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The Word For Today

Overcoming stress 6



'Very early in the morning...Jesus...prayed.' Mark 1:35 NIV

Make prayer your daily habit. Prayer is the great stress-reliever. Jesus began his day with prayer. He often stopped throughout the day to pray, and he ended each day with prayer. Now, if Jesus made time for prayer as busy as he was, how much more do you need to do it! Time alone with God can be a decompression chamber for life's stresses. We talk to God in prayer, tell him what's on our minds, and let him talk to us as we read the Bible. Then we look at our schedule, evaluate our priorities and wait for instructions. If we lived that way, the pharmaceutical industry would go broke because we wouldn't need a fraction of the tranquillisers they market!

Many of our problems come from our inability to sit still. We just don't know how to be quiet. God says, 'Be still, and know that I am God' (Psalm 46:10 NKJV). And one reason we don't know God more personally is because we can't be still. We're too busy to be quiet and just think. Someone said, 'It seems to be an ironic habit of man that when he loses his way he doubles his speed.' The story's told of a World War II Air Force pilot who flew over the Pacific. When he radioed the tower and the controller asked for his location, he replied, 'I don't know - but I'm making record time!' A lot of us are like that, speeding through life without knowing where we're headed.

We need to start our morning with prayer like Jesus did, and stop throughout the day to pray again and recharge our spiritual batteries.

Soulfood: S of Sol 5-8 Matt 26:1-16 Ps 39 Pro 21:9-13,

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Overcoming stress 5



'He appointed twelve...that he might send them out.' Mark 3:14 NIV

Don't try to do it all yourself. One of the reasons we get stressed out is because we think that everything depends on us. Not Jesus. He enlisted, trained and empowered twelve others so they could share the load. He delegated his work. He got other people involved.

So why don't we do that? Two reasons: (1) Perfectionism. We think, 'If I want a job well done, I'll do it myself.' That's a nice idea, but often it doesn't work well because there are just too many things to be done. We simply don't have the time and talent to do everything ourselves. It's really an egotistical attitude that says, 'Nobody, but nobody, can do it the way I can!' Do you think Jesus could've done a better job than his disciples? Of course, but even knowing that, he still let them do the work. Why? Because we need to let other people make some of the mistakes in order for them to learn, the same way the disciples learned. Don't rob others of an education. (2) Insecurity. 'What if I turn this responsibility over to someone else and they do a better job than I do?' That possibility is threatening to many of us. But you won't feel threatened if you know who you are, who you're trying to please, what you want to accomplish, and the one thing you need to focus on.

In order to be effective you must get other people involved, because you can't focus on more than one thing at a time and do it well.

Soulfood: S of Sol 1-4 Matt 25:41-46 Ps 3 Pro 21:4-8,

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Overcoming stress 4



'I must proclaim the good news of the Kingdom of God... that is why I was sent.' Luke 4:43 NIV

Focus on one thing at a time. Are you being pulled in different directions? People constantly tried to do this to Jesus and distract him from his goal in life. The Bible says, 'At daybreak, Jesus went out to a solitary place. The people were looking for him and when they came to where he was, they tried to keep him from leaving them' (Luke 4:42 NIV). Jesus was about to leave and they tried to make him stay. Here's how he responded: 'I must proclaim the good news of the Kingdom...to the other towns also, because that is why I was sent' (Luke 4:43 NIV).

Jesus refused to be distracted by less important matters. Indeed, he was a master at this. Everybody tried to interrupt him. Everyone had a Plan B for his life. But in essence he responded, 'No, I must keep moving towards my goal.' And he kept right on doing what he knew God had told him to do. He was determined. He was persistent. He was focused.

So when you have a dozen different things to do, pick the most important one and stick with it until it's complete. Then pick the second most important and do the same thing, until you've completed the list. When we diffuse our efforts we're ineffective; when we concentrate our efforts we're more successful. Diffused light produces a hazy glow, whereas light that's concentrated produces fire. Jesus didn't let interruptions prevent him from concentrating on his goal. He didn't let others make him tense or stressed or irritated. And he is your example!

Soulfood: Gen 24:1-51 2 Cor 6:14-18 2 Cor 7:1,

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Overcoming stress 3



'I know where I came from and where I am going.' John 8:14 NIV

Know what you want to accomplish. Jesus said, 'I know where I came from and where I am going' (John 8:14 NIV). Can you say that too? Unless you plan your life and establish priorities, you'll be pressured by other people to do what they think is important. Every day you either live by priorities or you live by pressures. There's no other option. Either you decide what's important in your life or you let other people decide for you.

