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2021 online sermons » Steven Furtick » Steven Furtick - A Troubled Mind And An Open Door

Steven Furtick - A Troubled Mind And An Open Door


Steven Furtick - A Troubled Mind And An Open Door

I wanted to remind you about Elevation Nights, starting on October 26, going through November 4. We're going to be in Atlanta, Nashville, Tulsa, Fort Worth, Houston, Orlando, Sunrise, and Jacksonville. If you know anybody who lives near there, tell them they'd better get their ticket now. It's going to be hyperactive. It's going to be ridiculous. We're going to be ripping the roof off and expecting the glory of God to come in a powerful way. So, if you live in any of those cities or if you live close enough to get an Uber or a scooter, whatever it takes to get to the presence of the Lord, we would love to see you there. Go to elevationnights.com. Right now, who's ready for a word from God?

I want us to go to 2 Corinthians, chapter 2. I've been messing with this passage for four months trying to preach it, so today is the day. Y'all help me out, because I've been looking forward to this. How many of y'all have ever picked a big meal for people and they just ate it so quickly and didn't even…? Yeah. That's what it's like for me when I spend a long time looking at a passage and y'all just yawn at me. Anyway, this is going to be good. Second Corinthians 2:10: "Anyone you forgive, I also forgive. And what I have forgiven—if there was anything to forgive—I have forgiven in the sight of Christ for your sake, in order that Satan might not outwit us. For we are not unaware of his schemes.

Now when I went to Troas to preach the gospel of Christ and found that the Lord had opened a door for me…" I want to read that Scripture again, because I've lived it. "The Lord had opened a door for me". Tell somebody, "It's not your door; it's my door. God gave it to me". Paul said, "The Lord had opened a door for me". Point to yourself. Say it. "The Lord opened a door for me". "Now when I went to Troas to preach the gospel of Christ and found that the Lord had opened a door for me, I still had no peace of mind, because I did not find my brother Titus there. So I said goodbye to them and went on to Macedonia". That's the Scripture. "The Lord had opened a door for me, but I still had no peace of mind". We're going to call this message A Troubled Mind and an Open Door.

Last week, I shared with you Green Light at the Red Sea. Do you remember? Man, y'all forget quick. I've been thinking about it all week. At every traffic light, I've been thinking about God's goodness and how he gives us the ability to overcome any obstacle. Sometimes the obstacle is the opportunity. Today, we're going to continue that thought from a little different angle, and we're going to talk about A Troubled Mind and an Open Door. Speak, Lord. In Jesus' name, amen. It feels like in this text we've stepped into the middle of something. I don't know if you felt that when I was reading it. Back around verse 10, it's kind of like one of those tense arguments. You sometimes get caught in the middle of an argument that you don't know how it started, but you know, "I'm going to tiptoe out real quick".

We understand in the text we're reading… When you read Bible verses in isolation, it doesn't really give you the integrity of the thought. If you just read one verse, that's good, but it's better to read a few so you can understand… They taught us in seminary "The text in context, because a text without a context is a pretext," whatever that means. I spent $50,000 to learn it in seminary. Interestingly enough, Paul is dealing with one of the most important churches he ever laid the foundation for: the church at Corinth. The church at Corinth is responsible for a lot of Paul's pride as a pastor and a lot of his problems. It seems in this passage we're reading right now to the Corinthian church Paul finds them very important. I don't know if Paul, that dignitary and statesman, that gospel practitioner who erected altars for Jesus Christ in all of the known Roman world, to the Gentiles who were previously not even considered worthy of the message…

I don't know if he had favorites, but he certainly understood that some people are more strategic than others. It doesn't mean somebody is more valuable than others. I was even out here today before church started… I don't always do this, but today I came out into the auditorium and sat down in one of the seats here at this beautiful Ballantyne Campus. If I'm not mistaken, it was the fifth row of this section on this side of the aisle, five seats in. So, you in the hunter green shirt, I was in your seat praying for who I was going to preach to today, preaching to myself to get ready to preach this morning before you got here. So, if you feel a little something extra over there today… But I was thinking how in each seat is somebody whose situation is uniquely difficult and uniquely wonderful. While we were praising the same God a minute ago, we were praising the same God for a lot of different things. Somebody was praising God just because they didn't get caught. You weren't praising him because you memorized Colossians in your men's Bible study; you were praising him just because nobody found out about it.

