When the Door is Closed…

Acts 16:5-12 “5 And so were the churches established in the faith, and increased in number daily. 6 Now when they had gone throughout Phrygia and the region of Galatia, and were forbidden of the Holy Ghost to preach the word in Asia, 7 After they were come to Mysia, they assayed to go into Bithynia: but the Spirit suffered them not. 8 And they passing by Mysia came down to Troas. 9 And a vision appeared to Paul in the night; There stood a man of Macedonia, and prayed him, saying, Come over into Macedonia, and help us. 10 And after he had seen the vision, immediately we endeavoured to go into Macedonia, assuredly gathering that the Lord had called us for to preach the gospel unto them. 11 Therefore loosing from Troas, we came with a straight course to Samothracia, and the next day to Neapolis; 12 And from thence to Philippi, which is the chief city of that part of Macedonia, and a colony: and we were in that city abiding certain days” (KJV).

Paul is now on his second missionary journey and this time he takes Silas with him. It isn’t long before he meets up with Timothy and takes him under his wing. In verse 10 the use of the word “we” indicates that Luke has now joined the team.

As they continue building churches and teaching new believers, everything seemed to be wonderful then the Lord holds up the “stop” sign.

The Lord’s stop sign halted Paul’s original plan to spread and strengthen the gospel message in Asia. This caused Paul and his team to travel through the regions of Phrygia and Galatia. When they reached Mysia, the Holy Spirit put up another road block. This time the Lord sent him a vision to direct his path to Troas.

Once in Troas and receiving the Lord’s new plan, they immediately set sail for Macedonia and the city of Philippi. Along the way to Philippi, they stopped briefly at Samothracia and then Neapolis.

Application: When we are in a dark place, seeking direction from the Lord, we often sit still, waiting for a clear sign and direction before moving forward. Or maybe we are working in a ministry that seems to be slowly depleting itself. Members are falling by the wayside faster and faster, you have tried everything possible, but have no idea how to keep it afloat. So you sit and pray, waiting for the Lord to show you a new direction. Maybe you are waiting for the Lord to pat you on the back and tell you “well done my faithful servant; but I have shut the doors on this ministry”.

I would like to point out that these scenarios are perfectly fine for a Christian to experience. But maybe when the Lord holds up that stop sign, we need to look around behind us, because He is holding up the “Go” sign for us. It might mean that His new plan and direction might be for a new ministry or new location. I am reminded that Paul and his team could have become distraught, depressed, or angry when their plans were changed. But they didn’t, they simply said “Ok, Lord, but which way shall we go now”?

When we are faced with a closed-door from the Lord, maybe we should begin with prayer and keeping with the door analogy, try opening some of the other doors around us.

I can remember being on fire for the Lord, building and working in a growing ministry that was aflame for God. But it did not last long before He quickly shut that door. I was so confused and hurt, I felt like it was something that I had done. I spent a lot of time in prayer, seeking answers. A new door was opened when I stopped focusing on myself and turned it all over to the Lord. My prayer went something like this “Lord, thank you for all of the blessing that I have been given during my ministry and thank you for closing the door. Forgive me for trying to reason with your plans, I am at your service, use me as your will desires for my life and I will follow you anywhere”.

As I waited for the Lord, I dedicated my time in prayer and studies. It was not long before the Lord opened a new door for me and has been using me ever since. We should not be surprised when the Lord changes directions, as long as we understand that we are not the ones in control.

Isaiah 64:8 “But not, O LORD, thou art our father; we are the clay, and thou our potter; and we all are the work of thy hand” (KJV).

Isaiah 55:8-9 “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the LORD. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts” (KJV).

Kyle Idleman’s (2011) book “Not a Fan” is a wonderful reminder of these verses. A fan is someone who gives up hope when their team is not doing so great. But when the team is winning, then they are the best fans. Here is just one of his many great quotes ““The biggest threat to the church today is fans who call themselves Christians but aren’t actually interested in following Christ. They want to be close enough to Jesus to get all the benefits, but not so close that it requires anything from them” (Idleman, 2011).

In Christ,

The Silent Preacher


Idleman, K. (2011). Not a fan: Becoming a completely committed follower of Jesus. Grand Rapids, Mich.: Zondervan.


