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Posts tagged ‘pressure’

When Under Pressure, Make The Best Choice

SOURCE:  Adapted from an article by Lighthouse Network/Stepping Stones/Karl Benzio

This Pressure Cooker Called Life

Have you ever been in “pressure-cooker” situations, dealing with non-stop stress, multiple priorities, constant interruptions, or emotionally charged situations?

What happens to the brain when we’re under pressure like that?

Our circuitry, the hard-wiring necessary to get the best decision-making and spiritual worship out of the awesome mind that is YOU, is dramatically affected by stress.

God gave us a great brain to respond to acute and short periods of stress. But longer episodes of stress are actually destructive to the brain, and thus all the areas of life our brain touches. Satan knows that and he cranks up the pressure, the stress of life, to push us to be a ‘conforming’ mind. Our viewpoint and decisions will determine how much stress and pressure we are exposed to and whether we fan it or extinguish it. . . .

Ongoing stress causes excessive action by our immune system and endocrine system, producing cortisol and adrenaline. Prolonged activation injures brain cells, even kills some, and disrupts circuitry in our emotion, memory, and relationship centers of the brain. This is why we have trouble thinking of God’s promises, character, or past provision … trouble remembering Bible passages that soothe, and trouble connecting to God’s love, peace, comfort, and grace when we are under continual pressure or stress.

Everyone responds to stress differently. Some people just walk away. Maybe you’re competent to accomplish a task, but instead, do just enough to make it work. Possibly you fall into making knee-jerk reactions, or you respond to what is urgent while avoiding what is important. It’s easy to go for the quick fix, relying on yourself, but forgetting to ask God for His guidance and wisdom. That’s exactly where Satan wants you to be.

But there’s another way.

[W]hen you are under pressure at work, at home, or on the street, just stop. Consider that you get to make a choice. Call on God and tell Him you need His help.

This is exactly where we all need to be, “on our knees” in a position of dependence. God is delighted when we rely on His goodness, mercy and power. He has promised that He will always be with us. He will never leave us or forsake us. You can decide to let the pressure get to you … or to rely on the God who loves you. Whether you stop and rely on Him, actually rewiring that damaged circuitry, healing damaged brain cells, and literally growing new ones that will allow you to function better or you rely on yourself and allow stress to ultimately overwhelm you is your decision … so choose well as it is your spiritual act of worship!

Dear God, When I consider all the pressures and demands on my life today, it feels overwhelming. It’s so hard to know what to do or even where to start. I don’t want to just get by. I want to live a full life, the abundant life Jesus talked about, a life that pleases You in every way. I can’t do this alone. I need and want Your help. As I call out to You. I trust You alone to give me wisdom, guidance and energy for my situation. I pray to You in the name of Your Son Jesus who had perfect brain chemistry and triumphed through the most extreme pressure cooker.  “AMEN!”

The Truth
No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.  1 Corinthians 10:13

“And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.”  Matthew 6:13

Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual act of worship. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.  Romans 12:1-2

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God WILL Allow More Than You Can Bear (Alone)

SOURCE:  Ron Edmondson

I occasionally like to correct a myth I have heard all my life.

How many times has someone said to you, “God will never put more trials on you than you can bear”?

I challenge you to show me that in the Bible.

The problem I have with this myth is that it keeps so many believers wondering why they can’t handle their problems, falsely believing they should be able to, because someone once told them the lie that God would not put more on them than they could.

Yes, we do have the promise that we will not be “tempted beyond what you can bear” (1 Corinthians 10:13), but we need to understand what that verse is saying. It says that God will not allow Satan to bring temptation, or enticement to sin, into our life that is too much for us to say no to it. When we are tempted to sin, God will make a way for us to resist it. That is because He wants us to live holy, just as Christ who calls us is holy.

Consistently, throughout the Bible, I read where at times God allowed more trials, more pressure, than His children could bear.

Elijah, the powerful prophet of God who held back the rain had a time when the trial must have been bigger than his ability to handle it.  Consider this verse: “The angel of the LORD came back a second time and touched him and said, “Get up and eat, for the journey is too much for you.” (1 Kings 19:7)

Once when Paul wrote to the people at Corinth (2 Corinthians 1:8), he told them that he and his followers faced trials “far beyond our ability to endure”.

David, the great war hero and man after God’s own heart, told the Lord that “troubles without number surround me” and “and I cannot see”. He couldn’t see clearly, because he was overwhelmed with the storms of life! Another time David said “Save me, O God, for the waters have come up to my neck.”( Oh how I identify with David there!)

