Preaching the Gospel, Preparing a People

Profit From Our Problems

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Profit From Our Problems

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Profit From Our Problems

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How does God intervene with our problems? Where do our problems come from? What can we learn from our problems?

Transcript

It is amazing how God's Spirit can guide minds and make sermonette and sermon blend right together. Sometimes the song service, the closing song, just seems to blend in. I've seen it happen so many, many times; and I don't know...the same Spirit was working in John's mind last night that has been working in my mind for the last few days, and that, of course, is to talk a little bit about some of the problems and trials that people go through and see if we can't learn a lesson. If you want a title for this sermon, {it is} "Profit from Our Problems."

Now we know that certainly the Bible does tell us very plainly over and over in numerous places...if you want to look for one, let's look at Psalm 34 and we'll see something here that the psalmist David is repeating here in the 34th psalm. He starts out:

Psalms 34:1 Psalms 34:1I will bless the LORD at all times: his praise shall continually be in my mouth.
American King James Version×
– I will bless the Lord at all times...

Verse 4 – I sought the Lord, and He heard me, and delivered me from all my fears.

Verse 6 – This poor man cried out, and the Lord heard him, and saved him out of all his troubles.

Look at verse 17: The righteous cry out, and the Lord hears, and delivers them out of all their troubles...their problems, their trials.

Verse 18 – The Lord is near to those who have a broken heart, and saves such as have a contrite spirit.

You read over in Isaiah 57, that's the one, the man to whom God will look—he that is of a broken and contrite spirit.

Now, notice verse 19 {Psalm 34}. We hear this quoted quite often.

Verse 19 – Many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the Lord delivers him out of them all.

Now, we might say, "Many are the afflictions or problems or troubles of all mankind." Certainly in the Church of God, we know we will go through certain tribulations or trials because of the beliefs that we believe. Jesus said, you know, "If you were of the world, the world would love you; but it's because you're not of the world and I have chosen you out of the world; therefore, the world will hate you." So we know we can expect that we will have problems living the Christian life in obedience to God because all of the world has gone the other way. Remember, Jesus said, "In the world, you will have tribulation...you will have trials, you will have problems...but be of good cheer. I have overcome the world." And what He is saying is, "So can you. You can overcome the world because I will make it possible." He said, "Peace I leave with you. My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. So don't let your hearts be afraid, don't let them be troubled." He went on to say, "...you believe in God, believe also in Me, and God will take care of you."

Let's look as we go over into the book of Acts, into the history of the Church of God; and we'll see something here in Acts 14. Here we find, reading along about verse 22...this is, of course, where Paul has been stoned, dragged out of the city; and they thought he was dead in verse 19.

Acts 14:20-22 Acts 14:20-22 [20] However,, as the disciples stood round about him, he rose up, and came into the city: and the next day he departed with Barnabas to Derbe. [21] And when they had preached the gospel to that city, and had taught many, they returned again to Lystra, and to Iconium, and Antioch, [22] Confirming the souls of the disciples, and exhorting them to continue in the faith, and that we must through much tribulation enter into the kingdom of God.
American King James Version×
– ...when the disciples gathered around him, he rose up and went into the city. And the next day he departed with Barnabas to Derbe. And when they had preached the gospel to that city and made many disciples, they returned to Lystra, Iconium, and Antioch, strengthening the souls of the disciples, exhorting them to continue in the faith, and saying,"We must through many tribulations, many trials, many problems, many tests, enter the kingdom of God."

And so, the old saying is, you know, you won't go sailing along just on a breeze into the Kingdom of God. Jesus said, "How difficult it will be for those to enter the Kingdom of God, especially those who trust in riches." And He said, "Broad is the way that leads to life, but few find that." I mean, "Narrow is the way that leads to life, but few find it. Broad is the way that leads to destruction and many go therein." So He said it's through tribulations and trials we'll enter God's Kingdom.

Notice in II Timothy 3, he's kind of referring to some of what he had just gotten through saying there in the book of Acts, that through the tribulations they would enter the Kingdom. Here we find in II Timothy 3 and beginning to read along about verse 10:

II Tim. 3:10-15, 17 – But you have carefully followed my doctrine, manner of life, purpose, faith, longsuffering, love, perseverance...all of those good characteristics, but also some of the problems that came...persecutions, afflictions, which happened to me at Antioch, at Iconium, at Lystra, just as he had gotten through traveling through, as we read in Acts 14...what persecutions I endured. And out of them all the Lord delivered me. They thought he was dead when they beat him and drug him out of the city, and he got up and went on. But he said that out of all those trials, the Lord delivered me. Yes, and all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution. But evil men and impostors will grow worse and worse, deceiving and being deceived. But you must continue in the things which you have learned and been assured of, knowing from whom you have learned them, and that from childhood you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation...and then he explained how that the scriptures were God breathed and profitable for us, so that we could be equipped for every good work.

So we know that problems will come upon us—those of us in the church and those out of the church. No matter who it might be, problems do arise.

