Archive for March, 2012


My Daddy taught me not to waste. He would yell at us to close the door, turn out the lights, clean my plate. He so impressed that quality upon me that I echoed his words to my children. Something about waste bothers us. We would never volunteer to pay $100 for a McDonald’s Happy Meal. No, that would be a waste!

To understand the radical work of the Gospel, we must understand that the Gospel runs counter to everything that man is taught. The Gospel is opposed to every rational thing that we teach our children. The core concept that is most repulsive to us is seen in John 12. But before we dwell upon the Gospel and “waste”, I want us to see what other things can block the power of the Gospel from our lives. This will lead us into a deeper understanding of the power of the Gospel for our everyday lives. This will open the Gospel to us and it will drive our discipleship.

The Gospel is “Death with a view to increase”. Discipleship is “gaining by trading”. Fruitfulness is the result of living the Gospel. We are not talking of your own fruitfulness, like looking at your garden and admiring your green thumb. We are speaking of fruit that comes from gaining the life of Jesus Christ. Fruit comes from Him and our willingness to give everything to Him.

John 12:24 Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit.

A grain of wheat has life in it, but it abides alone. It has the power to impart life to others, but to do so it must be buried in death.

2 Corinthians 4:11-12 For we who live are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh. So death is at work in us, but life in you.

Is Life at work in You? Are you experiencing the Life that is in Jesus Christ? Do you ache when you spend a day without a word from Him? Do you miss not spending time in prayer and fellowship with Him? If His life is at work in you, you know it. If it is not, perhaps you have become hardened to the Gospel. Perhaps you will see yourself in John 12, and God will speak to you this morning, calling you to repent, calling you to waste your life for the sake of Jesus Christ.

John 12 is a chapter about Life and Death, Light and Darkness, Man’s Wisdom vs. God’s Wisdom. At the beginning we see Lazarus who came back to life from the dead. He is the testimony of what a Christian is to be. In the middle we see people who want to see Jesus, but they are blind, their hearts are darkened. At the end we see a lonely Jesus talking to a group of people who just don’t get Him:

John 12:44-50 And Jesus cried out and said, “Whoever believes in me, believes not in me but in him who sent me. And whoever sees me sees him who sent me. I have come into the world as light, so that whoever believes in me may not remain in darkness. If anyone hears my words and does not keep them, I do not judge him; for I did not come to judge the world but to save the world. The one who rejects me and does not receive my words has a judge; the word that I have spoken will judge him on the last day. For I have not spoken on my own authority, but the Father who sent me has himself given me a commandment—what to say and what to speak. And I know that his commandment is eternal life. What I say, therefore, I say as the Father has told me.”

There is light in the words of Christ. There is Life in the Words of Christ. But our hearts are easily hardened to the power of Christ and His Gospel. Our eyes are easily dulled to witness the power of the Gospel.

Let’s see how our hearts can become hard, and our eyes become dull:

There are three people seen in John 12. There are the Disciples, who supposedly follow Jesus. There are the Greeks who want to see Jesus. There are the Pharisees who despise Jesus. Finally, there is a solitary woman named Mary, and our attention will be drawn to her in a moment.

1. The Greeks

Now among those who went up to worship at the feast were some Greeks. So these came to Philip, who was from Bethsaida in Galilee, and asked him, “Sir, we wish to see Jesus.” Philip went and told Andrew; Andrew and Philip went and told Jesus. And Jesus answered them, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. Whoever loves his life loses it, and whoever hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life. If anyone serves me, he must follow me; and where I am, there will my servant be also. If anyone serves me, the Father will honor him. (Joh 12:20-26)

The Greeks wanted to see Jesus. They made a big deal about seeing him. As if they were important and were worth an audience with Him. The fact that they used intermediaries to see Jesus indicates they were men of station and means. In the oriental world important people would always use intermediary agents. As important men they would never go directly to Jesus. They required an introduction.

  • Man’s Status is not an element of the Gospel.
  • Only Dying Slaves have Status with God

Jesus answered Philip and Andrew’s request by referring to His approaching Glory.

John 12:23 And Jesus answered them, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified.”

His glory is not based upon His status or rank, but simply upon His death. Jesus answered their request with a grain of wheat, and how it must die to bear fruit. If anyone wants to see Jesus, they must hate their life and their status, and follow Him as a slave, a person with no status.

God will honor all those who hate this life and follow Jesus as a slave.

2. The Pharisees & the Crowd

One more time Jesus speaks of glory.

“Now is my soul troubled. And what shall I say? ‘Father, save me from this hour’? But for this purpose I have come to this hour. Father, glorify your name.” Then a voice came from heaven: “I have glorified it, and I will glorify it again.” (Joh 12:27-28)

And the crowd heard the voice of God. Jesus said further, When I am lifted up from the earth, I will draw all people to myself.”

But the people didn’t understand. They said the Law teaches that Christ will abide forever. How could the Son of Man die? Their eyes were blind to Jesus. Their hearts were hardened to Jesus being the Messiah. The Pharisees and the crowd could not see Jesus as Lord because they were too focused on their standing, and what they thought should be the standing of the Messiah.

