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Friday, November 16, 2018

Managing Stress Like Jesus: Join a Small Group

In review of Matthew 26:38b it says, “[Jesus] said to them, ‘My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me’” (NIV).

Today’s passage comes from Matthew 26:38-39 where Matthew tells me of how Jesus agonized in the garden and his need for his small group. Matthew tells me that Jesus went with them to the olive grove call Gethsemane, and he asked them to, "Sit here while I go there to pray.” He took Peter and Zebedee's two sons, James and John, and he became anguished and distressed. He told them, "My soul is crushed with grief to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me.” He went on a little farther and bowed with his face to the ground, praying, "My father! If it is possible, let this cup of suffering be taken away from me. Yet I want your will to be done, not mine."

Jesus was in great anguish over his approaching physical pain, separation from the Father, and death for sins of the world. The divine cause was set, but he, in his human nature, still struggled. Because of the anguish Jesus experienced, he can relate to my suffering. Jesus' strength to obey came from his relationship with God the Father, who is also the source of our strength.

Jesus was not rebelling against his Father's will when he asked that the cup of suffering and separation be taken away. In fact, he reaffirmed his desire to do God's will by saying, "Yet I want your will to be done, not mine." His prayer reveals to me his terrible suffering. His agony was worse than death because he paid for all sin by being separated from God. The sinless Son of God took my sins upon himself to save me from suffering and separation.

In times of suffering, people often wish they knew the future, or that they could understand the reason for their anguish. Jesus knew what lay ahead of him, and he knew the reason. Even so, his struggle was intense, more wrenching than any struggle I will ever have to face. What does it take for me to be able to say, "I want your will to be done"? It takes a firm trust in God's plans; it takes prayer and obedience each step of the way.

Jesus himself had a small group. In the Gospels, I can see that Jesus did just about everything with his small group; those he called to be his closest disciples.

This reveals an additional stress-management principles of Jesus. Here are five I’ve already looked at:

Identification: Know who I am
Motivation: Know whose approval I’m living for
Vocation: Know my calling
Concentration: Focus on what matters most
Meditation: Listen to God
This next principle is collaboration. If I want to reduce my stress, I need to get in a small group.

I was never intended to handle the stress of life by myself. God wants me to share it with others.

I’ve heard: If you need to get something done right, do it yourself. Well that’s a recipe for stress, not success! And it’s not what Jesus did. The very first thing Jesus did in his ministry was to form a small group. He knew God intended we live in community, so he lived out that truth.

Jesus turned to his small group during the most stressful night of his life. When Jesus knew he’d be arrested in Garden of Gethsemane, the night before he went to the cross, he didn’t go alone. He took his small group with him.

The Bible says, “[Jesus] said to them, ‘My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me’” (Matthew 26:38 NIV).

Jesus didn’t need his small group’s advice. He didn’t need their words of comfort. He just needed their presence.

If Jesus benefited from a small group, imagine all the ways I can benefit, as well!

Bottom Line:
and he said to them, “The sorrow in my heart is so great that it almost crushes me. Stay here and keep watch with me.

What this means to me:
Jesus knew what laid ahead, his struggle was intense. Even so, He was able to say "I want your will, not mine." He also knew that he needed others around him to help share in and get encouragement from.

In summary, Jesus asked his small group to be present with him as he was anguishing about what was about to come. Jesus struggled but still submitted to the Father's will. What does it take for me to be able to say, "I want your will to be done". I need to build a firm trust in God's plans. This will require prayer and obedience each step of the way. It's important for me to have a small group around me. I was never intended to handle the stress of life by myself.God wants me to share it with others.

Father thank you for the reminder that I was never intended to do everything on my own, and that I need others around me. I pray this morning Father, that I can help delegate items to my team members so that I’m not doing everything on my own. Also help give me your wisdom and guidance in how I manage the work in front of me, how I lead and how I interact with others. These things I pray in your Son Jesus name, amen!

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