Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his power. Put on the whole armor of God, so that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For our struggle is not against enemies of blood and flesh, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers of this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, so that you may be able to withstand on that evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm. Stand therefore, and fasten the belt of truth around your waist, and put on the breastplate of righteousness. As shoes for your feet put on whatever will make you ready to proclaim the gospel of peace. With all of there, take the shield of faith, with which you will be able to quench all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. Pray in the Spirit at all times in every prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert and always persevere in supplication for the saints. Pray also for me, so that when I speak, a message may be given to me to make known with boldness the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains. Pray that I may declare it boldly, as I must speak.
Friends, I want to share with you the secret of being too blessed to be stressed. Have you felt yourself crumbling over the demands of life? Are you frustrated with your children and their inability to actually listen? Are you worried about your loss of independence? Well then, this sermon is for you.
I know that it might seem impossible to get to a place where being blessed wipes away all the stress of our lives, but we can do it!
Here are my top five tips on how to be too blessed to be stressed:
1) Walk away from the problems! Life is too short to worry about other people. When you start to feel that stress bubbling in your gut, just walk away. We are not our brothers’ keepers. We don’t need to let other people bring us down with their worries, so just walk away.
2) Read or watch something funny! Laughter is the cure to stress. The purpose of life is to be happy all the time, so it is time for us to start embracing the hilarity of life. Instead of complaining and being stressed, we need to turn on our TVs to that witty sitcom and let the laughter loose.
3) Stop procrastinating! Seize the day. Don’t put off to tomorrow what can be done today. Avoid procrastination and stress will disappear.
4) Give your money to church! You just have to plant that little seed, and you will be rewarded one hundred-fold. Money is the root of all evil, but the point of life is to prosper. If you give you money to church, you will start to receive even more blessings than you can imagine. Give your money to the church, and you will really be too blessed to be stressed.
5) Praise the stress away! Give thanks in the midst of your troubles and peace will start to slip right in. Just look at your problems and say to yourselves, “I am thankful for this” and everything will change. But what if your too stressed to even say a praise? Try holding your arms out to your side and take in deep breath, and as you breathe out, slowly lower your arms. Once you pushed out all the air, breathe in and out 5 times in quick suggestion. I would check with your doctor before trying this, because it might not be safe for everyone, but it sure works for me!
If you follow my five easy tips, you will be too blessed to be stressed!
Ok, let’s be real for a moment. Everything I just said, from the praising your stress away, to breathing in and out in repetition, I stole from other sermons. In just a quick search on the internet I found a seemingly limitless amount of prosperity-gospel sermons aimed at ridding stress, by being blessed. From the likes of Joel Osteen and others, I created a list of five bits of advice that I had found that guarantee to turn your life around.
Here’s the problem: All these promises of wealth, health and happiness by following a simple list, a guaranteed better life by blind faith, do not resonate with scripture.
The praise service had been hitting all the marks. The band was in sync, people had their hands up in the air thanking the Lord, and a few were even dancing in front of their fold out chairs. The gymnasium had been transformed into a space of worship, and they were quickly running out of room.
The sermon was delivered with a never ending smile, encouraging people to look on the sunny side side, celebrate successes, and praise God in all time in all places. Coffee was passed around to all the worshippers, and whether it was the caffeine or not, people were jazzed up for God.
Following the service, as was customary, the preacher waited by the door and shook hands with people as they exited. His smile had remained bright and white from the sermon throughout the whole service, and was now shining upon families as they departed. However, one woman paced back in forth at the back of the line before finally throwing up her hands and walking out.
Worried that he had done something wrong, that pastor apologized to the couple in front of him and chased the woman out the door. “Ma’am,” he shouted as she stormed off to her car, “Don’t forget to praise God!”
She stopped dead in her tracks on the asphalt, made a quick 180, walked right up to the preacher, and put her finger up to his nose. “I’ve had it up to here with you and all your silly happiness and praise. I can’t stand coming to a church that won’t let me be angry.”
As Christians, and as human beings, we are often told to “go with the flow” “chill out” and “relax” but Paul’s words to the church in Ephesus are a reminder to stand firm. Not with antiquated and backwards beliefs, but firm in our convictions. That woman stomped out of worship because her life was in shambles, and the preacher was telling her to be joyful and praise God. In not so many words he was telling her that being a Christian is easy, and requires us to be happy 24-7-365.