It's easy to operate under the tyranny of the urgent, to come to the end of your day and wonder, 'Have I accomplished anything at all? I used up a lot of energy and did a lot of things, but did I achieve anything important?' Busyness is not necessarily productivity. You may be spinning in circles but not accomplishing anything of real value. Preparation causes you to be at ease. Or to put it another way, preparation prevents pressure, whereas procrastination produces pressure. Good organisation and good preparation reduce stress because you know who you are, who you're trying to please, and what you want to accomplish. Having clearly defined goals simplifies life.

So spend a few minutes at the beginning of every day talking with God in prayer. Then look at your schedule for the day and decide: 'Is this really the way I want to spend a day of my life? Am I willing to exchange the next twenty-four valuable hours for these activities?' The right answer to those two questions will lower your stress level by helping you prioritise.

Soulfood: 2 Cor 11:16-33 2 Cor 12 2 Cor 13:1-14 Matt 25:31-40 Ps 19 Pro 21:3,

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Overcoming stress 2



'I seek not to please myself but him who sent me.' John 5:30 NIV

Know who you are trying to please. Jesus didn't try to please everybody, so isn't it foolish for you to try to do something even God doesn't do? It was a settled issue with Jesus: 'I'm going to please God, full stop!' And God replied, 'This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased' (Matthew 3:17 NKJV).

When you lose sight of who you're trying to please you'll always cave in to three things: Criticism, because you're overly concerned about what others think of you. Competition, because you're afraid somebody will get ahead of you. Conflict, because you're threatened by anyone who disagrees with you. Jesus said, 'Seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things [overcoming the stress of criticism, competition and conflict], shall be added to you' (Matthew 6:33 NKJV). By focusing on God's will you simplify your life! You'll always be doing the right thing, the thing that pleases him, regardless of what anybody else thinks. We love to blame stress on other people and on our obligations: 'You made me do...I have to...I've got to.' Actually, there are few things in life apart from our jobs that we must do. So what we're really saying is, 'I choose to [fill in your obligation here] because I don't want to handle the consequences.' Rarely does anybody make us do anything, so we can't blame other people for our stress.

When we feel pressured, we're choosing to let others put us there. The fact is, we're not victims unless we allow ourselves to be pressured by outside demands.

Soulfood: 2 Cor 9:1-15 2 Cor 10 2 Cor 11:1-15 Matt 25:22-30 Ps 24 Pro 21:1-2,

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Overcoming stress 1



'"Who are you?" ...Jesus replied, "The one I have always claimed to be."' John 8:25 NLT

Jesus was constantly under pressure. There were gruelling demands on his time. He rarely had personal privacy and he was constantly interrupted. People repeatedly misunderstood, criticised and ridiculed him. He was under enormous stress, yet he remained at peace under pressure. How did he do it? He based his life on eight sound principles of stress management. So for the next week let's look at them and see what we can learn.

Know who you are. '"Who are you?" they demanded. Jesus replied, "The one I have always claimed to be"' (John 8:25 NLT). If you don't know who you are, others might try to tell you who they think you are. If you don't know who you are, you'll subconsciously let other people pressure you into believing you're somebody you're not. A lot of stress comes from our hiding behind masks, living double lives, being unreal with others, and trying to be somebody we're not. Insecurity always produces pressure in our lives; when we're insecure we feel coerced into performing and conforming. We set unrealistic standards for ourselves, and even though we work, work, work, we still can't meet them.

So what should you do? _Hlk14866129You must know who you are, and whose you are! You're a redeemed child of God, put on this earth not by accident but for a purpose. You are deeply loved and fully accepted by God. He has a plan for your life; therefore you are significant. To overcome stress you must know who you are, and until you deal decisively with this issue you'll be plagued by it._Hlk14866129

Soulfood: 2 Cor 5-8 Matt 25:14-21 Ps 78:65-72 Pro 20:26-30,

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Remember the overlooked and forgotten



'Plead the case of the widow.' Isaiah 1:17 NIV

In New Testament times society had no welfare system. That's why the apostle James wrote, 'Religion that God...accepts...is...to look after orphans and widows' (James 1:27 NIV). This could be the kind of ministry you've been looking for! The only qualification you need is the memory of how it feels to 'be left out' and the compassion to 'do something about it'.

The following poignant letter, 'The Story of Widowhood', was written by a lady whose husband died. 'First numbness, then busyness. A million things to settle. Endless death certificates and things to sign. Friends are so considerate; caring support from relatives. You keep busy. But at night you pound the empty side of the bed in grief. Finally you close your eyes, throw his toothbrush into the garbage, and toss out the old work shoes you brought home from the hospital in a plastic bag. You empty the closet and give all his things away. It's heartache like you wouldn't believe. Every suit in his closet reminds you of a special place or time you shared together. A year has passed; you're still in one piece. Then the blow! Your friends celebrate a birthday - all couples. You're not included because you'd be a "fifth wheel". Some wives may even consider you a threat. Please remember us. Don't treat us like excess baggage. We've been handed a rotten break, and we need friends. Signed, Forgotten.'

