* Problems may be testing your faith

When famine struck, Abram went to Egypt where there was food.  Why would there be a famine in the land where God had just called Abram?  This was a test of Abram’s faith, and Abram passed.  He didn’t question God’s leading when facing these, problems, difficulty.  Many believers find that when they determine to follow God, they immediately encounter great obstacles, problems.  The next time you face such a test, don’t try to second-guess what God is doing.  Use the intelligence God gave you, as Abram did when he temporarily moved to Egypt, and wait for new opportunities. (NLT)

Genesis 12:10– At that time there was a severe famine in the land, so Abram went down to Egypt to wait it out.

Sometimes we feel that if the Holy Spirit leads us, it will always be “beside peaceful streams.”  But that is not necessarily true.  He led Jesus into the wilderness for a long and difficult time of testing, and he may also lead us into difficult situations.  When facing trials, first make sure you haven’t brought them on yourself through sin or unwise choices.  If you find no sin to confess or unwise behavior to change, then ask God to strengthen you for your test.  Finally, be careful to follow faithfully wherever the Holy Spirit leads. (NLT)

Luke 4:1 – Then Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, left the Jordan River.  He was led by the Spirit to go out into the wilderness

As we live for Christ, we will experience troubles because we are trying to be God’s people in a perverse world.  Some people say that troubles are the result of sin or lack of faith, but Paul teaches that they may be a part of God’s plan for believers.  Our problems can help us look upward and forward, instead of inward; they can build strong character; and they can provide us with opportunities to comfort others who also are struggling.  Your troubles may be an indication that you are taking a stand for Christ. (NLT)

2 Thessalonians 1:5 – But God will use this persecution to show his justice.  For he will make you worthy of his Kingdom, for which you are suffering

* Danger of solving problems our way

Sarai took matters into her own hands by giving Hagar to Abram.  Like Abram she had trouble believing God’s promise that was apparently directed specifically toward Abram and Sarai.  Out of this lack of faith came a series of problems.  This invariably happens when we take over for God, trying to make his promise come true through efforts that are not in line with his specific directions.  In this case, time was the greatest test of Abram and Sarai’s willingness to let God work in their lives.  Sometimes we too must simply wait.  When we ask God for something and have to wait, it is a temptation to take matters into our own hands and interfere with God’s plans. (NLT)

Genesis 16:3 – So Sarai, Abram’s wife, took Hagar the Egyptian servant and gave her to Abram as a wife.  (This happened ten years after Abram first arrived in the land of Canaan.)

* Blaming others for our problems

Although Sarai arranged for Hagar to have a child by Abram, she later blamed Abram for the results.  It is often easier to strike out in frustration and accuse someone else than to admit an error and ask forgiveness. (NLT)

Genesis 16:5 – Then Sarai said to Abram, “It’s all your fault!  Now this servant of mine is pregnant, and she despises me, though I myself gave her the privilege of sleeping with you.  The Lord will make you pay for doing this to me!”

* Don’t run away from problems 

Hagar was running away from her mistress and her problem.  The angel of the Lord gave her this advice: (1) to return and face Sarai, the cause of her problem, and (2) to submit to her.  Hagar needed to work on her attitude toward Sarai, no matter how justified it may have been.  Running away from our problems rarely solves them.  It is wise to return to our problems, face them squarely, accept God’s promise of help, correct our attitudes, and act as we should. (NLT)

Genesis 16:8 – The angel said to her, “Hagar, Sarai’s servant, where have you come from, and where are you going?”  I am running away from my mistress,” she replied.

* No problems too complicated for God

“Is anything too hard for the Lord?”  The obvious answer is, “Of course not!”  This question reveals much about God.  Make it a habit to insert your specific needs into the question.  “Is this day in my life too hard for the Lord?”  “Is this habit I’m trying to break too hard for him?”  “Is the communication problem I’m having too hard for him?”  Asking the question this way reminds you that God is personally involved in your life and nudges you to ask for his power to help you. (NLT)

Genesis 18:14 – Is anything too hard for the Lord?  About a year from now, just as I told you, I will return, and Sarah will have a son.”

* Lying brings more problems 

Sarah lied because she was afraid of being discovered.  Fear is the most common motive for lying.  We are afraid that our inner thoughts and emotions will be exposed or our wrongdoings discovered.  But lying causes greater complications than telling the truth and brings even more problems.  If God can’t be trusted with our innermost thoughts and fears, we are in greater trouble than we first imagined. (NLT)

Genesis 18:15 – Sarah was afraid, so she denied that she had laughed.  But he said, “That is not true.  You did laugh.”

* God will help solve your problems

Because Abraham mistakenly assumed that Abimelech was a wicked man, he made a quick decision to tell a half-truth.  Abraham thought it would be more effective to deceive Abimelech, than to trust God to work in the king’s life.  don’t assume that God will not work in a situation that has potential problems.  You may not completely understand the situation, and God may intervene when you least expect it. (NLT)

Genesis 20:11-13 – “Well,” Abraham said, “I figured this to be a godless place.  I thought, ‘They will want my wife and will kill me to get her.’  Besides, she is my sister–we both have the same father, though different mothers–and I married her.  When God sent me to travel far from my father’s home, I told her, ‘Wherever we go, have the kindness to say that you are my sister.’ “

* God overcomes the impossible problems

Who could believe that Abraham would have a son at 100 years of age–and live to raise him to adulthood?  But doing the impossible is everyday business for God.  Our big problems won’t seem so impossible if we let God handle them. (NLT)

Genesis 21:1-7 – Then the Lord did exactly what he had promised.  Sarah became pregnant, and she gave a son to Abraham in his old age.  It all happened at the time God had said it would.  And Abraham named his son Isaac.  Eight days after Isaac was born, Abraham circumcised him as God had commanded.  Abraham was one hundred years old at the time.