As we preach and teach online, God has you situated. Now, Corinth was a city that was situated… It was important because it was a cosmopolitan city that also represented a seaport. It was a flourishing place in terms of culture, because you kind of had to go through Corinth… It was the third largest city by population in its time. The only cities that were bigger than Corinth would be Rome and Alexandria. So, Corinth is not only populated, but it's situated. I want you to think about this for a minute. It was a very important city because it was a port city. That meant the ships came through there, and it was situated well enough the distribution could happen and trade could happen and commerce could happen because of where Corinth was situated. On the other hand, Corinth was a very ungodly city, because the same situation that made it so effective for business made it susceptible to temptation.

Corinth was a city where there was a lot of sexual immorality. Back in the Bible times, they had different problems than we have today. They had sexual immorality even in the church. Some people were messing around in the church at Corinth. Can you believe those crazy Christians at Corinth? Paul spent 18 months with them, and he couldn't cast out all of these sexual devils. He couldn't cast out all of these idolatry devils. They were so greedy they were getting drunk off the Lord's Communion wine in Corinth. A bunch of crazy Christians in Corinth. I used to find it funny. Back when we started, people would say, "I don't go to Elevation because some of the people who go there aren't very good Christians". I would always think, "That should be your invitation to join us".

I always wish I could put a closed-circuit camera in their house when they talk like that. Just a little Nest Cam so I can catch you in the middle of the night doing the crazy stuff you do. Really, to get to the core of how crazy you are, I couldn't put the camera in a room. I'd have to put it… Paul is talking to a group of people who are very important to him. He has invested a lot in them, and they've hurt him deeply. Nobody can really hurt you deeply if you haven't invested in them greatly. The proof that I love you is that I have the capacity to hate you. You can't hate somebody you don't love. You can ignore them. You can be annoyed by them. You can be perturbed by them, and then you can pray for them, but you can't hate somebody you don't love. It's not that Paul hates the Corinthian church. It's that his relationship with them is so important, not only to him personally…

Now, it's important personally. We find out more about Paul through his writings to the Corinthian church than anything else he wrote in the Bible. If you want to really understand Paul's theological construct for justification by faith in Christ, not through works of the law, you should go to the book of Romans. But if you want to see inside of Paul's mind, how he thinks not only about our relationship with God but his relationship with others, you should read 1 and 2 Corinthians. It might interest you to know that as powerful as Paul was with God, he still had dysfunctional relationships with people through which God worked to get the gospel to the earth. The church at Corinth was important for Paul. It served, as it were, as a hinge for the gospel to go forth into the hitherto previously unevangelized Gentile world.

This important church in a seaport city that was established by the apostle himself, and now he's having to write them about a conflict that should have been resolved by now. He said, "I need to forgive you". It's not that I'm saying you're not important, fifth row, fifth seat, hunter green golf shirt, but all seats in this church are not created equal to me. I've learned through time that this seat, the one where Holly is sitting right now… That's the most important seat in the church to me. Now, early in my ministry, I thought that having all of the seats full was the whole goal. But now where I'm at in my life right now, I think that if every seat in this church was full but my wife didn't respect my life enough to want to hear me preach what I had to say because of the way I live at home, I would be a hypocrite. I think if this seat… When Holly tells me… She told me last week, "That spoke to me". I said, "Well, good, because I kind of put some stuff in there for you". No, I didn't. What I'm saying is in the eyes of God, fifth seat/fifth row is just as important as this one, but not in my eyes. In the eyes of God, there's equal value to every human being.

So, if there's a millionaire on your row and then somebody who doesn't even know where their next meal is coming from… To God, the worth of his children is not based on something called net worth or occupation or any of these opportunistic ways that we see people, but to us, we have to learn to prioritize what's really important in our lives, what opportunities we give our energy to. Some of us are praying for God to give us things he simply cannot give us the way we're asking them to come. If we're asking God to give us peace in our lives but we have no priorities, we will never receive the peace God gave us through Jesus, who is our peace, when he died on the cross.

