Stress and Distress: Cumulative Stress: When Giants Keep Coming

Sunday Sermon Series Stress and Distress

2 Samuel 21-22

We’ve already looked at circumstantial stress and relational distress. Today we look at cumulative stress, stress that just piles up. The Holmes-Ray Stress Inventory is a scale that rates how stressful certain life events typically are. When you add up all your stress over the past year, they say that if your score is 350+ you are likely to have a breakdown in the next two years. Stress can really add up and affect lives. 

Cumulative stress means stress that accumulates in your life. We can handle one or two stressors in our lives, but what do we do when stressful events seem to pile up? You probably know that David killed a Philistine giant named Goliath. Did you know there were other Philistine giants who attacked David and his men? What do you do when the giants keep coming? … Wait, just how big were these giants and is this possible to be that tall? We’re told Goliath was 9 feet tall. Even in recent history there was a man, Robert Wadlow, who was 8’11” and still growing when he died at only 22 years old. Wadlow was a rather skinny man but weighed over 400 pounds just because he was so tall. Imagine how much Goliath and these other giants must have weighed as warriors likely with broad shoulders and large muscles. Well, he was a descendent of Rafa and had brothers and cousins. Some of them were also giants and they attacked Israel. 

How do you deal with cumulative stress? 

  1. Lean on your relationship with other people (2 Samuel 21:15-22). … David had help from other people in defeating these giants. He had a group of warriors known as David’s Mighty Men. These men were incredibly loyal to David. Why? Well, he had shown his willingness to die for them and now they show their willingness to die for him. … None of these men were perfect and neither was David. They all were sinners and had flaws, but they were loyal to each other and to God.

  2. Lean on your relationship with God (2 Samuel 22:1-7, 17-210). … David sang Psalm 18 to God. This where he writes the psalm. David recalls what has happened and praises God for saving him as David called out to God in distress. 

One more thing: Committing your life to God will increase some stress in your life. Our goal is not stress-free living. Our goal is to follow even if that causes us greater distress. … Following Jesus will introduce certain new stresses but it will also get rid of other stresses that are caused by sin. 

Adoniram Judson, one of the more well-known missionaries, was serving in a dangerous location in India. He was in love with a woman, Anne. He sent a letter to her parents asking their permission to marry her and take her to this dangerous place where they could die any number of ways. It had to have been stressful writing that letter, reading the letter, and allowing their daughter to go. Serving in such a place also must have been stressful. Eventually Anne would die of a sickness. But not before becoming the first person to translate the Bible into the local language. 

Stress and Distress: How to Deal with Stress from Broken Relationships

Sunday Sermon Series Stress and Distress

2 Samuel 15-19

There’s good stress in life. For example, the strings on a guitar are under stress and make beautiful music, but if you tighten them too much, putting them under too much stress, they’ll snap. 

Ten years before the events we’ll look at, Absolam killed his half-brother because David, who was furious, refused to punish him for raping Absolam’s full sister. Absolam then fled the kingdom. David longed to be reunited with Absolam but there was this barrier that kept them from each other. 

David’s son, Absolam, rebelled against him and tried to take the kingdom from his father. David’s reaction models how to deal with relational distress. 

David’s encounter with Ittai, Zadok, and Hushai reminds us to focus on good relationships in times of distress (2 Samuel 15:14-34). … Ittai, one of his sons, is an image of loyalty here. Zadok the priest also shows his loyalty to David. Then David heard that one of his elder advisors was helping Absolam, but another of his advisors (Hushai) offered to help counter any knowledge the traitor gave to Absolam. … We all need people in our lives we can count on in times of need. This is why being in a connection group and part of the local church is important. 

David’s encounter with Shimei reminds us not to retaliate in times of distress (2 Samuel 16:5-13). … Shimei is throwing rocks and cursing at David from above, so one of his people takes offense and offers to cut off Shimei’s head. David stops him and allows God’s plan to play out. 

During this time of distress, David wrote Psalm 3. … Absolam’s spy gave him some good advice on how to defeat David, but Hushai gave Absolam some different advice and gave David time to get away.

David affirmed that God was his shield (Psalm 3:3-4). 

