Ephesians 6: 11,12
Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.
6:40 am – I have slept longer than usual.
My eyes slowly open to view the blue glowing clock numbers from a horizontal position. I realize that I’ve slept past 6am and I am aware of my eyelids opening slowly and how soft my pillow seems. Suddenly…
This “How does one live a stress-free life?” question pops into my head. What a jolt! I think to myself, Really?! I’ve barely opened my eyes? Is this how I’m going to start my day?! The stress has already grabbed me by the thought of having to answer this question, knowing that it’s on my mind, and thinking that I must be stressed to even go there; and it’s only been a couple of seconds! Geeezzz!
It was Wednesday morning when I awakened from a deep sleep and those words instantly formed in my mind. It was almost simultaneous with opening my eyelids. In the exact same moments, I quickly began to answer my very own question. Within the first few seconds of awakening, I realize I’m waking up later that normal, I’m greeted by a deep question, I argue what to do with it, I have a sudden answer to the question, and then in my minds eye, a flood of scripture verses rapidly organized into an acronym. STRESS-FREE! It amazes me how quickly the mind can think and respond. As I lie there, I began to formulate a great debate in my mind. Why on earth am I thinking these thoughts as soon as my eyes open? God, should I get up and write? What are you saying? Do I have feelings of stress? I certainly do now! Thoughts are coming so fast it is as though I am speaking them fluently in rhythm as though I were playing a well-memorized piano piece. I rush down the stairs repeating the words, as I am still groggy from sleeping so deeply. I don’t want to forget! And so I write the answer to my question and all of the thoughts that accompanied it.
“How does one live a stress-free life?” It is simple to know and understand but difficult to do. “Live in step with the Father!” Below are the verses that flooded my mind and heart as God organized them into this acrostic:
S – Stand fast in the liberty with which Christ gave to make us free. Don’t be entangled with
the yoke of bondage and don’t use this freedom for fleshly purposes but rather use it to serve one another. Galatians 5:1 (paraphrased)
What is it that binds and entangles us - keeping us in bondage? It seems to me that it is the “Should-a, would-a could-a” of life that keeps us tangled up, bound up, and paralyzed. These excuses surround us daily and often we are not even aware of them in our thoughts, language, and actions.
2 Peter: 1-11
T- Thanksgiving – Give thanks to God for everything…
All things good and even what seems bad.
“In everything give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.”
R – Restores – “...He restores my soul…” Ps. 23:3
Meet with Jesus by the quiet still waters, not just during the times when the water seems to be raging. He wants to quiet your anxious heart. He makes you lie down to refresh and restore your broken and weary soul. Take time to rest and be restored.
E - Encourage one another.
When you take your eyes off of self and focus on the needs of others, you tend to be happier.
1 Thess. 5:11 “Therefore, encourage one another and build each other up…” and Heb. 3:13 “But encourage each other day after day…”
S - "Sing and make melody in your heart." Eph. 5:19
It’s hard to be stressed and anxious when you are singing and have a happy heart that joyfully makes melody unto Him.
S – Surrender to the work of the Holy Spirit –
James 4:7 Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.
Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you. Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world. And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you. 1 Peter 5: 6-10
~ The hyphen here reminds me to "Selah." To pause and think about.
It is a moment for separating myself. A time for resting, pondering, letting something soak in. Resting is something that doesn't naturally come to me. I often view it as a waste of time. This is a lie that satan would have you believe. Resting is important physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually! You actually ARE DOING something when you take the time to be rejuvenated. A healing begins to take effect. Do you take time to rest? Psalm 91 has been at the front of my thinking for a couple of weeks. Click on the link and read it as you rest yourself. Psalm 91 (NIV)
F – Forget the past. Let it go. God forgives and forgets. Can you allow yourself to do that? The weight can be too heavy and will weigh us down if we don't let it go. Allow yourself this freedom in Christ. You will be able to run more efficiently without the extra baggage!
Phillipians 3: 13b, 14 …Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, 14 I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.
R – Remember God’s faithfulness.
"Bless the Lord oh my soul and forget not all His benefits." Ps.103:2
Ps. 91, Lamentations 3:22-24, ESV The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. “The Lord is my portion,” says my soul, “therefore I will hope in him.”
When you take time to journal His faithful deeds toward you, you have something to help you remember. I love this story found in Joshua 4. How quickly do we forget ALL of His blessings!
Joshua 4:1-8, 20-22 And Joshua set up at Gilgal the twelve stones they had taken out of the Jordan. He said to the Israelites, “In the future when your descendants ask their fathers, ‘What do these stones mean?’ tell them, ‘Israel crossed the Jordan on dry ground.’”
Click here to read the whole chapter.
E – Endure hardships.
2 Timothy 2:3, 10 Endure hardship with us like a good soldier of Christ Jesus.
God never promised that things would not be difficult; however, He has given us His Holy Spirit to be our guide, comfort, and shield. His Word is full of encouragement for us and life lessons from others long ago. Romans 12:12 Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer.
E – Exercise your faith. We must build our faith muscles! Walk in faith.
James 1:2,3 Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters,[a] whenever you face trials of many kinds, 3 because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.
1 Timothy 6:12 Fight the good fight of faith…
So the above steps and scriptures are what God gave me to help in trying to live a stress-free life. As I have reflected during the writing of this blog, I didn't realize that stress was beginning to affect me or really that I even was stressed. It always seems to be the little things in life that cause it and then it manifests itself within my body. Last Monday I began to get a stupid fever blister. It's always a sign of stress in my life. Waking up with that question was definitely God inspired; and the fact that I remember each detail so vividly as the acronym flashed before me. It is also comforting to know that I had every scripture verse tucked away in my heart and mind (thought I did have to look up the addresses!) ready for God to bring them to remembrance at just the right time! There are stressful situations at every turn. When you are tempted with stress, ask God to bring these scriptures to your mind. I hope they help comfort you as they have me. Together, perhaps we can better live "stress-free!"
In His Care,
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