Landmarks

Ever found yourself in a situation where your faith was defied by your circumstances? Perhaps you were sure God wanted you to enter a certain profession but you failed your exams. Or you felt God wanted you to apply for a certain job but you were turned down. Or you felt God wanted you to quit your job and start a ministry and you were offered a pay-rise. Or you felt God wanted you to build your marriage but your spouse was offered a well-paying job overseas. What do you do when your faith and your circumstances don’t agree?

We’ve been going through a series this month called ‘Life Bila Regrets’. We’ve learnt that we are the products of our decisions. Today’s decisions will determine tomorrow’s reality. That’s why we’ve been learning from God’s Word about the navigation tools that will enable us make good decisions so that we can live a life without regrets. For the 4th critical tool, please turn in your bibles to Judges 6:36-40

God appeared to Gideon and commanded him to lead a rebellion against the Midianites who were Israel’s rulers. Gideon prayed that circumstances would work out in a way that would make it 100% clear to him what God wanted.

It’s pretty common for Christians to look at our circumstances in order to determine what is the right thing to do. We do it all the time. We even have a name for this method. We call it finding an ‘open door’ or a ‘closed door’. Let’s look at each of these…

  • Open Doors – this is when all the signs seem to be leading us towards a certain course of action. For example, you meet someone who offers a new job out of the blues that pays twice as much as what you’re currently earning. Or you win a Green Card and all of a sudden have an opportunity to migrate and live in the West. Or you’re thinking about getting a new car and that same day, your company gives you a surprise bonus. When doors open, generally, most Christians assume that it must be the way God is leading, and that God is supporting the direction that the open door is leading to. The other kind of circumstance is…
  • Closed Doors – this refers to when circumstances seem to be blocking a certain course of action.  For example, you lose your job just when you were planning to support a poor child in school. Or the economy goes South, just when you’re about to open your business. Or you’re on your way to an interview when it rains and all roads are chocked with traffic. When a door closes, most of us tend to conclude that this was not what God wanted for us because if it was, then things would have worked out. Sometimes we even conclude that God must have been displeased with the direction that we were heading.

There are several dangers to depending on circumstances to help us make decisions…

1. Can Sidetrack Destiny

Not every open door is from God! Just because an opportunity has opened up doesn’t mean it is God’s will for you. Did you know the devil can also open up opportunities?! Think about the temptations of Jesus. The devil opened several doors for him – what would have happened if he walked through those doors? He would have been sidetracked from his purpose!

On the other hand, not every closed door is a sign of God’s disapproval. Just because I’m facing opposition doesn’t mean God is displeased with me or that the door will remain closed forever. It’s easy to become a victim of our opportunities or challenges. So be careful! Don’t become a victim of circumstances!

2. Can Disguise Disobedience

In Gideon’s case, he already knew what God wanted him to do. The fleeces were merely delaying tactics as he tried to get out of his assignment. Many times, we ask God to do something before we can obey what we already know to be His will.

This passage actually isn’t commending Gideon for asking for a fleece. Gideon only did it because he lacked faith. He didn’t really want to do what he knew God was saying. Often by laying down our fleece or giving God our conditions, we’re hoping that God will let us off because we don’t really want to do what we know He is saying. It’s time to stop praying and start obeying! Don’t become a victim of circumstances!

3. Can Promote Deception

Ever noticed how when you start thinking about buying a certain car, all of a sudden you start noticing how many there are on the road? It is a common human tendency to see something if we’re looking for it. If you have already determined that you want to marry a particular person, then you unconsciously filter out anything that disagrees with your choice and you magnify anything that confirms your decision. As in… ‘oh, she’s wearing red – my favorite color – surely this must be a sign from God that she’s the one!

This is a dangerous tendency! The bible tells us in Jer.17:9 that ‘the heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure; who can understand it?’ A lot of people will tell you they made a certain decision because they ‘felt peace’ about it. But your feelings are not always so smart! Depending on our circumstances to make our decisions can be very dangerous because in so doing, we place ourselves in a position where we can be easily fool ourselves into thinking the decision we’re making is what God wants whereas it’s actually what we want. Don’t become a victim of circumstances!

