BY PASTOR T. O. BANSO
“Wise people are careful and stay out of trouble, but fools are careless and quick to act” (Proverbs 14:16 NCV).
Most times when people, including Christians, are in trouble they blame the devil. Some even blame God! But experience has shown that the devil or God is not really the cause of many troubles in the life of some people. It is not in all cases that there are demons to be cast out or deliverance to be done. This means that if we don’t recognize the real culprits we may be in these troubles longer than necessary or constantly find ourselves in the quagmire of problems. This certainly is not the superabundant life Jesus promised us in John 10:10.
Often, we ourselves, and no one else, are responsible for the troubles we sometimes find ourselves unwittingly by our decisions and actions. And it only takes self-examination and a review of our actions to escape from such problems.
I am not saying there are no demonic cases; there are certainly such. But I am saying that not all cases are demonic in nature. Some demons may be attracted to your life when you get into that problem or you stay there longer than necessary but these are not essentially demonic cases. I am talking about situations you can avoid, or you can reverse by simply taking the right decisions.
I want to share with you in this piece practical wisdom from the Word of God that will save you from needless trouble or minimize avoidable problems in your life. These prescriptions have been tested and proved by ancient men, saints of old and they found them effective and efficacious. There are also wise people in our age who have chosen to live by the prescriptions in God’s Word and are living a life free of troubles. I am convinced they will work for you too.
Some prescriptions for staying out of trouble
1. Fear God. If you fear Him, you’ll obey His Word. Reverence for God will keep you from evil. This includes respect for and obedience to His word. “That’s the whole story. Here now is my final conclusion: Fear God and obey his commands, for this is everyone’s duty. God will judge us for everything we do, including every secret thing, whether good or bad” (Ecclesiastes 12:13-14 NLT).
Make the Word of God final in your life. Run your life, marriage, business, etc. by His word and I can assure you that your life will be free from needless troubles. Any time you violate the Word of God, you open your life to troubles. We should obey God because we love Him but it also shows we love ourselves if we do. When you obey God, you’re not doing God a favour but yourself. His commandments are for our own good (Deuteronomy 10:13). God gave you His Word to obey because He loves you and knows that if you obey the Word it shall be well with you. 1 John 5:3b tells us that his commandments are not burdensome; they’re not difficult.
2. Have financial Discipline. A lot of people are in financial trouble today because of wrong financial decisions that have nothing to do with the devil. The devil may have joined them later, but he did not cause the trouble. Before you blame the devil, ask yourself honestly, “How did I find myself in this mess?”
Simple financial discipline will bring some people out of their financial trouble. Prayer is not working for them because they are not disciplined. What financial discipline can you adopt? Avoid impulsive purchase. Don’t spend the money you don’t have to buy what you don’t need. Avoid debt especially on consumption (except for investment where it becomes necessary). If you owe, payback as promised or agreed. Only the wicked borrows and does not payback. “The wicked borrow and never repay, but the godly are generous givers” (Psalm 37:21 NLT). Live within your income; don’t live above your level. In 2 Kings 6:5, one of the sons of the prophets cried, “Alas master! For it was borrowed” (NKJV). Debts put serious pressure on you especially if it is not that you have invested it.
3. Always test people before you trust them. You can’t have the same trust you have for the tested and proved for somebody you’ve never tested and proved. David refused to use Saul’s armour in 1Samuel 17:37–40 because he had not tested it. That was a wise decision to stay out of trouble. Instead, he chose to put on God that he had tested without failing him. Joshua trusted the Gibeonites and they deceived him (Joshua 9:3-26). A lot of people make this mistake and run into trouble. Don’t be naïve.
If someone you’ve not had any transaction with before asks you, “Don’t you trust me?” don’t feel guilty exercising caution just because you want to make him happy or feel good about himself. There’s nothing wrong with proving someone before you trust him. Even people you’ve been relating with before can betray you, not to talk of a total stranger or someone you’ve not had transactions with before. “The human heart is most deceitful and desperately wicked. Who really knows how bad it is?” (Jeremiah 17:9 NLT).
4. Love all, but don’t treat all the same. People are different; people believe in different things. No matter how nice somebody is, if he is not born again, the difference will still be there. Love is a commandment of God and not something that has to do with your choices or emotions. God says love, and you should. Even though you love somebody what he believes will affect how he relates to you. This is why the same Bible that says love everybody, also says don’t be unequally yoked together with unbelievers. “Don’t team up with those who are unbelievers. How can righteousness be a partner with wickedness? How can light live with darkness?” (2 Corinthians 6:14 NLT). Many who violated this divine instruction have regretted it, especially in marriage. Don’t treat a non-Christian as if he were a child of God. Be careful so as not to suffer unnecessary injury.
