2023 – IS THAT DOOR OPEN OR CLOSED?

(December 17, 2022) Richard Winter encourages us to make right decisions in 2023.

It’s almost January 2023! A whole year has gone by so quickly and, although good things have happened to many by God’s grace, we still live in dark times and a troubled world! Already people are wondering what really lies ahead for us next year, doors of opportunity-wise.

Christians who seek God’s will regarding their future in any year will always want to know the answer to these five questions:

  • Is this door open or is this door closed?
  • Is this God’s will for me?
  • Or is there something else?
  • Am I even supposed to go this way?
  • Or is there some other way?

Is this how you are currently thinking – which way should you go… or not go in 2023? For example, are you considering whether it’s right or wrong to switch jobs?If so, how do you know when it’s the right time to move from one place to another?

Also, if you’re having to make this or some other major decision, how do you know if it’s the right or wrong thing to go through that door?

Most of us can say we have experienced times when a great door of opportunity seemed to slam shut and we were disappointed. Our attitude was ‘Oh come on God, you know that would have been good for me… and my family. Why did I miss out?’  And we could feel our heart ache.

1. God’s directing
We believe the Bible is the inerrant word of God – fully inspired, profitable for doctrine and correction and certainly for the principles of daily living (2 Timothy 3:16).So, what does it say about getting God’s directing when you ask the like of those questions above? Let’s consider some scriptures and understand the principles that you can use.

Paul knew about doors of opportunity – 1 Corinthians 16:9, 2 Corinthians 2:12, even asked prayer for such in Colossians 4:3.

The following passage is about a negative door that becomes positive, which is often the way when God closes one door only to open something far better! Patience and trust are better than impatience and self-direction.

Acts 16:6-34 – ‘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. When they came to the border of Mysia, they tried to enter Bithynia, but the Spirit of Jesus would not allow them.

‘So they passed by Mysia and went down to Troas. During the night Paul had a vision of a man of Macedonia standing and begging him, “Come over to Macedonia and help us.”’ 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.’

Read to the end of the chapter and learn that –

  • Paul goes to Philippi and Lydia and her household are converted (v11-15a).
  • He and Silas are severely beaten after confronting a woman with a demon (v16-23a).
  • They’re thrown into prison, but an earthquake releases them at midnight (v23b-26).
  • The jailer thinks they’ve escaped but they’d remained in the prison (v27-28).
  • He asks what he must do to be saved (v29-30).
  • Paul preaches the gospel to him and his whole household (v31-32).
  • The jailer takes them home and cleans them up, then he and his family are immediately baptised (v33).
  • Then he gives the apostles a well-deserved meal, and scripture records his great joy at being saved (v34).
  • Next morning the magistrates release the apostles because they now know they’re Roman citizens and what they had done was illegal (v35-39).

Wow… a closed door… not what they expected… after all, God had said go to Macedonia! And they had to  spend a night in prison after being flogged. That had certainly saddened their journey and closed the door!

But then an earthquake, and the closed door opens to free the apostles, resulting in more first conversions in Macedonia!

So how do we interpret this? We must understand that open and closed doors are a normal part of the Christian life!

The apostles tried to enter Asia but were blocked by the Holy Spirit. Now we presume this came as a result of prayer – we ask God about the doors of life and He can say, ‘No!’ Or ‘Yes!’ Or ‘Not yet!’

Paul’s missionary team found itself in a struggle to ascertain the right direction where God was leading them… perhaps as we enter 2023, you and I will be in this position.

2. Understanding ‘struggles’
So how do we interpret this? We must understand that open and closed doors are a normal part of the Christian life!

The apostles tried to enter Asia but were blocked by the Holy Spirit. Now we presume this came as a result of prayer – we ask God about the doors of life and He can say, ‘No!’ Or ‘Yes!’ Or ‘Not yet!’

Paul’s missionary team found itself in a struggle to ascertain the right direction where God was leading them… perhaps as we enter 2023, you and I will be in this position.

