Preacher's Pulpit by Dr. Joe Tims

Choose to Change #7: Rest over Stress

Matt 11:28

INTRODUCTION

It should be no surprise to you that Christians are not free from the stress.

Ulcers, migraines, high blood pressure, strokes and even cancer are just some of the symptoms that we live in a very stressful world.

The pharmaceutical companies are making a fortune off our stressful misfortune and misinformation.

For thousands of people, their primary concern is stress!

That is also true of Christians.

There is always something to do in the service of the Lord.

Sunday can and is often the busiest day of the week for me and some of you, as well.

All of us have heard 'Christian' workaholics say that they would 'rather burn out for God than rust out!'

Now that may sound good, but let's look at what Jesus said:

(Matt 11:28) "Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest."

I believe that serving the Lord should be the cure, not the cause for a stress filled life!

The challenge is to choose rest over stress.

I. Is Stress Always Harmful?

A. Some stress is healthy.

1. For a person to build muscle in a workout they must exercise against a certain amount of stress.

2. That is true in our lives spiritually as well.

(John 16:33) "These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world."

3. God allows stressful situations to strengthen us, not destroy us!

4. But most of the time, stress is thought of in negative terms.

5. Webster defines stress as "a constraining force or influence...a physical, chemical, or emotional factor that causes bodily or mental tension and may be a factor in disease causation."

B. Prolonged stress, or stress not adequately dealt with can be harmful.

1. The physical dangers of stress.

a. Rearchers have found a direct connection between high cholesterol, high blood pressure and stress.

b. High cholesterol is not just a matter of diet, but it is also a matter of stress!

c. It seems that we can handle short bursts of stress, but the problem is when there is prolonged stressful periods.

2. Prolonged stress can also affect our emotional well being.

(James 1:2 4) "My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations; {3} Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience. {4} But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing."

a. Count it all joy! Do not allow the stressful times to discourage us.

b. The word used here for temptations is the same word used in reference to firing a piece of pottery in the oven.

c. The purpose is to strengthen it; not to break it!

d. When the pottery came out of the oven it was marked as approved; meaning it stood the test and was now ready for service.

e. James tells us that God tests us to prepare us for service.

3. The solution to the stress is two fold:

a. Remove unnecessary stress.

b. Deal positively with unavoidable stress.

II. Causes Of Unnecessary Stress.

A. Lack of purpose.

1. Nothing is quite so stressful as not having or not knowing where we are going.

2. Example: Getting lost in a strange area.

3. This is the importance of having a clearly defined purpose for our lives.

4. Without it, we bring upon ourselves unncessary stress.

B. Unrealistic goals.

1. Goals are important, but they must be realistic.

2. To set goals that are unattainable, will bring on unnecessary stress.

3. Ever hear someone say that they are more exhausted after they return from vacation than before they left?

4. That is because many times we try to pack entirely too much into a two week period of time.

5. Spiritual goals can also create stress for us if they are unrealistic.

6. Devotion times...reading our Bibles...etc.

C. Unresolved anger.

1. Anger is the negative emotion we feel when our expectations are not met.

2. These unfulfilled expectations can range from a traffic light not changing quickly enough to our spouse not giving us the attention we feel we deserve.

3. Anger is usually an indication that s something else is wrong either in attitudes or relationships!

(James 1:19) "Wherefore, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath:"

D. Possessions

1. Materialism is based on our attitude toward money and the things money can buy.

2. Too often we are deceived into thinking that money or possessions can satisfy our needs.

3. Stress comes in two forms:

a. In striving to get more money

b. In striving to pay for the things we cannot afford.

(Luke 12:22 23) "And he said unto his disciples, therefore I say unto you, take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat; neither for the body, what ye shall put on. {23} The life is more than meat, and the body is more than raiment."

III. Choosing Rest Over Stress

A. Our lives are defined by the attitude and choices that we make.

B. The challenge is to choose rest over stress.

C. We need to gain God's perspective on problems.

(James 1:2) "My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations;"

1. James is telling us that our first response to unavoidable stress is should be joy.

2. He is not talking about being silly.

3. Not foolishness, such as "Oh, boy! another trial!"

4. But a calm assurance that God is in control of the situation.

5. We can respond gracefully to the stressful situations that we encounter.

D. We need to live life in the present tense.

1. The name that God gave Himself is the name "I AM".

2. It is not 'I Was" so let's not live in the past with our failures and missed opportunities.

3. It is not 'I Will Be' so let's not worry about the future, with its problems and fears.

(Psa 118:24) "This is the day which the lord hath made; we will rejoice and be glad in it."

E. We need to pay attention to God's command.

(Exo 20:9 11) "Six Days Shalt Thou Labour, and Do All Thy Work: {10} but the Seventh Day Is the Sabbath of the Lord Thy God: in it Thou Shalt Not Do Any Work, Thou, Nor Thy Son, Nor Thy Daughter, Thy Manservant, Nor Thy Maidservant, Nor Thy Cattle, Nor Thy Stranger That Is Within Thy Gates: {11} for in Six Days the Lord Made Heaven and Earth, the Sea, and All That in Them Is, and Rested the Seventh Day: Wherefore the Lord Blessed the Sabbath Day, and Hallowed It."

1. That means we need to take a day off each week.

2. God never intended for us to work seven days a week.

3. A day of rest should not be confused with a day of recreation.

4. We need a day of rest to replenish our physical, emotional, and spiritual resources.

F. We need to spend time with the Lord everyday.

1. Generally, it is good to spend time early in the day.

2. If we don't we will find our time is taken up all too quickly.

3. It is also good to spend some time at the close of each day to reflect upon the day's events.

4. Whatever works best with your schedule is what you should do...but do it.

5. It is impossible to effectively manage stress without spending time with the One who offers the ultimate solution to stress!

(Isa 40:29 31) "He Giveth Power to the Faint; and to Them That Have No Might He Increaseth Strength. {30} Even the Youths Shall Faint and Be Weary, and the Young Men Shall Utterly Fall: {31} but They That Wait upon the Lord Shall Renew Their Strength; They Shall Mount up with Wings as Eagles; They Shall Run, and Not Be Weary; and They Shall Walk, and Not Faint."

CONCLUSION

How do we choose rest over stress? First we must rid ourselves of unnecessary stress.

Second, we must learn how to deal positively with the stress that is unavoidable.

Let's choose to rest in the Lord. (Psa 37:7a) "Rest in the LORD, and wait patiently for him..."