How the Bible Says to Get Less Stress and More Patience

Everyone wants less stress and more patience. The world says you can get this by earning money with your passions, vacations, material comforts, and the latest “spiritual” sounding solution that cures everything: meditation.

Some of these things might help, in fact, they probably do help many, which is why people do them. But do these things really take care of stress and bring patience, or do they just reward selfishness?

The Bible says believers should not worry and be patient. Most Christians think this patient non-stress comes by repeating a verse. I know many people who repeat a verse to themselves during stressful times as though that will bring the peace that passes understanding.

Again, it might help temporarily, but is that really all there is? I hear lots of talk about “remembering the promises” and so forth, which again is fine, but is our bedrock of peace just from remembering and repeating stuff?

Surely there is more to it!

Indeed there is. The problem is that no one wants to do what the Bible actually says to do in order to eliminate stress from your life and develop patience.

The Bible’s answer is basically summed up like this:

If you want less stress and more patience start by getting rid of all your stuff. Follow that up by loving Christ more than any other human being. Top it off by pursuing righteousness and eternal values.

There is no other way to get lasting peace. All the stuff you own is what is making you stressed and impatient. If I didn’t have money invested in the stock market, I wouldn’t be stressed about interest rates and market measures. If I didn’t own a business I wouldn’t be concerned about the latest laws and taxes foisted upon businesses. If my entire concern in life was the opinion of Jesus Christ and living to please Him instead of trying to please people and keep up with em, I imagine my patience level would go up.

Next time you are impatient or stressed, nail it down to what exactly it is that is causing the stress. More than likely it’s a person or thing, and more than likely, if it’s a person, the person annoys you because they are messing with your things!

The virtues of Jesus Christ are not pick and choose. They are a package deal. There are not multiple fruits of the Spirit; there is one fruit of the Spirit. You start to see them in your life when your life looks like following the Spirit rather than living for things of the world.

If you want the fruit of the Spirit in all its fullness, then stop living for stuff.

“You haven’t sold all you have, so shut up, man.” I hear ya. I’m not telling you to follow me. I’m telling you what Christ said. Matthew 6:24-34. Read it. I didn’t say it; Your Savior did!

We will each have different levels of stress and different things that kick that stress off. In all honesty, owning a business has been massively less stressful for me than being a pastor! Like, not even close.

My measure on these things is not yours. We will all stand before the Lord. When things become overbearing for me, I typically try to eliminate those issues somehow, knowing they have too large of a grip on me.

Make the cuts. Put away childish things. Be a man. Put off what trips you up. Lay aside every weight, not just sin, anything that slows you down.

When you make these cuts and replace them with seeking first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness, I guarantee you stress will melt away and patience will replace it, right along with love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, and temperance. They go together and there’s only one way to get em.

Faith In God Or Acceptance By People

Each of us desires acceptance. There’s nothing wrong with that desire, but where you turn for that acceptance can produce all kinds of wrong!

If you desire acceptance from people, you will do whatever it takes for their acceptance. You will honor their opinions and fold under their peer pressure.

If you desire acceptance from God, you will do what it takes to get His acceptance. You will honor His opinion and follow His guidance.

You can’t do both.

Here are two passages that make this point:

“How can you believe, when you receive glory from one another and do not seek the glory that comes from the only God?”

–John 5:44

“For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ.”

–Galatians 1:10-11

Desiring acceptance from people is done by external show. You will follow fashion and fads. The way you talk, act, and look will be shaped by who you desire acceptance from. I’ve seen people do very weird things with their hair and clothes and skin to appear part of some group or another.  

The passage in John, which quotes Jesus, pretty much says if you desire glory, honor, and acceptance from people you cannot believe. That’s pretty strong!

What’s keeping you from faith in God, from obeying His Word? Odds are it’s because you think you’ll look stupid in front of other people if you actually went with it. Everyone knows we got here by random evolutionary processes, only stupid people believe God created the world. Everyone knows various notions of sin are outdated and patriarchal, only stupid people live their life according to an old book written thousands of years ago.

So, to save face, to make sure no one thinks you’re weird, you will reject what God says. Oh sure, you might take some respectable parts of the Bible, the couple verses that seem nice (don’t judge, love one another, care for the sick and poor, etc), but you’ll make sure to define the words the way you want so you don’t have to do anything too radical or fanatical.

