Posts Tagged ‘Hebrews 4’


Hebrews-study-in-contrasts

Hebrews was written by the Holy Spirit to a people who believed they knew Jesus Christ as Savior. Most everyone who read this letter had heard the voice of Jesus, whether in reality or spiritually. Most everyone had made a decision to follow Jesus. All the readers attended church, and probably gave a tithe, said a prayer, read the Old Testament, and took communion. By man’s measure of salvation, they were there, they could stand up and testify they knew they were going to heaven when they died. Some say it is hard to understand, others say it has some passages that are difficult to interpret. Everyone says there are passages that are hard to explain to young Christians. Hebrews is not normally the book given to new believers to study. However, this book is exactly what new believers need. I believe that the writer had young believer’s in mind as he or she penned it. They need to understand this truth, and learn the importance of living in it.

Who-is-the-Christian

This letter is powerful but difficult to understand. Plain but obscure. Pointed yet vague at times. Before we dig deeper into Chapter 4, I must be very honest and blunt with you, for our author is very blunt as well. Most preachers do not preach honestly about what we are going to begin discussing in Chapter 4. They either ignore it, spiritualize it or gloss it over with a thick coat of marine varnish so it appears shiny. I will not gloss it over, and if this truth makes you uncomfortable, a little squirmy, then great. This is what the Holy Spirit wants. In order to grasp the truth of Chapter 4, we need to understand the underlying purpose of Hebrews. Hebrews presents several Contrasts to bring home the truth:

CONTRASTS

A. Hebrews is a Study in Contrasts (differences)

  • „ contrasts-of-hebrewsJesus vs Angels – 1 & 2
  • „ Jesus vs Moses – 3
  • „ Jesus vs Joshua – 4
  • „ Jesus vs the Old Testament High Priest – 5
  • „ Jesus vs Abraham – 6
  • „ Jesus vs Mechizedek – 7
  • „ Jesus vs the Old Covenant – 8
  • „ Jesus vs the Earthly Temple – 9
  • „ Jesus vs earthly sacrifices – 10

THE KEY CONTRAST IS: DO YOU SHARE OR NOT?

B. Those who share in Christ and those who do not
(they have no life, no rest-now and forever)

  • Christ came to bring many sons to Glory-He had to do what was necessary to restore this world to the Glory of God and to bring many sons to God

Christian-heart-issueHebrews 2:10 For it was fitting that he, for whom and by whom all things exist, in bringing many sons to glory, should make the founder of their salvation perfect through suffering.

PROOF THAT HEBREWS IS ABOUT WHETHER YOU SHARE IN CHRIST OR NOT

Hebrews 2:14 Since therefore the children share in flesh and blood, he himself likewise partook of the same things, that through death he might destroy the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil,

  • Christ had to become exactly like us in flesh and blood so that we could share in His Life and victory

Hebrews 3:1 Therefore, holy brothers, you who share in a heavenly calling, consider Jesus, the apostle and high priest of our confession,

  • Through Christ, we share in a heavenly calling, whereby we can hear the Voice of God

Hebrews 3:14 For we have come to share in Christ, if indeed we hold our original confidence firm to the end.

  • Contrasts2We share in Jesus Christ

Hebrews 6:4 For it is impossible, in the case of those who have once been enlightened, who have tasted the heavenly gift, and have shared in the Holy Spirit,

  • We share in the Holy Spirit, and He brings certain assurances with Him.

Hebrews 12:10 For they disciplined us for a short time as it seemed best to them, but he disciplines us for our good, that we may share his holiness.

  • We share His holiness through His discipline

Hebrews 13:16 Do not neglect to do good and to share what you have, for such sacrifices are pleasing to God.

  • We share with others

Hebrews 12:1 We are surrounded by a great cloud of witnesses.

C. How do you know if you share in Christ?

HOW DO YOU RESPOND TO THE WORD OF GOD?

The Writer gives us the Key and it is the Word of God.

I want you to look at something that will at first appear obvious, but then I want to bring it a little closer to your heart:

Hebrews 1:3 He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power. After making purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high, 

Hebrews 11:3 Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that things which are seen were not made of things which do appear.

Right away the author lets us know that all of creation understands the Power of the Word of Christ! You will never realize the power of His Word without faith.

