HOW TO HANDLE PRESSURE
2 Cor 1:8– 11 We do not want you to be uninformed, brothers and sisters, about the troubles we experienced in the province of Asia. We were under great pressure, far beyond our ability to endure, so that we despaired of life itself. 9Indeed, we felt we had received the sentence of death. But this happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God, who raises the dead. 10He has delivered us from such a deadly peril, and he will deliver us again. On him we have set our hope that he will continue to deliver us, 11as you help us by your prayers. Then many will give thanks on our behalf for the gracious favor granted us in answer to the prayers of many.
2 Cor 11:28,29 Besides everything else, I face daily the pressure of my concern for all the churches. 29Who is weak, and I do not feel weak? Who is led into sin, and I do not inwardly burn?
Pressure is always there.
If we don’t handle it well it is going to lead us into some serious mess that will have long lasting effects
In the long run, how we handle pressure in life determines our relationship with God and the Church.
Today we are going to learn from 2 of the greatest men of the Old Testament – Moses & Elijah – these are the men who appeared to be with Jesus during his transfiguration.
Numbers 20:1-13 In the first month the whole Israelite community arrived at the Desert of Zin, and they stayed at Kadesh. There Miriam died and was buried. 2Now there was no water for the community, and the people gathered in opposition to Moses and Aaron. 3They quarreled with Moses and said, “If only we had died when our brothers fell dead before the LORD! 4Why did you bring the LORD’s community into this wilderness, that we and our livestock should die here? 5Why did you bring us up out of Egypt to this terrible place? It has no grain or figs, grapevines or pomegranates. And there is no water to drink!” 6Moses and Aaron went from the assembly to the entrance to the tent of meeting and fell facedown, and the glory of the LORD appeared to them. 7The LORD said to Moses, 8“Take the staff, and you and your brother Aaron gather the assembly together. Speak to that rock before their eyes and it will pour out its water. You will bring water out of the rock for the community so they and their livestock can drink.” 9So Moses took the staff from the LORD’s presence, just as he commanded him. 10He and Aaron gathered the assembly together in front of the rock and Moses said to them, “Listen, you rebels, must we bring you water out of this rock?” 11Then Moses raised his arm and struck the rock twice with his staff. Water gushed out, and the community and their livestock drank. 12But the LORD said to Moses and Aaron, “Because you did not trust in me enough to honor me as holy in the sight of the Israelites, you will not bring this community into the land I give them.” 13These were the waters of Meribah, a where the Israelites quarreled with the LORD and where he was proved holy among them.
Even on a Sunday morning we are under pressure we are thinking about kids & family, kids and their exams, results, future plans for them, financial situation, pressure at job, even water shortage in Bangalore….singles are wondering mera no kab ayega..!
What kinds of pressure Moses went through?
Few chapters before in 14 – we see that they reached the edge of the wilderness and was about to enter the promised land and he sent spies to spy out the land to bring back good news about the promised land. But they brought more bad news than good news and made the whole community grumble and rebel against Moses and God
And he get the news from God that they have to wander around in the desert for another 40 more years and all the adults have to die in the desert!
He was close enough to taste the fruit of the promised land!
Imagine how discouraging it was?
He didn’t want to come to lead the people; later he agreed and came and led God’s people…
4 chapters back: in Chapter 16 we see Korah’s rebellion and how God destroyed Korah, Dathan and Abiram and their familes were swallowed up by the earth and their 250 associates were consumed by fire.. 14,700 people died of a plague as a result of their rebellion…
Was he under pressure?
Moses had to keep going!
Now in Chapter 20 Vs 1 In the first month the whole Israelite community arrived at the Desert of Zin,
and they stayed at Kadesh. There Miriam died and was buried.
Here his sister dies: she was one of the only few people who understood what pressure he was going through.
She was the one who put him in the water; seen his tragedies.
Now he did not get any time even to mourn for her! He was so busy at work!
Suddenly he finds out there is no water for more than a million people
God did not send him saying ‘there is no water but I will take care of you’
The people should have remembered the good things of the past – this happened before also. God had brought water from the rock!
So they should have thought God will take care!
But their memory was very short!!
They could only see the problem but couldn’t see God who could solve all their problems.
Moses had to deal with that situation:
One of the things that we need to remember is that when something happens today and we have to deal with that situation, we are not just dealing with what happens today but we end up dealing with the history associated with that problem.
