“Then you will learn from your own experience how His ways will really satisfy you.” Romans 12:2b (TLB)
The fourth and fifth tests for knowing which door in life to choose really go together. When deciding on the right door, ask yourself this question:
WILL IT MAKE ME COME ALIVE OR CAUSE ME TO DIE A LITTLE EACH DAY?
This is the principle of passion. God wants us to live from the passion He placed in our hearts. Nothing will satisfy you more than knowing and doing the will of God. Fulfillment comes from doing God’s will God’s way! It makes you come alive! On the other hand, when we step out of the will of God, we begin to die a little each day! We cease living and begin just existing, just biding time! Why live like that when you can come alive? Jesus came that we may have life – eternal and abundant life! Heaven isn’t just pie in the sky when you die by and by! Heaven is steak on the plate while you wait! One of the distinctive characteristics of a Christ follower is JOY – overflowing, contagious joy! What is it that makes you feel fully alive? God isn’t going to call you to do something you hate. He gives you passion for a purpose. Serve the Lord with gladness!
The final test for recognizing a divine door from a destructive one is to ask:
WILL IT BRING ME CLOSER TO CHRIST OR TAKE ME FURTHER FROM HIM?
This is the principle of the One Thing! In Matthew 6:33, Jesus said,
“But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.”
What is He saying? Put God first! Put God first in your time, your finances and your relationships. When you put God first, you can’t make a bad decision! In Proverbs 3, He promises to keep our paths straight. Keep the main thing the one thing, and the one thing that is vital in choosing a divine door is this:
A growing relationship with Jesus!
Are you growing in your relationship with Jesus? Becoming a Christian is a decision followed by a process. God desires for you to know His will. He will lead you to divine doors of opportunity that will make life more abundant, immeasurably more than you can ever think or imagine! Choose the doors that will bring you closer to Him.
Let’s review the tests for knowing if a door is divine or destructive.
What does God’s Word say?
Is it worth my life?
Is it a Divine opportunity or a beautiful distraction?
Will it make me come alive or cause me to die a little each day?
Will it bring me closer to Christ or take me further away from Him?
As you ask these questions, God will guide you in the right direction and lead you to the right door.
“See then that you walk circumspectly, not as fools but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be unwise, but understand what the will of the Lord is.” Ephesians 5:15-17 (NKJV)
You’ll either redeem the time or regret the time God gives you in life. How do we redeem time? I thought, once it is gone, you can’t get it back! That’s true. But, redeeming the time in this passage refers to making the most of every opportunity, not wasting the time God gives you. How do we do that? How do we know the difference between a good door or God’s best door for us, the difference between good opportunities and God opportunities? The verse in Ephesians 5:15-17 give us the answer – wisdom!
“Therefore do not be unwise….”
We need wisdom to make the most of our opportunities. Wisdom is living skillfully. Wisdom is seeing life from God’s point of view. Wisdom enables us to walk circumspectly and not as fools who will regret their lives in the end. Fools live their lives by FOMO – Fear Of Missing Out. Just like Satan distracted and derailed Eve by suggesting God was holding out on her, he can do the same to us. Jesus said to watch, pray, and be alert so that we can discern God’s perfect will. If we want wisdom when we face doors of decision, we need to ask the question:
IS THIS A DIVINE OPPORTUNITY OR A BEAUTIFUL DISTRACTION?
This is the principle of discernment. More often than not, I find that my real struggle isn’t between a divine door or a destructive one as much as it is between a good door and God’s best. Don’t let a beautiful distraction cause you to forfeit a Divine opportunity. I need discernment to know the difference. In Romans 12:2 the Bible puts it like this,
“Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your minds, so that you may discern what is the will of God – what is good and acceptable and perfect.”
