Living Stress-Free in Uncertain Times
Text: Psalms 37:1-9, 25
Introduction: I want to talk about a subject today that affects everyone in the room. It doesn’t matter, what your age, gender, or economic status, it affects us all. Today’s message addresses the subject of stress and worry. Did you know that there are 17, 800,000 different sites on the internet about stress. There are thousands of studies, books, teaching tapes, clinics, doctors and therapists; all standing in line to help us deal with stress, but the world is still stressed out. A few years ago, Bobby McFerrin wrote a song “Don’t Worry Be Happy:
"Here's a little song I wrote, You might want to sing it note for note, Don't worry, be happy!
In every life we have some trouble, But when you worry you make it double, Don't worry, be happy,
Ain't got no place to lay your head, Somebody came and took your bed, Don't worry, be happy
The landlord say your rent is late, He may have to litigate, Don't worry, be happy!"
It was a great crossover song played on many station across the country, but it was not able to impact the stress of the world. How can anyone live peacefully in a stressed out world? That’s what today message is all about. A recent study on stress in the workplace reveals some eye opening statistics: Over $200 billion a year is lost to industry from stress-related ailments.
We’ve all heard that you could have peace in the time of storm. But when the storm is raging, how do you handle your discontentment? How do you hold your peace when you’re under attack? How do you stay free from anger when the frustrations and disappointments of life are beating you down? I believe discouragement is one of Satan’s most effective weapons against Christians and especially pastors and leaders.
A story is told of a day when Satan had a yard sale. He wanted to get rid of some his weaponry, so he priced it right. Lying-$5, cheating-$7.50, Gossip-$12.95, Lusts- $29.95, and many of various priced items. Over in the corner of the garage was an item price $2500. The customer inquired, “Why is that crooked piece so expensive?” Satan replied, “That’s one of my best weapons, it is discouragement. Discouragement works on almost everyone.”
So the lesson today is for anyone and everyone who desires to live stress free in a stress filled world. David the sweet psalmist of Israel gives us several the keys in Psalms 37. David is not a novice. He has an earned degree in contentment. Not only that, but David also has many years of experience. Listen to verse 25 of our text, Ps 37:25 I have been young, and now am old; yet have I not seen the righteous forsaken, nor his seed begging bread.“ Remember the saying, ”Experience is the best teacher”, well David has a wealth of experience that qualifies him to share on the subject of Contentment. Experience maybe the best teacher, but it is better to learn from someone else’s experience.
Today, as in David’s day, there are a lot of things that created worry and stress. When I speak stress, I mean things like fear, pressure, strain, anxiety, tension, trauma, or hassle. Fear is a close relative to worry. They both paralyze. Many people today are living in bondage to fear, fear of all sorts: Fear of death, Fear of sickness, Fear of failure, Fear of poverty, Fear of being alone, and even fear of germs. Do you realize how many kinds of phobias there are? There are hundreds, fear of baldness and bald people, fear of drafts, fear of the color purple, fear of hairy people, fear of objects on the left side of the body, fear of writing in public, fear of being afraid, fear of height, fear of flying. It has been said that “Fear is the great enemy of the human race.” Fear inhibits and paralyzes; it causes us to live as spiritual grasshoppers instead of spiritual giants. David chooses to address another level of fear which he calls “fretting.” Fretting rob us of peace through our unregulated feelings. Have you ever heard the impression, “he makes my blood boil?” David cautions us about emotions of our hearts. 1) We wish we had what someone else has. 2) We wish we could be what someone else has become. 3) We wish we could do what someone else does. The emotions of our heart can disturb our peace! Let us look at the remedy, the keys to living a peace filled life in a stress filled world. The first key to finding contentment and peace is to resist jealousy and envy. This simple statement embraces the first step to peace. Our lives are troubled not only from without, but also from within. Jealousy is cruel to the grave. Envy robs us of our peace. They are born of our unregulated emotions.
1. Resist Jealousy and Envy - Ps 37:1,2 “Fret not thyself because of evildoers, neither be thou envious against the workers of iniquity. For they shall soon be cut down like the grass, and wither as the green herb.”
