Support us on Paypal
Contact Us
Watch 2022-2023 online sermons » Chris Hodges » Chris Hodges - The Stress Solution

Chris Hodges - The Stress Solution

Chris Hodges - The Stress Solution
TOPICS: You Asked For It, Stress, Anxiety, Worry

Anybody? Oh I know, me too. And we are beginning a brand-new series today, Part 1 of a 7-part series, called "You Asked For It," and I'll tell you more about that in just a second. But let me begin by looking into the camera, saying hello to all of our locations. Love you deeply. Pray for you every single day. And to our campuses in Alabama and in Georgia, to the men and women in the Alabama Department of Corrections Church, we have the awesome honor to bring our service and all that we are as a church into more than 20 of those facilities across the great state of Alabama.

And of course, there's those that are watching online. We're so glad you're along for the ride as well. But I have to give a special shout-out today because there is a campus who, after 10 years, is finally in their own auditorium. Woodlawn finally has a home! I know it. And so both of our Woodlawn and Uptown campuses now combined into that beautiful facility that we have built, and God bless you guys. Thank you. Thank you for the hard work of Pastor Jamil and the entire team there, and to every person for more than 10 years that has set up things and taken them down, Sunday after Sunday after Sunday. God bless you. Every dream teamer, I'm so grateful to you, and for everybody in the church.

That's what, we all are a part of that, you know, we are one church, so that means we were all part of that facility, paid for with cash. We're completely debt free. To God be the glory everybody. And of course, that is because of your amazing generosity as well. And we actually continue to do these at the speed of your generosity so that we're never under pressure but we're always, we have vision that we can do. In fact, right now we are already in the process, the building is going up in Alabaster. They're the next on the list. And so we're excited by the spring of 2023, they'll be in their brand-new home, and our trustees, who are non-staff elders who lead this part of our church, now have turned their attention toward Opelika, Oxford, and the Shoals and we are actually in negotiations or purchases of land in all three of those.

In fact, one of those is a land gift. Somebody in the community of Opelika is just giving us some property to build a new building on, so God's blessing us. You guys have been generous. C'mon, give God some praise, everybody. It's awesome. And I have to be honest with you. One of my goals is for you to look around and just, you know, hopefully with godly pride, see how our church stewards the finances that you give, that you're making a difference literally around the world and in our nation, in our cities, and we're helping a lot of people, and this year more than $15 million is gonna leave this building, these places of worship, outside of us, and to invest in other places where we can reach people around the world. And again, thank you for your amazing generosity.

This series that we're in called, "You Asked For It," comes from a survey that we do every year at Easter, and from time to time one of the questions that I'll ask you at Easter is, "What topics would you like to hear more about"? Or "What are some subjects that we're not talking about that you need to hear what the Bible has to say about that"? And we use Easter because that's the Sunday you all decide to come on the same Sunday, all right? And more than 40,000 of you responded in the survey and, today, I'm gonna give you the top response. In fact, it was more than 35% of you requested the topic. You said in your survey that "I am stressed. I'm under a lot of stress".

And so what I wanna do today is, actually, I only have this message. It's only gonna last one minute because, often, what you do is just, when we have a topic like this, if you'll think about the opposite of that thing, it'll give you the solution. And the opposite of stress, or stress spelled backwards is desserts, everybody, so go get something to eat now. No, that's not what we're gonna do. Just kidding. I am a little discouraged, though, be we have done six different years throughout the history of Highlands, we've done "You Asked For It," and four times you've asked for messages on stress, and I've given you messages and you guys are still asking for it, all right? So either I'm not preaching good or you're not doing it, and I'm gonna go for the second of those two, but anyway. It's you; not me.

And so, I'm actually, every time I have brought a completely different message and I have yet a different one today that, in all honesty, I hope that you hear and can receive. I want you to lean in today and I have a unique thought, a different thought, when I began to prepare. And I actually started working on this, probably 6 or 8 weeks ago, and just thinking about why are we under stress? Why is there so much anxiety and stress and pressure. And we all know the factors that are in play. The top three are money, work, and family, that we just have these stressors in our life and it's hard. It is hard.