May be Moses Is thinking : how many times I have to deal with the same thing?
This is happening every time since we left Egypt!
Why don’t they remember what God had done! What I had done for them!!
I fought for them! Every time they grumbled, God wanted to destroy them then I had pleaded with God and rescued them!
Why don’t they have compassion on me! They are not thinking about me and what situation I am in, my sister just died and I didn’t even had time to mourn!!
People are saying: You forced us to come. We never wanted to be here.
All the history is sitting on Moses’ shoulders.
When you face such pressure what do you do?
He goes and falls face down in front of God.
Imagine you are faced with a serious problem and you go to a brother for help, imagine he says ok go and do this or that!!
We were expecting for that brother to show some compassion, understand our feelings and say something like this ‘ hey bro I understand what you are going through! I am really sorry about it. Let us pray together. Let me tell you I am with you heart and soul!!’
But God doesn’t say all that to Moses here!
God gives Moses an instruction; Get the people together and speak to the rock!
But no emotional support in his pressure.
Oh Moses I know they sinned against you, speak to the rock, I will punish the people for what they have done against you.
That’s the kind of pressure Moses is facing here.
He doesn’t tell God or people what he is feeling.
Moses had to recognise the pressure that he was facing.
He let the crowd to meet his emotional needs:
He started well – God says : bring the people together: he does it.
God said: speak to the rock, but Moses speaks to the people instead! That’s where he messed up!
He poured out his anger upon them and that was not over, he poured out the rest of the anger by striking the rock when God had told him to speak to the rock!
HE CALLED THE PEOPLE REBELS – NOW HE HIMSELF IS REBELLING AGAINST GOD!
What Moses should have done: He should have bought some time by obeying God right away and After bringing water from the rock, he should have gone back to God and expressed his burdens to him! He could have said ‘I am so burdened, I am tired! I can’t take this any more! People are not changing, …‘
The time to do that was not in front of that crowd!
Sometimes when we feel the pressure, We feel like God does not support us!
Here God doesn’t seem to be giving any emotional support!
This is not the way God dealt with the situations always!
Earlier when Miriam & Aaron grumbled against Moses, God suddenly intervened and lifted up Moses and struck Miriam with leprosy!
God dealt with people very quickly when they grumbled in Num 12 and brought fire from heaven!
God sent snakes and plagues against them when they grumbled!
But not this time! This time God doesn’t do anything like that!
He might have felt like God is not here! I need to take things in my own hands.
WHAT PRESSURE ARE YOU UNDER RIGHT NOW – THAT YOU ARE NOT DEALING WITH.
Pressure do not go away. It only lies dormant! It only gets stacked on top of the past pressures….
More history we have, the pressure builds up!
SO WHAT SHOULD WE DO? OBEY WHAT GOD SAYS AND WAIT ON GOD AND LATER ON DEAL WITH WHAT WE ARE FEELING!
Moses lost sight of where he was going!
Pressure makes problems seem so big that we no longer see God/heaven.
If he had just thought – ‘ one day I will be with God in the promised land’
When we are going to be with God for 10 -15 million years we are not going to remember who grumbled against us or who disrespected us or who treated us badly!
Remember this: whenever you see pressure building up and problems bigger,
Remember to make God bigger; see God more than your problem!
1 Peter 4:12-19 Dear friends, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal that has come on you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. 13 But rejoice inasmuch as you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed. 14 If you are insulted because of the name of Christ, you are blessed, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you. 15 If you suffer, it should not be as a murderer or thief or any other kind of criminal, or even as a meddler. 16 However, if you suffer as a Christian, do not be ashamed, but praise God that you bear that name. 17 For it is time for judgment to begin with God’s household; and if it begins with us, what will the outcome be for those who do not obey the gospel of God? 18 And,
“If it is hard for the righteous to be saved,
what will become of the ungodly and the sinner?”[a]
19 So then, those who suffer according to God’s will should commit themselves to their faithful Creator and continue to do good.
1 Peter 4:19 So then, those who suffer according to God’s will should commit themselves to their faithful Creator and continue to do good.
Either we can get stuck because we are so hurt or we take matters in our own hands and continue to remain hurt and not letting God to handle it.
We need to be balanced. The balance is to continue to do good by trusting and committing our situations to our creator
Some of us get stuck and can’t move forward because we can’t trust our creator!