Jehoshaphat prayed, “We do not know what to do, but our eyes are on you.”  (2 Chronicles 20:12)  It sounds like he was facing more than he could handle on his own.

Are there times when God allows more troubles in your life than you can bear?

Absolutely! Positively!

If you can accept my testimony as an example, let me tell you that sometimes life throws more at me than I can handle, at least more than I can handle alone. The reason God allows you and I to experience times when we are consumed by trials, when they are bigger than our own strength can handle, is so that we have no where else to turn, except towards Him. We are faced with one solution, and that we realize Christ is our only hope!

After Paul wrote that his trial was bigger than his ability to endure, he offers an explanation. “But this happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God, who raises the dead.” (2 Corinthians 1:9) He recognized that this overwhelming time of trouble, that he couldn’t handle alone, had caused him to focus more on the power of God, and allow God to work His perfect will.

Are you being challenged beyond your ability to endure?

Don’t believe that you can do it alone! You can’t!

Jesus said, “apart from me you can do nothing!” Did you get that point? Nothing! Don’t try anything today without relying on the power of God! He knows you’re weak, but He is available to help, if you will call upon Him!

When we are at our weakest, He is strong!

Suffering: Struggle In Gethsemane

SOURCE:  John MacArthur/Grace to You

“Then He said to them, ‘My soul is deeply grieved, to the point of death; remain here and keep watch with Me.’”
– Matthew 26:38

In His time of greatest distress, Jesus realized His human weakness and His need to depend on the Father.

As Jesus entered the Garden of Gethsemane with Peter, James, and John, He experienced a more profound anguish over sin and death than ever before. His deep and desolate distress was made more severe when He considered the many personal disappointments that confronted Him. First, there was the betrayal by Judas, one of His own disciples. Then there would be the desertion by the Eleven and Peter’s threefold denial of his Master. Jesus would also be rejected by His own people, Israel, whose leaders would subject Him to all kinds of injustices before His death.

It shouldn’t surprise us, then, that Christ tells His three trusted disciples, “My soul is deeply grieved, to the point of death.” A person can die from such heavy sorrow, which in God’s providence did not happen to Jesus. However, the magnitude of Jesus’ sorrow apparently caused the blood capillaries right under His skin to burst. As more and more capillaries burst from the extreme emotional pressures Jesus endured, blood escaped through His pores, “and His sweat became like drops of blood, falling down upon the ground” (Luke 22:44). Such sweating was just one outward result of what our Lord felt at the excruciating prospect of His having to become sin for us. His holiness was completely repulsed by such a thought.

It was because Jesus did keep watch and look to His Father in prayer that He endured and passed this test in the Garden. Right up to the end, Christ lived His earthly life in total, sinless submission to the Father. As a believer, you also will face times of severe testing and trial when only direct communion with God will give you the strength to prevail. And you also have the added encouragement of Jesus’ example in Gethsemane, the climax of His experiences through which He became a High Priest who can fully “sympathize with our weaknesses” (Heb. 4:15).

Wisdom for the Trials of Life

SOURCE:  Charles Stanley/InTouch Ministries

Read | James 1:5-8

At first glance, today’s passage on wisdom doesn’t seem related to the subject of trials, but James is actually continuing His thoughts from the previous three verses. We need wisdom to know how to respond to suffering. This means we should see trials from the Lord’s viewpoint and understand His purposes in allowing them in our lives.

If you want to profit from struggles, be sustained in them, and come through with joy and victory, you must be persuaded of the following truths:

1. God is in full control of the timing and intensity of your trial and will not allow it to go beyond His boundaries.

2. He has a specific purpose for your suffering which you may not understand until it is over.

3. This trial will prove to be profitable if you submit to God and trust Him through it.

4. Trying situations are opportunities for faith to prove genuine and grow stronger.

5. When you endure extreme pressure with unexplainable peace and joy, the Lord will demonstrate His sustaining power to a watching world.

6. Your difficulties are used by the Father to produce Christ-like character.

7. God will walk with you through all trials.

8. The Holy Spirit will enable you not only to survive but also to come out a conqueror.

If you believe all these principles, they will shape how you respond to difficulties in your life. This perspective eliminates the negative reactions normally elicited by trials and makes supernatural responses possible. Instead of feeling miserable and hopeless, you’ll experience amazing peace and joy.

Singing in the Pain

SOURCE:  Discipleship Journal/Jim Chew

Issues: The Bible gives such good reasons for rejoicing in the midst of our hardships that we can consider suffering to be a true privilege.

The opening portion of Peter’s first epistle is one of the most exuberant passages in the Bible. It begins with “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ!” (1 Peter 1:3), and ends with “You believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the goal of your faith, the salvation of your souls” (1 Peter 1:8–9).