And now when you throw in inflation and you've got all kind of craziness in society and you have moral decline and things are a mess. It's understandable why we're under stress and what you wanna hear is a message that, "Chris, make it all go away". And you would need to know right up front, God never promises that. He never promises that it goes away. He promises to give you the ability to stand up under it. And maybe that will help you as we walk through this message, because if you look at the definitions, oftentimes, I go just straight to the dictionary and look up the definition of the thing. And the definition of stress is when a pressure is exerted on some object to the point where it begins to break.

Let me say it this way. What stress is, is when pressure is greater than the capacity for that thing, okay? And so when you have something on your life but you can't handle it, you begin to crack under pressure. And I have an illustration for you. Harrison, bring me my little chair. And this is a beach chair, okay? But as you can see, this beach chair is not designed for a guy like me, all right? This is more in line of what my grandkids would sit in at the beach. So it wasn't designed for me. The rating for this chair is not what I weigh. And I'm not telling you what I weigh, but I will tell you that I set a goal to lose 20 pounds this year and I'm happy to report that I only have 30 pounds to go, c'mon, somebody.

So, there you go, okay. Yeah, that is actually true, so. And so, but this is for infants. In fact, the rating on this chair is probably for 50 pounds or under. And I promise you, I'm over 50 pounds, okay? So that if I attempt to sit on this and, by the way, it was very interesting what happened in the first series. I won't tell you, but I will tell you this is a different chair than the one we used in the first service, okay? So I'm not sure, and I didn't practice this before, but if I put myself into this. Well, there you go. Okay, so, anybody want a picture? There you go.

All right, thank you. Well, that's what our lives look like. All right, here's the bad news. I've got bad news and I've got a lot of good news. The bad news is the pressure's not going anywhere. So if you're expecting the pressure to change, if that's the message you want, I don't have that message. What I can give you out of God's Word is a way for you to increase capacity. 'Cause it's not gonna change, all right? And if that's your hope, you're hoping the wrong thing. You're praying the wrong thing. But Jesus said, "In this world, you will have pressure. You will have tribulation. But take heart, I'm an overcomer. I have overcome the world and I can help you to be an overcomer in the middle of that", and that's what I wanna show you today.

I'm gonna give it to you in two stories, one out of the Old Testament, and one in the New Testament. And the Old Testament will begin. This is the story of Moses bringing the children of Israel out of Egypt. You've seen the movies, you've seen the story, even if you've not been in church much. So Moses is actually leading what most scholars believe is 4 million people out of Egypt back to what is today modern-day Israel and, of course, along the way, they have issues. People are fighting and they have disputes.

So Moses actually sets up in the evenings and throughout the day when the cloud by day and the fire by night, which is where God was. When he wasn't moving, they would stop and then Moses, the Bible says, would serve as the lone judge over everybody's disputes. And so the line was long and he was just constantly doing this work and his father-in-law, Jethro, said, "Bro, you ain't doing it right". And he said to him, in Exodus chapter 18, so they're in this process of leading Egypt, and his father-in-law said to him, "What you're doing is not good". And I would just say to you, as a pastor, what a lot of us are doing, it's just not good. It's not gonna change if you keep doing what you're doing. If you keep handling the stress and the pressure the way you're handling it, it's just not good.

"You and your people are just gonna wear yourselves out, for the thing that you're doing is too heavy for you to bear. You're not able to do it alone". But he didn't remove the pressure. He gave him a better way to handle the pressure. And in the Bible, you can read it. It's after verse 18. You can go read the prescription. I'm not gonna show you that one, but he showed a way how you need other people to help. But then he says this, and I wanna say this to you by the Spirit of God today. I want you to receive it in your heart, that what I'm getting ready to show you, if you'll do this, and I think the most important word is the first one, like, I'm not sure you're going to. But if you do this, God gets involved.

