"Rest Not Stress”
By Pastor Delbert Young
Life Gate Ministries, August 30, 2009
204 North Main Street, LaFayette, GA 30728
We are talking about living more stress free, holding on to peace, and remaining in control over our circumstances. It’s been interesting how this series has taken hold. When I’ve seen and talked with people, even in e-mails, they are talking about not stressing. One thing is for sure, we are at least thinking about not stressing.
I want to talk about Rest not Stress. We have opportunities every day to lose our peace, get upset, and live stressed out. Maybe someone isn’t treating us fairly, a child is having problems, a loved one is sick, you’re facing a layoff, etc. The storms of life come to every single person. Probably all of us have something we are dealing with right now. There’s a right way and wrong way to handle our challenges. The wrong way is to get upset, worried, and live in stress. We all know that, but so many people live that way and never experience consistent true peace. Here’s the truth: as long as we allow our circumstances to determine our peace, we will never have real peace. Here is why: there are always circumstances.
For too long, we’ve been taught to use our faith to get rid of our problems and anything negative. I learned it’s more important to use my faith to control myself in the midst of my problems. If I can remain stable and filled with hope in the midst of the storms of life, God will change my situation. Realize, God never promised we would not have problems. He did promise peace in the midst of our storms. To be more than conquerors, there must be circumstances.
We have to learn to rest and trust God in our storms. The Book of Hebrews talks about a place of God’s rest for believers.
(NLT) Hebrews 4:3 For ONLY WE WHO BELIEVE CAN ENTER HIS PLACE OF REST. As for those who didn't believe, God said, "In my anger I made a vow: 'They will never enter my place of rest,' even though his place of rest has been ready since he made the world.
True belief is entering God’s rest not stress. Entering God’s rest puts us in a place where God moves. Stress moves us away from God’s power. The context is the wilderness experience. God delivered his people from Egypt and brought them to their Promised Land. The people of God murmured and complained. The giants, the walled cities, and the aspect of warfare consumed them with fear and stress. You know the story. All but Caleb and Joshua died in the wilderness. That stress cost them their Promised Land. They missed God’s best because they entered stress and not God’s rest.
If you are a believer, you can enter God’s place of rest. Don’t miss the best God has planned for you. Don’t spend your time and energy worrying and trying to fix storms and circumstances. That’s not your job. Your job is to enter his place of rest and, believe me, that is a job. If you will rest and let God work, your situation will turn around. There are always giant problems. There’s always walled situations seemingly we can’t conquer. There’s always warfare, but God will take care of it all if we will rest instead of stress.
Remaining at peace is spiritual warfare. When the bottom falls out and you DON’T allow yourself to get upset, you are standing against the enemy. When things don’t go your way and you remain peaceful, you are proving to God you trust him. When we hold onto our peace, we are saying, “God, I know you are in control and will bring me through this better than before.” That’s faith in action. We can say, “God I trust you” all day long, but if we are stressed out and trying to take control and fix stuff, what we said is not true.
I’m challenging you today to make a decision to remain at rest not stress. Decide you are not going to live life on a rollercoaster up one day and down the next. Don’t be a yoyo Christian. Have stability.
Jesus and his disciples were in a boat. A storm came up, but Jesus was sleeping. He was in God’s rest.
Mark 4:37-38 But soon a fierce storm arose. High waves began to break into the boat until it was nearly full of water. Jesus was sleeping at the back of the boat with his head on a cushion. Frantically they woke him up, shouting, "Teacher, don't you even care that we are going to drown?"
Even Jesus couldn’t avoid storms. The disciples stressed out. They were frantic. Jesus stood up and said, “Peace be still.”
Mark 4:40 And he said unto them, Why are ye so fearful? How is it that ye have NO FAITH?
It was because they entered stress not rest. Basically, Jesus said to them, “It’s no big deal. Everything is going to be ok.” He was IN the middle of a “fierce storm,” but did not allow the storm to get IN him. He held on to his peace so he was able to bring peace, amazing the disciples.
You may be in the middle of a fierce storm today and have negative winds and waves coming against you. You fear you may drown. Learn to think, “It’s no big deal. Everything is going to be ok.” Don’t allow the storm to get into you. Hold on to peace and you will bring peace and amaze others. If you stress, you will only bring stress.
Daniel 6:16 So the king gave the order, and they brought Daniel and threw him into the lions' den. The king said to Daniel, "May your God, whom you serve continually, rescue you!"
What did Daniel do? No big deal, everything is going to be ok. He didn’t stress. Every painting and picture I see of that shows Daniel resting in the middle of his circumstance. He knew his God could shut the mouths of his lions. He was in the storm, but did not allow the storm to get in him. God will deal with your lions if you will rest.