The best way to get that kind of discernment is through prayer. Pray for discernment. Pray for wisdom. In James 1, the Bible promises us that, if we lack wisdom, all we need to do is ask God and He will give it to us. God isn’t trying to hide His will. As I pray for discernment and see the tests for knowing God’s will lining up, I reach for the door praying that God will shut it in my face if it’s the wrong door for me.
“Live life, then, with a due sense of responsibility, not as men who do not know the meaning and purpose of life but as those who do.” Ephesians 5:15 (Ph)
The first decisive test for determining if an open door is divine or destructive is to ask the question: What does God’s Word say? This is the principle of obedience. When we know clearly what God’s says about a matter, our decision should already be made. Obedience brings blessing. But, what about those decisions that are not clearly in God’s Word? What do you do about the many doors you will face in life that the Bible doesn’t specifically speak to? Sometimes, all the doors may be good and moral and present positive benefits, but which one is best? Which one is God’s will for you to open?
When the choice is not clearly defined in God’s Word, apply the second test for determining the will of God by asking this question:
IS IT WORTH MY LIFE?
This is the principle of priorities. You will either live your life by priorities or pressures. Which one are you most driven by now? Do you find yourself living life under the demands and pressures of everyone around you? It’s not that you’re inefficient; you just don’t feel effective. You may be doing things right, but you may not be doing the right things. This is the danger of believing the lie that multi-tasking is more productive than a focused life. How eager would you be to have your surgeon checking e-mails and texts while operating on you? Imagine a pilot playing video games or surfing the web while flying the plane. We want the people to whom we entrust our lives to be focused and not distracted!
It sounds like a paradox, but the truth is that, the more you focus your life, the more you broaden your life. It’s the principle of priorities. Have you ever written down your priorities? What are they? God’s power flows through our priorities. He promises us that, when we put Him first in all things, He will direct our paths. Priorities are best aligned around relationships. Your relationship with God, with your spouse, with your kids, with your job and, then, with the world. When our lives are based on those priorities, the Bible says we are living with a due sense of responsibility … (as those) who know the meaning and purpose of life.
When choosing a door of opportunity before you, ask the question: Is it worth my life? Is it the best use of my time? Because you are giving your life to whatever you invest your time in! Your time represents your life. You can make money and spend it and make it again, but you cannot redeem your time. Jesus warned us in Mark 8:36-37:
“For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?”
This verse is at the very heart of time management because it is asking the question, “Is it worth my life?” The Message paraphrases best how we can live our lives in alignment with God’s will:
“So here’s what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life – your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life – and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for Him.” Romans 12:1-2 (MSG)
“Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—His good, pleasing and perfect will.” Romans 12:1-2 (NIV)
What do you do when you’re faced with multiple doors of opportunity and you don’t know which one to choose? Maybe there is only one door open before you and you aren’t sure you should walk through that one. Just because a door is open doesn’t necessarily mean it is the will of God for your life.
How do you know for certain the will of God? This is the most common question pastors are asked. Is the door before me divine or destructive? If you’ve ever asked these questions, you are in good company. The good news is that God is not trying to hide His will from you or confuse you with what He wants you to do. When you turn to the counsel of His Word, He can turn the cloudiness into clarity. In Romans 12: 2, Christ followers are challenged to test and approve what God’s will is – His good, pleasing and perfect will. How do we do that? What is the test to see if a door is divine or destructive? Can we really know before we open it? This week, we’ll examine five decisive tests to apply before choosing which door to walk through in your life. These tests are 100% accurate in determining the will of God. Here’s the first one:
WHAT DOES GOD’S WORD SAY?
This is the principle of obedience. In Romans 12:2, the Bible says,
“Do not conform to the pattern of the world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.”
