Summary: Lets look at 4 specific blessings that come into our lives through our problems. For as we see how God has used problems in the past to bring about great blessings, it will help us in the problems we face today. (PowerPoints available - #177)
MELVIN NEWLAND, MINISTER
RIDGE CHAPEL, KANSAS, OK
(REVISED - 2018)
(PowerPoints used with this message are available for free. Just email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and request #177.)
ILL. Earle Dickson was the cotton buyer for the Johnson & Johnson Co. back in the 1920's. So he was out on the road quite a bit, & he worried about the welfare of his wife while he was away. You see, Josephine was very accident prone. It seemed like she was either cutting or burning herself almost every day.
When Earle was home, he would take the dressings & rolls of surgical tape that his company made & carefully bandage her wounds.
But you see, with the 3-inch wide rolls of surgical tape & large bandages available in the 1920's, two hands were required to apply them properly. And he was sure that Josephine wouldn't be able to do that by herself.
One day, he had an idea. He cut part of a 3-inch wide roll of surgical tape into 1"-wide strips & laid them on a kitchen counter, sticky side up. Then he put some small squares of gauze in the middle of each one, leaving sticky tape showing on both ends.
Now, should Josephine injure herself while he was gone, all she had to do was to take one of those strips & apply it to her injury herself.
Earle's idea worked so well that he began to leave these self-applying bandages every time he left town. Some time later, at a party, Josephine mentioned Earle's idea to the company president, James Johnson.
Johnson liked the idea, & in 1924 when he added Band Aids to their product line, their company's sales increased by 50%. And ever since then, Band Aids have been one of Johnson & Johnson's major products.
Many inventions that have simplified our lives today would never have been invented if there had not first been a problem that needed to be solved. And I'm convinced the same thing has happened in the spiritual realm, too.
Now we would prefer not to have any problems. But God often uses problems to produce good in the lives of His children. In fact, isn't that what Paul is saying in Romans 8:28-29? Listen to these familiar words:
"And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose. For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of His Son... "
God wants us to be “conformed to the likeness of His Son”, to become more & more like Jesus. And the problems we face& overcome in life are a part of this process.
PROP. So lets look at 4 specific blessings that come into our lives through our problems. For as we see how God has used problems in the past to bring about great blessings, it will help us in the problems we face today.
I. GOD USES PROBLEMS TO DIRECT US
First of all, sometimes God uses problems to direct us. We see this in one of the earliest problems the church faced. It's found in Acts 6:1-7. Vs. 1 says:
"In those days when the number of disciples was increasing, the Grecian Jews among them complained against the Hebraic Jews because their widows were being overlooked in the daily distribution of food."
In those days there weren't any government welfare programs. Your welfare depended almost entirely upon your family. When you were a child your parents took care of you, & when they became old, you took care of them.
But if an older woman lost her husband & her children, or didn't have any children in the first place, she was in dire straits. Unless someone took pity upon her, she ended up having to beg for food just to stay alive. And it was here that the early church showed its love by distributing food to widows & orphans & those in need among them.
But evidently there were some widows whose needs had been overlooked. And they just happened to be Grecian Jews. Now here is where the problem arose.
Some Jews who had lived all their lives in Jerusalem considered Grecian Jews as "immigrants" or 2nd-class citizens because they had lived most of their life in other lands, had grown up speaking other languages, & many of their customs seemed strange & different.
You can imagine the suspicion, the jealousy, & the division in the church that might have resulted from this neglect of the Grecian widows. But there was no division. Why? Because, through the apostles, God used this problem to lead the early church into making some very important decisions.
Listen to vs's 2-6, "So the twelve gathered all the disciples together & said, 'It would not be right for us to neglect the ministry of the word of God in order to wait on tables. Brothers, choose seven men from among you who are known to be full of the Spirit & wisdom.