Joel Osteen — The God Who Closes Doors
I want to talk to you today about the God who closes doors. We all know that God opens doors. We've seen him give us favor, good breaks, promotion. That's the hand of God opening the door. But the same God that opens doors will close doors. You prayed but you didn't get the promotion. The loan didn't go through. The relationship didn't work out.
So often we get discouraged. We kind of feel like God has let us down. But God can see the big picture for your life. God knows where every road is leading. He knows the dead ends. He can see around the corner. To us it looks great. What we can't see is there's danger, there's heartache, trouble up ahead. God knows the roads that are a big circle. We would go for years and end up right back where we started, never making any progress.
A big part of faith is trusting God when you don't understand it. On the surface it looks perfect. You can't see any reason why it shouldn't work out. But God can see a thousand things that we cannot see. God may close the door because you're believing too small. If he opened it, it would limit what he wants to do in your life. The door may close because it's not the right time. There are other people involved and they're not ready yet. If God opened it now it wouldn't work out. Bottom line is God has your best interest at heart.
When a door closes you don't know what God is saving you from. If your prayers don't get answered the way you want, instead of being discouraged, feeling like God let you down, why don't you have a bigger perspective? The reason the door closed is because God has something better in store. If God wanted you to have that promotion you would have gotten it. Shake it off and move forward. There is something better coming. If God wanted that person to stay that left you they would have stayed. Shake it off. The right people are in your future.
Friends, the closed doors are not an accident. You may not understand it now. To you it looks like the opportunity of a lifetime just passed you by. But one day you will look back and thank God for the closed doors because if God hadn't closed the door you wouldn't have met the right person. Or if God hadn't closed the door you would have gotten stuck at one level and not seen the amazing favor that God has in your future.
I used to get excited about my open doors and really down about my closed doors. Now, I thank God for my closed doors just as much as I do my open doors. I want you to come to this place where you have such a trust in God, you are so confident that he is directing your steps, you say like David, "God, my life is in your hands". If a door closes and you don't get your way, you don't get upset. Your attitude is, "I know this door didn't close by accident. God closed it on purpose and what God closes I don't want to open. I don't want my way. I want his way. He knows what's best. He can see what I can't see. God, not my will but let yours be done". That's a very freeing way to live. When you really believe God is in complete control it takes all the pressure off.
A few years ago this man flew to Houston for a big job interview. He was so excited about it. It was a top position at one of the largest companies in the world. It looked like a golden opportunity, a huge boost to his career. He was ready to give up his position of nearly 30 years and move his family here to town. He came to the service and asked us to pray over this big interview. We prayed that God would give him favor and cause him to stand out.
In a few days he called and he was on cloud 9. Everything went great. It looked very promising. Several weeks went by and they invited him back for a second interview. He did the same thing. He came by the church. We prayed favor, promotion, on and on. After talking with him for several hours that company called him back in and said, "We really like you. You're incredibly talented. We just don't feel like you're the right fit for our organization".
It was like they let the air out of his balloon. He came to the service like he had lost his last friend. He looked 20 years older. He was so discouraged. He said, "Joel, I don't understand it. I prayed. I believed. How could God let this happen"? I told him what I'm telling you. The same God that opens doors will close doors. You have to trust him. You may not understand it now but one day you will understand it. One day you will thank God that you didn't get that position.
A couple of years later he showed up smiling from ear to ear. He said, "Joel, God knew what he was doing". He told how that company was in bankruptcy. Thousands of people were being laid off. It was a big mess. All over the news. The whole company ended up shutting down. Here's how good God is. He was less than two years away from retirement at that other company. If he would have gotten that position he would not only be out of a job right now but he would have lost nearly 30 years of his retirement benefits.
God knows what he is doing. Don't be discouraged by your closed doors. If God wants a door to open you can be certain it will open. All the forces of darkness cannot stop it. What I want you to see is when you pray, you believe, you stand in faith and the door doesn't open take it as a sign from God. It's not his best. Sometimes, like this man, we're so disappointed but the truth is God loves you too much to open that door. God is not letting you down. He is doing you a favor. He is keeping you from all kinds of heartache and pain. If we're really going to trust God we have to be content with the answer God gives us.