3. Supernatural interventions
Paul had a vision to go to Macedonia and they immediately left for that region. It was earlier, on Pentecost Sunday, that Peter had told the church to expect prophecies, visions and dreams… ‘“In the last days,” God says, “I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your young men will see visions, your old men will dream dreams”’ (Acts 2:17).

Supernatural intervention is one of the ways God will speak to us. It’s Christmastime – remember how God supernaturally spoke to righteous Joseph and Mary (See The Unsung Hero of Christmas and Mary – What an Incredible Lady).

God wants to talk to you, and He has many ways to communicate…

  • His written word, the chapter and verse.
  • Teachers of God’s word who preach on this topic,
  • Prophecy, a gift to support the church and brings revelations.
  • Dreams and visions given personally to direct you about special events. (Note: Not a daily experience).
  • Circumstances to guide you, particularly if you are sinning.

Discerning believers clearly know the difference between God’s leading and Satan’s hindering. Be a righteous, discerning Christian!

4. Trusting God
God will open a door when we are willing to obey His call in His chosen time.

Doors sometimes get closed because we hesitate or wait longer than necessary. Note how Paul acted immediately (Acts 16:10a).

Sometimes we are not sure if we’ve heard from God, and we linger a little longer. There are times when delaying to act is not obedience but rather a lack of faith in Him.

Note: God will open a door for us when we allow Him to challenge our own personal plans (v10b).

5. Spirit’s leadings
After a closed door, another can open. Paul planned to go to Asia, but God’s plan was to take him to Macedonia – a different place and direction and He closed that Asian door. The apostle was ready to serve God… but God had a different location for him to know about, and on hearing from Him he readily went.

There Paul preached the gospel and the merchant lady Lydia, a worshipper of God who wanted to know the truth about Him is converted. God brought them together and the miracle of salvation was heard and received! (Acts 16:14).

This first Macedonian convert was a very hospitable woman – she immediately opened her home to become a church, inviting Paul and friends to stay with her (v15). Hospitality is the hallmark of Christianity.

More often than not stubborn people won’t see many open doors compared to those who are sensitive and open to the Holy Spirit’s leading!

6. Overcoming opposition
God will open doors when Satan and the world challenges what we believe and do. Whenever the Holy Spirit is ready to act, Satan can react!

Verses 16ff tells what happened when Paul and company were enroute to a prayer meeting: They were met by a demon-possessed girl.

If you have ever been harassed by a demon you will certainly be asking God’s help! Know that the power to cast out demons is given to disciples of Jesus – Mark 16:17, Luke 9:1, Luke 10:17,20.

And this was what Paul did, demonstrating that regional powers yield to the power of Christ! (Acts 16:18).

7. Daring responses
I now draw your attention to two particular actions

  • Paul and Silas were imprisoned yet they prayed and sang, worshipping God. In the worst circumstances Christians can still praise God, knowing that even if they lose their life they will have eternal life.
  • When deliverance came they stayed, and did not run away. They still had  more ministering to give to the new church before they left (v40). Leaving quickly may not be God’s closing a door as there’s probably more work to be done.

God can open and close doors, but He will never close the door on anyone coming to Him (Revelation 3:20). Fellowship and acceptance by Jesus is guaranteed.

Closed doors are often the reason we do not look for the open door that Christ is giving. What is near and familiar may not be what God has planned. Look wider and be ready for what is new in 2023!

And never forget that Christ is always with you and will never leave you or forsake you (Hebrews 13:5). Here’s a verse from one of my favourite old hymns, the song of my heart, E.T. Cassel’s –
‘I am a stranger here, within a foreign land;
My home is far away, upon a golden strand;
Ambassador to be of realms beyond the sea,
I’m here on business for my King.’

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Dr Richard Winter pastors The Connection Church, Huntington Beach, California. Link: OnlinerConnect@gmail.com
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