"Problem," if you look in Webster's Dictionary, merely means it's "a departure from the norm." A departure from peace, comfort, happiness, tranquility, all of the things that we desire. When that is interrupted and we don't have that peace, our lives are interrupted and we don't have the joy and the happiness that we would love and desire. Then we've got a problem. When things don't go the way that they should, then we've got a problem. And those problems, of course, can come from all sources in our lives.

Let's talk about physical problems. Physical problems, is, of course, when we're not well. The knee is hurting, the back is hurting. I came by and anointed Larry Griffith on the way to church today. He's lying flat on his back on the bed with his back brace on, in much pain because he's got a physical problem. He's not up and around. That's what we'd like to see him doing; but the problem is, his back is hurting and he's down flat. Just like I told you about Jodie Lane. She's not doing well because she's suffering from mistakes that had been made back prior in her life that brought on this physical problem. We can go on and on and name all kinds of physical problems, physical infirmities and ailments that we might have; and we have to deal with those.

We have to realize that God has promised to not leave us nor forsake us in those. He does tell us that we can call for the elders of the church and be anointed. He tells us that there are certain things that we can do to take care of our needs. And certainly those physical problems, we want them to go away by just a quick fix or the quick pill. We don't want to go through a problem and learn from it. So many times we think, "Well, boy, take this or that miracle pill," and, all of a sudden, presto chango, our problems are gone and we're well and happy. Usually, as a rule, if you read the fine print, there are so many side effects on there, then you begin to realize, "Wait a minute. This will cause more problems than what I've already got!" And, normally, it will—dizziness, nausea, and all kinds of problems when trying to do the quick fix. So, what God is saying is, "Be patient." Wait upon God. Trust in God. He'll bring about the healing and the deliverance in His time and in His way.

I have often said in anointing people that there are two things that God does not promise in the way of physical healing and removal of pain or sickness or disease or whatever it might be. Two things He hasn't told us are how and when. Those are God's prerogatives. He doesn't tell us how or when, but we know that He does work in miraculous ways. We have seen and heard all kinds of cases where there was an x-ray taken and it showed a mass, say, in their lung or on their liver or in the kidney or whatever the problem might be. They were prayed for, anointed, went back, took another x-ray—gone! He says, "Are you sure this is the same person we x-rayed earlier?" "Yes, I'm sure." And they found out that it had been removed. So, you know, this is not a subject on that matter, but it is one of those things. Those can really be serious problems in a departure from the norm for us in the physical realm.

What about the mental, emotional makeup? A lot of people go around worrying, kind of like Job—"That which I feared has come upon me." We fear this, that, or the other thing, worry about this or that; and Jesus said, "Take no anxious or troubled thought about tomorrow, what you're going to be putting on or eating or drinking." God will take care of the need; and, so, we can trust God for even helping us in our mental, emotional makeup when we cry out and ask Him for the mind that was in Christ. Let this mind be in you which was in Christ, we read there in Philippians 2:5 Philippians 2:5Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus:
American King James Version×
. And so, we can go to God when we have a problem with mental, emotional disturbances.

In my ministry, I have dealt with a lot of those who worried about every little thing, and they made a major problem out of what, many times, would have been a minor problem. Just worry, frustration, overanxious and not going to God with it and not learning from it.

What about financial? Everybody here got all the money that they want, could ever use, in abundance and you're ready to give some of it away? Absolutely not. We have financial problems that come upon us. We do some unwise purchasing or too much credit spending and all kinds of problems can come as a result of that. Here again, this is not a sermon on financial planning. It's just one of the sources of problems. Problems can come through financial mismanagement; and, as you know, it's getting harder and harder to make the dollar stretch further than it's already stretching. The old saying, "I've stretched George out till I don't even recognize him anymore," trying to pinch pennies and do this or that because we have problems trying to make...especially on a fixed income. Boy I'll tell you, it's a long time from the first of the month to the first of the month on Social Security. And Social Security, what was it? I think the cost of living is going up 3 or 4 percent. We got 1.9 or whatever it was, so, it's as the old saying, "The hurrier we go, the behinder we get," many times in financial planning. But here, again, God will see us through those types of problems.

What about marital problems? Do we have any areas of marital problems? Absolutely. The divorce rate is higher and higher all the time, and you won't see it coming down. If you do see it coming down, do you know the reason for that? People don't get married anymore. They just do live-in, and, "We'll just, if it doesn't work out, then we don't have to divorce, we don't have to, you know, divide the property, and so we'll just live in." And that, of course, is certainly contrary to God's rules and God's laws; but it is a source of problems, marital problems of all kinds. I don't know how many...we had a family reunion here about three weeks ago, two or three weeks ago; and I saw cousins I hadn't seen in twenty years, I guess. One of them had been through four marriages. The other had been through five marriages. And, so, they were asking which one had had the most marriages, and they both said, "We won't go there. We won't discuss that." So the marital arena or area of one's life certainly can cause problems.

What about spiritual problems? Do we have spiritual problems? Why, absolutely. Too many times we feel God isn't listening, God is way off somewhere, God is not watching; and so we can get distraught in our spiritual life and let down on our spiritual life. And as you well know, there is no better way to begin to solve problems spiritually than to get back on your knees, get back to studying the word of God, drinking in of His word and His truth and not trying to solve the problem ourselves.

