The Problem Game

Posted on 10/17/2010 by Rev. Benjamin R. Faust D.D.

AUDIO: dialup - broadband - podcast

TRANSCRIPT: (does not contain everything found in the audio above)

*** listen to the audio for introduction and prayer ***


Public Prayer Requests:


please help me to pray so any persecution against me and my bussines is stop by the power of god in jesus name the person that its making that persecution against me is jaime he is making me phone calls, in a very menacing way, please hepl me to pray god's son put in his heart to stop his persecution against me thank god bless you adrian
   -jairo bonilla

Please we are so scared for our little child, who is having such medical problems and no one is sure what is causing it or what to do and we are humbly praying for a healing miracle for our baby to be completely cured of her affliction and it never come back, and her eyes and body work perfectly again and be protected with no disfigurement. That she truly have no underlying serious medical conditions. That she have a long healthy, happy, safe life and we do everything right for her without complications and protect her. Please cure her forever of this affliction and let her be in perfect health. We are in such anguish for her and pray for a miracle please. Thank you for your consideration. Ann
   -Ann

Hi I would like to get back with my wife again. She had a severe post partum depression after the second baby was born and now we've been separated for four months. All I am asking is that pls send your prayers to re-unite my family again, I know prayers sent by as many wonderful souls from each corners of the earth will help and I am doing all I can to have them back again. I also wish you to find what you're looking for and have a wonderful journey. Cheers. Mike & Josee Ottawa-Canada
   -Mike & Josee

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Please turn around and click one of the offering plates by the doors, and give as the Lord leads.

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I WALK BY FAITH

I walk by faith
Each step by faith
To live by faith
I put my trust in You
I walk by faith
Each step by faith
To live by faith
I put my trust in You

Every step I take
Is a step of faith
No weapon formed against me shall prosper
And every prayer I make
Is a prayer of faith
And if my God is for me
Who can be against me

YES LORD YES

Yes, Lord, yes, to Your will and to Your way
Yes, Lord, yes, I will trust You and obey
When Your Spirit speaks to me, with my whole heart I'll agree
And my answer will be yes, Lord, yes!

YOU ARE CROWNED

You are crowned with many crowns
And rule all things in righteousness
You are crowned with many crowns
Upholding all things by Your word

You rule in power
And reign in glory
You are Lord
Of heaven and earth

You are Lord of all
You are Lord of all
You are Lord of all
You are Lord of all


*** listen to the audio for the message introduction ***


Well, if you live in a place that gets cold in the winter, or in a place that's not cold all year long, you've probably been getting some much cooler weather lately.

A lot of people complain about the cold weather... I used to... and many of us who complain when it's cold ALSO complain when it's hot.

Here's something a little less petty than complaining about the weather... Let's say you find out you have a deadly disease, then you lose your job, then you get kicked out of your home. You'd be one very unusual person to not feel as though you've been dealt a very rough hand.

But whether it's something easy, like the weather, or something very hard, like major life struggles, most of the issues in our life are simply like pieces on a game board... And the title of today's message is, "The Problem Game."


Recently, someone started accusing Mariposa and me of living in adultery, since I was previously divorced. He said that Jesus said if you re-marry someone else, you're living in adultery. I looked up the passage in Matthew 19:9, and quoted it to him, where Jesus says this:

Matthew 19:9 (NKJV)

9 "And I say to you, whoever divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another, commits adultery; and whoever marries her who is divorced commits adultery."

I pointed out that my ex-wife cheated on me numerous times, which falls into the words "except for sexual immorality," and according to what Jesus said there, I was not bound to stay with her. Many years after I divorced that lady, and she married someone else, I met Mariposa.

What happened next really amazed me. He completely abandoned logic and twisted Jesus' words around to claim that Mariposa and I are indeed living in sin by being married to eachother.

I really don't think this person is stupid. I think he was so determined to find a problem, that even when that so-called problem was shown as not being a problem at all, he could not let go of it.