Clearly, the apostle could hardly contain his joy as he wrote to his scattered flock.

We can easily identify with such high spirits if, like Peter, we review all the blessings we have in Christ. Joy is normal to the Christian. But in this same passage Peter reminds his readers that they “have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials” (1 Peter 1:6).

How strange! Sufferings, grief, and trials are hardly compatible with rejoicing. It is one thing to endure trials and sufferings because we love Christ, but quite another to rejoice in the midst of them.

Yet this unusual response to difficult times is not an isolated teaching in the Bible. Again and again we are exhorted to find joy in our affliction. In the opening verses of Romans 5, for example, the apostle Paul wrote about the joy of being justified in Christ, and then added, “Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings.”

What do these inspired writers mean?

GRIT YOUR TEETH?

Let’s look first at Paul’s exhortation in Romans 5. I don’t think he is asking us to grit our teeth and be stoical about suffering. Neither is he saying that afflictions, in themselves, should be enjoyed. Rather, we are asked to rejoice in what sufferings can produce. Paul explains that we rejoice in our sufferings “because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope” (Romans 5:3–4). Suffering produces endurance and a Christlike character.

We can translate the Greek word for “suffering” in this passage with a more common and modern term: pressure. The pressures of life have a way of developing endurance in us, and this endurance can be exercised only when we are placed under pressure. The very trials we dread are thus used by God to strengthen us.

Therefore the followers of Christ can view sufferings as opportunities, as training situations in which our inner reserves of strength and tenacity are developed. And how we need these qualities if we are to maintain godly, righteous lives in the complex, highly pressurized societies in which we live!

SHARPENED SENSES

We’ve already noted the apparent contradiction in Peter’s first letter—the great burst of joy at the beginning, coupled with the reminder that he was writing to churches facing fierce persecution. Indeed, suffering is one of the major themes of the letter.

What gave Peter such a confident belief that trials and afflictions are occasions for rejoicing?

First, I think he understood the value of faith, which he said was “of greater worth than gold” (Romans 1:7). He could welcome and rejoice in sufferings because he knew they were the crucible in which his faith would be tested and proven, and that they would authenticate and strengthen his trust in God.

Peter also saw that our afflictions are opportunities to participate in Christ’s sufferings (Romans 4:12–14). Through afflictions we learn more deeply “the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings,” as Paul put it (Philippians 3:10). We are brought closer to the heart of our Lord. His presence becomes a reality. With a sharpened sense we learn to discern between things of eternal value and those that are merely passing away. We realize afresh that we are but pilgrims in the world. We become more like Christ.

But without sharing in his sufferings, we cannot hope to grow closer to him and to become more like him. Christ suffered; we are Christ’s, so we suffer too.

Only the person who thus identifies with Christ can really rejoice. The more we suffer, the more we share in his sufferings; therefore, the more we suffer, the more we can rejoice.

So it is that the apostles rejoiced to be counted worthy to suffer for Christ’s sake (Acts 5:40–42). They did not mope or complain, but kept on teaching and preaching Christ. And Peter was one of them.

Peter knew as well that we learn how to suffer from our Lord. Christ’s suffering is our example, that we “should follow in his steps” (Acts 2:21). He suffered undeservingly, yet submitted to his persecutors and to the will of God. We can learn to do the same.

Submission is not a sign of weakness in the Bible’s point of view. On the contrary, a submissive attitude has powerful effects. With it, Christian wives can win their husbands to the Lord (Acts 3:1–2), and Christian citizens can silence their critics in society who are ignorant and foolish (Acts 2:13–15).

And let us never forget that Christ’s life of submission made salvation possible for all mankind. Howard Hendricks wrote, “You will never learn to suffer with the right attitudes if you have never learned to submit at every level, and you will never learn to submit if you do not have a deep appreciation of the salvation with which you were saved.”

A CERTAIN FACT

Suffering is painful, but submission to it always leads to victory. I remember visiting a close Christian friend who was dying of cancer. He was enduring great pain, and his body was so emaciated I could hardly recognize him. Yet his response was one of thanksgiving to God. Doctors and other patients were influenced by his radiant testimony, and visitors who came to comfort him were instead comforted by him. His last words to me were, “Endure hardship as a good soldier of Christ.”

I can recall clearly a time in my experience as an overseas missionary when I was adjusting to a foreign culture and also assuming more and more responsibilities. With burdens and problems mounting, I was tempted to give up.

Again and again I turned to Scriptures that talk of trials and sufferings. It dawned on me that, compared to the difficulties experienced by many of God’s servants in the Bible, my problems were minimal!

