Posts Tagged ‘Wilderness Journey’


The Danger of an Unbelieving HeartIn 1996, the book Farewell to God,  the author, Charles Templeton, stated:

‘I oppose the Christian Church because, for all the good it sometimes does, it presumes to speak in the name of God and to propound and advocate beliefs that are outdated, demonstrably untrue, and often, in their various manifestations, deleterious to individuals and to society.’3

Who is Charles Templeton? He was one of a group of young men who were on fire for God in the 1940’s. He was acclaimed as a gifted young evangelist, and was more “famous” than his friend Billy Graham. In 1946, he was listed among those best used of God by the National Association of Evangelicals.4

Charles Templeton How important is beliefHe pastored rapidly growing Avenue Road Church in Toronto, which he had started with only his family and a few friends. He became vice-president of the newly formed Youth For Christ International organization in 1945. He then nominated his good friend, Billy Graham, to be field evangelist for the new ministry. Templeton, Graham, and a few others regularly spoke to thousands, winning many to Christ both in America and in Europe.

Newspapers and magazines carried reports of his meetings informing readers he was winning 150 converts a night. In Evansville, Indiana, the total attendance over the two week campaign was 91,000 out of a population of 128,000. Church attendance went up 17%.

All was not well with Charles Templeton. He was beginning to question the essentials of the Christian faith, because he could no longer believe God’s Word beginning with Genesis.

In a conversation with Billy Graham, Templeton stated:

‘But, Billy, it’s simply not possible any longer to believe, for instance, the biblical account of creation. The world wasn’t created over a period of days a few thousand years ago; it has evolved over millions of years. It’s not a matter of speculation; it’s demonstrable fact.’5

In his autobiography, Farewell to God, Charles Templeton lists his ‘reasons for rejecting the Christian faith’. Most of these relate to the origins issue and thus the accuracy of the book of beginnings—Genesis.

How important is Belief?

So we see that they were unable to enter because of unbelief. Hebrews 3:19

Belief is important for RestA whole generation of Jews died in the wilderness because they refused to believe God.

Two Things are Evident in Hebrews 4:

1. There is a (Secret) Rest of God that people can find on Earth.
2. Most people live their entire lives without finding God’s rest.
Why do I say most people will not?
  • Because God tells us most people will not…

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.

In the Exodus we find the real life story of God using Moses to bring the Jewish Nation out of Egypt and into the Land which God had promised Abraham over 400 years earlier. God worked miracle after miracle on behalf of His people. The Plagues, the death of the first born, the Passover meal, the spreading of blood, the parting of the Red Sea, the crossing on DRY ground, the death of the mightiest Army on Earth by drowning in the Red Sea. Then we have the miraculous manna, quails, fire, cloud of smoke, and thunderous voice from the mountain.

You could not have made a more tremendous movie to demonstrate the REALITY of the LIVING GOD! If you would have been there you would have told those Jews that wanted to give up and go back to Egypt that they were crazy! Didn’t they see that God is real and all-powerful?

1 Corinthians 10:1-12 For I want you to know, brothers, that our fathers were all under the cloud, and all passed through the sea, and all were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea, and all ate the same spiritual food, and all drank the same spiritual drink. For they drank from the spiritual Rock that followed them, and the Rock was Christ. 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. Do not be idolaters as some of them were; as it is written, “The people sat down to eat and drink and rose up to play.” We must not indulge in sexual immorality as some of them did, and twenty-three thousand fell in a single day. We must not put Christ to the test, as some of them did and were destroyed by serpents, nor grumble, as some of them did and were destroyed by the Destroyer. Now these things happened to them as an example, but they were written down for our instruction, on whom the end of the ages has come. Therefore let anyone who thinks that he stands take heed lest he fall.

 My Daddy used to say that hind sight is 50/50. Truth is, that of at least one million people over the age of 20 desired evil rather than believe God! Only two (and maybe their families) believed God! That’s like saying that out of the roughly 7 Billion people on Earth, only 14,000 are real followers of Christ!

These Jews who experience so much, instead of reaching the Rest which God had promised, as symbolized by the Promised Land, fell in the wilderness, having been overcome by their desire for evil.

How Do You Reveal an Evil Heart?

