“ He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty. ” (Psalm 91:1) (Read by Max McLean. Provided by Zondervan.)

Thursday, June 09, 2005


Stressed to Kill
If you suffer from headaches, backaches,
allergies, or high blood pressure,
stress could be a significant contributing
factor. In fact, experts agree that most
diseases are stress and lifestyle related.
Beyond the physical effects, however, stress
takes its toll on spiritual health. Christians
must recognize the dangers of stress so they
can take action before they succumb to its
pressures. This lesson will help you to identify
the negative effects of stress on your spiritual
life and to know when to reduce the
level of stress in your life.
1. What negative side effects have you experienced from stress?
2. How do you know when you are under too much stress?
Read the following three sets of Bible passages and application notes.
Answer the questions for each set before moving on to the next.
Mark 14:33-34, 38
And he taketh with
him Peter and James and
John, and began to be
sore amazed, and to be
very heavy; and saith unto
them, My soul is exceeding
sorrowful unto death:
tarry ye here, and
watch. . . . Watch ye and
pray, lest ye enter into
temptation. The spirit
truly is ready, but the
flesh is weak.
He took Peter, James
and John along with him,
and he began to be deeply
distressed and troubled.
“My soul is overwhelmed
with sorrow to the point
of death,” he said to
them. “Stay here and keep
watch. . . . Watch and
pray so that you will not
fall into temptation. The
spirit is willing, but the
body is weak.”
He took Peter, James,
and John with him, and he
began to be filled with
horror and deep distress.
He told them, “My soul is
crushed with grief to the
point of death. Stay here
and watch with me. . . .
Keep alert and pray. Otherwise,
temptation will
overpower you. For
though the spirit is willing
enough, the body is
In times of great stress, a person is vulnerable to temptation, even if he or she wants to resist.
Jesus’ disciples wanted to support him during this time of sorrow and pain, but they succumbed
to temptation and missed the opportunity to help him in his hour of need. If you are
under so much stress that you feel helpless to resist temptation, you may need to look for a
way to eliminate or reduce some of the pressures in your life.
3. How do you usually respond when you feel distressed or troubled?
4. What are some steps Christians can take to prevent themselves from
falling into temptation when they are under a lot of stress?
L E S S O N 2 12
5. How can Christian friends help each other through difficult
6. If you feel vulnerable to temptation, how could you eliminate or
reduce some of the pressures in your life?
Luke 23:20, 23-25
Pilate therefore, willing
to release Jesus,
spake again to them. . . .
And they were instant
with loud voices, requiring
that he might be crucified.
And the voices of
them and of the chief
priests prevailed. And
Pilate gave sentence that
it should be as they
required. And he released
unto them him that for
sedition and murder was
cast into prison, whom
they had desired; but
he delivered Jesus to
their will.
Wanting to release
Jesus, Pilate appealed to
them [the chief priests,
the rulers, and the
people] again. . . . But
with loud shouts they
insistently demanded
that he be crucified, and
their shouts prevailed.
So Pilate decided to
grant their demand.
He released the man
who had been thrown
into prison for insurrection
and murder, the
one they asked for, and
surrendered Jesus to
their will.
Pilate argued with
them, because he wanted
to release Jesus. . . . But
the crowd shouted
louder and louder for
Jesus’ death, and their
voices prevailed. So
Pilate sentenced Jesus
to die as they
demanded. As they had
requested, he released
Barabbas, the man in
prison for insurrection
and murder. But he
delivered Jesus over to
them to do as they
When the stakes are high and the pressure is on, it is difficult to stand up for what is
right. Had Pilate been a man of real courage, he would have released Jesus no matter
what the consequences. But the crowd roared, and Pilate buckled. Holding on to moral stan-
13 L E S S O N 2
dards under social or political pressure can produce a high level of stress in us.
Taking the easy way out, as Pilate did, may relieve the stress but leave us with a
burden of guilt to deal with later.
7. Why are most people so vulnerable to peer pressure?
8. What has helped you stand up for your faith despite negative
pressure from others?