Conflict Resolution

 Acts 15:1-9 “1 And certain men which came down from Judaea taught the brethren, and said, Except ye be circumcised after the manner of Moses, ye cannot be saved. 2 When therefore Paul and Barnabas had no small dissension and disputation with them, they determined that Paul and Barnabas, and certain other of them, should go up to Jerusalem unto the apostles and elders about this question. 3 And being brought on their way by the church, they passed through Phenice and Samaria, declaring the conversion of the Gentiles: and they caused great joy unto all the brethren. 4 And when they were come to Jerusalem, they were received of the church, and of the apostles and elders, and they declared all things that God had done with them. 5 But there rose up certain of the sect of the Pharisees which believed, saying, That it was needful to circumcise them, and to command them to keep the law of Moses. 6 And the apostles and elders came together for to consider of this matter. 7 And when there had been much disputing, Peter rose up, and said unto them, Men and brethren, ye know how that a good while ago God made choice among us, that the Gentiles by my mouth should hear the word of the gospel, and believe. 8 And God, which knoweth the hearts, bare them witness, giving them the Holy Ghost, even as he did unto us; 9 And put no difference between us and them, purifying their hearts by faith” (KJV).

After returning from their first missionary journey, Paul and Barnabas spent some time in Antioch. The church has accepted the new doctrine of witnessing to the Gentiles, which Peter played a major role in with the conversion of Cornelius (Acts 10). As Paul and Barnabas fellowship and disciple the church members at Antioch, they run into some problems. They discovered that some of the religious believers from Jerusalem had made their way to Antioch.

The problem had to do with adding stipulations to the gospel message. The new believers were being told that they needed to follow the Old Testament law of circumcision. This was completely contrary to what Paul and Barnabas had preached to them. Salvation is through grace by faith, plus or minus nothing. “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is a gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast” (Eph. 2:8-9, KJV).

The conflict was so important that Paul and Barnabas could not convince these legalistic believers what they were preaching was wrong. They had to form a debate team and journey to the original head church in Jerusalem (v.2).

As the made their way to Jerusalem, Paul and Barnabas continued witnessing and preaching the gospel message. Once they arrived in Jerusalem and began discussing this issue of salvation, it was obvious that some of the leaders still believed that keeping the Mosaic Law was a requirement to salvation. This was not a one-time meeting. Most commentaries agree that the debate was discussed during 4 separate occasions. The final outcome was an agreement that salvation is through grace by faith, plus or minus nothing. They documented the agreement and sent witnesses back to Antioch in order sign, seal, and deliver the news.

There are a few important issues that I would like to discuss from these verses. Conflict in the church is nothing new and should not surprise us. The key to any type of conflict is the goal of resolution. Resolving conflict takes time; we must be willing to listen carefully and take the time necessary to handle it. When Paul and Barnabas could not find resolution at Antioch, they took the conflict to the next level. The focus was not placed on who was right or who was wrong; the focus was on 100% resolution. If there was no resolution to the doctrine of salvation; the church could not move forward. The division in doctrine would have caused the church to decay from the inside out.

Have you ever seen a church split over silly arguments? I have heard of a church dividing because they could not agree on the color of the new carpet they wanted to purchase. How does such a silly argument promote the gospel message to the un-saved? Why would anyone visit a church that can’t even agree on the color of a carpet?

The other issue to discuss is the legalistic view; which is considered the darker side of Christianity. When Christians add to the gospel, it creates a salvation message that is impossible to achieve. Let me explain: If I create a rule to the salvation message, I point sinners back to the Ten Commandments (Law). But that is not what God’s law is designed to do. The law is impossible to keep; therefore it is designed to point sinners to Christ. Not the other way around.

Galatians 3:21-25 “21 Is the law then against the promises of God? God forbid: for if there had been a law given which could have given life, verily righteousness should have been by the law. 22 But the scripture hath concluded all under sin, that the promise by faith of Jesus Christ might be given to them that believe. 23 But before faith came, we were kept under the law, shut up unto the faith which should afterwards be revealed. 24 Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith. 25 But after that faith is come, we are no longer under a schoolmaster” (KJV).

In Christ,

The Silent Preacher

One More Day

 1 Corinthians 10:1-6 “1 Moreover, brethren, I would not that ye should be ignorant, how that all our fathers were under the cloud, and all passed through the sea; 2 And were all baptized unto Moses in the cloud and in the sea; 3 And did all eat the same spiritual meat; 4 And did all drink the same spiritual drink: for they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them: and that Rock was Christ. 5 But with many of them God was not well pleased: for they were overthrown in the wilderness. 6 Now these things were our examples, to the intent we should not lust after evil things, as they also lusted” (KJV).