When you are in distress, don’t focus on what you don’t know; focus on what you do know. … We know God has promises that He will keep, than we can rely on Him. 

David determined that he would sleep (Psalm 3:5-6). 

When you are in distress, you need to talk to God, but you also need to talk to yourself. … It often helps to give ourselves a good talking too. 

Eventually Absolam died in a rather dramatic way (2 Samuel 18:9) and David went back to Jerusalem to retake his seat on the throne. Remember Shimei? The man who threw rocks and curses at David? He came crawling back to David seeding forgiveness and David forgave him. 

Stress and Distress: In Your Distress, Find Strength in the Lord

Series Stress and Distress

1 Samuel 30

Many things can cause stress: money, work, school, family, and many more factors can cause stress for us. Some stress is good. It can help us grow and reach new achievements. But some stress, often called distress, has negative effects on us. 

Background: God had made a decree back when Moses as leading His people that He would completely wipe out the Amalekites. God entrusted Saul with part of this task, but Saul spared some of Amalekites. This is part of why God rejected Saul as king and eventually replaced him with David.

What was the cause of David's distress in this passage (1 Samuel 30:1-6)?... Saul had raided Ziklag, where David and his men had set up as a base and left their families there. David's men were upset; they had followed David and trusted him, but now their families had been taken from them because of him. Apparently they discussed stoning David. 

How did David respond to his distress (1 Samuel 30:6-8)?... David got alone with God and found his strength in God. David sought God's direction as he asked what to do next; whether or not to pursue the group that raided Ziklag…. A couple of chapters before this, Saul faced distress, but instead of turning to God, he turned to a witch; he turned to false religion…. Gold answered David and said to pursue the raiding party, and that they would surely overtake them and defeat them. So they left, late in the day, and went after the raiding party. Some of the men were too tired to cross a river and were left behind. Then they met an Egyptian, a slave the Amalekites had left to die, and he led them to the Amalachites. David and his men rescued their families that were carried off. 

David wrote about his experience in Psalm 31. What is David's testimony and prayer in the psalm (Psalm 31:14-16)? … David trusted in God and asked for deliverance from his enemies. 

Who quoted the psalm in another time of distress (Psalm 31:5, Luke 23:46)?... Jesus knew the Old Testament; He knew the words of David and He used them. 

Prepared to Give an Answer: “I don’t need religion to be spiritual” Be Prepared to Answer the New Age Spirituality

Sunday Sermon Series Prepared to Give an Answer

This is the final sermon in this series about being prepared to answer others who have questions. 1 Peter 3:15 has been our theme verse and it tells us to be ready to respectfully and gently defend our faith. 

We’ve only covered a few worldviews and there are many more out there. 

New Age Spiritualism hold that oneself is one’s own god and is not an organized religion. They hold  pantheist view that everything in the universe is god and god is everything. Everything is divine. But “self” is sovereign over all. This is a bit like the “force” in Star Wars where the force is in everything and everyone and it connects us all. They meditate to clear 

The Biblical worldview says:

  1. God created everything. Creation is distinct from God yet dependent on God (Genesis 1-2; Nehemiah 9:6; Psalm 33:6; 104:12-25; John 1:3; Revelation 4:11). … God created everything and called it good. However, creation is not God and God is not creation. But He provides for us through creation as we and the animals and the flora all depend upon God. 

  2. God is transcendent (Isaiah 55:8-9; Romans 11:33-36). … Nothing about us makes us equal with God. He is above all, even ourselves. 

  3. Balance God’s transcendence with His immanence/nearness (Acts 17:27-28a; Jeremiah 23:23-24). … God is way above us but He is also among us. He is with us and wants a personal relationship with us. 

  4. God reveals Himself to people through His creation, through the scriptures, and through Jesus Christ (Psalm 19:1-2; Hebrews 1:1-3; Romans 1:25). … Creation points to a creator and reveals certain characteristics of God. The scriptures reveal even more about God. And, well, Jesus is God. 

Why is Christianity a more plausible worldview? 

  1. The New Age movement is man-centered and doesn’t account for sin. Christianity is God-centered and recognizes our need for a Savior (Romans 3:23; Isaiah 53:6; 64:6). … New Age Spirituality says we are basically good. Scripture tells us we are sinners in need of a savior. 