And God'll direct you, and you will be able to live in the same world that we're all living in but you're gonna handle the pressure with great strength. You'll have capacity for the pressure, "and all the people will also go to their place in peace". And you do need to know that God doesn't promise you lack of trouble, but he does promise you a lot of peace in the middle of it. Okay, so I'm gonna do a lot, everything I can today to show you how to get God's peace. So let's go to the New Testament now. So this is Jesus talking. So this is Matthew chapter 11, Jesus said, "Come to me". So when you get tired of handling whatever you're handling, the way you're handling it, "Come to me". It's an invitation.

I'm gonna give you an invitation to some principles today that come from the prince of peace himself. But you gotta come to him. You're gonna need to stop trying to fix it your own way, stop handling it your own way. "All you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest". And if you didn't know the next line, and I'm gonna show it to you in just a second, but if Jesus said, "Hey, come over here. Are you tired? You tired? Come over here," you would think his next line would be, "I've got a little recliner right here. I just want you to just sit in it, prop your feet up, give me all your worries and I'll go do it for you". That's not what he says. So if you have a lot on you and it's a weight that is crushing your soul and your life, Jesus doesn't take anything off of you, he actually puts more on you. And he says it this way: "Take my yoke upon you".

So I want you to still go through life. I want you to handle the pressure. You're not gonna be able to quit work, you're not gonna be able to quit your family, you're not gonna be quit the things that are putting the pressure on you, but I can show you a different way. You have the wrong yoke. "Say, Chris, what's a yoke"? A yoke is a piece of wood that they used back in those days that had two holes in it the size of the head of an oxen. And it had rings on it, metal rings, that would screw into each end where they would put the reins so that the person plowing the field could keep the oxen down the same row, so they wouldn't split up. It kept 'em together. And they called 'em, "We're gonna yoke them together". In fact, there's one verse in 2 Corinthians that says: "We should not be yoked together with unbelievers".

So it means just staying too close to. So he says, "Take my yoke upon you". And I looked up the word "yoke" in the Greek and it's a different word for the word "yoke" just for a normal yoke. So this isn't just a Walmart yoke, the one-size-fits-all yoke, okay? It actually defines it this way: A well-managed, custom-fit yoke. And Jesus was a carpenter so he would have built them, all right? So what a well-managed, custom-fit yoke is, it's not just a one-size-fits-all. This is for the farmer who actually loved his animals and would have a carpenter come and measure the chest width and the how it curved, and literally, they would shape the yoke so then when it laid across the animal, it wasn't like the generic kind that at the end of the day, they were bleeding and bruised and tired and weary, because it didn't fit them. But this one actually fits you perfectly so that you got work done but you didn't have any wear and tear on your body after you've done the work.

It was well-managed, custom-fit yoke. And Jesus is saying, "I'm not saying anything in your life is gonna change. I'm just telling you there's a different way to go through it so that at the end of the day, it hadn't worn you out and hadn't destroyed you". Is everybody with me? Okay, he says, "For I am gentle and humble in heart, and if you'll do it this way, learn from me". I'm gonna give you his principles that will give you peace here in a second. "Learn from me, for I'm gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls". Note he didn't say, "Rest for your bodies," 'cause what rest isn't just sitting down a lot. Rest is the condition of your soul. Let me say it this way: There's ability to go through just as much as anybody else goes through and your soul is just fine, if you'll do it God's way. He says, "For my yoke is easy," so you're still gonna work, but it's just easier, "and my burden is light".

And what I wanna do today, I've actually combed through the Scriptures. I mean, I probably spent more time on this message than I have on messages in a very long time just to really look through the data, the important truths, the principles of Scripture that show what will really bring you peace. What is God's prescription? I've called this message today, "The Solution for Stress". The biblical solution for stress. And I'm gonna give you five ways not for things to go away but for your capacity to increase so that no matter what comes your way, you're not crushed, you're not broken, you're not torn down. You're actually able to stand up under it. You ready, yes or no? You ready to go?

