Joyce Meyer - Relieving Stress
Well, thank you for joining us today on, "Enjoying everyday life". I wanna talk to you today from a book that I've written called, "Overload", and the little subtitle here says, "How to unplug, unwind, and unleash yourself from the pressure of stress". Well, I wonder if anybody that's watching right now has any stress in your life? It seems to be the disease of the century. And so, the Bible says in Proverbs 12:25, "Anxiety in a man's heart weighs it down but an encouraging word makes it glad".
You know, I thought this morning, I don't care what day it is there's always gonna be something that you can worry about and stress over if you don't decide not to. And so much of stress and the problem with stress today, involves a lot of the choices that we make. And the society we live in today, there's a lot of irresponsibility and people don't want to own their own stuff. You know, they wanna blame it on this that or something else, but the truth is, if you really, really want to decrease... I'm not gonna say eliminate because nobody's gonna completely eliminate stress from their life. But if you really want to decrease it, you can. And, I think that's the first thing that we have to realize. If I really want to do something about this besides just complain then I can.
I recall, one time, one of many, I'm sure, that I was complaining about my schedule. And, "This is crazy. How can anybody be expected to do all this"? And you know... And the Lord spoke to my heart, and he said, "You made your schedule, if you don't like it, change it". So, anxiety in a man's heart weighs it down. It makes it heavy. Makes everything in life hard. And so, the way this book is laid out is, we have a chapter. Then at the end of the chapter, we have things to remember from that chapter.
So, I thought I might just try talkin' about those things to remember from the chapter. But this first chapter is called, "Start defeating stress today". You know, one of the things that we do is, we always putting something off until tomorrow. And when the plagues were coming on Egypt, one of them was a plague of frogs, and there were frogs everywhere. I mean, if you just think about it for a minute, we can read that sentence and not get it. But I mean, they had frogs in their beds. They had frogs on their property, in their kitchen, in the refrigerator. Just think about it. If you had frogs absolutely everywhere.
And so, Pharaoh said that he would let the people go, and Moses said well, "I'll pray for you and the frogs will leave", but he said, "I'm gonna leave it up to you as to when you want me to pray". Which I think is interesting, in itself. And Pharaoh said, "Tomorrow". So, who with any, even a little bit of common sense, if you had a house full of frogs and you could get rid of 'em today, would want to wait until tomorrow?
And so, tomorrow is possibly one of the most dangerous words in our English language because when we put something off we have good intentions, but we've still not obeyed God. And having a good intention, "Well, someday, I'll change my schedule", or, "When this is done, I'll change my schedule". And so, until you make the changes in your life that you need to make, that by the way, only you can make, then the stress won't go away. Just thinking that you're going to do it someday won't help. And so, a few things to remember is that stress is a real enemy. Capable of doing real physical, emotional, and spiritual damage. And that's something that we have to realize.
If you have... We're all gonna have stress. We're built to handle a certain amount of stress, but when you go into overload, and usually, you can hear it coming out of yourself. Normally, if you listen to yourself, you'll be complaining a lot more about all that you have to do. And then, sometimes, we even get bitter toward the other people around us that we think aren't doing what we're doing, and they're peaceful and we're worn out all the time from all the stress. But here again, it can just become an excuse.
So, we're all built for a certain amount of stress, but when you go into overload... Let me just put it like this. If you have too much stress, for a long enough period of time, you will ultimately feel the effects of it in your body or in your emotions. A lot of people that have panic attacks, and anxiety, and depression, and all those things, it's because really, because they have too much stress. And I know we don't like it, I don't like it when I go to the doctor and he says, "It's stress". We never really want to hear that.
I had some dental work done recently and it was kind of extensive, 'cause they're getting ready for an implant. And I didn't have enough bone, so they had to graft bone, and blah, blah, blah. And so, the last procedure they did, I had a headache for about a week after that. Like, a sinus headache, 'cause they had to do like, a sinus lift to do this. And so, I went to the doctor for the checkup and I said, "You know, I'm doing good except I've had a headache for a week". And he said, "Well, you know, there's a lot of reasons why you can have headaches. They're very complex". And he said, "It could just be stress". And I thought, "I do not want to have one more doctor tell me that it's stress".