5. Don’t stand guarantor or surety for somebody you’ve not proved. Many are in trouble today because they stood guarantor for somebody they did not know intimately and they’ve not proved. This can be for a loan or bail bond. If you’re going to stand guarantor, be sure you know the person truly well. If not, be sure you have enough to pay back the loan yourself or face the consequences of his jumping bail! The Bible says in Proverbs 22:26-27, “Don’t promise to pay what someone else owes; and don’t guarantee anyone’s loan. If you cannot pay the loan, your own bed may be taken right out from under you” (NCV). This is because there is no rest for you if the person defaults. This is the cause of the troubles in the life of some people. And God’s wisdom would have saved them from this.
Proverbs 11:15 warns, “Whoever guarantees to pay somebody else’s loan will suffer. It is safer to avoid such promises” (NCV). Many people who stood guarantor for loans ended up repaying the loan. Don’t be sentimental trying to be a nice person and put yourself in avoidable trouble.
6. Don’t violate other people’s rights, especially the rights of the underprivileged. There are four types of people in particular that God especially protects their interests. Make sure you don’t violate their rights. These are strangers, widows, the fatherless and orphans, and the poor and the needy.
There is no way you can be out of trouble when you violate other people’s rights. Not only does the law provides for and protects the individual’s rights, but God also hates a violation of people’s rights and will punish the oppressors and exploiters. Amos 4:1-2 says, “Listen to me, you ‘fat cows’ of Samaria, you women who oppress the poor and crush the needy and who are always asking your husbands for another drink! The Sovereign LORD has sworn this by his holiness: ‘The time will come when you will be led away with hooks in your noses. Every last one of you will be dragged away like a fish on a hook!’” (NLT)
The last of the Ten Commandments says, “You must not covet your neighbor’s house. You must not covet your neighbor’s wife, male or female servant, ox or donkey, or anything else that belongs to your neighbor” (Exodus 20:17).
In Exodus 22:21-25, the Bible also warns “You shall neither mistreat a stranger nor oppress him, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt. ‘You shall not afflict any widow or fatherless child. If you afflict them in any way, and they cry at all to Me, I will surely hear their cry; and My wrath will become hot, and I will kill you with the sword; your wives shall be widows, and your children fatherless. If you lend money to any of My people who are poor among you, you shall not be like a moneylender to him; you shall not charge him interest’” (NKJV).
The Bible further warns in Deuteronomy 10:17-19, “For the LORD your God is God of gods and Lord of lords, the great God, mighty and awesome, who shows no partiality nor takes a bribe. He administers justice for the fatherless and the widow, and loves the stranger, giving him food and clothing. Therefore love the stranger, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt” (NKJV).
God is the Father to the fatherless, the defender of widows (Psalm 68:5 NLT). He, therefore, cautions in Psalm 82:3, “Give fair judgment to the poor and the orphan; uphold the rights of the oppressed and the destitute” (NLT).
Hear what the Lord says he will do to those who oppress the underprivileged whom God is concerned so much about: “What sorrow awaits the unjust judges and those who issue unfair laws. They deprive the poor of justice and deny the rights of the needy among my people. They prey on widows and take advantage of orphans. What will you do when I punish you, when I send disaster upon you from a distant land? To whom will you turn for help? Where will your treasures be safe? You will stumble along as prisoners or lie among the dead. But even then the Lord’s anger will not be satisfied. His fist is still poised to strike” (Isaiah 10:1-5 NLT).
Maybe you’re saying but all these scriptures are in the Old Testament. Yes, understand that Jesus summarized the laws in the Old Testament into two: love God and love fellow human beings (Mark 12:28-34; Matthew 22:34-40; Luke 10:25-28). He even said you should love your enemies (Matthew 5:44; Luke 6:27, 35).
The standard of Jesus is even higher than that of the Old Testament (Matthew 5:27-28). Love is the fulfillment of the law (Romans 13:10). If you love other human beings you won’t violate their rights, especially the rights of the under-privileged, just because you want to satisfy yourself.
Even in the New Testament, God’s concern for the widows is not in doubt. “Take care of any widow who has no one else to care for her. But if she has children or grandchildren, their first responsibility is to show godliness at home and repay their parents by taking care of them. This is something that pleases God” (1Timothy 5:3-4 NLT).