And Sarah declared, “God has brought me laughter!  All who hear about this will laugh with me.  For who would have dreamed that I would ever have a baby?  Yet I have given Abraham a son in his old age!”

* Christianity doesn’t guarantee problem-free life

God reminded Jacob of his new name, Israel, which meant “one who struggles with God.”  Although Jacob’s life was littered with difficulties and trials, his new name was a tribute to his desire to stay close to God despite life’s disappointments.

Many people believe that Christianity should offer a problem-free life.  Consequently, as life gets tough, they draw back disappointed.  Instead, they should determine to prevail with God through life’s storms.  Problems and difficulties are painful but inevitable; you might as well see them as opportunities for growth.  You can’t prevail with God unless you have troubles to prevail over. (NLT)

Genesis 35:10 – and said, “Your name is no longer Jacob; you will now be called Israel.”

God promises to give us strength to meet challenges, but he doesn’t promise to eliminate them.  If he gave us no rough roads to walk, no mountains to climb, and no battles to fight, we would not grow.  He does not leave us alone with our challenges, however.  Instead, he stands beside us, teaches us, and strengthens us to face them. (NLT)

Psalm 18:32-34 – God arms me with strength; he has made my way safe.  He makes me as surefooted as a deer, leading me safely along the mountain heights.  He prepares me for battle; he strengthens me to draw a bow of bronze.

* Wrong solutions to problems worse than no solutions

The brothers were worried about bearing the guilt of Joseph’s death.  Judah suggested an option that was not right but would leave them guiltless of murder.  Sometimes we jump at a solution because it is the lesser of two evils, but it still is not the right action to take.  When someone proposes a seemingly workable solution, first ask, “Is it right?” (NLT)

Genesis 37:26-27 – Judah said to the others, “What can we gain by killing our brother?  That would just give us a guilty conscience.  Let’s sell Joseph to those Ishmaelite traders.  Let’s not be responsible for his death after all, he is our brother!” And his brothers agreed.

* Let problems make you better

The Egyptians tried to wear down the Hebrew people by forcing them into slavery and mistreating them.  Instead, the Hebrews multiplied and grew stronger.  When we are burdened or mistreated, we may feel defeated.  But our burdens can make us stronger and develop qualities in us that will prepare us for the future.  We cannot be overcomers without troubles to overcome.  Be true to God in the hard times because even the worst situations can make us better people. (NLT)

Exodus 1:12 – But the more the Egyptians oppressed the, the more quickly the Israelites multiplied!  The Egyptians soon became alarmed

* When you can’t solve your problems, God can

Moses’ mother was reunited with her baby!  God used her courageous act of saving and hiding her baby to begin his plan to rescue his people from Egypt.  God doesn’t need much from us to accomplish his plan for our lives.  Focusing on our human predicament may paralyze us because the situation may appear humanly impossible.  But concentrating on God and his power will help us see the way out.  Right now you may feel unable to see through your troubles.  Focus instead on God, and trust him for the way out.  That is all he needs to begin his work in you. (NLT)

Exodus 2:9 – “Take this child home and nurse him for me,” the princess told her.  “I will pay you for your help.”  So the baby’s mother took her baby home and nursed him.

* How God views our problems

Moses pleaded with God to let him out of his mission.  After all, he was not a good speaker and would probably embarrass both himself and God.  But God looked at Moses’ problem quite differently.  All Moses needed was some help, and who better than God could help him say and do the right things.  God made his mouth and would give him the words to say.  It is easy for us to focus on our weaknesses, but if God asks us to do something, then he will help us get the job done.  If the job involves some of our weak areas, then we can trust that he will provide words, strength, courage, and ability where needed. (NLT)

Exodus 4:10-13 – But Moses pleaded with the Lord,”O Lord, I’m just not a good speaker.  I never have been, and I’m not now, even after you have spoken to me.  I’m clumsy with words.”

“Who makes mouths?” the Lord asked him.  “Who makes people so they can speak or not speak, hear or not hear, see or not see?  Is it not I, the Lord?  Now go, and do as I have told you.  I will help you speak well, and I will tell you what to say.”

But Moses again pleaded, “Lord, please!  Send someone else.”

* Problems can exercise our patience

Pharaoh had just increased the Hebrews’ workload and Moses protested that God had not rescued his people.  Moses expected faster results and fewer problems.  When God is at work, suffering, setbacks, and hardship may still occur.  Problems develop our patience and character by teaching us to (1) trust God to do what is best for us, (2) look for ways to honor God in our present situation, (3) remember that God will not abandon us, and (4) watch for God’s plan for us. (NLT)

Exodus 5:22-23 – So Moses went back to the Lord and protested, “Why have you mistreated your own people like this, Lord.  Why did you send me?  Since I gave Pharaoh your message, he has been even more brutal to your people.  You have not even begun to rescue them!”

* Big problems let God give big answers

Small problems need only small answers.  But when we face great problems, God has an opportunity to exercise his great power.  As the Hebrews’ troubles grew steadily worse, God planned to intervene with his mighty power and perform great miracles to deliver them.  How big are your problems?  Big problems put you in a perfect position to watch God give big answers. (NLT)

Exodus 6:6 – “Therefore, say to the Israelites: ‘I am the Lord, and I will free you from your slavery in Egypt.  I will redeem you with mighty power and great acts of judgment.

