Rest For The Weary

Matthew 11:28: Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.

This verse from Matthew is one of my all-time favorites from scripture. For me, it is one of the most reassuring promises from our Lord and Savior. Jesus is promising to all who believe in him, and who are weighed down with the demands of life, to simply come to Jesus. And what does he promise? Rest – not necessarily rest for your body – but rest for your soul. “Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls” Matthew 11:29.

Many people misread this verse and they take it to mean a physical kind of rest. Certainly, if you believe on the Lord Jesus Christ as your savior, your body and your mind will attain more rest. As you turn your focus upon Christ and on the word of God, you pull back from the world and the many worries, demands and busyness that it places upon you. Your focus becomes more Christ-centered and you learn to take your mind and worries away from worldly concerns. This doesn’t mean that you will still not be burdened with the many worries and concerns of life; rather you learn to look at those problems in the light of having your mind centered or focused upon Christ.

In Jesus’ time, the Pharisees weighed down people’s minds and burdened them with many unnecessary demands. And in our day and time, I see many people living in fear of what is happening in the world. Just recently we have seen mass shootings and airport bombings dominate the news headlines. And being human beings, it’s natural that those types of incidents will cause us to worry or be fearful to some extent. But as believers in Christ, we know that our souls are protected in Christ because of our belief, faith and trust in him as our Lord and Savior. Our body can certainly be killed and destroyed but our soul cannot be touched if we belong to Christ. Jesus is our master and he will always care for us. That is an eternal promise for all who believe.

I urge you to begin each day in prayer to God and in the word of God. Don’t allow your day to begin with the violent and depressing news of the day. Begin your day talking to God and in the word of God. As you do this, you will find an incredible strength and guidance in which to begin your day. Open up your heart to God and tell him that you are afraid and worried and burdened and that you seek rest for your soul. God loves you and he will give you a type of rest and security that this fallen world cannot offer. God’s rest and love is eternal and is always available to those who seek it.

“But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own” Matthew 7:33-34.

Suffering for the Gospel

2 Timothy 1:8-10(NIV)

8 So do not be ashamed to testify about our Lord, or ashamed of me his prisoner. But, join with me in suffering for the gospel, by the power of God, 9 who has saved us and called us to a holy life—not because of anything we have done but because of his own purpose and grace. This grace was given us in Christ Jesus before the beginning of time, 10 but it has now been revealed through the appearing of our Savior, Christ Jesus, who has destroyed death and has brought life and immortality to light through the gospel.

I was planning on writing about another topic this morning, but as I was reading my Bible, I found myself on the first chapter of Second Timothy. And as I began to read this scripture, several points stood out to me:

  • Do not ever be ashamed to testify about Jesus or the gospel
  • Be willing to suffer for the gospel by the power of God
  • It is only through God’s power that we are saved – and then we are called to lead a holy life
  • This is all made possible ONLY by God’s own purpose and grace – not by anything we have done
  • Jesus Christ is the grace, the truth, and the light. HE is the ONLY WAY to eternal life
  • The gospel shows us the way to Christ and to eternal life
  • We must always be ready and willing to share the gospel by living a holy life for others to see

As believers, we should never be ashamed to tell others of the hope we have through our belief and faith in Christ. I have always believed that the best way to do this is to live a life that reflects our love for Christ. The way we live out our lives speaks volumes about who we are and what we believe. Like so many other believers, when we sit down for a meal we always pause to pray and to thank God for our meal and for our many other blessings. We also do this when we are in public, as do many other believers. We pray – not to be pretentious – but to show our love and dedication to our Lord. And I also believe that, as other believers who are not comfortable with praying in public see this, it will prompt them to begin to do the same. Are you ashamed to testify about Jesus or show your love for Him in public?