And, then, there are all other kinds of sources of problems. There are accidents. There are things that happen to us that are beyond our control. Accidents do happen, as the old saying goes. And what about the weather? It can cause all kinds of problems. It can rain when it shouldn't rain and the farmer's crop is destroyed. It can rain when it shouldn't rain and all kinds of things happen. Certainly when there is no rain and it's a drought, then we really have a problem. And many areas of the world are drought stricken.

What about war? Does war cause problems? Oh, you'd better believe it. There's hardly a day goes by...you watch the news and the final wrap up is how many more have been killed that day. And it really takes a toll, not only on those who are losing their sons or their husbands or whatever the case might be...we've seen some of that this week. The Moffit family is very concerned because 80-some odd days now they have not heard from their son. They don't know whether Matt Moffit is still alive or if he's been killed.

They've even shown video footage of men having their heads cut off. All kinds of things. The earth is filled with terrorists who are creating problems of all kinds. I know when we were down to Oklahoma here just two or three weeks ago, my wife was able to retrieve and pick up a medal. A little red box. It had gotten wet, but it was still in pretty good shape. We could open it up and here was the Navy Marine Corps Medal of Honor that her brother had been awarded in World War II days. In fact, posthumously. He didn't...he knew he was going to be getting it, but it was not given to him before he died in the South Pacific, and they sent it to his mother. Now my wife has it in her possession. So, seeing all these things really took a toll on her because of losing the older brother and almost losing the other brother who was wounded in World War II in the Battle of the Bulge, so war causes problems. All of these things, we could go on and on about them.

But where do they come from? Where do these problems that I've just gotten through mentioning—physical, financial, marital, spiritual, whatever they may be—where do they come from? Well, they come from three basic sources. The first source is, we cause them ourselves. We just do dumb things many times, pull stupid mistakes or make stupid decisions, and we suffer as a result of it. That's why we need, certainly, to trust God to guide us in making decisions. As the old saying, "A quick fix through the pill," there's a quick fix financially through credit cards. Just plop down the credit card. And the first thing you know, the outgo exceeds the income and you've got a problem. And so, we do create problems ourselves.

Secondly, they come from others, others who do things that hurt or harm us. They come from things that others do. Faults of others. Others make a mistake. Others cross the median and plow into your car and bang it up and kill a member of the family. I remember right after I left west Texas to come to Cincinnati, one of our members there in the Amarillo area was going to church one Sabbath morning, just driving along, Sabbath day, you know, enjoying the drive in to church; and some drunk from across the median, across the other lane, crossed the median, hit their car and killed him, banged up one of the little ones, and nearly killed the wife. We were out to see them later on. Not a fault of their own at all. It was a fault of others. Somebody else pulled a stupid mistake, DUI or carelessness or sleepiness or whatever the case might be, and they were killed. Then there is also wrong circumstances. We happen to be in the wrong place at the wrong time when something happens.

Let's notice something here in the book of Ecclesiastes. You've heard the old saying, "Time and chance." Well, let's look at time and chance and see just how it sometimes can come into play. Over here in Ecclesiastes, the 9th chapter, notice something here as we read in Ecclesiastes 9. Actually, in verse 9 there is some very good instruction here. Let's go to verse 9:

Eccl. 9:9-10 – (We were talking about marital problems a moment ago. Let's look at what God says here to Solomon.) Live joyfully with the wife whom you love all the days of your vain or fleeting life which He has given you under the sun, all your days of vanity; for that is your portion in life, and in the labor which you perform under the sun. Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with your might; for there is no work or device or knowledge or wisdom in the grave where you are going.

So it's just some basic, down-to-earth instruction and wisdom and guidance for us. Now notice verse 11:

Verses 11-12 -- I returned and saw under the sun that...now, here's what Solomon observed as he looked around...the race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, nor bread to the wise, nor riches to men of understanding, nor favor to men of skill...In other words, you think, "Well, man oh man, I can't understand how that happened." You know, it would appear that he would have been the one to win the battle because he was the strongest. Not necessarily. ...but time and chance happen to them all. For man also does not know his time: like fish taken in a cruel net, like birds caught in a snare, so the sons of men are snared in an evil time, when it falls suddenly upon them.

Now, what's he talking about? He's talking about what Jesus used as an example over in the book of Luke. If you'll look over here in the book of Luke, the 13th chapter, and let's see what Jesus said here in Luke 13 about how problems can happen and it can come, not necessarily because of some mistake. Luke 13 and let's begin about verse 1. He said:

Luke 13:1-5 Luke 13:1-5 [1] There were present at that season some that told him of the Galilaeans, whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices. [2] And Jesus answering said to them, Suppose you that these Galilaeans were sinners above all the Galilaeans, because they suffered such things? [3] I tell you, No: but, except you repent, you shall all likewise perish. [4] Or those eighteen, on whom the tower in Siloam fell, and slew them, think you that they were sinners above all men that dwelled in Jerusalem? [5] I tell you, No: but, except you repent, you shall all likewise perish.
American King James Version×
– There were present at that season some who told Him about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices. And Jesus answered and said to them...now, I'm sure they thought that Jesus was going to immediately say, "Aha! Dirty rotten sinners. They got what they had coming to them." No. Jesus answered and said to them, "Do you suppose that these Galileans were worse sinners than all other Galileans, because they suffered such things? God just reached down and zapped them because they were the worst sinners found in Galilee?" He says, "No! I tell you, no; but unless you repent you will all likewise perish. Or those eighteen on whom the tower in Siloam fell and killed them, do you think that they were worse sinners than all other men who dwelt in Jerusalem? I tell you, no; but unless you repent, YOU repent, you will all likewise perish."

