Monday, May 26, 2014

The Overwhelmed Challenge - Lesson Three - Things That Cause Stress







The foundation scripture for this study is Romans 8:28 (HCSB)  We know that all things work together for the good of those who love God: those who are called according to His purpose. 


Review


Last week we talked about the challenge of dealing with critical people who cause stress and anxiety. Here are the questions that we should   ask ourselves when faced with a critical person and or criticism


  1. How Well Does This Person Know Me?
  2. What Attitude Does The Person Criticizing Have? Is it condemning or loving?
  3. Does What The Person Is Saying Pass Through The Filter Of Scripture
Context is importantIs This Criticism Personal Or Shared By Others? 4. Is This Worth My Time?  
I used to try and fight every single ounce of criticism that came my way…and I realized I just can’t. In the end, we all have good things in our lives we need to focus on. So don’t spend your time fighting the critics, spend your time focusing on Jesus and the blessings He has given to all of us. He is the one we will spend eternity with in heaven, and His opinion is the only one that really matters.


Intro and Definition


This week we want to talk about some of the other things that cause stress.  

The dictionary defines stress as “physical, mental, or emotional strain or tension.” 

Everyone suffers from stress at one time or another. Stress can cause us to do things we wouldn't normally do and sometimes stress can cause us to completely shut down.

Stressors are anything that can cause stress. Stress is inevitable because of the fall of man and the entrance of sin into the world and sometimes we let stress influence our actions. Stress can take quite a toll on us and how we deal with it determines how we can manage it and minimize its toll on us. Stress can come from many directions. It can come from our jobs, our families, our health, our finances, even our church but it is a natural part of life.



Stress is real


Here are some examples of what the bible says about stress:
  1. Job 5:7 (HCSB) But mankind is born for trouble as surely as sparks fly upward.  
  2. Job 14:1 (HCSB) Man born of woman is short of days and full of trouble.
  3. 1 Peter 4:12 (HCSB) Dear friends, don’t be surprised when the fiery ordeal comes among you to test you as if something unusual were happening to you. 
  4. 1 Corinthians 10:13 (HCSB) No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to humanity. God is faithful, and He will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation He will also provide a way of escape so that you are able to bear it.

How we deal with stress is up to us


If we try to do it on our own it will be a long tough battle and the chances that we are going to lose are quite high. The answer to effectively dealing with stress is with Jesus and in believing in Him. If you don't believe in Him and try to do it on our own we will not be able to cope with stress. In addition to believing in Jesus we must trust Him and obey Him.

Jesus encourages us. Look at what He says;

John 14:1 (HCSB) “Your heart must not be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in Me.  

Believing in Him doesn't mean that we won't have troubles or stress. It means that with Jesus we are better able to cope with stress.  

John 16:33 (NKJV) These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world."

Believing leads to trusting 


Proverbs 3:5-6 (HCSB) Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not rely on your own understanding;  think about Him in all your ways, and He will guide you on the right paths.  

Adopting the world's way of dealing with stress is leaning on our own understanding.  It means using things like drugs or alcohol, pornography or other kinds of entertainment.  But we should trust the Word of God as our way to reduce the stress in our lives.


David was constantly under stress


David, who was constantly under stress most of his life, knew that if he sought the Lord and told Him what he was going through that he would find favor.  As David says in the Psalms, the Lord heard and answered him and calmed him down. 


Psalm 34:4 (HCSB) I sought the LORD, and He answered me and delivered me from all my fears.   

Psalm 118:1-9 (HCSB) 1  Give thanks to the LORD, for He is good; His faithful love endures forever. 2  Let Israel say, “His faithful love endures forever.” 3  Let the house of Aaron say, “His faithful love endures forever.” 4  Let those who fear the LORD say, “His faithful love endures forever.” 5  I called to the LORD in distress; the LORD answered me and put me in a spacious place. 6  The LORD is for me; I will not be afraid. What can man do to me? 7  The LORD is my helper, Therefore, I will look in triumph on those who hate me. 8  It is better to take refuge in the LORD than to trust in man. 9  It is better to take refuge in the LORD than to trust in nobles.



That's what David said when he men were talking about stoning him.  Now that's being under a lot of stress.