So, that's the setup, and here's the sermon. Paul said, "When I went to preach the gospel of Christ in Troas and found that the Lord had opened a door for me, I still had no peace of mind". This is Paul, the point guard of the New Testament church to the Gentiles, saying, "I had an opportunity…" Now, Paul has seen God open so many doors, and so have you. How many of you…just wave at me…have seen God put you and situate you and position you in places that you could never earn or deserve and don't know how you got here? How many of you were smart enough and competent enough and did it all by yourself and created your own oxygen that you breathed into the lungs you formed with your hands in your mother's womb? Listen. Even your success was because of how God situated you.

The reason Corinth was important was because of where it sat in relation to the Mediterranean Sea. Some of us get very prideful about things we accomplished, but if God hadn't put Corinth by the sea, it wouldn't have been a port city. So, even when God blesses me, I understand that if he did not give the wisdom, if he did not give the strength, if he did not give the opportunity… I don't care if you're a professional tennis player. If somebody didn't give you a racket, if somebody didn't give you a ball, you could have all the athletic ability in the world… Without the opportunity God gives, all of your human ability means nothing. Even the ability itself comes from God. This is what Paul knows, and that's why he uses a phrase we can use too sometimes. We can say, "The Lord opened a door for me". "Don't be mad at me about the blessings I'm walking in. The Lord opened those doors for me".

I remember really early, when I was preaching, I invited myself to preach at a church. I didn't like it. I didn't like how it felt, because he said, "Yes". Once I got there, I felt like it was up to me to perform. I was 17 years old. The Spirit of the Lord spoke to me and said, "Don't ever invite yourself somewhere to preach again. You can put your messages out. You can put them online. You can use all the platform and social media and all that. You can do everything you can do to get the gospel out, but don't ever situate yourself in a position through manipulation, because then you will carry the burden of performance". There's something awesome about knowing "The Lord opened this door". There's just something freeing about knowing "The Lord opened this door". There's something great about knowing "God brought me into this relationship".

See, you can get into a relationship and God not want you in it, and then you have to spend the rest of the relationship trying to get somebody to like a pretend version of you that you had to put on like a costume to get them to accept you. If you had to compromise yourself to gain their acceptance, what did you really get? There's something awesome about the Lord opening doors. There's something awesome about the Lord closing doors. I need both. Last week we talked about the red light and the green light, praising God for one and not the other. Kind of foolish. The green light is only as effective as the red light. Do y'all want all green lights in the city of Charlotte, where everybody is just smashing into each other all the time? So why do we want all green lights from God just to be crashing into stuff we could have avoided if we would have heard his voice? Pray this: "Lord, open the door". Now pray this: "Lord, close the door. Either way, I want your hand on the knob". Everybody over 25 ought to give God a shout of praise. You don't know to shout over that closed door until at least 25.

What's interesting about this text to me is that we could argue the most important figure in the New Testament, other than Jesus, who roughly over a third of the New Testament is devoted to either his letters or his life…Paul, formerly Saul of Tarsus, the one who got knocked off his horse on his way to kill Christians… God closed his eyes and blinded him and sent him to Ananias in Acts, chapter 9, to receive his sight, and he spent the rest of his life taking the gospel to the known world. He started at least 14 churches, and he started out as a Christian killer. God used him to multiply in the earth the thing he tried to uproot in one season. Only God could do that. Only God could take somebody trained under Gamaliel and get him to let go of all of the traditions of men and call it rubbish.

He said, "The things I once counted as gain I now count as loss. God has completely reversed my understanding of my value system of what's important. What was once gain to me I now count as loss, and what was once loss I now count as the ultimate gain. All I want to do is know Christ, and all I want to do is make him known as I come to know him better. Now I know what's important". Of all of the churches he establishes… And he started at least 14 that we know about. That doesn't count all of the spin-off churches. That doesn't count all of the churches that had baby churches of baby churches and the grandbaby churches that Paul started. Every gospel drop that entered the Gentile world, Paul had a part in it, sometimes sowing in tears and pain. That's Paul who God opened a door for.

I want to say one more thing about that before I move on to the other that I'm going to say after I say this about that. The whole reason Paul took the gospel to the Gentiles was because the Jewish people rejected him. Sometimes rejection is one of God's greatest doors. While Paul was preaching in Judea, they didn't want to give up the customs and the rights of Judaism. God said, "That's fine. I'll open a door for you somewhere else". When God opens a door, nobody can shut it. If the door you're standing in front of right now won't open, it's not yours. God will open a door in the desert. We found out last week he'll put a green light at a Red Sea. He will lead you through, and one of the greatest ways God will lead you in your life is through people who don't like you and leave your life…to bring you to something else.