Every decision you make will either be conforming or transforming. If we’ll choose first to find out what the Bible says regarding a decision and choose to obey it, God will make known His will with clarity. Too often, though, we think our circumstances are an exception to what the Bible is clearly saying. Over 90% of God’s will is revealed already in His Word. The problem is we don’t want to obey it. We rationalize our behavior to justify our decisions because, at the time, they feel right. The Bible gives a warning about that kind of decision making. Twice in Proverbs the Bible says,
“There is a way that seems right to a person, but in the end it eventually leads to death.” Prov. 14:12, & 16:25 GW
The bottom line is that God’s will never goes against God’s Word. Before making a decision, check out what the Bible says and determine ahead of time that you’ll obey it even if it is contrary to how you feel or what your flesh wants to do. This is the principle of obedience, and it honors God! It will always lead to blessing. Obedience brings blessing!
In Ephesians 5:17, the Bible says,
“Make the best use of your time, despite all the difficulties of these days. Don’t be vague but firmly grasp what you know to be the will of God.”
If you want to make the best use of your time and live with confident assurance, then decide now to firmly grasp what you know to be the will of God and do it.
“I am the Door; anyone who enters in through Me will be saved (will live). He will come in and he will go out [freely], and will find pasture.” John 10:9 (AMP)
Twice in John chapter 10, Jesus Christ refers to Himself as the Door. What does He mean by this metaphor? In verses 7 and 8, He says,
“… I Myself am the Door for the sheep. All others who came before Me are thieves and robbers.”
This was a big hit for the religious leaders around Him. Jesus often referred to people as sheep. In His day, sheep were kept in a community sheepfold where they were kept safe and wouldn’t wander away. They could only enter the sheepfold through the door. When Jesus said that He was the door and all those who came before Him were thieves and robbers, the religious leaders must have felt the sting of His rebuke. They represented the organized religion of their day. They had failed to care for and feed the sheep. They were self-serving. When Jesus said He was the door of the sheepfold, He was inviting the people into His sheepfold where they would be saved, protected and cared for. In verse 9 He said,
“I am the Door; anyone who enters in through Me will be saved (will live). He will come in and he will go out [freely], and will find pasture.”
Jesus is the Door of salvation. When you trust in Christ, you enter into His sheepfold and enjoy the wonderful privilege of going in and out and finding pasture! Through Christ, we can graze in the grace of God! How awesome is that?! Jesus didn’t come to start another religion. He came to offer us life – abundant life! Organized religion emphasizes rules and regulations. Christianity emphasizes relationship – a personal relationship with God through Jesus! He is the door to life! When you enter, He delivers you from bondage and leads you into freedom! That’s what is behind the meaning of “saved” in this passage. You are not only saved from hell to heaven; you are saved from sinful destructive habits and empowered to live a new quality of life that has no other explanation but Christ in you!
Has religion robbed you of an intimate personal relationship with the God that made you? Enter the door of salvation today and receive Christ! You will go in and out and find pasture in the grace of God!
“This command I am giving you today is not too difficult for you to understand, and it is not beyond your reach. It is not kept in heaven, so distant that you must ask, ‘Who will go up to heaven and bring it down so we can hear it and obey?’ It is not kept beyond the sea, so far away that you must ask, ‘Who will cross the sea to bring it to us so we can hear it and obey?’ No, the message is very close at hand; it is on your lips and in your heart so that you can obey it.” Deut. 30:11-14 (NLT)
Moses’ final words to Israel were a matter of life and death. He had led them faithfully for over 40 years through the wilderness after their exodus from Egypt. He knew he was dying, and he wanted this new generation to make it into the promised land of blessing. This was a deciding moment. In Deuteronomy 30, Moses confronts them with four choices that would enable them to experience the blessing God had for them. They are as critical for us today.
MAKE THE CHOICE TO LET GOD LOVE YOU WHEN YOU FEEL UNLOVABLE.
MAKE THE CHOICE TO LET GOD HEAL YOU WHEN YOU’RE HURTING.
MAKE THE CHOICE TO FOLLOW GOD INSTEAD OF YOUR FEELINGS.
MAKE THE CHOICE TO SPEAK AND ACT IN FAITH EVEN WHEN YOU CAN’T SEE IT.