All right, so here's the first one, and that is our capacity increases when we do this biblical principle that allows our bodies and our minds to recover. The truth is you have the ability, some of you just aren't having any recovery time. And what I mean by recovery time, I'm talking about actually slowing down long enough to sharpen your saw. You've heard the old illustration about the guy who was just chopping and chopping and chopping and chopping and chopping, he's just working and he's just chopping and he's getting a little success, and someone says, "Hey, why don't you just step off to the side here and sharpen that axe a little bit"? He goes, "I'm too busy chopping down trees to do that". And for a lot of us, that's a picture of how we live our lives.

In fact, when I did the study I did for my book, "Out of the Cave," on depression, I spent two years doing research with both secular and spiritual, psychologists, psychiatrists, researchers, to find out the real causes of depression, and there are a lot of causes, but the leading cause was how we live our lives. And one of the best books I read, he's not a Christian, but one of the best books I read, it was by a guy named Johan Hari who wrote a book called, "Lost Connections". And he made this statement. He says, "We need to talk less about chemical imbalances and more about the imbalances in the way we're living our lives". So for a lot of people, you're actually even thinking, "Well, let me just treat this, or let me just medicate this," when we really can make a lifestyle change that'll actually cause us to endure. You would need to know that that lifestyle change that the Bible prescribes is the Sabbath. And I'm not talking about a day, I'm talking about a principle. That I have an entire day.

Now, for me, it's not today, I'm working today. My Sabbath is actually on Mondays. It's a day that I actually let my life recover and I have a whole list of things that I do and don't do that helps me to recover. In fact, I took this past week off to recover and I'm fired up today. I am so excited to preach today, y'all, I am so ready. I'm having more fun, I don't know if you're having fun, but I'm having more fun than a person should be allowed to have, all right? But I actually feel recovered right now. The Bible says: "For six days", this is one of the Ten Commandments, "You have six days to do your work, but the seventh day is a day of rest dedicated to God".

And notice with me, it's not a church service, it's a day, which means we're supposed to take an entire day to recover. So you don't just go to church on whatever is your Sabbath or feed your spirit man, but you're supposed to also let your body rest. For me, a Sabbath should be a day where you eat great meals, spend time with the people who add to you, they don't suck the life out of you. That you have activities that actually replenish you. I plan on taking a nap this afternoon. Tammy's already told me she's got roast, rice, and gravy, y'all. I'm gonna be in a food coma in about 4 hours, right, darling? And then I'm gonna turn on NFL football this afternoon, and then not watch a bit of it. I'm gonna nap through the whole thing, catch the fourth quarter, see who won. 'Cause you have to recover. And I'm giving permission for some of you, you just need to hear that. You need to recover a little bit. You're going too hard.

You're still, "Chris, that's an Old Testament law". No, it's not. Hebrews, this is the New Testament: "There remains, a Sabbath-rest for the people of God; for anyone who enters God's rest rests from their works, just like God did. So let us, therefore, make every effort to enter into that rest". Like, work to rest. And for some of you, you ought to actually pull away and relook at your life, relook at your week, and just eliminate the things that are actually sucking the life out of you, that have no place in your life, because one of the keys is for you to have capacity, you have to have time to recover and God's prescription is a day of rest. You come to church, you worship, you renew your life to God, you commit things to God, you look at your week. Let's actually employ the principle of Sabbath.

Here's the second one, and that is that our capacity actually increases the clearer you are of who you are, because every time you don't know who you are, you begin to believe the narratives that play out in our minds that either other people have defined for you or the devil has defined for you, or even some of the ones you've even told yourself. And for a lot of people, you're under pressure right now. In fact, they call it peer pressure because you're allowing everybody else to define, the devil included, to define who you are. Researchers say we are the most narcissistic and low-self-esteemed society at the same time. That's a combination that they say that amplifies the mental triggers for anxiety, stress, and depression times 100.

