Tag Archives: problems

What to do when you don’t know what to do

by Stan Mitchell

Some people expect the preacher to stand in the pulpit and tell them what to do. There are times when this is relatively easy. The Bible leaves little doubt when it comes to such things as sexual immorality or pride.

Believe it or not, however, the preacher doesn’t always have the answers. There are times when one must choose, not between good and evil, but between good and better.

And when it comes to personal relationships, the best thing is not always a simple thing to determine.

  • Who was right?
  • Who was wrong?
  • Whose version of the story can I believe?

Usually there is a little bit of fault on both sides!

Shall I get a job in a city where the church is strong, or serve the church in a place where it is weak, and could use my help, says the church member?

Shall I marry this person or wait, asks the young person? Should I go to college, or try to make money immediately?

There are no simple answers to these sort of questions.

Life is usually more complicated than a bumper sticker slogan. You can’t always unravel life’s tangles in the time-space of the thirty-minute sitcom. So, what do you do when you don’t know what to do?

* You can pray. This is always a good place to start.

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God” (Philippians 4:6Philippians 4:6
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6 In nothing be anxious, but in everything, by prayer and petition with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God.

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* You can continue to search God’s word for guidance.

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding…” (Proverbs 3:5Proverbs 3:5
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5 Trust in Yahweh with all your heart, And don’t lean on your own understanding.

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* You can trust God’s wisdom and goodness. “Casting all your anxieties on him,” Peter advises us, “because he cares for you” (1 Peter 5:71 Peter 5:7
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7 casting all your worries on him, because he cares for you.

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When you don’t know what to do, you trust the God who does.

How do we give problems to the Lord?


How do we unburden ourselves by giving our problems to the Lord, so he can help us through them?

Problems are part of the human condition. “Man who is born of woman is of few days and full of trouble” (Job 14:1Job 14:1
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14 1 “Man, who is born of a woman, Is of few days, and full of trouble.

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, NKJV). Jesus said, “Sufficient for the day is its own troubles” (Matthew 6:34Matthew 6:34
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34 Therefore don’t be anxious for tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Each day’s own evil is sufficient.

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We cannot escape problems while we are on this earth. All we can do is to eliminate as many of the self-inflicted wounds as possible and learn to better deal with issues as they arise. God will help us with these challenges.

To answer this question, we must differentiate between the physical, emotional and spiritual.

As human beings, we have behavior common to man. We call this physical/fleshly because it would be this way without God. The emotional is how we deal with these problems. The spiritual connects us to God.

One of these is primary in our lives and will be the weapon we utilize when troubles arise. If the physical or emotional is primary, we will utilize flawed resources (1 Corinthians 2:13-151 Corinthians 2:13-15
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13 Which things also we speak, not in words which man’s wisdom teaches, but which the Holy Spirit teaches, comparing spiritual things with spiritual things. 14 Now the natural man doesn’t receive the things of God’s Spirit, for they are foolishness to him, and he can’t know them, because they are spiritually discerned. 15 But he who is spiritual discerns all things, and he himself is judged by no one.

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). Man’s knowledge and abilities are weak compared to the Bible and the promises of God (1 Corinthians 3:1-31 Corinthians 3:1-3
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3 1 Brothers, I couldn’t speak to you as to spiritual, but as to fleshly, as to babies in Christ. 2 I fed you with milk, not with meat; for you weren’t yet ready. Indeed, not even now are you ready, 3 for you are still fleshly. For insofar as there is jealousy, strife, and factions among you, aren’t you fleshly, and don’t you walk in the ways of men?

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When we become a Christian, we become transformed, rising above the weaknesses of the flesh (Romans 12:1-2Romans 12:1-2
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12 1 Therefore I urge you, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service. 2 Don’t be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what is the good, well-pleasing, and perfect will of God.

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; Colossians 3:16Colossians 3:16
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16 Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly; in all wisdom teaching and admonishing one another with psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your heart to the Lord.

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). We have Christ, prayer, Scripture and the fellowship of the saints in our arsenal.

With the spiritual, we take our problems to God in prayer, turning them over to the perfect, infallible, all-wise Lord. We do this because we have learned through experience, discussion with other saints and a study of God’s Word that God is sufficient.

God provides persistence (Hebrews 13:5Hebrews 13:5
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5 Be free from the love of money, content with such things as you have, for he has said, “I will in no way leave you, neither will I in any way forsake you.”

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), concern and care (1 Peter 5:71 Peter 5:7
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7 casting all your worries on him, because he cares for you.

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; Psalm 55:22Psalm 55:22
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22 Cast your burden on Yahweh, and he will sustain you. He will never allow the righteous to be moved.

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), and love (1 John 4:81 John 4:8
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8 He who doesn’t love doesn’t know God, for God is love.

