May 20, 2008

Escaping the Stress Trap

Know Whose You Are

Mary Southerland

 

 

Today’s Truth

2 Timothy 3:16All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It straightens us out and teaches us to do what is right. 17It is God’s way of preparing us in every way, fully equipped for every good thing God wants us to do” (NLT).

 

Friend to Friend

If we really want to know God, if we really want to understand who and whose we are, the Bible must have the highest place in our lives. We don’t have to be a Bible scholar or have a firm grip on the Hebrew and Greek languages to know and apply God’s promises. As you read the Bible, the Holy Spirit will give you understanding and teach you spiritual truth. He will then give you the power you need to follow those teachings and apply their truths.

 

A disciple is a follower, a learner and a student. If we want to follow God and be a learner of Him, a student of His ways, then we have to understand the importance of the Bible, love the Word and spend time in it. I thought I was doing a fair job of plugging the truth of God’s Word into my life until I began to gather scripture for this chapter and rammed right into Psalm 119. Within this passage, I discovered a test for us as believers that will help determine the importance we really place on God’s Word in daily life. Take this test with me to see if God’s Word has the place in your life that it should have.

 

1.      Is God’s Word more important than food?

Psalm 119:103 “Your promises are sweet to me, sweeter than honey in my mouth" (NCV). Here the Bible is described as honey and at other places in the scripture as milk or bread. The Bible is our spiritual food. God's Word sustains and strengthens us just as food sustains and strengthens our physical body. Just as malnutrition affects our physical growth, spiritual malnutrition affects our spiritual growth. I dare say that we rarely miss a meal. We always find a way to eat, even if we must resort to eating fast food. Do we have the same depth of commitment to our spiritual growth and health as we do to satisfying the hunger pains of our human body?

 

2.      Is God’s Word more important than money?

Psalm 119:72 “Your teachings are worth more to me than thousands of pieces of gold and silver” (NCV). What the psalmist is saying is that spiritual wealth is more important than human wealth. Do we really live as if that statement were true? I have a friend who is totally committed to God and to serving Him whole-heartedly. My friend is a garbage collector - a happy garbage collector. I once asked him why he was so happy in his work. "Mary, I collect garbage to pay the bills. My real passion in life is to share Jesus Christ and to serve Him with joy." I recently spoke for a church that is almost totally staffed by volunteers. One couple in particular, felt led to serve the church but knew that the church budget would not pay another salary. What did they do? They moved into a tiny, one-bedroom apartment and sold their car to buy a smaller, more economic vehicle. The husband quit his job to work as a full-time volunteer at the church and his wife took a church staff position that pays a minimal salary that they both live on. And I have never met two happier or less-stressed people. They have the right backdrop for life and it is not wealth or money.

 

3.      Is God’s Word more important to you than sleep?

Psalm 119:147-148 “I wake up early in the morning and cry out. I hope in your word. I stay awake all night so I can think about your promises.” (NCV) I know. Now God is getting personal! When we start talking about giving up sleep to read and study the Word of God, we are talking radical obedience. Exactly! If we want to experience God's power in our lives, we have to saturate our lives with His Word.

 

How did you do? I will tell you honestly that I failed this test! I have walked with God for over forty years and I still do not have the hunger and thirst for God’s Word that I should have. If we would listen carefully, I believe we could hear God say, “If you want to get to know me - really know me – if you want to be intimate with Me, then you have to know my Book!” The level of stress in my life is directly correlated to the amount of time I spend or don’t spend reading and applying the Word of God.

 

Jeremiah 2:32 “Does a maiden forget her jewelry, a bride her wedding ornaments? Yet my people have forgotten me, days without number" (NCV).

 

Jeremiah did not write these words to the unbeliever but to those of us who call ourselves “disciples” of Jesus Christ. I can hear the sorrow in His words, can’t you? They vividly portray the broken heart of a Father whose children have ignored Him and abandoned His words. I know what it does to me as a parent when my children do not listen to me or when they choose a path that is in direct opposition to one I would have chosen for them. I can only imagine what it does to His heart when we go for days and even weeks or months without even picking up the Bible except as an accessory for others to see when attending church.

 

We live in Charlotte, North Carolina where Union Power Company makes a tremendous amount of electricity available to us. With that power, we can light our homes, stay warm in the winter and cool in the summer. We can enjoy electrically powered appliances that turn, spin, wash, dry and clean. What difference electricity makes in our lives….when we flip the switch. Unless we use and appropriate the power of available electricity, it is worthless to us. The same is true of God’s Word, the Bible.

 

Let’s Pray

Father, I pray that you would give me a hunger and thirst for your Word. I want to please you with my life through obedience to your truths. I choose to spend time with you each day this week, studying the Bible. Would you please honor my commitment and empower me to keep it? When I fail, Lord, I choose now to forgive myself as you forgive me - and begin again. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

 

Now it’s Your Turn

Set aside one hour this week to re-evaluate your plan for reading and studying the Bible.

Set new goals for daily Bible study. Make the goals realistic for your current lifestyle. Next week, add 15 minutes to your study time each day.

 

Pray and ask the Father to empower this new commitment.

 

Choose a specific time and place for your Bible study.

 

Remember to record new truths and insights in a journal. At the end of the week, go back over your journal entries to see what changes God has made in your life. Praise Him for the power of His Word, and when you fail, do not allow the enemy to discourage you or persuade you to give up. Simply begin again.

 

More from the Girls

The truth is - we find a way to do the things in life that are important to us. Have you noticed that we always seem to find the time to eat and sleep? We are driven to work in order to live the good life but we neglect the most important – the only eternal part of our being – our soul. Our soul can only be nourished and fed by the Word of the Living God! How important is God’s word in your life? For practical help in finding ways to deal with stress and better manage your schedule, get my book, “Escaping the Stress Trap”.

 

 

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