* Maintain your faith despite problems

This was the fifth time God sent Moses back to Pharaoh with the demand “Let my people go!”  By this time, Moses may have been tired and discouraged, but he continued to obey.  Is there a difficult conflict you must face again and again?  Don’t give up when you know what is right to do.  As Moses discovered, persistence is rewarded. (NLT)

Exodus 9:1 – “Go back to Pharaoh,” the Lord commanded Moses.  “Tell him, ‘This is what the Lord, the God of the Hebrews, says: Let my people go, so they can worship me.

* Peter was not putting Jesus to the test, something we are told not to do.  Instead, he was the only one in the boat to react in faith.  His impulsive request led him to experience a rather unusual demonstration of God’s power.  Peter started to sink because he took his eyes off Jesus and focused on the high waves around him.  His faith wavered when he realized what he was doing.  We probably will not walk on water, but we may walk through tough situations.  If we focus on the waves of difficult circumstances around us without faith in Jesus to help, we, too, may despair and sink.  To maintain your faith when situations are difficult, focus on Jesus’ power rather than on your inadequacies. (NLT)

Matthew 14:28 – Then Peter called to him, “Lord, if it’s really you, tell me to come to you by walking on water.”

* Jairus’s crisis made him feel confused, afraid, and without hope.  Jesus’ words to Jairus in the midst of crisis speak to us as well: “Don’t be afraid.  Just trust me.”  In Jesus’ mind, there was both hope and promise.  The next time you feel hopeless and afraid, look at your problem from Jesus’ point of view.  He is the source of all hope and promise. (NLT)

Mark 5:35-36 – While he was still speaking to her, messengers arrived from Jairus’s home with the message, “Your daughter is dead.  There’s no use troubling the teacher now.”

But Jesus ignored their comments and said to Jairus, “Don’t be afraid.  Just trust me.”

* God can get you out of any kind of problems 

There was no apparent way of escape, but the Lord opened up a dry path through the sea.  Sometimes we find ourselves caught in a problem and see no way out.  Don’t panic; God can open up a way. (NLT)

Exodus 14:21 – Then Moses raised his hand over the sea, and the Lord opened up a path through the water with a strong east wind.  The wind blew all that night, turning the seabed into dry land.

* Do you complain or pray about problems?

Again the people complained about their problem instead of praying.  Some problems can be solved by careful thought or by rearranging our priorities.  Some can be solved by discussion and good counsel.  But some problems can be solved only by prayer.  We should make a determined effort to pray when we feel like complaining because complaining only raises our level of stress.  Prayer quiets our thoughts and emotions and prepares us to listen. (NLT)

Exodus 17:2 – So once more the people grumbled and complained to Moses. “Give us water to drink!” they explained.

* God concerned about each one of your problems 

The Tabernacle was finally complete to the last detail.  God was keenly interested in every minute part.  The Creator of the universe was concerned about even the little things. God knows the number of hairs on our heads.  This shows that God is greatly interested in you.  Don’t be afraid to talk with him about any of your concerns–no matter how small or unimportant they might seem. (NLT)

Exodus 39:32 – And so at last the Tabernacle was finished.  The Israelites had done everything just as the Lord had commanded Moses.

* Finding hope in midst of problems 

These verses show what God meant when he said he is slow to anger.  Even if the Israelites chose to disobey and were scattered among their enemies, God would still give them the opportunity to repent and return to him.  His purpose was not to destroy them, but to help them grow.  Our day-to-day experiences and hardships are sometimes overwhelming; unless we can see that God’s purpose is to bring about continual growth in us, we may despair.  The hope we need is well expressed ” ‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ says the Lord ‘They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.  In those days when you pray, I will listen.’ ”  To retain hope while we suffer shows we understand God’s merciful ways of relating to his people.  (NLT)

Leviticus 26:40-45 – “But at last my people will confess their sins and the sins of their ancestors for betraying me and being hostile toward me.  Finally, when I have given full expression to my hostility and have brought them to the land of their enemies, then at last their disobedient hearts will be humbled, and they will pay for their sins.  Then I will remember my covenant with Jacob, with Isaac, and with Abraham, and I will remember the land.  And the land will enjoy its years of Sabbath rest as it lies deserted.  At last the people will receive the due punishment for their sins, for they rejected my regulations and despised my laws.

* After 38 years, this man’s problem had become a way of life.  No one had ever helped him.  He had no hope of ever being healed and no desire to help himself. The man’s situation looked hopeless.  But no matter how trapped you feel in your infirmities, God can minister to your deepest needs.  Don’t let a problem or hardship cause you to lose hope.  God may have special work for you to do in spite of your condition, or even because of it.  Many have ministered effectively to hurting people because they have triumphed over their own hurts. (NLT)

John 5:6 – When Jesus saw him and knew how long he had been ill, he asked him, “Would you like to get well?”

