PROBLEMS CAN BE SOLVEDAugust 7th, 2013 by Rev. Ruel Camia
Posted under Worship
– One thing that we can say for sure about problems; everyone has at least one.
– I have them, you have them, and everyone in this room is dealing with some type of problem right now.
– Our problems fall into different categories: family problems, work problems, physical problems, spiritual problems, financial problems, emotional problems, and probably a few more categories that you might be thinking of.
– Some of these problems are somewhat minor; others demand your attention almost every moment of your life; most are somewhere in between.
– I know that some of you seated here today have some problems that you’re dealing with where there doesn’t seem to be any way out, no light at the end of the tunnel, and you know that right now you’re running on empty.
– I will confess to you that I don’t have the answers to everyone’s problems, but I do believe God’s Word can help us to better deal with the problems that we do have.
– Nehemiah was a man with a huge problem who dealt with it in a godly way, and I believe his story will help us to see the way clearly to dealing with our own problems.
– Nehemiah was a Jewish man who served as cupbearer for the King of Persia – most likely this was some type of advisory position, or he possibly was the person who tasted the food before the king to make sure it wasn’t poisoned.
– For our purposes we need to know that Nehemiah was a Jew who was living away from his homeland.
– And one day his brother came to bring him some very bad news.
– Nehemiah 1:1-3 These are the memoirs of Nehemiah son of Hacaliah. In late autumn of the twentieth year of King Artaxerxes reign, I was at the fortress of Susa . Hanani, one of my brothers, came to visit me with some other men who had just arrived from Judah . I asked them about the Jews who had survived the captivity and about how things were going in Jerusalem . They said to me, “Things are not going well for those who returned to the province of Judah . They are in great trouble and disgrace. The wall of Jerusalem has been torn down, and the gates have been burned.”
– It would be hard to imagine much worse news coming to Nehemiah that day.
– His own people were in deep trouble; the walls that enclosed their city had been torn down, leaving them unprotected from the forces that wished for their demise.
– And here is Nehemiah, employed by a pagan king, miles away from home, with a burning desire to solve the problem of his own people.
– Let’s look at what he did about it, keeping in mind that his example is one that we can use to deal with our own problems today.
1. EVALUATE THE PROBLEM
– The way to evaluate any problem that you might be dealing with today is to ask two simple questions concerning the problem, and then act on your answers.
– What Exactly is the Problem?
[- Let’s say that you let 10 bags of garbage accumulate in your house.
– You soon discover that you have a zillion flies that are bothering you as they fly around the house, land on your food, and are just a plain nuisance.
– You go out and buy a fly swatter, some fly traps you hang from the ceiling, and place an electric bug zapper on your kitchen counter.
– No matter what lengths you go to to get rid of the flies, they just keep returning.
– Why is that? Because you’re problem is not the flies, your problem is the garbage that’s been piling up in your house.
– Instead of swatting flies, you need to take out the garbage.]
– When I evaluate what my problem is, I want to get at the root of it.
– I am not evaluating the results of the problem, but what the problem actually is.
– For Nehemiah, there was no doubt about it, the problem was that the people of Jerusalem were unprotected and as he would find out, they also had very low morale
– In addition, as Nehemiah will acknowledge in prayer, he and the people of Israel have sinned against God and they need to get their lives back in order.
– For you it might not be so easily discerned – you have to take the time to trace the source of the problem so that you’ll be able to deal with it in the best way.
– Perhaps you’re having a big problem with finances – what is the cause of that? Is it because you’ve acquired too much debt, or you’ve lost your job, or something else? Whatever it is, discover the root, and then go from there.
– How Does the Problem Affect Me?
– I don’t want to imply that we ask this in a selfish way – as if only the problems that affect us personally are worth dealing with.
– What I mean is to determine if this is a problem that I have some kind of stake in, something I can help with, something that God wants me to be involved in.