The Lord then allowed a series of personal testings through which I experienced the reality of his grace and strength. I learned that God’s presence in the midst of suffering is a certain fact.

No wonder Peter tells us, “Even if you should suffer for what is right, you are blessed” (1 Peter 3:14).

Are you in the midst of trials and perplexities? Happy are you! Celebrate this privilege, because the Spirit of glory and of God is resting on you!

Will I last? Where should I look? Look to Jesus!

SOURCE: Based on an article by  Sinclair Lewis

“He’s going through a religious phase.” How often did you overhear that being said about you in your early days as an openly professing follower of Jesus Christ? Admittedly the sheer force of conversion on an untaught mind can lead to us drawing confused notions of exactly what has happened to us. Looking back on my own conversion I feel sure my parents must have thought I was going through a decidedly unbalanced “religious phase” as the golf clubs to which I had long been devoted (even at the tender age of fourteen!) were relegated to the cupboard for months on end. An unenthusiastically completed entry form and an ignominious second-round defeat in the national junior golf championships followed. What had happened to their relatively normal golf-adoring son? I am thankful for their love and patience with a young teenager who took a little time to realize that conversion called him to an ongoing life in and engagement with this world — not to monasticism!

Yet, when you are only three weeks old as a baby Christian, finding your feet in an intoxicatingly new world, whispers such as, “It won’t last!” can really hurt, and they can readily sow seeds of doubt that grow into the trees of mistrust and the forests of confusion.

Yet, whatever pressures we feel as contemporary Christians in the West, they pale by comparison with the obstacles that confronted the new converts to whom Hebrews was written. If indeed they were Jewish converts, each one became persona non grata in both family and community — big-time non grata — disinherited, ostracized, and alienated from the tight network that provided personal, educational, emotional, and financial support. They had joined the notorious “third race of men” that followed a claimant Messiah who had been roundly rejected, humiliated, crucified, and accursed. Now they too experienced reproach and the loss of family, property, and security (Heb. 10:32-4; 13:13). From now on they had to camp outside.

Would they last? Will I last? Where should I look (or point others to look)? The answer to this question, as indeed to virtually every question in Hebrews, is this: “LOOK TO JESUS.” For “he is also able to save to the uttermost those who come to God through him” (Heb. 7:25).

The phrase “to the uttermost” expresses the multi-dimensional saving ability of Christ. His adequacy is not limited by the breadth of my frailty, the depth of my sinfulness, or the ongoing nature of my need. In each of these dimensions Christ is “fitting for us” (v. 26). That is to say, Jesus is exactly the kind of Savior we need. That is why the words “he is able” are woven into the very warp and woof of His eternal high priestly garments. He intercedes for us “in the power of an indestructible life” (7:16). No wonder the refrain of the author is: “Look to Jesus” (3:1; 12:2)!

So what implications follow from the unique and everlasting priesthood of our Lord Jesus? Many, but for the moment notice these two implications: First, my security as a Christian does not reside in the strength of my faith but in the indestructibility of my Savior. How much I need to learn again and again the basic principle that I must walk in Christ in the same way I received Christ (Col. 2:6), not depending on anything that resides in me but on everything that is mine in Him. The reformed fathers and masters of spiritual counsel used to say wisely that the weakest faith gets the same strong Christ as does the strongest faith.

The second implication is that my perseverance as a Christian does not depend on the degree of my stoicism in the face of trials but on the perfection of the work of Christ and His perseverance with me.

Hebrews is an exhortation to persevere. We are engaged in an endurance test (10:36), running a marathon race (12:1). We feel the heat; we encounter periodic pain barriers, and at times the summit seems hidden in the clouds — the finishing tape miles away. This is why the perseverance of Jesus is an even more important biblical truth than the perseverance of the saints! He is with me now and will greet me there at the finishing tape and on the summit. He is in every conceivable way perfectly suited to my present needs. Recognize this and our hard daily work turns into a great journey of adventure shared with God’s people in every age (11:4–12:2).

So, “consider Jesus” (Heb. 3:1). The verb “consider” (katanoeo) is an intensive form of the verb “to understand,” and implies giving detailed attention to something (see its use in Matt. 7:3!). The author of Hebrews realized that Christians in his day (as in ours) are capable of giving detailed attention to almost everything (a football game, new clothes, our appearance, school studies) — often, sadly, with one exception: the Lord Jesus. Hebrews teaches that we must reverse that trend. More than that, it engages in reversing the trend by showing us how captivating our Lord really is. Let’s be captivated by Him — for He lasts forever as Savior (7:3; 8:16, 23, 25)!

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