Open Door Doesn’t Mean Easy

Studies in First Corinthians – XXIX

1 Corinthians 16:7-9

“For I will not see you now by the way; but I trust to tarry a while with you, if the Lord permit. But I will tarry at Ephesus until Pentecost. For a great door and effectual is opened unto me, and there are many adversaries.”

In the closing chapter of First Corinthians, Paul begins to write of his future plans, especially his desire to visit Corinth once again. When this is possible, he does not know because he is certain that he is presently in God’s will at Ephesus.

He gives two reason for his assurance: because God has opened a door of opportunity, and there are many adversaries. He didn’t say, “But there are many adversaries, so I think I will give up soon.” He said, “And there are many adversaries, so I will stay.” In other words, Paul saw the adversaries as an opportunity and just as much a reason for staying as God’s open door.

I trust that our mediation on this may put courage into some faltering life, strength into some soldier of the cross, and insight into all our hearts as to what an open door is, and what it demands of us. – Alan Redpath

It is important to remember that the door to Ephesus had not always been open. Just a few years ago, Paul was forbidden by the Holy Ghost to preach in Asia. Many things happened before this door was finally opened. Before Paul arrived, God was going to send another preacher to break up the stoney ground. And that is exactly what He did with Apollos. Paul was ready, but he had to wait for the perfect timing of God. Ephesus was shut to Paul because Ephesus was not ready for him.

Not only did Ephesus need prepared, Paul needed some toughening up for the trials that he would face when the door was finally opened. He first had to go to a prison at Philippi and a riot in Thessalonica. Both of these experiences were needed to put spiritual courage in him for the road ahead.

Now Ephesus is ready, and Paul is ready. It is a prepared man and a prepared place. It is always a thrill to step into the place of service which is prepared for you. But when the door finally opens, what will it be like? Will it be overwhelming blessing and a life of mountain top experiences? No! In fact, for Paul, Ephesus was a trial from beginning to end. You can read about all of his adversaries in Ephesus in Acts nineteen and twenty, but he sums it up nicely for us in 1 Corinthians 15:32, “I have fought with beast at Ephesus.”

This is not really what we think of as an open door. For Paul, an open door was not synonymous with ease. It was not ease that Paul was looking for, it was opportunity: opportunity to share the Gospel and opportunity to serve the Kingdom of God.

Look for open doors, not easy doors. Never doubt that God has opened the door because you see adversaries on the other side. He never promised an easy road, but He did promise that when He opens the door, no man can shut it. Walk through the door. Trust in His plan. Seize your God-given opportunity.

A Man With A Plan: Reviewing Michael Hyatt’s “Creating Your Personal Life Plan”

I recently tweeted that I had downloaded Michael Hyatt’s first e-book, Creating Your Person Life Plan. A good friend of mine responded by asking my opinion of the book, asking if I thought Mr. Hyatt’s approach was Biblical. I’ve had other friends who suggested that goal-setting and life-planning of any kind were directly opposed to God’s Word.

I can understand the concern. After reading through Mr. Hyatt’s book, I must confess that I am not comfortable with all of the verbiage that he uses. For example, the subtitle of the book is “A Step-by-Step Guide for Designing the Life You’ve Always Wanted.” If I am responsible for designing my life, I’m afraid it will fall incredibly short of what it could be if I allow God to design it.

Also, Mr. Hyatt prioritizes his “life accounts,” stressing the importance of taking care of yourself before you can take care of anyone else. His list looks like this:

1. God
2. Self
3. Gail (Spouse)
4. Children
5. Friends
6. Career
7. Finances
8. Ministry

Others would argue that “self” should come after others as we are called to be servants to all. The problem is in trying to list these accounts in order of importance. Rather than a list, I suggest we put our relationship with God at the center of our life. When our relationship with Him is correct, the other accounts are a natural outflow of this relationship.

That being said, Let me tell you why I love Mr. Hyatt’s book and how I have been using these ideas and resources for the past year.

If you know me well at all, you know that I am task oriented. I am a planner. I set goals and strive to meet those goals. I have been using the Life Plan format and the Weekly Review and Quarterly Review for the past year and I can honestly say that it has increased my focus and productivity by leaps and bounds.

The key is in how you use tools like these. Planning and goal setting can be dangerous or it can be beneficial depending upon your starting point. When I set goals, they are based on the vision and purpose that God has already revealed to me concerning His will for my life. I don’t use a Life Plan to design my life. Rather, I use it to move me forward in God’s revealed plan for my life.

And that has made all the difference.

Download a copy of Michael Hyatt’s e-book here.

Just Do Something: A Book Review

I recently read Just Do Something by Kevin DeYoung, author of Why We’re Not Emergent. I had to laugh at the subtitle to the book; How to Make a Decision Without Dreams, Visions, Fleeces, Open Doors, Random Bible Verses, Casting Lots, Liver Shivers, Writing in the Sky, etc. As you have probably already guessed, the book is about making decisions and ‘discovering’ the will of God for your life.

DeYoung points out that we tend to have three different meanings of ‘the will of God.’