The lack of clarity of who you are. The chair is successful if the chair knows it's not a can-opener or a car, 'cause it's not trying to be something other than it is. And this chair was not designed for somebody my size, right? It's gotta know who it is in order for it to be successful. And for a lot of us, you're allowing even the social media that you're on that's anything but social, to get in your head. I mean, I have this thing that there's a guy right here in this auditorium, one of our trustees, he taught me this about a year and a half ago. It's one of the greatest gifts I've ever received from one of our elders. He said, "Chris, let me gift you with a principle that'll change your life". I said, "What is it"? He said, "It's called, 'Selective ignorance.'" I said, "What's selective ignorance"? He said, "It's selecting what you're going to be ignorant about. You just don't know".

So when people call me and say, "Agh, did you hear"? like, "No, sure didn't". And some of you have got so many narratives and voices in your head, as Eleanor Roosevelt said, "No one can make you feel inferior without your consent". And by the way, the devil loves to play in that place of self-talk. Psychologists call it rumination. You've heard me teach on this before. A ruminating animal, like a cow, is unique in that it chews its cud. You say, "What's a cud"? Every country person should know what that is. It's when you grab some grass, chew that grass, swallow that grass, throw that grass up, back up in your mouth, chew it some more, swallow again. Throw it back up in your mouth, chew it some more. That's why a cow, his face ain't been on the ground for 4 hours but he's still chewing.

And how many of you know, every time that grass comes back up, it's not coming back up better. It's coming back up grosser. And so do your thoughts. So you're sitting around and you're amplifying and you're magnifying, I'm not saying what you're thinking about is not real. I'm just saying you actually heighten the distress of it. And so, the people that are under the least amount of stress are the people who are just clear. They know who they are. So they're not looking at social media, everybody's highlight reel, and comparing it to my miserable life. And by the way, you do know that when they, "gotta take that pic," that is not what they look like. They were fighting right before that picture. You all know that, right?

Galatians says: "Each one of us should test our own actions. Then they can take pride," and that's the godly kind of pride, the good kind. "Take pride in themselves alone, without comparing themselves with someone else, for each one should carry their own load". No, the clearer you are about who God says you are: I am a child of God, I am the righteousness of God in Christ, it comes out of God's Word, by the way. You know my story. I actually grew up with an inferiority complex that, from time to time, still creeps in. I have this little voice that, I mean, it happens about a third of the times I walk out on this stage. I hear this little voice from my past say, "Who do you think you are? I mean, you're just from Louisiana, you were a 'C' student, you ain't nothing. What are you doing out there"?

And I actually, I have this voice play out sometimes. I had to combat it right on that side of that brown persimmon wall right there. There's a little sign that while you guys are watching college news, I got my hand on it. And it says: "It's a privilege to be on this stage. Thank you for choosing me". Like, I didn't pick me for this. God did. So if y'all don't like it, y'all talk to God. He picked me, right? And it helps me to stay secure, and the reason why I'm here is that I've been chosen by God to be here. Listen to me. Some of you have the wrong narratives going on in your head.

And that's what's causing your stress. And we've just started Small Groups and we're still in the stage where you're still, people are still looking for groups 'cause I recommend you actually take our 13-week semester and take the first couple, two or three weeks, and just shop for a group, to find the right one, and if you can't find the one you think you should be in, everyone should get in what I call a freedom group and a freedom group will address the voices of your past that keep you from God's best, because your capacity will increase when you know who you are. Our capacity also increases when we know what we're supposed to do. And by the way, you can't know what you're supposed to do till you know who you are. But the happiest people I know, aren't the people with less problems. And don't take my word for it. Go ask them yourselves.