Hebrews 4:2 For unto us was the gospel preached, as well as unto them: but the word preached did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in them that heard it.

Hebrews 4:6 Since therefore it remains for some to enter it, and those who formerly received the good news failed to enter because of disobedience,

Lack of Faith and Disobedience are tied together. Evidenced by refusal to hear the Word!

faith_vs_unbelief - CopyThe Jews in the wilderness actually begged Moses to stop speaking the Words of God to them! They stopped their ears and “NO MORE!” Hebrews 12:19 And the sound of a trumpet, and the voice of words; which voice they that heard entreated that the word should not be spoken to them any more:

  • The truth is that many people hear the Word of Power, but most do not know its power, because they are unwilling to believe and obey

How Do You Know if you share in Christ?
The Word is Alive to You!

Hebrews 4:12 For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.

  • The Word is only powerful to those who are honest in their heart, and willing to submit to the power of the Word

heart contrastHebrews 13:7 Remember them which have the rule over you, who have spoken unto you the word of God: whose faith follow, considering the end of their conversation.

  • Faith and Obedience to the Word of God extends to those who preach the Word for they Evidence the reality of Faith by their Lives

D. The Greatest Contrast has to do with your Heart. (Chapter 3 & 4)

Hebrews 3:12 Take care, brothers, lest there be in any of you an evil, unbelieving heart, leading you to fall away from the living God.

Contrast-of-heart-belief-or-unbeliefYes, the truth is that regardless of your view of Salvation, whether Arminian or Calvinistic, whether you can lose your Salvation or whether you believe in once-saved always saved-the truth is that your heart is the KEY to whether Jesus Christ makes any CONTRAST in your life!

God does not sit up in heaven and say “yes, you are saved because you said a prayer when you were 8.” That is how we tend to judge whether we are saved or not.. That is a man-centered view of Salvation.

God has a different determination of whether you are saved or not. He details it in the Letter to the Hebrews. It has to do with your heart-whether it believes or not! God doesn’t just listen to your confession of belief, He looks into the darkest corner of your heart and sees how that confession of belief interacts with your life.

God wants to see contrast, a contrast with your life in comparison to the lives of those who don’t care. You say you care and you are saved, but God wants to see a contrast.

Belief that actuates the Power of God to affect your life everyday is the aim of Hebrews.

EVIDENCE OF A BELIEVING HEART

evidence-of-believing-heartYou are either dead to God, or you have His life. I don’t care how alive you think you are. If your life has not been affected by the Word of God and the Holy Spirit, you are dead to God.

John 6:63 It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh is no help at all. The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life.

You can say a prayer, you can join a church, you can get baptized all in the strength of your flesh and will, but if the Word of God and the Holy Spirit have not touched your life in such a way that you obey in faith, you are dead.

Titus 3:5 he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit,

Ephesians 2:1-7 And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience— among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind. But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ— by grace you have been saved— and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.

Here is evidence that you share in the Life of Jesus Christ:

1 John 5:4-5 For everyone who has been born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world— our faith. Who is it that overcomes the world except the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?

experience-Christs-power-to-restRest in Christ. Does that mean you don’t do anything? No, what it does mean is that you are yoked to Him and He is your primary focus. He gives  rest to your souls no matter what news you are hearing, or what situation you are facing.

  • The Word of God that penetrates your heart on a daily basis. (Manna)
  • Power to overcome the Giants of sin.
  • Courage and Confidence in the face of trials and hardships.

ARE YOU RESTING IN THE REALITY OF A LIFE IN JESUS CHRIST IN HIS VICTORY?

  • The FOCUS of your belief is to actuate the REST we have in Jesus Christ.
  • The FOCUS of the Jews in the Wilderness was to get to the Promised Land, a place of REST

overcome the world - CopyHebrews 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.

Hebrews 4:3 For we who have believed enter that rest, as he has said, “As I swore in my wrath, ‘They shall not enter my rest,’ ” although his works were finished from the foundation of the world.

Hebrews 4:9 So then, there remains a Sabbath rest for the people of God,

Hebrews 4:10 for whoever has entered God’s rest has also rested from his works as God did from his.

Hebrews 4:11 Let us therefore strive (1 below) to enter that rest, so that no one may fall by the same sort of disobedience.