So what Jesus is saying is they just happened to be at the wrong place at the wrong time, and Pilate mixed the blood of some of the Galileans in their sacrifices. They just happened to be standing in the wrong place when the tower of Siloam fell on them and killed eighteen of them. It wasn't a mistake they made. It wasn't a mistake of the tower, all of a sudden, the laws of gravity just gave way and it plopped down and killed them. It was just time and chance. They happened to be there.

Sometimes we think, "Well, why did that happen?" Well, time and chance comes into play. Now, it doesn't mean that God has gone off and forsaken us and doesn't know and won't protect us. That's not it at all. There are just things that do happen. Accidents do happen that we sometimes have no control over. It's kind of like Murphy's Law. You've heard of Murphy's Law? Sure you have. There are all kinds of Murphy's Laws, this, that, and the other thing. "No matter how many times you cut the rope, it's still too short." Well, Murphy's Law says, "When anything can go wrong, it will, at the most inopportune time." Now, there's another law that is a cousin to Murphy's Law, and that's Finagle's Law. Finagle's Law is, "When anything goes wrong, anything you do to it makes it worse." And that's the way it seems sometimes in our course of events. Something goes wrong. We try to do something with it, and, low and behold, it gets worse.

So, what do we do with our problems? Do we pour them on somebody else and upset their day and upset the apple cart, so to speak, by just telling people all about our problems? No. You talk to God about them.

There was a plumber engaged to do some work for this particular fellow, and he said he hired the man to do some repair work on his farm home. He said he had a terrible day. His old truck had a flat on it that cost him an hour of work. He also got ready to go and he couldn't get the old dilapidated pickup truck started, so the man said, "I'll take you home." So he takes the man home, and the man said, "Come in and meet my family. I've got a wife and two children." So he said, "I got out and I walked up to the house."

Before the man went into the house, there was a tree there at the side of the house, and he reached over and caught hold of the tree for the moment and then went into the house. When he stepped into the house, immediately his face was transfigured from just a downcast look all the way home. It now turned into a smile. He picked up his children, gave them a big hug, kissed his wife, and they had a good little chit-chat and he introduced him to his family.

As he went out to return home, he went by this tree as he {the plumber} walked him out to the car, and he said, "You know, I noticed that you reached over and grabbed hold of that tree. I'm curious. What was that for? What did that represent?" He said, "That's what I call my trouble tree. When I come home, I know my problems don't belong in the house with my wife and children, so I reach over and just leave them on the tree. The next morning when I go to work, I reach over and pick them up again and take them with me. You know," he said, "what is so interesting? The next morning, there are not as many problems on that tree as I left there the evening before."

He left them where they belonged. He left them on God's shoulders and didn't take them in to his wife and children. And so, happiness is a choice, not just some random thing that falls on us. We have to choose how we will handle our problems. There are so many of those problems that do crop up in our lives from time to time.

Let's take a look at a scripture here in Acts, the 8th chapter...Romans, the 8th chapter, I should say. Romans, the 8th chapter. Because this verse is quoted many times, many times it will be misused or misapplied; but, yet, it means exactly what it says and it will help us in profiting from our problems. Let's notice here in verse 26. It says:

Romans 8:26-27 Romans 8:26-27 [26] Likewise the Spirit also helps our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself makes intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered. [27] And he that searches the hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because he makes intercession for the saints according to the will of God.
American King James Version×
– Likewise the Spirit also helps in our weaknesses. For we do not know what we should pray for as we ought, but the Spirit Itself makes intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered. Now He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because He makes intercession for the saints according to the will of God. So we can go to God with our problems. We can cast our cares upon Him, as He tells us to, because He cares for us. So notice what he says in Verse 28:

Verse 28 -- And we know...now, knowing doesn't mean just wishful thinking. We wishfully think or just kind of have a positive mental attitude, thinking, "Oh, yeah, everything in every way is getting better and better," when many times it's not. He says, We know...that is, we know because God has promised, God has assured us, that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.

Or, as the New Living Translation has it, We know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God's law and are called according to His purpose.

So we know that all things don't work together the way we want them to. You know, many times we'll say, "Oh, well, you know, I can disobey God all I want to...misspend my finances, abuse my body, sedate myself with pills, and so on, and never have to suffer the consequences, because God will work all things together for good." No, He says He works things together for good to those who love God, to the called ones, according to His purpose and His plan. And, so, it's not that things are going to work out the way we want them to. They'll work out the way God wants them to for our good, so that we learn lessons from it. And, so, you know, all of the things involved with problems, of course, means we have to learn a lesson from it. If we learn a lesson from it, then we can chart our course in a better way.