The word spoken by the prophet Isaiah might be fulfilled: “Lord, who has believed what he heard from us, and to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?” Therefore they could not believe. For again Isaiah said, “He has blinded their eyes and hardened their heart, lest they see with their eyes, and understand with their heart, and turn, and I would heal them.” Isaiah said these things because he saw his glory and spoke of him. Nevertheless, many even of the authorities believed in him, but for fear of the Pharisees they did not confess it, so that they would not be put out of the synagogue; for they loved the glory that comes from man more than the glory that comes from God. (Joh 12:38-50)

The Pharisees could not see the Glory of God because they loved the glory of man. They put their own concepts of standing and status before God’s. They could not see the glory of God hanging on the cross. It was a foreign concept to them. It kept their eyes blind and their hearts hard.

Do you seek man’s glory? Do you like the admiration of men? Does it bother you when men think bad of you, or look down on you?

Is standing important to you? Do position, influence and power matter to you? If you answered even a tiny ‘yes’ to any of those things, you might not understand the Gospel. Your eyes might be blind to the power of the Gospel. Your heart might be hardened to the power of the Gospel.

But the real test of whether the Gospel is impacting your life is in the third group, the Disciples.

3.  The Disciples

Money and things can harden our heart to the message of the Gospel.

Mark 14:4-9 There were some who said to themselves indignantly, “Why was the ointment wasted like that? For this ointment could have been sold for more than three hundred denarii and given to the poor.” And they scolded her. But Jesus said, “Leave her alone. Why do you trouble her? She has done a beautiful thing to me. For you always have the poor with you, and whenever you want, you can do good for them. But you will not always have me. She has done what she could; she has anointed my body beforehand for burial. And truly, I say to you, wherever the gospel is proclaimed in the whole world, what she has done will be told in memory of her.”

To show you how hard hearts can get over money, look what Mark records as happening next:

Mark 14:10-11 Then Judas Iscariot, who was one of the twelve, went to the chief priests in order to betray him to them. And when they heard it, they were glad and promised to give him money. And he sought an opportunity to betray him.

Jesus is being honored because He brought Life to a dead man. He raised a dead man to life. Not a sick man, not a comatose man, but a dead rotting in the ground, stinking to high heaven man. Jesus had brought life to a dead man, and all the disciples could worry about was how wasteful this woman was. A woman (Mary) took an alabaster flask of spikenard and used it to anoint the head and feet of Jesus. She even used her hair to wipe his feet. The disciples reacted indignantly, especially Judas. They said this is such a waste, it should have been sold for a year’s worth of wages and given to the poor.

The Gospel is Never “Rational”

What she did was so unusual, that most ‘normal, rational Christians’ would find it a waste. They shake their heads and turn the judgmental faucet on. Jesus reacted with some stern comments. His comments will shed some insight into the Gospel that you and I believe in. I want to unwrap His comments so we can learn the power of the Gospel in our everyday lives.

Why was the ointment wasted like that? Why this Waste?

Waste-apóleia; gen. apōleías, fem. noun from apóllumi , to destroy fully. Used trans. the losing or loss (Matt. 26:8), intrans. perdition, ruin. In the NT, apóleia refers to the state after death wherein exclusion from salvation is a realized fact, wherein  .[1]

In 1 Tim. 6:9 the words ólethros and apóleia occur together referring to those who determine to be rich. In this instance, ólethros refers to the actual physical death of those who desire to be rich by any means such as Judas, Ananias and Sapphira. Apóleia, on the other hand, refers to separation from God Himself in fulfillment of our Savior’s warnings that the rich enter the kingdom of heaven with difficulty (Matt. 19:23, 24; Mark 10:25). [2]

Jesus responds to His blind and hardened disciples:

1. Leave her alone

Jesus issued a stern rebuke to His disciples. Give it up guys! Stop it! You are so wrong Guys. You just don’t get it! Jesus wanted his men to see something amazing about the Gospel. It is a foundational principle of God’s character revealed in the Gospel. It is a principle which must be applied to our life if we are to experience the power of Jesus Christ.

Sometimes we are quick to judge someone, especially because of something they do that seems to be stupid or dumb. God often has a lesson for us to see and understand. God’s ways are not our ways, and we must learn to see God in those moments that seem such a waste.

Have you ever said something or thought something about what someone has done and you say, I know I should say this, or I don’t mean any disrespect… Jesus is telling you to “Leave Her Alone”

2. Why do you trouble her. (Cause her pain)

The disciples probably thought they were something else. They had already argued about who was going to sit at the right hand of Christ. So they thought they were entitled to look down their noses at this poor unfortunate woman.

Jesus said stop causing her pain. Spiritual pride gets in the way of the work of the Spirit. It can cause pain in the body. The idea of this Greek word for cause  is ‘minister’.

  • The disciples were ministering pain to the body.

The Gospel is about Honoring Jesus Christ through your life. You can touch and encourage people and other disciples. You can strengthen others with your words and your actions. But when you allow things to darken your eyes, you can say and do things that bring pain to the body, to other believers. You cause pain to Jesus Christ. He says, why do you trouble her.

3. She has done a beautiful thing to me

Mark 14:6 καλὸν kalon ἔργον ergon  ἠργάσατο ērgasato ἐν en ἐμοί. emoi –A GOOD WORK SHE HAS PERFORMED ON ME

expresses beauty as a harmonious completeness, balance, proportion. Good as to effect or influence, useful, profitable, equivalent to hálas, salt[3]

We are to be salt to this world and to each other. And if we do it to honor Christ, the world will say that is so wasteful.