I don't know why that bothers us. But for some reason, especially, I guess, if you're a, "Type a choleric", you don't wanna feel like you can't handle life. And so, you don't like to be told that everything is stress. But, to be honest, most things are. Now, that doesn't mean the symptoms aren't real. It doesn't mean the disease is not real but it does mean that no matter how much medicine we take... It's kind of like that old game, whack-a-mole. You know, you can take medicine for one symptom, but it's just gonna pop up somewhere else in your life. And so, I just want to recommend whether you're 20, or whether you're 70, that you start making better choices in your life so you're not stressed out all the time.
If you think about Jesus, if I just said to anyone here, "When you think of Jesus, what picture do you get"? One of the answers that I like the best was rested. He was always rested. And yet, Jesus had many, many, many things that he could have been stressed out about. I mean, if you just think about it. I mean, his own family, his brothers thought he was crazy. They were embarrassed by him. Everywhere he went, somebody was trying to kill him. People lied about him. Peter denied knowing him. Judas betrayed him. And his disciples were supposed to be the pick of the crop, the ones that were going to carry the Gospel on after he was gone and they were just a bunch of babies.
He was constantly dealing with stuff with them. And one that I thought in particular, is everywhere he went, crowds of people were following him and they just would not leave him alone. Now, you know, most of us, by the time you've been up an hour, your phone has made some kinda noise, whether it's a ding or a beep or a ring or whatever it is probably at least 8 to 12 times in a short period of time. And so, we think that all of our modern technology gives us stress, but Jesus had somebody at him all the time. And yet, he knew when and how to separate himself from all that. And, I might add, he did not let the needs of the people or the, "Emergencies", of the people control his decisions.
If you think about it, sometimes he walked away from people that were really hurting, and really sick, and really needed him, but he had the wisdom to understand that he was not gonna be any good to anybody if he wasn't healthy himself. And so, one of the best gifts that you can give your family and friends is a healthy you. Amen?
So, here's some things to remember. Stress is a real enemy capable of doing real physical damage and nobody will avoid it. I want to stress that because we always think, "Oh, I can do it. It won't happen to me". But, it will. I'm very strong. I'm strong-willed. I'm strong in my intentions. I've got a good walk with God, but I pushed myself, and pushed myself, and pushed myself for way too long, and I ended up getting really sick. It had happened me two other times in life, but it didn't take me nearly as long to recover. This last time, it took me a long time to recover. And eventually, we need to get what I'll call, "The fear of God", in us to know that we will reap what we sow, and that we can't break his rules of rest even in his name, and get by with it.
Sometimes people that are working for God think because they're working for God they can do things like that and it's not gonna be a problem. But you know, Epaphroditus worked so hard in the ministry that he got so sick that he almost died. He's Paul's companion. And yet, we have this man who worked so hard in ministry that he almost died. And through Paul's prayers and the goodness of God, he was healed. But the thing I like about that story is Paul still sent him home to rest. Even though God supernaturally healed him, he still sent him home to rest. And so, we don't have to live as victims of stress. As believers, we have been promised a new, powerful, overcoming, strong life. But here again, and you're gonna hear me say this many times today, it's about choices.
I don't know why, I mean, there's different things that God impresses on us at different times but in the last couple of weeks my daughter and I have just been talking about and I've been thinking about the importance of choices, and how so many people have such messed up lives. But there's really no point in blaming it on circumstances, and the devil, and other people. It's really all about what kind of choices are you making in your life? The choices you make today will be what you live tomorrow.
And so, we need to think a little bit more about the choices that we're making and realize that there's one principle in the Bible that nobody can get away from and that is, you reap what you sow. So, if you sow foolishness, you'll reap the results of foolishness. But if you sow wisdom, you will reap the results of wisdom. Once you realize that stress is trying to keep you from experiencing God's best in your life, you can start making necessary choices to change things. The next chapter, and I know we won't get through the whole book doing this, but it'll kind of give you an idea. "Who's in charge"?