  2. The New Age Spirituality ignores the problem of evil; that is sin, disease, natural disaster, and pain in general (Romans 18:18-24a; John 16:33). … Are they ok with calling certain things good and certain people god? Their worldview seems to demand it. Christianity is different and warns us that we will suffer through evil in the world but that we will see rewards in Heaven. 

  3. As with many other worldviews, the New Age Spiritualist would say that truth is subjective. New Agers create their own reality (Romans 1:25). … Any time a view claims truth is subjective, there is no way to prove it or reach that conclusion without going against that view. The Bible warns us that people will reject the truth for lies. 

Chew and Spit:

  1. They believe in reincarnation (Hebrews 9:27-28). … Scripture says physical death is final. We do not come back in another body. 

  2. They practice meditation to work toward enlightenment. Biblical meditation is filling the mind with Scripture and praying and focusing on the work of God in your life. … They try to empty their mind instead of filling it with God. 

  3. Spiritualists are often holistic in practice. … They are often vegan in diet because of karma and are also good environmentalists. These are a couple things Christians could consider also for their own lives. 

  4. Spiritualists have many practices that they use to connect with their inner divinity and pursue enlightenment. … They use things like ouija boards and seances to try to reach the spiritual realm. This is something the Bible warns against. 

Prepared to Give an Answer: “There Are Many Ways to God” Be Prepared to Answer Pluralism

Sunday Sermon Series Prepared to Give an Answer

Key verse for this series: 1 Peter 3:15 tells us to be gentle and respectful when discussing issues with people who disagree with us, and that we need to be prepared to give an answer. 

Pluralism is the idea that ALL religions offers legitimate paths to God. NO single religion has a monopoly on how to be saved. In religious pluralism all roads lead to God. A pluralist is okay with stating that all truth claims are equally valid. It doesn’t matter what you believe as long as you are sincere. … If you ask three blind people to touch an elephant and say what it is, one might touch the trunk and say it’s a snake, Another might touch the tusk and say it’s a spear. The third might touch the tail and say it’s a rope. None is more right or wrong than the others and all reached their own conclusions based on the information they had. The Pluralist will tell you that’s how religion is too. 

The Biblical worldview says: 

  1. There is only one way to God and Heaven and that is through Jesus Christ (John 14:6; Acts 4:10, 12). … This is an exclusive truth claim. There is no way for it to accommodate other religions. 

  2. Christianity is unique because it is based on grace, not works. … Our society is all about works and what we have accomplished. Fame is gained through works, good or bad. But Christianity is upside down and everything is based on grace, There is no work we can do to gain salvation. Only the grace of God can save us. Other religions require works and don’t offer certainty of salvation. 

  3. God has become human in order to die in our place (Philippians 2:6-8; Romans 3:23-26). … We are all sinners and need salvation. Christianity offers assurance of salvation because it doesn’t require works. The hard part is done and all we have to accept the grace of God and believe in Christ. 

What evidence is there that Christianity is a more plausible worldview than pluralism? 

  1. All religions cannot be true because they make exclusive truth claims. This is called the Law of Non-Contradiction. … Different religions contradict each other. They refer to different gods and different paths to their god(s) and different end results. There is no way to reconcile all religions. … Any time we make a truth claim, we say that anything contradicting it is false. 

  2. No other religion addresses the problem of sin and the need for atonement. The truth is in the Gospel. … Many religions offer no guarantee of salvation because they are works-based and rely on a scale. You have to hope your good deeds outweigh your bad deeds. Christianity offers assurance of salvation through the grace of God. 

Chew and Spit: 

  • Christianity is not intolerant and unloving because of its exclusive truth claims. … We are often told we are intolerant because of these claims, but other religions also make exclusive truth claims and are deemed tolerant. 

  • The Bible teaches us to live peacefully with those of differing worldviews, not through silence but through example of faith. … When we treat people without respect and gentleness we are being intolerant. We should listen to others and treat them respectfully. … When Daniel and his friends were taken to Babylon and told to eat food that was against the Law God had given them, they respectfully declined and ended up healthier than the rest of the men. They didn’t set up organized protests or call anyone names. They responded peacefully without compromising their beliefs. This is seen throughout Daniel’s life as he refused to bow down to the golden statue and he refused to stop praying to God. 