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We learn to overcome the inherent fleshly fear of ceding control and give God our problems. We learn to trust him completely because we cannot handle it ourselves (Psalm 38:4Psalm 38:4
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4 For my iniquities have gone over my head. As a heavy burden, they are too heavy for me.

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; Philippians 4:13Philippians 4:13
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13 I can do all things through Christ, who strengthens me.

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When we have trust and faith that he is capable of handling our problems, we are ready to give him our troubles. We go to him in prayer and take the time to pour out our heart in detail. Then, we let the Lord work.

Luke records a parable of Jesus where a relentless widow moves an unjust judge to action by her persistence (Luke 18:1-8Luke 18:1-8
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18 1 He also spoke a parable to them that they must always pray, and not give up, 2 saying, “There was a judge in a certain city who didn’t fear God, and didn’t respect man. 3 A widow was in that city, and she often came to him, saying, ‘Defend me from my adversary!’ 4 He wouldn’t for a while, but afterward he said to himself, ‘Though I neither fear God, nor respect man, 5 yet because this widow bothers me, I will defend her, or else she will wear me out by her continual coming.’” 6 The Lord said, “Listen to what the unrighteous judge says. 7 Won’t God avenge his chosen ones, who are crying out to him day and night, and yet he exercises patience with them? 8 I tell you that he will avenge them quickly. Nevertheless, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on the earth?”

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). God, who is not an unjust judge, does not act when we harass him into action.

Rather, we continually bring our concerns before God because we are deeply involved emotionally in the problem. It fills all of our waking thoughts. Naturally, it will be on our heart all the time.

Prayer connects us with God but it also benefits us, knowing a greater force is involved. Persistence reinforces this fact and soothes our soul.

Finally, we must understand that when we give our problems to God, he does answer them. We must be patient (Psalm 37:7Psalm 37:7
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7 Rest in Yahweh, and wait patiently for him. Don’t fret because of him who prospers in his way, Because of the man who makes wicked plots happen.

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; Psalm 40:1Psalm 40:1
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40 For the Chief Musician. A Psalm by David. 1 I waited patiently for Yahweh. He turned to me, and heard my cry.

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). God exists outside of time (2 Peter 3:82 Peter 3:8
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8 But don’t forget this one thing, beloved, that one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day.

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) and his resources are not of man (Isaiah 55:8Isaiah 55:8
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8 For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, says Yahweh.

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We must allow God to act, knowing that he is completely good and dependable (1 John 1:51 John 1:5
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5 This is the message which we have heard from him and announce to you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all.

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). Faith is required, if we will trust him (Hebrews 11:6Hebrews 11:6
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6 Without faith it is impossible to be well pleasing to him, for he who comes to God must believe that he exists, and that he is a rewarder of those who seek him.

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). There may be actions we must take.

Ultimately, we must wait on God (Luke 1:37Luke 1:37
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37 For everything spoken by God is possible.”

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) and allow the master craftsman room to work. Otherwise, how will we view the finished masterpiece?

The Misunderstanding

by Paula Harrington
Her big blue eyes looked up through thick bangs, and I felt my own tears at her words, “There’s no power at my house.” This first grader was one of my favorites. I held myself together as she continued, “But Mom said we might get it back on this week.”
We were in the middle of January. Snow was predicted for this very evening. I knew I had to spring into action and see what could be done for this family. I looked at the older sister who barely stood an inch taller and asked, “How long have you gone without power?”
“For two weeks,” she sighed. “But our lights and water work.”
Now I was confused. “They do?”
She nodded.
“So what exactly doesn’t work?”
With a look of forlornness and, in a woe-is-me tone, she explained, “All of it works but not our cable TV power. It broke. Mom says it might get fixed tomorrow.”
There are moments when we can look back and smile at what we thought was going on and the relief that came with the knowledge of the entire situation. Small misconceptions can be amusing but others can have spiritual consequences. These need to be explained immediately.
So let’s clear up a few things:
Christians don’t have perfect marriages or problem-free kids.
The church is made up of recovering sinners who fall off the wagon. Daily.
Salvation is found in no other name but Jesus (Acts 4:12Acts 4:12
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12 There is salvation in none other, for neither is there any other name under heaven, that is given among men, by which we must be saved!”

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God cares what happens to us (I Peter 5:7), but he won’t step in and fix all of our problems (I Peter 4:12-13).
Our Father desires all people to come to him (I Timothy 2:4). It’s our job to make that happen (Mark 16:15-16Mark 16:15-16
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15 He said to them, “Go into all the world, and preach the Gospel to the whole creation. 16 He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who disbelieves will be condemned.

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Let there be no misunderstanding about the important things in life. God lives. He loves. He reigns!

Enduring The Blows Of Life

by Tim Hall
What keeps us going when the going gets tough?
ship_rescue.jpgMany analogies have been used to describe our lives on earth: voyages across often-stormy seas, climbing to the summit of tall mountains, fighting daily battles. We steer clear of comparisons like “a bed of roses” because we know one thing for sure: Life is sometimes quite difficult.
What keeps God’s people going when those blows are allowed to land? Here are a couple of passages that have helped many:
Hebrews 12:2Hebrews 12:2
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2 looking to Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.