How do you reveal an evil heartNow how did the Jews illustrate their evil hearts? Through what they did? Through heinous crimes? NO!

Evil hearts are revealed by what you believe about God and what He promises!

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

No! They revealed their evil hearts by not believing God! No way, you say! Surely it took something much worse, like murder or assault or robbery! No, they did not believe God was with them! They did not believe God would do what He said He would do.

Numbers 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.”

Numbers 14:3-4

 Why is the LORD bringing us into this land, to fall by the sword? Our wives and our little ones will become a prey. Would it not be better for us to go back to Egypt?”

 And they said to one another, “Let us choose a leader and go back to Egypt.”

Numbers 14:24 But my servant Caleb, because he has a different spirit and has followed me fully, I will bring into the land into which he went, and his descendants shall possess it.

These Jews failed to believe the power of the Word of God, even though they had seen mightier miracles than anyone ever had! God promised to be with them as they went to conquer the land, but they focused on the size of the inhabitants rather than the size of their God! Only Caleb realized the Power of God, and his life was marked by a “different spirit!” Caleb represents the believer who sets his mind on the Spirit of God rather than the world!

Life with Jesus Christ is different than life without Him

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?

Life with Christ is differentHebrews 4 uses another word for victory and overcome, the word REST!

God paints a picture of Rest in Exodus and Joshua. God paints a picture of Rest in Ephesians.

  • Rest doesn’t mean you lie back and do nothing. Rest means you stand and do everything in full reliance and full confidence of the Life of Jesus Christ in you.
  • Rest means when the boat is rocking and the winds are blowing your heart is calmly trusting in Christ, even while He is sleeping in the back of the boat.
  • Rest means that when you are facing giants, and you are swinging your sling, you know God is directing the stone.
  • Rest means that when a battle is raging, that you simply must rely on strength from God.
  • Rest means that whatever the pain, whatever the circumstance, whatever the pressure, that God will see you through it, and that it will benefit your Eternity.
  • 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?

  • 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

Let’s see what lessons God wants us to learn:

1 Corinthians 10:15 I speak as to sensible people; judge for yourselves what I say. Are you sensible people? Then discern what God wants you to learn:

I want to talk to you about REST and How you obtain it!

Read Hebrews 4

1 Therefore, while the promise of entering his rest still stands,1let us fear lest any of you should seem to have failed to reach it. 2 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. 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. 4 For he has somewhere spoken of the seventh day in this way: “And God rested on the seventh day from all his works.” 5 And again in this passage he said, “They shall not enter my rest.” 6 Since therefore it remains for some to enter it, and those who formerly received the good news failed to enter because of disobedience, 7 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.” 8 For if Joshua had given them rest, God would not have spoken of another day later on. 9 So then, there remains a Sabbath rest for the people of God, 10 for whoever has entered God’s rest has also rested from his works as God did from his. 11 2Let ustherefore strive to enter that rest, so that no one may fall by the same sort of disobedience. 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. 13 And no creature is hidden from his sight, but all are naked and exposed to the eyes of him to whom we must give account. 14 Since then we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, 3let ushold fast our confession. 15 For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. 164 Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need. Hebrews 4:1-16

1. God’s Rest is Promised:

  • vs 1  “while the promise still stands!”

Enter into Gods Rest and promisesIt is promised, but it is not guaranteed. “fear lest any of you should seem to have failed to reach it.” Imagine what your Christian Life would be like if you would simply believed God’s Word…

Leonard Ravenhill:  I don’t want to stand at the Judgment Seat of Christ and God say to me, “I left you a book of blank checks signed in the blood of Jesus and you didn’t use half of them!”

Too often, we start and end our Christian walk with only this promise: And this is the promise that he made to us— eternal life.” 1 John 2:25

WHAT PROMISES ARE YOU NOT RESTING UPON?

If you can believe Him about that promise, what about these others? Does your daily walk reveal that you are trusting God in these areas of your life?

  • My-Joy-Your-JoyWhat about His promise of Peace.
  • What about His promise of Joy.
  • What about His promise to care for you.
  • What about His promise to clothe and feed you.
  • What about His promise to Love you.
  • What about His promise to cast our fear.
  • What about His promise to be free from the power of sin?
  • What about His promise of victory, about being more than conquerors?