* Focus on positive aspects of problems 

God told the Israelites that the Promised Land was rich and fertile.  Not only that, he promised that his bountiful land would be theirs.  When the scouts reported back to Moses, they gave plenty of good reasons for entering the land, but they couldn’t stop focusing on their fear.  Talk of giants (descendants of Anak) and fortified cities made it easy to forget about God’s promise to help.  When facing a tough decision, don’t let the negatives cause you to lose sight of the positives.  Weigh both sides carefully. Don’t let potential difficulties blind you to God’s power to help and his promise to guide.  (NLT)

Numbers 13:25-29 – After exploring the land for forty days, the men returned to Moses, Aaron, and the people of Israel at Kadesh in the wilderness of Paran.  They reported to the whole community what they had seen and showed them the fruit they had taken from the land.  This was their report to Moses: “We arrived in the land you sent us to see, and it is indeed a magnificent country–a land flowing with milk and honey.  Here is some of its fruit as proof.  But the people living there are powerful, and their cities and towns are fortified and very large.  We also saw the descendcants of Anak who are living there!  The Amalekites live in the Negev, and the Hittites, Jebusites, and Amorites live in the hill country.  The Canaanites live along the coast of the Mediterranean Sea and along the Jordan Valley.”

* Don’t trust God with only the small problems

With great miracles, God had led the Israelites out of slavery, through the desolate wilderness, and up to the very edge of the Promised Land.  He had protected them, fed them, and fulfilled every promise.  Yet when encouraged to take that last step of faith and enter the land, the people refused.  After witnessing so many miracles, why did they stop trusting God?  Why did they refuse to enter the Promised Land when that had been their goal since leaving Egypt?  They were afraid.  Often we do the same thing.  We trust God to handle the smaller issues but doubt his ability to take care of the big problems, the tough decisions, the frightening situations.  Don’t stop trusting God just as you are ready to reach your goal.  He brought you this far and won’t let you down now.  We can continue trusting God by remembering all he has done for us.  (NLT)

Numbers 14:5-9 – Then Moses andAaron fell face down on the ground before the people of Israel.  Two of them who had explored the land, Joshua son of Nun and Caleb son of Jephunneh, tore their clothing.  they said to the community of Israel, “The land we explored is a wonderful land!  And if the Lord is pleased with us, he will bring us safely into that land and give it to us.  It is a rich land flowing with milk and honey, and he will give it to us!  Do not rebel against the Lord, and don’t be afraid of the people of the land.  They are only helpless prey to us!  They have no protection, but the Lord is with us!  don’t be afraid of them!”

* From failing to trust God

God’s judgment came in the form the people feared most.  The people were afraid of dying in the wilderness, so God punished them by making them wander in the wilderness until they died.  Now they wished they had the problem of facing the giants and the fortified cities of the Promised Land.  Failing to trust God often brings even greater problems than those we originally faced.  When we run from God, we inevitabley run into problems. (NLT)

Numbers 14:34 – ” ‘Because the men who explored the land were there for forty days, you must wander in the wilderness for forty years–a year for each day, suffering the consequences of your sins.  You will discover what it is like to have me for an enemy.’

* Overrating your problems

One of the easiest ways to fall away from following God is to look at our present problems and exaggerate them.  Dathan and Abiram did just that when they began to long for better food and more pleasant surroundings.  Egypt, the place they had longed to leave, was now looking better and better–not because of slavery and taskmasters, of course, but because of its mouth-watering food!  These two men and their followers had completely lost their perspective.  When we take our eyes off God and start looking at ourselves and our problems, we begin to lose our perspective as well.  Overrating problems can hinder our relationship with God.  Don’t let difficulties make you lose sight of God’s direction for your life. (NLT)

Numbers 16:13-14 – Isn’t it enough that you brought us out of Egypt, a land flowing with milk and honey, to kill us here in this wilderness, and that you now treat us like your subjects?  What’s more, you haven’t brought us into the land flowing with milk and honey or given us an inheritance of fields and vineyards.  Are you trying to fool us?  We will not come.”

* Problems sometimes caused by allowing sin to remain in our lives

If you don’t do the job right the first time, it often becomes much more difficult to accomplish.  God warned that if the Israelites did not drive the wicked inhabitants out of the Promised Land, later these people would become a source of great irritation.  That is exactly what happened.  Just as the Israelites were hesitant to clear out all the wicked people, we are sometimes hesitant to clear out all the sin in our lives, either because we are afraid of it (as the Israelites feared the giants), or because it seems harmless and attractive (as sexual sin seemed).  But throw off “the sin that so easily hinders our progress.”  We all have “idols” we don’t want to let go of (a bad habit, an unhealthy relationship, a certain life-style).  If we allow these idols to dominate us, they will cause serious problems later. (NLT)

Numbers 33:55 – But if you fail to drive out the people who live in the land, those who remain will be like splinters in your eyes and thorns in your sides.  They will harass you in the land where you live.

* How to keep problems from getting the upper hand

The scouts were sent into the land to determine not whether they should enter, but where they should enter.  Upon returning, however, most of the scouts concluded that the land was not worth the obstacles.  God would give the Israelites the power to conquer the land, but they were afraid of the risk and decided not to enter.  God gives us the power to overcome our obstacles, but like the Israelites filled with fear and skepticism, we often let difficulties control our lives.  Following God regardless of the difficulties is the way to have courageous, overcoming faith. (NLT)

Deuteronomy 1:22 – “But you responded, ‘First, let’s send out scouts to explore the land for us.  They will advise us on the best route to take and decide which towns we should capture.’