In this fourth and final choice, Moses was telling the nation that God’s will for them wasn’t something He was trying to hide. He said it was not too difficult for them to understand, nor was it beyond their reach.
“No, the message is very close at hand; it is on your lips and in your heart so that you can obey it.” Deut. 30:14 (NLT)
The same is true for you and me. Every day, we face doors of decision. We have to choose which door to enter. Those choices can mean the difference between life and death. If we want to make divine choices in the critical moments, we must choose to speak and act in faith even when we can’t see it. This is the mystery of faith. It is what makes the Christian life such an adventure! Our trouble is that we want to see how it will all work out ahead of time and, then, decide to act in faith. We say, “I’ll believe it when I see it,” but faith says, You’ll see it when you believe it! We dream of a life of blessing and purpose and say, “I would if I could,” but God says, “You could if you would.” Make the choice to speak and act in faith even when you can’t see it. The writer of Hebrews said,
“Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.” Hebrews 11:1 (NIV)
Begin speaking words of faith thanking God in advance for all that He has designed for you.
“For the LORD is your life…” Deut. 30:20c (NIV)
Thank You, Lord Jesus, that You are my life! I choose to let You love me when I feel unlovable. I choose to let You heal me when I’m hurting. I choose to follow You instead of my feelings and I choose to speak and act in faith even when I can’t see it. You are God and nothing is too difficult for You!
“And you will make a new start, listening obediently to God, keeping all His commandments that I’m commanding you today.” Deuteronomy 30:8 (MSG)
Feelings are powerful. They can control our lives if we let them. They can negatively affect our decisions and even get us on the wrong path. Do you follow God or your feelings? Feelings are important, but what are you going to base the decisions of your life on? When I base my decisions on what the world says or how I feel, it usually leads me the wrong way. There’s another option. I can base my decisions on what God says in His Word. Since my decisions shape my destiny, it’s critical to make wise decisions.
When Moses was challenging Israel with the choice between life and death and blessings and curses, he gave them the basis for making wise decisions. In fact, the implication in his challenge was that, even if their past decisions were wrong, they could make a fresh start. That’s good news. Most of us have made some bad decisions and can feel like we’ve blown it. Satan uses our failures to reinforce our inferiority complex and convince us that we can’t begin again. Don’t listen to his voice. Make the choice to follow God instead of your feelings. Moses encouraged his people with this promise:
“And you will make a new start, listening obediently to God, keeping all His commandments that I’m commanding you today.” Deut. 30:8 (MSG)
If I am to hear God’s voice over the voice of the devil or my own feelings I must do two things:
Listen constantly. The problem is not that God is not speaking or that He has not spoken. The problem is that I am not listening. Keep your ear attentive to His voice and your heart open to God. In Isaiah 66:4 the Bible says:
“… For when I called, no one answered, when I spoke, no one listened….”
If we are to hear from God, the Bible says we must belong to Him.
“He who belongs to God hears what God says. The reason you do not hear is that you do not belong to God.” John 8:47 (NIV)
If you belong to God, listen for His voice. Tune in His Word and tune out the world.
Obey immediately. As you hear God speak through His Word, His Spirit and others, don’t hesitate to obey what God says. Don’t wait until you feel like obeying to obey. Just obey. Delayed obedience is disobedience. As we obey the truth we know, God will reveal what we need to know.
If you want to experience life and blessing, make the choice to follow God instead of your feelings. Don’t wait for the sensational or spectacular. The Christian life is Christ living the life He lived then, lived now by Him in you! Ian Thomas said it well,
“It is essentially miraculous even though it does not have to be sensational. It is always supernatural….”
Open the door to real life – His life and blessing. How? Make the choice to follow God instead of your feelings.
