Few things are more discouraging than having a door slammed shut. You've taken all the right steps, measured your plans with prudence. You feel like God is leading you in a certain direction. It's exciting. And then, just when you assume that everything is working in your favor, something unexpected occurs. The door is closed, and you're back where you started. Know the feeling? Well, today on Insight for Living, Chuck Swindoll helps us understand how to cling to hope when surprises come our way.
Chuck titled his message, When Doors Slam Shut. Our God is full of surprises. It's impossible for you to guess ahead of time what he is doing and where he is leading and what his plan includes. And so our response to him is simply one of quiet and consistent obedience.
It's difficult, especially if you're strong willed, because you have a plan and there's everything right about planning in your life, thinking through what you should do and what it should include. However, the stronger the will, the more difficult it is for us to surrender to his will when it differs from our plan. And he wants to lead us in the way we should go. In fact, the psalmist says he guides us with his eye on us. If you're guided by another's eyes, there are not words.
There's only the silent movement of the eyes. And you must be looking into the face of the one guiding you. We find Paul and Silas in need of God's guidance as several doors closed because the Lord's plan was different than what they had anticipated. His plan was magnificent, but it began with magnificent closed doors. And that's what we read about here in the 16th of Acts, verses six through 10. Just a few verses right in the center of the chapter as these two missionaries seek God's mind in light of what he has just done in closing the doors they thought they would be walking through.
However, his plan is always best, albeit surprising. And that is what becomes, in this case, the epical event no one expected. Acts 16, verse six, Paul and Silas traveled through the area of Phrygia and Galatia because the Holy Spirit had prevented them from preaching the word in the province of Asia at that time. When coming to the borders of Missia, they headed north for the province of Bithynia. But again, the Spirit did not allow them to go there. So instead they went on through Missia to the seaport of Troas. That night, Paul had a vision, a man from Macedonia in northern Greece was standing there pleading with him, come over to Macedonia and help us.
So we decided to leave for Macedonia at once, having concluded that God was calling us to preach the good news there. I want to dedicate this message to you who are right now living with closed doors. You can't explain them. You would not have predicted them. You're facing them and they are inescapable.
You're not able to push through them. So what do you do? We'll talk about that in our time together. You're listening to Insight for Living.
To study the Bible with Chuck Swindoll, be sure to download his Searching the Scriptures studies by going to insightworld.org slash hope. And now the message from Chuck titled, When Doors Slam Shut. It's hard for any of us to believe that a closed door is ever a gift from God. I mean, we don't like closed doors. We like open doors. We don't like red lights, we like green lights. We like wide open entrances into great opportunities, but detours and dead in streets are irritating and they're never enjoyable, certainly not at the time.
This is not only true on a road that's true in life, but sometime those detours and dead in streets are absolutely divine gifts from the one who loves us. It was back in 1959 that I first stepped foot as a first year student onto the campus of Dallas Theological Seminary. Cynthia and I have been married a little over four years. We had no children. So when we arrived, she was able to work and to help us with our expenses that we had as students at the school. She found a job in a small accounting firm. Really only two people were in the firm, the CPA who owned the firm and then she was there to assist him in any way she could and it was a simple job, but it was an important job because often she would be working there without him for he was frequently on the road, traveled quite a bit in his firm and as a CPA. He and his wife had two small children, little busy boys who took extra time and his wife loved it when he was able to be home and help with them. They also enjoyed entertaining and even though God had given them the family and it was growing, they still enjoyed having couples over for an evening and so it was on this particular weekend they had planned to enjoy a nice dinner with friends. However, he was going to be on the road and it was of concern to her that he would be back in time to greet the guests and be there for the meal that they would enjoy together.
He assured her that that would happen. He had arranged the flight so that he would get home, it was a little close, but he would land at Love Field, that was the only airport at the time in the Dallas area and they lived not far from there and so he could get from the airport to home rather quickly and would be home in time to greet the guests and help get the boys to bed and get the evening underway. This was back in the day when tickets were paper tickets. No one had heard of electronic ticketing or much of electronic anything at the time and so you literally carried on board a ticket that not only marked your seat that was chosen but also the date and the time in which you had purchased it.