You may tell people you believe in God, that you are interested in “spiritual things,” but big whoop! Be specific! Anyone can say general floaty things, but do you believe to the point of obeying what God has said in His Word?

If you want acceptance from the world, you must follow the world. If you follow God through Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit, your life will be transformed. The world will not recognize you. You’ll feel ostracized, out of it, and dumb.

For the short time of life, that will not feel great! But in eternity it’ll feel fantastic.

You have a choice: believe God, His Gospel, and His Word, or be accepted by people and honored by the world. One or the other. What’ll it be?

God Is In Control?

Whenever there is a crisis or uncertainty, Christians plop out the “God is in control” cliche.

I don’t think I’ve ever said this in such times, mostly because I have no idea what people think that means. As far as I can tell, Christians mean at least one of the following things:

1. God ordains everything.
This is the Calvinistic notion of meticulous determination. That every molecule of creation is doing exactly what God tells it to do. Therefore, in the current crisis, God created the coronavirus and is killing who He wants to kill with it, is making ill the people He wants ill, and is curing the people He wants to cure. There’s nothing to do to stop it. It’s God’s ordained plan. Suck it up.

2. God will protect me.
Many Christians have the idea that since they have Jesus (allegedly), they will be free of all diseases. Jesus protects them from any and all viruses. They are safe from all harm. The power of God works better than any vaccine or medication ever invented!

3. Fatalism.
God is in control; I am not, so, like, whatever. I’ll just do my thing and whatever happens, happens. I will do the bare minimum of precautions, mostly to avoid judgment by others, and just let God sort it out. If I perish, I perish; if I live, I live. Que sera sera.

4. God’s promises stay true.
All things work together for good for those who love God and are called according to His purpose. The good here is conformity to Christ. No matter what happens in good, bad or indifferent circumstances, God can use it to grow me in Christ. They meant it for evil, but God meant it unto good. Ultimately I will be made like Him when I see Him as He is and nothing will stop that.

If I say such a thing, I mean number 4.

I don’t mean number 1, because then God is just mean and nasty. There’s also no point for there being the Devil, the god of this age, the prince of the power of the air. Then we don’t really wrestle against principalities and powers. And, although God defines Himself as love, boy howdy, if this idea is true, what love is this? When God controls every aspect of life, that will be in the righteousness of the New Heaven and the New Earth, where God’s will is always done. There will be no tears, no death, no Fall. That aint here now.

I don’t mean number 2, because everyone dies. Even we who have the Spirit groan and travail in pain. These same people often wear glasses or have contacts. This view cannot be held with any semblance of logic or consistency and causes one to have to justify away reality.

I don’t mean number 3, because there are plenty of verses that say we have responsibilities down here. Fatalism is not a biblical basis for doing life. We reap what we sow. There are consequences for our actions. God gave us a brain for a reason.

I do mean number 4, because that’s the way God speaks of such things. Romans 8 has a large section about the fact that terrible things will happen down here. But none of these things can separate us from the love of God. All things can help conform us to the image of Jesus Christ and nothing will stop that progression to ultimate conquering. Even if we die, absent from the body is present with the Lord. I will be raised up incorruptible. I will be made like Him when I see Him as He is.

God is in control, but it’s important to understand what that means. A wrong understanding will distort your understanding of who God is and will greatly confuse you about reality on this planet.

Getting it right will fill you with hope and alleviate worry. Getting it right will help you let go of this life and lay hold on eternal life. Help you look for the glorious appearing of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ. When He fully takes over, what a day of rejoicing that will be!

Aint nothing gonna stop the Wedding Feast that’s coming!

Even so, come, Lord Jesus.

Hope of Eternal Life

Two times Paul talks about the “hope of eternal life” in the book of Titus.

In hope of eternal life, which God, that cannot lie, promised before the world began
–Titus 1:2

That being justified by his grace, we should be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life
–Titus 3:7

This hope of eternal life isn’t a “Boy, I sure hope I have eternal life” as if there’s some doubt. Hope is a confident expectation; it’s a sealed deal.

The basis of our hope of eternal life is on the fact that God had salvation with the reward of eternal life figured out for a long time!

