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What to Do When You Don't Know What to Do

A 12 Step Survival Guide for Christ - Followers

Pastor Gary Buchman
Emmitsburg Community Bible Church

(12/1) Most everyone is familiar with the 23rd Psalm. It is, probably along with the Lord's prayer, the most memorized and recited scripture in the Bible. But are you familiar with the Psalm before it- the 22nd Psalm. It is the one that our Lord Jesus spoke from when He cried from the Cross-My God, My God, Why have you forsaken me? Written by David 900 years before Jesus, David felt forsaken by God. Exactly what the circumstances were I don't know, but David didn't know what to do and God was silent with him, so He did what He knew to do, He cried out to God and mediated on the character of God. If God doesn't respond, David felt as if he would die. Ever been in that kind of situation? Jesus our Lord told us we probablly would be at some time. John 16:33 says, "These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world."

At some point in your life it may well seem like the life is being squeezed out of you and you simply don't know what to do. That's what this series had been about. Sometimes these trials come out of no-where, and in a moment life may be changed forever. Our friends along the New Jersey and New York shore discovered this, as did the families of 3000 people on 9-11-01. It may be a rape, a pink slip, a fire, an accident, a natural disaster, an illness, a death, a misunderstanding or something else. Like David, sometimes it seems as if heaven is silent and you don't know why or what to do.

Before we get into today's life lesson let me remind you of the importance of this book that God has blessed us with. I remember Amy Grant singing this.

I. The Purpose for The Bible (Psalm 119:105; Deut. 8:4) "Your word is a lamp to my feet And a light to my path." "...Man shall not live by bread alone; but man lives by every word that proceeds from the mouth of the Lord." One of the things that we need to be teaching our children is that every decision we make in life should be based on one of 5 things:

1. Bible Precepts – or commands (John 14:21-24; Matthew 28:19-20).

2. Bible Precedents – or examples (John 13:15-17; 1 Cor. 10:11; Rom. 15:4)

3. Bible Purposes – (1 Peter 2:9; Acts 26:15-18) i.e., Love God, Love People, reach the World, manage His creation, etc

4. The Pre-eminence of God, every decision should be based on this question, "Will this Honor our Father in Heaven?" (1 Cor. 6:19-20; 10:31; Col. 3:17)

5. Bible Principles – or applicable teachings (2 Tim. 2:2; Matt. 28:19; 2 Tim. 3:16). These are general rules of thumb. Such is what we have studied in this series. We go to the precedents, precepts, principles, purposes, and Pre-eminence of God. Let's remember where we have been:

II. What to Do When You Don't Know What to Do

1. Remember God has a Plan - Even if I don’t Understand (Rom. 8:28; Jer. 29:1-13)

2. Pour Out Your Heart To God (Psalm 62:8; 77; 88; 13)

3. Walk By Faith not By Sight (Hab. 2:4; Heb. 10:32-11:6)

4. Be Still- Wait (Lam. 3:25-26; Psalm 27:14; Isa 40:31; 30:18)

5. Meditate on and Believe His Promises (Romans 8:31-39)

6. Recognize His Sovereignty and Worship Him (Job 1:20-21, Gen.22:5ff; 2 Sam. 12:20ff)

7. Give Up Your Will For His Will (Matt. 26:39-44; 2 Cor. 12:9-10)

8. Focus on The Finish Line (Heb. 12:1-3; Rom. 8:17; 2 Cor. 4:16ff)

Today we will finish our series and begin a new one next week Called, What Child is This? based on Isaiah 9:6-7.

Dr.'s tell us that when we are under a lot of stress our bodies are bodies are much more susceptile to germs, and disease, because our immune system weakens from the stress. People under a lot of stress are more likely to have colds, heart attacks, develop cancer, have strokes etc. In a similiar way, when we are in the midst of an intense trial, we much more susceptible to Satan's schemes and attacks. Look at 1 Peter 5:5-11. Lions generally don't go after the strong and healthy, they generally look for the young, the weak, the sick, and the careless stragglers. Listen to some of these warnings. And while he may seek permission to attack you physically, uusally his schemes, devices, wiles, or tricks are generally geared toward your minds.

