Stressful Mess

 
 
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Website Copy:Ugh, talk about a stressful time of the year!  Christmas can make life just feel a little out of control.  How do you get some perspective and find hope in the holidays? Tune in to learn as we study 2 Corinthians 4:16-18.  Need prayer? visit my.oswegochristian.com/pray to post a request. Subscribe to our podcast on your phone to automatically have new messages downloaded weekly: in iTunes (https://my.oswegochristian.com/iTunes) or Android (https://my.oswegochristian.com/Google)

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—>We all depend on each otherOPENING ILLUSTRATION:[set it up in front of the cross…][have objects on stage (some are prepped to be extra heaving) christmas presents – calendar, cleaning supplies,          a turkey, stack of work papers, etc.)ready for Christmas?!  pitter patter of little feetPresents to be opened, cider and hot chocolate drank!  hardly wait!    I’m the gift whisperer – I love Christmas time – well, at least, I love all the fun stuff…Some of you ready to get it over with-looking down road to January never let  December be as busy?I mean, some of you feel like this board up here andYour bucket is getting pretty full..  been buying presents wrapping them getting everything together-gear up for the cleaning express!  train already left the station-calendar has been full for this December – barely had one free night -not to mention closing last years numbers, polishing off budgets,-getting projects in, asking off for work, traveling, etc..  -lets face it, some of you feel like jumping ship!  Ha, nothing like a good uplifting Christmas sermon, eh?  Anyone feel like you are at the breaking point?  Stress seems to abound at the holidays.  ILLUSTRATION:We are at Silver Dollar City Friday, I’m sitting outside this shop while half my kids are on a coaster and the other half are in a shop drooling.  I hear this husband and wife arguing behind me and I turn just in time to here her say, “You’re and idiot…”  Oh man, he was pointing his finger, ready to say something and just stood there for like 10 seconds trying to figure out his next move…We’ve all been there, right, the stress goes up and our fuse gets shorter…When your stress level goes up, the people who pay for it are those who are closest and dearest to you.  Did you get that?  When stress goes up, people who pay for it are those closest and dearest to you.  Today, I want to help you learn how to manage the stress that comes with the Christmas seasonso you can actually enjoy this Christmas and not let the burdens and weight of expectations destroy an opportunity to enjoy the reason we even celebrate at this season!2 Corinthians 4:16-1816 Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. 17 For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. 18 So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.ILLUSTRATION:I remember the time when this passage really hit me hard.  I had taken a bunch of High school students on a trip down to New Orleans to work on helping to rebuild down there after Katrina had hit.  We had been working all week long and all of the kids were starting to feel a little depressed about the whole situation.  You see, we were down there nearly two years after Katrina had hit and it still felt like a war zone – people houses had been destroyed, we had cleaned up places and were throwing away peoples memories.  And the hardest part was that most of the people who were hit the hardest were the poorest.  There was almost this damper over our entire camp of kids. And in my time with Jesus I came across this passage…”Therefore we do not lose heart…”  Maybe you know what it’s like to lose heartSome of us are facing some pretty harsh outlooks– you haven’t told your family you’re getting laid off because you don’t want to ruin the holiday’s – you are carrying around inside of you the pain and angst and stress and you are about to break.   – That’s what my teens were feeling.  They felt like they weren’t even making a difference.   ‘maybe Paul didn’t know hardship”  Think again – Paul had been in prison, shipwrecked, beaten to the point of being left for dead.  He even says in vs. 10-12 that he is almost like the living deadI have worked much harder, been in prison more frequently, been flogged more severely, and been exposed to death again and again. 24 Five times I received from the Jews the forty lashes minus one. 25 Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was pelted with stones, three times I was shipwrecked, I spent a night and a day in the open sea, 26 I have been constantly on the move. I have been in danger from rivers, in danger from bandits, in danger from my fellow Jews, in danger from Gentiles; in danger in the city, in danger in the country, in danger at sea; and in danger from false believers. 27 I have labored and toiled and have often gone without sleep; I have known hunger and thirst and have often gone without food; I have been cold and naked. 28 Besides everything else, I face daily the pressure of my concern for all the churches. 29 Who is weak, and I do not feel weak? Who is led into sin, and I do not inwardly burn?he is constantly carrying around the death of Jesus in himself…  So, what was it that kept Paul from losing heart – some of you are dying for that information…vs. 16-17″16 Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. 17 For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. “If you can bend but not break”it wasn’t about removing things from the bucket – although that’s importantPaul’s ability to keep from losing heart wasn’t because he found good time management skills or started practicing mindfulness.Instead, Paul actually acknowledged the limitation of his “bucket” – “We are wasting away…”  -Paul knew he was being broken down – “less than” didn’t surprise him-wasn’t surprise to be overwhelmed by the work in front of himPauls strength was not in the fibers of his person, but in the day by day renewal that comes from a deep relationship with Jesus-Paul knew troubles he faced right now were only elevating glory He would experienceRather than focusing on the problems he faced – Paul, counterintuitively, focused on the solution.True inward renewal from God.ILLUSTRATION:Have you ever ridden in a car with someone whose car sick?  Do you know the trick to overcoming or at least lessoning the effects of being car sick?  It’s to pick a point off in the distance and fix your eyes on it.  It helps your brain slow down and process less – it gives you a sense of stability.  And Paul would say to you and I,”So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.”CLOSING:I don’t know what has got you spinning this Christmas – it may be a relationship that feels like it’s heading towards the toilet.  It may be the stress of trying to keep everyone happy.  I know, personally, I’ve been overwhelmed lately.  But what do I need to do?  I need to focus the eyes of my heart on something differentTo see through light and momentary troubles for what they really are.  I think some of the best advice I have ever been given during a rough situation was “it won’t always be like this…”  See as a Christian, we set our priorities and gage our success in a very different manner when our eyes are fixed on eternity rather than on the hear and now.Things become much less important and people take higher priority.  I will gage my success in a very different manner – it won’t be how much I can horde or how far I can be promoted but how much of a difference have I made.  Fixing our eyes on what is unseen – which can I say is a bit of a paradox in itself – removes self from the picture and gives me a grand picture of what it is that God wants to do in this world.If you are not a Christian, I don’t know why you would wait another day than to come to know Jesus and turn your life over to Him.  I know before I knew Jesus, I felt like I had life together, but it was empty and broken feeling.  It felt like having hot coals in my soul.  When Jesus rescued me, it was like a life – I don’t know how else to explain it.  It is the deepest hope of my life that you would turn to that hope!…