“God, your God, will cut away the thick calluses on your heart and your children’s hearts freeing you to love God, your God with your whole heart and soul and live, really live.” Deuteronomy 30:6 (MSG)
Our decisions will determine our destiny. When Moses presented two doors for Israel to choose from, he implored them to “choose life, so that they and their children may live….” Deut. 30:19b (NIV) This is the most important door to walk through. It’s the door of salvation. The New Testament tells us that Jesus is the door. When we enter that door, we experience life and blessing! Making that decision involves four basic choices. We looked at the first choice yesterday.
Make the choice to let God love you when you feel unlovable.
Here’s the second one:
Make the choice to let God heal you when you’re hurting.
When most of us are hurting, all that we can feel is the pain. It may be a loss, a death, a broken heart, a shattered dream. Whether it’s the result of bad choices we’ve made or life having dealt us a hand we didn’t choose, the pain is deep and the wound doesn’t seem to heal. It could be lost love, lost passion, or lost purpose. What do you do with the broken pieces of a life that’s been shattered by such loss? You have a choice. You can hold onto the hurt and remain a victim, or you can choose to let God heal you when you’re hurting. In Deuteronomy 30:3, Moses challenged the nation to let God pick up the pieces of their brokenness and restore them. If they would make the choice to let God heal them, he said,
“God, your God, will restore everything you lost; He’ll have compassion on you; He’ll come back and pick up the pieces from all the places where you were scattered.”
If you read further in the Old Testament, God did restore the nation when their failures and sin led them into exile. They were broken and removed from their own land where they were taken captive. But, when they cried out to God, He heard their cry and brought them back.
Then, God did even more! Much more! Not only would He bring them home, He would heal their broken hearts! In verse 6, Moses said,
“God, your God, will cut away the thick calluses on your heart and your children’s hearts, freeing you to love God, your God with your whole heart and soul and live, really live.”
Has your heart been broken by loss and sorrow? Do you find yourself just existing from day to day and not really living? Is it a struggle to give your heart to anything or anyone? The pain you’ve experienced has covered your heart with calluses to protect you from any more pain. C.S. Lewis described it like this:
“To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything and your heart will be wrung and possibly broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact you must give it to no one, not even an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements. Lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket, safe, dark, motionless, airless, it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable. To love is to be vulnerable.”
If you’ve made that fatal choice and find yourself numb and lifeless, there is hope! Make the choice to let God heal you when you’re hurting. He will cut away those calluses, freeing you to love again with your whole heart and soul! It’s time to live again, really live! Make that choice today!
“This day I call the heavens and the earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live and that you may love the LORD your God, listen to His voice, and hold fast to Him. For the LORD is your life, and He will give you many years in the land He swore to give to your fathers, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.” Deuteronomy 30:19, 20 (NIV)
Did you know that we make 35,000 decisions every day according to recent research? The number of choices you have to make, both big and small, can feel overwhelming. What’s more, the trajectory of your life is determined by the choices you make on a daily basis. That’s why God doesn’t want you to make decisions alone. He has a plan for your life and wants the very best for you and your family. His Word shows us how to make divine decisions in the critical moments of life. A great example of that is found in Deuteronomy 30. Moses calls on the nation of Israel with a clear choice of life or death. He says,
“… I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses….” Deut. 30:19 (NIV)
Have you ever considered that your decisions determine your destiny? In Deuteronomy, Moses gives us four wise choices to make that will offer life and blessing. This week, we will examine each one so we may experience a life of blessing instead of death and curses. Here’s the first choice to make:
Make the choice to let God love you when you feel unlovable!