Here was a woman who wasted her beauty on the beauty of Jesus Christ. Her future as a wife and mother was bound up in that alabaster jar. It was her dowry given for marriage. She considered honoring Jesus so important that she poured out her beauty, her future, her everything upon his dirty feet, his dirty hair.

To give your life to Jesus Christ as a living sacrifice. To give Him your future, your reputation, your desires, and your dreams is a beautiful thing to God. It is considered your obligation as a follower of Jesus Christ. But if you want to do something really beautiful to Jesus, you must waste something. You must do something so ‘irrational’ that even disciples will say, “what a waste.”

4. She did what she could.

This single woman, who a few days before had been scolding Jesus for not coming sooner to heal sick Lazarus. She even blamed Jesus for his death. Now she was so touched by His compassion and love, that she was willing to give Him her future. Here was her dowry, reserved for the day of her betrothal, and now she was willingly pouring it upon her Savior.

She did it willingly, sacrificially, but most importantly, she did it! There was no delay, no hesitation, no doubt. If she had waited but a week, Jesus would have been dead.

Parents, Grandparents, are you doing anything wasteful for your family. Are you doing anything wasteful for God? What you can do should always be a waste. We do not limit our discipleship by what is rational or even prudent. We do what we can. We waste our lives, our possessions for the sake of the gospel.

5. She demonstrated the Gospel.

How did a foolish, wasteful act by an obviously desperate single woman display the Gospel? Why was this seemingly foolish act so important that Jesus said it would be told alongside the Gospel for the rest of time? The Gospel will be proclaimed throughout eternity.

  • She died to her future.
  • She broke the bottle of her substance
  • She poured out her life to be united with Jesus
  • A sweet fragrance covered the Savior and filled the room.

What is waste?

Waste means giving more than necessary. If something costs a dollar and you pay $5, it is a waste. If a pint will be enough to paint, a gallon would be a waste. Waste means you give something too much for something too little. If someone is receiving more than he is worth, that is a waste.

But the action of Mary would go wherever the Gospel is preached. Why? Christ wants all those who respond to the Gospel to waste themselves on Him.

Adoniram Judson

Adoniram Judson labored in Burma in the early 1800’s. He was bright, ambitious, and could have been very successful in his life. Instead, he chose to be a missionary for Jesus Christ.

Life in Burma was beyond hard. This was a ‘hard’ mission field. It was six years before his first convert. The hardships he and his family experienced were deadly.

Adoniram buried two young wives and six young children, victims of the diseases and rigors of Burma. He was imprisoned to the point of starvation and death. He was tortured mercilessly. He labored long hours suffering from fever, headaches, poor eyesight, all due to the conditions he lived in. He had only one furlough in 38 years. After being imprisoned for 17 months, and upon being released experiencing the death of his wife and infant, and hearing of the death of his father, he even suffered a crisis of despair and lost faith.

“God is to me the Great Unknown. I believe in him, but I find him not.[4]

He even dug a grave in the tiger infested jungle and for 30 days would retreat there and contemplate his wasted life. He despaired to the point of desiring death. As God and some Burmese worked to pull him out of his despair, his faith slowly returned. The next year (1831) saw a miraculous outpouring of God’s Holy Spirit as hundred turned to Christ.

  • It took Judson 12 years to make 18 converts.

When Judson began his mission in Burma, he set a goal of translating the Bible and founding a church of 100 members before his death. When he died, he left the Bible, 100 churches, and over 8,000 believers.

Adoniram Judson “hated his life in this world” and was a “seed that fell into the ground and died.” In his sufferings “he filled up what was lacking in Christ’s afflictions” in unreached Burma. Therefore his life bore much fruit and he lives to enjoy it today and forever. He would, no doubt, say: It was worth it.

In the world’s view, giving yourself to Christ and serving as a Pastor or a Missionary is a waste of ability. If someone of great natural ability surrenders that to serve the Lord, his friends will say “such a waste”.

Are you experiencing the power of the Gospel? Are you more in love with Jesus today than last year, or even 20 years ago? Would He say you have done a beautiful thing for Him? Would He say you have done what you could?

What are you willing to waste for the sake of Jesus Christ?

Don’t let your love of money harden you. Don’t let your love of status or reputation blind you. Don’t let men influence you as to what is proper. Do you want to see the glory of Jesus Christ? Do you want to hear Him say, “You did what you could”? Then ask Him what you can waste for Him.

John 12:36 While you have the light, believe in the light, that you may become sons of light.” 


[1] Spiros Zodhiates, The Complete Word Study Dictionary – New Testament, (Chattanooga, TN: AMG Publishers, 1993), WORDsearch CROSS e-book, 246.
[2] Spiros Zodhiates, The Complete Word Study Dictionary – New Testament, (Chattanooga, TN: AMG Publishers, 1993), WORDsearch CROSS e-book, 246.
[3] Spiros Zodhiates, The Complete Word Study Dictionary – New Testament, (Chattanooga, TN: AMG Publishers, 1993), WORDsearch CROSS e-book, 814.
[4] Anderson, To the Golden Shore, 398-399.
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God desires for you to have daily evidence of your Salvation. He desires us to know it in our heart, our soul and our strength. His desire is that you live each day as a devoted follower of Jesus Christ. We can see how this is possible at church, even though church can become a distraction to following Jesus Christ. After all, we sing songs about Jesus and we pretend to listen to sermons about Jesus.But what about in the parking lot, on Monday morning, when the pressures and stresses of life start to bombard us? How does Jesus relate to real life? This is where discipline comes into our Christian walk. We must discipline ourselves to bring Jesus Christ into every situation we face. In fact, we must discipline ourselves to view every situation from the Gospel perspective.