The happiest people have something in their life that matters, that they're doing. So their assignment and their purpose has become a distraction to their problems. Paul said, "I'm hard-pressed on every side, but it ain't bothering me". They were like mosquito bites. Like... He said, "I", He said, "I have light and momentary troubles". No, he didn't. He had a horrible life: shipwrecked, snake bit, stoned. I said that at one church recently. I said, "He was stoned," and a lady said, "Well, at least he got a little relief". I went, "No, darling, it wasn't with this; it was with rocks". Anyway, he'd spent a night and a day on the open sea, had the pressure of all the churches he had planted. Had complaints. He had dangers in bandits, he was always being threatened, he was always being thrown in jail. And he called 'em light and momentary. Well, how in the world do you do that? He says, "'Cause I have my eyes fixed on things that are unseen".

Those were the important, it was his life's assignment. And that's why 2 Peter says this: "Therefore, my brothers and sisters, make every effort to confirm your calling". This is why you hear the one announcement you hear every Sunday is, "If you haven't been on the growth track, get on the growth track". And the reason why we say that is 'cause the best way for us to pastor you is to make sure you know why you're here. And it begins with what you're called to do. And if you get on the growth track, we'll take you to a personality profile, a spiritual gifts profile. We're gonna help you hone in to who you are so you know what you're supposed to do. 'Cause look at the next line: "Make every effort to confirm your calling".

The word "calling" there is ekloge in the Greek. It literally means this unique thing that God has not only called you to do, but he's given you the resources to be able to do it. It's unique to you that he decided before time and "if you do these things, you'll never stumble". Like, if I gave you this guarantee, wouldn't you wanna do it? "If you do this, you'll never stumble". Why? 'Cause you have your eyes fixed. It doesn't go away. You just have something better in your life than that thing. Okay, here's the problem, and that is your calling has a competitor. And it's all the trivial stuff in our lives, the temporal, the busy. In fact, one of the worst competitors to the call of God on your life is that it's been filled with other things.

And again, most of you want me to teach you something that takes all the stress away. No, no, no, you're gonna have to simplify your life. I promise you, if you can get rid of the non-essentials, and just give as much time as you can to the things that are in line with how God's created you and called you, I promise you, you'll be happy. The truth is we have too much where you'll...look at me, look at me. You're too busy. It's a philosophy that's in America that if one is good, two is better. If $1 is good, $2 is better. C'mon, help me out, right? If one car is good, two cars is, c'mon, say it out. Yeah, it's better. Yeah, if one kid is good, two kids are... none of you. You didn't, "I ain't falling for that, Pastor". I have five, right?

So it's better. If one wife is good, two wives is wrong! Don't you answer that one all right, too. But the Bible says it's better to have one handful, but I have two hands. Yeah, but it's better to only have one and have some tranquility. This is what you asked for, now. Than have two handfuls where I now can do nothing, and I have toil and a chasing after the wind. So again, let me encourage you, get your life focused on what you're really on this planet to do. Get on the growth track, get on the growth track. Tonight's step two. I promise you, it will help define your life so that you can get the stress out of your life 'cause you know why you're here. Here's the next one, and that is our capacity increases when we're supported by others.

Now, some of you like this and some of you don't like this one. And some of you, you're refusing to play with a principle that God created. And that is, he puts you in groups. In fact, every description of the church is a group description. It's called a fellowship, a family. We're part of the family of God. It's a body, it's a flock. A lot of place, Jesus's favorite description of the church was a flock. Do you ever watch any of those "National Geographic" shows where you had those antelope out in the field and there's that one dumb one that just gets out all by itself, right? And the next thing you know, the lion's having himself a little lunch, right? And that's the truth of all of us. There's strength in numbers.

You say, "Well, P.C., I got people all around me". I'm not talking about geography. I'm talking about relationally. 'Cause you can have people all around you and still be lonely. In fact, there are a bunch of you that are, you have feelings of isolation which, by the way, was like, the number two in many studies, the number three cause of depression, stress, and anxiety was isolation. And the Bible talks about it: "There was a man all alone; he had neither son nor brother. And there was no end to his stress, his toil". He cracked under pressure. "And yet he tried to solve it by his wealth". No, it's, "I'll just keep going to work and provide, provide, and make money". And the Bible says, "No, no, no, two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor: and if one of them falls down, the other one can help the other person up. But pity anyone who falls and there's no one to help 'em up".