So often we say we're trusting but we're only going to be happy if God does it our way, on our timetable. No, you have to put the dream on the altar and say, "God, if this is what you want for me. God, if this is your best for my life. I know you are in complete control. There is no power greater than yours. God, I trust you. If it happens I'm going to be happy and thank you for it. If it doesn't work out I'm not going to get discouraged. I'm not going to quit believing. I know that means you have something better in store".
This takes all the pressure off. You're not frustrated if it doesn't work out. You don't live in self-pity if it doesn't happen your way. You know the steps and the stops of a good person are ordered by the Lord.
This was difficult for me because you know how some opportunities look so great. In my mind I thought, "God, it's perfect. There will never be anything better". The problem is our thinking is limited. God's plan for your life is so much bigger than your own plan that if God didn't close certain doors it would keep you from the fullness of your destiny.
A couple of years after my dad went to be with the Lord and I took over, the church really started growing. We needed property to build a new sanctuary on. My father said that he would never move the church. So we looked for property as close to the other location as we could possibly find. We found this 100-acre tract of land right off the freeway about two miles from the other location. It was perfect. We talked to the owner. He told how it had been on the market for over 20 years and he had never had one offer, not one person interested. We said, "Thank you, Lord. You've saved this property for us".
After about six months of doing our research and our soil tests we went to close on the property. We had an 8 o'clock meeting. We walked in at 7:45. I'll never forget it. The secretary came out and said, "I'm so sorry but the owner sold the property last night to another party". I was so disappointed. I just knew that was the devil stealing our property.
I went home very discouraged. I told Victoria what happened. She said, "Listen, Joel. God closed that door for a reason. We're not going to get discouraged. We're going to keep a good attitude. God has something better in store". In my mind I couldn't believe it but in my heart, down in here, I knew what she was saying was exactly true. I thought, "God is still on the throne. His plan cannot be stopped by a bad break, a disappointment, by a person. God has the final say". I made a decision that day. Instead of sitting around in self-pity saying, "God, why didn't it work out"? I chose to believe that God was still in control.
It was a few months later I got a call from a friend. He said, "Hey, Joel. The Houston Rockets Basketball Team is moving out of the Compaq Center. That would be a great facility for Lakewood". When he said that something came alive on the inside. I knew right then and there that was the reason God closed the other door. It was too small. It would have limited what God wanted to do. Things began to fall into place and here we are today enjoying the fullness of what God had in store. But back then I couldn't fathom this. It wasn't even on my radar. This was exceedingly, abundantly above and beyond. I would have been happy with the other property. I would have celebrated God's goodness if he would have done it that way. But God's dream for your life is so much bigger than your own dream.
There will be times that a door closes that you don't understand. It doesn't make sense. They were the perfect man, the perfect woman, but they broke off the relationship. The house was just what you wanted. It even had the wallpaper you would have picked in the living room but they didn't accept your offer. The loan didn't go through. It doesn't make sense but one day it will make sense. One day you'll have your Compaq Center. You'll look back and say, "God, thank you that the property was sold out from under me". "God, thank you that the loan didn't go through". "God, thank you that that person walked out on me".
Here's the question. Will you stay in faith while you wait to see what God is up to? Will you not get discouraged and start complaining, "Nothing good ever happens to me. I can't believe I didn't get the promotion. I've been at the company longer than anybody else". Or, "I treated this girl like a queen and she just wants to be friends. She says I'm just like her brother". "God, I don't want to be a brother. I want to be a husband". All of us have been brothers before, but... trust God with your life. He knows what he is doing.
I pray every day, "God, open the right doors and close the wrong doors. God, bring the right people across my path. Weed out those that shouldn't be there". I've learned the closed doors are just as important as the open doors. You know what brought us to this facility? A closed door. Don't be discouraged by your closed doors. That's God protecting you from heartache. That's God keeping you from the wrong people. That's God not letting you live a limited life.
You may be like me. You want the empty piece of property. But God has a building already built for you. He has more than you can ask or think-an exceedingly, abundantly above and beyond future. God loves you so much that he hasn't answered certain prayers. He hasn't allowed certain people into your life that you really wanted because they would have limited your growth. Learn to trust him. Thank him for your open doors. Celebrate his goodness. But thank him just as much for your closed doors knowing that he is still directing your steps.