Paul said: I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. 1 Corinthians 2:2

Do You Have Stress in Your Life?

Why? Jesus promised us rest…

Matthew 11:28 Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.

The writer of Hebrews says there is a promise of entering God’s rest, but bemoaned the fact that not every Christian enters…

Hebrews 4:1-2 Therefore, while the promise of entering his rest still stands, let us fear lest any of you should seem to have failed to reach it. For good news came to us just as to them, but the message they heard did not benefit them, because they were not united by faith with those who listened.

These were not heathen Gentiles. These were faithful Jews, God’s chosen. They had seen His Salvation at the Red Sea. They had covenanted with Moses to follow the Lord. But something happened, and they were overthrown in the wilderness by their stresses.

I believe the Gospel has the Power of Rest for Stressed Christians.

In Paul’s day, being a Christian meant being a disciple. It meant giving everything up. It meant losing family, friends, and possessions. It meant the threat of losing your life. We have lost that perspective in Culturally Christian Bible Belt America.

The Gospel has power for our lives, but it is conditional.

1 Corinthians 15:1-2 Now I would remind you, brothers, of the gospel I preached to you, which you received, in which you stand, and by which you are being saved, if you hold fast to the word I preached to you— unless you believed in vain.

“You are being saved” pictures an ongoing process whereby you are the recipient of God’s salvation. You are the one being acted upon. However, you can block the power of the Gospel by failing to take hold of the Word. Κατέχω (Katecho) does not mean to take hold of something in a casual way. It means to take hold of something as if you were making it your own, (to hold fast, keep secure, keep firm possession of). Like holding on to a bar of gold. You clutch it close to you, you make it yours, and no one is going to pry it from your hands.

Jesus explain the importance of “holding fast” in the parable of the soils and the seeds:

Luke 8:15 As for that in the good soil, they are those who, hearing the word, hold it fast in an honest and good heart, and bear fruit with patience.

When you give your life to Jesus knowing that you could lose your life, you take hold of His Word as though your life depends upon it!

If you are not holding fast to the Gospel, the chances are that your belief in Christ had a selfish motivation, and was for your personal benefit, and not because you needed Jesus, and needed His life to be yours. If you have not been holding fast to the Gospel of Christ, if you have failed to make it your life, perhaps you should “examine yourselves, to see whether you are in the faith.”

2 Corinthians 13:5 Examine yourselves, to see whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Or do you not realize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you?—unless indeed you fail to meet the test!

Stress – What is it?

Dr. Nick Hall (expert in psychobiology) conducts a seminar called “Stress and Disease” He gives a humorous example of one coping skill for dealing with job stress.

When you have had one of those TAKE THIS JOB AND SHOVE IT days, try this. On your way home after work, stop at your pharmacy and go to the section where they have thermometers. You will need to purchase a rectal thermometer made by *Q-Tip. Be very sure that you get this brand. When you get home, lock your doors, draw the drapes, and disconnect the phone so you will not be disturbed during your therapy. Change to very comfortable clothing, such as a sweat suit and lie down on your bed. Open the package containing the thermometer and remove the thermometer and carefully place it on the bedside table so that it will not become chipped or broken.Take the written material that accompanies the thermometer and as you read it you will notice in small print the statement that “every rectal thermometer made by Q-Tip is PERSONALLY tested.” Now close your eyes and say out loud five times, ‘I am so glad that I do not work in quality control at the Q-Tip Company.’

Practical Definition of Stress.

The basic definition of “stress” is any opposing reaction or force to your own intention that causes strain or tension. Similarly (but not the same), the definition of a problem is an opposing intention or force of some kind. Problems can be solved. A problem does not necessarily cause stress or tension. The main characteristic of a problem that becomes stressful is feeling like we cannot do anything about it. Not all problems are stressful when we feel that we can do something about them, no matter how much or how little.

The full definition of stress is “a problem (or set of problems) that we do not feel that we can solve or do something effective to handle.”

In other words, you could say “I don’t feel like I can do anything about this problem” or “I feel stressed” and it would mean the same thing. Take anything in your life that feels stressful to you. Apply this definition to it and see if it fits. Is it something you do not have a real solution for? Let’s look at it another way. Do you feel stressed by situations or problems that you have a good solution for? Probably not!