– Nehemiah didn’t live in Jerusalem when the walls were knocked down, he could have continued to live in comfort and not deal with the problem at all.
– But he determined that the problem did affect him in a big way, because he loved the people of Jerusalem , he loved God, and he knew that he could do something about it.
– At the same time, some of us worry and fret over things that we have no control over, and we waste our time trying to solve everyone else’s problems while our own go unresolved.
– Make sure that your problem is your problem.
2. SHARE THE PROBLEM
– If you’re anything like me, this is the hardest step to take.
– I’m the kind of person that initially tries to keep my problems to myself – the problem with that is that the longer I hold onto the problem, the worse the problem seems to get.
– I’m beginning to learn, and I hope that you’re ready to learn with me, that if we’re going to solve our problems we need to be able to share our problems.
– With God
– Immediately after Nehemiah receives word that the walls of Jerusalem have been torn down, he turns to God in prayer and fasting.
– Nehemiah 1:4-7 When I heard this, I sat down and wept. In fact, for days I mourned, fasted, and prayed to the God of heaven. Then I said, “O LORD, God of heaven, the great and awesome God who keeps his covenant of unfailing love with those who love him and obey his commands, listen to my prayer! Look down and see me praying night and day for your people Israel . I confess that we have sinned against you. Yes, even my own family and I have sinned! We have sinned terribly by not obeying the commands, laws, and regulations that you gave us through your servant Moses.”
– Nehemiah’s name means The Lord Comforts, and it’s obvious that his willingness to share with God was not only for God’s help, but to acknowledge his own failures, and to seek the presence of God as he dealt with the problem at hand.
– Nehemiah continues his prayer (Neh. 1:10 -11) “We are your servants, the people you rescued by your great power and might. O Lord, please hear my prayer! Listen to the prayers of those of us who delight in honoring you. Please grant me success now as I go to ask the king for a great favor. Put it into his heart to be kind to me.”
– No matter what problem you’re dealing with today, the first Person you need to share it with is Almighty God.
– Psalms 55:22 Give your burdens to the LORD, and he will take care of you. He will not permit the godly to slip and fall.
– God wants nothing more than to hear your voice today – wants nothing more than to give you His assurance that He is with you – wants nothing more than to give you comfort as you deal with the problems of life.
– But you will not know the full blessing of God’s comfort until you begin to unload your burden to Him.
– With People God Leads You To
– Nehemiah knew that he would not be able to help solve the problem in Jerusalem with o receiving permission from the king, which he served.
– He needed to be able to take a long leave of absence (one that turned out to be twelve years long) if he was going to be able to get the job done.
– Notice again the end of his initial prayer: (Neh. 1:11b) “Please grant me success now as I go ask the king for a great favor. Put it into his heart to be kind to me.”
– We don’t have time to read the whole story today, but the result was that the Persian King not only granted Nehemiah permission to leave, but he sent him with letters of protection to the surrounding governors, plus gave him the building materials that he would need to rebuild the wall around Jerusalem .
– The point I’m trying to make is that God leads us to other people who can help us solve the problems that we have.
– God doesn’t always just point a finger at our problem, zap it with His power, and it goes away – in fact, most of the time, He expects us to find others to assist us.
– This is especially true in the church – we are here to help each other in every possible way.
– Romans 12:5b Since we are all one body in Christ, we belong to each other, and each of us needs all the others.
– Seeking help from others isn’t something we are to be ashamed of – in fact, you’ll find out that others are dealing with some of the same problems you are, and you’ll be able to help each other out.
– Ecclesiastes 4:9-10 Two people can accomplish more than twice as much as one; they get a better return for their labor. If one person falls, the other can reach out and help. But people who are alone when they fall are in real trouble.
– If you’re alone in your problem today, as hard as it might be for you, you need to find someone that you can trust to share it with.
– Nehemiah began by requesting help from the king, but he continued to receive help from many, many other people.
– In fact, when you add them up, Nehemiah received help from 42 different groups of people in solving the problem of rebuilding the wall.