In verse 16, the Bible adds: “If a woman who is a believer has relatives who are widows, she must take care of them and not put the responsibility on the church. Then the church can care for the widows who are truly alone” (NLT).
Check your life, have you violated the rights of anyone especially these special categories of people I have mentioned? You have to repent and make amends today.
7. Never cheat. Avoid sharp practices. Don’t take short cuts; short cuts will end up cutting you short! And I am talking in all respects, including finances and morality, in your marriage, business, office, neighbourhood, and so on. If you cheat, you’ll live perpetually in the fear of being found out! Imagine somebody buying and selling stolen goods, expired or substandard products, etc. How can he have peace and joy when he is making others unhappy? Don’t do any business or engage in illegitimate activities that put others in trouble or at a disadvantage.
Proverbs 15:6 says “In the house of the righteous is much treasure: but in the revenues of the wicked there is trouble” (NKJV). You need to repent today if you’re involved in such things and ask for God’s forgiveness. That is the only way for you to be divinely blessed. “People who conceal their sins will not prosper, but if they confess and turn from them, they will receive mercy” (Proverbs 28:13 NLT). If you don’t repent and forsake your sin, be sure your sin will find you out one day (Numbers 32:23). God has already declared that there is no peace for the wicked (Isaiah 57:2). Make peace with the Lord today.
It is better to own up and suffer the shame now than to succumb to the terms of the devil’s blackmail. He will still expose you one day.
8. Respect contracts and agreements you willingly entered into and obey government laws. If you’re in the habit of breaking agreements and contracts, you can be sure you’ll run into trouble one day or you’re already in trouble. Agreements and contracts are made to be honoured but some people had no intention of abiding by the terms at all before they entered into such. That is not a good way to live.
Pay your house rents, telephone bills, vehicle licence fees, dues, and debts, obey traffic lights, etc. For God’s sake, why will somebody issue a dud cheque? This is a criminal offence. Why will you not stop when the traffic light stops you? Many people run into trouble when they default in these areas. It is so simple that you don’t need to blame the devil if you run into trouble over such a small matter as this.
Why will somebody transact business with an organization or individual and fail to settle his indebtedness? Must you wait till you are taken to court? How do you think God will bless you when you are causing pain for another person? Unfortunately, some people have this money but just don’t want to pay. They’ll rather divert the money to other businesses or waste it on pleasure while their creditors’ business is suffering. Pay up your debt whether to private businesses or government agencies – debt is debt (Romans 13:6-9). Give to Caesar what belongs to Caesar (Matthew 22:21). “Come to terms quickly with your enemy before it is too late and you are dragged into court, handed over to an officer, and thrown in jail. I assure you that you won’t be free again until you have paid the last penny” (Matthew 5:25-26 NLT).
9. Don’t rebel against authorities. At home, at work, in school, etc., subordinate yourself to your supervisors or superiors. Those in authorities – spiritual and temporal – are God’s servants, so rebelling against them amounts to rebelling against God. God will punish every rebellion. Don’t blame any demon when you are reaping the reward of your rebellion against authorities. Submit to the authorities God has placed you under and stay out of trouble (1 Peter 2:13-21; Romans 13:1-7).
The only reason to disobey authorities is when the authorities have gone against God or demand you to do what violates the Word of God or the will of God for your life. In that case, you should obey God rather than men. “But Peter and the apostles replied, ‘We must obey God rather than any human authority’” (Acts 5:29 NLT).
10. Control your tongue. Proverbs 21:23 says, “If you keep your mouth shut, you will stay out of trouble” (NLT). A man who does not say anything, you can’t misquote him! Hardly will anyone be in trouble for saying nothing. People are usually in trouble for saying the wrong thing or for saying more than what is necessary. Know what to say and know when to stop. Don’t let your mouth put you in trouble! “The talk of fools is a rod for their backs, but the words of the wise keep them out of trouble” (Proverbs 14:3 NLT).
A wise man does not say all that is in his heart. It is a foolish man or immature person that says it as he sees it and says all he knows carelessly. “You are snared by the words of your mouth; you are taken by the words of your mouth.” (Proverbs 6:2 NKJV).Jesus warned that by the word of your mouth you are justified and by the word of your mouth you are condemned (Matthew 12:37).
It was the mouth of the Amalekite who claimed to have killed Saul and came to tell David that killed him. David told him, “Your blood is on your own head, for your own mouth has testified against you, saying, ‘I have killed the LORD’s anointed.’” (2 Samuel 1:16 NKJV).