So, in other words, the pressure's still gonna continue, but you can have extra capacity if you have somebody helping you with that pressure. "And if two lie down together, they will keep warm. But how can one keep warm alone? Though one may be overpowered," and I'm so sad to say this: some of you are being overpowered by society, can't change society, but I can get you in a group 'cause I'm gonna tell you, two is not gonna be overpowered. And better yet, a three-fold cord, you can't break that. Researchers say we are the loneliest society in human history, that we're literally the first in human history to do something that what they called, and this is secular, this is how they would say it. They would say what made us a super-species, and that's how they see us as animals. We're not. But they say what made us a super-species, the humans, is that we knew how to get together and get things done together.

That we're the first in society that has disbanded our tribes. And that's why most, even secular psychologists and psychiatrists, you know what they're doing? They have come up with something. They didn't come up with nothing. This has always been in God's Word. Always love it when science figures out what God always knew. They had, and this is how they say it. They call it social prescribing, and they say you do two things: find some friends and do something meaningful together. Well, that's the church. We're not here just to sing three songs and hear the best message of your entire life. You're not here for that. No, we're here, we band together. We're in prisons and dream centers and sending millions of dollars to translate new Bibles for people around the world who've never even seen the Scriptures. No, no, no, we're a family with a cause.

The world's out there saying, "Ah, you just be you. Be you. Do you, baby". No, don't be you. "Don't be yourself. Be us, be we. Be a part of a group". And by the way, if you get in a Small Group, let me just tell you, the goal, the ultimate goal, I'm just gonna say it to you, is not just for you to attend. You don't need something else to do, you need friends that you trust. So I'll just tell you, the ultimate goal of the group is that you get close enough where you can tell somebody in that group, "Guess what I really do. Guess what I really think. Guess what I really am. Nobody knows". And you peel off that mask. Look at me. And that's the day, you're gonna feel it. I promise you strength. 'Cause you're gonna think they're gonna go, "Really"? And they're not. They're gonna go, "What? You too? I thought I was the only one".

And now you have strength. I'm trying to help you with your capacity. These are all biblical principles that increase capacity 'cause I can't promise you times are gonna get better. They probably will actually get worse. But the promise of the Bible is you can stand up under it. Our capacity, fifth, increases when God is helping you. And some of you even said, "Why isn't God helping me"? I actually talked to somebody this week. I was counseling, and they said, "God's just not helping me". And I kind of probed into their relationship with God and they basically had only defined God as the one who helps me. He's my friend. Help me. But he's not friend first, people. He's Lord first. He's the prince of peace, and that's not like Prince Charming fairytale.

The word "prince" in the Hebrew, the word "prince" is sar. It's where we get the word "tsar" for the Russians and Caesar in the Romans. Sar is Hebrew and it's the one who's in charge. So he can't help you until he is in control first. So some of us are asking for God to help me, but you haven't given him all of your life yet. He's not your Lord. No, he's the sar, prince, of peace, shalom: tranquility, wholeness, rest, completeness, contentment. Let me say it this way: Lord and peace always go together. You can't have peace without him being Lord. And some of you expected something of God that you never entered into a relationship with. I'll show it to you in Scripture, in Psalm 4: "I will lie down and sleep in peace". Love to have that. "For you alone, O LORD, make me dwell in safety". Psalm 29: "The LORD gives strength to his people; and the LORD is the one who can bless you with peace".

In the New Testament, Acts chapter 10: "This is the message of the Good News for the people of Israel, that there is peace through Jesus Christ, who is," and it even says it more: "Lord of all". In case you're not convinced, one more. Romans 5: "Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace". How? "With God through our Lord Jesus Christ". He's Lord. He's Lord. And the prince has prince-iples that you cannot ignore. But if you do surrender to them, it's called the Word of God. You follow God's way, when you put God's first. In fact, most of our stress comes from ignoring God's principles. And that's the part that I kind of waited to the end of the message just to say to you.

