Title: GROWING THROUGH OUR PROBLEMS
Text: 2 Cor 4:7-12 (Phillips)
From now on I’m going to be a little more careful about the messages Dennis assigns me. He gave me two topics; one for today on growing through our problems; and next week the topic is sex. You wouldn’t believe the hassles and problems that have cropped up in my life over the last week. And I suppose now that the topic is out for next week, we are going to have to set up extra chairs.
Some time ago the Fort Worth Star ran an article: “Lost dog, three legs, blind in left eye, right ear missing, tail broken, recently neutered, answers to the name ‘Lucky.’” If a dog was ever misnamed, it’s Lucky! But what if he went through all that and earned the name Lucky. If that were the case, perhaps he was a smart dog that learned from his mistakes and problems! What makes the difference between learning from our problems or being maimed? Why do some people come through them triumphant, and others so wounded that they can’t move forward? How do people come out of a failed marriage, a bankrupt business, or a big failure and come through radiant with growth in the Lord? It’s our RESPONSE to our problems that makes the difference!! Listen to Paul’s response to his problems. Read Text.
Folks, if Satan can keep us preoccupied with our problems, then he can delay our growth indefinitely! So how do we grow through our problems?
I. CHANGE YOUR PERSPECTIVE
A. More often than not, the problem is not the problem…our biggest problem is our perspective. How we look at our problem is far more important than trying to struggle our way through it. Ps. 27:13-14
B. When we have the right perspective on our problem, we can handle almost anything…and a wrong outlook can kill almost any chance of making it through!
C. I love Paul’s perspective in 2 Cor. 4: “I may be persecuted, but I’m not deserted; I may be knocked down, but I’m not knocked out!” Those are words penned from someone who learned to focus on JESUS, not the problem!
D. The secret to endurance is focus your mind! Paul said that he faced the death of Jesus every day, but he saw the purpose of God in all of it…that he might know the spiritual life there is in Jesus!
E. Sure conflict happens around us every day! I’m well aware that the problems come like the waves of the ocean…they’re endlessly persistent – my life too! And I have an idea that ALL of us are going to face problems in the next year. But unless you change your perspective about them, they are going to capsize your boat!
F. Remember Peter? When he looked at Jesus, he walked on water. When he looked at the waves, he nearly drowned.
G. Here’s how you change the winds of adversity into power behind your sails. Rom. 5:3-5
Illus: - Joseph had to have faith in the Lord a long time before the Lord rescued him from his problems. Brother’s envy – pit – sold as a slave – exiled to Egypt – falsely accused of rape – thrown in prison – AND HE DID NOTHING WRONG! I’ll bet Joseph thought, “God, what’s going on here? Is there no end? This is not the way I planned my life to go!”
H. But God had Joseph right where he needed to be to save both Egypt and Israel from a big famine! Look at Joseph’s perspective in Gen. 50:18-20
I. God has a GOOD plan for your life…even though you can’t see the end of it. If God wants to make you into a squash, it only takes 2 months…but if He wants to make you into a mighty Oak, it takes a hundred years! Character is developed by waiting on the Lord!
To grow beyond your problems you’ve got to…
II. FEED YOUR FAITH
A. A lot of people’s faith weakens just when God is ready to do His greatest work.
B. It doesn’t take very long for fear to set in, does it? Israel had just witnessed God perform 10 mighty miracles to deliver them out of Egypt. But just one day’s journey out into the wilderness with Pharaoh’s army pursuing them, and fear gripped them so bad they threatened to trade their deliverer for a tyrant.
C. The bad thing about fear is that it makes you forget God’s mighty acts of the past! Tell me something; has God used up all His power? Is He powerless to help us?
D. Listen to the words of Moses to Israel that fed their malnourished faith. Ex. 14:13-14
E. When life backs you against a wall, faith ties a knot and hangs on…even if it only is by a claw!
F. Fear creates weakness when things come crashing down. Fear is Satan’s tactic to throw down your shield of faith. Faith believes this is when God will do His greatest work! God parted the waters and He delivered them from their enemies.
G. Notice the transition of the fear in this chapter. They started out fearing the Egyptians. Notice the change in Ex. 14:31. Fear from your circumstances weakens your faith…the fear of the Lord strengthens your faith! Fear runs from the enemy…faith steps into the Red Sea to watch the waters part!
H. I urge you to stand in the middle of your Red Sea and let your faith release power from Heaven to see you through your problem. Move to the water’s edge…take that step of faith and watch what God will do in your life! Trapeze artists never make it to the big show unless they learn to let go of the bar! The harder you fight in quicksand…the deeper you sink! Don’t fight…release God’s power through faith! Jer. 32:27
To get beyond your problems you’ve got to realize…
III. PAIN IS INEVITABLE, BUT MISERY IS OPTIONAL…CHOOSE JOY
A. This earth is not our home. As long as we are in the enemy’s territory, pain will inevitably strike us. But being miserable through it all is an option. Remember all the bad stuff that happened to Job? Look at his perspective 19 chapters into his painful saga: Job 19:25-27
B. People who wallow in misery throw parties…pity parties…and they are the self-appointed guest of honor! In contrast are the Joni Erikson’s who rise above their pain and inspire others.
C. Joy is an attitude we can choose in the middle of our trial. Ja. 1:2-4
D. Joy comes when you believe your God is bigger than your problems! Joy comes home to stay in the heart that knows thorns may poke all through this life…but they can never diminish the aroma of the Rose of Sharon!
E. After every storm is a rainbow! Every long night is followed by a glorious morning! Painful surgeries are followed with healing! Death is swallowed up with a resurrection!
F. God paints picture after picture to tell us that we can choose joy in the midst of sorrow because it’s by His design that all problems end with the glorious stroke of His brush!! Jude 1:24-25
G. People, there is a suit of armor that no trial can pierce or strip away…it’s the surrounding presence of the Lord!
When you pray in the name of the Lord…Jehovah Jireh comes to stand beside you!
When your world is shaken…the Rock becomes the foundation beneath your feet!
When you cry for a redeemer…the Lamb of God takes your place upon a cross!
When you are bent in shame from sin…the Deliverer puts His righteous robe on your shoulders!
When the heat of life bears down on you…the Righteous Branch casts His shade over you!
When you are exiled, without a home…Christ the King welcomes you into His palace!
When you struggle to be free from sin…He who dined with sinners calls you His friend!
When you grope through the long, dark night…the Morning Star illuminates your soul!
When Satan’s growl stirs fear in your heart…the Lion of Judah runs to your defense!
When the waves of life mount too high…the Prince of Peace whispers, “Peace, be still!”
(Have worship team come forward.) Ps. 112:1-8
All of us face problems. Not all of us are facing them right now. But NO ONE has to leave the house of the Lord today without being prayed for. If you want prayer, raise your hand. I want those near them to gather around them and pray for them. Sing: Draw Me Close to You Pray