So, there has been some conflict with the church at Corinth, and Paul has spent a lot of time trying to defend himself to the people who, honestly, should have come to his defense. At certain points he must have struggled with bitterness about that. Have you ever struggled with bitterness for people who should have taken up for you or is this only a preacher problem? Sometimes I don't know if you go through the same things. Somebody who should have defended you… He spent 18 months with these jokers. Now he has had to write several letters. You know, we have 1 Corinthians and 2 Corinthians. Let me give you a little textual background, because this is really good. There's a lost letter we don't have that Paul references, and he calls it "my tearful letter". They got so crazy in Corinth, turning up on Communion wine and things like this… There was incest in the church at Corinth. Paul is like, "Are y'all absolutely crazy"?

Then they had the audacity to accuse Paul and say he wasn't a real apostle. Rather than validate himself, he makes a decision in 2 Corinthians 2. He says, "I'm letting it go". Isn't that amazing? He says, "The one who said all this about me… I heard about it. I'm forgiving, and I'm moving forward, and y'all need to let it go too". "I refuse to let unforgiveness in my heart block the future God has for me". He said, "So I want you to forgive, because I'm forgiving. We have to get our minds right". Here's what happened. This is the part of the text I couldn't figure out. Paul, who saw the greatest opportunities for the gospel… The life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. That's the gospel. That if you believe in his name, you will be saved. That's the gospel. That his blood atones for your sin, that you don't have to have the blood of bulls and goats (Old Testament sacrifices), that by believing in his name you may have life. Nothing could stop the gospel from progressing through Paul. But he describes something very interesting, and I want us to study it today.

He says in verse 12, "Now when I went to Troas to preach the gospel of Christ and found that the Lord had opened a door for me, I still had no peace of mind, because I did not find my brother Titus there. So I said goodbye to them and went on to Macedonia". Wow! So, we have Troas (that's a whole city), and we have Titus (that's one person). Let's look at this together again, because I don't know if you had your Starbucks today, and I don't want you to miss it. In verse 12 he said, "I went to Troas, and God gave me an open door to share the gospel in this city". Troas is also a port city. Do you see this? Zoom in on the camera. I don't know if this will work or not. I don't know if we can get close enough, but try to focus. You can't really see. Is there another camera?

I need to show you this. I want to show you something, because it's a picture. Do you see it? Can you see Corinth? We could have done this professionally. I could have put it on the screen. It could have been great. Oh, look. There's Troas. See Troas? And there are Ephesus and Macedonia. So, Paul is like, "I came here, Corinth, and I preached the Word in this important city," this isthmus that connects southern Greece to the mainland. It's important. He says, "You are more important to me than being right is. I'm not going to argue with you about this, because it's stopping the gospel from flowing. I'm not going to argue with you about this, because there's stuff that needs to happen. There's something important that needs to get distributed".

See, Paul understands if the church at Corinth doesn't get right with him, it's going to affect the rest of his ministry to the Gentile world. So he said, "I'm letting go of the offense to seize the opportunity". Why am I preaching about that? Because some of you are losing the opportunity because you won't let go of the offense. The opportunity is greater than the offense. So that's Corinth. Then there's Troas. Anyway, take my word for it. This is what I want to get to. Between the two is Macedonia. Now Paul has sent a letter to the church at Corinth. Are you following me so far? They said, "Paul is not a real apostle. We like Apollos better. We don't like Paul anymore. He told us to put our pants on and stop sleeping around and calling ourselves good Christians, and we don't like that. Paul told us to straighten up. We don't like Paul anymore. We liked him when he was telling us 'Be safe and receive the free gift of forgiveness,' but now he's trying to put something in place that will actually help us live in Christian freedom, and we don't like that anymore. We'd rather be slaves to these mute, deaf idols". Paul is like, "No, no, no. Stop that. You've got to stop that. God has given you an open door. You are an important city".