    • “to make effort, be prompt or earnest :- do (give) diligence, be diligent (forward), endeavor”
    • Not working as if it depends upon you, but effort born from a sense of urgency and need.
    • Knowing that our ways are opposite God’s ways

This is not talking about heaven. This is talking about NOW! God wants us to know and experience the Belief that brings the Life of His Son into our lives. This is eternal life. This is the Promise. This is the Rest!

1-ephesians-2-vs-4-61As Paul said, we SIT with Jesus in the Heavenlies! We REST in Him! That Rest is evidence of our salvation.

Is Salvation confidence in a prayer, or even in a better life you think you are experiencing?

Not according to God’s Word. Salvation results in a change in your life and your desires!

Here is Evidence that you do not share in the Life of Jesus Christ:

1. Being overthrown in the wilderness (the world).

1 Corinthians 10:5-6 Nevertheless, with most of them God was not pleased, for they were overthrown in the wilderness. Now these things took place as examples for us, that we might not desire evil as they did. 

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.

Fail to reach – hystereō (see footnote 2) –to be last, behind, posterior in place or time. In the NT, figuratively of dignity, condition, strength and the like, to be behind, inferior, to lack (see footnote 3) – fall short of recognition by God.

    • Romans 3:23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,
    • Hebrews 12:15 See to it that no one fails to obtain the grace of God; that no “root of bitterness” springs up and causes trouble, and by it many become defiled;
overcome_the_world - CopyChristians are to Overcome the World by their Faith and Belief in God and His Word!
  • For everyone who has been born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world— our faith.
    Who is it that overcomes the world except the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God? 1 John 5:4-5  

2. Having an Unbelieving Heart

Do-you-have-unbelieving-heart

  • Look at what happened in the Wilderness because of unbelieving hearts:

Exodus 17:1-7 All the congregation of the people of Israel moved on from the wilderness of Sin by stages, according to the commandment of the LORD, and camped at Rephidim, but there was no water for the people to drink. Therefore the people quarreled with Moses and said, “Give us water to drink.” And Moses said to them, “Why do you quarrel with me? Why do you test the LORD?” But the people thirsted there for water, and the people grumbled against Moses and said, “Why did you bring us up out of Egypt, to kill us and our children and our livestock with thirst?” So Moses cried to the LORD, “What shall I do with this people? They are almost ready to stone me.” And the LORD said to Moses, “Pass on before the people, taking with you some of the elders of Israel, and take in your hand the staff with which you struck the Nile, and go. Behold, I will stand before you there on the rock at Horeb, and you shall strike the rock, and water shall come out of it, and the people will drink.” And Moses did so, in the sight of the elders of  Israel. And he called the name of the place Massah and Meribah, because of the quarreling of the people of Israel, and because they tested the LORD by saying, “Is the LORD among us or not?”

  • Testing God by thinking He doesn’t care about your situation.
  • Turning back to the world and what it has – Achan
  • Relying on your own strength to get what you want.
  • Not believing and obeying God.

3. Living in your Flesh

black-heart-89479 - CopyNumbers 13:30-31 But Caleb quieted the people before Moses and said, “Let us go up at once and occupy it, for we are well able to overcome it.” Then the men who had gone up with him said, “We are not able to go up against the people, for they are stronger than we are.”

The Jews did not believe they could take the land, so they refused and desired to go back to Egypt, in spite of seeing all that God had done! Then Moses pronounced God’s judgment upon them, that they would never be allowed to enter the Promised Land. So they said, let’s go in and show God that we can do it!

Numbers 14:39-45 When Moses told these words to all the people of Israel, the people mourned greatly. And they rose early in the morning and went up to the heights of the hill country, saying, “Here we are. We will go up to the place that the LORD has promised, for we have sinned.” But Moses said, “Why now are you transgressing the command of the LORD, when that will not succeed? Do not go up, for the Lord is not among you, lest you be struck down before your enemies. For there the Amalekites and the Canaanites are facing you, and you shall fall by the sword. Because you have turned back from following the LORD, the LORD will not be with you.” But they presumed to go up to the heights of the hill country, although neither the ark of the covenant of the LORD nor Moses departed out of the camp. Then the Amalekites and the Canaanites who lived in that hill country came down and defeated them and pursued them, even to Hormah.