No matter how unlovable you feel or how badly you have behaved, the Bible teaches us that God loves you! His love is not based on our performance like human love. His love is unconditional! His love is relentless! His love pursues you and me and will never let us go! He doesn’t love you more when you are good nor love you less when you are bad. There’s nothing we could do to make Him love us more! Consider that for a moment and relax – just let God love you! To a wayward nation, God said,
“No matter how far away you end up, God, your God will get you out of there and bring you back….” Deut. 30:4 (MSG)
Have you drifted away from God? Are you feeling unlovable? Unworthy of His love? The devil will tell you that you can’t come back. You’ve gone too far! You aren’t good enough. God can’t use you again. Lies! God said,
“No matter how far away you end up, God, your God will get you out of there and bring you back!” How does He do it? How do we make the choice to let God love us when we feel so unlovable? There are two ways we let God love us:
Forgiveness – I love the way the Living Bible paraphrases 1 John 1:9. It says,
“But if we confess our sins to Him, He can be depended on to forgive us and to cleanse us from every wrong. [And it is perfectly proper for God to do this for us because Christ died to wash away our sins.]”
We let God love us when we admit our failures and sins and ask His forgiveness. Sin is serious and it makes us feel guilty and unlovable and separates us from God. Jesus died on the cross for our sins to demonstrate God’s love for us so that we could be forgiven!
Focus – You choose to let God love you when you focus on what His Word says instead of what the world says. The world says you’re not worth it. No one would love you. God says you’re worth dying for and He loves you!
Forgiveness and focus are what I call “spiritual breathing”. When you confess your sins, you exhale the guilt and pain to God and, when you focus on what God has done for you in Christ, you inhale His forgiveness and love! Do you ever just let God love you? Practice spiritual breathing right now. Exhale the negative hurt and pain you feel and inhale the truth of God’s Word – YOU ARE LOVED!
“GOD (says), ‘I’ve never quit loving you and never will. Expect love, love, and more love!’” Jeremiah 31:3 (MSG)
The is the first and most important door of decision to walk through. Jesus is the door. When you step through this door, you experience God’s love and are assured of His presence and direction as you learn to follow Him. The door is open! Come on in and experience God’s love!
“… if we are living in the light of God’s presence, just as Christ does, then we have wonderful fellowship and joy with each other, and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from every sin.” 1 John 1:7 (TLB)
To turn our conflicts into deeper connections instead of disconnecting from our relationships, we must know the difference between a fight and fellowship. What is a fellowship? Maybe you’ve heard the simple answer: “Fellowship is two people in the same ship.” I like to look at fellowship as two people on the same side of a struggle. You know what they call two people on the opposite side of a struggle? A Fight! (or Democrats and Republicans!) I hoped you laughed at that! It was a joke…. Lighten up already!
Seriously, though, when you are convinced the other person is wrong and you are right, it’s easy to lose your fellowship with them and your joy in the relationship. But, what do you value more – your opinion or your relationship? Learn to fight for the relationship instead of with one another. How do you do that? Get on the same side of the struggle!
Your real enemy is not your spouse or friend. We’ve already learned who our real enemy is in this cosmic conflict in which we are engaged. But, how do you maintain fellowship when you’re in a conflict? In 1 John 1:7, an aging apostle offers wise counsel. If we want to have wonderful fellowship and joy with each other, John says we must live in the light of God’s presence, just as Christ does. Do you practice the presence of God in your life? How consciously aware are you that, as a Christ follower, Jesus came by the Holy Spirit to indwell you 24/7? He promised never to leave us or forsake us. He said,
“I am with you always, even to the end of the world.” (Matthew 28:20 TLB)
As we cultivate the presence of God, His Spirit enables us to experience fellowship and joy with others. That fellowship and joy flows out of a common denominator. It’s not that we agree on everything but that we are both sinners in need of forgiveness. What enables us to have wonderful fellowship and joy with one another is the fact that the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from every sin. We may not connect in agreement on every issue, but we find our deepest connection in Christ. And, the blood He shed that our faults, failures and sins could be forgiven. His sacrifice builds the bridge that reconciles our lives with God and one another.
If you find yourself out of fellowship with others, ask yourself if you are walking in the light of God’s presence as Christ does. What portion of the conflict do you need to own and confess? Then, celebrate the joy of forgiveness and get on the same side of the struggle!