You are an important city. I'm not preaching about them; I'm preaching about you. You are an important city. If you have the confidence to say it, say it out loud. "I am an important city". Even though I came from a small town, I'm an important city. I am a shipping destination. I am a port for the gospel of Jesus Christ. I am an opening to generational freedom. Yes, I am. I am an important city. "O little town of Bethlehem, from you shall come a ruler". I am an important city, and I have an open door, and God has placed opportunities in my life in this season that are amazing. The Word of God says that if God opens a door, nobody can shut it. That's in Revelation 3:7-8. The Lord told the church at Philadelphia through the apostle John, who was exiled on an island, and God still showed him a door… He was exiled on an island called Patmos, and God showed him a door. He was isolated in a terrible situation, but God showed him a door.

Listen to what he prophesied to the church at Philadelphia. He said, "These are the words of him who is holy and true, who holds the key of David". That means Jesus Christ has a kingdom over which he has all authority. The key of David. That's the God you serve. So, when people leave you out, you're not locked out, because he has the key to that room. Not everybody likes you. Not everybody has to. If God is for you… You don't have to say anything. You don't have to defend yourself. You don't have to go back and forth. Let it go, and get through this door. The door is yours. So, he says he holds the key of David. "What he opens…" This is speaking about salvation. This is speaking about how Jesus Christ is the door, how you come to God through him, through nothing else, through no other system. He is the author of salvation. He is the finisher of our faith. He holds the key of David. I'm preaching about Jesus now. He said, "What he opens no one can shut, and what he shuts no one can open. I know your deeds. See, I have placed before you an open door…"

The Lord said, "I placed before you…" It's not going to be in your past. That's why Paul had to forgive. He said, "Whatever happened, whatever they did…" Look. Paul forgave the guy, but he didn't put him on his senior leadership team. He just said, "I'm going through the door". "What he opens no one can shut, and what he shuts no one can open. I have put before you an open door that no one can shut". Now listen to what God says to the church at Philadelphia, and I believe he might say it to the church at Elevation too. "I know that you have little strength…" It's not about strength. Can I show you something? This is really cool. Go back to 2 Corinthians, chapter 2. Verse 11 is one of those I've read out of context for years. I didn't even really know what it meant. I never really read it in the context of Paul's conflict, but now I have, and I saw something. He said in verse 11, "We have to forgive and get through this in order that Satan might not outwit us. For we are not unaware of his schemes".

What was interesting to me was he didn't say, "In order that Satan might not overpower us". He said, "Outwit us," because the battle is not about strength; it's about strategy. Satan is not stronger than you. We just read this. If God opens a door, nobody can shut it…no devil, no depression, no trauma, no abuse. Nothing can stop the gospel of Jesus Christ from going forth in your life, in your heart, in your marriage. We give the Devil too much credit sometimes. We'll say, "Oh, well, the Devil is attacking my marriage. The Devil is attacking my finances". That's where you're feeling it, but that's not where the attack is happening. He didn't say, "In order that Satan might not overpower us," because that would make it about your strength. We already know from John 16:33 that Jesus said, "Peace I give to you. My peace I leave with you. In the world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world". It's not about the trouble in front of you. We could have a testimony service about your trouble.

What's the point? We could all line up and play "Can I top your trouble"? "I have a headache". "I have a backache". "I don't have a back". "I don't have a head. I'm decapitated". I've seen people do it. We top each other with our trouble, but that's not what this is about. It's not about what's happening in my life. Satan is not stronger than you. He can't make you do anything. If God opens a door to freedom, if God opens the sea, you can go through it. I don't care who's chasing you. I don't care who said you couldn't. I don't care how long you've struggled with it. It's not about who's stronger. It's about who's smarter. You're like, "Well, that's Jesus. Jesus has overcome the world. I'm not Jesus". But 1 John 4:4 says, "Greater is he who is in you than he who is in the world".

So, he's not stronger. That's not why you're stuck. He's not stronger. You have the Spirit of God. He's not stronger. The condemnation that haunts you in your midnight hour has been nailed to the cross. The written regulations have been nailed to the cross. That's dealt with. That is not what is standing at the door. Paul said, "I had an open door, but I had a troubled mind". So, he sent Titus with a letter to the Corinthian church because he didn't know if things were going to be all right. Do you know your body can be one place and your mind can be another? Paul is at Troas, and God has given him opportunities, and he can preach the gospel to a whole city. He said, "But I couldn't find Titus, so I left". It isn't like he left because he wanted to. When Paul says in verse 13, "I said goodbye," that's the only time he uses that phrase in all of Scripture. It's a solemn farewell. He's almost embarrassed about it. He's like, "I couldn't get my mind right, so I couldn't seize the opportunity".