Now, most of us probably think that's rediculous. And we think we'd never do anything like that. But today, for the next few minutes, I'd like for us to consider OUR OWN "Problem Game" that WE play, and then let's ponder what we should do about it.


Let's take a look at something Jesus said in Matthew chapter six...

Matthew 6:31-33 (NKJV)

31 "Therefore do not worry, saying, 'What shall we eat?' or 'What shall we drink?' or 'What shall we wear?'
32 For after all these things the Gentiles seek. For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things.
33 But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.

Before this, Jesus pointed out that if God feeds the birds and clothes the flowers, he will most certainly take care of us.

Now, for the person who says, "There's no food in the cubbard, but I don't need to work because God will provide," perhaps we should remember the words in 2nd Thessalonians 3:10, "If anyone will not work, neither shall he eat."

But for the person who is doing everything they can, putting into practice the seeking of God's Kingdom by being dilligent, then is a lack of food or clothing or housing really a problem? God has already promised to provide, and he never breaks his promises.

And when we make a problem out of something that is NOT a problem, we are playing The Problem Game.

And do you know what the prizes are for playing that game? Well, let's take a look at some of them:

- depression
- diabetes
- hair loss
- heart disease
- hyperthyroidism
- obesity
- obsessive-compulsive or anxiety disorder
- sexual dysfunction
- tooth and gum disease
- ulcers
- cancer

I kid you not. All these things can be caused... by stress. In fact, an estimated 90% of doctors' visits are due at least in part to stress. And stress is the primary result of playing The Problem Game.

We play it with just about everything.

We're driving somewhere. We catch a red light. That red light suddenly becomes a problem, and we sit there fighting with that problem. When the problem is solved, meaning the light turns green, immediately a new problem arises: the person in front of us who takes too long to start moving, and then accellerates too slowly.

Finally we manage to get around that person. Then we encounter an even WORSE problem -- that stupid police officer who has just pulled us over for speeding.

We get to our meeting late, only to discover that someone else has gotten what we were hoping to get, all because of that stupid red light, that stupid slow person, and that stupid traffic cop. And now we have a problem that we can keep around for awhile, which is how to get what we think we should have gotten, away from that other person and into our deserving hands.

Because of this new problem, NEW problems appear. The cashier didn't smile at us after we had to wait in that way-too-long line. That stupid driver stole the parking space WE were going to take. And we're pretty sure that little old lady driving the electric shopping cart just flipped us off for no reason at all.


The Problem Game is pretty easy to play. All we have to do is create a problem or two, and then those problems create more of their own.

We get so good at the game, that we forget we're playing it.

The pastor's wife seems to be unfriendly to us, so, thinking we have encountered a real problem, we leave the church.

Our boss doesn't appreciate our hard work and treats us badly, so we start hating our job and all its unbearable problems. And we might even quit.

We don't have a certain kind of relationship, or we don't have a car, or we don't have this or that, or we DO have this or that and don't want it.

Everything has problems or is a problem that need to be fixed. Everyone poses a potential problem for us. And we feel justified in seeing it that way. After all, it's not OUR fault we have all these problems. It's not OUR fault problems surround us.

But what is the truth of the matter? IS life really that full of problems that we are supposed to either fix or at least struggle with?

Well, let's see what the Bible says about it.

Philippians 4:4,6-8 (NKJV)

4 Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I will say, rejoice!

It's awefully hard to rejoice when we're busy fighting all the supposed problems in our lives, isn't it?

6 Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God;
7 and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.

We wonder why we don't have peace. Well, it just might be the same reason we don't rejoice always. We might take our perceived problems to God in prayer, but when we leave the altar, we take our problems with us. We don't really give them to God. We just loan them to him for a few minutes.
  
8 Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy, meditate on these things.

We don't have TIME to meditate on good things. We have too many problems to think about and focus on. After all, if we're not tossing and turning all night making ourselves sick by thinking about all our problems, then how in the world can they ever be solved? Sure, we told God about them, but then we took them back from him so we can fix them ourselves.

After all, we HAVE to be looking at the problems so we'll know when, or if, God ever does something about them.

But isn't that a silly game? First of all, who says God is going to take your so-called problems away?