Actually, it was George Santayana, who is a famous Spanish poet, author, who coined the phrase, "Those who fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it." So, if we don't learn from our problems, whatever they may be—physical, financial, marital, spiritual, or whatever—if we don't learn from them and ask ourselves the question, "What's the cause of this? What caused it? Am I responsible for it? Will I take ownership of it? What will be the result of it? Can I really endure and hold up under whatever God might have me face down the road?" If you caught that, that is the core issue. That is the cause, the ownership, the result, and the endurance that we learn from our problems. And, so, you ask yourself those questions. "What caused this?"

You know, as Mr. Armstrong used to always say, "For every effect or every result there has to be a cause." There is a cause. It's a matter of cause and effect. And, so, we ask ourselves the question, "What caused it? Did I cause it? Will I own up to it that it was my doing, my mistake that brought on the problem? What will be the result of it? How far will it reach into my life and other areas of my life? Will I go to God with it and rely on God to help me with that problem? Certainly He'll help me to endure and bear up under it." And so, there are many things that we can learn in having to deal and handle our problems.

Did you hear about the man whose lawn mower quit running? He couldn't get the lawn mower to start and the grass got taller. The man wouldn't do anything about it. The wife told him, "You need to get that lawn mower repaired." And yet it went unrepaired. So, to try to stir him to action, one day when he came home from work, she was sitting out in the tall grass, snipping the grass with a little pair of sewing scissors. She thought, "Now, surely he'll get the point."

He watched a little bit, walked into the house, came back out and handed her a toothbrush and said, "Now, when you get through cutting the grass, maybe you'd want to brush off the walk at the same time." The end result is, they think he might survive; but it'll be a while before the casts come off. That was pushing it to the limit in trying to be stirred to action to solve the problem.

Now let's look over at one of my favorite scriptures in I Corinthians 10. I love this promise that God gives us because with all of the problems that are in the world and that come upon us, we have to realize God has promised us something here in I Corinthians 10. It has a couple of real good points that He makes and then He tells us, gives us a promise. This whole tenth chapter of I Corinthians is really an amazing presentation by Paul to those Jews who, of course, were not learning the lesson that they should have learned from their forebears or forefathers. He said:

I Cor. 10:1-4 – Moreover, brethren, I do not want you to be unaware that all our fathers were under the cloud, all passed through the sea, all were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea, all ate the same spiritual food, and all drank the same spiritual drink. For they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them, and that Rock was Christ.

Now, if you'll notice, if you take this apart, one by one, you'll find five blessings here that Paul is reminding his fellow Israelites, fellow Jews who were there. First off, they were under the cloud. They were under the cloud by day and the fire by night, which, of course, was to direct them in the way that they should go; and they could follow the cloud by day and the fire by night, and they would have God's blessing.

They all passed through the sea. The sea opened up and all the Israelites, all Israel, went through; and then the Egyptians thought, "Well maybe we can make it through and catch them yet and return them to their land." And, as you know, the waters came through and drowned all the Egyptians.

Now, it says they were baptized into...they all passed through the sea and were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea. It says they ate the same spiritual food. Now Paul is trying to tell them, "That's exactly what I've been doing for you here in Corinth. I've been showing that God will guide you, just like He did the Israelites with the cloud and through the Red Sea and through their troubles and their trials and their problems. And now I've been giving you the spiritual food that you need, just as God gave them spiritual food." And all drank the same spiritual drink, for they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them, and that Rock was Christ. So this is an identifying sign that the God of the Old Testament was Jesus Christ, who was right there with them.

Verses 5-9 – But with most of them God was not well pleased, for their bodies were scattered in the wilderness. Now these things became our examples...now, wait a minute. We're going to talk about solving problems now, learning the profiting from our problems. He said, these things became our examples, to the intent that we should not lust after evil things as they also lusted.

And do not become idolaters as were some of them. As it is written, "The people sat down to eat and drink, and rose up to play." You know, in Cecil B. DeMille's Ten Commandments, as you know, when he was picturing these things, when Moses was gone up into the Mount and, remember, Aaron made the golden calf and they began to make merry and frolic around and so on, it's good that that was not made now in our 21st century. It would have been X-rated and R-rated if he had shown exactly what the Israelites were doing. They were in gross immorality and sexual licentiousness because that's what he was saying. Nor let us commit sexual immorality, as some of them did, and in one day twenty-three thousand fell; nor let us tempt Christ, as some of them also tempted, and were destroyed by serpents...

Do you know why they were killed by the serpents? Because they began to accuse Moses, "You don't know the way to go. You don't know the way to the promised land. We'll take off on our own direction." And God sent scorpions among them and Moses had to raise up the serpent in the wilderness and the plague was stayed.