Stress and Children – Causes
  • being away from home (ages 5 to 7)
  • fear of wetting themselves (ages 5 to 7)
  • worry about getting along with peers
  • worry about school work
  • fear of being chosen last on any team
  • fear of being different from others
  • worry about changing bodies (ages 10 to 12)

Other major sources of stress:

  • divorce of parents
  • move to new town or city
  • being held back in school
  • serious illness
  • parent being called to war
Signs and Symptoms of Child Stress
  • Physical—headaches, stomach aches, vomiting, wetting
  • Emotional—fear, irritability, sadness
  • Behavioral—crying, nervous tics, losing temper
  • Interactions with others—withdrawing, teasing or bullying, extreme
Stress and Teens
  • The pressure of expectations from self and from others
  • The pressure at school from teachers, coaches,
  • The pressures due to grades and homework
  • Strained relationship with classmates
  • Strained relationship with parents/siblings
  • Physical and biological changes in the body during adolescence
  • Negative feelings about oneself/low self-esteem
  • Heated arguments with or between parents
  • Financial problems in the family
  • Tragedy in the family (e.g. death, divorce, cancer, AIDS)
  • Break up with boyfriend/girlfriend
  • Separation or divorce of parents
  • High crime rate in the living environment/neighborhood
  • Moving to a new surroundings
  • Changing to a new school
  • Horrifying societal events like 9/11 terrorist attacks or communal war
  • Failing to achieve something desired
Signs and Symptoms of Teen Stress

Signs of teen stress include withdrawal; crying; picking fights; loss of focus and diminishing accomplishment; change in eating or sleeping patterns, particularly loss of appetite and disturbed sleep; moodiness or anger. Extreme stress can lead to thoughts of suicide.

Stress and Adults
Latest Results from the American Psychological Association:
  • 32% report extreme stress
  • Nearly one in five (17%) reach their highest stress level 15 or more days per month.
  • Almost half (48%) say their stress level has risen over the last five years.
  • Stress didn’t come as a surprise. Most participants indicated that stress is a natural part of life.
  • But the survey shows that participants are suffering physically, emotionally, professionally, and personally as a result of stress.
  • Most participants — 82% — say they manage their stress well. But they also admit that stress causes problems with their physical and mental health, relationships, and work.
  • More than three out of four participants — 77% — said that within the previous month, they had had physical problems due to stress.
  • Those problems included fatigue, headache, upset stomach, muscle tension, change in appetite, teeth grinding, change in sex drive, and feeling dizzy.
  • Almost as many participants — 73% — reported stress-related psychological symptoms in the previous month, including irritability, anger, nervousness, lack of energy, and feeling on the verge of tears.
  • Stress kept nearly half of participants — 48% — awake at night during the previous month. They reported losing 21 hours of sleep during that month.
  • Almost half of participants — 43% — said they had overeaten or eaten unhealthy foods because of stress in the previous month. Candy and chocolate were their most popular comfort foods.
  • Two-thirds of smokers said they smoked more when they were stressed, and 17% of drinkers said they drank too much within the previous week because of stress.
  • Work: 74%
  • Money: 73%
  • Workload: 66%
  • Children: 64%
  • Family responsibilities: 60%
  • Health concerns: 55%
  • Health problems affecting spouse, partner, or children: 55%
  • Health problems affecting parents or other family members: 53%
  • Housing costs (e.g. rent or mortgage): 51%
  • Intimate relationships: 47%
Stress and Health
  • Most participants — 82% — say they manage their stress well. But they also admit that stress causes problems with their physical and mental health, relationships, and work.
  • More than three out of four participants — 77% — said that within the previous month, they had had physical problems due to stress.
  • Those problems included fatigue, headache, upset stomach, muscle tension, change in appetite, teeth grinding, change in sex drive, and feeling dizzy.
  • Almost as many participants — 73% — reported stress-related psychological symptoms in the previous month, including irritability, anger, nervousness, lack of energy, and feeling on the verge of tears.
Losing Sleep, Eating Badly
  • Stress kept nearly half of participants — 48% — awake at night during the previous month. They reported losing 21 hours of sleep during that month.
  • Almost half of participants — 43% — said they had overeaten or eaten unhealthy foods because of stress in the previous month. Candy and chocolate were their most popular comfort foods.
  • Two-thirds of smokers said they smoked more when they were stressed, and 17% of drinkers said they drank too much within the previous week because of stress.
Sources of Stress
  • Work: 74%
  • Money: 73%
  • Workload: 66%
  • Children: 64%
  • Family responsibilities: 60%
  • Health concerns: 55%
  • Health problems affecting spouse, partner, or children: 55%
  • Health problems affecting parents or other family members: 53%
  • Housing costs (e.g. rent or mortgage): 51%
  • Intimate relationships: 47%

Biblical Lessons for Dealing With Stress

1. How Did Jesus Handle Stress?

Jesus in Matthew 11 was facing what some would consider “Stressful Problems”

  1. He went preaching in the cities where his disciples lived.
  2. John the Baptist sent his disciples to ask if Jesus was the one. Jesus did not give a straight answer, but said, tell John what I have done, and tell him “Blessed are the ones who are not offended in me.”
  3. The crowd around Jesus did not understand what he said, Jesus said something else harsh, “from the days of John the Baptist until now the Kingdom of heaven has suffered violence, and the violent take it by force.”
  4. Jesus gets on the crowd for not understanding His message.
  5. Then he lambasts the cities where he had been preaching and doing miracles, because they had refused to understand His message. He said it would be more tolerable for Sodom on the Day of Judgment than it would be for them.

So at the height of these stresses – of John doubting Him, his followers doubting Him, and the cities where He did miracles doubting Him, Jesus said an amazing thing.