9. Resist the Devil (1 Peter 5:8-9; James 4:7; Eph. 6:10-12; 2 Cor. 2:10-11). While this isn't an exhaustive list, I want to tell you some of the ways that Satan will use your tough times to attack you.

a. He will use ungodly counsel to try to get you to respond contrary to God's will. Look at James 3:15, cp. Psalm 1:1-2

"But if you have bitter envy and self-seeking in your hearts, do not boast and lie against the truth. This wisdom does not descend from above, but is earthly, sensual, demonic." "Blessed is the man

Who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly, Nor stands in the path of sinners, Nor sits in the seat of the scornful, But his delight is in the law of the Lord, And in His law he meditates day and night" This counsel usually is of the world, or the way people who don't know or understand God, would respond. Like Job's friends they might blame you for your trials, or urge you to respond in a way that would not honor God. "Well you know what I would do? You need to fight back. You need to sue. You have a right to think of yourself."

b. Or it may be sensual, that is fleshly, as he whispers in your ear to handle this yourself, Think of yourself. That's what He did with Jesus in the wilderness. Man you are hungry, but you are God the Son, pick up a rock bless into bread and eat. What is the problem? or that God doesn't care about you, or someone is responsible and they should pay for this. You need to get revenge or at least some justice.

c. He may urge you to think differently about God's word; that is, he may try to get you to take verses out of context with the passage or the Spirit of God's intent, or to give different meanings to God's word. Saying things like, "The Bible is subject to interpretation, everyone can read the same verse and get something different from it." I have heard that before haven't you? Didn't Paul tell Timothy that he needed to hit the wine bottle once in a while and stop drinking so much water? Did he not use scripture to tempt Jesus by lifting a passage out of the context of God's entire Word? And, he will tell you that you can't believe everything that's in the Bible, or you can't take everything literally.

d. Or it is overtly demonic, that is, he will tell you that God isn't real, He doesn't care about you, He doesn't listen to your prayers, You can't believe what this book says. You are the only one that can change your situation. You have to take control of your own life. That's what he did with Eve. That is what he tried to do with Jesus in the wilderness and that is what he will try to do with you. He will tell you to self medicate to deal with your pain. Go to the alcohol, prescription or illegal drugs,commit adultery or have an affair. He will tell you that you should drop out of church, don't pick up your Bible, don't bother to pray because God doesn't care about you.

You must understand now, that when tribulation comes and it will, Satan will be stalking you and will attack your mind. When these thoughts or counsel comes to your mind, you must remember that Satan is a liar and the father of lies and wants to deceive you and cause you to doubt God and His word; he is a murderer with the intent of destroying you, he is a thief who wants to steal God's purpose from you.

e. So, how do you resist Him? James gives us a clue, James 4:7-8 says, "Therefore submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you. Draw near to God and He will draw near to you." How do you do that? Look at the 8 things we have shared with over the last few weeks.

1. Remember God has a Plan - Even if I don’t Understand (Rom. 8:28; Jer. 29:1-13)

2. Pour Out Your Heart To God (Psalm 62:8; 77; 88; 13) Someone has said, "The devil smiles when he sees the strongest Christian start to freeze, but Satan trembles when he sees the weakest Christian on his knees." Cast all your care on Him for He cares for you.

3. Walk By Faith not By Sight (Hab. 2:4; Heb. 10:32-11:6)

4. Be Still- Wait (Lam. 3:25-26; Psalm 27:14; Isa 40:31; 30:18). How many of you take vitamins or have a prescription that you need to take every day? Listen carefully, you must take the time to meditate in or on God's word every day. Like Vitamins or medicine to boost your immunity to disease, God's word will strengthen you and help you to ward off the evil thoughts and counsel of the world, your own flesh, or Satan. That's what Jesus did, and that is the prescedent we are to follow.

5. Believe His Promises (Romans 8:31-39) God cannot sin, can not change and cannot lie. The Promises of God were signed and sealed with the Blood of Jesus as God's assurance to you.

6. Recognize His Sovereignty and Worship Him (Job 1:20-21, Gen.22:5ff; 2 Sam. 12:20ff)

7. Give Up Your Will For His Will (Matt. 26:39-44; 2 Cor. 12:9-10), Consider that God has actually entrusted you with this pain for a higher purpose than you may ever know.

8. Focus on The Finish Line (Heb. 12:1-3; Rom. 8:17; 2 Cor. 4:16ff).

These trials and the pain, are all temporary, but God has some things that are eternal prepared and reserved for you.