God doesn’t lie! If God says you can have eternal life in Christ, then guess what? You can have eternal life in Christ!

This hope of eternal life motivates us to do what God says to do. Titus 3 starts with a list of things God wants His people to do. Right after verse 7 about the hope of eternal life, he tells believers to maintain good works.

Remember from Peter that our hope of eternal life is a lively hope. It’s a hope that gives life, energy, purpose, and power to live now.

Hopeless jobs where you show up every day and do your thing with no evident progress, recognition, or appreciation get tiresome. If you have no hope, it’s hard to get out of bed, let alone go do work.

But if you have an eternal hope, one filled with all the substance of the inheritance in Christ, there will be some motivation to get busy!

We lose hope when we look at temporal things. We look at our politicians, our society, our virtues and we lose hope. We lose motivation. Everything seems overwhelming and pointless to even try to resist.

Yup, that is correct! The Bible does not disagree with that assessment of life on earth–vanity, vanity, all is vanity.

But the Bible speaks of hope, which means the Bible must also speak of a better world ahead of us, and it does.

The sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that will be revealed in us.

There is a better country with better virtues and better politicians! Put your hope there, let that hope fill you with passion, drive, and joy in doing God’s will even here. Our labor is not in vain in the Lord!

Faith and Hope

Faith is the substance of things hoped for.

Faith contains all the things hoped for that we do not yet see or possess.

Faith is trusting that God knows stuff you don’t know, and since you don’t know, you’re going to take His word for it.

Much of faith has to do with the future. The future aspect of faith is “hope.” Hope is always about the future.

Hope is a confident expectation that what God says will happen, will happen.

I have no ability to see into the future. I have no proof of what the future holds. Nor do I even have power to guarantee my own future.

Therefore, in me, I have no hope. I have no confidence, trust, or faith in me. What do I know?

But God knows all and has told us some of what He knows. Our job is to trust His word.

Part of what His word tells us is that believers will be glorified in the future. He tells believers they will live in righteousness in the future. Believers will enjoy God’s presence for eternity in the splendors of the New Heaven and the New Earth.

This gives us hope, and hope brings joy and peace.

If there is no hope, then there can be no joy and there can be no peace.

But if we know our future is wrapped up securely in the promises of God, and there’s nothing anyone can do to remove us out of God’s hands, then we have joy, peace, and all hope.

This sort of hope can get you through a world of tribulation and suffering. It was the joy set before Christ that helped Him endure the cross. The same is true for us.

If there is no resurrection, then there is no hope, and if we have no hope, then are we of all men most miserable.

But we aren’t the most miserable; we are the most joyful. Not because our present circumstances are great, but because our future eternity will be glorious.

Let this hope transform your life, make you willing to take up the cross and be a living sacrifice, and fill you with anticipation, joy, and peace that all will be well for eternity!

Faith and hope go together. Where there is faith; there is hope. You can’t have one without the other.

Faith and Death

Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of thins not seen.
–Hebrews 11:1

This is how the great Chapter of Faith, Hebrews 11, starts.

Following this, you have a long list of people who were told to do something today because something was going to happen in the future.

Noah was to build an ark for 120 years because a massive flood was coming. Noah didn’t know the flood was coming for sure, there was no Doppler radar. But Noah built a large boat because he was told he’d need it later.

Abraham and the following two generations were going to live in tents, waiting for an established city to come. They never saw the city. They only saw tents.

Down the list he goes, touching on many lives, some whom we know and others we don[‘t, of people who all took scary steps of faith based on what God said.

We are told earlier in Hebrews 9, that it is appointed unto man once to die and after that the judgment.

How do you know what’s going to happen after death?

You have no idea what’s going to happen after death. You can’t ask dead people. You can’t see into the future beyond the grave. So, how do you know a judgment is coming after death?

There’s only one way: if someone who is beyond death could tell you. That someone would be God. He knows and He tells us a judgment is coming.

By faith I hear what God says about the future and take action today. That is the message of Hebrews 11.

In this world we will have tribulation, and then we die, and then there’s a judgment.

That’s what the future holds for you.

You can’t take the scientific method out and test this hypothesis. There is no physical proof that a judgment follows death.

Faith is proved by what is not seen. Think about that one for a while!

Faith comes by hearing. We walk by faith, not by sight.