That hit me, because I'm trying to raise these kids, you see. I know God has given me an opportunity to be a great father, but sometimes, if I'm honest with you, I'm sitting at the table with them, and my body is there, but my mind is on other stuff. Some of it is real, and some of it is completely fabricated, stuff that might happen three years from now…maybe. My mind will drift to the possibly and slip away from the present. When I saw Paul, I saw us. He said, "I was in Troas, and so was the open door God gave me. Great things could have happened in Troas, but I had to say goodbye, not because of the trouble in Troas but because my mind was troubled". The Enemy wants to mess with your mind so much you can't even go through the doors God opens for you, that you can't even enjoy the moments God gives you. He wants to mess with your mind and scramble your perspective to the point where you can't even focus long enough to sit down and pray about something. He wants to get you so focused on something…

I put down four things that spell the word door with each first letter. One was the disappointments in your life. One was the outcomes you can't control. One we mentioned: the offenses you can't get over, and one is the regrets of the opportunities you can't get back. I realized that not only does God use open doors…so does Satan. Have you ever opened a door in your mind to the Devil, a door of just going down a trail? I like to imagine the Bible, how different it was from our day where… If Paul would have had the same technology as we have, none of this would have been an issue. Paul sends Titus with a letter back to Corinth over the Aegean Sea, and he goes, "All right. You go to Corinth, and when you get back, tell me how it's going. Tell me if they receive my correction". He's trying to reconcile the relationship, but he sends Titus with a letter, his trustworthy companion in the gospel. He said, "Titus, when you get there and find out, let me know".

Now, if Paul could have gotten on a Zoom call…just imagine with me…he could have stayed in Troas, because Titus would have gotten on the Zoom call and said, "Hey, Paul, it's all good. I have Aquila and Priscilla here. We're all here on the Zoom call, Paul. It's all good, Paul. We're all good. They got your letter, and they love you. It's all good," and whatever, whatever. The reason I wanted to show you the map is because between Corinth where Paul's mind was and Troas where his body was there was a sea, and to me, it looked like my mind. It looked like how sometimes my body is in one place but my mind is another. Paul, with a note of sadness said, "I had to say goodbye to the opportunity God gave me because I couldn't get my mind right in the process". Has that been you?

Let me give you a little test to see if that has been you. Have you been not letting new people love you because of how old people hurt you? Have you stopped trusting people, period, because you found out that people are not trustworthy totally? You never should trust anyone totally other than God. Even if they want to do good for you, they're going to let you down. They can't help it. It's the human condition. But for you to sit there and go, "Well, I'll never trust anybody with anything again. I have to do it all on my own. If you want something done right, you have to do it yourself. People are just…" Yeah, people are just people, and you're one of them, and Jesus died for all of us, so you have to get back in the game and do some stuff in this life and not get so bitter that you don't go through the door.

Have you been standing in an open door, but the Enemy has gotten your mind so troubled you can't go through it? I mean, real opportunities God has given you to be fruitful, but you're scarred. Not only scarred. Scarred is good. It means it's healed. You're wounded, and the wound is still open. Now the door is closing, and weeks and months of your life are slipping away. You say goodbye to Troas, and you go to Macedonia. Why was Paul so desperate to find Titus? Because Titus had the news. If Titus could have texted Paul, this could have all been over with, but they didn't have a text message. It takes months to cross the Mediterranean Sea. So, Paul is waiting for Titus to see, "Is it all right in Corinth? Is it going to be all right? Are they going to accept the correction? Are they back on track"? Because he loves them and they're important.

Every day that goes by that Titus doesn't show up, Paul's mind gets more and more burdened. Honestly, I can't last five minutes that somebody doesn't text me back that I don't start making up the most screwed-up scenarios in my head, so I feel for Paul. I'm serious. If Holly doesn't… If I don't see bubbles within 25 seconds, in my mind she's dead. The car has flipped seven times. It's horrible. I know it's kind of funny, but it's really not in the moment. Anybody like me? You have two minutes to respond to me, and I'm freaking out. "Maybe they don't like me anymore. Maybe they don't respond to me anymore". And when I text you and it's on green instead of blue on my iPhone… Oh my god! Last week I preached about green, but if the text comes back green, you have your phone off. You don't ever want to talk to me again. I can get so offended. I am so bad at interpreting silence and space.

