The pressure is on. There’s no question about it. We have more to do these days-and less time to do it in-than ever before.
Things, both in the natural world and in the world of the spirit, are moving at a rapid-fire pace. It’s exhilarating-and it also can be draining. In fact, if you don’t learn how to handle the pressure, it can drain you completely dry.
I know because at one time in my life I let it happen to me. I felt like I was the most tired man in the world back then. I was so tired that no amount of rest would help. I went to bed tired and I woke up tired. Every bone in my body ached. At times, Gloria had to physically help me out of bed.
I felt much like the Apostle Paul must have felt when he wrote in 2 Corinthians 1:8: “For we would not, brethren, have you ignorant of our trouble…that we were pressed out of measure, above strength, insomuch that we despaired even of life.”
At that time in his ministry, Paul was under so much pressure he despaired of life. That’s what I did too. I got to the point where I wasn’t even fighting to live anymore. I went to God and said, “I’ve had all this I can stand. I just want to come on home now.”
What causes that kind of devastating fatigue? It took me a long time to find out, but when I did, I realized it was really very simple. My life force was being drained out. I was giving out more spiritual strength than I was putting back into myself. As a result, I developed a spiritual deficit that very nearly killed me.
Let me give you a word of warning. Don’t believe the old adage that says what you don’t know won’t hurt you. God’s Word says just the opposite. “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge…” (Hosea 4:6). In the spirit realm, what you don’t know can kill you.
#1. Stop Running on a Spiritual Deficit
Most people don’t know, for example, where their life force resides. They don’t know their spirits are the generators that provide energy for everything they do. So they fail to take care of those generators. They overload them and neglect them until they “burn out.”
Let me illustrate. Say you have a 100-watt generator and you start plugging 10-watt bulbs into the circuit that generator supplies. You can put in 10 bulbs and they’ll all burn brightly. Your generator will be running at full capacity, pulling all the load it’s made to pull.
When you put bulb number 11 on line, the whole string will dim a little. If you put in a 12th bulb, they’ll dim a little more. Put in 13 and you’ll see smoke coming out of that generator. It will burn out because it’s not equipped to produce 130 watts.
What happens then? All the lights go out. Not just the three extras you put in-all of them go out. The overload knocks out the whole string.
That’s what is happening to many dedicated believers today. They’re so busy ministering, so busy working for God, instead of with God, they’re overloading their spiritual generators. They’re putting out more than they’re putting in.
Proverbs 4:23 warns us against such careless treatment of our spirits. It says, “Keep thy heart [or spirit] with all diligence; for out of it are the issues [or forces] of life.” Most people don’t understand the importance of obeying that verse. They think if they eat right and rest and exercise, they’ll have all the strength they need. But they’re wrong. The real strength for living, the force that literally keeps the body alive, comes from the spirit man.
Your body has to have strength and life from your spirit being or it can’t function. When your spirit is strong, you can sleep a few hours, eat a good healthy meal, work out a little and you’re ready to go again. But when your spirit is weak it doesn’t matter how many hours you sleep or how many vegetables you eat, you just can’t seem to get on top of things.
#2. Remember Where Your Life Force Comes From
When you’re suffering from that kind of weakness, you need to follow Paul’s example. He wrote, “Though our outward man perish, yet the inward man is renewed day by day” (2 Corinthians 4:16). In spite of all the pressure Paul was under, in spite of the fact that he had despaired of life, he found the strength not just to go on, but to go on in victory.
Where did he find that strength? In his inward man! In his own reborn spirit!
It doesn’t matter how tired you are. It doesn’t matter how depressed you feel. It doesn’t even matter if you feel like you’ve been dragged through a knothole backwards and you’re so stressed out you can’t take one more step. The answer to your situation is not “out there” somewhere. The answer is inside you.
Look again at what Paul said in 2 Corinthians 1:8-9 about his predicament: “We were pressed out of measure, above strength, insomuch that we despaired even of life: but we had the sentence of death in ourselves….” If you’ll look up the Greek word translated sentence in that last phrase, you’ll find the better translation is the word answer.
Now, actually a sentence is an answer. When someone robs a bank and they’re sentenced to 10 years in prison, that 10 years is the legal answer to their crime. Keep that in mind when you read these verses and you’ll realize how truly powerful they are.
“We were pressed out of measure…insomuch that we despaired even of life: but we had the sentence [or answer] of death in ourselves.”
When the pressure is so great it’s about to kill you, where do you look for the answer? Inside your own reborn, Holy Ghost-filled spirit!
Your deliverance is inside you because that’s where the Holy Spirit is. Your help is inside you because that’s where your Helper is. The joy, the strength, the love…everything you’ve been looking for is right there inside your spirit.
#3. Fast Your Body and Feast Your Spirit
“Oh, but Brother Copeland, my spirit hasn’t been in very good shape lately. I’ve been too tired to read my Bible or go to church. All I’ve had the energy to do is lie around and watch television.” Well then, you’re in trouble.
To get out of that trouble, start feeding the man of faith on the inside of you. Set aside some of the physical food you’ve been chewing on and sink your spiritual teeth into The Word of God. Take a day or two to fast your body and feast your spirit!
