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God's truth for today's world.

Each year, the pace of our society the pace of our lifestyles speeds up. The result is that people get on overload in their lives. If that overload continues for too long, they’re going to crash, in one way or another. Here’s some overload stats for you. People now sleep 2 and a half fewer hours each night than people did 100 years ago. The average office worker has 36 hours of work piled up on his desk. We spend 8 months of our lives opening junk mail and two years of our lives playing phone tag. We are a stretched to the limit society. We are chronically rushed, chronically late and chronically exhausted. You may feel like Job did in NLT Job 3:26 I have no peace, no quietness. I have no rest; instead, only trouble comes.

Areas of overload include too much activity, too much change, too many choices, too much work, too much debt, too much media exposure, too much information and an overall hurried lifestyle. All this overload leads to stress in our lives. Last week we talked about some of the effects of stress: loss of joy, less productivity and an inability to hear God. What is the solution? We need to learn how to slow down the pace of life

This week we want to expand on how to slow down. I want to talk about developing margin in your life. Margin is breathing room, margin is having a little reserve, margin is not being stretched to the limit. Here’s a definition of margin: the space between my load and limit.

To hear more about this topic, listen to my September 18, 2005 message entitled Developing Margin In Your Life

Today we begin a new message series called “God’s Remedy For Stress.” Stress is defined as “A mentally or emotionally upsetting condition occurring in response to adverse external influences and capable of affecting physical health.” We can learn a few things about stress from this definition. First of all, stress is not good, it negatively affects your physical health. Stress occurs in response to adverse external influences. Some of these influences we can do something about, others we cannot. However, since stress is a response to adverse circumstances, we can learn how to respond differently and reduce our stress level.

In this series we’re going to be looking at what God’s Word has to say about what causes stress and how we can live our lives in stressful times with less stress. The pace of life is getting faster and faster. We try to cram more and more things into the 24 hours of each day. It is if we are all jugglers, trying to juggle more and more plates. Sooner or later the stress begins to build and everything may come crashing down in our lives.

The Bible predicted thousands of years ago what would happen in our age. NLT Daniel 12:4 Seal up the book until the time of the end. Many will rush here and there, and knowledge will increase. I think we’ve got the rushing here and there down and knowledge is increasing at a phenomenal rate. The boundaries between work and family are disappearing. In particular, work is invading every aspect of our lives and homes. We now have laptops, cell phones, e-mail, instant messaging and the internet. This means that you can do work outside of the office, anytime, whether in your home office or while you are watching television with your family.

Is this increase in knowledge and productivity bad? No, not in itself, but when your lifestyle gets too souped-up, stressed-out and overscheduled, you’re headed for burnout. The Bible is clear about how hurry, busyness and a frantic pace affect our lives. There are four results of a fast-paced lifestyle.

To hear more about this topic, listen to my September 11, 2005 message entitled Slowing Down The Pace

The horrendous destruction caused by Hurricane Katrina in the Gulf Coast has devastated cities and left many without any electric power, most likely for many months. Without electric power, it’s almost impossible to live or rebuild. Electric power is used for lights, refrigeration, heating, communications and the list goes on and on. Our houses and cities are designed to be run with electric power and we can’t live for very long without it.

Just as cities need electricity as their power source, we also need a power source to live. I’m not talking about food to stay alive physically. We need power to live our lives for God. Our power supply is drained by living. We need to get recharged with power to not to just get by, but to really live to its fullest. God wants us to have the power to really live, to have a zest for life, no matter how draining life may be at the moment

To hear more about this topic, listen to my September 7, 2005 message entitled Where Can I Find Power For Life?

One day a Mom decided to take her three children to an ice skating rink in a unfamiliar part of town. After several wrong turns and stops to ask directions, she finally pulled over to the side of the road and suggested that all of them ask God to help them find the rink. With God’s help, they finally found the rink about an hour late. The next week they got in the car to go skating again and just before they took off, the 5 year old said, “Mom, let’s pray first and save time this week.” Not bad advice. Praying first would save us all a lot of time, a lot of headaches and a lot of problems in life.

God wants to give us direction in life, but often we wander around without His help. In fact, most people are wandering around in life truly lost, lost from a relationship with their creator. Everyone is searching for direction in their lives, but few are finding it. Many people do not realize that what they are looking for is God. Why do people fall in addictive habits like smoking, drinking, gambling, overeating, overspending, etc.? They are trying to fill a void within themselves that can only be met by God.

Every person is on a journey to find God, that’s why God put us on this earth. Paul said that NIV Acts 17:27 [God made men] so that men would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from each one of us. The ultimate question is “what is the meaning of life?” This verse gives the answer. The meaning of life is to give people an opportunity to seek God and find Him.

Once you make contact with God, once you begin a relationship with Him, the seeking does not end. The journey to know God better continues for a lifetime. We must continue to travel closer to God so that one day we will be in his presence forever, face to face.

To hear more about this topic, listen to my August 28, 2005 message entitled How Can I Discover Direction?

Most of us like buying new things from time to time. We take pleasure in the appearance of something brand new, it’s perfect, no imperfections. Our purchase might be something big like a new car or something not so big, like a new pair of shoes. However, whatever it is, no matter how carefully we try to take care of it, that new car is going to get a door ding and that new pair of shoes is going to get a scuff mark. When that happens, it kind of pops your bubble because you had hoped you could keep it looking perfect. You had hoped that the newness would last but sooner or later something happens to disappoint you.

Life can be like that. We start out young with all kinds of hopes and dreams, but sooner or later our hope for life begins to fade. God created us to want to have hope, hope in this life that and hope for the next life. If we put our hope in things they won’t last. If we put our hope in people, we’ll be disappointed.

God wants us to have a lasting hope, a hope that doesn’t quit, a hope that will ultimately be realized. God wants us to find a lasting hope, not in things, not in people, not in anything else in this imperfect world, but in Him.

Hope is an expected and awaited good, something in the future, something we anticipate. We want that hope to last until it becomes reality. God wants you as a believer to be filled with hope, to be filled with joy. NIV Proverbs 10:28 The prospect of the righteous is joy, but the hopes of the wicked come to nothing.

So how can you have a hope that doesn’t quit, a hope that lasts? The answer if found in Jesus who said in NIV John 11:25 “I am the resurrection and the life.” Today we are going to look at story of Jesus and Lazarus in John 11 to see how we can have a lasting hope. We’re going to look at 3 stages in what I call the Lifecycle of Hope.

To hear more about this topic, listen to my August 21, 2005 message entitled Can I Find A Lasting Hope?