Think of the difference you could make today in somebody's life by being willing to seek out those who society so often overlooks and forgets.

Soulfood: 2 Cor 1-4 Matt 25:1-13 Ps 78:56-64 Pro 20:25,

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You can overcome your past



'Jephthah...a mighty man...was the son of a harlot.' Judges 11:1 NKJV

Sociologists tell us that human behaviour is largely determined by two things: our parents and our environment. Judging by that, they'd have written Jephthah off as a lost cause! But not God. His Word says, 'Do not remember the former things, nor consider the things of old. Behold, I will do a new thing' (Isaiah 43:18-19 NKJV). When Jesus becomes Lord of your life, neither genes nor environment can prevent you from becoming everything he intends you to be. Before his life was over, Jephthah became famous as Israel's youngest governor, and is listed among the Bible heroes in Hebrews chapter 11. That's because God is a turnaround specialist!

Maybe you were born in less-than-ideal circumstances, and you're wondering if you can ever overcome them. The answer is yes! So the next time someone tries to use your past to put you down, remind them about Jephthah. The truth is, our God is awesome! He can lift the disadvantaged higher than those who have had every possible advantage. His strength is revealed and released in our weakness (see 2 Corinthians 12:9). He specialises in using those who have been rejected. He used Joseph, a man thrown into a pit by his brothers and written off by his father as dead. He used David, a shepherd boy alienated and ignored by his family. He used Jesus, 'the stone the builders rejected' (Psalm 118:22 NIV), who went on to become 'the chief cornerstone' (Luke 20:17 NKJV). And he can do the same for you.

So be encouraged; God has a plan for your life and as you spend time with him he will show you what it is.

Soulfood: Ezek 46-48 Matt 24:36-51 Ps 78:40-55 Pro 20:22-24,

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Enjoy your life



'To everything there is a season...a time to laugh...to dance...to love.' Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 NKJV

When did you last take time to laugh, to dance and to love? Can you even remember? In the words of an unknown poet: 'This is the age of the half-read page; the quick hash and the mad dash. The bright knight with the nerves tight; the plane hop and the brief stop. The lamp-tan in a brief span; the big shot in a good spot. The brain strain and the heart pain; the catnaps until the spring snaps...and the fun's done!' Sobering words, right?

But does it have to be that way? No, if it's that way in your life today, chances are it's because you made it that way. And you're the only one who can make it different! You say you're busy? We're all busy. Who says you can't enjoy life even when the pace picks up? Certainly not God! Chuck Swindoll writes: 'I refuse to force hilarity into the back seat every time responsibility takes the wheel. If the fun's gone, it's because we didn't want it around - not because it didn't fit...I don't care if your "to do" list is as long as the horizon, you need to get back in balance and take the time to laugh...to dance...and to love. Why? Because the Bible says so! Furthermore, your family and friends will enjoy you a lot more when you do.'

The psalmist said, 'You will show me the path of life; In your presence is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore' (Psalm 16:11 NKJV). So go ahead and enjoy your life the way God intended - it will be over before you know it.

Soulfood: Ezek 43-45 Matt 24:26-35 Ps 78:32-39 Pro 20:20-21,

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Stop putting it off



'Teach us to number our days.' Psalm 90:12 NKJV

In a 1985 newspaper essay, Anne Wells wrote: 'My brother-in-law opened my sister's bureau and lifted out a tissue-wrapped package. It was an exquisite silk handmade slip; the price tag with an astronomical figure on it was still attached. "Jan bought this the first time we went to New York...eight or nine years ago," [he said]. "She never wore it; she was saving it for a special occasion. Well, I guess this is the occasion." He put the slip on the bed with the other clothes we were taking - to the mortician. Then he turned to me, "Don't ever save anything for a special occasion. Every day you're alive is a special occasion!"' Those words changed Anne Wells' life. She continued: 'I'm not saving anything anymore. Now we use our good china...for every special occasion - like losing a pound, getting the sink unstopped, the first camellia blossom. "Someday" and "one of these days" are fighting a losing battle to stay in my vocabulary. If it's worth seeing, hearing or doing, I want to see, hear and do it now. I'm trying very hard not to put off, hold back or save anything that would add laughter and lustre to our lives. And every morning when I open my eyes I tell myself this is a special occasion.'

Makes you think, doesn't it? Makes you want to drain the last ounce of joy out of every day and break free from the cement of procrastination that whispers, 'You can do it later.' Wise up! Forgive that offence, tell that person you love them, take that trip, go back to school. Decide today to do the thing you've been putting off.

Soulfood: Gen 2:7-25 1 Cor 15:39-55,

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