You have no idea what’s going to happen after death, nor are there experiments you can do to find out. You are left with taking God’s word for it.

Now is the time of salvation. Now is the time to awake out of sleep. Cast off the works of darkness and put on the armor of light.

Death is coming, which means judgment is coming. Current life is the time to prepare.

Get ready. It’s coming.

Ephesians 1 is About Hope, Peace, and Assurance

Ephesians 1 is an amazingly huge chapter. Not by length, but by subject.

Unfortunately, much of Ephesians 1 has been hijacked by Calvinists. This takes away the fun of actually studying the passage and finding application.

When you get sucked too deeply into the Calvinist/Arminian debate, all you see in Scripture is your side. That’s it. Nothing else exists. Everything is about this issue and this issue alone.

Which is too bad. Just like Romans 9, Ephesians 1 has a very cool point to make.

Ephesians 1 points us backwards first:

According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love:
–Ephesians 1:4

Our minds are expanded to eternity past, before anything was. There, before there was anything physical, there was God.

God had creation in mind. He knew how things would go if He created a creature in His image and gave them freedom to rebel. He knew we would rebel.

But God had a plan. At some point in the future, God would enter His creation and sacrifice Himself for it, demonstrating His great love toward us.

We, believers today, are baptized into the Body of Christ. He chose us to be in Christ, to receive salvation by means of what He did.

In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace;
–Ephesians 1:7

Right now we can benefit. We can have complete confidence that salvation is in Christ because this was ordained and determined to be the case since before the world was created.

There is forgiveness in Christ because God determined there to be many years ago. We can have confidence in Him.

But salvation isn’t just about the present or the past, it’s also about the future.

That in the dispensation of the fulness of times he might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth; even in him:
–Ephesians 1:10

There is coming a time when all things will be gathered into Christ, all the created things will be redeemed, including those who came to Christ for salvation now.

This will fully be seen and experienced in the New Heavens and New Earth where righteousness will reign.

This future promise will happen. We can know it will happen because He’s given us the Holy Spirit:

ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise,  Which is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of his glory.
–Ephesians 1:13b-14

The Spirit is the first-fruits–the initial harvest that guarantees more is coming. He’s our down-payment on our future inheritance.

You know if you have the Spirit now, that this eternal regathering under the rule of Christ is yours too!

Paul is pointing us back to give us assurance in God’s plan of salvation–it was planned before the world was created. Then he points us forward to give us more assurance–the Holy Spirit in you is the guarantee you’ll receive the rest of the inheritance. Knowing this better time is coming gives us hope and peace.

Paul writes Ephesians 1 to encourage us. He writes it to give us hope, peace, assurance. Salvation is God’s plan. It’s a solid plan; you can trust it! He gives us His Spirit to help us hang on through this present evil world until we make it to the next.

Take confidence in your God and His promises. Don’t take a beautiful chapter like this and make it about arguing over Calvinism. It aint worth it!

My Heavenly Body

Right before Thanksgiving, I fell on the ice. My weight landed entirely on my left hip bone. It swelled up and was bruised and ugly for about a month.

In fact, it still hurts. I stirred something up in there the other day and have been limping ever since.

I’m getting old.

It’s discouraging. I had plans involving physical movement coming up that I’m not sure I’ll be able to do.

Life is hard enough without physical problems getting in the way. To top it all off, I’ve always had bad eyes and they aren’t getting any better.

Having to admit you can’t do stuff anymore is not easy. I’ve witnessed many people handle this decline poorly. I’ve also seen others handle it with grace and patience.

I honestly want to be in the patient and gracious group!

But boy howdy, I’m already struggling to do that, and I aint even that old yet!

We’re all dying. Few deal with that fact, but it stares us in the face daily.

Death is a release; the process of death is miserable.

Right now we’re in a temporal, physical tabernacle. A temporary dwelling place for the soul.

The Believer has the hope of resurrection. Our bodies will be made spiritual and eternal, no longer a temporary tabernacle, but an enduring temple.

I look forward to that day. I hate tents. I like good, solid buildings! Bring it on!

For we know that if our earthly house of this tabernacle were dissolved, we have a building of God, an house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. For in this we groan, earnestly desiring to be clothed upon with our house which is from heaven
–2 Corinthians 5:1,2

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