  • Culture has tried to redefine the meaning of tolerance. … Too often it seems as though tolerance simply means that we agree with the popular view. If we disagree, we are labeled intolerant by those who claim to be tolerant. 

Prepared to Give an Answer:“Is the Bible Really True?” Be Prepared to Answer Skepticism

Sunday Sermon Series Prepared to Give an Answer

Key verse for the series: 1 Peter 3:15 tells us to gently and respectfully respond to those who question our faith. We’ve looked at a few ways to do that already. This week we look at how to do that when skeptics are asking the questions. 

There is a certain amount of skepticism needed in life. That’s the idea behind the ”chew and spit” part of each sermon in this series. However, there is an unhealthy skepticism in our culture and this sermon will look at three of the most common questions or claims made by skeptics. 

Skepticism says we cannot know truth even if it exists. Skeptics ask, “How can we be sure?” 

Chew and Spit: 

  • We want our kids to be skeptics to an extent (1 Thessalonians 5:21; Acts 17:11; John 20:25). 

What Skeptics Say About the Bible:

  1. “The Bible is full of contradictions and errors.”
    Minor discrepancies characterize eyewitness accounts. These can often be harmonized. Archaeology has repeatedly proven the Bible to be in small details previously unknown to us. … The book Cold Case Christianity looks at these discrepancies and determines that these discrepancies add validity to the eyewitness accounts. It’s written by a homicide detective who was not a believer before he studied the discrepancies in the New Testament … One example of a discrepancy that has caused people to lose faith is Mark 2:26. … An example of the Bible being proven right is the existence of the Hittites., For the longest time, the Bible was the only record of their existence until an archaeological dig discovered physical evidence that they existed. 

  2. “The Bible has been changed over the years.”
    Recent discoveries of ancient manuscripts like the Dead Sea Scrolls show the Bible has not changed substantially during the centuries it was hand copied. … The Dead Sea scrolls are 95% the same as the next oldest scrolls we have. The people who copied the scriptures followed meticulous methods that helped ensure the accuracy of their copy. … Many of the actual discrepancies that exist are one letter differences like John being spelled with one ‘n’ or two ‘n’s. They have no significance to the actual message.

  3. “The stories in the Bible are myths or legends.”
    Legends require a long period of time to develop, but the Bible was written by eyewitnesses (John 19:35; 2 Peter 1:16; 1 Corinthians 15:3-8; Luke 1:1-4). … There is a partial manuscript of John that dates back to 90 A.D. The authors of the new Testament all claim to be eyewitnesses or to have interviewed eyewitnesses. 

Prepared to Give An Answer: “True for You but Not for Me” Be Prepared to Answer Postmodernism and Relativism

Sunday Sermon Series Prepared to Give an Answer

The key verse for this series is 1 Peter 3:15 which tells us to gently and respectfully defend our faith. Colossians 2:8 also tells us to make sure we are not taken “captive by hollow and deceptive philosophy.” 

Postmodernism says there is no objective truth. All truth claims are subjective. Relativism says there is no absolute right or wrong. It says those who believe in absolute truth are intolerant … Before the Modern era, the common belief was that truth comes from God. The Modern era made the idea that truth comes from reason popular. Now in the Postmodern era, the idea that there is no objective truth has become popular. Relativism is closely related to Postmodernism and adds that truth claims aren’t only relative, but also are only for grabbing power. 

The Biblical worldview say: 

  1. Truth exists and comes from God (Isaiah 45:19; John 18:37; 16:13; 17:17). … God is the reference point. He tells us the truth. Jesus’ life was about revealing the truth to us. The Spirit guides us in truth. We are sanctified by God’s Word, which is truth.

  2. Right and wrong come from the nature of a Holy God (1 Peter 1:15-16). … God wants us to be like Him, set apart from evil. 

  3. God placed a sense of right and wrong in our hearts and consciousnesses (Romans 2:14-15). … We have a sense of rightness and morality that comes from God. That sense can be corrupted but we do all have one.