* Our problems are no problem for God to solve

The Israelites faced a big problem–the well-trained army of Og, king of Bashan.  The Israelites hardly stood a chance.  But they won because God fought for them.  God can help his people regardless of the problems they face.  No matter how insurmountable the obstacles may seem, remember that God is sovereign, and he will keep his promises. (NLT)

Deuteronomy 3:1-3 – “Next we headed for the land of Bashan, where King Og and his army attacked us at Edrei.  But the Lord told me, ‘Do not be afraid of him, for I have given you victory over Og and his army, giving you his entire land.  Treat him just as you treated King Sihon of the Amorites, who ruled in Heshbon.’  So the Lord our God handed King Og and all his people over to us, and we killed them all.

* Turn to God first when problems arise

After 20 years of unbearable circumstances, the Israelites finally cried to the Lord for help.  But God should be the first place we turn when we are facing struggles or dilemmas.  the Israelites chose to go their own way and got into a mess.  We often do the same.  Trying to control our own lives without God’s help leads to struggle and confusion.  by contrast, when we stay in daily contact with the Lord, we are less likely to create painful circumstances for ourselves.  This is a lesson the Israelites never fully learned.  When struggles come our way, God want us to come to him first, seeking his strength and guidance. (NLT)

Judges 4:3 – Sisera, who had nine hundred iron chariots, ruthlessly oppressed the Israelites for twenty years.  Then the Israelites cried out to the Lord for help.

* Look first within yourself for why problems come

Gideon questioned God about the problems he and his nation faced and about God’s apparent lack of help.  What he didn’t acknowledge was the fact that the people had brought calamity upon themselves when they decided to disobey and neglect God.  How easy it is to overlook personal accountability and blame our problems on God and others.  Unfortunately, this does not solve our problems.  It brings us no closer to God, and it escorts us to the very edge of rebellion and backsliding.

When problems come, the first place to look is within.  Our first action should be confession to God of sins that may have created our problems. (NLT)

Judges 6:13 – “Sir,” Gideon replied, “if the Lord is with us, why has all this happened to us?  And where are all the miracles our ancestors told us about?  Didn’t they say, ‘The Lord brought us up out of Egypt’?  But now the Lord has abandoned us and handed us over to the Midianites.”

* Don’t complain about problems without doing something about them

Israel mourned, and sorrow griped the nation for 20 years.  The Ark was put away like an unwanted box in an attic, and it seemed as if the Lord had abandoned his people.  Samuel, how a grown man, roused them to action by saying that if they were truly sorry, they should do something about it,  How easy it is for us to complain about our problems, even to God, while we refuse to act, change, and do what he requires.  We don’t even take the advice he has already given us.  Do you ever feel as if God has abandoned you?  check to see if there is anything he has already told you to do.  You may not receive new guidance from God until y9ou have acted on his previous directions. (NLT)

1 Samuel 7:2-3  – The Ark remained in Kiriath-jearim for a long time–twenty years in all.  during that time, all Israel mourned because it seemed that the Lord had abandoned them.

Then Samuel said to all the people of Israel, “If you are really serious about wanting to return to the Lord, get rid of your foreign gods and your images of Ashtoreth.  Determine to obey only the Lord; then he will rescue you from the Philistines.”

* Putting giant problems in perspective

What a difference perspective can make.  Most of the onlookers saw only a giant.  David, however, saw a mortal man defying almighty God.  He knew he would not be alone when he faced Goliath; God would fight with him.  He looked at his situation from God’s point of view.  Viewing impossible situations from God’s point of view helps us put giant problems in perspective.  Once we see clearly, we can fight more effectively. (NLT)

1 Samuel 17:26 – David talked to some others standing there to verify the report.  “What will a man get for killing this Philistine and putting an end to his abuse of Israel?” he asked them.  “Who is this pagan Philistine anyway, that he is allowed to defy the armies of the living God?”

* Look for solutions to problems rather than blame

Faced with the tragedy of losig their families, David’s soldiers began to turn against him andeven talked about killing him.  Instead of planning a rescue, they looked for someone to blame.  But David found his strength in God and began looking for a solution instead of a scapegoat.  When facing problems, remember that it is useless to look for someone to blame or criticize.  Instead, consider how you can help find a solution. (NLT)

1 Samuel 30:6 – David was now in serious trouble because his men were very bitter about losing their wives and children, and they began to talk of stoning him.  But David found strength in the Lord his God.

* Problems come from excusing sin

Solomon didn’t turn away from God all at once or in a brief moment.  His spiritual coldness started with a minor departure from God’s laws.  Over the years, that little sin grew until it resulted in Solomon’s downfall.  A little sin can be the first step in turning away from God.  It is not the sins we don’t know about but the sins we excuse that cause us the greatest trouble.  We must never let any sin go unchallenged.  In your life, is an unchallenged sin spreading like a deadly cancer?  Don’t excuse it.  Confess this sin to God and ask him for strength to resist temptation. (NLT)

1 Kings 11:9-10 – The Lord was very angry with Solomon, for his heart had turned away from the Lord, the God of Israel, who had appeared to him twice.  He had warned Solomon specifically about worshiping other gods, but Solomon did not listen to the Lord’s command.

* Don’t question God’s goodness in problems 

Many people think that believing in God protects them from trouble, so when calalmity comes, they question God’s goodness and justice.  But the message of Job is that you should not give up on God because he allows you to have bad experiences.  Faith in God does not guarantee personal prosperity, and lack of faith does not guarantee troubles in this life.  If this were so, people would believe in God simply to get rich.  God is capable of rescuing us from suffering, but he may also allow suffering to come for reasons we cannot understand.  It is Satan’s strategy to get us to doubt God at exactly this moment.  Here Job shows a perspective broader than seeking his own personal comfort.  If we always knew why were suffering, our faith would have no room to grow. (NLT)

Job 2:10 – But Job replied, “You talk like a godless woman.  Should we accept only good things from the hand of God and never anything bad?”  So in all this, Job said nothing wrong.