4 passages of Scripture that I really like in dealing with and handling stress:

  1. Philippians 4:6-7 (HCSB) Don’t worry about anything, but in everything, through prayer and petition with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses every thought, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.
  2. Psalm 55:22 (HCSB) Cast your burden on the LORD, and He will sustain you; He will never allow the righteous to be shaken. 
  3. John 14:27 (HCSB) “Peace I leave with you. My peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Your heart must not be troubled or fearful. 
  4. Matthew 6:25-34 (HCSB) 25  “This is why I tell you: Don’t worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Isn’t life more than food and the body more than clothing? 26  Look at the birds of the sky: They don’t sow or reap or gather into barns, yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Aren’t you worth more than they? 27  Can any of you add a single cubit to his height by worrying? 28  And why do you worry about clothes? Learn how the wildflowers of the field grow: they don’t labor or spin thread. 29  Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was adorned like one of these! 30  If that’s how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and thrown into the furnace tomorrow, won’t He do much more for you—you of little faith? 31  So don’t worry, saying, ‘What will we eat?’ or ‘What will we drink?’ or ‘What will we wear?’ 32  For the idolaters eagerly seek all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. 33  But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be provided for you. 34  Therefore don’t worry about tomorrow, because tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.

*10 common things that can cause stress.

  1. The belief that I am in control of my life rather than knowing that HE is in control of EVERYTHING (including my life)!
  2. When I do not trust the people who I delegate authority and responsibility to and actually begin to believe the lie that, “If I want something done right then I must do it myself.”
  3. When I know without a doubt what God has told me to do but I begin to listen to the “experts” who tell me that the very thing God has told me to do is impossible.
  4. When I try to explain myself to those who don’t really want an explanation; they just want to argue.
  5. When I refuse to take some time to disconnect and rest, claiming that the devil never takes a day off while not understanding that the devil isn’t supposed to be my example.
  6. When I begin to take on the “Messiah complex” and begin to think about how much I need to do and how Jesus needs me rather than how much I actually NEED HIM!
  7. When I worry about results more than obedience!!!
  8. When I focus on the size of the problem rather than the size of God!
  9. When I fail to share my worries and concerns and admit my mistakes to others for fear that it may make me seem weak and stupid.  (The opposite is actually the case. Those around me actually love and respect me more when I ask for help!)
  10. When I become unaware of HIS presence every single minute of my life!
* These 10 things were from the devotional reading "The Overwhelmed Challenge" written by Pastor Nobel Perry and published on YouVersion.
I'm sure that there are things that cause you stress that aren't included in this list. We already talked about stress being inevitable but it's how we deal with it that will equip us to win the war over worry. Remember what it says in  Jeremiah 29:11 (HCSB) For I know the plans I have for you”—this is the LORD’s declaration—“plans for your welfare, not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope. 


Tuesday, May 20, 2014

The Overwhelmed Challenge - Lesson 2 Dealing with Critical People



Dealing with Critical People




Unfinished Business From Last Week


Last week we ended with the question does God punish?  We agreed, I think, that God does discipline;  

Job 5:17-18 (NIV) "Blessed is the man whom God corrects; so do not despise the discipline of the Almighty. For he wounds, but he also binds up; he injures, but his hands also heal."  

1 Cor 11:32 (Phi) But when God does judge us, he disciplines us as his own sons, that we may not be involved in the general condemnation of the world. 

Heb 12:5-8 (NIV) And you have forgotten that word of encouragement that addresses you as sons: "My son, do not make light of the Lord's discipline, and do not lose heart when he rebukes you, because the Lord disciplines those he loves, and he punishes everyone he accepts as a son." Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as sons. For what son is not disciplined by his father? If you are not disciplined (and everyone undergoes discipline), then you are illegitimate children and not true sons.

Heb 12:9-11 (NIV) Moreover, we have all had human fathers who disciplined us and we respected them for it. How much more should we submit to the Father of our spirits and live! Our fathers disciplined us for a little while as they thought best; but God disciplines us for our good, that we may share in his holiness. No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.

But does He punish?  In the case of believers I say no unless you see discipline and punishment as the same thing.  I see them both as consequence of sin.  But, and I think you will agree with me that the bible says that the punishment of sin is death right?  Well if you agree with that then what did Jesus’ death accomplish? We believe that he took that punishment for us the believer.  

Yes non-believers will receive the punishment for sin but believers have been forgiven and Jesus has already taken the punishment for us.

Review


Last week in our study we talked about our key verse which is Romans 8:28 and we decided that those all things working for good are conforming us to the image Jesus so that when we face overwhelming situations and stress we should look at God and not the situation.  We passed out a list of things that Pastor Perry Noble who wrote Overwhelmed:  Winning the War Against Worry about who God is and Michelle shared her Gratitude Diary.

Today's Discussion


Well today we are going to talk about something that does cause of stress, weather we want to admit it or not and that is dealing with critical people.

All of us deal with criticism in our lives. And it’s typically given to us without our asking for it. Perhaps it’s a co-worker, a neighbor or maybe even your mother-in-law that is always willing to give you their unwelcomed opinion.