So remember our 1st point -BE AWARE OF WHAT IS AFFECTING YOU
MOVE FORWARD TRUSTING OUR CREATOR.
Understand whenever we face pressure: we have 10,15 years of problems stacked on our shoulder…
NOW WE WILL LEARN FROM THE LIFE OF ELIJAH
The land of Canaan was devoted to the worship of Baal. The Semitic word Baal means “lord” or “master” and the Canaanites believed that Baal was in absolute control over nature and over people. They believed that It was Baal who was in charge of the rain and the weather, and man’s survival was dependent upon Baal’s provision.
Elijah was so fed up with the Baal worship in Israel.
Inorder to directly attack the people who worship the false god Baal he said there is not going to be any rain in the land!
You worship the storm god, you are going to be praying to him for years and will see no rain!
So that people will realise that Baal is no god at all and will turn to the true God Jehowah.
Elijah took a strong stand!
Elijah was feeling the pressure of his own stand. Because Elijah did not have personal rain system for himself!
The entire land had no rain and so Elijah too had no rain.
When we take a strong stand for God we too will get affected and feel the pressure.
1 Kings 17:1-6 Now Elijah the Tishbite, from Tishbe in Gilead, said to Ahab, “As the Lord, the God of Israel, lives, whom I serve, there will be neither dew nor rain in the next few years except at my word.”
2 Then the word of the Lord came to Elijah: 3 “Leave here, turn eastward and hide in the Kerith Ravine, east of the Jordan. 4 You will drink from the brook, and I have directed the ravens to supply you with food there.”
5 So he did what the Lord had told him. He went to the Kerith Ravine, east of the Jordan, and stayed there. 6 The ravens brought him bread and meat in the morning and bread and meat in the evening, and he drank from the brook.
God made crows to get the food for him! He drank water from the brook but later even the brook dried up!
Finally Elijah is against 450 prophets of Baal.
Challenge was given – whichever God who answers prayer and brings fire from heaven on the offering is God!
Elijah is so confident –he is full of faith – taunts the prophets of Baal – keep praying; pray loudly, may be your god is asleep…
Finally he sets the offering and he so confident that he asks them to pour water again and again
We don’t know how they got so much water during the drought! He was willing to waste water…
Finally when he prays fire comes down from heaven and consumes the offering and licks up the water in the trench around the altar!!
So all the people shout aloud – LORD is God!
This is what he has been waiting for 3 ½ years!
He gets 850 prophets of Baal and asherah slaughtered!
1 kings 18:41-45 And Elijah said to Ahab, “Go, eat and drink, for there is the sound of a heavy rain.” 42 So Ahab went off to eat and drink, but Elijah climbed to the top of Carmel, bent down to the ground and put his face between his knees.
43 “Go and look toward the sea,” he told his servant. And he went up and looked.
“There is nothing there,” he said.
Seven times Elijah said, “Go back.”
44 The seventh time the servant reported, “A cloud as small as a man’s hand is rising from the sea.”
So Elijah said, “Go and tell Ahab, ‘Hitch up your chariot and go down before the rain stops you.’”
45 Meanwhile, the sky grew black with clouds, the wind rose, a heavy rain started falling and Ahab rode off to Jezreel. 46 The power of the Lord came on Elijah and, tucking his cloak into his belt, he ran ahead of Ahab all the way to Jezreel.
Tells the King, go eat and drink – I can hear the rain.
7 times he sends the servant while he prayed.
Tell Ahab to hitch up the chariot and ride up to Jezreel.
20miles he runs ahead of chariot. Probably even taunting Ahab.. look what my God has done!
Then Jezebel hears about it
1 Kings 19:1– Now Ahab told Jezebel everything Elijah had done and how he had killed all the prophets with the sword. 2So Jezebel sent a messenger to Elijah to say, “May the gods deal with me, be it ever so severely, if by this time tomorrow I do not make your life like that of one of them.”
850 prophets couldn’t bring his zeal down but now one woman brings him down. JUST ONE WOMAN
3 Elijah was afraid[a] and ran for his life. When he came to Beersheba in Judah, he left his servant there, 4 while he himself went a day’s journey into the wilderness. He came to a broom bush, sat down under it and prayed that he might die. “I have had enough, Lord,” he said. “Take my life; I am no better than my ancestors.” 5 Then he lay down under the bush and fell asleep.
All at once an angel touched him and said, “Get up and eat.” 6 He looked around, and there by his head was some bread baked over hot coals, and a jar of water. He ate and drank and then lay down again.