9. In what area of your life are you most in danger of compromising
your beliefs or moral standards because of stress?
10. How can you better equip yourself to stand strong under this
L E S S O N 2 14
Mark 4:14-17
The sower soweth the
word. And these are they
by the way side, where the
word is sown; but when
they have heard, Satan
cometh immediately, and
taketh away the word that
was sown in their hearts.
And these are they likewise
which are sown on stony
ground; who, when they
have heard the word, immediately
receive it with gladness;
and have no root in
themselves, and so endure
but for a time: afterward,
when affliction or persecution
ariseth for the word’s
sake, immediately they are
The farmer sows the
word. Some people are
like seed along the path,
where the word is sown.
As soon as they hear it,
Satan comes and takes
away the word that was
sown in them. Others, like
seed sown on rocky
places, hear the word and
at once receive it with joy.
But since they have no
root, they last only a
short time. When trouble
or persecution comes
because of the word, they
quickly fall away.
The farmer I talked
about is the one who
brings God’s message to
others. The seed that fell
on the hard path represents
those who hear the
message, but then Satan
comes at once and takes it
away from them. The
rocky soil represents those
who hear the message and
receive it with joy. But
like young plants in such
soil, their roots don’t go
very deep. At first they get
along fine, but they wilt as
soon as they have problems
or are persecuted
because they believe the
In this parable, Jesus said that the pressures of life cause some people to abandon their faith
in God. They fall away because they do not have roots. Some Christians experience such
tremendous stress that they get distracted from their desire to obey Christ. Do not allow the
problems in your life to overwhelm you. Let your problems push you toward Christ, rather than
away. Then the roots of your faith will grow stronger and deeper.
11. What trials or difficulties cause some believers to fall away?
12. When have you felt overwhelmed by your problems?
15 L E S S O N 2
13. What pressures do you face now that could weaken your Christian
14. How can you make sure that stress does not choke out the life of
your Christian walk?
You have learned from these three passages that stress can make
Christians vulnerable to temptation, weaken their resolve to stand against
peer pressure, and even push them to compromise their faith. To protect
yourself, you must acknowledge the power of stress and be willing to
take steps to reduce it when it threatens your spiritual health.
15. What steps can you take this week to reduce or better manage the
stress in your life?
Read Matthew 14:6-10.
Herod did not want to kill John the Baptist, but he gave the order so that he would not be
embarrassed in front of his guests. How easy it is to give in to the crowd and to be pressured
into doing wrong! Peer pressure often tempts Christians to compromise their faith.
Determine to do what is right, no matter how much pressure you face.
L E S S O N 2 16
16. When are you likely to promise more than you will want to pay?
17. In what circumstances do you feel the most pressure to please the
Read Proverbs 4:14-17; 10:12; 12:16-21.
Relationships that cause us to fall bring only additional stress to everyday life. But this
stress is unnecessary and even avoidable. By choosing our friends carefully, we can
eliminate the stress caused by hanging around with the wrong crowd. And God has
provided us with the wisdom we need to choose friends carefully and limit the stress in
our lives. This wisdom is found in Proverbs. If you heed it, you will not add to—and you
may even decrease—the amount of stress already in your life.
18. Which friendships are the most stressful for you to maintain?
19. How can you keep the friendship but reduce the stress?
20. How can you bring more peace than stress to your friendships?
17 L E S S O N 2
Read Hebrews 10:23-25.
Stress can cause people to reshuffle priorities. The pressure of a deadline can loom over every
other activity. The temptation can be to skip church, ignore friends, or neglect family. Make
sure you stay involved with other believers when the pressure is on.
21. What is a way you can encourage someone to remain faithful to
God, family, and friends even through their difficult times?
22. What is the most encouraging thing someone can do for you when
you are under a great deal of stress?
L E S S O N 2 18


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