At any moment of time, you may see some ungodly person doing very well in this world. This whole Psalm shows that the happy state of the ungodly will not last but is short-lived. The prosperity of the wicked in time shall perish. In other words, do not flame up with envy; don’t worry about the other guy; God is the righteous Judge. He will have the last say. We must resist the temptation of jealousy and envy even though life may seem unfair! Even great men of the Bible faced the same temptation and overcame: Job, David, Solomon, Jeremiah and others struggled with the question, “Why does the wicked prosper and why does the righteous suffer?’
Ps 73:2,3 But as for me, my feet were almost gone; my steps had well nigh slipped. For I was envious at the foolish when I saw the prosperity of the wicked.
Jer 12:1 ¶ Righteous art thou, O LORD, when I plead with thee: yet let me talk with thee of thy judgments: Wherefore doth the way of the wicked prosper? wherefore are all they happy that deal very treacherously?
David had lived through the jealous rage of King Saul. David was chased by king Saul for years. Yet in the end, king Saul lost everything, his peace, reputation, his sons, his kingdom, and his life. The first step is to resist jealousy and envy, and the second step is to Trust the Lord!
2. Trust in the Lord and Do Good - Ps 37:3 Trust in the LORD, and do good; so shalt thou dwell in the land, and verily thou shalt be fed.
We must trust the goodness of God. A worried, frustrated Christian lacks confidence in God. God knows the score. He is keeping an accurate account. God can be trusted. When we constantly worry, we send out the wrong message—and the message is this: “Life is not fair and God doesn’t care!” David encourages us to trust God’s power, goodness, and willingness to help. Then he gives another secret to help break the worry habit? He promises, “Verily thou shalt be fed…” God will gives us daily bread 1) Live one day at a time 2) Do good: Lift someone else’s burden that day and 3) Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him and He will direct your paths(Prov.3:5,6).
3. Delight Thyself in the Lord - Ps 37:4 Delight thyself also in the LORD; and he shall give thee the desires of thine heart.
The third step to peace living is to delight in God. That is to set our heart on him and desire him. The things of this world can never satisfy our longing for very long, because the human heart is deceitful. Jer 17:9 The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?
Jeremiah warns that the heart is tricky, changing, filled with contradictory longings. The heart can drag a man in dozen different directions. The third key to peace requires us to guide the focus of our desire. What is it that delights you? What are you focused on? David calls upon us seek God and allow Him to give us right desires and then filled those desires as He wills. Mt 6:33 But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you. We must be glad and rejoice for God’s favor and blessings on our lives.
4. Commit thy Way unto the Lord - Ps 37:5-9 “Commit thy way unto the LORD; trust also in him; and he shall bring it to pass. And he shall bring forth thy righteousness as the light, and thy judgment as the noonday. Rest in the LORD, and wait patiently for him: fret not thyself because of him who prospereth in his way, because of the man who bringeth wicked devices to pass. Cease from anger, and forsake wrath: fret not thyself in any wise to do evil. For evildoers shall be cut off: but those that wait upon the LORD, they shall inherit the earth.”
David recognizes the complicated ways of our lives, so he advises us to cast all thy cares, and business plans, thy desires and necessities on the Lord. Place it all in God’s hands by fervent prayer believing that all things work together for our good. We are the righteousness of God because have trusted the finished work of Jesus. The most precious thing we have is a never dying soul. We were lost, helpless and hopeless in sin, but when we trusted in the precious blood of Christ and accept him as our savior and Lord, He alone saved us. If he paid the price to saved us, he will not withhold any good thing from us. Ro 5:6-8 “For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly. For scarcely for a righteous man will one die: yet peradventure for a good man some would even dare to die. But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us….” Ro 8:31,32 “What shall we then say to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us? He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things?
We can rest and wait in obedience to God who will finish his work in us. Php 1:6 “Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ:”
The promise is “they shall inherit the earth.” Ps 25:12,13 What man is he that feareth the LORD? him shall he teach in the way that he shall choose. His soul shall dwell at ease; and his seed shall inherit the earth.” Ps 37:11 “But the meek shall inherit the earth; and shall delight themselves in the abundance of peace.”