What principles? Let me get, there's a bunch of 'em. Let me summarize it into one word. You ready for it? If you're taking notes, write this word down. He's first. "Seek first," give God first, "his kingdom, his righteousness, and all the other things that you've been asking for will be given to you as well". The peace comes when I put God first. You've done it today. God, you're first. This isn't a church service. This is an expression to God that you get the first day of my week. I honor you, Lord, with the first. Tomorrow morning, wake up. If you only have one minute, "God, before I say anything to anybody else, I love you and I will serve you today".

If that's the only time you have, give God the first part of your day. We give him the first part of our resources. We give him the first part of our life. Every part, and watch the prince of peace touch your life. If you know me, you know that I am just, I love all things British royalty. Like, I have watched every documentary. I don't know why. I just love it. I know more about all of Queen Elizabeth's ancestors, and how she became queen, like, I'm just, I just think it's the most fascinating thing in the world. And of course, I am saddened at her passing this week but she was an amazing woman and I watched every one of her Christmas messages. You ought to go back and watch some of her Christmas messages. I mean, she preached the gospel in them. And they're just, I just, I loved her, you know?

I just thought, I thought she was an amazing woman and one of my bucket list goals was to, you know, have a chance to have an audience with her or meet her sometime. I never had the chance to do that, but I was invited to Windsor Castle once when we were actually in the middle of our prayer time, I wasn't able to go. But just amazing, amazing in every way. And I was watching some documentaries this week and they were analyzing why is the whole world enthralled with this? What is it about us that likes all of that? And this person said this and it just, it kind of shocked me. I think, "Of course". And that is that deep within the psychology of humans, that God put there, I might add, he didn't say that, is the desire for a king.

We all know that we're safer if we submit ourselves to someone who can be called Sovereign and that, when we do, we are their subjects and then we receive the blessing of that kingdom. Ladies and gentlemen, as great as Queen Elizabeth was and the British Empire was at one point, she's not the one. In fact, the moment she stepped into the presence of God, I imagined her taking off that crown and just throwing it right at the feet of Jesus 'cause there's one King and he is the Prince of Peace and he's the one who could touch your life. All you have to do is submit yourself to his Lordship. C'mon, give God praise together. He's the King of kings. He is the Lord of lords. Let's bow together for prayer.

So, Father, I'm asking for the people today, Lord, just to receive peace.

In fact, if you're a believer, open your hands before the Lord. Let me just pray the peace of God that passes understanding.

God, you said you have a peace that guards us. Lord, we know the world's not gonna change but we know, God, we can have more capacity and I pray, God, the peace. Let 'em leave here today in peace, the peace of God. And we know that we have it as we employ your prince-iples. You are the Prince of Peace. And God, we make a commitment today to your principles of the Sabbath, of putting you first. In every part of our life, God, to be part of a family. We're not gonna do life alone. We're gonna let you define who we are, God, and then we're gonna get to work on the thing you called us to do. We submit to the Prince of Peace.

If you're here today and he's not your prince, he's not your Lord, he's not your King, all you have to do is submit to his authority. He doesn't become your friend until he first becomes your Lord. And that means you saying, "Whatever you say, that's what I believe, that's what I will do. I belong to you. I am one of your subjects. You are my God. You are my King. You are my Lord". And if you've never prayed that prayer, or if you've never made that decision, or if you're a Christian and you've walked away and you've started to become your own king, I'm inviting you today to pray this prayer with me. Just say:

Jesus, be my King. I submit myself as one of your subjects. It's your way, not my way. And today, I repent and I give you my life. Be the Prince, be the King, of my heart. I give my life to you. In your name I pray, amen, and amen.

Are you Human?:*