Sermon Notes from our Pastors

 
 

AUGUST 2021

Christian clichés (re)visited

(or “Bumper Sticker Theology”)

 

This month we will look at some popular “Christian clichés”, trying to get some real meaning into some of the familiar “bumper sticker” sayings that we often take for granted (and mistake as gospel). We will try to discover when/how these quaint sayings came about, and then how to rectify them. What version would accurately reflect Scripture and encouraged and/or challenge us in our journey to follow Christ?
 

Order of Worship 

When God closes a door, he opens a window

Proverbs 3:5-6; Acts 16:6-10

August 1, 2021

 

It’s summer. Many of you are on vacation. So I thought we would do something “light.” This month Pastor Paul, Rev. Anthony Hita, and I will look at some popular “Christian clichés” to try to get some real meaning into some of the familiar “bumper sticker” sayings that we often take for granted (and regard as gospel!). We will try to discover when/how these quaint sayings came about and how to rectify them. What version would accurately reflect Scripture and encourage and/or challenge us in our journey to follow Christ.

This week’s popular saying is: When God closes a door, he opens a window. You’ll have to watch the sermon in order to find out where one of the earliest uses of that saying exists! But even before that, it seems to have been used by Helen Keller and Alexander Graham Bell (without referencing God) about the opening and closing of life’s doors.

Reassurance of missed opportunity
  1. The reality of rejection and “closed doors”: Paul (in Acts 16) was pretty sure about God’s leading in his second missionary journey, yet he experienced a closed door. We don’t know the details, but the Holy Spirit “engineered” his not being able to go any further according to his original plan. Sometimes we feel/know that God is preventing us from taking a particular route. But if God wanted to stop us from going “outside”, why will he leave an open window to let us escape? It is also important to understand that every “closed door” is not necessarily of God’s doing. Sometimes “stuff happens”!
  2. Looking for comfort (and meaning) as a result of failure and disappointment: The need for a “window” is often the reassurance we need that God is on our side and will provide a way out of our disappointment, much like a benevolent parent who comes to the “rescue” of a disappointed child. But is that how God really works?

 

God who walks with you through failure, disappointment, or rejection:
  1. Success, achievement, getting what you want is not what God is all about: God knows your heartache and pain when you are disappointed. He is very present in your suffering, even when you think He didn’t do enough/anything to prevent it.
  2. God does not always change the circumstance, but He always wants to change the person: Do we allow God to use that disappointment or rejection to change us? If we, like the writer of Proverbs believe, “Trust is the Lord with all of your hearts…and he will direct your paths,” we need to trust that God will use even the failed opportunities in our lives.

 

Being part of God’s Story
  1. Knowing the way forward because you know The Way (=Jesus, John 14:6) intimately: Intimacy is all about trust that God never makes mistakes. In His directing your paths (like Paul’s), you will grow through closed doors (without looking for windows).
  2. Yearning to be part of God’s (big) Story (it’s not just about my own doors and windows): When I believe that God is already and always at work, always in and around my life, and sometimes through, I understand that there will be many doors I will need to walk through – and help others through as well. Paul learned that in Macedonia (where he was imprisoned)

 

The phrase reworked: When a door is closed, God prepares (grows) us for the next…many!

 

Questions:

When did you feel absolutely sure that you were doing everything that God had asked – and that door of opportunity shut firmly in your face? What kind of comfort and direction did you want next?

Read Proverbs 3:5-6

What does “in all your ways submit to Him” mean to you, even in the face of disappointments?

In what ways can we “not lean on our own understanding” and actually trust Him?

What if the question was not about a closed door and open window, but about several open doors? What then?