MATT 11:25 – “I thank you Father, Lord of Heaven and Earth, that you have hidden these things for the wise and understanding and revealed them to children; yes, Father, for such was your gracious will. All things have been handed over to me by my Father…

Come unto me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”

Jesus was facing some stressful situations that would appear beyond His control. He reacted by calling God Lord of heaven and earth, and then thanking God for giving Him babies instead of wise adults to start His church. Then He said, by the way, God has turned over everything to me. I am the boss, and if you doubt me, I lay down this challenge. Lay down your burdens and I promise you rest. But if you want more, you need to study and learn from me, and if you really follow me, your soul will find rest!

Jesus said there are two rests, one promised upon receiving Him, and one discovered as you live your life yoked to Him. The second rest is deeper and more satisfying, effecting your mind, will and emotions. In other words, no matter the problems you are facing, if you face them with the one who handles everything, you will not feel stressed!

2. How Did Paul Handle Stress?

1 Corinthians 2:5 that your faith might not rest in the wisdom of men but in the power of God.

2 Corinthians 12:8-10 Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

Paul  could see the importance of the Power of God. He desired it so much, that he welcomed stresses, persecutions, hardships, because they gave him the opportunity to know the power of God in the midst of his weaknesses and stresses.

3. How Did God Try to Teach the Wilderness Jews to Deal with Stress?

Early on in their Journey, the Hebrews faced several stressful problems. They came into the wilderness of Shur, which means a foe lying in wait.

שׁוּר shûr (From H7889); a foe (as lying in wait). This set the stage for what was to come in the early months of their travels in the Sinai. Problems were lying in wait for them, and God wanted to teach them how to respond to stressful situations.

Problems always lie in wait. You can go to work like any other day, and discover that you are out of a job. You can go for a routine check up and be told you need some tests. A simple conversation with a friend or family member can end up in a fight and a wall. There may be a call from the police about your child, or worse, your spouse. Problems happen, and depending upon whether we think we can handle it or not, we feel stressed.

This problem was serious. They needed water. Three days had passed, some were suffering dehydration. Livestock was at the point of death. Suddenly a cry goes up, “look there’s water!” Everyone rushes to it, starts to drink, but something is wrong. This is like the water pools in Egypt that develop after the Nile floods. That water brought disease. This was the same ‘bitter’ water. The people grumbled and Moses cried out. He was thirsty too. He was beginning to stress!

Exodus 15:22-26 Then Moses made Israel set out from the Red Sea, and they went into the wilderness of Shur. They went three days in the wilderness and found no water. When they came to Marah, they could not drink the water of Marah because it was bitter; therefore it was named Marah. And the people grumbled against Moses, saying, “What shall we drink?” And he cried to the LORD, and the LORD showed him a log, and he threw it into the water, and the water became sweet. There the LORD made for them a statute and a rule, and there he tested them, saying, “If you will diligently listen to the voice of the LORD your God, and do that which is right in his eyes, and give ear to his commandments and keep all his statutes, I will put none of the diseases on you that I put on the Egyptians, for I am the LORD, your healer.”

A. God Revealed the Power of His Word.

    • The Word of Life

He gave them a statute and rule, that if they diligently listened to the voice of the Lord, and obeyed His commandments, they would never have any disease that the Egyptians had. God revealed a new name-Jehovah Rophe, Our God who heals. He then led them to Elim, where there were 12 springs and 70 palm trees. A veritable oasis in the wilderness.

You can drink bitter water, and it will not make you sick. All you have to do is believe to the point of obeying. Paul said you will be saved (healed), but all you have to do is hold fast to the Word! God always does our problems one better. His power is simply amazing, and He wants us to enjoy it.

The cure for the bitterness of Life is the Healing power of faith in God and His Word. His Word Is The Tree Of Life!

B. God Revealed the Importance of Rest.

    • The Bread of Life

In the wilderness of Sin, the people grumbled again because they were hungry.

Exodus 16:4 Then the LORD said to Moses, “Behold, I am about to rain bread from heaven for you, and the people shall go out and gather a day’s portion every day, that I may test them, whether they will walk in my law or not.

God told Moses that He was going to rain manna from heaven and that it was going to be a test of whether the Hebrews would walk in God’s Law. How you say? He only gave them six days of food. They were to rest…the seventh day.

The cure for temporal problems is to look to Heaven and learn to rest in the power of God!

C. God Reveals the Rock of Living Water (He is Always with Us)

    • The Water of Life

Ex 17:1-7 the people grumbled again, and this time took up stones to heave at Moses. God revealed the Rock of Living Water.

The cure for doubts about God’s presence and power in the midst of your problems is to come to the Rock and quench your thirst on His Living Water.

The Samaritan woman lived with the daily stress of being hated by the townspeople. She was a sinful woman, the object of abuse and contempt. Then one afternoon, she met the Rock, the Rock who could give her Living Water. Nothing else mattered. The contempt, her scandalous past, her poor reputation. Here was the Rock greater than all that, who could give her Living Water that would never run dry. She gained her life back. She discovered the Savior for all her mistakes, all her failures and all her hopes.