Now the downside of that is on the rare occasion when someone else purchased a ticket and chose the seat in a full flight, that person could bump you if he or she had bought the ticket ahead of you. So here he sits, let's say in seat 12C, all ready to make his way home from Florida back to Dallas and he looks over and there stands a flight attendant next to him with a paper ticket in her hands and the other passenger waiting to take seat 12C because that person had purchased his before the CPA had gotten his ticket. Hardest part was to call his wife when he got off the plane and tell her that he had been bumped but he said I've got my luggage, didn't check anything and I'll take the very next flight, I'll be home during your meal and we'll be there to see everyone off when we finish and enjoy the evening with them, no problem. Well of course she was disappointed when the guests arrived, they were disappointed not to have him with them because it would have just made the evening complete and he slumped down the seat at the airport awaiting the next flight as we've all done from time to time, disappointed at the change in plans. However late that same night everyone was greatly relieved when they learned that that original flight crashed in the Gulf and everyone on board perished including the man sitting in of course seat 12C. When all of this dawned on them of course they were grateful that that door had closed and he didn't make that flight, that fateful flight that never made it back to Dallas. Cynthia and I learned an unforgettable lesson through that experience of the CPA head.
We never argue when a plane has mechanical trouble and it's put off the line and you have to get off the plane and take another flight, we just get off the plane and never say much about it as we wait for the next flight that opens. I suggest you form that same habit for closed doors always have a reason. They will not be that dramatic but there's always a reason and you may not know the reason then. It's a lesson to be learned that even though disappointed at the time there's a magnificent gift from God in the closed door. Paul and Silas had that to learn. They had their hearts like good missionaries set on taking the message to those who had never heard it before and nothing thrills a missionary or anyone who loves Christ like opening the truth of the gospel to someone who's living his or her life in spiritual darkness. What makes this interesting and even more complicated is that Paul has been on another journey earlier and it was met with wonderful success from one place to another and yet another at another before he returned to his home church in Antioch to give a report along with his traveling companion Barnabas as they told of what God did in that first journey. You could trace the journey as you go back to the 13th and 14th chapters of the book of Acts. There's an important council that was held in chapter 15 recorded there and then toward the end of that chapter plans are being made for a second journey that Paul would take. He had planned earlier to go with Barnabas. That door closed an interesting set of events and then he chose Silas as his traveling companion and they decided they would go back to the places where Paul had been on that first journey and they would see how the churches are doing and they would see if God had been working in the lives of those that they had led to Christ on that original journey and sure enough it was good news. You'll see it in verse 5 of Acts chapter 16.
So the churches were strengthened in their faith and grew larger every day. What an exciting thing that must have been when Paul returned bringing along with him Silas and they realized that the Lord is using their earlier work to build the work there in these new places. Well naturally because of that Paul was anxious to go on into regions beyond and we read of that as we read in verse 6. Next Paul and Silas travel through the area of Phrygia and Galatia.
If you were to take the time and if I had the time to turn to the maps you would see that that's right along the journey. They go up to move to the left of Phrygia or to the right east and then west to get into Galatia. But look at what this says it says because the Holy Spirit had prevented them from preaching the word in the province of Asia at that time. See the word prevent it means to clip or to snip or to cut off it's the idea of an abrupt hindrance somehow the Spirit of God said no no I realized there are people in Phrygia and there are people in Galatia who have not heard don't go there doors are closed. No explanation just a preventing of entering into those areas of spiritual darkness must have been tough to hear but you read nothing of an argument or Paul attempting to force his way there. No he simply accepted that and please notice they pressed on you'll read of it as you read on verse 7 then coming to the borders of Missia they headed north for the province of Bithynia. If you again were to look at the map you would see they're going up north and they get to Missia and then over to Bithynia or at least they attempt to go there but again the Spirit did not allow them to go there. Not only are the first two doors closed into Phrygia and Galatia but now the doors are closed into Missia and Bithynia and they must have thought Lord what exactly are you up to our first journey was such a smooth journey in the sense that we moved from one place to another oh there were trials there were there were moments of persecution but but you used us and the doors were open and we had the opportunity to lead people to Christ and it was marvelous but but we can't go into these areas and there are needs there that need to be met and we we have the truth but you close the door please read on at the end of verse eight they went on through not into but they went through Missia to the seaport of Troas. Now I understand these are unusual places unusual