But, Jesus dealt with criticism(Matthew 15:1-4, Matthew 12:1-2, Luke 6:6-11, Mark 3:1-5), and so did the Apostle Paul (we have talked about this in our studies in Colossians, and in both 1 and 2 Corinthians) –eventually at some point, we all will have to deal with criticism. Sometimes these cynical remarks are discouraging. They can cause us to doubt ourselves and create unnecessary worry in our lives. So whenever criticism starts coming your way, here are 5 questions I should ask yourself:

1 - How Well Does This Person Know Me?


Just because someone has an opinion about something does not make them an expert.

Understand WHO is doing the criticizing. People will often make snap judgments on your character or actions based on almost anything, when they don’t know you or the occasion for their snap judgement.

You probably don't have the time to change their opinion of you so you may not want to take the time to listen to them either.

While you souldn't take the time to listen to those I just described you can and should, you listen to those closest to you. You welcome these people's rebuke as well as their encouragement. You want people around you who aren't afraid to tell you the truth.

2 - What Attitude Does The Person Criticizing Have?


If someone comes at you with a negative, condemning attitude, write it off. The Bible says that we are called to speak the truth, but we are called to do so in love 

Ephesians 4:15 (HCSB)  But speaking the truth in love, let us grow in every way into Him who is the head—Christ.).

3 - Does What The Person Is Saying Pass Through The Filter Of Scripture?


If the person making the comment is using scripture we should consider the context of the scripture being used not just the comment.  

This from Pastor Noble's book Overwhelmed: Winning the War against Worry "For example, a few weeks ago, a friend and I had some differences and I did not speak to this person for several days. Things were tense because we work around one another. She confronted me on this and said, “The Bible says in Ephesians 4:26 that we are not supposed to let the sun go down on us while we are angry…I would say you have done that.” I was busted—she was right. She had confronted me with a non-judgmental attitude and used Scripture in context, and I repented because I was wrong.

4 - Is This Criticism Personal Or Shared By Others?


Many times when we've had a great day and everything has gone right and we get praised and complimented by many folk. Perhaps we did a great job leading a song sung by they choir, bible study was great, or a fantastic sermon. Well often we'll get one negative comment. We will ignore the positive comments, and focus focusing on that one negative one, and it's probably not even true! We cannot let ourselves dwell on that negative comment.

Here is the bottom line:

5 - Is This Worth My Time?


We don't have the time to deal with every instance of criticism. There are some very real things that are worth your time, and you should address them. But you are not going to change the mind of the critical person so just move on.

From Pastor Noble's Devotional "The Overwhelmed Challenge" In the end, we all have good things in our lives we need to focus on. The best thing being Jesus. 2 Corinthians 4:16-18 says “Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.”

So don’t spend your time fighting the critics, spend your time focusing on Jesus and the blessings He has given to all of us. He is the one we will spend eternity with in heaven, and His opinion is the only one that really matters.





Thursday, May 15, 2014

The Overwhelmed Challenge - Lesson 1






I started a study in my adult bible study class today. The study "The Overwhelmed Challage" is based on a devotional reading from YouVersion of the same title. The study is to show us how to deal with stress, anxiety and worry which are things we all struggle with at some point in our lives. We will be using the book "Overwhelmed: Winning the War against Worry". The book and the devotion were written by Pastor Perry Noble of New Spring Church in Anderson, South Carolina. Pastor Nobel is the pastor of a very large and successful church yet he has struggled with depression and in this book he talks about the struggle and what he learned in overcoming the battle against stress and and anxiety. I will post excerpts of the study each week here in my blog. When we complete the study I will post the entire study on my website Face The Evidence If you want to follow along with us or you're in my bible study class and want to get the book it's available on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Lighthouse Christian Books, and most Christian Book stores.


Here we go with excerpts from Lesson 1:



Key Scripture Romans 8:28 (HCSB)  We know that all things work together for the good of those who love God: those who are called according to His purpose.


Stress, anxiety and worry are something we all struggle with at some point in our lives. But what about when it gets to a point where you feel completely overwhelmed?   In a devotional series Perry Noble, senior pastor of New Spring Church, explains five ways that we can begin to win the war against worry.


Between financial struggles, marital issues, health scares, and the run-of-the-mill problems of everyday life, it’s easy to feel weighed down and trapped by your circumstances. In times like these, it’s tempting to just throw in the towel and quit. With all the bad things that are happening and will happen like the storms that have ravaged the southeast and Midwest where people have died and property destroyed, how about when a police officer on duty or a young girl or boy is killed by a drunk driver, or in a fit of rage and man kills his whole family or someone goes on a military base and just starts shooting or, to make it more personal when we lose a loved one or lose a job or lose our home and all these things happen in succession, how can Paul say to his readers and eventually us what he did in Romans 8:28.