This is Paul's moment. Paul is like, "I sent Titus to find out, and I couldn't find Titus, so I left Troas because I couldn't find Titus. I left the open door because I had no peace. I left the opportunity because although the door was open…" See, that's the Enemy's strategy. That's why he says you can't let the Devil outwit you. He is using stuff that hasn't even happened yet to run you off from opportunities that are right in front of you. Do you see how smart he is? He's bringing movies from the past. He is bringing classic movies back that happened 20 years ago, and it keeps you from seeing what's standing two feet in front of you. But God said, "When I open a door, no devil can shut it".

The reason the Devil is at the door to begin with is because what God has on the other side of it is so important. Oh yes…so important. There will always be a devil at the door of anything important God brings you into, of anything significant God brings you into. There will always be an enemy to anything significant. Do you know why there's a devil at the door? Because what is on the other side really matters. You are an important city. You are a chosen vessel. You might not be Paul, but God has something with your name on it. There's a devil at the door, and the bigger the opportunity is, the bigger the devil is going to be. Don't you know that by now? The bigger it is, what's on the other side of the door… You're asking God, "Why am I having to go through all this"? Awhile back…

I don't know how to tell you this story, because it's kind of tender to me. I was about to do something really significant in this ministry. I can't tell you what it was because it would kind of expose me too much, and I'm not ready to have a relationship with you on that level yet. On the way to the thing I was going to do, I broke down crying. I don't cry a whole lot. Only Rudy and Rocky III can make me cry. Third time in my life I ever cried. Holly has seen me cry so little she thought I was playing. She said, "Stop playing. This is not funny," because I was lying on the bed and my head was down on the pillow. She said, "Stop playing". I couldn't answer to tell her I wasn't playing because I was crying. I didn't know why I was crying. Nobody had just died. I didn't have any technical reason to be sad in that moment, but what was on the other side of that evening was so important I believe there was a devil at the door.

There is always a devil at the door when God is bringing you into something important. Why do you think kids get demon possessed as they go through puberty? If you don't know that, you'll think, "The Devil is at the door. This must not be God". No, no, no. The Devil is giving you an indication that this is so big, this is so important. This might be a life-saving word for somebody. Have you thought about this? Somebody might be on the brink of suicide while I'm preaching, and they can't understand. "Why am I feeling this depressed? Why am I going through this darkness"? What you might not know is that the size of the Devil at your door indicates the size of the assignment on your life. Don't die here. This is a door. The door God opens nobody can shut.

Don't you let the Devil use the door of what you don't know to fill your mind with hypothetical scenarios that cause your heart to close. There's always a devil at the door. There's always an insecurity as you move deeper into your purpose and your awareness of your true condition in Christ. But he can't close the door God opens. All he can do is try to get your mind so screwed up that as you wait for Titus to bring you news, you say goodbye to Troas. We don't see Paul walk away from any other open doors in Scripture, but he said, "I had no peace of mind". You know what? Four chapters go by, and Paul doesn't even mention what happens next. "I said goodbye to Troas. I went to Macedonia…" Most probably Philippi. "…and I waited for Titus. Every day that I didn't see Titus, I started making up stuff in my mind".

The Enemy is using a story to keep you from going through your door. "They won't really like you. They won't really accept you. Nobody really cares about you. You don't have what it takes. You're going to fail, and everybody is going to laugh". He can't close the door, but he can tell you a story. Every day Titus doesn't show up, Paul has a little bit harder time trusting that everything is going to be all right. It isn't until chapter 7, verse 5, of 2 Corinthians that we see that what Paul was so troubled about God had already worked out. He said, "When we got to Macedonia… We left Troas. We got to Macedonia. We had no rest. On every side…" Watch this. This is the trouble on the outside. He said, "Harassed at every turn, conflicts on the outside…" But that's not what stops you.

