yet the Bible tells us — promises us — that God is still just.

So how do we reconcile the words of the Bible with situations we deem to be unjust, like the situation with my friend? One thing that stands out to me in the verse above is the word “wait.” Note that the verse says “The Lord longs to be gracious to you…” It is clearly His desire to bring justice and to bring it quickly. Yet He’s waiting, and He has told us to wait, too.

All through Scripture, we get a sense of waiting: the earth cries out for restoration; the martyred saints cry for justice; the psalmist asks how long, oh Lord. God is not only just, but He is also good. And in His goodness, we must trust that His timing is better than ours. Even though our situations may be unbearably hard, God has called us to be patient and to wait on Him to bring justice in its proper time.

Although it is not easy, we can trust that no matter how hard our situation, our waiting will not be in vain; “God is a God of justice. Blessed are those who wait for Him!”

Dear Jesus, help me to remember Your goodness, even when times get hard. Please bring about justice in Your timing, and help me to be patient and to endure in a way that honors You. Amen.

TAKE ACTION

Search Scripture for examples of others who had to wait for God to bring about justice. Do you think it was better that they needed to wait? Reflect on how you would have felt in those situations, and ask God to give you patience while you wait for justice.

Image by Cornerstone

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I KNOW GOD HATES ME!

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I KNOW GOD HATES ME! YOU CAN’T TELL ME ANYTHING DIFFERENT BECAUSE MY LIFE REFLECTS HIS HATRED TOWARDS ME…

SOUND FAMILIAR?

Well, believe it or not, you’re not the only one who feels this. In fact, one of the people in this world who was supposed to be closest to God, His actual Son, asked a similar question when He was hanging from a tree, dying. He cried out into the Jerusalem air, “My God, My God, Why have You forsaken Me?” (Matthew 27:46 KJV). Even Jesus, God’s very Son, wondered where in the world God was!

If that isn’t enough, several of the writers of the Bible suffered from depression and anxiety, wondering why they couldn’t feel what other people were feeling. Take Paul for example. Paul, who was once known as Saul, actually killed Christians back in his day. He must have really thought God hated him. But even after he began having a real relationship with God, proving that God didn’t hate him, there were times when God felt a million miles away from him, too. Paul describes this feeling in his letter to his friends in Corinth: “It was so bad we didn’t think we were going to make it. We felt like we’d been sent to death row, that it was all over for us.” (1 Corinthians 1:8-10 MSG). So even world-famous Paul felt like God had turned His back.

Jesus asked it. . . Paul asked it. . . and now you, too, are asking where in the world God is and why He seems to hate you! So you’re not alone! I’ll even be so bold as to say that if more Christians were honest with you, even some of your friends, they would say that they’ve had times of doubt in their lives. David, the guy who wrote Psalms, goes on and on in many places with things like “Why, O LORD, do you stand far off? Why do you hide yourself in times of trouble?” (Psalm 10:1). And David even had people all around him, telling him that God hated him and wouldn’t help him out. In Psalms 3:2, the people in his life said, “God will not deliver him.” So not only did David feel like God had deserted him, but even his friends were in agreement.

You’re probably thinking right now, “Then there is no hope! God really does hate me.” But wait! There’s more! Remember Paul, who talked about how terrible life had become for him? Well, in the very next sentence, he said, “As it turned out, it was the best thing that could have happened. Instead of trusting in our own strength or wits to get out of it, we were forced to trust God totally — not a bad idea since He’s the God who raises the dead! And He did it, rescued us from certain doom. And He’ll do it again, rescuing us as many times as we need rescuing” (2 Corinthians 1:9-10 MSG). And David; he couldn’t stop going on in the later chapters of Psalms about how much God had provided for him. “The LORD is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer” (Psalm 18:2).

And who can forget perhaps the most well-known story of the Bible? Even Jesus, who on Friday was asking where God was, was resurrected from the grave on Sunday, just three short days later! We all go through times in our lives where we think God hates us, or at the very least, must have had enough of us. But I’m here to tell you that what you’re feeling, it’s just that: a feeling! It will go away, like a stomach ache or the flu. God made a promise to us thousands of years ago, and to solidify it, He wrote it in a book that hasn’t changed since day one.

The promise He made is simple: “Do you think anyone is going to be able to drive a wedge between us and Christ’s love for us? There is no way! Not trouble, not hard times, not hatred, not hunger, not homelessness, not bullying threats, not backstabbing, not even the worst sins listed in Scripture. None of this fazes us because Jesus loves us. I’m absolutely convinced that nothing — nothing living or dead, angelic or demonic, today or tomorrow, high or low, thinkable or unthinkable — absolutely nothing can get between us and God’s love because of the way that Jesus our Master has embraced us” (Romans 8:35, 37-39MSG). There’s no way that God hates you, because He told everyone on earth then and everyone who would ever be born that nothing. . .absolutely NOTHING could take God’s love away, not even the worst thing imaginable!

So you ask “why does God hate me?” And I have an answer for you: He doesn’t. If you want to really know what it means to be loved by God, and I mean really know it, it couldn’t be easier. No friend, boyfriend, wife, or mother will ever make you feel the way God can with just His love for you. And the way to obtain His Love is simple! All you have to do is ask!

