Sunday, May 19, 2013

Jesus frees us from worry and stress.

          "How will we ever get it all done?"  "I can't be in two places at the same time."  "If only there were forty-eight hours in the day!"  "My head feels like it is going to explode!"  "My stomach is tied up in knots.  I think I'm getting an ulcer."
There is hardly a person around in our society today that is not caught up in the fast paced, stressful environment in which we live.  You would think that all the modern advances - cell phones, e-mails, over night mailings, and fax machines would take the pressure off but it's just the opposite.  The faster we move, the more we do. The more we do, the more we demand of ourselves and others, the more stressed out we become. Where can we find help?  Is there anything that can give us some relief?  What can release us from the stress and worries of our everyday life? The answer is Jesus.
Jesus knows what it means to suffer from stress. When Jesus went to the Garden of Gethsemane, shortly before his arrest, trial and crucifixion, Jesus said; "My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death." Matthew 26:38. Mark says that he "began to be deeply distressed and troubled" (Mark 14:33).  The knots in the stomach, the sweaty palms, the lightheadedness, the tense muscles in the back of the neck and head, he knows them because he has been there.
One big difference was that Jesus' stress was not related to his sin but the result of ours. It was not related to worry about what might happen. He knew what was going to take place. He would shortly face his Father’s wrath and be punished for our sins, in our place.
The relief that Jesus found was not in taking Tums, R-O-L-A-I-D-S or Goodies Headache Powder. He turned to his Father in prayer. He knew that all was well because his heavenly Father was with him.  He found that comfort and strength by speaking to his Father in prayer.
I read that years ago a pioneer aviator was seeking to make a flight around the world. Two hours out from his last landing he heard a noise in his plane, which he recognized as the gnawing of a rat.  For all he knew the rat might gnaw through some vital cable and cause his plane to crash. At first he didn't know what to do. Then he had an idea. He began to take the plane higher and higher. He went up a thousand feet and then another and another until he reached 20,000 feet. The gnawing ceased and the rat was dead. He could not survive in the atmosphere of those heights.
            For us, worry and stress are like rodents.  They cannot dwell in the secret place of the Most High. They cannot survive in the atmosphere of prayer and faithful reliance on God's Word.  When Jesus died for our sins, when he was punished in our place, when he died so that we might live, he took away the cause of worry and stress.  Through him all is well and we have peace.

Do you have any real friends?

        Do you have any friends? I mean real friends, good friends? Really good friends are hard to find. When we get any, we should treasure them highly. Most people say that they can count the number of their good friends on one hand.
It’s good to have friends. They’re great to talk to. When you have friends, you don't have to be lonely. Good friends will overlook your grouchy moods and thoughtless words. They will be aware of your weaknesses and accept you as you are. A good friend is someone with whom you can share your inner most secrets and desires.
But, friendship is give and take. Friends may inconvenience you at times. They may ask for a favor when you really don't have the time to give it. Their frankness and honesty may hurt your feelings or make you angry. In the end however, you have to forgive them. They’re your friends.
The better the friendship, the more you are willing to put up with; the more you will be willing to sacrifice for them. A real friend simply needs to be asked and the favor is granted. In the end, the real friend would even lay down his life to save or protect another friend.
That's what Jesus did for you and me. In fact, he did it for the entire world. He did it for us on the cross when he laid down his life to take away the sins of the world. On the cross the wrath of the Father was poured out on him; in a way we will never fully comprehend. He endured the pain and torment of hell in our place so we will never have to experience it. What a friend! There is none greater!
As Jesus walked the roads and highways of this world his friendship could easily be seen. Jesus had a reputation of being the friend of sinners. Even when one of his own disciple betrayed him with a kiss for thirty pieces of silver Jesus said, "Friend, do what you came for." (Matthew 26:50)
No matter how strong our friendship may be, there is often a limit. Hurt too badly, too often, a friendship may go bad. It may be matters of money, of the heart, or countless other things that rend us apart but it happens. Friends often fail us or we them.
Not so with Jesus. He is one friend you can count on day in and day out - no matter what. He knows us and our weaknesses better than we know ourselves and yet he loves us. He never wearies of carrying our burdens. His ears never tire of hearing our cries for help. He shares our grief, and carries our sorrows on his heart. He is indeed our Friend, our good Friend. 
            You may have many friends on this earth.  You may have only a few.  But no matter who you are, you have a friend in Jesus.