If we were resting in His promises, we would be holy, for He says:

Since we have these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from every defilement of body and spirit, bringing holiness to completion in the fear of God. 2 Corinthians 7:1

by which he has granted to us his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire. 2 Peter 1:4

2.  God’s Rest is His Plan for Man

Gods Rest is the Plan for ManGod has a plan for his people to join him in the wonderful restfulness of heaven where all weariness and burdens will be lifted. The writer focuses on five points in history to show how God’s plan is for mankind to find rest in Him.

  • Creation (Genesis 2:2) and says in verse 4: “And God rested on the seventh day from all his works.”
    • If God rested, what is the lesson for man? His people can rest and enjoy fellowship with him. He will call it a “Sabbath rest” because on the seventh day God rested.
  • Jews in the Wilderness: The promised land is a picture of God’s ultimate rest, and their unbelieving rebellion excludes them from it.
  • Joshua, who took the people into the promised land.

„  Is that the final, ultimate rest God in mind for his people? Verse 8 answers no: “For if Joshua had given them rest, He would not have spoken of another day after that.”  In other words, even though Joshua gave some relief to the people of God in the promised land, that was not the final rest God has planned for them. How do we know that? God spoke of another day — another rest centuries later.

  • David writing in Psalm 95. Verse 7: “He again appoints a certain day, ‘Today,’ saying through David after so long a time just as has been said before, ‘Today if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts.'” In other words, long after the people enjoyed the rest of the promised land, David says that God is still holding out to his people an offer of salvation rest: Don’t harden your hearts, and you will enjoy God’s rest (referred to at the end of the Psalm, 95:11 = Heb. 3:11 = 4:3)
  • The fifth time period is NOW — Verse 9: “There remains therefore a Sabbath rest for the people of God.” In other words, Today, the rest is still open.

And that is the foundation of God’s message to you today: There is a rest open to you today. God offers rest. The door is not shut. The time is not past.

3. God’s Rest is Present  Reality

Gods rest is present realityFor we who have believed enter that rest[1],

“not are entering or are on the way to, but entering into the rest is a fact which characterizes us as believers” Our enjoying the Rest offered by Christ is proof of our Christianity. It characterizes our Christian LIFE.

I WILL GIVE YOU REST

All things have been handed over to me by my Father, and no one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son chooses to reveal him. Come to 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.” Matthew 11:27-30

Jesus offers TWO Rests…One is Conditional…

Christ offers us TWO rests. One is unconditional, and is offered to all who by weariness simply come to Him, admitting their weakness and need. The second rest is conditional. The rest for your soul comes only as you yoke your life with His, and then pay close attention and learn from Him! 

Hudson Taylor had a distinct moment when he entered into that second rest. He writes about it in his autobiography.

Bear not a single care thyself,
One is too much for thee;
The work is Mine, and Mine alone;
Thy work—to rest in Me.[2]

From His Spiritual Secrets Autobiography:

hudson taylorTo let my loving Savior work in me His will, my sanctification, is what I would live for by His grace. Abiding, not striving nor struggling; looking off unto Him; trusting Him for present power; . . . resting in the love of an almighty Savior, in the joy of a complete salvation, “from all sin”—this is not new, and yet ’tis new to me. I feel as though the dawning of a glorious day had risen upon me. I hail it with trembling, yet with trust. I seem to have got to the edge only, but of a boundless sea; to have sipped only, but of that which fully satisfies. Christ literally all seems to me, now, the power, the only power for service, the only ground for unchanging joy.

How then to have our faith increased? Only by thinking of all that Jesus is and all He is for us: His life, His death, His work, He Himself as revealed to us in the Word, to be the subject of our constant thoughts. Not a striving to have faith . . . but a looking off to the Faithful One seems all we need; a resting in the Loved One entirely, for time and for eternity.

We do not know just how the miracle was wrought; but, “As I read, I saw it all,” Mr. Taylor wrote. “I looked to Jesus, and when I saw—oh, how joy flowed!”