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– “Looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith …” Peter was granted an awesome privilege – to walk on water, just like Jesus was doing. Peter’s walk was cut short, however. Why did he begin to sink? Matthew tells us: “But when he saw that the wind was boisterous, he was afraid; and beginning to sink he cried out, saying, ‘Lord, save me!'” (Matthew 14:30Matthew 14:30
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30 But when he saw that the wind was strong, he was afraid, and beginning to sink, he cried out, saying, “Lord, save me!”

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If we concentrate on the blows of life, we may also begin to sink. Let us learn the truth presented in Hebrews 12:2Hebrews 12:2
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2 looking to Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.

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. Let us never stop “looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith.”
1 Corinthians 15:581 Corinthians 15:58
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58 Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the Lord’s work, because you know that your labor is not in vain in the Lord.

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- “Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord.” Here is a needed admonition for those who have been disappointed in God’s decisions. Some, after suffering hard blows, consider giving up.
Once again, Peter illustrates the concept. On one occasion Jesus’ teachings offended many of his followers. Some even turned away from following him. Jesus looked at those who remained and asked, “Do you also want to go away?” (John 6:67John 6:67
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67 Jesus said therefore to the twelve, “You don’t also want to go away, do you?”

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Peter spoke for faithful disciples of all times when he responded: “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. Also we have come to believe and know that You are the Christ, the Son of the living God” (John 6:68,69John 6:68,69
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68 Simon Peter answered him, “Lord, to whom would we go? You have the words of eternal life. 69 We have come to believe and know that you are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”

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We won’t always understand God’s will for us. Sometimes we won’t even like it. But to whom will we go? Only in Christ will we find everlasting life. And one thing more we believe: “We’ll understand it all by and by.”

Who Will Remember Me?

by Tim Hall
Who will intercede with God on my behalf?
cell0705.jpgJoseph was looking at a key that could unlock his prison cell and set him free. Not a literal key, but a person who would be in a position to win Joseph’s freedom. But would this person remember Joseph?
Joseph was in Egypt because his jealous brothers had sold him as a slave. After making the best of his new circumstances, he was imprisoned because of false accusations by his master’s wife (see Genesis 39). How long Joseph had been in prison is uncertain, but it appears to have been a considerable time.
Standing now before Joseph were two men who had personally served Pharaoh. One would soon be restored to his place of influence, and Joseph had a simple request: “But remember me when it is well with you, and please show kindness to me; make mention of me to Pharaoh, and get me out of this house” (Genesis 40:14Genesis 40:14
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14 But remember me when it will be well with you, and show kindness, please, to me, and make mention of me to Pharaoh, and bring me out of this house.

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, NKJV).
Events turned out just as Joseph had predicted. The chief butler’s dream was a prophecy of his restoration. He was surely impressed with Joseph’s abilities and with his apparent integrity. “Yet the chief butler did not remember Joseph, but forgot him” (Genesis 40:23Genesis 40:23
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23 Yet the chief cupbearer didn’t remember Joseph, but forgot him.

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). Had the butler mentioned Joseph’s case to Pharaoh, the recipient of gross injustices would have enjoyed two more years of freedom.
Each of us inhabit a prison at times, in a figurative sense. Illness, financial distress, bereavement, infirmity — all of these rob us of some degree of the freedom we cherish. Is there anyone who might intercede on our behalf, someone in a position of influence?
Indeed there is! Paul wrote about him: “Who is he who condemns? It is Christ who died, and furthermore is also risen, who is even at the right hand of God, who also makes intercession for us” (Romans 8:34Romans 8:34
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34 Who is he who condemns? It is Christ who died, yes rather, who was raised from the dead, who is at the right hand of God, who also makes intercession for us.

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). Could there be a position of greater influence than at God’s right hand? The one who occupies that seat intercedes “for us”. Hebrews 7:25Hebrews 7:25
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25 Therefore he is also able to save to the uttermost those who draw near to God through him, seeing he ever lives to make intercession for them.

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further emphasizes the point by saying that “he always lives to make intercession” for God’s people.
But Jesus isn’t the only one who has influence in his intercessions. James speaks of the power Christians possess today: “… The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much” (James 5:16James 5:16
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16 Confess your offenses to one another, and pray one for another, that you may be healed. The insistent prayer of a righteous person is powerfully effective.

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). If we’ll use the power God gives us, we also can help win freedom for people confined by life’s trials.
This leads to the probing question: When someone asks me to pray for them, am I more like the chief butler or Christ?
“Confess your trespasses to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much” (James 5:16James 5:16
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16 Confess your offenses to one another, and pray one for another, that you may be healed. The insistent prayer of a righteous person is powerfully effective.

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