When our Lord responded to Satan with Faith, Obedience and Trust in God's word and God's plan, Satan left Him. James says if you will resist him, he will flee from you. And then, #10:

10. Forgive (Matt. 5:44-45; Eph. 4:30-32: Col. 3:13)

Just a few months ago we did a whole series on forgiveness but let me just briefly remind you that when you are hurting, you want to blame someone. Somebody needs to be responsible, perhaps they need to pay. It could be a person, yourself, or even God. And whether the pain was intentionally inflicted or carelessly inflicted, or an accident, or an act of nature, we tend to hold onto our right to be angry and want justice. But all that does is to eat away at our peace, and keeps us from fulfilling God's plan for our lives. The only thing that can release us from the prison of our own anger is to forgive that person, people, or even ourselves, or God. and go back and do the 9 things we just shared with you. To forgive is to release that person from the debt or justice that we think they need to pay. That's what God did for you and I in Christ and He just wants us to pay it forward. And then;

11. Stay Connected (Heb. 10:24-25). When we go through intense trials or pain sometimes we want to drop out. We think this church thing isn't working, or that church is for perfect people who can't possibly understand my pain, perhaps they will judge me, so I am going to quit. That's what some of the Hebrew Christians were doing. But one of the primary reasons that the church exists is to love and encourage each other as Jesus would. Its the reason we should have a Sunday school or small groups. We need to realize that we are not perfect people, we are all hurting sinners and all of us have or will have trials to go through and we need each other. So don't quit. Years ago, I heard David Mains talk about the 2 questions that his family would always answer over Sunday dinner;

1.) How did God speak to me today? God has called and gifted teachers to study and teach His word so His children can grow and be strong.

2.) How did God speak through me today? What did I do or say to encourage someone today? Every Sunday we should come to church with those 2 questions in mind. When I choose to not attend, I deny God the chance to speak to me and I deny Him the chance to speak through me. Stay connected.

12. Remember - You are not alone – Not ever - God is with you. – Finish well. (Isa. 41:10; 43; 1-3; Heb. 13:5). When you go through a tough time and you don't know what to do, remember you are not alone. You house the very presence of God's Holy Spirit in you. Listen and believe:

Fear not, for I am with you;
Be not dismayed, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you,
Yes, I will help you,
I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.’ (Isa. 41:10)

For I, the Lord your God, will hold your right hand,
Saying to you, ‘Fear not, I will help you.’ (Isa. 41:13)

But now, thus says the Lord, who created you, O Jacob,
And He who formed you, O Israel:
"Fear not, for I have redeemed you;
I have called you by your name;
You are Mine.

When you pass through the waters, I will be with you;
And through the rivers, they shall not overflow you.
When you walk through the fire, you shall not be burned,
Nor shall the flame scorch you.
For I am the Lord your God,
The Holy One of Israel, your Savior (Isa. 43:1-3)

And I will pray the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may abide with you forever the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him; but you know Him, for He dwells with you and will be in you. (John 14:16-17)

Let your conduct be without covetousness; be content with such things as you have. For He Himself has said, "I will never leave you nor forsake you (Heb. 13:5) That means not under any circumstances.

He is there to enable you to do the things we just shared with you. He is there to help you and strengthen you to be obedient and to trust God. He is there to help you remember God's promises. No Christian need ever to pray as David did in Psalm 22 because God is with you even when you don't feel His presence, and He will be with you to help you cross the finish line.

There you have it, What to do when you don't know what to do; do what you know to do.

  1. Remember God has a Plan - Even if I don’t Understand (Rom. 8:28; Jer. 29:1-13)
  2. Pour Out Your Heart To God (Psalm 62:8; 77; 88; 13)
  3. Walk By Faith not By Sight (Hab. 2:4; Heb. 10:32-11:6)
  4. Be Still - Wait (Lam. 3:25-26; Psalm 27:14; Isa 40:31; 30:18)
  5. Believe His Promises (Romans 8:31-39)
  6. Recognize His Sovereignty and Worship Him (Job 1:20-21, Gen.22:5ff; 2 Sam. 12:20ff)
  7. Give Up Your Will For His Will (Matt. 26:39-44; 2 Cor. 12:9-10)
  8. Focus on The Finish Line (Heb. 12:1-3; Rom. 8:17; 2 Cor. 4:16ff)
  9. Resist the devil
  10. Forgive
  11. Stay connected
  12. Remember you are not alone

Do you know Jesus as your Savior and Lord? Everyone is susceptible to tough times, but only those who know Jesus have the certainty of forgiveness and the promises of God. Would you open your hearts and invite Jesus in? Let's pray.

If this series has been a help to you, would you write to me and let me know, I would love to hear how God is working in your life and may He bless you as you seek to honor Him.

Read other thoughtful writings by Pastor Gary Buchman