He was a joyous man now [Mr. Judd recorded], a bright happy Christian. He had been a toiling, burdened one before, with latterly not much rest of soul. It was resting in Jesus now, and letting Him do the work…[3]

Do YOU Have a New Heart?

Black_Heart_by_pushOK_12Ezek.18:31 “Cast away from you all the transgressions which you have committed, and get yourselves a new heart and a new spirit. For why should you die, O house of Israel?”

4. God’s Rest is our Prospect for Eternity!

  • anápausis vs katápausis

Gods rest is prospect for eternityChrist promised anápausis (inner rest) in this age, not katápausis ([2663], structural rest), the Sabbath rest of the age to come, which “remaineth…to the people of God” (Heb. 4:9–11). Anápausis is rest and peace of soul in the midst of hard labors, while katápausis is a periodic cessation from labor.[4]

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!” Revelation 14:13

VS

(Remember Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous)

 And the smoke of their torment goes up forever and ever, and they have no rest, day or night, these worshipers of the beast and its image, and whoever receives the mark of its name.” Revelation 14:11200px-Lifestyles_of_the_Rich_&_Famous

How Do We Enter This Rest?

Salvation is much more than a ticket to heaven. It is much more than asking Jesus into your heart. Actually Jesus wants permission to take over your life. He wants to be Lord!

lettuce


Remember Popeye? Remember what gave him his super strength? 
Well to enter God’s Rest, you need to eat plenty of LET-US!

God’s Rest is built upon a bed of LETTUCE!

A. LET US FEAR

Hebrews 4:1 Therefore, while the promise of entering his rest still stands, let us fear lest a

ny of you should seem to have failed to reach it

.

This fear is  not the terror felt by a slave. This is deep reverence and respect. This is what Paul tells us in Philippians.

Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure. Philippians 2:12-13

Plenty of Lettuce to enter Gods Rest

Why should we approach our salvation with fear & trembling?…because the thing we have to watch out most for is “unbelief or faithlessness.”  If 99.9% of people who saw the greatest evidence of God EVER can fall away through unbelief, how easy is it for us to fall away?

  • “there is only one thing to fear: faithlessness. Fear unbelief in the promises of God. Because as long as you are trusting in the promises of God you can be utterly fearless in the face of anything, even death, even God (see 4:16).

 So we see that they were unable to enter because of unbelief. Hebrews 3:19

  • Since so many have fallen, we have cause to fear (Heb 3:17-19 And with whom was he provoked for forty years? Was it not with those who sinned, whose bodies fell in the wilderness? And to whom did he swear that they would not enter his rest, but to those who were disobedient? So we see that they were unable to enter because of unbelief.

B.  LET US STRIVE

Hebrews 4:11 Let us therefore strive to enter that rest,

  • STRIVE: to be diligent, earnest, or eager[5]..
  • Do our utmost to focus on the rest. There is no room for mental laziness. Think with all you have on Gods rest.[6]

so that no one may fall by the same sort of disobedience.

  • Fall means that “everything is naked and open before God: opened — literally, “thrown on the back so as to have the neck laid bare,” as a victim with neck exposed for sacrifice. The Greek perfect tense implies that this is our continuous state in relation to God. “Show, O man, shame and fear towards thy God, for no veil, no twisting, bending, coloring, or disguise, can cover unbelief”[7]

Be in the Word of God!