– He knew that if his problem was going to be solved, he would have to rely foremost on God, and secondly on the people around him.
3. SOLVE THE PROBLEM
– I say this realizing that not every problem has a solution.
– Sometimes the solution is having the resolve to admit that there really isn’t a satisfactory solution, and deciding that with God’s help we can live with it.
– But for most problems, there is a solution – it might or not might be an immediate solution, but there is a solution somewhere down the road.
– If you’ll read through the rest of Nehemiah, you’ll see that in time his problem was wonderfully solved, and the city wall was rebuilt in an amazing 52 days of non-stop, construction.
– For most of our problems, the following three steps will help us in our attempt at resolution.
– By Continued Reliance on God
– We want to share our problem with God right off the bat, but we also want to continue to share with Him throughout the entire experience.
– We want God to be in the midst of it no matter how long it takes.
– When some men came opposing Nehemiah’s work on the wall of Jerusalem he said to them, (Neh. 2:20 ) “The God of heaven will help us succeed. We his servants will start rebuilding this wall. But you have no stake in Jerusalem .
– I have counted at least 14 times in the 13 chapters of Nehemiah where he and his team explicitly rely on God in prayer – two chapters of this book contain almost nothing but prayers to God.
– Nehemiah knew, and we need to learn, that if we are to resolve the problems of life God needs to be an integral part of the whole process.
– By Taking Whatever Steps Are Necessary
– For Nehemiah this included organizing a mass number of people with skills particular to the task at hand – it included arming the people against those that wanted to attack them – it involved bringing the people back to a proper obedience and worship of God.
– Those were the steps he needed to take to solve his problem.
– Obviously your problem is not the same one Nehemiah faced.
– You and I need to take the steps necessary to solve the problem we face if it is a problem that can be solved.
– But let’s say that I have a problem in my marriage and I have identified that much of the problem stems from me not being the kind of husband I need to be
– What steps should I take? Begin to find out what makes a good husband – and start working towards becoming that kind of husband.
– Maybe I need some books, maybe I need some good counsel, maybe I need someone to mentor me – whatever it takes, take those steps.
– Too many of us know what steps need to be taken, but refuse to take them.
– God wants to help us, but much of the help He offers involves us getting involved in the process.
– By Staying Focused on the Task at Hand
[- Imagine a thick bundle of sticks bound tightly together.
– Suppose someone asked you to break the bundle.
– If you attempted to break all the sticks at once, you’d be in trouble.
– In fact, it might be impossible.
– After hours of trying, what would you have to show for your efforts? Sore hands and a sour disposition.
– Suppose, however, you tried a different tactic.
– Suppose you untied the bundle and proceeded to break each stick one at a time.
– You’d find this much easier.
– Your problems are like that bundle of sticks.
– If you try to fix everything at once, you may fix nothing.
– Instead, you may undermine any chance of success, frustrating yourself in the process.
– Sometimes it’s difficult to untie the bundle of sticks.
– Our problems seem so interconnected that we can’t see how to solve one without solving them all.
– With focus, solutions come easier – One solution leads to another.
– After the first stick breaks, we gain confidence.
– Soon, momentum is established and we’re on our way – One stick at a time.]
– If Nehemiah teaches us anything, it is to have a streamlined view toward problem solving.
– We need to admit we can’t fix the whole world at once, let alone fix every single problem that we have.
– Focus on the task at hand, and continue to focus, until the problem is resolved.
– No matter who you are, no matter how old you are, no matter how much money you have, you will face problems throughout your life.
– That’s a fact that is true for every one of us.
– How we deal with the problems that come will help to determine the outcome of our entire lives.
– In fact, if you will learn to deal with problems in a godly fashion, you may still have some down days, but your life as a whole will be one of triumph and satisfaction.
– Nehemiah teaches us that at the center of our universe God resides, and it is in Him and through His power that we can overcome.