Stressed Out (week 3)

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She kept this up for many days. Finally Paul became so annoyed that he turned around and said to the spirit, “In the name of Jesus Christ I command you to come out of her!” At that moment the spirit left her. When her owners realized that their hope of making money was gone, they seized Paul and Silas and dragged them into the marketplace to face the authorities (Acts
16:18-19 NIV).

The crowd joined in the attack against Paul and Silas, and the magistrates ordered them to be stripped and beaten with rods. After they had been severely flogged, they were thrown into prison, and the jailer was commanded to guard them carefully. When he received these orders, he put them in the inner cell and fastened their feet in the stocks. About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the other prisoners were listening to them (Acts 16:22-25 NIV).

CONTEXT OF SCRIPTURE

Paul and Silas were restrained, flogged, and thrown into prison. In this moment, Paul and Silas likely had no idea what their future held. In all likelihood, “What if” questions flooded their minds—question like, “What if we’re in their prison forever?” and, “What if we’re executed?” In the midst of their situation—and probable stress—Paul and Silas prayed, sang, and trusted God. In other words, they chose their response to the situation instead of letting the situation trigger a stress-filled reaction. Today, when we’re faced with stressful, unpredictable situations, we can do the same.

TEACHING OUTLINE

Let me start with a very important question: How do you sleep at night?

Have you ever had a persistent pain that mysteriously attacked some part of your body, and you started drawing some dire conclusions about the future of your health?

In this series, Stressed Out, we’re talking about healthy ways to work through the things that freak us out. And the big stress question we want to address today is this: WHAT IF?

There are a lot of events that happen in life that make us ask, “What if?” questions in other areas.

“What if?” is a question that can wreak havoc on your mind, heart, emotions, peace, and even your health.

The truth is, the future can stress out all of us.

Even if they have good intentions, we are surrounded by people who motivate us by creating stress about our future.

Stressing about your future doesn’t actually improve your future.

In the New Testament, the book of Acts describes the spread and growth of the early church.

But let me make one thing clear: It wasn’t easy.

Paul and Silas were friends who were in the city of Philippi. They weren’t bothering anyone.

One minute Paul’s just annoyed by a heckler. The next minute, he and his friend are beaten, chained, and dungeoned. Now they sit in the inner cell with their feet fastened in stocks.

Paul and Silas had no idea what the future looked like for them. But none of their potential outcomes looked good.

In the middle of some of their most stressful moments, they prayed, they sang, and
they influenced.

There was a happy ending to this story. But Paul and Silas didn’t know that when they were praying and singing in that inner cell!

Good and bad things will happen in our future, but circumstances and outcomes don’t decide how we react. We do!

Listen, you have NO CHOICE about what happens in your life NEXT. But you DO have a choice about how you react to it NOW.

You can pray, you can trust, and you can choose how you’re going to react.

Choose joy now.

As you head out, I want you to know you’ll have all kinds of situations in life, good and bad.

But you can choose how you react. The power is in your hands.