Have you ever wondered whether God was opening a door or if something was merely the enemy teasing you with a fresh "opportunity"? It can be difficult to decipher whether your good idea is a "God idea." In fact, I am a believer that some things brought our way are merely holy distractions. Though the opportunity may look "good on paper," it is simply not meant for you at this moment in your life.
In my own life, I can attest to wasting years following "things" I thought God would be in the midst of, only to learn my own ambition led me there, not the voice of God. Likewise, there have been times I missed an open-door opportunity due to fear or my personal confusion. I wonder how much time was wasted in the midst of pursuing opportunities that God had never signed off on. Without the certainty of each day, it is important to have the discernment to know which path to take so we can make the most of our time on Earth. Our choices will have a direct effect on our lives and the lives of generations to come. Walking through the right doors at the right time is serious business and shouldn't be taken lightly, but rather with prayer and wisdom.
Through it all, I have learned that there are several pointers that reveal God's will for His children.
1. Opportunity Backed By Scripture
One major aspect of discerning an open door is recognizing whether it will line up to Scripture. Quite simply, the Lord will not "bless" you by giving you the opportunity to sin or contradict His word. Chances are, if your open door causes you to act according to fruit of the flesh, described in Galatians 5:19-21, this is not from God. So, if you get a chance to rob a bank or aggressively confront someone who has hurt you, it is very likely the Holy Spirit is not leading you to do so.
2. Answered Prayer
If you've been praying specifically, this upcoming opportunity may be an answer to your prayer. Many times, we pray for something, but when God brings the manifestation, we begin to doubt. The truth is God responds to the prayers of His children. We must know that if we are seeking the Lord for one of His promises towards us, He certainly can answer. Remember, nothing is impossible for God!
And this is the confidence that we have toward him, that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. And if we know that he hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests that we have asked of him. (1 John 5:14-16)
3. Confirmation From Wise Counsel
Proverbs 11:14 reminds us that victory is won through the advice of many counselors. If you are unsure if this next opportunity is from God, seek a person who operates in wisdom. When you do so, they will be able to recognize possible conflicts without the emotional attachment. Although you should not be vulnerable with everyone, pray that God will highlight a person you can confide in.
4. Discomfort In Your Current Situation
If you are experiencing a high level of discomfort in your current situation, this open door may be God's opportunity to release you from your peril. This does not mean that discomfort is a sign you’re in the wrong place. God uses struggle and suffering to sharpen and refine us, and birth something new.
But sometimes, we hold on tightly to situations that are destructive. In our quest to "not give up," we stand in God's way when he provides a way of escape. Much like the story of Joseph, we have to be willing to move from the prison to the palace (Genesis 41). We have to be willing to allow God to transition us into our new thing. Remember, when God is calling you to release something it is not defeat, but victory!
5. Opportunities You Didn't Ask For
There are times when God blesses you and you don't see it coming. Your obedience, giftings and humble spirit simply opened doors that you didn't have to ask for. Consider the story of Saul found in 1 Samuel 9. Though he never asked to be king, God saw fit for him to walk in a new anointing. Some open doors are so huge that if you knew ahead of time you would allow doubt and your personal insecurities to sabotage your open door.
6. God Speaks In A Dream
Throughout the Bible, we see that the Lord speaks in dreams. It's in these moments where we cannot object or stand in the way that God can minster to our hearts. From showing me my future children to my current ministry, the Lord gave me dreams to confirm what he was doing. Rather than dismissing your dreams as random thoughts of the day, keep a journal and write out what you can recall in the morning. The Lord may be speaking about your next opportunity, you just may be too distracted to perceive it. Much like God put Adam to sleep before creating his greatest gift, God may use your resting time to birth a new plan in you.
“For God does speak-now one way, now another- though no one perceives it. In a dream, in a vision of the night, when deep sleep falls on people, as they slumber in their beds.” (Job 33:14-15)
7. It Blesses Others
If your open door is a blessing to many around you, it may be from the Lord. This can be tricky at times. I've come to learn that not every good idea is a "God-idea" no matter how many people may benefit from it. Nonetheless, God-given opportunities can have a positive ripple effect for other people. We are called to be a blessing to others. When we do so, this brings glory to the God we represent. Take a moment to evaluate how walking through this door will positively or negatively affect others.
“The one who blesses others is abundantly blessed; those who help others are helped.” (Proverbs 11:25)
8. It Brings Peace
When the Lord brings a new opportunity, it should not be full of confusion. Though you may face opposition here and there from the enemy, you can still have peace. One of my favorite sayings is, "Let God's peace be your guide." In other words, when you are moving in the direction God is calling you into, you will find that you can face opposition with confidence, knowing that God is in charge of your path.
"For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the LORD, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope."
9. Confirmed Through Prayer
Although there are many ways to know if God is speaking, hearing His voice overrides them all. There will be some doors God will have you walk through that go against conventional wisdom or patterns. I challenge you to not run from these opportunities but seek the Lord in prayer. The more we are connected to God in prayer, the easier it will be to hear His voice with precision. Ultimately, it will be His voice that will illuminate the paths that you need to take. All other opportunities, no matter how great they may initially seem, may simply be a distraction for your life.
My prayer is that you would proceed boldly knowing that if God is speaking, it will be great. May you allow no insecurity, naysayer, or doubt to cheat you our of what God is trying to bless you with. Receive this new opportunity with faith and humility in Jesus name.
“Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.” (Proverbs 3:5-6)
“I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with my loving eye on you. Do not be like the horse or the mule, which have no understanding but must be controlled by bit and bridle or they will not come to you.” (Psalm 32:8-9)
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Victoria Riollano is an author, blogger, and speaker. As a mother of six, military spouse, Psychology professor and minister's wife, Victoria has learned the art of balancing family and accomplishing God's ultimate purpose for her life. Recently, Victoria released her book, The Victory Walk: A 21 Day Devotional on Living A Victorious Life. Her ultimate desire is to empower women to live a life of victory, hope, and love. She believes that with Christ we can live a life that is ALWAYS winning. You can learn more about her ministry at victoryspeaks.org.
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