Chew and Spit: 

  • We agree that moral choices are not always clear. It is often difficult to know what to do in a fallen world (Exodus 1:15-21). …Not everything is black or white. Even Paul struggled with this regarding eating meat … When the Israelites were in Egypt and Pharaoh ordered the midwives to kill all the male babies, they let the babies live. Then they lied to Pharaoh about it and God rewarded them. Sometimes a lie is ok, but only under extenuating circumstances.

  • We do not agree relativism produces tolerance … Relativism claims to be inclusive but excludes anything it deems intolerant, thus making it intolerant itself. 

How can we be prepared to answer postmodernism and relativism? 

Gently point out the consequences of relativism: Are you willing to say that slavery, murder, rape, or human trafficking is wrong for some but not others? Was the Holocaust wrong or just wrong for some people? 

Postmodernism is inconsistent. Postmodern architects must use objective truths to make their buildings stand up. Math is all about absolute truths. Engineering relies on math. Buildings stand because their designers engineered it to. Even postmodern architecture that looks chaotic with stairs going nowhere and columns holding up nothing, still stand on those absolute truths. 

Jesus is the truth. He wants us to know the truth and build our lives on the truth.

Prepared to Give an Answer: “Nature Is All There Is” Be Prepared to Answer Naturalism

Sunday Sermon Series Prepared to Give an Answer

The Bible tells us that we should be prepared to give answers and defend our faith (1 Peter 3:15). We aren’t going to argue people into being saved and we shouldn’t respond with harshness or hate, but with gentleness and respect. This series will cover five different worldviews that conflict with the Biblical worldview and how we can respond to supporters of those worldviews. The first one we’re going to look at is Naturalism. 

Naturalism (or Materialism) says that matter and energy is all there is. There is no supernatural. Natural causes explain everything. Science is the only means to knowledge … Carl Sagan once said “the cosmos is all there is, or ever was, or ever will be.” Sagan is an atheist who, like many atheists, hold the Naturalistic worldview. 

The Biblical worldview says: 

  1. There is a God who is eternal (Psalm 90:1-2; Exodus 3:14; Hebrews 13:8). … We believe in a God who has existed forever and will exist forevermore. He had no beginning and will have no end. 

  2. God created everything (Genesis 1:1; John 1:3; Revelation 4:11). … God is eternal but everything else has a beginning and an end. God is the creator of all things. 

  3. God reveals Himself through His creation (Romans 1:20). … The things God creates mirrors some His qualities. 

Let’s introduce a concept called “chew and spit.” It’s a bit of a weird name, but it means we need to take everything we hear and chew it a bit, see if it’s good, and spit out that which is bad. We don’t want to reject anything without considering it first. 

Chew and Spit: 

  • Religion is not opposed to science. Science is a good gift from God. 

  • Science is not the only way to knowledge. If you say, “Nature is all there is,” how do you prove that statement by science? 

What evidence is there that Christianity is a more plausible worldview than Naturalism? 

  1. Science says the universe had a beginning. Things that begin to exist have a cause. The universe has a cause that was before the universe and superior to the universe … This argument is the “argument of cause.” The Biblical worldview agrees and gives a plausible answer, some would say more plausible than others. Science says a big bang created everything, but what caused the big bang, or who caused it? The Bible says it was God. 

  2. Science says the universe is fine-tuned to support life. This precision design is best explained by a designer … The precision required for the universe to support life on Earth is pretty crazy. If one aspect of our universe were just slightly different, there would be no life in the universe. Their answer for this precise design is the multiverse theory, That theory suggests that there is an infinite number of universes and that in the multiverse there must be one that is fine-tuned enough to support life. That would also require an infinite number of big bangs. Does that really make more sense than an eternal God creating everything?

Three Pictures of Hell

Sunday Sermon

Revelation 21-22
Last month our associate pastor preached about Heaven. There’s a second possible eternal destination that also needs to be discussed: Hell. We don’t like talking about Hell, but it is an important part of our beliefs and needs to be discussed.

“These are such weighty things, such that when I dwell upon them, I feel far more inclined to sit down and weep than to stand up and speak to you.” - Charles Spurgeon

Three things about Hell we learn from the last two chapters:

  1. Hell is a place of eternal torment. 

    1. People say, “is it really eternal?” … Unfortunately, yes.

    2. People say, “How is fair?” … Sin gains its wickedness by who it is against. When we sin against an eternal, omnipotent God, the punishment has to fit the sin. Consider the difference in punishment you would face for punching a random passerby versus punching the Queen of England. Is God not infinitely greater than even the Queen?