And he said, (verse 10) nor murmur, as some of them were murmurers because they didn't have any food or any water. They said, "Oh, we're thirsty," and God gave them water. "Oh, we're hungry," and God gave them manna. "Oh, we'd like some meat," and He gave them, I mean, up to their nostrils with the quail, as you well remember. And because they murmured, they were destroyed by the destroyer.

Verses 11-12 – He repeats again, just as he had down in verse 6. What do we learn from all of this? Why did he give them this short discourse in history? Now all these things happened to them as examples...but the examples were written down for our admonition, for us who are in the ends of the age, those of us upon whom the ends of the ages have come. Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall. Now, what is he saying? He is saying very plainly, Israel had problems. They didn't deal with their problems. They didn't learn from their problems. They didn't follow the cloud by day. They went through the Red Sea, but then they began to mumble and grumble and forget about God and the miraculous plagues, the deliverance of the firstborn, through the Red Sea, and on their way to the promised land; and they didn't learn from that.

He said that's what happened with us. We have been called out of this world. We've gone through our Red Sea in baptism. We have been resurrected to a new life, and now we are to go forward following and remembering these examples so we don't murmur, complain, and commit idolatry and sexual licentiousness as they did and fall. And he said, "Let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall."

Is it possible for us to fall? Oh, absolutely. Very possible. In fact it's not difficult. All we've got to do is just let up on our faith and confidence in God, on our prayer and study and reliance upon Him to work with us and be with us in our problems and in our trials.

Now, notice His promise. Verse 13, this is one of my favorite scriptures in the Bible.

Verse 13 – No temptation, that is, trial or test, has overtaken you, any one of you, myself, any one of us, there is nothing overtaken us except such as is common to man...What he means is problems happen to all. Problems happen to all. Accidents do happen. These all-bewildering, nightmarish things happen. Maybe because we caused it, somebody else caused it, or maybe just as an accident, time and chance. Therefore, he says it is common to man. But here is the key. How do we learn from a problem? God is faithful...God has a purpose. That's why He says He works all things together for good according to His purpose, for those whom He calls according to His will. God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted, tested or tried, beyond what you are able, but with the temptation, the trial, the problem, the test, whatever it may be, whatever has gone wrong in your life, God says He will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able—on your own strength? No! It's Christ IN us, the hope of glory. It's through Christ we can do all things, as Paul said. And he says He will also make the way of escape...that we can avoid it? No. That we can run from it? No. That we can ask God and it will just be suddenly disappear and not happen? No. He said that you may be able to bear it. To bear it. That's where faith, that's where confidence, that's where reliance, that's where prayer, meditation, trusting God come into play.

Let's notice here in Matthew, the 11th chapter. This is where Jesus was telling the ones in that day who were troubled and tossed about, to and fro...and here in Matthew 11, as we work down toward the end of chapter 11, He said in verse 28:

Matthew 11:28 Matthew 11:28Come to me, all you that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.
American King James Version×
– Come to Me, come to Me, Jesus said, all you who labor and are heavy laden...sure, sometimes the burden gets mighty heavy. That pain gets mighty severe. That disease gets mighty awesome; but He says, "Come to Me if you labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. I will give you peace. I will give you the opposite of the problem, that's peace and tranquility and rest and comfort. I will give you rest."

Verse 29 – Take My yoke upon you...in other words, in the Greek it says, "be joined to me," be attached to me. Don't try to do it on your own. Cry out to God, claim His promise, rely on Him, and be joined to Him in faith. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me...don't rely on your own smarts, your ingenuities and planning. Learn from God, learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart...I can be touched with the feelings of your infirmities because, as he said over in the book of Hebrews, we don't have a High Priest who can't be touched with the feelings of our infirmities. We have a High Priest who can be touched because He was in all points tempted, tested, tried, like you and me; yet without failing. And He's been there, He's been through it, and He, then, can intercede for us with the Father. For I am gentle and lowly in heart...He's not proud and arrogant and ready to clobber somebody and beat him over the head for, maybe, a mistake that he made. He said, "I'm gentle. I'm not the haughty dictatorial ruler." Jesus said, "I came to serve. I didn't come to be served. I came to serve and give My life a ransom for all. I'm gentle and lowly, or meek, in heart." And He said, "and you will find rest for your souls."

You might not realize what verse 30 is actually saying in the Greek. For My yoke, or being joined to Me, is purposeful. It is useful. Being joined to Me, it says, is easy— that's not really the meaning of the Greek word. The Greek word means...being joined to Me makes you useful, purposeful, adequate, for anything, if you're joined to Me. And He says, "and My burden is light, or My burden has purpose." My burden, My task that I will put upon you has a purpose. It has meaning. It has a good end result, if we will cast it on Him.

