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Stress

Stress

Jesus Christ was constantly under pressure. Because of His popularity – people always wanted to be around Him. He had to seek out times for personal privacy. Other people repeatedly misunderstood Him, criticized Him, ridiculed Him, and tried to kill Him. He had an enormous amount of stressful situations in His life, but He was never stressed.

As we look at the life of Jesus, we discover that He remained at peace under pressure. He was never in a hurry. He was always at ease. He had calmness about His life. Therefore, if Jesus is in us and controlling our life, with His grace and Spirit, we should be the same. Why aren’t we? Let’s look at Jesus for the answer.

John 14:6 Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.

First of all, Jesus knew who He was! This is critically important, because if you don’t know who you are – you will let other people pressure you into being somebody you’re not. A lot of stress in life comes from wearing masks. We try to be somebody we’re not. People have expectations of us and we try to live up to others expectations rather than being what God intended us to be. We are not to live by our flesh. But what we need to figure out who we are in God’s sight and fulfill His purpose. That will greatly reduce stress.

So, who are you? If you are in Christ Jesus, you can declare, “I am a child of God. I am not an accident. I was put on earth for a purpose. I am deeply loved by God. I am completely accepted by God. He has a plan for my life and He says I am valuable – that I am significant. This is not positive thinking, but the Truth.

1 Peter 2:9-10 But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. Once you were not a people, but now you are God’s people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.

Be this person instead of the world’s definition of success.

Secondly, Jesus knew who He was trying to please. It was His Father. We can’t please everybody, so we might as well please the most important person – God.

Jesus said, John 5:30 “I can do nothing on my own. As I hear, I judge, and my judgment is just, because I seek not my own will but the will of him who sent me.”

Likewise, Jesus tells us, Matthew 6:33-34 But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.

This is a great promise. It means that if we focus on one thing – seeking and pleasing God – it will simplify our life.

If it is God and God alone that we are dedicated to – He will take care of us – we will always be doing the right thing – we need not worry about life or what anybody else thinks or says about us. Living by this command will relieve a lot of stress in our life.

Thirdly, Jesus knew where He was from and where He was going. He knew what He wanted to accomplish in His life.

John 8:14 Jesus answered, “Even if I do bear witness about myself, my testimony is true, for I know where I came from and where I am going, but you do not know where I come from or where I am going.

Every day we either live our life by priorities or we live our life by pressures. We either let God decide what is important in our life or else we will let other people tell us what is most important in our life. We need to set priorities or we will live by pressures.

Have you ever been lost—you didn’t know where you were? It seems to be a crazy habit of man that when he loses his way he doubles his speed. It’s like an Air Force pilot in World War II who flew out over the Pacific. When he radioed in, the controller asked, “Where are you?” The pilot replied, “I don’t know, but I’m making record time!” A lot of people are like that: they are speeding through life but they don’t know where they are headed. They are distracted by everything and go that way for a short time until something else gets their attention.

Some people tried to distract Jesus from where He was going by begging Him to stay with them.

Luke 4:42-43 And when it was day, he departed and went into a desolate place. And the people sought him and came to him, and would have kept him from leaving them, but he said to them, “I must preach the good news of the kingdom of God to the other towns as well; for I was sent for this purpose.”

Knowing God is who we are trying to please and doing what He wants will reduce the stress from demands others try to place on our lives.

That brings up the fourth thing Jesus did. Jesus always kept right on doing what He knew God had told Him to do. Jesus was determined, persistent, and He concentrated His efforts.

Luke 19:10For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.”

Have you ever been in a situation where there seems to be too much to do? You seemed overwhelmed. I’ve been there. Someone has said, “Inch by inch, life’s a synch – yard by yard, life is hard.” We can’t do everything. We need to delegate some things to others and let them accomplish the task their way. That is why we have directors of different ministries in this church. One person cannot do it all. When we concentrate our efforts – we are more effective.

Jesus Christ did not let interruptions prevent Him from concentrating on His goal. He did not allow other people to make Him tense or stressed or irritated. He concentrated on the task at hand—the purpose God gave Him.

Fifthly, and most importantly, Jesus often got up early in the morning and went and prayed. Mark 1:35 And rising very early in the morning, while it was still dark, he departed and went out to a desolate place, and there he prayed.

Prayer is a gigantic stress-reliever. It is how we tell God about our anxieties and how we get His peace and instructions. No matter how busy Jesus got – He made it a practice to spend time alone with the Father. If Jesus made time for prayer when He was busy – how much more do you and I need to take time and pray!

