HOW TO BE A SUCCESS WITH GOOD STRESS AND OVERCOME THE DISTRESS OF BAD STRESS
Below are notes to a sermon preached Sunday morning and evening, June 13, 1999 at Gospel Light Baptist Church, Albany, Georgia:
HOW TO BE A SUCCESS WITH GOOD STRESS AND OVERCOME THE DISTRESS
OF BAD STRESS
By Michael D. O’Neal…..Pastor, Gospel Light Baptist Church…… Albany, Georgia
Scripture Reading: 2 Corinthians 4:5-10
Text: 2 Corinthians 4:8
2 Corinthians 4:8 We are troubled on every side, yet not distressed; we are perplexed, but not in despair;
Introduction: “Stress” is said to be one of the big killers in America. It is connected with heart attacks, high blood pressure, stomach ulcers, and other illnesses. Although the word, “stress,” does not appear in the Bible, certainly we can find examples of saints who experienced it. Job is the classic example of a saint who experienced stress. You might remember Elijah’s problem with stress, which caused him to want to die.
The apostle Paul experienced stress. He said in 2 Cor. 1:8 that he was “pressed out of measure, above strength.”
Not all stress is bad. For instance, I know people who go to the gym and say they are getting rid of stress and tension. They way they DO that, though, is to apply stress and tension to their muscles. Some of these people will avoid stress by working with weights for two hours, applying stress to their muscles. Then they will apply stress to their heart, muscles, and lungs by walking, running, or climbing in the cardiovascular workout area.
SOURCES OF STRESS
Ecclesiastes 2:22-23 For what hath man of all his labour, and of the vexation of his heart, wherein he hath laboured under the sun? 23 For all his days are sorrows, and his travail grief; yea, his heart taketh not rest in the night. This is also vanity.
A. Work is a commandment – 1 Thess. 4:11; 2 Thess. 3:10
* 1. I don’t believe in total retirement.
* 2. Some retirees commit suicide.
* 3. Some of the most miserable people you will ever meet are those who do not work. They do not have purpose for existence other than just to make themselves happy.
* 4. Lee Roberson is still working at 89.
* 5. Hugh Pyle is still working at age 80.
B. Work is a choice
* 1. Many people forsake the house of God saying, “I HAD to work.” No, you didn’t. Many people choose not to work at ALL. You just CHOSE to work over CHOOSING to go to church!
C. Work must be controlled
* 1. We must be careful that we do not get caught in “the work trap” — working so much that we do not have time to be workers in our churches, and to be what we should be to our spouses and our children.
D. Work is a channel of blessing
* 1. God has promised to provide our needs (Phil. 4:19). However, he has chosen to do that through our own labors, primarily.
* 2. Additionally, God has ordained that we should work so that we can also help others – Eph. 4:28.
II. STRESS COMES FROM WEAKNESS
1 Kings 19:4-5 But he himself went a day’s journey into the wilderness, and came and sat down under a juniper tree: and he requested for himself that he might die; and said, It is enough; now, O LORD, take away my life; for I am not better than my fathers. 5 And as he lay and slept under a juniper tree, behold, then an angel touched him, and said unto him, Arise and eat.
Notice that Elijah’s crisis was connected with threats upon his life, but also with weariness and hunger.
A. We all need to eat regularly
* 1. With the exception of times of fasting, I recommend several small meals a day (5 or 6) rather than one big one.
* 2. Additionally, a Christian should regularly read, study, and meditate upon the word of God, in order to be strong spiritually (1 Pet. 2:2; Acts 20:32; Ps. 119:28).
B. We all need to exercise regularly
* 1. If you don’t do physical labor, I recommend that you put physical exercise in your schedule, somehow.
C. We all need to end work regularly (take rest, breaks)
* 1. Lester Roloff: “If you don’t come apart, and rest a while, you will come apart.”
* 2. Real duties don’t conflict.
* 3. In our country, there is no reason why you cannot work in order to provide your basic needs (food, clothing – see 1 Tim. 6:8; Matt. 6:31-33), be faithful in God’s work, the local church, and spend time with your family.
III. STRESS COMES FROM WARFARE
2 Kings 6:15 And when the servant of the man of God was risen early, and gone forth, behold, an host compassed the city both with horses and chariots. And his servant said unto him, Alas, my master! how shall we do?
A. The threats and taunts of the enemy bring pressure
* 1. Don’t you know that the Israelites felt stress when Goliath taunted them?
* 2. The devil will whisper in your ear, “You can’t make it.” “You shouldn’t try it.” “You should not volunteer.” “You will fail!”
B. The toughness of the enemy brings pressure
* 1. Make no mistake about it; the devil IS a tough enemy.
* 2. There is NO WAY you can handle Satan in your own strength.
* 3. Be strong in the Lord – Eph. 6:10.
* 4. Submit yourself to God FIRST … THEN resist the devil, and he will flee from you.
C. The turncoats in our own ranks bring pressure
* 1. It’s difficult when you see church members quit altogether.