Article by All About
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You’ve Got Mail…from Jesus! | Sharon Hinck

email from God

But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have become convinced of, because you know those from whom you learned it, and how from infancy you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. 2 Timothy 3:14-15

My mom’s birthday was approaching and I wanted to do something special for her. Mom insisted she didn’t want a party and didn’t want any fuss at all. I reminded her that we all wanted to celebrate her, and asked again if there was anything she would enjoy.

She admitted she loved getting cards in the mail, and had heard of a friend who had a “card shower.” My husband, daughter, and I dove in to the project with gusto. My husband put up a notice at work. My daughter posted online to her friends. We passed out slips of paper at church with her address, and I sent info to an e-mail loop of writers.

A few days before her birthday, cards, postcards, and even gifts of books from people she’d never met began to arrive. She was thrilled. Each day was an adventure when she’d bring in the large stack of mail, and pour through return addresses from all over the country.

Her joy at receiving, opening, reading, and savoring her mail made me think of the full mailbox that Jesus has provided for us through His Word. Every day, I can open the pages of my Bible and find His greeting of love expressed in various ways: letters, songs, poetry, historical accounts, parables, and more.

Had Mom let all those colorful cards and well wishes sit unopened, she would have missed out on a fun blessing. Yet some days, I ignore the wealth of encouragement and love that Jesus has sent to me.

Faith step: Open your mail from Jesus–your Bible–and rejoice at His personal greeting to you today. Then mail a card to a friend to lift their spirits.

Photo Credit: Liberty Friends

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The Perfect Question to Ask Jesus Each Morning | Rebecca Barlow Jordan

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Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing. 1 Thessalonians 5:11 (NIV)

I don’t always remember, but one of the first questions I like to ask Jesus when I wake up each morning is, “How can I encourage someone today? And who?”

He’s always faithful to answer, often through His Word. One morning after asking that question, I read from Isaiah 35:3–4 (NLT) and found a practical answer. First, “strengthen those who have tired hands.” That might include teachers, hair stylists, moms, writers—and all who use computers, which includes most of us—missionaries, pastors, and parents who spend time “lifting up” the burdens of others.

Next, the passage mentions encouraging those who have “weak knees.” I envisioned grandparents and senior citizens, veterans, and even athletes with wear and tear on their bodies. But the last category, the “fearful,” could probably include everyone. These needed to hear the words, “be strong, and do not fear.”

Sometimes I can offer an encouraging response to a needy e-mail request or blog comment from my Web site. Other times, my phone will ring, and the caller needs a cheerful word. And who can forget neighbors or our family members, who need a hug or a kind word? Even through my prayers, especially as I turn Scriptures such as Ephesians 3:16–19 or Colossians 1:9–12 into heavenly petitions for others, I can pass on His encouraging truths, trusting Jesus to make those prayers a reality.

For me, finding people to encourage is not a problem. Remembering to listen and to follow through with Jesus’s answers is where I need work. And the amazing thing is, when I try to lift up someone else, I’m the one who ends up encouraged.

Faith Step: Ask Jesus to help you encourage someone today. Invite Him to speak through you, and be prepared for His answers.

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Feeling the Presence of God

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Feeling the Presence of God

Adam and Eve had intimate fellowship in the presence of God before the fall (Genesis 3:8). Since that time, sin has prevented our ability to be in the physical presence of God (Exodus 33:20). Now only the holy, sinless angels are in the physical presence of God (Luke 1:19). But Christians have the presence of God within us by virtue of His indwelling Holy Spirit (John 14:23; 15:4), and that indwelling presence comes only through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.

We are aware of the reality of this presence from our obedience to His Word. “We are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praise of Him who called you out of darkness into His wonderful light” (1 Peter 2:9). Note that Peter says that “we are chosen people . . . belonging to God.” If we belong to Him, will He not be present among us? We never lose the reality of God’s presence, no matter how badly we fail; we never sin so much as to lose our salvation; we never sink so far as to banish the Holy Spirit. We can anger God because of our sin, but true believers never lose the presence of the Holy Spirit. While we will never lose the reality of God’s presence, we might lose the “sense” of His presence.

Every child of God invariably goes through this feeling of losing God’s presence from time to time, like a landlord who has left his house and gone away on business for a while. He has not left the house completely empty, for, if he had, he would have taken all his belongings with him. But because he has left all his furniture and belongings in that house, does it not mean that he will return once again? Any believer knows that there are times of spiritual leanness when perhaps the Lord determines to test our faith. Does He not push us through the winnowing flames of affliction that we might be all the more pure (Job 23:10; 1 Peter 1:7)?

But the practical result of being in God’s presence is joy! Many Christians seem gloomy and dejected because they lack this sense of God’s presence. The fellowship is sweet for those who walk with the Lord in obedience and faith. But the sweet fellowship that comes from obedience and trust in the Lord is not a passing feeling. It sustains us, especially during trials, for “the joy of the Lord shall be your strength” (Nehemiah 8:10). James, the Lord’s brother, writes, “Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds” (James 1:2) because trials produce faith and develop perseverance. When we persevere through trials, proving to ourselves and to others that our faith is real, our sense of God’s presence increases, as does our joy.

David speaks of a joy that only the righteous can know (Psalm 16:11)—a joy that is but a foretaste of a far greater and everlasting joy when we see the Lord’s face in the glory to come.

Article by S. Michael Houdmann

Image by Revive Nations

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