It's never the conflicts on the outside that stop you. Somebody else has overcome much more than you to get where they are. But it's the fears within, Paul said. Then, after months and months of wondering… Who am I preaching to? I know it has been about an hour I've been up here talking, but I've been talking to you, haven't I? It has been months you've been wondering. It has been in a suspended state for months, and every day you waited for Titus, and he didn't come with news of the solution, the outcome. It's your mind. Your mind is like that Mediterranean Sea where you wonder, "Is everything going to be all right"? He said in verse 6, "But God, who comforts the downcast, comforted us by the coming of Titus…" The word of the Lord is "Titus is here".

When Titus finally arrived (verse 7)… He said, "He not only comforted us by his physical presence and his coming but by the comfort you had given him. He told us about your longing for me, your deep sorrow, your ardent concern for me, so that my joy was greater than ever". Joy is coming. Hope is coming. Reconciliation is coming. The restoration of all things is coming. I declare it by faith not by sight. My eyes haven't seen it yet, but I know it in my heart. Titus is coming. He said, "I spent all of those months worried about something God had already worked out". So, you're standing before an open door. You don't always see it. You don't always feel it. You can't identify it, because you have a troubled mind. Let's just take a moment and be still in the presence of God, because all the conflict on the outside is nothing compared to the fears on the inside.

God, we came today with troubled minds. I pray for the one who is worried about their job. I pray for the one who is worried about their kids. I pray for the one who is worried about a report in their body from the doctors or someone they love. I pray for the one who is worried about an event that is in front of them they do not believe they have the resource to fulfill, but, God, today I think you wanted to use me, just like Titus, just to carry the message to them that the door is still open. Thank you, Jesus, that the door is still open, that it's not too late, that we're not too little, that we're not too lost. He said, "He comforted us by the coming of Titus". God, let me be like Titus today, bringing a message that you are not counting their sins against them, that you are not angry with them, that the season of your favor is upon them. Almighty God, opener of doors, way maker, miracle worker, all that that you are, but we need our minds right.

We thank you, Lord, that you hold the key of David. It's important to us to know that you are our door. We came into your presence today because you are our door. God, right now, for everything we can't forgive others for and we can't forgive ourselves for, we just want to take a moment before we leave this place and slam the door in the face of Satan and say, "You've cost us enough". "You've taken enough. You've robbed enough. You've destroyed enough. No more. That door is closed. I'm not going back there. That door is closed. I'm not playing that out anymore. That door is closed. I'm not entertaining that anymore. I'm going forward. There is an open door set before me in heaven. I'm not waving goodbye to this open door. I'm going through it in the name of Jesus. I will live and not die. I will declare the works of the Lord. I have more to do. I'm planted. I'm blessed. I'm flourishing in the courts of the Lord". Lord, this is an open-door moment.


Right now, with your heads bowed and your eyes closed, the door of salvation is open. There's somebody today… You thought it was too late for you to have a relationship with God. You thought you'd done too much, run too far, lost too much. You thought there were things God couldn't forgive. You thought you were one of those ones who just missed God. It's not true. Today is the day of salvation. This is the moment. This is the hour. This is your time. God brought you here for this. The door is open. He stands at the door and knocks, and he wants to come in. So, I want to lead you in a prayer right now. You've been far away from God, and this is your moment to receive his grace. We don't come to God through our effort. We don't come to God by improving our behavior. We don't come to God with our knowledge. We come to him with our faith. The Bible says that if you will believe in Jesus Christ, his Son whom he has sent, you will have life.

If you confess with your mouth Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. There is no more important decision than this. This is the door. So, for you who want to come through and receive Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, who purchased you with his blood, who knows you by name, who has walked with you through every season of your life… You've been far away from him. I'm inviting you home right now. This is your door. Pray after me out loud. We're going to slam the door in Satan's face today to let him know he has lost another one. We're going to pray this as a church family out loud for all of those all over the world who are coming to Christ today to place their faith in him. Repeat after me, church.

Heavenly Father, I am a sinner in need of a Savior, and I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God and the Savior of the world, and today, I make Jesus the Lord of my life. I believe he died that I would be forgiven and rose again to give me life. I receive this new life. This is my new beginning.


On the count of three, shoot your hand up if you prayed that. One, two, three! Shoot them up. God bless you. Amazing. Who else? Come on. Slam that door in the Devil's face. Let him know, "I came home to my Father. I'm coming home"! Put the ring on their finger, church! Come on, let's kill a fatted calf. Let's celebrate. What was dead lives again. Hallelujah! Lift up a great shout of praise!
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