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Dealing with Stress

by Donald Geddes — last modified Oct 26, 2014 08:05 AM
We are told that 75% of all doctor visits are stress related. Stress is a major health issue which cannot be ignored. It leads to anxiety, depression and burn-out.

Stress is identified as a cause in a whole raft of health disorders such as migraine headaches, muscle tension, high blood pressure, insomnia and stomach ulcers.

It is generally agreed that we live in a stressful world where the pressures of modern living are increasing the levels of stress on individuals.

Why is life becoming more and more stressful? One reason usually overlooked is the breaking of the Fourth Command to, ‘remember the Sabbath Day by keeping it holy.’ (NIV) Ex 20:8

God instituted the Sabbath as a day of rest — a circuit-breaker from the stresses of daily life and work. It was a day when God’s people were to focus on His redemption and provision for them. The essence of their Sabbath worship was the offering of sacrifices and rejoicing in the Lord (Deut. 12:5–12). This was no dull and dreary ritual. It was corporate rejoicing and renewal. It was a turning of minds from the cares of the world to contemplating the glory of the Eternal God. This was the perfect antidote for stress.

By working seven days a week we have become slaves to work. In God’s perfect plan for mankind this was never meant to be. Such self-induced slavery has been motivated by materialism. We have made idols of money and possessions to the exclusion of worship of the Lord and we are paying a heavy price for this in increased stress levels and associated health problems.The Sabbath rest was built into the very framework of creation. It was necessary for the smooth function of the world.

The importance of the Sabbath was underlined in Ex. 31:17 where a literal translation suggests that on the seventh day God paused to get His breath after a hectic week of creating!

The Sabbath also provided the opportunity for families to strengthen their bonds as they worshipped together. The family was meant to be a refuge from stress — a haven of happiness and relaxation.

Today fractured, scattered and dysfunctional families deprive far too many of any place of relief for stress. By neglecting the Sabbath we have inadvertently provided the cause of fracturing families.

The Sabbath was not meant to be a gloomy day but rather a time of rejoicing in the Lord and His goodness. Paul told the Christians at Philippi to ‘rejoice in the Lord always.’ He emphasised the importance of this by adding ‘I will say it again: Rejoice!’ This is a command! He said that was one way in which they could stand firm when facing persecution and difficulties.

Rejoicing is a necessary element of worship. It is, of course, something we can do as individuals at any time, but it is also an essential part of corporate worship. When we rejoice in the Lord, it greatly relieves our stress levels. It renews our spirit and strengthens our faith in God and His goodness. This is why regular attendance at Sunday worship is essential.

If you have the joy of the Lord, it is unlikely you will become stressed.

Short-changing

by Donald Geddes — last modified Oct 19, 2014 07:36 AM

Salt and Vinegar 45

Have you wondered why your bag of potato chips is half full of air?

The media has drawn attention to the practice of manufacturers who have reduced the content of packaged products while still retaining the same size packet and price.

This seeks to deceive and robs the consumer. It is clearly dishonest.

Such practices are condemned in the Bible. Do not use dishonest standards when measuring length, weight or quantity. Use honest scales and honest weights…I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of Egypt. (Leviticus 19:35–36 NIV)

Israel was to maintain honest weights in order to reflect God’s standard of integrity.

Deuteronomy 25:13–15 goes further by condemning the practice of having one weight for the buyer and another for the seller “so that you may live long in the land the Lord your God is giving you.” In other words, the use of dishonest weights is seen in the same light as dishonest judges. If there is no standard of integrity then the trust upon which society is built will crumble.

This is why Proverbs 11:1 says: “The Lord detests dishonest scales, but accurate weights find favour with him.” Amos gives the reason: Dishonest weights hurt the poor — Hear this, you who trample the needy and do away with the poor of the land, saying, ‘When will the New Moon be over that we may sell grain, and the Sabbath be ended that we may market wheat?’ — skimping on the measure, boosting the price and cheating with dishonest scales. Amos 8:4–6.

Cheating on weights is a sin against society which God hates because it hurts the poor.

Jesus instructed His disciples not only to be honest with weights but to go further and be generous: “Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.” (Luke 6:38) Such generosity will encourage others to be generous in return and is the recipe for prosperity.

Being mean by cheating on weights is unchristian and a denial of God’s grace which he has given freely (Eph 1:6). Romans 3:24 reminds Christians that “all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.” That is why Jesus instructed His disciples, “Freely you have received; freely give” (Matt. 10:8).

What does this mean to us? Christians must be absolutely scrupulous in their dealings with others — no cheating or short-changing. It means for instance that we must be absolutely honest in filling in our tax returns.

It also encourages us to be generous in our giving to the needy and to the Lord’s work because as 1 Corinthians 2:12 says, “What we have received is not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, so that we may understand what God has freely given us.” Having received the Holy Spirit when we became a Christian, we are freed from the mean and cheating spirit of the world. This enables us to be generous in our giving as an expression of our thanks to the Lord for all He has done for us (2 Cor 8:1-5).