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Stress and Distress

October 31st, 2017

When Life is not easy God’s grace is sufficient

“As pressure and stress bear down on me, I find joy in your commands.” Psalm 119:143 NLT.

My thoughts and comments today are about,

“stress and distress.”

You and I live in a world of unceasing and increasing stress. Stress is harmful. Stress does a lot of things, none of which are helpful. Stress accelerates your heart rate, increases blood pressure, manufactures anxiety, creates mental and emotional exhaustion, steals peace of mind, and destroys health. Stress is from the emotions you feel when the pressure seems overpowering. Hurry and worry result.

The eventual consequence is distress. Naturally, everyone would prefer no problems. No worries. No uncertainties. But no troubles equal no growth and result in little or no faith. Written years earlier, these lyrics provide a faith perspective about problems, “If I never had a problem, how would I know that God could solve them; I’d never know what faith in God can do. But through it all, I’ve learned to trust in Jesus; I’ve learned to trust in God. I’ve learned to depend upon His Word.” (Through It All, Andrae Crouch).

The Psalmist, David wrote, “As pressure and stress bear down on me, I find joy in your commands.” Psalm 119:143 NLT. God’s Word and truth is where you find wisdom. Don’t wish your problems away. Learn from them. Learning brings enlargement. The truth you learn by personal experience is truth that you will not soon forget. Life is better when you experience truth firsthand rather than trusting secondhand opinions from others.

Whenever David experienced distress, he also discovered something more about his God. God was there and His love did not wane, nor were His grace and power diminished. In the New Testament, the Greek word translated as, “distress,” describes, “pressure or narrowness of room.” Trouble narrows your view, appearing to lessen your options and exaggerating your distress.

The Psalmist cried out to God, “When I call, give me answers. God, take my side! Once, in a tight place, You gave me room; now I’m in trouble again. Grace me! Hear me!” Psalm 4:1 MSG. A more current expression would be this, “between a rock and a hard place.” Today, we call that stress. You won’t find rest and understanding until you turn to God. Why does it take us so long before we look to the only One who is all-knowing and always has sufficient grace and power?

Could there be times that God does not quickly deliver you from your distressing situation but allows circumstances to grow increasingly uncomfortable and confining until you will look to Him, and listen to Him, and embrace and obey His good will? “Then you will know what God wants you to do, and you will know how good and pleasing and perfect His will really is.” Romans 12:1 NLT.

Even when in distressing times or circumstances, be confident. God can enlarge you in your distress. “God, You have freed me when I was hemmed in and enlarged me when I was in distress.” Psalm 4:1 AMP. His grace can give you needed relief, providing room to breathe and believe again. His power can push back the realities that press too tightly upon you, allowing you room to recover and regroup.

Life is not fair, but God is eternally loving and just. When life is not fair, God is righteous.  God promises, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is made perfect in weakness.” Read 2 Corinthians 12:9-10 NIV. When life is not easy, God’s grace is sufficient. We are pressed on every side by troubles, but we are not crushed and broken. We are perplexed, but we don’t give up and quit. We are hunted down, but God never abandons us. We get knocked down, but we get up again and keep going.” 2 Corinthians 4:8-9 NLT.

Today, I pray for you to call on God in your distress and lean on Him in your weakness.

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Grace and Comfort

October 14th, 2015

“Grace and peace to you from God our Father.” 2 Corinthians 1:2 NKJV.

Your comfort remains incomplete until shared with others.

My thoughts and comments today are about “grace and comfort.”

In the Bible, there are many descriptions of God’s attributes. Of all the writers who attempt to describe the Indescribable, I love the Apostle Paul’s description best. “Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Blessed be the Father of mercies and the God of all comfort, Who comforts us in all tribulation.” 2 Corinthians 1:2-4 NKJV. Read those words deliberately – grace, peace, mercies, comfort – and embrace them personally. Were it not for His grace, there could be no peace. And were it not for His mercies, comfort would be elusive. Flowing from God’s grace and peace, mercies and comfort abound.

Life can be difficult and trying times confusing. That is when and where you and I need the One, “Who comforts us in all tribulation.” By New Testament definition, tribulation is, “pressure resulting from a too narrow place.” Maybe you presently feel discomfort in a situation with undesirable options in an uncomfortable context. Such a place is sometimes described as being, “caught between a rock and a hard place.” Tribulation is something more than a brief inconvenience from the antagonism of persons or adverse circumstances.

Paul knew such times and also knew the sufficient grace and peace he found in every experience, “We are hard pressed, but not crushed; perplexed but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed.” 2 Corinthians 4:8-9 NIV. You need a powerful God with a tender heart and gentle hand, “the Father of mercies and the God of all comfort.” From personal experience, Paul wrote, “Now may our Lord Jesus Christ Himself, and our God and Father, who has loved us and given us everlasting consolation and good hope by grace, comfort your hearts and establish you in every good word and work.” 2 Thessalonians 2:16-17 NKJV.

Comfort is wrongly assumed as merely kind, emotional support. However, the word’s origin implies a strengthening impartation of courage and fortitude. See Acts 28:15-16 NKJV. For Paul, the Father’s purpose is clear; you are comforted by God to be a comforter of others. “If we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which produces in you patient endurance of the same sufferings we suffer.” 2 Corinthians 1:6 NIV. Your comfort remains incomplete until shared with others. “Therefore, comfort each other and edify one another, just as you also are doing.” 1 Thessalonians 5:11 NKJV.