* Problems refine our character

Just as fire purifies silver in the smelting process, trials refine our character.  They bring us a new and deeper wisdom, helping us discern truth from falsehood and giving us the discipline to do what we know is right.  Above all, these trials help us realize that life is a gift from God to be cherished, not a right to be taken for granted. (NLT)

Psalm 66:10-12 – You have tested us, O God; you have pruified us like silver melted in a crucible.  You captured us in your net and laid the burden of slavery on our backs.  You sent troops to ride across our broken bodies.  We went through fire and flood.  But you brought us to a place of great abundance.

* Why God is able to bear our problems

Sometimes our burdens see more than we can bear, and we wonder how we can go on.  David stands at his bleak intersection of life’s road and meditates on the Lord, the great burden bearer.  God is able to lift us up because (1) his greatness is beyond discovery; (2) he does mighty acts for each generation; (3) he is full of glorious splendor and majesty; (4) he does awe-inspiring deeds; (5) he is righteous; (6) he is kind, merciful, patient, loving, and compassionate; (7) he rules over an everlasting Kingdom; (8) he is our source of all our daily needs; (9) he is righteous and kind in all his dealings; (10) he remains close to those who call on him; (11) he hears our cries and rescues us.  If you are bending under a burden and feel that you are about to fall, turn to God for help.  He is ready to lift you up and bear your burden. (NLT)

Psalm 145:14 – The Lord helps the fallen and lifts up those bent benath their loads.

* Are you just using God to escape your problems?

Jeremiah had foretold Jerusalem’s destruction.  The city’s leaders had denied his word and mocked his pronouncements.  In desperation, King Zedekiah turned to God for help, but without ackowledging God’s warnings or admitting his sin.  Too often we expect God to hlep us in our time of trouble even though we have ignored him in our time of prosperity.  But God wants a lasting relationship.  Are you trying to build a lasting frendship with God, or are y9ou merely using him occasionally to escape trouble?  What would you think of your family or friends if they thought of you only as a temporary resource? (NLT)

Jeremiah 21:1-14 – The Lord spoke through Jeremiah when King Zedekiah sent Pashhur son of Malkijah and Zephaniah son of Maaseiah, the priest, to speak with him.  They begged Jeremiah, “Please ask the Lord to help us.  King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon has begun his attack on Judah.  Perhaps the Lord will be gracious and do a mighty miracle as he has done in the past.  Perhaps he will force Nebuchadnezzar to withdraw his armies.”

Jeremiah replied, “Go back to King Zedekiah and tell him, ‘This is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says: I will make your weapons useless against the king of Babylon and the Babylonians who are attacking you.  Yes, I will bring your enemies right into the heart of this city.  I myself will fight against you with great power, for I am very angry.  You have made me furious!  I will send a terrible plague upon this city, and both people and animals will die.  And then, says the Lord, even after King Zedekiah, his officials, and everyone else in the city have survived war, famine, and disease, I will hand them over to King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon.  He will slaughter them all without mercy, pity, or compassion.’

“Tell all the people, ‘This is what the Lord says: Take your choice of life or death!  Everyone who stays in Jerusalem will die from war, famine, or disease, but those who go out and surrender to the Babylonains will live.  For I have decided to bring disaster and not good upon this city, says the Lord,  It will be captured by the king of Babylon, and he will reduce it to ashes.’

“Say to the royal family of Judah, ‘Listen to this message from the Lord!  This is what the Lord says to the dynasty of David: Give justice to the people you judge!  Help those who have been robbed; rescue them from their oppressors.  Do what is right, or my anger will burn like an unquenchable fire because of all your sins.  I will fight against this city of Jerusalem that boasts, “We are safe on our mountain!  No one can touch us here.”  And I myself will punish you for your sinfullness, says the Lord.  I will light a fire in your forests that will burn up everything around you.’ “

* Do you rejoice at others’ problems?

The Edomites were glad to see Judah in trouble.  Their hatred made them want the nation destroyed.  For their wrong attitudes and actions, God wiped out the Edomites.  How often do you find yourself rejoicing at the misfortunes of others?  Because God alone is the judge, we must never be happy about others’ misfortunes, even if we think they deserve them. (NLT)

Obadiah 1:12 – “You shouldn’t have done this!  You shouldn’t have gloated when they exiled your relatives to distant lands.  You shouldn’t have rejoiced because they were suffering such misfortune.  You shouldn’t have crowed over them as they suffered these disasters.

* Jesus controls the storms, problems, of life

Although the disciples had witnessed many miracles, they panicked in this storm.  As experienced sailors, they knew its danger; what they did not know was that Christ could control the forces of nature.  We often encounter storms in our life, where we feel God can’t or won’t work.  When we truly understand who God is, however, we will realize that he controls both the storms of nature and the storms of the troubled heart.  Jesus’ power that calmed this storm can also help us deal with the problems we face.  Jesus is willing to help if we only ask him.  We should never discount his power even in terrible trials. (NLT)

Matthew 8:25 – The disciples went to him and woke him up, shouting, “Lord, save us!  We’re going to drown!”

