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Summary: Ezra was facing a problem and came up with a solution that ended in success. From that, we can see how this godly leader dealt with a problem. And from that, we can develop our own how-to list. We can see three key components to dealing with the problems

How do you deal with problems?

1. Recognize the problem

2. Come up with the right solution

3. Properly identify success

One of the complaints some people have about expository preaching is they say it’s not practical. They say that when you just preach directly from the text of the Bible, you don’t touch people where they live. In other words, you don’t give people solutions to day-to-day problems. As a reaction to that, there are many preachers today who use a topical approach. They start with what they perceive to be a need. Many of them call it a felt need. They think about a felt need and try to come up with a solution. Most of the time these “felt-needs” preachers use all kinds of things to build their solutions. They use pop-psychology, business methodology, sales techniques. And most of the time they even support their solutions with Bible verses. Whether they’re used in context or not doesn’t really matter to them. The only thing that really matters is whether they can meet the felt need of their congregation. One thing that has come from this is what I call the “how-to” theology. A great many of the sermons that you hear from these preachers end up telling you “X-number of ways to do… whatever”. “Five ways to be a better husband.” “10 ways to get out of debt.” “6 ways to raise good kids.” The all sound very practical. Sometimes they might even sound a little bit biblical. But most of the time they are very man-centered and ultimately not God-honoring. Now, why is that? Because, in reality, there is nothing more practical that the text of Scripture. At their core, all of man’s problems are as a result of sin. And no man-centered, pop-psychology, pragmatic how-to list is going to be able to fix sin. There is no kind of list that we can come up with that will empower us to pull ourselves up by our own bootstraps. God created our bootstraps and He’s the only One who is able to pull us up by them. And He does that through the all-sufficient power of His Word. Since the Bible is all-sufficient, it is the most practical book ever given to man. If God’s Word doesn’t touch people where they live, I certainly can’t come up with something that will. It’s my job as an expository preacher and your job as you study the Bible on your own… it’s our job to figure out what the text of Scripture means in the context in which God inspired it to be written. And when we figure out what it objectively means in its context… then we see how it applies to our lives. We don’t start by reading our life situation into the text. We start with what the text means. And since the Word of God is quick and powerful and sharper than any two-edged sword, the Holy Spirit will illumine it. He will open our eyes as to how His objective text applies to our lives. Do you see the difference? One is taking man’s ideas and trying to justify or validate them by bending Scripture to fit them. The other is taking God’s ideas that He has objectively laid out in His Word and bending our lives to fit them. The popular and so-called “practical” way changes Scripture. The right way changes me. Now, with all that being said, when it’s taken in context, there is nothing more practical than Scripture. There are passages all throughout the Bible where we can legitimately come up with “how-to” lists. And tonight’s passage is one of them. There are a couple of things to be careful with when you make a how-to list from Scripture. First, you have to remember that God is the One who is in control. He likes to do things that show His strength in spite of our weakness. That means that no matter how well we follow steps X and Y—we’re never going to control Him and force Him to do Z. Secondly, God very seldom does the same thing using the same methods. If you don’t believe me, ask Moses. Moses used the method of striking a rock to draw water. Later on he tried to repeat that method and God was not pleased. As a matter of fact, He was so unpleased that He wouldn’t allow Moses to enter the Promised Land because of it. Now, with all of that as background and warning, we can look at the how-to list we have before us. In tonight’s text, we see that Ezra was facing a problem and came up with a solution that ended in success. From that, we can see how this godly leader dealt with a problem. And from that, we can develop our own how-to list. We can see three key components to dealing with the problems each of us face on a day-to-day basis. The first thing you have to do is recognize the problem. Look back at verse 15.

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