D. God reveals the Altar of Jehovah Nissi

    • The Altar of Victory in Life

Exodus 17:8-9 Then Amalek came and fought with Israel at Rephidim. So Moses said to Joshua, “Choose for us men, and go out and fight with Amalek. Tomorrow I will stand on the top of the hill with the staff of God in my hand.”

Amalek always represents the flesh. And the flesh is constantly at war with God and His children. The chosen men still had to fight, had to bleed, had to die, but the victory was dependent upon God.

One aspect of Victory over the flesh is the need of the Altar. The Altar of Life.

Romans 12:1-2 I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.

The cure for battling the flesh is to die on the altar of the Cross of Christ!

  • The Cross is our Banner-Jehovah Nissi. The Cross is our Victory!

Does God Want us to Stress or Rest?

Can a Disciple truly enjoy Rest, even in the midst of stressful situation? God Promises that we can enter into His Rest:

Hebrews 4:1 Therefore, while the promise of entering his rest still stands, let us fear lest any of you should seem to have failed to reach it.

So there is a Rest, but it is not guaranteed. It is something to be desired and attained. The consequence is being overthrown in the wilderness.

Hebrews 4:6-7 Since therefore it remains for some to enter it, and those who formerly received the good news failed to enter because of disobedience, again he appoints a certain day, “Today,” saying through David so long afterward, in the words already quoted, “Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts.”

Hebrews 4:9-11 So then, there remains a Sabbath rest for the people of God, for whoever has entered God’s rest has also rested from his works as God did from his. Let us therefore strive to enter that rest, so that no one may fall by the same sort of disobedience.

  1. Obey God
  2. Do not harden your heart
  3. Strive to enter
  • The striving is in regards to this flesh. It has a hard time with the idea of FAITH.

Faith Determines our Stress Level

1 Corinthians 15:2 You are also saved by it, if you hold to the message I proclaimed to you—unless you believed for no purpose. HCSB

Paul says it is a fact that you are being saved (Indicative, Passive). You are the recipient of the action; however, this salvation is conditioned upon you actively holding fast to the Gospel message that Paul preached (Indicative, Present). You must do the holding. Otherwise, your belief was in vain, (without purpose, or cause).

It is a circle of FAITH. You are being saved by the power of the Gospel, but you must keep holding on to the message of the Gospel in order for that salvation to stay in effect. This world is corrupt, the enemy is too strong. If you try to find salvation in your own strength, or grow apathetic through the hardness of your heart, you will be overcome; you will not know the power of the Gospel.

As Christians, we must keep the message of the Gospel ever before us, in all we encounter. As soon as we turn away, or forget, or act in our flesh, we will be overcome. The Gospel has power for our lives, but we must desire it, we must embrace it, we must hold fast! Salvation is more than a belief. Salvation is life, life that is transformed by the eternal power of the Gospel of Jesus.

What that means is that you will not know the power of this Gospel until you identify with the Death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

The Death, Burial and Resurrection Conquers Stress

You must daily die to what you want, submit your body to God’s design, and then lean entirely upon Christ for victory.

If Salvation is to be continuous and healing, the Gospel is to be applied to our lives every day.

1. His Dead Body opens God’s Reservoir of Love upon our Life

We face a stressful problem, an impossible situation and we cry out: God, how could you let this happen? This is not fair, this is not right! Bitterness enters, distrust becomes rooted, and we begin to doubt God’s Love for us. We start to see Him as vindictive, judgmental. We see the church that way. We see pastors that way.

How does the Death apply to stress?

Stress is when a problem we face seems larger than what we can handle. The Death is something we embrace every day, in every problem. Through Faith, we believe that God’s Love is upon us, because we are in His Son. We die to what we want and say, “God, your plans are my plans. I lay such and such on the altar. You have your will and way.”

  • I am the LORD your God. (Jehovah Elohim)

2. His Buried Body applies God’s Justice upon our life.

Sometimes stress is because things are not right in our life. There may be addictions that we cannot overcome. There may be situations at work that are not right. Our spouse may be causing problems. Our priorities may be wrong. Life is out of balance, and things are stressful.

Jesus dealt with this world. He dealt with Satan. He dealt with the flesh. He enabled God to declare we are justified even when clothed with the flesh. The peace of Jesus Christ is upon us. He overcame Satan through the power of the Word.

We need to embrace what His buried body represents. God is free to apply His justice to your life. No matter the addiction or the backslidden condition of your heart. When you desire God’s justice upon your body, your life, God will start to work that, because He can. His Kingdom Will can be upon your life, because Jesus dealt with the flesh. Your soul is free to pursue the Spirit of God.

When stress is so bad that your health is affected, give your body to God. Realize the need to be a living sacrifice. Your body is buried, but you still live. However, you do not live for yourself, you live to fulfill God’s pleasure and will. If God wants to use your health to further His pleasure, so be it. You body is a living sacrifice. But perhaps God wants you to deal with things that are not right in your life.

Perhaps a broken relationship is causing stress. Perhaps you are dishonoring a spouse or an authority in your life. Perhaps you are dishonoring your body in some way. Set it right, ask God to bring His justice into your life. Then live as a living sacrifice, ever consumed, but ever living.

  • God is Jehovah Rophe-our healer!

3. His Resurrected Body applies God’s Righteousness to our Life.

What happens when you experience God’s steadfast love, have His justice applied to your life, but there is still this war going on, there is still stress? You feel weak, you feel powerless. You want to give up, stop believing that God can do anything.