Now, let's look over at I Peter, in the 1st chapter...5th chapter I should say...I Peter 5, right in line with what Jesus was saying, I Peter 5. Again, some of my favorite scriptures of the Bible are in I Peter 5, especially this first part. Maybe I should read that because it brings us right into the point I want to make. He said:

I Pet. 5:1-6 – The elders who are among you I exhort, I who am a fellow elder and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, and also a partaker...now, notice, a witness of the sufferings of Christ. He saw what Christ went through for us... and also a partaker of the glory that will be revealed: shepherd the flock of God which is among you...our calling as elders in the Church of God is to shepherd, to tend, to nourish, to comfort and feed you, as Jesus said to Peter when He asked him the three times, "Do you love Me?" Each time He responded back after Peter said, "Well, Lord, you know all things. You know I love you." He said, "Then you tend My sheep. Feed My flock. Take care of the sheep." He said to shepherd the flock of God which is among you, serving as overseers, not by constraint...in other words, looking after their good, their welfare, not by constraint, or compulsion like I'm forced to do it, but willingly, not for dishonest gain, not for the money that's involved, not for the salary, but eagerly; nor as being Lords or dictators or masters or domineering overlords, not as being overlords over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock; and when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the crown of glory that does not fade away. Likewise you younger people, submit yourselves to your elders, the mature ones in the learning process. Yes, all of you be submissive to one another, and be clothed with humility, for "God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble." Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time... Now what did I read all of that for? To get to this point: He says here's the way it works. You have problems? You have trials? You have testings? You have temptations? You have something that is bothering you? Then He says, verse 7, casting all your care, all of your anxieties, all of your worries, the Greek word means "care," upon Him, for He cares for you. And the Greek extends on, if you will read in the Amplified Bible, which gives you amplification in two and three, sometimes two and three and four extended magnified meanings of the Greek word that the Amplified Bible is translating. Casting all your cares upon Him because He carefully, watchfully, looks after your best interests. It says, He cares for you. So we can cast our cares upon Him because He cares for us.

What have we learned from our problems? Don't try to shoulder your problems alone. Like the man who put them on his trouble tree and left them outside and went in to his wife and children with peace. Cast your cares on Jesus Christ. Leave them there. He'll give you the way to see through every one of those problems or those trials.

Now let's look back at the book of James. The book of James is an amazing book. If you study the background of the book and—I believe it's in the Bible Knowledge Commentary by Walvoord and Zuck—they point out twenty-five examples here used in the book of James, just from different events of nature, like the wind blows where it will, we put bridles into the horse's mouth and steer him where we want him to go. We take the rudder of a ship and make that ship go where we want it to go, but the tongue is a little member that can't be controlled. On and on, James talks about these things out of life, just simple physical things out of life, to teach us spiritual examples. Now here he says, verse 2, James 1:2 James 1:2My brothers, count it all joy when you fall into divers temptations;
American King James Version×
:

James 1:2 James 1:2My brothers, count it all joy when you fall into divers temptations;
American King James Version×
– My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials...

Now, wait a minute. That certainly sounds like a contradiction. That doesn't sound pleasant at all. In fact, when I was telling you a moment ago about the problems getting worse...when I was sent to Detroit, Michigan, thirty-four years ago this January. Thirty-four years ago I went to Detroit, Michigan, as a district superintendent and pastor over the Detroit church. Did you know that the night we got there on that January, the last Wednesday night of January, in the end of January, they had one of the worst blizzards they had had, they said, in seven years? I mean it wasn't coming down. The sleet and snow were just in a horizontal...it was whistling and driving and, I mean, it was already about half knee-deep on the front yard. It was not until, I think, March or April that I found out that we even had grass on the front yard. It was about "yea-deep" in snow and sleet and frozen, deeper and deeper. It came one of the worst blizzards of seven years, they said. We had to get out and go try to find a few things to, you know, for the house to set up housekeeping and so on.

Well, it was bad enough to have a bad blizzard and snow everywhere and more coming down, but a guy ran into us and side-swiped the left rear part of my car and smashed the fender right in on the tire. I was able to kind of jerk it away from the tire so I could get it to the shop. I thought, "Boy, this is not a very good welcome to Detroit." We put it in the shop. I had a second car that I could drive.

We had a call from down here in Cincinnati. Our daughter, Debbie, of course, left Cincinnati in tears. She had some real dear friends that she had to leave, and she cried herself to sleep at night. That was hard enough. We got in and we had a call waiting, and one of the ladies' sons had been killed in a sleigh ride, coming down the slope, the hill in the back of her yard. And little Timmy had gotten killed on a sleigh ride. Well, we went down to the shop to get my car out and just said, "Pull it out just as much as you can. We'll stuff towels in the window and we'll go on to Cincinnati and do the funeral." She wanted me to come back and take care of the funeral. That we did. And I thought, "Well, surely that's the end of our problems."

Guess what. We went in to get some groceries in a grocery store in the big mall close by where we lived, gave them a check for the groceries, supplies, whatever it was, and they said, "I'm sorry. The check is no good." I said, "What! The check is no good!" But, no, the bank went broke. They were bankrupt. Closed their doors. We had no money. We had no way to access anything. I think they finally had mercy on us and let us charge $10 worth or whatever the case might have been. I don't remember how much. And the bank went broke.

Well, out of that we learned a lesson, a dear lesson. The minute the bankers got it all straightened out, we got what little shekels we had, we got out of that bank real quick-like and learned that's not one to go to.