Paul’s words to the church were unpopular. We would rather hear from the prosperity preachers, and the praise preachers, that tell us how easy life can be if we only have faith in God, if we only “walk away from the problems”, if we only give our money to church.
Friends, being a Christian is not popular, nor is it easy.
Paul’s words are still unpopular because they are a challenge to such a secular society, particularly the one we live in.
Be strong in the Lord in the strength of his power. Put on the whole armor of God. There will come times when the wiles of the devil tempt us at the very heart of our being. Our truest struggles are not against enemies of blood and flesh, but against rulers, and authorities that strive for injustice at every turn.
Following Christ means standing firm in defense of justice and love. Taking up our crosses means that we will suffer for the love of God, and if we are too blessed to be stressed, then we are not working hard enough for the Kingdom.
So, take up the whole armor of God and stand firm. God has provided us with the power of truth, righteousness, peace, faith, salvation, the Spirit, and prayer. These are our tools to work against the evils of our world, we shall adorn them over our bodies for our lives, and we can remain steadfast in our convictions.
If we walk away from the problems of life, then we are not following Jesus’ command to minister to the last, least, and lost. Ignoring the stresses and injustices of life means that we are not loving our neighbors as ourselves.
If we give our money to church with the expectation that it will solve all of our problems, it will not! The offering plate of worship in not a cash register for a commodified exchange. We give as a response to God’s goodness, not as an expectation of blessing in return.
And if we try to praise the stress away, if we only want to hear about the joy, then we will continue to ignore the truth of reality and what it means to really follow Jesus.
Put on the whole armor of God because you will need it.
For a long time being Christian was just what everyone did. Most people were born into Christian families and went to the same church their whole lives without ever giving it a second thought. We lived in a Christian culture.
Interestingly enough, today following Christ means being counter-cultural. Imagine how strange a thing it is that we come back week after week to learn about being humble and risking unpopularity. We hear stories about how suffering and ridicule, if not worse, are part of our identity.
I like to joke that Jesus could use some new PR, because the stuff church offers doesn’t sell. There are no quick fixes and simple schemes. There are no “five easy steps to happiness.” Even in during Jesus ministry, the crowds grew to an incredible degree, but by the end, he was all alone marching up the hill with a cross on his back.
Jesus speaks to us through the words of scripture today calling us to be counter-cultural, to stand firm in the strength of God’s power.
“I am too blessed to be stressed” is such a strange thing for a Christian to claim. Having faith implies struggle. Discipleship is a journey filled with wonder, joy, and hardship.
This is the kind of thing that we are bold to proclaim. That God came in the form of Christ to walk among the people and turn the world upside-down. That Christ offered stories and commands that help to shape our lives so that we can shape others. That Jesus went to the very limit of his life dedicated to the profound power of love and it got him killed on a cross. That three days later he rose from the grave, defeated death, and offered salvation to the world.
We are not too blessed to be stressed. If we are anything we are too blessed to be content. When we remember all that God was willing to do for us and for the world, it ignites a desire in our hearts to start transforming the world. When we feel God’s love in our lives through a friend, we are given the strength to do the same for someone else. When we break down and raise our clenched fists in the air at God, when we pray from the depth of our being, God shows up and starts to reorient our lives through change.
We are too blessed to be content. The world is full of rulers, authorities, cosmic powers of darkness, and spiritual forces of evil. God has blessed us to stand firm against the injustices of life and say “no more!” We will not sit idly by while the world tells people they have no value, we will not participate in a system that perpetuates economic disparity, we will not give in to the evil powers of prejudice and presumption.
We say, “no more!” and we clothe ourselves with the whole armor of God and we go marching against the evils of the world. We wear the belt of truth and open our eyes to what is really going on. We strap on the breast plate of righteousness and live according to love rather than hate. We put on shoes that allow us to get on the move and declare the gospel of peace. We brandish the shield of faith, holding on to the promises of God. We adorn our heads with the helmet of salvation, hold the sword of the Spirit, and we persevere in prayer.
We say “no more!” to the rulers, and the authorities, and the cosmic powers of darkness because we are too blessed to be content. Amen.