* 2. It’s discouraging when an independent Baptist preacher like Jerry Falwell becomes a Southern Baptist or one like Jack Van Impe forsakes fundamentalists to yoke up with the charismatics.
IV. STRESS COMES FROM WICKEDNESS
Proverbs 13:15 Good understanding giveth favour: but the way of transgressors is hard.
Illustration – the young Christian man who came into my home, drunk, voluntarily quoted that verse over and over while he sobered up.
A. Sin corrupts the conscience – 1 Tim. 1:19; 3:9; 4:2.
* 1. A guilty conscience is stressful.
B. Sin cuts off fellowship – 1 John 1:6-9; Ps. 66:18.
* 1. You will have stress when you’re not in fellowship with your Savior and Judge.
C. Sin causes restlessness – Isa. 48:22.
* Restlessness is a sign of demonic activity – Matt. 12:43; Mark 5:1-5,15.
SYMPTOMS OF THE DISTRESS OF BAD STRESS
Sometimes we may be in distress because of things out of our control, such as poor health, governmental upheaval, severe storms, and such (and God is able to provide heavenly calm even in those times), but there is other distress that simply comes from disobedience or from taking loads that we are not supposed to bear.
I. INSOMNIA IS A SYMPTOM OF DISTRESS
Psalms 4:8 I will both lay me down in peace, and sleep: for thou, LORD, only makest me dwell in safety.
A. People who labor should be able to sleep
* 1. Ecclesiastes 5:12 The sleep of a labouring man is sweet, whether he eat little or much: but the abundance of the rich will not suffer him to sleep.
B. People who love God should be able to sleep
* 1. Psalms 127:2 It is vain for you to rise up early, to sit up late, to eat the bread of sorrows: for so he giveth his beloved sleep.
II. IRRITABILITY IS A SYMPTOM OF DISTRESS
1 Samuel 20:32-33 And Jonathan answered Saul his father, and said unto him, Wherefore shall he be slain? what hath he done? 33 And Saul cast a javelin at him to smite him: whereby Jonathan knew that it was determined of his father to slay David.
A. Distressed people anger easily
* 1. If a person has a short fuse, it may be that he is bearing burdens that he should not have.
B. Distressed people attack easily
* 1. Would a father naturally throw a javelin directly at his son? I think not. King Saul was not right. He was under the bad stress of transgressing God’s commandments.
III. IRRATIONALITY IS A SYMPTOM OF DISTRESS
2 Timothy 1:7 For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.
Luke 15:17 And when he came to himself, he said, How many hired servants of my father’s have bread enough and to spare, and I perish with hunger!
A. People under bad stress have faulty comprehension
* 1. They don’t think correctly.
* 2. If someone doesn’t seem to be thinking rationally, it could be that he is overloaded with cares.
B. People under bad stress make faulty choices
* 1. The younger son came to himself. Then he made the right choice.
* 2. DON’T MAKE MAJOR DECISIONS WHEN YOU ARE UNDER BAD STRESS! YOU WILL PROBABLY MAKE THE WRONG ONE! Wait until you are calm and back to normal!
SUCCESS OVER STRESS
I. TEST YOUR PRIORITIES
Matthew 6:33 But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.
Proverbs 3:5-6 Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. 6 In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.
A. Test the essence of your activities in reaching your goals
* 1. Your goals in glorifying God.
* 2. Your goals in your church.
* 3. Your goals in your family.
* 4. Your goals in your job.
* 5. Should some of these activities be DROPPED?
B. Test the effectiveness of your activities in reaching your goals
* 1. Should some of these activities by modified?
* 2. Should they be replaced with another activity that will better help you do the will of God?
II. TRY YOUR BEST
Proverbs 14:23 In all labour there is profit: but the talk of the lips tendeth only to penury.
Hebrews 12:1-2 Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, 2 Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.
Having tested your priorities, laying aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us,
A. Engage in your work NOW – “let us run”
* 1. One of the ways to pick up stress is to make a big “to do” list and do nothing about it. The longer those items stay on the list, the HEAVIER they get!
* 2. Either delete them, modify them, replace them, or chop them up in small pieces, but
* 3. Begin NOW to do what is necessary to achieve your goals!
B. Excite yourself with your goal
* 1. Looking unto Jesus, our example, “who for the joy that was set before him …”>
C. Endure until you get the goal or until this lap of the race (the hour, the day, or the week) is completed – “endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.”
III. TAKE TIME TO REST
Mark 6:31 And he said unto them, Come ye yourselves apart into a desert place, and rest a while: for there were many coming and going, and they had no leisure so much as to eat.
A. Take time to rest in sleep
B. Take time to rest in stillness
* 1. Slow down.
* 2. Stop for a time.
* 3. Meditate.
* 4. Remember.
* 5. Observe.
IV. TRUST IN THE LORD
Isaiah 40:31 But they that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.
A. Rest in Him – “wait upon the LORD”.
B. Renew your strength – “shall renew their strength”.
C. Rise up – “they shall mount up with wings as eagles”.
D. Reach your goal – “they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.”
(Sing Isa. 40:31 to the tune of “Amazing Grace” – with last words being Isaiah 40:31.)