#102: "Rx for Stress"
June 26, 2007
"He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty." (Psalm 91:1)
According to the Washington Post, 54 percent of Americans are concerned about the level of stress in their everyday lives. Increasing numbers of children, teenagers and college students report feeling under stress. 66 percent of Americans say they are likely to seek help for stress. And stress contributes to such life-threatening problems as heart attack, stroke, depression and infection, as well as to chronic aches and pains.
A Tahoma, Washington newspaper carried the story of Tattoo the basset hound a while back. Tattoo didn't intend to go for an evening run, but when his owner shut the dog's leash in the car door and took off for a drive – with Tattoo still outside the vehicle, he had no choice. Motorcycle officer Terry Filbert noticed a passing vehicle with something dragging behind it. He commented that the poor basset hound was, "picking them up and putting them down as fast as he could." He chased the car to a stop, and Tattoo was rescued. But not before the dog had reached a top speed of 25 miles per hour, falling down and rolling over several times. Too many of us are living our lives like Tattoo, picking them up and putting them down as fast as we can – rolling around & feeling dragged through life.
And if you're a Christian, you have another problem. You have an enemy. Satan..the devil..the accuser of the brethren, the god of this world..whatever you want to call him. He is your arch enemy and stress producing situations are his specialty. An unknown author put it this way: "Pressed out of measure and pressed to all length; Pressed so intensely, it seems beyond strength; Pressed in the body, and pressed in the soul;
Pressed in the mind, till the dark surges roll. Pressure by foes, and pressure by friends--Pressure on pressure, till life nearly ends." I don't know about you, but there are seasons in life......and maybe you're in one right now.
So, what's a stressed out person to do? When if it weren't for bad news, you'd have no news at all, what do you do? You can divorce that spouse...not a good idea. You can quit your job...can you say, "cardboard box"? You can throw your kids out on the street...I don't think so. How do you cope when it seems that you just can't take anymore? When one more thing just might be your breaking point? My friend, the Great Physician has a prescription for you today. Not for Valium, not for anti-depressants, not for Vitamin B-12 so that you can run even faster. We need to learn how to experience rest. If all we needed was physical rest we can always take a nap. If we needed only emotional rest, we can always take a vacation. But where can we find spiritual rest? How can we obtain relief regarding the deepest issues of life at the deepest level of our hearts?
Come to Jesus. In Matthew 11: 28, Jesus is calling you. He says, "Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest." The Greek word for "weary" is "kopiontes" and means those tired from hard toil. The word for "burdened" is "pephortismenoi" and means those loaded down. Does that describe you today? Weary, tired, burdened, loaded down? Jesus says, "Come". He doesn't preach you a sermon. He doesn't read you the riot act. He simply says, "Come".
Dwell in Jesus. Psalm 91 is a beautiful testimony about our security in life. Verse 1 says, "He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty." The Hebrew meaning of the word "dwell" (yashab) is to sit down, in quiet. To remain.To marry, abide and continue with someone. It is a picture of easing yourself, and settling down. A picture of marrying someone and keeping house with them. The Most High, the Sovereign Ruler of the World, wants you to settle down with Him. And again, He promises rest. Rest in His shadow. How many of you know that when you are in the shade, you don't face the full heat of the sun? By the same token, when you rest in the shadow of the Almighty, you don't face the full heat of your difficulties. Shade reduces what you actually feel. He simply says, "Come...Dwell."
Don't worry. Worry is obviously not akin to our generation exclusively. If it were, Jesus would not have felt the need over 2000 years ago to command the people, "Do not worry". (See Matthew 6: 25-34) Notice I said "command". He says not to worry about what we will eat, what we will wear or about the things the world worries about. Maybe for us that's global warming, terrorist attacks, our provision in a tough economic climate. He tells us that our Heavenly Father knows everything that we need. He knows the electric bill is due. He knows that Johnny needs braces. He knows that you need a job. He knows that you have a disease that needs to be cured. He knows that your child is running wild. He knows that your parents are aging and so are you. But He still says, "Don't worry!" If we could really understand and wrap our minds around the first two points (Come and Dwell) .... and really know WHO we were coming to and dwelling with...goodness, gracious, great balls of fire!...we would never worry again. The One we come to...the One we dwell with...tells us to "seek first His kingdom and His righteousness [His way of doing things], and all these things will be given to you as well." Jesus said it...that settles it! Don't worry!
Pray. The apostle Paul must have gotten this prescription for stress. In Philippians 4: 6-7 he says, "Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus." He then tells us what to think about, instead of our problems. "Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable--if anything is excellent or praiseworthy--think about such things. And the God of peace will be with you." Pray and Focus. Which leads me to my last point.
Focus. Isaiah 26: 3 says, "Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusteth in thee." (KJV) The Amplified Bible puts it this way: "You will guard him and keep him in perfect and constant peace whose mind [both its inclination and its character] is stayed on You, because he commits himself to You, leans on You, and hopes confidently in You." And the Message says it this way: "People with their minds set on you, you keep completely whole, Steady on their feet, because they keep at it and don't quit. Depend on God and keep at it because in the Lord God you have a sure thing." The One that you come to, dwell with, pray to and focus on is a sure thing!! He is Faithful and True. Focus on Him. Turn your eyes upon Jesus. Turn them away from the problems that you face, the people that are tearing you down and the situations that are overwhelming you. Look on Jesus, the Author and the Finisher of your faith. He will finish the work that He has started in you. He never starts what He won't finish. And as someone else once said, "He's not about to ruin His reputation on you."
Remember the lines from the unknown author in the beginning of this devotional? About all the pressure, from the inside and out? Well, in closing, let's look at how he finishes.."Pressed into knowing no helper but God; Pressed into loving the staff and the rod. Pressed into liberty where nothing clings; Pressed into faith for impossible things. Pressed into tasting the joy of the Lord; Pressed into loving a Christ life outpoured." That's your prescription for stress, my friend. That's what I'm talkin' about!
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