Fasting helps give your spirit man a rest. All the physical operations of the body drain energy from the spirit. You have many involuntary physical functions, for example, that go to work every time you eat a meal. Those functions take a toll on the spirit. They drain your generator. When you fast, you give your spirit a break.
That’s why it’s good every once in a while to fast a few meals and just be quiet. Don’t do anything. Don’t put any pressure on. Just be still. Go get back in bed and turn your tapes on, read your Bible for a few hours and sip a little fruit juice.
Shut down all the physical functions you can and feed on The Word. You don’t even have to pray. Just be still for a while and know that God is God. Let The Word rejuvenate your spirit man. When you do pray during that time, pray in the spirit. Relax in God’s presence.
There’s an old religious cliché that used to be especially popular among ministers. “We’re just going to burn ourselves out for God,” they’d say. That’s not what God wants. That’s what the devil wants! He would love to see you just work yourself until you burn out and die. He’d kick up his heels at your funeral!
Don’t give him that opportunity. Take the time to feed your inner man so you won’t burn out. Keep feeding your spirit until you increase your strength. Burn brighter and stronger every year.
Be transformed from glory to glory by “beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord” (2 Corinthians 3:18). Increase the wattage of your spiritual generator by spending time focusing on the Lord. Take your focus off the things of the world and look at Him. Begin to work with Him instead of just for Him.
#4. Focus on Jesus Living Inside You
Where must you look to see Jesus? First, in The Word. And second, in your own spirit.
That second place is where most of us have trouble. We can see Jesus as great and magnificent in The Word of God. We can envision Him sitting grandly in heaven at the right hand of the Father. But we haven’t developed our ability to see Him living inside us.
You must have that ability to survive the pressure in these last days. You’ll need to be able to see Jesus within you just as clearly as you can see Him in The Word. You’ll have to know-not just with your brain but with every fiber of your being-that He Who is within you is greater than he that is in the world.
Never forget this: Once you truly see that the very Spirit and power of Jesus resides on the inside of you, nothing-no amount of debt, no disease, no problem of any kind-will be able to defeat you. When your inner image of the Jesus Who lives in you becomes bigger than your image of the problems around you, you’ll conquer any challenge the devil brings your way.
So get to work on that inner image. Begin to look inside yourself and say “I am the righteousness of God. I have fellowship with my heavenly Father. I do walk with Him hand in hand and Jesus Christ is my blood brother. Through Him, I have an eternal blood covenant with Almighty God.”
I know you’re facing needs. I know you’re facing difficulties. But I also know that 2 Peter 1:3 says God has already given you all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of Jesus. Once you develop that inner knowledge of Him, those needs will be met and those difficulties overcome.
The answer to everything is inside you right now. Everything you’ll ever need is in your spirit. All the money…all the health…all the strength…all the wisdom…all of it is in you because that’s where Jesus is!
“We have this treasure in earthen vessels,” Paul says, “that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us” (2 Corinthians 4:7).
Pressure… What Pressure?
I’m not telling you there won’t be trouble on the outside. Certainly there will be trouble. As a matter of fact, Paul said he was troubled by circumstances on every side…but on the inside he was not distressed.
“We are troubled on every side, yet not distressed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; cast down, but not destroyed” (verses 8-9).
Paul fixed his attention, not on external circumstances, but on his inner man because that’s where the excellency of God’s power is. “We’re perplexed,” he said. That Greek word perplexed means “to be cornered by the circumstances.” “But we’re not in despair.” In other words, even when it looks like there’s no way out, I can find a way out if I look on the inside.
“Persecuted, but not forsaken.” If I’m persecuted on the outside, how do I know God hasn’t forsaken me? Because when I look on the inside, I can see Jesus saying, “I’ll never leave you nor forsake you, even to the ends of the earth.”
Perplexed…persecuted…cast down. There’s no doubt about it, Paul was under more pressure than most of us today will ever experience. But he handled it…and so can you if you’ll do these four things:
1: Remember where the pressure is coming from. (The outside!) And remember where your life force comes from. (The inside!)
2: Stop running on a spiritual deficit. Take time to feed your inner man with The Word of God.
3: Fast your body if necessary and feast your spirit on The Word so your inner man can get stronger more quickly.
4: Focus on Jesus inside you until your inner picture of Him is bigger than the outside situations you’re facing.
If you’ll build up your spirit man in those three ways, when pressure comes it won’t affect you like it used to. Problems that once knocked you flat won’t even bother you anymore.
Think about it. A 5-foot, 140-pound bully who scared you silly when you were in second grade couldn’t even make you blink now that you’re 6 feet tall. You’ve grown. You’re stronger now. That second-grade bully isn’t a threat anymore.
That’s what happened to Paul. He grew! He kept feeding on The Word until the image of Jesus within him grew bigger than the pressures around him. He grew up so much that just a few years after he wrote about being “pressed out of measure, so that we despaired even of life,” he wrote “…I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content. I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me” (Philippians 4:11, 13).
Don’t let the bullies get you down. Just keep feeding your spirit man on The Word. Get strong on the inside. One of these days, when the circumstances are putting the squeeze on you and someone asks how you handle the pressure, you’ll look at them with surprise and say, “Pressure… What pressure?”
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