Some of you today are discouraged because your plan didn't work out. The man, the woman, they didn't marry you. You didn't get the position you were hoping for. Shake it off. Move forward. God has something better in front of you. God is not hindering you. He is helping you. He is getting you in position for the amazing future he has in store.
There was a young lady that came down for prayer a few years back, right here at the altar. She was so discouraged because her boyfriend had broken up with her. She didn't think she could live without him. She knew he was the man of her dreams. Every Sunday we would pray that that relationship would be restored. This went on month after month. She was as faithful as can be. And I could tell though she was only going to be happy if God did it her way. I tried to encourage her, "Hey, stay open. God knows what's best. He can see the big picture". She didn't want to hear any of that. She only wanted this young man back.
Well, unfortunately it didn't work out. He married someone else. She was so disappointed. She felt like God had let her down. She said, "Joel, all those prayers we prayed. I quoted the scripture. I was good to others. I did everything I was supposed to do". She ended up dropping out of church. The scripture says, "God's ways are not our ways. They are better than our ways".
Maybe like her your prayer didn't get answered the way you wanted, it didn't turn out the way you had hoped. Let these words sink down into your spirit. God's way is better than your way. His plan is bigger than your plan. His dream for your life is more rewarding, more fulfilling, better than you've ever dreamed of. Now stay open and let God do it his way. Put the request on the altar. It's okay to be honest and say, "God, this is what I want. God, you know how badly I want it. You know how much it means to me. But God, if it's not your best I don't want it. God, I trust you".
I didn't see this young lady for the longest time. She ended up moving to another city. About five or six years after all of this, she came to church with this handsome man by her side. Come to find out they were married. They had a beautiful daughter. She was as happy as can be. At one point her husband stepped away and she whispered in my ear, "Joel, you remember the young man we used to always pray about? He's already been married and divorced two times. He's constantly in and out of trouble. He can't hold down a good job". She made the statement, "I thank God every day that he didn't answer my prayer".
When you want something so badly you don't think you can live without it, you try to force it to happen, God is so merciful if it's not his best he is not going to answer that prayer. He loves you too much to open that door. Why don't you trust him? He wants you to fulfill your destiny more than you do. He is in complete control. When you come to a closed door that is a test of your faith. Are you going to get bitter, live in self-pity, give up on your dreams or are you going to move forward knowing that God is still in control? If you will pass the test God will release what he has in your future. And many times it will be exactly what you're praying for. God will bring that person back. Or he will bring an opportunity or that dream to pass. God just wants to see do you trust him enough to be happy even if it doesn't happen your way.
That's what happened with Abraham. God instructed him to put his own son on the altar, the thing that meant the most to him. Just when Abraham was going to harm him God said, "No, Abraham. Don't do it. I just wanted to see if you trusted me enough to give me your own son". Abraham passed the test. And what happened? God gave him back what he really wanted, the thing that meant the most to him.
When you face a disappointment, a closed door, your plans don't work out and you keep a good attitude, you stay in faith, you are passing the test. That's what allows God to give you back what you really want the most.
Proverbs 20 verse 24 says, "Since the Lord is directing our steps why do we try to figure out everything that happens along the way"? Some of you today could get free if you would just quit trying to figure everything out. "God, why did I go through that breakup? I'm a good person". "God, why did they sell that property out from under us"? No, if you're trying to figure everything out all that is going to do is make you confused. Let it go and move forward. God can see things that you can't see.
It may not make sense right now but one day when God's whole plan unfolds you will see what God is up to. A part of trusting is saying, "God, I don't understand it. It doesn't seem fair. But God, I believe that my steps and my stops are ordered by you. I know just as you can open doors you will close doors. So I'm going to keep a good attitude. I'm going to move forward in faith knowing that you have my best interest at heart".
I read about this lady that was complaining about everything that went wrong that day. She said, "God, why did you let so many bad things happen to me? My alarm didn't go off and I was late to work. At lunch they made my sandwich wrong and I had to send it back. Driving home my cell phone dropped the call right in the middle of a conversation. To top it off God when I got home I wanted to put my feet in the foot massager just to relax but it wouldn't turn on. God, nothing went right today".