  1. God’s will of decree. God’s will is always going to be done because He decrees it.
  2. God’s will of desire. God gave humanity a choice. It is His desire that we choose to obey the Word of God.
  3. God’s will of direction. Which, according to DeYoung, is mostly bunk (especially in terms of how we often use it.)

He makes the point that if we would have faith in God’s will of decree and obey God’s will of desire, then God’s will of direction will be taken care of.

God’s will for your life is already spelled out pretty plain in Scripture; it is God’s will for you to be sanctified, it is God’s will for you to go, teach, and baptize, and the list goes on. It is all there in the Word of God.

So what’s the problem? The problem is, we want answers about who to marry, what job to take, where to live, what college to go to, and this list goes on. In waiting to ‘find God’s will’ we delay making any choices and often believe that we are more spiritual when we are actually being indecisive.

What should we do? Have faith in God’s will of decree and obey God’s will of desire. Do those to things and then pray for wisdom and make choices about all the other stuff.

What are your thoughts on DeYoung’s thoughts concerning God’s will? I am still trying to sort it all out but I certainly think there is a lot of truth to what he has said.

Another Date with “Never”

Boarding passes printed.  Bags packed (20 lbs. over the weight limit!).  Hugs and a few tears.  It is time to head to Ghana.

If you would have asked me five years ago if I would ever do foreign missions work, my response would have made it very clear that I was not interested.  As a matter of fact, there were two things that I was “never” going to do; I wasn’t going to go home after I graduated and I wasn’t going to go overseas.  When I graduated in 2007, I spent two months in Ghana and then went home for the next three years!  Never say “NEVER” when it comes to the will of God for your life and ministry.

I have to tell you, I am not sorry that I did what I was “never” going to do.  There have been times of frustration, that’s certain.  There have been many times that I thought I had missed the will of God.  Through it all the Lord has taught me lessons that I never would have learned if I didn’t do what I was “never” going to do.

It has been said, “Let God plan your life because you will under plan it.” It has certainly proved true in my life.  And now, if you will excuse me, I have another date with “never”.

What is your “Never”?

P.S.  I hope to be posting soon from Ghana.  Of course, that will depend on my access to the internet and other factors.  Thank you for all of your prayers and support!

You Can Run But You Can’t Hide

You can’t run from the will of God.

Well…you can run but you can’t hide.  Just ask Jonah.

The will of God can be frightening at times.  We wonder how we will get from where we are to where God wants us to be.  We question our ability to fight the battles that will be required.  We question our desire to make the sacrifices that will be required.  And we struggle with the command to take up our cross.

Here is a great example; the small remnant of Israelites that were left in the promised land after Babylon’s conquest (Jer. 42).  The people asked the prophet, Jeremiah, to pray and find God’s will.  After ten days, the prophet returns with God’s answer.

“If you stay here (in the promised land and under the rule of the Babylonians) I will build you and not pull you down.  I will plant you and not pluck you up.”


“If you decide to go to Egypt because you think that there you will be safe from war or famine, then you will find in Egypt the sword and the famine which you were afraid of and there you will die.”

In other words, your greatest fears will be realized in the place you run to escape the will of God.

You can run, but you can’t hide.

God is calling an army of people to dig their heels into the land of promise, the inheritance that He has given us, this wonderful Truth.  There is a battle to be fought, sacrifices to be made, and a cross to bear.  If we stay, He will build and plant us.  If we run, we run from the place of safety and into our greatest fears.

Stop running, there is nowhere to hide.

Selective Obedience

Let me give you a little glimpse into a scene that is played out all too often in my life.  I have a very bad habit; I tend to get busy thinking about something and I end up ignoring people who are talking to me.

Here is an example that tends to happen fairly frequently.  While eating with friends or family, I can tend to get lost in thought about the day or what I need to do or what to talk about.  Meanwhile, somebody needs the salt, which is setting right next to (you guessed it) the daydreamer.

“Please pass the salt.”

(clears throat) “Please pass the salt.”


“Oh, you were talking to me.” I say, slightly embarrassed.

And every once in a while, somebody will tell me that I have selective hearing, I only hear what I want to hear.

Today, I have been thinking about the importance of being obedient to God and the danger of selective obedience to His will and commandments.  All of us have been there at one time or another, and truth be told, many are probably there today.  We are obeying God in almost every area of our life but there are one or two things that we are holding on to.  And we have convinced ourselves that it is okay because we are being obedient in so many other ways.  We hold on to our disobedience so long that we are deceived into believing that it is obedience! (Saul is a good Biblical example of this)

Disobedience and deception grow together.  Deception leads to disobedience leads to deception leads to disobedience leads to…you get the picture. 

Here is the problem with selective obedience; we can be obedient in 99 out of 100 areas, but 99 acts of obedience do not offset the sin, misdirection, and lost time of the one act of disobedience.

Selective Obedience is Disobedience.  This is not to say that if you are failing to be obedient in one area of your life that you should just give up and all hope is gone.  No, rather, you need to pray for the grace of God to help you be obedient in every thing.  This is the will of God and it will bring you true joy and peace that can only come from walking in His will.

“In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.”  Proverbs 3:6

So how about it?  I know that you are following Him, but are you fully obeying?  Is there something you need to do?  Something you need to give up?  Pray about it.