* Trusting God with problems 

The disciples panicked because the storm threatened to destroy them all, and Jesus seemed unaware and unconcerned.  Theirs was a physical storm, but storms come in other forms.  Think about the storms in your life–the situations that cause you great anxiety.  Whatever your difficulty, you have two options: You can worry and assume that Jesus no logner cares, or you can resist fear, putting your trust in him.  When you feel like panicking, confess your need for God and then trust him to care for you. (NLT)

Mark 4:38-40 – Jesus was sleeping at the back of the boat with this head on a cushion.  Franticallay they woke him up, shouting, “Teacher, don’t you even care that we are going to drown?”

When he woke up, he rebuked the wind and said to the water, “Quiet down!”  Suddenly the wind stopped, and there was a great calm.  And he asked them, “Why are you so afraid?  Do you still not have faith in me?”

* How we underestimate Jesus’ help in problems 

The disciples lived with Jesus, but they underestimated him.  They did not see that his power applied to their very own situation.  Jesus has been with his people for 20 centuries, and yet we, like the disciples, underestimate his power to handle crises in our lives.  The disciples did not yet know enough about Jesus.  We cannot make the same excuse. (NLT)

Mark 4:41 – And they were filled with awe and said among themselves, “Who is this man, that even the wind and waves obey him?”

* Problems should not keep us from God

This woman had a seemingly incurable condition causing her to bleed constantly.  This may have been a menstrual or uterine disorder that would have made her ritually unclean and would have exluded her from most social contact.  She desperately wanted Jesus to heal her, but she knew that her bleeding would cause Jesus to be unclean under Jewish law if she touched him.  Still, the woman reached out by faith and was healed.  sSmetimes we feel that our problems will keep us from God.  But he is always ready to help.  We should never allow our fear to keep us from approaching him.  (NLT)

Mark 5:25-34 – And there was a woman in the crowd who had had a hemorrhage for twelve years.  She had suffered a great deal from many doctors through the years and had spent everything she had to pay them, but she had gotten no better.  In fact, she was worse.  She had heard about Jesus, so she came up behind him through the crowd and touched the fringe of his robe.   For she thought to herself, “If I can just touch his clothing I will be healed.”  Immediately the bleeding stopped, and she could feel that she had been healed!

Jesus realized at once that healing power had gone out from him, so he turned around in the crowd and asked, “Who touched my clothes?”

His disciples said to him, “All this crowd is pressing around you.  How can you ask, ‘Who touched me?’ “

But he kept on looking around to see who had done it. Tthen the frightened woman, trembling at the realization of what had happened to her, came and fell at his feet and told himj what she had done. And he said to her, “Daughter, your faith has made you well.  Go in peace.  You have been healed.”

* God hasn’t lost sight of your problems

The disciples were surpirsed to see Jesus walking beside them on the water.  But they should have realized that Jesus would help them when they were in trouble.  Though they had lost sight of Jesus, he had not lost sight of them.  His concern for them overcame their lack of faith.  The next time you are in “deep water,” remember that Christ knows your struggle and cares for you. (NLT)

Mark 6:49 – but when they saw him walking on the water, they screamed in terror, thinking he was a ghost.

* Why we should be able to help others with problems 

Jesus needs workers who know how to deal with people’s problems.  We can comfort others and show them the way to live because we have been helped with our problems by God and his laborers. (NLT)

Matthew 9:35-38 – Jesus traveled through all the cities and  villages of that area, teaching in the synagogues and announcing the Good News about the Kingdom.  And wherever he went, he healed people of every sort of disease and illnes. He felt great pity for the crowds that came, because their problems were so great and they didn’t know where to go for help.  They were like sheep without a shepherd.  He said to his disciples, “The harvest is so great, but the workers are so few.  So pray to the Lord who is in charge of the harvest; ask him to send out more workers for his fields.”

* Developing a new attitude toward problems 

Problems like this were often brought to rabbis for them to settle.  Jesus’ response, though not directed to the topic, is not a change of subject.  Rather, Jesus is pointing to a higher issue–a correct attitude toward the accumulation of wealth.  Life is more than mateiral goods; far more important is our relationship with God.  Jesus put his finger on this questioner’s heart.  When we bring problems to God in prayer, he often responds in the same way, showing us how we need to change and grow in our attitude toward the problem.  This answer is often not the one we were looking for, but it is more effective in helping us trace God’s hand in our life. (NLT)

Luke 12:13 – Then someone called from the crowd, “Teacher, please tell my brother to divide our father’s estate with me.”

* Your life not too complex for God

Do you ever feel that your  life is too complex for God to understand?  Remember, God created the entire universe, and nothing is too difficult for him.  God created you; he is alive today, and his love is bigger than any problem you may face. (NLT)

John 1:3-5 – He created everyting there is.  Nothing exists that he didn’t make.  Life itself was in him, and this life gives light to everyone.  The light shines through the darkness, and the darkness can never extinguish it.

* Any trial a believer faces can ultimately bring glory to God because God can bring good out of any bad situation.  When trouble comes, do you grumble, complain, and blame God, or do you see your problems as opportunities to honor him? (NLT)

John 11:4 – But when Jesus heard about it he said, “Lazarus’s sickness will not end in death.  No, it is for the glory of God.  I, the Son of God, will receive glory from this.”

* Don’t let problems hinder love

Christians will get plenty of hatred from the world; from each other we need love and support.  Do you allow small problems to get in the way of loving other believers?  Jesus commands that you love them, and he will give you the strength to do it. (NLT)

John 15:17 – [Jesus said] “I command you to love each other.”