A similar fate befell the sons of Rimmon the Beerothite, Rechab, and Baanah, who also killed Saul’s son, Ishbosheth and brought his head to David. David commanded his young men, to execute them (2 Samuel 4:4-12 NKJV). Control your tongue – the mouths of those two brothers killed them!
Be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to get angry (James 1:19). Control your tongue when you’re feeling angry. Don’t speak when you’re feeling angry – you’re most likely going to put yourself in trouble because you’ll say what you’ll later regret. The ability to control your tongue is an indication of spiritual maturity. “We all make many mistakes, but those who control their tongues can also control themselves in every other way” (James 3:2 NLT).
11. Mind your business. Don’t get involved in matters that don’t concern you. Be careful not to be drawn into a problem that doesn’t concern you. Don’t be too eager to support a camp when you get anywhere or stand a witness or a judge. A man approached Jesus to tell his brother to give him his share of their father’s inheritance but Jesus refused to be drawn into that. He said, “Man, who made Me a judge or an arbitrator over you?” (Luke 12:14 NKJV). He knew he was not a judge over them. He had no anointing for that! He came to save souls not to share family inheritance!
In 2 Chronicles 35:20-24, King Josiah, a good king, died prematurely because he interfered in a war that didn’t concern him. Despite King Neco of Egypt’s assurance that he wasn’t his target, Josiah and his army marched out to fight him, and in the process, the enemy archers hit him with their arrows and wounded him. He later died.
Know what concerns you and what doesn’t concern you. If you get involved and you get yourself into trouble, it’s your fault. “This should be your ambition: to live a quiet life, minding your own business and working with your hands, just as we commanded you before” (1 Thessalonians 4:11 NLT). 2 Thessalonians 3:11-12 also warns believers not to be going around interfering in or meddling in other people’s business but settle down, get to work and earn their own living.
After Jesus had told Peter how he would die, Peter asked Jesus, “Lord, what about him?” – referring to the disciple Jesus loved, believed to be John. Jesus replied to him “If I want him to live until I come back, that is not your business. You follow me” (John 21:22 NCV). Mind your business.
12. Control your emotions. Don’t let your emotions override your sense of judgment. Don’t let your emotions be the major determining factor making. Be led by the Spirit of God. Those who are led by the Spirit of God are the sons of God (Romans 8:14). Emotions are not reliable; they keep changing. Now you feel good and based on that you agree to a business deal and the next hour you don’t feel good again. What happens to the contract you signed when you were feeling good? Living based on your feelings or emotions is a very low level of living. Listen to the Spirit of God and save yourself the trouble emotions can put you in. That is the genesis of many people’s problems today.
Conclusion: As I said earlier, not all problems are demonic in nature. Therefore, prayer is not the panacea for such problems. All you need to get out of some problems or avoid some troubles is the application of the word of God to deal with the trouble. That is what wisdom is about – the application of the Word of God to solve life’s problems. Stop blaming the devil for your own lack of wisdom; be wise today. If you apply these few points I have highlighted in this piece, I am sure you won’t be a victim of avoidable troubles in Jesus’ name.
If you are not born again, you need to give your life to Jesus now. I urge you to take the following steps: *Admit you are a sinner and you cannot save yourself and repent of your sins. *Confess Jesus as your Lord and Saviour. *Renounce your past way of life – your relationship with the devil and his works. *Invite Jesus into your life. *As a mark of seriousness to mature in the faith, start attending a Bible-believing and Bible-teaching church. There they will teach you how to grow in the Kingdom of God.
Kindly say this prayer now: O Lord God, I come unto you today. I know I am a sinner and I cannot save myself. I believe that Jesus is the Son of God who died on the cross to save me and resurrected the third day. I repent of my sins and confess Jesus as my Lord and Saviour. I surrender my life to Jesus now and invite Him into my heart. By this prayer, I know I am saved. Thank you, Jesus, for saving me and making me a child of God.
I believe you have said this prayer from your heart. Congratulations! You will need to join a Bible-believing and Bible-teaching church in your area where they will teach you how to live your new life in Christ Jesus. I pray that you flourish like the palm tree and grow like the cedar of Lebanon. May you grow into Christ in all things and become all God wants you to be. I will be glad to hear from you. The LORD be with you.
T. O. Banso is the President, Cedar Ministry International, Abuja, Nigeria.
Phone No: +2348155744752, +2348033113523
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