So is it ever valid to look at and read our circumstances when seeking to make our decisions? I believe that God can and does speak to us through circumstances. However, based on what we’ve seen above, we need to be careful so that we don’t destroy our destiny, disguise disobedience or promote deception in our lives. Several precautions that we need to take as we assess the doors in our lives…

1. Never Look At Circumstances In Isolation

The circumstances in our lives need to agree with our other 3 navigation tools. Is it in agreement with God’s word? Is there a confirmation as I pray that this is God’s leading? What do my godly advisors have to say? As we assess circumstances in the light of these other tools, then we are able to tell if God is speaking to us through them.

Many of us seek for circumstances to speak to us instead of God speaking through our circumstances. Too many of us charge right ahead when there’s an open door without taking time to hear what God is saying. Even when you think circumstances are from God, seek verification from the other tools. Circumstances must agree with God’s word, His leading through prayer and the wisdom of godly advisors. Don’t become a victim of circumstances!

2. Don’t Use Circumstances To Justify Your Way

This was Gideon’s problem. He was fearful and did not want to go and fight. His intention in asking for a sign was simply to prove to himself that God could not have been talking to him. He was making circumstances conditional for his obedience.

If God asks you to do the opposite of what you want, are you still committed to obey? And how about right now, are you already obeying Him in the things He has already revealed? Many times, we try to make the circumstances fit with what we want to do. We use them to justify our behaviour and our actions by saying God must have allowed it. But God will not be used as a rubber stamp for our decisions! Don’t become a victim of circumstances!

Pray For 2 Groups Of ‘Potential Victims Of Circumstances’…

1. Those who have know what God is saying but have delayed obeying because of fear

2. Those facing great opportunities and have not taken time kisser render to God and seek His direction

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10 Responses to “Landmarks”

  1. martingatoto Says:

    Hi Pasi,
    Yesterday’s message strongly resonated with what God has been speaking to my heart. I was so relieved at the way the message was delivered; at least I know I wasn’t thinking my own things. May God continue to use you even in a greater way than He is now. Be blessed!

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  2. Before this series, life bila regret, this was how ad have described myself or blogged —
    .am leaving out my past mistakes now. it is difficult seeing my reflection daily, looking at the person who hurt others, and myself. for I didn’t know how to deal with what happened. sometimes I think am not worth living and do not see anything to live for-most often. regret haunts my thoughts always.
    this series has reminded me of how I live in isolation, decisions made in isolation and I tend to base them on my feelings sometimes. am living out my past mistakes not sharing this with anyone. when u say that’s a burden, it is.
    NOW THIS IS HOW I CHOOSE TO DO TELL THE STORY , —–
    During this month I made the decision to pray daily, read word daily and have Jethros around me. I was surprised at how the book of proverbs is full of wisdom n gives direction.
    this sermon series has brought change in my thinking. when my feelings tell me to take an overdose, u living for nothing n have no future the word tells me that God has great plans for me that are for meant good, mizizi week 1.Gods voice and my voice. I made mistakes in the past and am living it out now but I find solace in the word that all turns out for Good. and everything is new now. God has given me a new beginning.

    I have connected with people from church once again. am finding myself talking to them and seeking advice before making decisions. somehow they are the jethros in my life. at first I thought where do I find jethros?, I chose to connect and join guys as they serve in church and have time for people. av had fun this month.

    this series. changed my life. my mirror reflection is a new person. different in my ways n especially the choices I make, they are different now