In keeping with the theme about past mistakes and dwelling in history, I think these verses are worthy of another post. Paul is writing to the church at Corinth. Notice how Paul addresses his fellow brothers and sisters in Christ, calling for their immediate attention. His desire for the church is heartfelt and passionate. He is saying “Please don’t ignore the past mistakes of your forefathers, learn from them”. His focus was on the blessings they had received and yet, they were overthrown in the wilderness. Paul gives us an important reminder that our need for Christ should not be measured or weighted through our circumstances.

I’m afraid that many un-saved people today have the same ignorance that Paul speaks about. They believe that salvation only applies to those who are poor, drug addicted, or suffer through an habitual cycle of “bad things” in life. Paul reminds me that salvation is for everyone. Romans 3:22-23 “Even the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe: for there is no difference: For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God”. People may put on a persona and make it look like they are doing wonderful, but deep down they are hurting. Regardless, keep on sharing the gospel. Plant the seeds and let the Lord provide the Light and Water. My point is not to judge how others view salvation, but to address the need for all to come to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ.

For the Christian, we are reminded that the blessed days of our walk with the Lord are just as important as the darker ones. Whether we are on the mountain top or sitting in a valley, our faith needs to remain constant. 1 Thessalonians 5:18 “In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you” (KJV). Good days or bad days, it just doesn’t matter…They are all worthy of giving thanks, to the One who has blessed us with…one more day!

In Christ,

The Silent Preacher

Finding Balance

 1 Timothy 6:1-11 “1 Let as many servants as are under the yoke count their own masters worthy of all honour, that the name of God and his doctrine be not blasphemed. 2 And they that have believing masters, let them not despise them, because they are brethren; but rather do them service, because they are faithful and beloved, partakers of the benefit. These things teach and exhort. 3 If any man teach otherwise, and consent not to wholesome words, even the words of our Lord Jesus Christ, and to the doctrine which is according to godliness; 4 He is proud, knowing nothing, but doting about questions and strifes of words, whereof cometh envy, strife, railings, evil surmisings, 5 Perverse disputings of men of corrupt minds, and destitute of the truth, supposing that gain is godliness: from such withdraw thyself” (KJV).

Paul is speaking to the young Timothy, reminding him of the importance of maintaining a proper Christian perspective. As a Christian, living in a world with those who are opposed to our beliefs, it may become difficult to find the right balance. We are to live according to His word, follow His instructions, and defend His truth. Paul also reminds Timothy that it is important to remain respectful to others. The picture given is that of a slave working for his master.

In today’s workplace environment, there are Christians who struggle with maintaining a balanced life of faith. The boss or supervisor may not be a Christian; in fact they may dislike everything Christianity stands for. This may cause a great deal of stress in the life of a Christian. Paul reminds us that we need to be respectful toward those we work for and with, regardless of their faith or lack thereof.

How do we balance our faith? The word “Balance” may be a poor word choice for this application. A Christian does not have to balance their faith in the workplace. It may seem impossible to live your faith in an office filled with people who want nothing to do with Christ. Everything you are trying to live for and by seems foolish to others. How we live our faith at home or at church seems impossible to do at work. But this is exactly what Paul is addressing. We may not be able to openly bring the gospel message into the workplace, but we are told to continue living the gospel through our actions, deeds, and words.

Paul explains in the latter of verse 1, “…worthy of all honour, that the name of God and his doctrine be not blasphemed”. We should not be focused on “how we are being treated as a Christian in the workplace”. The question should be, “how am I treating others, including my supervisor or boss”. Paul gives us a great reminder to “Lift Up” and not to “Put Down” others. That includes putting ourselves down because of the way we are treated.

Paul continues in the remaining verses, describing what happens when we focus on our own self-pity. We become filled with pride, envy, and strife. The “woe is me” syndrome is the opposite of how we should be as Christians. Self-pity is defined as the “psychological state of mind of an individual in perceived adverse situations who has not accepted the situation and does not have the confidence nor competence to cope with it”. 1

Our Lord was not treated kindly, but yet he walked this earth teaching us to love others, through our actions, words, and deeds. Paul reminds us to continue in our faith, walking, talking, acting, and living with a greater goal in mind. We are to respect our supervisors and co-workers; we do it because He did it for us on the Cross. When we respect others, work hard, and do the best we can do, we are putting the Lord first in our lives. Showing others what and who Christ is. There are many ways to share Christ, how we act is the outward display of what the Lord has done for us on the inside.