names in ancient Turkey as we know it today but in those days those these were provinces in this land of Asia the continent of Asia or Asia Minor to be specific where these doors are closed let me let me put it in today's USA geography to convey the the situation we're in Texas and let's say we are led to take the gospel up into Arkansas and and Oklahoma states that border Texas and the Spirit of God says no don't don't take the message there move on so we move from from there over to New Mexico and in Colorado and and Utah and and though there are needs there Spirit of God says no don't go there don't take the message there don't say a word the doors are closed oh we'll go to Nevada there's some place that needs the gospel it's Nevada so let's go there let's get into Vegas let's get into those places that really need to go no don't go there well then you're left with California and by the time you get to Berkeley you're confident there's going to be an open door here and there's no open door in Berkeley and you find your way across the East Bay and on over into the San Francisco and if you go any further you get wet you're at the Pacific when they came to Troas they were at the Aegean that there is no further land on that that northwest coast of Asia Troas is this remote little seaport town and I would I would love to have been a bug on the side of the Cape where they had supper that evening or maybe at the shore where they chose to sit and and eat a little bit of food they had brought with them and they talked over what on earth is happening what is God up to which is exactly where some of you are right now it is precisely where you are you haven't been disobedient as a matter of fact you've been very sensitive to what the Lord would have you do or where he would have you go it may be in the realm of of your business it may be as it relates to your schooling it may be in your romance with someone you thought was was going to work out leading toward matrimony but but it's cooled off and the doors closing or has closed it it it may be in your your your business world which had been moving along rather well and now the doors have shut and you can explain why it is you may be in ministry and it looks like the doors are closing at that church and there's all the evidence that God's spirit is leading somewhere else and not here so you can't stay you don't know where to go and God at times like that can be silent when they went to sleep that night they saw the stars in that cloudless night above Troas they could hear the water of the Aegean splashing along the shoreline not sure what the next move was this is insight for living and there's much more ground that Chuck will cover on this topic he's talking about clinging to hope when doors slam shut you know most of us can point to a time in our lives when a door of opportunity slammed shut and for you maybe that's fresh maybe it happened recently when you have some free time this week take a moment to reflect and look at Chuck's online sermon notes we call this resource searching the scriptures by design this document will walk you through the process that Chuck used to study this Bible passage by doing so it'll help you understand how God's word applies to your specific situation you'll find all the details for searching the scriptures with Chuck at inside world org slash studies well in just a few programs we'll be wrapping up Chuck's brand new teaching series called clinging to hope if you've considered requesting a copy of his companion book for this encouraging study well now's the time to do it the quickest way to purchase a copy is to go to inside org slash hope or by calling us if you're listening in the United States call 800-772-8888 in closing I want to take a moment to encourage you with a recent note from one of your fellow listeners in Colorado it said I've been lost many times and my life is taking me to places I never would have imagined but our loving God has always been there for me and even when I felt all alone I had insight for living to help me through some of the toughest moments of my life thank you well moments like these are made possible because loyal friends like you support insight for living and if God is prompting you to give a contribution give us a call if you're listening in the United States call 800-772-8888 you can also give a donation by visiting inside org slash donate you've heard him teach about the holy land using word pictures to make us feel like we're actually strolling through the old city learning about Jerusalem is fascinating for sure but seeing the land of Israel with your own eyes is life-changing in fact it's absolutely magnificent and now you can see Israel with Chuck Swindoll and the gracious hosts and experts assembled by inside for living ministries join us on an unforgettable 12-day tour March 5th through the 16th 2023 at special sites along the way I will teach from God's Word we'll worship at the Mount of Beatitudes and share the Lord's table at the Garden Tomb in fact we'll sail the Sea of Galilee together and we'll visit places where Jesus walked and taught to learn more call 1-888-447-0444 just imagine walking along those sacred sites and seeing the Bible come to life before your very eyes mark your calendar for March 5th through the 16th 2023 and make your reservation by calling 1-888-447-0444 or go to insight org slash events inside for living ministries tour to Israel is paid for and made possible by only those who choose to attend I'm Bill Meyer Chuck Swindoll continues to address what to do when doors slam shut that's Monday on insight for living the preceding message when doors slam shut was copyrighted in 2019 and 2022 and the sound recording was copyrighted in 2022 by Charles or Swindoll in all rights are reserved worldwide duplication of copyrighted material for commercial use is strictly prohibited.
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