    3. People say, “Why not just forgive everyone’s sins?” … God is just and being just, He requires justice. Fortunately, He provided us with a way out: Jesus. Jesus was willing to take the punishment for all our sins Himself. 

    4. People say, “Why doesn’t God do something now instead of waiting for the end?”

  2. Hell is a door locked from the inside  … When a fire goes unchecked/uncontrolled, it grows and grows. Those who sin without seeking forgiveness by repentance will continue to sin. 

  3. Hell is our default destination … Most people tend to believe Heaven is the default destination, but the Bible tells us differently. The Bible says we were made for Heaven, but the fall, sin, changed our default destination to Hell. However, there is a way to change our destination to Heaven, and that is faith in Jesus, repenting of our sins. 

What do we need to do in light of this ETERNAL reality? Matthew 28:18-20

  1. Go - Be present with people … as you do life, spend time with people

  2. Make Disciples - Share the Gospel … Romans 10 asks some questions that are intended to prompt us to share the Gospel. They can’t hear the Gospel if we don’t speak it. 

  3. Baptize - Invite people to the family … don’t just invite people into our faith, but also into our community. Invite people to church, to your connection group or Sunday school class. 

  4. Teaching - To follow Jesus … by teaching people to follow Jesus we also teach them how to teach people to follow Jesus. 

Jesus has given us authority to share His message. 

Jesus is with us always. We don’t evangelize alone because Jesus is always with us. 

How Do You Respond to Trouble?

Sunday Sermon

In 2 Kings 3 is the story of two kings who get into trouble. King Joram (king of Israel) and King Jehosapht (king of Judah) respond very differently to the same situation:

The Moabites rebelled against Joram Joram decided to ask Jehoshaphat for assistance in taking on the Moabites. Joram wanted to go through Judah and attack Moab from the back. It was a good plan, but there was one issue. They ran out of water. Let’s see how each king responds. 

  • Joram responds with despair (2 Kings 3:10). … Joram panics and thinks there is no hope for them. He even blames God for his situation. 

  • Jehoshaphat seeks God (2 Kings 3:11). … Jehoshaphat asks for a man of God that they might ask what God is doing in this situation. 

Why do they respond differently? 

Their relationship with God is different:

  • Joram (2 Kings 3:1-3) … Joram was son of Ahab, who was one of the worst kings, and he did evil in the sight of the Lord. 

  • Jehoshaphat (2 Chronicles 17:3-6) … Jehoshaphat had a relationship with God and had experience with trouble before. 

Jehoshaphat had been in trouble before: Sometimes a little trouble prepares us for bigger troubles … Even King David saw minor troubles that prepared him for future, giant troubles. 

The prequel to our story is in 1 Kings 22 … King Ahab wanted to go to war with Aram and wanted Jehoshaphat’s assistance. Jehoshaophat said to fris seek God’s counsel. Ahab asked the advice of 400 false prophets and they told him he would win the battle. The one true prophet he asked said he would die in battle. He was right. Ahabn was in disguise so he wouldn’t be a target, but a random arrow hit him. Meanwhile, Jehoshaphat was spared because the Aram soldiers were instructed to only attack Ahab. 

So, how did our two kings fare? They found Elisha, a prophet, who told them what God was doing. Elisha tells them that God will flood the valley. Well, that water appeared as blood the Moabites and they thought the kings and their armies had slaughtered each other, granted themselves victory. So they went to plunder the fallen armies, but ended up getting slaughtered. 

Jehoshaphat will be in trouble again: Again, he would seek God. 

The sequel to our story is in 2 Chronicles 20 … The Moabites tried the same tactic against Judah, coming up from behind. They reached the city and Jehoshaphat saw how outnumbered they were. Jehoshaphat sought God again. He then sent out the praise team to the front line, and as they sang, God somehow sent ambushes onto the Moabites. 

Jehoshaphat provides us with a great example of how to respond to trouble. Seek God’s counsel.