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  3. Dear Pastor Mureithi,
    I continue to thank God for you and Mavuno every time i visit the Church.Sunday sermon (27/05/2012) was very powerful and so much felt like i was having a one on one with you throughtout the service.It really made me understand that truly not all open doors are from God.Please allow me to share with you my experince below;
    I have been running a successful business in Mombasa for a couple of years ( by the way,it is my Company that cleared your vehicle-The Toyota Estima from the Port of Mombasa-we had not met then but got the business through your friend).I owned a clearing Company and on the side imported and sold vehicles.This was after operating a stable and fast growing insurance agency which was the first business that i started back in 2003.After some time-2007,my Bank approached me to take a loan to buy a heavy truck,a prime mover and a trailer that costed me 6 million. I went ahead to apply for the loan without so much study and consultations on how the business works.We took the truck and prayed for it with our Pastor and commissioned it for business which all started very well and i thought this is it-soon,i will own a huge fleet of trucks and be multi a millionaire…..so i thought.What i didnt know that i later learnt is that the business despite its huge cash flows makes very liitle or no profit with most of the costs being hidden…..only to hit you in the longrun.Soon,i realised the truck could not even service the loan i had taken from the bank.The operational costs were so huge that i found myself spending money from the other businesses hoping that i would replenish…..The cash flows were very deceptive and kept my hopes up that at some point,this business will break even and start making money.I tried all options of doing the business including doing long hauls as well as local deliveries.I found myself in at the centre of making a series of wrong business decisions which only took me deeper into problems because wthin no time,the business was in huge debts and literally left me owing everyone that i knew.It has never been the same since then, life has been miserable.I had to get sober and make some decisions to deal with the problems.I stopped the truck from working but then realised that the re-sale value can not even pay the loan balance.I could not import cars and sell anymore…all the money had been swallowed by the new investment…the insurance income wasnt big enough to salvage the other lines…the entire business chain was in a mess…… with debts staring at me from all angles-reality sunk deep to its place.I need a miracle,only God can get me out of this.The question that came to my mind then was,could God lead me into this only to get me into such trouble?I have been a Chrstian,i have been in leadership in our Church and as my business kept growing,the lord was praised because i had really come from far.Could God really have been involved in this from the begining? The questions have just been answered from the sermon-27/5/2012.I had gotten used to receiving blessings and reached a point of complacency in dealing with God and the open doors that come my way.I didnt spend much time to pray and seek Gods guidance.I even remembered one friend mentioned to me about the high costs involved in running that kind of a business but i wasnt keen to listen,i moved on.Nothing could stop me from that venture.I was determined to succeed and grow Big.The open door later led to destruction of a growing empire.I therefore share this with you today to affirm the message that as Christians,our success lies in understadning Gods will and purpose in our life.This can only be realised if we spend time reading Gods word,praying and earnestly seeking him.Today,i have not cleared all the debts but i believe that through this experience,God will use me to teach and positively influence others.The lord is now positioning me to take up new things.My insurance business is still growing and by Gods grace my faith has not been killed despite the current situation and i am daring to explore further and grow in faith and in business.This time,i want to make the right consultations with God…..i will train secretly to win publicly,i will seek the lords guidance by reading into his word more,pray more and grow in wisdom so that i will not see every open door as an opportunity from God and that my life ahead will be…..BILA REGRETS.

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  4. Pastor M,

    CLOSED DOORS?
    I love all the series at Mavuno church,i have to admit though, this months series has deeply moved me-specifically yesterdays sermon(Landmarks). I have never been so tongue tied in a while. I sat and listened,got enlightenment,got confused,understood and then got lost.

    I found out a while back that my partner had been having an affair and i was so upset and decided to end the relationship. He later apologised and said he would not repeat that mistake again. I forgave him.

    Recently i found out that he had gone back to the same old behaviour. He had even made the other lady pregnant which i found out about. She unfortunately lost that baby. I was also pregnant and also lost the baby.Talk about drama and dangerous living!! He took the lady on a holiday to make up for i don’t know what and i found out about all this.

    By the time he came back from the holiday i had moved out and he came looking for me to forgive him and try to mend things. I forgave him without the intention of going back to live with him but just so as to make peace with myself and God and him. He wants me to move back in and i am scared out of my mind. When i left him it was because i felt that all those things that happened (circumstances) were signs from God telling me to run for the hills!

    He has since ended the affair he was having and he seems to be making a real effort to make things right. My confusion and fear is: Was God letting me find out about those situations so i could run? Have i disobeyed God by giving this man one more chance?

    Closed Doors – this refers to when circumstances seem to be blocking a certain course of action: i could have sworn the door was being slammed shut but i forced it open. did i do the right thing to be faithful and try to make this relationship work?
    When a door closes, most of us tend to conclude that this was not what God wanted for us because if it was, then things would have
    worked out. Sometimes we even conclude that God must have been displeased with the direction that we were heading. I am terribly confused!