Today, I pray for you to be fortified in spirit and confident in every circumstance.

Christian Communications

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Pressures

May 10th, 2011

“Under pressure . . your faith . . shows.” James 1:3 The Message

“Pressure, rightly responded to with grace and faith, produces valuable, spiritual qualities.”

My thoughts today are about “pressures.”

Pressure of one sort or another seems an unavoidable part of everyday life – whether financial, relational, occupational, emotional, or spiritual pressure. It’s not all that pleasant when it’s happening, but all pressure is not bad. Some pressure is normal, and any pressure can turn out to be profitable. Without any pressure, you would under-achieve, never accomplishing your fullest potential. You get stronger by resisting what would weaken you; you become better through overcoming challenges requiring that you do so. Neither deadlines nor difficulties are unprofitable, except when self-imposed by your lack of planning or poor choices.

Though long ago, I still remember a high school science class when the teacher demonstrated the power of surrounding air pressure to crush a metal can when the air pressure inside was reduced significantly. The can collapsed! The object no longer had adequate pressure to withstand the forces against it. Don’t let that happen to you.

You may have heard the practical advice, “Don’t let the pressure get to you.” Is that possible, and if so, how? Pressure externally is not the problem you think it to be, as long as there is a sufficient force internally to resist and withstand it. Pressure exists; the answer is not found in life that is free from stress, strain, and anxiety.

Jesus both promised and warned, “These things have I 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.” John 16:33 NKJV. Listen to what God says to your heart. God’s Word inside your heart is the inner strength that withstands every outward force to the contrary. “Be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might . . that you may be able to withstand . . and having done all to stand, stand therefore . .” Read Ephesians 6:10-18 NKJV.

“You are of God . . and have overcome, because He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world.” 1 John 4:4 NKJV. Safely in Christ Jesus and abiding in the truth and power of God’s Word, you are more than equal to any task or trouble you encounter. The Bible says that you need perseverance, character, and hope strongly within you. Do you know how those dynamic, spiritual qualities develop? Paul wrote, “knowing that tribulation produces perseverance, and perseverance (produces) character, and character (produces) hope.” Romans 5:3-4 NKJV. Pressure, rightly responded to with grace and in faith, produces valuable, spiritual qualities. Tribulation, is a translation of a Greek word, “thilipsis,” describing “a pressing from all sides.” Paul describes an occasion of his being “pressed beyond measure, above strength . .” 2 Corinthians 1:2-10 KJV.

James, the brother of Jesus, confirms in his letter, “Whenever trouble comes your way, let it be an opportunity for joy. For when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be strong in character and ready for anything.” James 1:2-4 NLT.

My prayer for you today is that in every pressure you will find His strength to withstand.

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Making Good Decisions

December 1st, 2009

“The Lord directs the steps of the Godly.” Psalm 37:23 NLT

“A good decision later than you wish is better than a poor decision made too quickly.”

My thoughts today are about “making good decisions.”

Your life and well being are the very real product of the many, varied choices and decisions that you have to make each day – some are about small matters, others important, but all more significant than you might imagine at the moment you are making them. The far-reaching impact of what may appear the simplest of decisions can reach well beyond anything you might imagine.

It is wonderful when you have sufficient information to choose wisely and well, but occasionally you will lack the very knowledge needed to know what is best. It would appear obvious that you would need the Lord’s guidance in the latter; you don’t want to be guessing in matters of continuing consequence. Here is the truth, however. You need God to guide you in matters great and small. It is best to rely upon the Lord’s wisdom even with decisions in which you feel confident, because yours and my understanding is limited even at its best. How can you make the best decisions?

Recognize your need for God’s wisdom. “If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and wisdom will be given to him.” James 1:5 NIV. No one will bother to ask God for His wisdom who believes they are adequate on their own. When God offered Solomon anything that he would ask for, He wisely chose to ask for wisdom and knowledge. Read 2 Chronicles 1:7-12 NKJV. Solomon recognized his lack. “I am like a little child who doesn’t know his way around . . give me an understanding heart that I can govern Your people well and know the difference between right and wrong.” 1 Kings 3:7-9 NLT. Honesty and humility are always the best way to approach God when seeking wisdom and understanding.

Wise decisions are rarely made under pressure. Read 1 Samuel 13:7-14 NKJV. King Saul made a terribly unwise decision that set him in opposition to God’s direct and expressed will. (vs. 8-10). His excuse was that he “felt compelled.” (vs. 12). Saul gave in to pressure and the result was devastating personally and professionally.

Resist the pressure from people. Beware of the voice of the crowd. “When I saw the people . .” (vs. 11). Because everybody is saying so, doesn’t make it so. When you feel pressed to decide as someone else wants you to do, consider carefully your decision. Saul was disqualified for yielding to the pressure to do as people expected. There is one lone voice that should matter to you more than a thousand others; that voice is God’s!

Remove the pressure of time. “The steps (and stops) of the Godly are directed by the Lord. He delights in every detail of their lives.” Psalm 37:23 NLT. A decision made in a hurry is usually not your best decision. King Saul’s explanation was, “When I saw the people . . and that you did not come within the days appointed, and that the Philistines had gathered together . .” (vs. 11). A good decision a little later than you wish is better than a poor decision made too quickly. Your deadline may not be the same as God’s.

My prayer for you today is: always take the time necessary for God to direct you.

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