Are you letting other people dictate your schedule, wanting to keep them happy? Are you letting the devil dictate your schedule by making you feel guilty if you don't do everything that everybody wants you to do? Are your emotions in charge? You know, there's a lot of things that you may really want to do but that still doesn't mean you should do them. Like, I'm at the point in my life now where I'm not doing just what I can do, I'm doing what I'm the best at and letting other people do all the other things. You see, there's a lot of things you can do, but just because you can do it that doesn't mean that it's God's will for you to do it. Amen?
So, a few things to remember is there are few things in life more stressful than thinking, "It's all up to me". "Well, if I don't do it, nobody else will". "I can't trust anybody else to do it right". In a way, that's kind of like, we might as well say it's pride. Thinking that nobody can do a job as good as you can. And sometimes that's how people get their worth and value. "Well, it's all up to me. If I don't do it. Nobody else will do it". Well, maybe if you're killing yourself trying to do it then it just doesn't need to be done.
And it's amazing how people will step up if you just don't wait on 'em all the time and do everything they want you to do. How many of you experience the frustration of trying to keep other people happy all the time? See? I think most of us do. I think most of us do. You know, you want your kids to like you. You wanna make the person you're married to happy. You want your boss to be happy. You want your pastor to be happy. You want your friends to be happy. And a large majority of people in the world, in the pursuit of trying to keep everybody else happy, they lose themselves and end up not enjoying their life. And then, all of a sudden, they're 70 or 80 years old and they're thinking, "What happened to my life"? They never really get around to doing any of the things that they like, enjoy, or want to do.
Everyday, we face two options: I trust myself or I trust God. And the only way to avoid some of the stress is to trust God. There's so many things in our lives that we just don't understand. And I'll tell you what, trying to understand everything is hard work. I mean, one of the best stress relievers that I know is, "I don't know the answer to this God, but I know that you do. And I'm gonna let it go and trust you".
Trusting God with your life doesn't mean that you have no responsibilities or that you don't make any decision. It simply means that you submit each responsibility and decision to him. When we talk about trusting God or praying about things instead of worrying that doesn't mean that there's nothing for you to do. God wants us to be active and he wants us to participate in our own lives. The place where we get into trouble is doing what we wanna do without submitting it to God. So simple. In proverbs, "Lean not to your own understanding but in all your ways acknowledge him and he will direct your path". God's not asking for that much. He's just saying, "Acknowledge me. Ask me to help you". "God is this the right thing? If this isn't the right thing then please show me".
So, how many of you in this room need to make some changes regarding stress? You know what? No matter what room you'd be in, you'd get the same response. I mean, it really is a huge, huge problem today. And you know what? We've only got one life. And there's no do-overs. I mean, when it's done, it's done. And I'm really putting before you today, don't wait until you're 85 and then look back and have nothing but regret. "I wish I would have..." "I wish I wouldn't have..." "I wish I would have..."
It's amazing some of the things that you think are so important when you're 25, by the time you're 75, you realize they just really weren't important at all. Especially, some of the things that people argue about. When I think about some of the things Dave and I used to argue about and I'd be upset for three and four days, and give myself headaches and stomachaches, and waste no telling how much energy. I look back now, and I think, "That was so stupid. I mean who really cares"? You know, we fight and argue to be right but being right is highly overrated. It really doesn't do as much for you as you think you would.
Now, there's a chapter in here called, "I'd like to exchange this", and that might sound like an odd chapter title. But if you think about it, God offers us something good for something bad. "I will give you beauty for ashes". "The oil of joy for mourning". "The garment of praise for a spirit of heaviness". "I'll take your sin and give you my righteousness". So, you can trade-in your stress today for God's peace. It's available, but we have to make the right choices.
And I'm gonna be honest with you. I'll just say this, to say it's been said. If you really want to be obedient to God and live your life in a way where it can be a healthy life and you can get the most out of it, you might as well understand right now, that everybody is not gonna like it. And everybody's not gonna like you. And I just kind of feel like saying it's time for you to stand up for yourself. Some of you need to just stand up for yourself and realize that you're the one trying to make everybody happy and who's trying to make you happy?