We must also be willing to suffer for the gospel and we have the promise of the power of God to help us through times of suffering. Many of us only suffer insults or crude comments because of our belief and faith in Christ. We must remember that throughout the world, many of our brothers and sisters in Christ experience physical suffering and even death for their beliefs. How much are you willing to suffer for the gospel? I believe that a time is coming when many of us living in this world will be faced with this question. Don’t ever be ashamed to share the good news of the gospel with anyone who asks you. And do it in a way that makes that person want to know more about your beliefs. So many believers today would rather try to fit in with the world instead of rising above the evil of this world. You must choose! You can’t belong to Christ and continue to live as the world does. Romans 8:17: “Now if we are children, then we are heirs – heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory.”  I would suggest that you read 1 Peter 4:12-19 for further instructions on how to suffer for being a Christian.

But join with me in suffering for the gospel, by the power of God, who has saved us and called us to a holy life…”

If you are a follower of Christ, you are called to lead a holy life. We must realize that we are all sinners, as Paul so eloquently reminds us in Romans 3:23: “ for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” We can’t lead perfect lives, because we all struggle with sin at various times in our lives. By saying no to the pleasures and the sin of this world, we are showing others that we are different – we are set apart from this world. While many are travelling down that wide road, the believer is following that narrow road that so many people in this world do not find or try to seek out. When believers live worldly lives, and try to fit in with what society deems important, they fail to lead non-believers to Christ and to the promise of eternal life. You simply can’t have one foot in this world and the other in the light of God’s world. You must make a choice! This world leads to destruction and to death. The light of the gospel leads to eternal life. You must decide which world you will live in. Do not be ashamed of the gospel of Jesus Christ. Continue to proclaim it with the way you live out your life of faith in this fallen and sinful world.

Therefore, prepare your minds for action; be self-controlled; set your hope fully on the grace to be given you when Jesus Christ is revealed. As obedient children, do not conform to the evil desires you had when you lived in ignorance. But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; for it is written: “Be holy, because I am holy.”  1 Peter 1:13-16.

 

Is Anybody Listening?

Jeremiah 6:10 (NIV):  To whom can I speak and give warning? Who will listen to me? Their ears are closed so they cannot hear. The word of the Lord is offensive to them; they find no pleasure in it.

Jeremiah 6:19 (NIV): Hear, you earth: I am bringing disaster on this people, the fruit of their schemes, because they have not listened to my words and have rejected my law.

We have been studying the book of Jeremiah during our Wednesday night bible study and I have been pondering over the sixth chapter of Jeremiah for the last several weeks. God has been trying to get the attention of his chosen people, but they are not listening. In fact, they have turned their backs on God, and as a result, the prophet Jeremiah is being used by God to warn the people of the consequences of their actions. To say that Jeremiah had a difficult task does not even begin to scratch the surface.

The words that God and Jeremiah spoke to the Israelites could undoubtedly be spoken to us today. In fact, when I read the words of indictment against God’s chosen people, I find that we as a nation are doing the very same things today. God gave us a pattern of how to live a life that is pleasing to God and honors His word. Unfortunately, many of our leaders and society at large, tells us there is a better way – a more improved path to follow. The world that we live in is trying to redefine our values and our beliefs and it seems there is room for all of these different types of beliefs – unless you are a Christian.

When Christians follow God’s established commandments, we are made to feel that we are narrow-minded and our beliefs are outdated or not in line with the way society functions now. We are told that we must conform to the ways of the world and follow the new path that is more enlightened.

Jesus tells us: “Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.” Matthew 7:13-14.

Many in our nation today are on that broad road that leads only to destruction and they don’t realize it, because the word of the Lord is offensive to them. They think they know better than God what is best for them. 

Jeremiah 6:16: This is what the Lord says: “Stand at the crossroads and look; ask for the ancient paths, ask where the good way is, and walk in it, and you will find rest for your souls. But you said, ‘We will not walk in it.’  

The same is true of our country today. We have turned our backs on God and we completely resist walking in the tried and true path God has given us to follow.

Just as in Jeremiah’s time, “the word of the Lord is offensive” to many in our nation today. Our country is turning away from God and I wonder how much longer God will allow this before he turns away from us.

Jeremiah 6:8: “Take warning Jerusalem, or I will turn away from you and make your land desolate so no one can live in it.”

If we continue to turn our backs on God we will face the same judgment that Israel brought upon themselves because they chose to obey and follow the values of the world instead of God’s laws.

God is trying to get our attention before it’s too late – Is anybody listening?