Romans 8:28 (NKJV) says this:

28 And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.

Maybe a so-called problem was created by the enemy to destroy you. But as soon as it entered your life, that problem became an agent of good. ALL things work together for good to those who love God.

All things. The red light. The slow driver. The speeding ticket. The lost opportunity. The death of a loved one. The rejection you feel from others. The loss of your job. The loss of your health. The loss of your home.

These aren't problems with which you need to struggle. Instead, they are all agents of good. The end result of every single one of them is something good, something much better than you could imagine. So if you fight against those things you perceive as problems, you are fighting against the good things they have been re-designated to bring.

Let's consider Joseph. His brothers sold him into slavery. That's a problem, right? Wouldn't you think it's a bit of a problem if your family sold you as a slave? Wouldn't you spend every night and day hating them for what they did to you?

I guarantee you that if Joseph had lived like that, eaten up inside with hatred for the people who betrayed him, he wouldn't have ended up being one of the most powerful people in Egypt.

So his brothers sold him. But the Bible doesn't mention anything about Joseph being eaten up with anger.

His master's wife lied about him and had him thrown in prison because he refused to commit adultery with her. But Scripture doesn't say a single thing about Joseph praying for her destruction and rotting away in the dungeon of his own regrets.

Time after time, people do Joseph wrong. Time after time, he starts to get ahead and then gets thrown into a deeper pit. And time after time... he focuses on pleasing God and the blessings he has wherever he is.

His brothers' betrayal, his master's wife's lies, the pit, the prison, the dungeon, and all the broken promises... Just maybe Joseph, deep down, recognized all these things for what they really were.

Not problems he had to lie awake at night trying to fix, or that he had to fight against trying to defeat. But as agents of good, vessels carrying God's greatest blessings, regardless of the fact that he was swimming in blessings already.


Just like you are. And I am.


Have you been so busy seeing everything as a problem, that you've been blinded to your blessings?

No matter how bad you have it, there are people who have it much worse and yet are much happier than you.

No matter how good you have it, there are people who have it much better and yet are much more miserable than you.

Do you wonder why that's true? Maybe you're thinking that no one could possibly be more miserable than you are. But EVERY miserable person thinks that.

If outside circumstances could make it impossible for you to "rejoice always," then God would not have told you to do it. Since he did, then that must mean that whether we are miserable and defeated or optimistic and victorious does NOT depend upon what happens to us, but on what we do with what we are given.

AND, on what we choose to see.

Maybe your big toe is the only part of your body that's not in pain right now. But that big toe actually feels quite comfortable and at peace. If your attention is on your big toe and the comfort it feels, you are going to be in a MUCH better state of mind than if your attention is on all the pain you're feeling and how unfair that pain is.

Without going off into a side road, let's briefly consider that it's also possible to acknowledge your pain without judging it as something bad. It simply IS. And this has been demonstrated to have a sometimes miraculous effect.

Let's suppose, on the other hand, that your big toe hurts, but the rest of your body is free from pain. If you focus on the pain in your toe, that bad, horrible pain, then you can become completely oblivious to the fact that you are bathed in good feelings. Instead, everything good is viewed through the lense of whatever you've labeled as bad.

Just like we see most of our blessings through the lense of our problems. Because of this, many of our blessings are transformed into problems.

Wouldn't the opposite also hold true? What would happen if all these things we think are problems, we started seeing them through the lense of our blessings?

Just food for thought.


Now, there ARE problems in life. Sin, for example, is a MAJOR problem. If you are living in sin, that is a problem. But the solution has already been purchased for you. And all you have to do is ask forgiveness, surrender that sin to Jesus, and accept your forgiveness.

Are there lost people in your community who you could be reaching somehow with the Good News? Yes, that's a problem, and it has a solution: Go!

How about the news reports? The technology is in place for the mark of the beast. Most of the rulers of the world are heading straight toward a one-world government.

Aren't these problems we need to fight?

No.