* Make prayer your first step in solving problems 

After Christ was taken up into heaven, the disciples immediately returned to Jerusalem and had a prayer meeting.  Jesus had said they would be baptized with the Holy Spirit in a few days, so they waited and prayed.  When you face a difficult task, an important decision, or a baffling dilemma, don’t rush into the work and just hope it comes out the way it should.  Instead your first step should be to pray for the Holy Spirit’s power and guidance. (NLT)

Acts 1:12-13 – The apostles were at the Mount Olives when this happened, so they walked the half mile back to Jerusalem.  then they went to the upstairs room of the house where they were staying.  Here is the list of those who were present: Peter, John, James, Andrew, Philip, Thomas, Batholomew, Matthew, James (son of Alphaeus), Simon (the Zealot), and Judas (son of James).

* How God works problems all for good

God works in “everything”–not just isolated incidents–for our good.  This does not mean that all that happens to us is good.  Evil is prevalent in our fallen world, but God is able to turn every circumstance around for our long-range good.  Note that God is not working to make us happy but to fulfill his purpose.  Note also that this promise is not for everybody.  It can be claimed only by those who love God and are called by him, that is, those whom the Holy Spirit convinces to receive Christ.  Such people have a new perspective, a new mind-set.  They trust in God, not in worldy treasures; their security is in heaven, not on earth.  Their faith in God does not waver in pain and persecution because they know God is with them.  (NLT)

Romans 8:28 – And we know that God causes everyting to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.

* Legalism causes us to look for problems 

Paul gave one answer to the dilemma: Buy whatever meat is sold at the market without asking whether or not it was offered to idols.  It doesn’t matter anyway, and no one’s conscience would be bothered.  When we become too worried about our every action, we become legalistic and cannot enjoy life.  Everything belongs to God, and he has given us all things to enjoy.  If we know something is a problem, then we can deal with it, but we don’t need to go looking for problems. (NLT)

1 Corinthians 10:25-27 – Here’s what you should do.  You may eat any meat that is sold in the marketplace.  Don’t ask whether or not it was offered to idols, and then your conscience won’t be bothered.  For “the earth is the Lord’s and everything in it.”

If someone who isn’t a Christian asks you home for dinner, go ahead; accept the invitation if you want to.  Eat whatever is offered to you and don’t ask any questions about it.  Your conscience should not be bothered by this.

* Let problems drive you toward not away from God

We often depend on our own skills and abilities when life seems easy and only turn to God when we feel unable to help ourselves.  But as we realize our own powerlessness without him and our need for his constant help in our lives, we come to depend on him more and more.  God is our source of power, and we receive his help by keeping in touch with him.  With this attitude of dependence, problems will drive us to God rather than away from him.  Learn how to rely on God daily. (NLT)

2 Corinthians 1:8-10 – I think you ought to know, dear brothers and sisters, about the trouble we went through in the providence of Asia.  We were crushed and completely overwhelmed, and we thought we would never live through it.  In fact, we expected to die.  But as a result, we learned not to rely on ourselves, but on God who can raise the dead.  And he did deliver us from mortal danger.  And we are confident that he will continue to deliver us.

* Pain is part of life, but it is never easy to suffer, no matter what the cause.  Jesus commended the church at Smyrna for its faith in suffering.  He then encouraged the believers that they need not fear the future if they remained faithful.  If you are experiencing difficult times, don’t lelt them turn you away from God.  Instead, let them draw you toward greater faithfulness.  Trust God and remember your heavenly reward. (NLT)

Revelation 2:9-11 – [Jesus said] “I know about your suffering and your poverty–but you are rich!  I know the slander of those opposing you.  They say they are Jews, but they really aren’t because theirs is a synagogue of Satan.  Don’t be afraid of what you are about to suffer.  The Devil will throw some of you into prison and put you to the test.  You will be persecuted for ‘ten days.’  Remain faithful even when facing death, and I will give you the crown of life.

* Problems may be a sign of effective living

Some think that troubles are always caused by sin or a lack of faith.  Trials may be a part of God’s plan for believers.  Experiencing problems and persecutions can build character, perseverance, and sensitivity toward others who also face trouble.  Problems are unavoidable for God’s people.  Your troubles may be a sign of effective Christian living. (NLT)

1 Thessalonians 3:1-3 – Finally, when we could stand it no longer, we decided that I should stay alone in Athens, and we sent Timothy to visit you.  He is our co-worker for God and our brother in proclaiming the Good News of Christ.  We sent him to strengthen you, to encourage you in your faith, and to keep you from becoming disturbed by the troubles you were going through.  But, of course, you know that such troubles are going to happen to us Christians.

* What problems can teach us 

We can’t really know the depth of our character until we see how we react under pressure.  It is easy to be kind to others when everything is going well, but can we still be kind when others are treating us unfairly?  God wants to make us mature and complete, not to keep us from all pain.  Instead of complaining about our struggles, we should see them as opportunities for growth.  Thank God for promising to be with you in rough times.  Ask him to help you solve your problems or to give you the strength to endure them.  Then be patient.  God will not leave you alone with your problems; he will stay close and help you grow. (NLT)

James 1:2-4 – Dear brothers and sisters, whenever trouble comes your way, let it be an opportunity for joy.  For when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow.  So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be strong in character and ready for anything.

May you find comfort, encouragement, guidance, hope, inspiration, love,
and peace – May you also find
answers to your question(s) through the Scriptures that address every situation
you face, and help with your problems: ; ;;

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