You know, most people will use other people if they're allowed to. There's just something kind of wicked in human nature that even godly people will do what you let them do. They'll take advantage of you to whatever degree you let them. And I'll tell you one of the best things to do is set some good ground rules and draw some boundaries in the beginning of every relationship because what you let go on, the longer you let it go on, the harder it's gonna be to get out of it.
There's something the Bible even says about, don't pamper your servant in the beginning because if you do, he'll expect it later on. And you know, what might be a privilege at one time can become an expectation later on. So, you just want to be careful how you begin relationships. We don't always cause the stress in our lives. Sometimes things just happen and there's nothing we can do about it. But we do have an option about how we respond. That's one of the big things to remember.
You know, our response to the problems is really what shows our spiritual maturity. We can't, you know, I prayed for many years for this problem to go away and that problem to go away. And you know, make this person change, make that person change. And I don't know, took me way too long, maybe 30 years, but I finally thought, "You know what? The world is not gonna change". And not at all to be negative, 'cause I'm not a negative person, but if anything, it's probably gonna get worse. Because that's really the pattern that we've been seeing. The world is getting more and more violent everyday, and more and more bad news. And so, we have to be the ones that change.
If you notice, the apostle Paul never prayed for the believers for their problems to go away. You cannot find a place where Paul prayed for their problems to go away. Isn't that interesting? But you know what he did pray? "I pray that you will be able to endure whatever comes with good temper". You don't have to hold on to stress, you can exchange it for peace and joy. God wants to give you beauty for ashes. But here's the thing, you gotta be willing to give up the ashes.
See, a lot of people like to hang on to these things and sit around and have pity parties. And you know, you've heard me say this over and over, but God told me a long time ago, "You can be pitiful or you can be powerful, but you're not gonna be both". So, you're not gonna get the power till you give up the pity. You're not gonna get the health until you rework your schedule. You know, a lot of people just need to get more sleep, but they won't manage their life in a way where they can get it. Okay, this chapter's called, "Decisions you make and steps you take".
Things to remember:
— You don't get to choose what happens around you but you do get to choose how you respond to it.
— The decisions you make and the steps you take each day determine what kind of life you are going to live.
— Let's be responsible.
— Let's stop acting like victims and, "Oh, everything happens to me. Nobody does anything for me".
— Let's take responsibility for our own life and make the changes that need to be made.
When you take a step for God, even if you fall down, God'll pick you up. See, we don't have to be afraid to step out and try to make changes because if it's the wrong decision, it'll be clear. I think some people, they'll never know what they're supposed to do if they don't try to start doing something. But the thing is, is if you're gonna be bold and just say, "Well, you know, I'm not really sure what God wants me to do", but I very much believe it's kinda like, going out and looking for an outfit. You know, you don't know exactly what you want but you keep trying on things until you find the one that just looks right on you and fits you. Amen?
And so, I think it's the same way. Sometimes, you've gotta try on different things to see what fits you and what feels right for you. Because there's nothing more stressful than spending your life doing something that you're not really anointed to do. I mean, you talk about hard. I mean, that is hard.
When I first went to work for, "Life Christian Center", many, many, many years ago now, pastor Rick hired me as his secretary. Well, after two days he fired me. We laugh about it now, but it wasn't so funny then. I was heartbroken. But he just said, "I don't know, I don't know why, I don't know what the problem is, but something is just not right about this". And then, I ended up becoming an associate pastor there and doing a lot of teaching at the church, and having a weekly meeting, and being on staff. You know, sometimes you gotta fail at a few things to find out what you can succeed at. And just remember that anytime that you keep trying to do something that's not right for you, it's going to make you absolutely miserable.
Well, we didn't get through as many chapters as I was hoping we would but thank God, we have the book. And so, you can order this book, "Overload", and get all the stuff that I wasn't able to give you. And guess what? You can order this book today for your gift to the ministry of any amount. You know, not only are we sharing the Gospel here on television that goes into millions of homes, but we have many, many very powerful outreaches to the poor and the needy around the world. And so, your financial gifts that you send in to the ministry are not wasted, they're put to good use. And so, I hope that the word that I shared today helped you. And I pray that you'll help us by getting this book. And you know, maybe you know somebody who's all stressed out and you should order it for them. God bless you and thank you for being with us today.