  • bible-is-word-of-godIt is Living – (not dead) Alive!
    • It lives because it endures forever, “Forever, O LORD, Your word is settled in heaven.” (Ps.119:89)
    • It lives because it has life in itself, “God breathed.”
  • Powerful – (not weak) Energetic, active, productive, effective.
    • Activity which produces results. Often used for Divine activity which produces effective results! – It does what it promises!!!
    • Is.55:11 “So shall My word be that goes forth from My mouth; It shall not return to Me void, But it shall accomplish what I please, And it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it.”
  • Sharper – (not dull) God’s Word can cut through anything!
    • The Sword of God is a sin slayer! – It has stains of blood all over it…even up to the hilt!
    • It is 2-edged thus it cuts us 2 ways – 1st deeply that we might die; then it cuts us again that we might live!
  • Piercing – (not sheathed)
    • (i.e.) the extreme power of penetration of the Word of God, to the very core of man’s being!
    • A man named Thorpe was a member of the “Hell-fire Club”. (a group of men in the 1700’s who tried to detract the work of George Whitefield) – One day Thorpe jumped upon a table & started mimicking Whitefield, delivering his sermon with brilliant accuracy, perfectly imitating his tone & facial expressions, when he himself was so pierced that he sat down & was converted on the spot!{he went on to be a prominent Christian leader in the city of Bristol}
  • Discerner – (not ignorant) God’s Word sifts through the hearts thoughts & attitudes w/unerring discrimination!
    • Do you ever feel I’m talking right to you & a situation that you are going through? I hope you take it personal. I hope you get cut from God’s word while I’m teaching…else I am not wielding it properly!
  • (13) naked & open – (not hidden nor veiled) there is nothing to hide in or behind.
  • Open – different suggestions to this words meaning.
    • Refers to the wrestler’s art of seizing one by the throat rendering him limp & powerless.
    • The meaning is clear, all creatures are in the grip of God, totally vulnerable, helpless, & laid bare before his eyes, of Him to whom we must give account!
    • Prov.15:3 “The eyes of the LORD are in every place, Keeping watch on the evil and the good.”
      • God sees everything…This can be discomforting…IF you have something to hide!

C.  LET US HOLD FAST

Since then we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. Hebrews 4:14

  • hold fast — the opposite of “let slip” (Heb 2:1); and “fall away” (Heb 6:6). As the genitive follows, the literally, sense is, “Let us take hold of our profession,” that is, of the faith and hope which are subjects of our profession and confession[8]
  • Take Hold of Christ, even in your weakness.

Gary Eagle Take-OffFor we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. Hebrews 4:15

D. LET US DRAW NEAR

Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need. Hebrews 4:16

Conclusion

Are you a Crazy Loon or a Majestic Eagle? Who are you believing in and relying upon for life?

Ever Heard the expression “crazy as a loon,”

Loon or Eaglewithout any wind blowing it was almost impossible for them to take off and fly. I took his word for it, but it didn’t seem to make sense to me until one evening some time later when my brother and I were out fishing. Not a breeze was stirring, and the surface of the small lake was like glass. The quietness of the moment was suddenly broken by the loud flapping of wings. Evidently we had scared “Mr. Loon,” and he decided to get out of there. Yet, despite his heroic effort, he just skimmed along the surface of the water unable to gain altitude. Reaching the other side of the lake, he still wasn’t high enough to clear the trees, and, executing a fancy turn, he came back toward us still flap-ping his wings with all his might. We held our breath as he reached the opposite shore, barely missed the treetops, and disappeared from view. He had made it — but what a struggle! Re-calling that experience, the thought came to me: what a contrast there is between that struggling loon and the majestic eagle which ascends high in the heavens with wings outstretched, gliding effortlessly to new and thrilling heights. The flapping loon and the soaring eagle portray two kinds of Christians. There are some dear souls who seem to be always “flapping” without making much headway, while others can truthfully and joyfully sing with the hymn writer, “New heights I’m gaining every day.” The latter are those who have learned to wait upon the Lord, have renewed their strength, and hence “mount up with wings like eagles” (Isa. 40:31).


[1] Ἐισερχόμεθα categorical; not are entering or are on the way to, but entering into the rest is a fact which characterizes us as believers. Marvin R. Vincent, Word Studies in the New Testament, (New York: Scribners, 1887), WORDsearch CROSS e-book, Under: “Hebrews 4:3”.

[2] Hudson Taylors Spiritual Secrets

[5] Spiros Zodhiates, The Complete Word Study Dictionary – New Testament, (Chattanooga, TN: AMG Publishers, 1993), WORDsearch CROSS e-book, Under: “spoudázō”

[6] Kent Hughes; pg.113

[7] Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary – Heb 4:1 Heb 4:1-16. THE PROMISE OF GOD’S REST IS FULLY REALIZED THROUGH CHRIST

[8] Robert Jamieson, A.R. Fausset, David Brown, A Commentary: Critical, Experimental, and Practical on the Old and New Testaments, (Toledo, OH: Jerome B. Names & Co., 1884), WORDsearch CROSS e-book, Under: “HEBREWS”.

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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.