 Maybe the word “balance” is the right application here. The Christian balances what the Lord has placed on the heart (inside), in order to be able to share with others (outside). If the Christian has too much weight on the inside (heart), then it becomes difficult to shift the weight to the outside (others) and vice versa.

Think of it like this…A man who walks a tightrope has to shift his weight back and forth; otherwise he ends up leaning too far to one side and falls off. His balance must remain centered on the rope. He may use his arms or a long pole to help keep his balance, but no matter what, his focus must remain on the center of the rope.

Walking the rope is how a Christian should walk, straight and centered on truth. If we lean too far in either direction we fall off the path of righteousness. The longer we walk the rope, the more people will see our accomplishments, but if we don’t walk the rope, then nobody will be able to see how wonderful it is to live for Christ. In the workplace, we don’t have to stand around saying “look at me, I’m walking a tightrope”. All we need to do is stay focused and centered on the rope. The further we get, the bigger the crowd. It won’t take long until people will be curious or inspired and want to try walking the tightrope. The applications are endless.

Proverbs 12:28 “In the way of righteousness is life; and in the pathway thereof there is not death” (KJV).

Matthew 7:13-14 “13 Enter ye in the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat: 14 Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it” (KJV).

In Christ,

The Silent Preacher


1 Self-pity Wikipedia definition. Retrieved 12/16/2014 from: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Self-pity

Extra…Extra…Read All About It!!!

Galatians 1:1-9 “1 Paul, an apostle, (not of men, neither by man, but by Jesus Christ, and God the Father, who raised him from the dead;) 2 And all the brethren which are with me, unto the churches of Galatia: 3 Grace be to you and peace from God the Father, and from our Lord Jesus Christ, 4 Who gave himself for our sins, that he might deliver us from this present evil world, according to the will of God and our Father: 5 To whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen. 6 I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel: 7 Which is not another; but there be some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ. 8 But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed. 9 As we said before, so say I now again, If any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed” (KJV).

Paul writes to the believers in Galatia, but something is different. He calls immediate attention to his authority in Christ. The tone of this letter is one of authority, attitude, and action. If Paul was writing this letter today, the headline of the newspaper might read “Extra…Extra… Thus saith the Lord, Salvation by grace through faith”.

Paul immediately calls out the problem, “I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him that called you unto the grace of Christ unto another gospel”. The church has been infected by false teachings. I view this as the watered down gospel or the feel good gospel message. How does the gospel message become watered down? Something has been added to it. The church was adding stipulations to salvation (Gal. 6:12-13). God’s glory was being plagiarized by these false teachers. They were taking credit for the work of the Lord. Instead of giving glory to the Lord, they were standing around saying “look how great my church is or look how many people I have saved”. You must be circumcised in order to be saved. You must follow these rules in order to be saved, you must do this or that…the list goes on and on…

It saddens me to hear some of the experiences people have had with churches. A man once shared his childhood experience growing up in a fundamental church, needless to say it was a story filled with more laws than the Old Testament (and I consider myself a fundamentalist). It is no wonder why the man never went back to church. It is very difficult to witness to someone who has had an experience like that. I can understand why Paul is so passionate in his letter. Salvation by works and not faith is infectious and requires immediate treatment. Otherwise, it becomes a life or death illness. In the remainder of the book, Paul goes into great detail to correct this false teaching. Salvation comes through faith, by grace, plus or minus nothing.

Wouldn’t it be great if we turned on the news or read a newspaper that contained nothing but good news? The headline might read “Good News…50 people got saved at church today”. The articles would contain the testimonies of each person. Unfortunately, the news is filled with nothing but eye-catching headlines followed by articles filled with opinions, tainted facts and statistics.

Paul reminds us of the good news and it is called Grace… The salvation message is for anyone and everyone. We have the good news and we can read it every day. We do not have to rely on someone telling us how to live, act, parent, behave, or do anything. All we need to do is read His word. Everything we see and hear, we should ask ourselves this question “what does the Word of God say about that”.

I have to admit, I’m an avid follower of the news. I love to watch and see what is going on in the world. I enjoy listening to political debates. As hard as it is at times, I always try to look at the story from both perspectives. The media is filled with so much biased input that it becomes difficult to discern truth. This is not an easy task to do, but I believe it is one that we should all practice. If we don’t make the attempt to discern truth, then we will become like the believers Paul writes to in Galatia. We become easily distracted from the truth, believing everything we see and hear.

Revelation 22:19 “And if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book” (KJV).

In Christ,

The Silent Preacher