If God leads you to do something, your responsibility is to do it. But when we start seeing everything as a problem, our own minds start doing their best God impersonation, and we wast time and energy running around doing things that God never told us to do. And we make ourselves sick in the process.

And yes, we need to pray about the things that are going on in our lives and in the world. But Philippians 4:6 tells us HOW to pray: "Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God."

THAT is when the peace of God which surpasses all understanding guards your heart and mind. Make your requests. But do so with a thankful heart.

A thankful heart sees problems as agents of blessing.

A thankful heart sees people as precious gifts from God, regardless of what they do or don't do to or for us.

A thankful heart focuses on all the blessings God continues to shower upon every single one of us, not on the relatively few struggles we encounter.

And a thankful heart sees those few struggles as things that will make us grow, as they purge away a little more of our own flaws.

As 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 (NKJV) says,

16 Rejoice always,
17 pray without ceasing,
18 in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.

Maybe that's one of the problems on your "Problem Game" list, that you don't know God's will for your life. Well, now you know it. His will is that you stop playing The Problem Game, and develop a thankful heart instead. In EVERY thing give things, for THIS is the will of God for you.

Instead of fighting everything, embrace what comes, and what IS. It's all good, no matter how evil it was meant to be. And for that, we can all learn to be thankful.

Instead of living in fear, always afraid of what will happen next, or whether such-and-such is good or evil... Instead of fear, meditate on what is pure, lovely, things that are of a good report. Give thanks in everything, and FOR everything, for the good thing that God is turning that thing into.

And instead of continuing to play The Problem Game, start playing The Blessing Game. The prizes for THAT game are quite a bit different:

- love
- joy
- peace
- patience
- kindness
- goodness
- faithfulness
- gentleness
- self-control

That's the fruit of the Spirit. That's what comes from walking "in the Spirit." To walk "in the Spirit," you must be walking in obedience to the Word, for as John 1:1 says, "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God." If you are not walking in the Word, you are not walking in the Spirit.

And how does the Word of God say we are supposed to view life and the things that happen to us?

"In everything give thanks," and "Think upon these things."

Playing The Problem Game is seeing life and the things in life in ways God has instructed us to not see. If we are perceiving through the eyes of the Spirit, ...

We will see life as full of blessings.
We will see the whole earth as full of God's glory.
We will give thanks in all things.
We will see problems and struggles as agents of good.
We will see all things as blessings that need to be given thanks for, not problems that need to be solved.

This isn't to say that if a loved one passes away, we don't care. Ecclesiastes says there is a time to laugh and a time to cry. But instead of perceiving everything around us as a conspiracy to destroy us, we see all things as either blessings or things that God has set off their natural course to become agents of blessings, serving HIS purposes, and working out for OUR good.


So let's stop fighting and resisting everything. Let's stop being suspicious of everyone and everything as being evil or bad. And let's start giving thanks instead, putting our trust in God that He has already transformed all things in our lives into angents of blessing, every single one of them ending in our good.


Let's end this service with a time of prayer and surrender. I invite you to get out of your seat right now, and come gather at the altar. And wherever you are right now, throw up your hands in surrender, as you let go of your constant fighting against life, as you let go of your seeing everything as a problem, and as you instead see God's blessings and his goodness and his plan in all things.

Lord God, I ask that you help us to apply your Word to our lives. Change our hearts. Transform us by your Holy Word. And help us to see things as you have told us to perceive, through the eyes of eternal abundance, provision, life, and love.

As we go our way now Lord, I ask that you would go with us. That you would wrap your arms around us, and that you would draw us to wrap our arms around you, and to not let go.

Help us to cast all of our cares upon you, and then to not try to take them back again. What we surrender into your hands, we can trust that you will take care of, no matter how things might look to our carnal minds.


If you want someone to pray or speak with you, please feel free to instant message me, Mariposa, or someone else on the staff or ministry team.

Whenever you need to go, you're dismissed. As usual, after this time at the altar, we're going to meet in the Fellowship Room to your left just for a bit of fellowship.

Come, and surrender to God your involvement in The Problem Game, as we choose to see all things through the eyes of Promise and Love.