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Thursday, November 5, 2015

God Blocked Paul's Path? (and other devotionals)

God Blocked Paul's Path?


by Dr. Charles Stanley

Facing a "closed door" can be extremely frustrating. The apostle Paul knew exactly how that felt. On his second missionary journey to share the gospel in Asia, he repeatedly found the way blocked by the Holy Spirit. Eventually the apostle was stuck in Troas with the sea before him and closed doors behind.

How strange it must have seemed to Paul that God would prevent him from spreading the gospel. But he knew this wisdom from the book of Proverbs: The Lord will make a straight path for anyone who chooses to trust God rather than himself (Proverbs 3:5-6). Instead of getting angry or trying to force his way into new territory, Paul got on his knees.

The Bible does not record how long he and Timothy lingered in Troas, but we can be sure that the apostle did not move until the Lord revealed the entrance to a new mission field. Christians in a period of watchful waiting should view the situation as a chance to seek not only God's purpose but also His guidance. This is the time to ask the Lord why He has barred the way forward—perhaps the timing is wrong or we need to deal with unconfessed sin. Whatever the reason, we must be sensitive to the Spirit's leading. We want to be ready for the door that will open.

When an opportunity is blocked, God has a reason. And He is providing love and protection, even in your disappointment. The Lord is also keeping His promise to work everything for your good (Romans 8:28). When one door has closed, a greater one is about to open. Be wise and watch for it.

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Take Time to Stop

Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth! Psalm 46:10

"Be still" is a phrase often commanded by parents. Children have an abundance of energy that seems to have no limits at times, regardless of where they may be. The command to "be still" usually comes when either the energy level has reached a fevered pitch or when the environment is not conducive to an overabundance of activity, such as riding in a car or sitting in church. However, getting a child to be still from just speaking the words is most often a futile attempt at best; sometimes, more serious action is required.

As children of God, we are not so different. We tend to lead overactive lives filled with busyness and activities that seem to have few boundaries themselves. The difference is that, as adults, we have no one telling us to "be still" and slow down. We think the busier we are, the better we are for us and for those around us. Most of us even feel better just by staying active and over stimulated.  Our society not only endorses this behavior but also has, for the most part, created the standards for it. How many of us would like to be known as weak, feeble, or slack? We most likely would be insulted by such words. But God says that we are to "be still," which is defined in Hebrew with such words. God is the One who tells us not to put anything above or before Him in our lives, even our energy levels and activities.

Just as with a child, sometimes our attention must be captured by God using more drastic actions. I heard the Lord telling me to slow down but it took physical changes in my life before I began to listen and obey. All God wants is more of us. He wants to be with us and He wants our undivided attention when we are with Him. It is a command to "be still," to be weak and to be at rest, before our God. Take time today to stop and be still before the Lord. Pray that you can "know" that He is your Lord and Savior and that you can be with Him in stillness and peace. If you hear Him telling you to be still, then listen and obey and do not wait: start today.

~Daily Disciples Devotional~

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Song of Solomon 5:2
I sleep, but my heart waketh.
Paradoxes abound in Christian experience, and here is one-the spouse was asleep, and yet she was awake. He only can read the believer's riddle who has ploughed with the heifer of his experience. The two points in this evening's text are-a mournful sleepiness and a hopeful wakefulness. I sleep. Through sin that dwelleth in us we may become lax in holy duties, slothful in religious exercises, dull in spiritual joys, and altogether supine and careless. This is a shameful state for one in whom the quickening Spirit dwells; and it is dangerous to the highest degree. Even wise virgins sometimes slumber, but it is high time for all to shake off the bands of sloth. It is to be feared that many believers lose their strength as Samson lost his locks, while sleeping on the lap of carnal security. With a perishing world around us, to sleep is cruel; with eternity so near at hand, it is madness. Yet we are none of us so much awake as we should be; a few thunder-claps would do us all good, and it may be, unless we soon bestir ourselves, we shall have them in the form of war, or pestilence, or personal bereavements and losses. O that we may leave for ever the couch of fleshly ease, and go forth with flaming torches to meet the coming Bridegroom! My heart waketh. This is a happy sign. Life is not extinct, though sadly smothered. When our renewed heart struggles against our natural heaviness, we should be grateful to sovereign grace for keeping a little vitality within the body of this death. Jesus will hear our hearts, will help our hearts, will visit our hearts; for the voice of the wakeful heart is really the voice of our Beloved, saying, "Open to me." Holy zeal will surely unbar the door.

"Oh lovely attitude! He stands
With melting heart and laden hands;
My soul forsakes her every sin;
And lets the heavenly stranger in."

~Charles Spurgeon~




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