God delivered the children of Israel from Egypt, but immediately, they faced a circumstance. They were face to face with the Red Sea and Pharaoh’s army was coming up behind them. The people went into “big time” stress!
Exodus 14:11-12 Then they turned against Moses and complained, "Why did you bring us out here to die in the wilderness? Weren't there enough graves for us in Egypt? Why did you make us leave? Didn't we tell you to leave us alone while we were still in Egypt? Our Egyptian slavery was far better than dying out here in the wilderness!"
Moses didn’t allow that to get to him. He rested in his God, stretched out his rod toward the Red Sea and said,
Exodus 14:13-14 …FEAR YE NOT, STAND STILL, AND SEE THE SALVATION OF THE LORD, which he will shew to you to day: for the Egyptians whom ye have seen to day, ye shall see them again no more for ever. The LORD shall fight FOR you, and YE SHALL HOLD YOUR PEACE.
Moses said, “If you won’t stress, you will see everything is going to be ok. If you will hold your peace and remain calm, the Lord will fight for you.” We need to make the decision to hold our peace when things don’t go our way. Entering God’s rest is the key.
I don’t know about you, but I don’t want people to be able to look at me and know I am going through a storm and problem. Some people look like they just ate a lemon. They are in their pity parties. I want to be stable and rest in my stormy times just as I do in my good times. When we do that, we are winning the spiritual warfare. We are moving into the rest and THE LORD SHALL FIGHT FOR YOU. The enemy cannot defeat a person who remains in the Lord’s rest and will not stress.
It’s a great thing to have people praying for you when you are in difficulty, but I believe it’s an even greater testimony when you go through a difficult time and no one knew you were in it. That should be our goal. Even when the bottom drops out, no one knows we are in the storm. We are resting on our pillow. It’s knowing that even with a bad report from the doctor, we can’t go down because Jesus is in the boat with us. It’s knowing people cannot destroy us even if we are in the middle of the lions den. God will deliver us. It’s knowing that even in a bad economy of layoffs, God will open the Red Sea.
I’m not telling you to not get people to pray with you in agreement, but most people show and tell the world when they go through a storm. They have a long face, get depressed, are stressed, stop coming to church, and do exactly what the devil wants them to do. “Well, Delbert, I’m going through a bad time. What do you suggest I do?” I suggest you do exactly what you would do if you were having a best time. Smile, trust God, certainly go to church and praise God. That’s spiritual warfare and shows you are winning.
I went through a stressful time not long ago. Unless you knew I was going through it, you would have thought I was the happiest person you ever saw. I refused to talk about it or allow myself to dwell on it. I did my best to rest in God. I knew that he would calm the storm, shut the lions mouths, and opened the Red Sea. He did! I was in the storm, but I tried my best not to allow the storm to be in me.
I know a person who had a job that stressed him out. We all saw it coming. He called me one day having a panic attack. I prayed for him and assured him God would work it out. I told him everything was going to be ok. I told him he obviously needed to make some changes that only God could make happen, so he needed to trust God and stop trying to make things happen himself. To make a long story short, he did and it was amazing. Supernaturally, God presented him with several job opportunities and he is now with a different organization making about 40% more income. You can’t tell me God won’t fight for you if you enter his rest.
We all need to be able to say when we hit a storm, “Everything is going to be ok.” Someone says, “I heard your marriage is not doing well.” Say, “Everything is going to be ok.” “I heard your child was having problems.” “Yes, but everything is going to be ok.” “I heard you got a bad report from the doctor.” “Yes, I did, but I got another report from God. Everything is going to be ok.” When you are in a problem, don’t deny the problem, just don’t magnify the problem. Instead, magnify God. No matter what storm, lion’s den, or Red Sea you face today, if you will NOT let the storm get into you, I can tell you with great confidence, “EVERYTHING IS GOING TO BE OK.”
“OH Delbert, you’re just trying to get people’s hopes up.” Yes, you are absolutely correct! You can’t have faith without hope. God has not lost his power. He has not changed. He will do for you what he did for the disciples, Daniel, Moses, and me. Your job is to enter into his rest, not stress. You rest and God will fight the battle for you. You will find yourself in the middle of storms, but it’s up to you to not allow the storm to get into you.
If you can change your thinking, you can change your life. If you can change how you think about stressful circumstances and storms, you can change your stressful circumstances and storms. Sometimes, you can’t do anything about the storm, but you can do something about how you think about the storm. You can be in the storm, but not allow the storm to be you. Don’t miss your Promised Land because of stress. Turn your stress over to God and you can have rest. You can have joy, peace, and victory in the middle of the storm. Make a decision today not to live one more minute defeated, depressed, or stressed. When you face a stressful time say, “No, I’m not letting that inside me. I know everything is going to be ok.” You might have to tell yourself that a hundred times a day, but you will live prosperous and healthier with a smile on your face and resting in God.