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    • Dear Angel, A lot of your questions are addressed in a previous sermon earlier this year: Finders-Keepers. Pls refer to the sermon notes and blogs as you make your resolve in prayer. Yes, God wants us to find ourselves in Him before we find the one. Only when we are complete in God and with the correct priorities do we become ready to find and keep the one.

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  5. Niko Hapa Says:

    Wow this is one of those sermons that leaves one thinking and makes me realise enyewe i need to go for a retreat and carry out a serious analysis of my life if I am to live life bila regrets.

    It’s so easy to be a victim of circumstances while you think you are in control….. quite scary. @Angel my thoughts are this message is not in isolation remember the past sermons have been about being connected as well as using the word as a road map – the take home for me the last two Sundays has been the word of God calibrates our minds while prayer calibrates our minds then leading to this message of landmarks. When when we apply these in it’s totality then i think the fascade gets out of the way and the grey areas become black and white (read discernment).

    I guess you get to a point where you learn not use our physical circumstances to determine the course of action, it’s more like looking at the bigger picture whose determinant is God (read God’s will) rather than focusing on the present challenges to determine our decisions. A biblical scenario that comes to mind is Abraham and Sarah, Abraham has been promised that he will be made a father of many nations and that his descendants will be as many as the stars in the sky. In reality Sarah was not getting children. Sarah decides to help God and the result was a lot of pain as highlighted in the bible. As you continue with the story Isaac comes into the picture. At some point he is told errrr boss you need to sacrifice Isaac, imagine Abraham father of many nations, many descendants then ati sacrifice an only son .

    Trusting God to actualise the bigger picture is a challenge because he works at his own time and i believe obedience catalyses the process, like Abraham’s case he did not sacrifice Isaac and eventually a ram was provided and guess what Abraham’s promise is evident today we are all Abraham’s descendants and Sunday school kids sing it all the time remember that song ‘father Abraham has many son’s?’

    It is important to ask God what he is saying and just learn to obey………. Remember if we base decisions on the bigger picture which God has determined then there is a reward and that’s when we get into the realm of life bila regrets.

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  6. Grace Ngugi Says:

    Hi Pator M. I really don’t know what to say but will start with a thank you. I’m really not a church person, have been to church maybe 4 times in the last 8 years:( I stumbled on the mavuno sermons on you-tube,, downloaded them on my phone and all i do when free is listen..I have never been so interested in the word of God! Preached in such a simple way i can relate to almost everything. My life is changing..last Sunday I even contemplated coming to Mavuno and hoping I will soon because i bet i will be as attached as i am to the sermons. Baby steps..maybe soon.

    P.S For the longest time, twas like i was holding a grudge against God. After GPS, Praying has become so much easier because i converse with God and I actually feel his presence…i cannot thank you enough. May God bless and keep you for you have changed more lives than you know.

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  7. Angel M Says:

    This last part is confusing…guess its coz i din’t make it to any of the services and read it online,

    What exactly are you saying Pastor M?

    1.My take out is that what i think is closed could not be necessarily closed..so what is it then?
    What i think is an open door is not necessarily open?

    Anyone feeling me?

    Hope my LG can help

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  8. Dear Niko Hapa,

    Thank you so much for your comment. I have read and re-read what you are saying and it makes sense. The Abraham and Sarah story puts it into perspective…and trust me i feel like Sarah most of the time.

    I will commit to taking everything to God in prayer no matter how scared i am. And i will also learn how to trust God and trust that his time is always the right time. I have often found myself fighting the things i think God is saying and it’s time to let go and let God!

    I also will listen to the other sermons in the Life Bila Regrets series to have more clarity. can’t wait for the dvd’s to come out.

    Dear Civvic,

    I attended the Finders-Keepers series as well and i guess i am about to have it on replay too 🙂

    Thanks for all your comments!

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  9. SeekingYeFirst Says:

    Hi, I really like this sermon but I don’t think you’ve made clear the divide between open and closed doors. Yes, you will pray but ‘that peace’ sometimes you mean is deceiving? or what? Please make me understand…

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