These words from Paul are not from a person who has had it good all his life but from a guy who was"under great pressure" and "despaired even of life" (2 Cor. 1:8); he was "hard pressed on every side" and "perplexed," "persecuted" and "struck down" (2 Cor. 4:8-9); he experienced "beatings," "imprisonments," "riots" and "hunger" (2 Cor. 6:4-5).


Well to be free from the realities of sin and death does not mean that we can live our lives unaffected by the continuing presence of sin and death in this world.  So what’s the good?  Doesn't make sense does it?  Here’s what it means.  It is the destiny of those who love the Lord to be like Jesus. God is committed to produce in us all the love, all the joy, all the patience, all the long-suffering, all the goodness, and all the gentleness of Jesus.  But until that happens we are still subject to the realities of sin and death.  It is God's love in Christ that sustains us and empowers us—even in the midst of our experiences of sin and death—"to be conformed to the likeness of his Son" (Romans 8:29). God works in all things toward that good purpose. But only "those who love him" know that, because they are participants "with him" in the outworking of that purpose.


So with that let’s start our study.



Don’t look at what is wrong, look at who God is and his character!



Lets go to Romans 5:8  But God proves His own love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us!


Instead of the word for let’s replace it with "for the benefit of," "on behalf of," and "instead of." then the full significance of Christ's death "for" us hits home.


Isaiah 43:1-3 (HCSB)1  Now this is what the LORD says— the One who created you, Jacob, and the One who formed you, Israel— “Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by your name; you are Mine.2  I will be with you when you pass through the waters, and ⌊when you pass⌋ through the rivers, they will not overwhelm you. You will not be scorched when you walk through the fire, and the flame will not burn you.3  For I Yahweh your God, the Holy One of Israel, and your Savior, give Egypt as a ransom for you, Cush and Seba in your place.


This passage is the beginning of Isaiah’s prophecy about the nation being redeemed from captivity and so what he saying is that God said that after the period of captivity, which was 70 years, Israel would be restored to its place as members of his own family; he would claim their rights and fulfill their obligations for them.  The ground for these promises was not on merit but on God's unmerited favor and grace, and his self-commitment as Father to his covenant people, that's us now because of Christ's work on the cross.   He had given the Persians, Egypt as a reward for them releasing Israel from Babylon.

Philippians 1:6 (HCSB) 6  I am sure of this, that He who started a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.

Paul's was confident that the Philippians partnership in the Gospel would continue because of the faithfulness of God who, having begun a good work, would most certainly bring it to completion. And that completion as we talked about when discussing Romans 8:28 is our being conformed to the likeness of Jesus.  So the reliance, therefore, is on God.


So at the most stressful moments in your life, at the times when you feel most overwhelmed go back and read on meditate on these verses and stop and focus on God.  Here is what Pastor Noble says he does and I think it is great advice.  He looks at who God is and he made a list that helps him and it can help us and keep us from freaking out..  


GOD IS



SOVEREIGN — He reigns over everyone and everything and has never been stressed out.

• UNSTOPPABLE  and so are those who follow Him.
HOLYGod is perfect, which means everything He wants/desires for my life is far greater than anything I could have thought of. 
• CONSISTENTI don’t have to worry about Him being in a bad mood.
• GREATER  than any temptation the enemy throws my way.

• BETTER  than anything the world has to offer.
• BIGGER  than any sin or failure in my life.

• GRACIOUS — He knows every stupid, foolish, sinful thing I’ve ever done (or will do), and yet He loves me anyway!

• ALWAYS  here with me — God has NEVER walked away from me. He doesn't always deliver me from the fire, but He has ALWAYS walked with me through it!

• FAITHFUL — If I fail to see His faithfulness in my past, I will probably not recognize the fruitfulness of my future.

• THE ONE WHO PURSUES ME — He pursues me even on the days I tend to walk away from Him.

• RELENTLESS — He has NEVER given up on me!

• PASSIONATE — His passion and zeal that the scriptures reveal cause me to be in AWE. I could go on and on, but what I want you to see is that when stress comes into our lives it is an awesome opportunity to KNOW GOD. 

So, if you are stressed out, freaked out and feel like you are about to give out, then “check out” for 10 minutes from your busy life, sit down with a piece of paper, make a list of who the scriptures say GOD IS, and focus on that rather than your circumstances.





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