The REST of God is a REST that is supernatural, it can not be attained by fleshly efforts. They were doomed to encounter defeat!

TO GOD, THE PROOF OF YOUR BELIEF IS WHETHER OR NOT YOU HAVE ENTERED INTO HIS REST.

  • This REST is only possible in Jesus Christ!unbelieving-heart - Copy

(1) Because Christ is Exalted above the Angels, being the Creator God and Managing this Creation with His Life:

Hebrews 2:1 Therefore we must pay much closer attention to what we have heard, lest we drift away from it. „

The Danger is that we miss out on LIFE by drifting away from our Savior „ He will roll up all the old and useless stuff in a coat-do you want to be rolled up too?

(2) Because Christ is our mighty Captain, having become a man yet still conquering sin and making atonement for us, 

Hebrews 3:1 Therefore, holy brothers, you who share in a heavenly calling,consider Jesus, the apostle and high priest of our confession,

„ If we are to share a heavenly calling, we will focus our lives upon Jesus „ Jesus has shown us that He the truth from God. „ Jesus has shown us that He is our High Priest who can be trusted and find comfort in.

(3) Because Jesus is the Builder and Faithful of God’s House:

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.

„ We must watch our hearts, lest we fail to reach God’s house. „ The promise of rest requires our cooperation, desire and effort.

(4) The Rest which Christ promised is His Rest but it is not a passive rest.

Cure-for-unbelieving-heart-is-plenty-of-lettuceHis Rest is built on a bed of LETTUCE, as the next post will show.

Matthew 11:29 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.

Romans 4:16 That is why it depends on faith, in order that the promise may rest on grace and be guaranteed to all his offspring—not only to the adherent of the law but also to the one who shares the faith of Abraham, who is the father of us all,

  • 1 Corinthians 2:5 that your faith might not rest in the wisdom of men but in the power of God.
  • 2 Corinthians 12:9 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.
  • Revelation 14:13 And I heard a voice from heaven saying, “Write this: Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on.” “Blessed indeed,” says the Spirit, “that they may rest from their labors, for their deeds follow them!”

More on how to obtain this rest in the next post…

1 “to make effort, be prompt or earnest :- do (give) diligence, be diligent (forward), endeavour” James Strong, Strong’s Talking Greek & Hebrew Dictionary, (Austin, TX: WORDsearch Corp., 2007), WORDsearch CROSS e-book, Under: “4704”.

2 James Strong, Strong’s Talking Greek & Hebrew Dictionary, (Austin, TX: WORDsearch Corp., 2007), WORDsearch CROSS e-book, Under: “5302”.

3 Spiros Zodhiates, The Complete Word Study Dictionary – New Testament, (Chattanooga, TN: AMG Publishers, 1993), WORDsearch CROSS e-book, Under: “hystereō“.

REST: Usage Notes: signifies “to cause or permit one to cease from any labor or movement” so as to recover strength. It implies previous toil and care.William E. Vine, Vine’s Expository Dictionary of Old Testament and New Testament Words, (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson, 1940), WORDsearch CROSS e-book, Under: “Eased”.

anapaúō; fut. anapaúsō, from aná , again, and paúō , to cease, give rest. To give rest, quiet, recreate, refresh (Matt. 11:28; 1 Cor. 16:18; Phile. 1:20); in the mid. / pass. form, to be refreshed (2 Cor. 7:13; Phile. 1:7, 20; Sept.: Prov. 29:17; Isa. 14:3; Ezek. 34:15). In the mid., anapaúomai, to rest oneself, to take one’s rest 

(Matt. 26:45; Mark 6:31; 14:41; Luke 12:19; 1 Pet. 4:14; Rev. 6:11; 14:13; Sept.: Deut. 33:20; Esth. 9:16; Job 10:20; Prov. 21:16; Isa. 13:20, 21; 27:10; Mic. 4:4). In relation to 1 Pet. 4:14, compare the Sept. of Isa. 11:2, where anapaúomai is also applied to the Holy Spirit resting upon Christ. Deriv.: anápausis , inner rest; epanapaúō , to cause to rest; sunanapaúomai , to rest with or together.Spiros Zodhiates, The Complete Word Study Dictionary – New Testament, (Chattanooga, TN: AMG Publishers, 1993), WORDsearch CROSS e-book, 156-157.

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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.