This is the hardest test of all. This is the time when you try to hold up the Word, you try to cling to God, but your arms fail, you grow weak, and the stress is overwhelming.

You need to realize that God is strongest when we are weakest. Instead of despair, we reach out; we embrace the Victory that is in Christ. Too often, that victory comes only when we lock arms with other Christians. Hoist the Banner of Christ’s Victory at the altar! We look to the banner, but we must join others at the altar. Some stress is so great that you must humble yourself and reach out to the strength of others.

The Victory of Christ is always joined to the Altar. We die, we are buried, and we share in His Victory with others.

During the early stressful days of their wilderness journey, God revealed three names to His people.

  • God is Jehovah-Nissi!

At the Very, least we should have Sunday set aside where we rest in the Lord. We give all our problems and stresses to Him. We come to the altar and we lift up the name of Jehovah Nissi

Philippians 4:4-7 Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice. Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

For we who have believed do enter into that rest.


And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ. Philippians 1:6

Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice. Philippians 4:4 

I’ve always wondered why Paul would move around so much. The longest he ever stayed in one city was Ephesus (36 months) and Corinth (18 months). Sometimes he stayed only a few weeks. Yet everywhere he went a church began. He and Barbabus were in Antioch of Pisidia for only a couple weeks when they were driven out by persecution. Did the new converts whine about them leaving so soon? Did they bemoan the fact that they would have no ‘Pastor’ to watch over them and teach them? No. Acts 13:52 says, “the disciples were filled with joy and with the Holy Spirit”.

A decision to be a follower of Jesus Christ was different in Paul’s day. When you gave your life to Christ it was life-changing because it immediately affected your life. The Gentiles were so heathen and vile, the Jews so blind, that a Christian’s changed life would stick out. There was the danger of persecution, of rejection from your family. A decision to come to Christ was not a casual thing. You made the choice and your life was changed. You needed the help of other Christians. You prayed together, you studied the Scriptures together. Churches formed as a means of support and encouragement for Christians facing difficult and even hostile situations.

In countries where Christianity is the ‘de facto’ religion, a decision to follow Christ can be motivated by self. In modern Christian America, we want our children to make a decision to trust Christ as their Savior because we can’t bear the thought of them going to Hell. But once they accept Christ, He fades into the background of activities at school. Church becomes an occasional thing, and there is no serious searching of the Scriptures at home. No wonder that 90% of our children head off to college and leave the church entirely. A decision to follow Christ is more a ‘convenience’ issue rather than one which dramatically impacts our life.

In America, there is no urgency to being a Christian. We have become cultural Christians, because there is no need to hold fast to the Gospel of Jesus Christ in order to survive in a hostile environment. Christianity is socially acceptable. Lack of hostility towards Christianity breeds an environment of apathy toward the Power of Jesus Christ. It seems that the only time we seek the power of Jesus is when we face some personal situation like loss of a job or a bad diagnosis.

We live lives that are pretty OK. There is no overwhelming need for the power and protection of Jesus that the first century converts experienced.

Where the Word of God is flourishing and Christians growing today is in hostile environments such as China and Muslim countries. Imagine, the church flourishes in hostile environments. Could that be an indication the Power of God is needed to grow the church?

In Paul’s day, being a Christian meant being a disciple. It meant giving everything up. It meant losing family, friends and possessions. It meant the threat of losing your life. We have lost that perspective in Culturally Christian Bible Belt America.

The Gospel has power for our lives, but it is conditional.

1 Corinthians 15:1-2 Now I would remind you, brothers, of the gospel I preached to you, which you received, in which you stand, and by which you are being saved, if you hold fast to the word I preached to you— unless you believed in vain.

“You are being saved” pictures an ongoing process whereby you are the recipient of God’s salvation. You are the one being acted upon. But you can block the power of the Gospel by failing to take hold of the Word. Κατέχω (Katecho) doesn’t mean to take hold of something in a casual way. It means to take hold of something as if you were making it your own, (to hold fast, keep secure, keep firm possession of). Like holding on to a bar of gold. You clutch it close to you, you make it yours, and no one is going to pry it from your hands.

Jesus explained in the parable of the soils and the seeds:

As for that in the good soil, they are those who, hearing the word, hold it fast in an honest and good heart, and bear fruit with patience. Luke 8:15

When you give your life to Jesus knowing that you could lose your life, you take hold of His Word as though your life depends upon it!

If you are not holding fast to the Gospel, the chances are that your belief in Christ had a selfish motivation, and was for your personal benefit, and not because you needed Jesus, and needed His life to be yours. If you have not been holding fast to the Gospel of Christ, if you have failed to make it your life, perhaps you should “examine yourselves, to see whether you are in the faith”.

Examine yourselves, to see whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Or do you not realize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you?—unless indeed you fail to meet the test! 2 Corinthians 13:5 

Paul was confident that God would finish the work that he started. He knew the power of the Gospel of Jesus Christ! It is the Power of God, power that keeps us because we hold fast to the Gospel. Not because it is convenient, but because it is a necessity to live! Paul left town rejoicing, becasue he left behind a group of believers who NEEDED Jesus to live! And Jesus never forsakes His own!