Now all of these problems came upon us just one right after the other. But, then, we look back and we saw God's hand in it. He saw us through it all. One of the fellows there, a real dear friend of ours there in Michigan still yet—saw him at the Feast last year in Lexington—and he sent me a postcard, and on the postcard he said, "Do you know what? I got up yesterday morning, had a flat tire. By the time I got the tire fixed, I was running late for work and was driving a little faster than I should. I got a ticket. I got to work, come to find out the boss said, 'We're closed down for the week. You can go back home.' I got back home, and the wife said, 'The washing machine has run over and flooded the basement,' and said, "I don't know what I'm going to do.'" And he said, "Besides all of that, the lawn mower won't start. We can't mow the yard." He said, "Outside of all of that, everything's pretty good. How's it with you?" I've still got that little cartoon yet or that card that he gave me. So sometimes we think it can't get any worse. Yeah, it can get worse. Will God see us through it? Yes, He will. Absolutely! What do we learn from it? We learn we can trust God. He won't put anything on us greater than we can bear. He will help us bear up under the problem, and He'll see us through it because He says He'll never leave us nor forsake us. We can count on that.

In conclusion, let's look over in Hebrews, the 13th chapter, we'll just back up a page or...well, I didn't finish James. Let me finish James here. He says,

James 1:2-3 James 1:2-3 [2] My brothers, count it all joy when you fall into divers temptations; [3] Knowing this, that the trying of your faith works patience.
American King James Version×
– My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials...that prompted me to think about what happened to me there in Detroit when we first hit town...knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience.

Do you realize that you will not learn patience unless you have a problem that's going to require patience to see it through till it's solved, until the solution comes? Patience is one of those virtues that is a fruit of God's Spirit. Remember there in Galatians 5, love, joy, peace, patience...that's that fourth one that has to do with our interrelations with other people. Patience.

Verses 4-5 – But, he says, let patience have its perfecting, or its maturing effect...the word is teleios, meaning "to mature"...that you may be "teleios" or perfect or mature, grown up, and complete, lacking nothing. If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him. But ask in faith because it is only when we ask in faith that we will receive that which we ask.

So we learn patience. Notice if we go back to the 13th chapter, notice the 13th chapter, the 5th verse, Hebrews 13:5 Hebrews 13:5Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as you have: for he has said, I will never leave you, nor forsake you.
American King James Version×
. He says:

Hebrews 13:5-6 Hebrews 13:5-6 [5] Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as you have: for he has said, I will never leave you, nor forsake you. [6] So that we may boldly say, The Lord is my helper, and I will not fear what man shall do to me.
American King James Version×
– Let your conduct, our lives, our day-to-day living, be without covetousness...that's where problems start coming into play when we start coveting and lusting and desiring what we don't have or shouldn't have...be content with such things as you have. Paul over and over said, "I have learned whatever condition I am therewith to be content. I've been hungry. I've been full. I've been shipwrecked. I've been warm. I've been cold. I've been through all of the gamut of physical problems, physical circumstances, and so on. And yet," he said, "I've learned in all of these to be content with what I have and whatever the condition was." So he said, be content with such things as you have, for He Himself...that's God Himself—we can read this, believe this, and rely on it—God Himself has said, "I will never leave you...did you realize, if you look at the Greek on this, it has three negatives? It says, "I will never, no, I will never, no, I will never..." He repeats it three times, "I will never, no, never, no, never, leave you nor forsake you." So we may boldly say: "The Lord is my helper." This is broken into three statements, not just one long statement. Let's look at each one.

Verse 6 – ...The Lord is my helper. You got a problem? Where are you going to find help? God says He's our helper. He's our helper. He's the one that will give us the strength and the wisdom and the direction to go. Knowing that, he says, I will not fear. He said, "Fear casts out love. There's no fear in love. Perfect love casts out fear. So I'll not fear. I'll not worry about it. I'll not become overanxious about it because He's my helper. He'll be with me and give me the strength. I will not fear." Now the next statement is, What can man do to me? What can man do to me? Jesus said, "Don't fear him that can destroy your life, take your life." He said, "Rather you fear God who can destroy body and soul in Gehenna fire. He's the one we should fear, not man." And so we can say, "I will not fear man. What can he do? He can only take my physical life, not eternal life. Not the promises that God has made through Christ." And so, he says:

Verses 7-8 – Remember those who guide you, lead you, look after you, who have spoken the word of God to you, whose faith follow, considering the outcome of their conduct. Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.

Jesus Christ, who went with the Israelites and tried to show them in every turn of events their problems and how to get out of their problems. If you read I and II Kings...well, I and II Samuel, I and II Kings, and I and II Chronicles, you will find one long historical episode of problems. Problems caused by either a good king who minimized the problems or a bad king who magnified the problems. Over and over it will say such-and-such was the son, then his son came to reign and he was worse than his father and he was worse than his father. They had problems of all kinds. They didn't learn. Paul said these were written for our examples, that we won't do the things they did. We won't forsake our God. We won't deny our God. We'll stay faithful to Him. And He's the one who will solve our problems for us if we trust Him.

What do we learn from our problems? That God is real. His word is true. He'll see us through.

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