7 The angel of the Lord came back a second time and touched him and said, “Get up and eat, for the journey is too much for you.” 8 So he got up and ate and drank. Strengthened by that food, he traveled forty days and forty nights until he reached Horeb, the mountain of God. 9 There he went into a cave and spent the night.
We try to get so much self esteem from victories.
Elijah runs away – he quits the ministry just after he had great victory.
We expect victory to take away the pressure
I am under pressure and if I have one victory it will take away the pressure.
Victory – like drugs; addicted wanting to have more.
I don’t see any return of my efforts!
King and the entire kingdom is back to Baal worship! Nothing has changed! All my efforts are in vain.
Vs 4 He prayed that he might die. “I have had enough, Lord,” he said. “Take my life; I am no better than my ancestors.
When was he better than his ancestors? Did victory make him better? Was he better yesterday?
It was not about being better it was all about to be obedient!
Who does he talk to ? No one!
He even sends away his servant!
The servant could have helped: he had just seen amazing miracles! He is the one who went 7 times to see the cloud and rains while Elijah was praying. He could have brought faith to Elijah..
Elijah – you cant help me!
What do you do when you are under pressure? When you are disappointed? When you are angry;
But we could also take help from people in our ministry – be a friend.
In David’s life Ahithophel was king’s friend
God takes care of him physically.
Sleeps first : God – wake up and eat and drink.
Don’t stop taking care of yourself.
We do the same: don’t take right food; rest…
Then he says take care of spiritually.
Elijah walks for 40days. He gets time to think about his actions!
Then God asks him ‘What are you doing here?’
1 Kings 19:10-11 He replied, “I have been very zealous for the LORD God Almighty. The Israelites have rejected your covenant, torn down your altars, and put your prophets to death with the sword. I am the only one left, and now they are trying to kill me too.”
11The LORD said, “Go out and stand on the
mountain in the presence of the LORD, for the
LORD is about to pass by.”
God told him to go to the mountain.
Then God asks why are you here? God is the one who told him to come and stand on the mountain! He knew why Elijah was there but he wanted Elijah to speak to himself.
1 Kings 19:15-18The LORD said to him, “Go back the way you came, and go to the Desert of Damascus. When you get there, anoint Hazael king over Aram. 16Also, anoint Jehu son of Nimshi king over Israel, and anoint Elisha son of Shaphat from Abel Meholah to succeed you as prophet. 17Jehu will put to death any who escape the sword of Hazael, and Elisha will put to death any who escape the sword of Jehu. 18Yet I reserve seven thousand in Israel—all whose knees have not bowed down to Baal and whose mouths have not kissed him.”
God gives him direction –
When we are under pressure We need direction – but the priority is to get connected to God and then God gives us direction from where we are and so we can move forward.
But some choose to be bitter under pressure. Bitterness is choosing to stay where in the same state for months and years! When we are bitter we put pressure on ourselves and you don’t move forward!
Now Elijah is kind of honest with God – but not completely correct.
Elijah says – I am the only one left!
God says your 7000 off!
Unless we connect with God we lack perspective.
Ever since he got connected with God and followed God’s direction, We never hear Elijah in the same state again! He never gets depressed!
IN CONCLUSION LET US SEE 3 PRACTICALS
Elijah did not say – you took care of me 3 1/2 years and fed me by ravens; you brought fire from heaven! you helped me to destroy 850 prophets of Baal…
èmy discipler has no time for me! How long were you with him? 10 years! They you are saying he has no time for you? Earlier he used to get time with me! You didn’t tell that!
Spies: we saw the Anakites and we are like grasshoppers before them. The land devours everyone: well then how did you get back? See they didn’t tell the whole story!
Philippians 4:4-7 Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! 5Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. 6Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
Nothing God tells us to do can be accomplished with us alone!
Eg: God is eternal what does that mean to us! God is Love – fabric of God is love!
What do you do when you are angry/down/anxious/
Moses – first thing he did out of anger – he saw the Egyptian beating the Hebrew. He kills the Egyptian. He had an issue with anger.
Breaks the 10 commandment tablets
Crushes the idol and make people drink. Did that change people?
I need to be careful as I know what I may do when I am angry!
What am I looking for? Is it security?
Acknowledgement of my work from people?
Some things that we are looking for we may never get!
I can’t have it! Understand accept that truth! That will set us free!