God said, "All right. Let me go down the list. Your alarm didn't go off because there was a drunk driver on the freeway. I delayed you on purpose so you wouldn't be harmed. And your sandwich, you had to send that back because the first person that made it wasn't feeling well and I didn't want you to catch what they had so I had somebody else remake it. The phone call driving home, I caused it to drop on purpose because that person was going to spread rumors and fill you with all kinds of trash. I didn't want you to be contaminated. And oh yeah, that foot massager? It had a short in it. If it would have turned on it would have blown out power to the whole house and I didn't think you would want to sit around in the dark all evening so I caused it to not turn on".
What's my point? God knows exactly what he is doing. Everything about your life is calculated. Take this in the right way. You may not understand it but it's because you're not God. God has a reason. Every door that's closed, God had a purpose for it closing. Since the Lord is directing our steps let's don't try to figure out everything that happens along the way. Let's just trust him.
I have a good friend that is a minister. He and his team had this big outdoor event planned in another country. They had spent over two years working on it. They had government officials, business leaders, pastors, all kinds of organizations involved. It was a huge undertaking costing thousands and thousands of dollars. It finally came down to the week of the big event. They had the staging out. The sound system was up. All the advertising was going through the airways. It was just about to happen when they got word from the government that because of the swine flu outbreak all public meetings had been indefinitely canceled.
My friend was so disappointed. Two years of hard work. It seemed like the biggest waste of time, energy, money. He and his team got on the plane and came back home. That's all they could do. But that weekend, right when their event was supposed to take place, the military overthrew the government; a coup. It was total chaos. People panicked. No law. No order. Shooting in the street. All kinds of mayhem. If his event had not been canceled he would have been right in the middle of it.
No telling what would have happened. He said, "I know this sounds odd but I thank God for the swine flu. We may have lost some time, energy, money but we could have lost our lives".
See, there may be things that you cannot figure out why it happened right now. It seems like a big disappointment. But like him, one day you will thank God the door closed. You'll be grateful that it didn't work out.
The scripture says in Corinthians, "Now we see in part like looking through a glass dimly but one day we will see clearly face to face". Right now notice you can't see it all clearly. You're only looking at it in part. But one day it will come into focus and you'll look back and say, "Wow, God! You are amazing! You had it all figured out, all lined up. You closed the door on purpose so your perfect will would be done".
That's what happened to this one young man. He's a straight a student in high school. He loves to study. Academically, he's in the top 5% of the nation. His dream was to become an engineer. It's always what he wanted to do. He applied to about a dozen or so of the best engineering schools in the nation but he got turned down again and again. It didn't make sense. Some of his friends were being accepted that didn't have as good of grades as he did. He didn't understand it.
While he was waiting to hear back from other schools he went on a missions trip with a group of doctors from his church. He was there to just run errands and to help out. They were in a very poor nation. When he saw the doctors taking care of the people, treating their diseases, helping them get better, something new was birthed on the inside. He thought, "I don't want to be an engineer. This is what I want to do with my life. I want to become a doctor and help to take care of people".
He went back home and he applied to medical school and he was immediately accepted. In fact, he had several schools to choose from. What's interesting is the first engineering school he applied to then sent him a letter of acceptance. If he would have received that letter months earlier he would have never gone on the missions trip, never been open to that call to go into medicine. God closed the doors on purpose to the engineering school to push him into his divine destiny.
What am I saying? Don't fight your closed doors. God knows what he is doing. He can see the big picture for your life. Some of you are discouraged because your plans have not worked out. Those closed doors were not an accident. That was God directing your steps. The reason God closed them is because he has something better in store. Will you trust him? It may not make sense now but one day it will make sense.
Remember, you're not really trusting if you're only going to be happy if it happens your way. Put it on the altar. "God, this is what I want but not my will. Let your will be done". If you'll have this perspective and not only thank God for your open doors but thank him just as much for your closed doors, then like Abraham, you'll pass the test. I believe and declare you will see the exceedingly, abundantly above and beyond future that God has in store. In Jesus' name.