A quiet time, getting alone with God, is a decompression chamber for life’s stress. Therefore, if we are stressing, we are not praying.

Psalm 46:10 “Be still, and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!”

Many of our problems come from our inability to sit still. We just don’t know how to be quiet and listen to God. Most of us don’t like to “be still”. We want to tell God what we want and be on the move. If we try to sit and hear God, our mind is muddled with anxiety about all the things we need to accomplish, or the enemy interferes with fantasies or fears to keep us from hearing God. So we quit having a quiet time with God. This is a big mistake. We need to start our morning with prayer. Jesus did. Then throughout the day we need to continue communicating with God, especially listening for His voice saying, “This is the way, walk in it.”

Sixthly, Jesus said to His disciples: Mark 6:31 And he said to them, “Come away by yourselves to a desolate place and rest a while.” For many were coming and going, and they had no leisure even to eat.

They were busy. People were coming and going. The crowds were getting bigger. Notice that Jesus didn’t say to them, “Pick up the pace. Work harder; we have got to keep up.” No, He said, “Come away and rest for a while.”

Jesus looked at His disciples and said, “You need a break today. You need to get some rest. Let’s take some time off.” So they got in a boat, rowed to the other side of the lake, and went out to the desert to rest, leaving the needy crowd behind.

One reason why Jesus could handle stress is that He knew how to relax. He frequently went either to the mountains or to the desert just to get away from it all and talk to His Father.

Rest in life is not optional. In fact, rest is so important that God included it in the Ten Commandments. He commanded man to rest one day a week from his labors and spend it with God. That day of rest, called Sabbath, is God’s gift to man. Jesus explained, Mark 2:27 And he said to them, “The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath.” 

The Sabbath was made for man because God knows that our body, soul, and spirit need periodic breaks.

Lastly, Jesus said: Matthew 11:28-30 Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”

Christ did not say, “Come to Me and I will give you more guilt, more stress, and more worries,” Jesus said, “I will to give you rest. That is a promise. He will give us rest if we come to Him.

All of us carry burdens around in life – some of them are heavy – some of them are awkward – some of them hurt. They are too stressful to carry alone. But Jesus has promised us that if we come to Him – take His yoke – we will find rest for our souls; that is, our mind, will, and emotions. The burdens may remain, but they will be lighter because we will not be carrying them alone.

Psalm 121:1-2 I lift up my eyes to the hills. From where does my help come? My help comes from the LORD, who made heaven and earth.

Our help comes from someone who can do it all! Someone whose wisdom is not wanting. Someone whose power is not puny. Someone whose love is not limited or conditional.

Jesus can do what He claims; not only save us from our sins, but also soothe our hearts and minds. He is God. He can do anything. He does nothing but good for us.

Therefore, Philippians 4:6-7 do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and petition with thanksgiving present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

The peace of God is what enabled Corrie Ten Boom to say after being in a German prison camp, "There is no pit so deep that God is not deeper still."

Therefore, take your burdens to Jesus. Give Him your whole life. Believe that God can do what He says He can do. Trust Him! When we do, anxiety will leave, stress will go. Instead of fretting, pray and praise with thanksgiving as you present your requests to God. He will bless us with peace when we come to Him in faith.

Sir George Adam Smith tells how he and his guide were climbing the Weisshorn in the Swiss Alps. It was stormy and they were making their climb on the sheltered side of the peak. When they reached the summit, they were filled with the exhilaration. Sir George forgot about the fierce winds coming up the other side of the mountain. He leaped up and was nearly blown over the edge to the glacier below! The guide grabbed hold of him and exclaimed: "On your knees, sir. You are safe here only on your knees!"

We all go through periods of stress and strain. The storms of life will blow us over the edge, too. The Holy Spirit grabs us and reminds us that the only safe place in this life is on our knees.

In God’s presence, there is peace. Jesus is the Way, the Truth, and the Life. He is the Light of the world. By following Him, we will walk in the pathway of peace, no matter what stresses of life are around us.

If you don’t know this peace, you can today. Believe and confess that Jesus Christ is the Son of God who atoned for your sin on the cross. Repent of your sin and give your life to Jesus in baptism. He will wash away your guilt and sin and give you a new life, born of the Holy Spirit. Stress will be gone. Peace that passes understanding will be yours.