I went to the shore recently, feeling burnt out. The shore was the last place I wanted to go because I had so many projects and problems that needed to be worked on that I didn’t have time to rest…and I also actually felt too burnt out to rest! I had recently taken a vacation, but it didn’t seem to alleviate the pressure; it just held it off for a week. I started to feel like I was taking three steps forwards and two steps backwards, and I couldn’t seem to get a grasp on resting. I tried sleeping more, taking long walks, and reading the Bible more. Then I began to get headaches throughout the day, while fearing that I would never feel at rest again! So when a couple invited my wife and me for a two day “rest” at the shore, it was the last thing I wanted to do. I really did not feel like driving for 3 hours to the shore where I had already spent one week and never found my rest. I agreed to go but I continued to look for ways out of it!! Surprisingly, that two day rest became a true rest because I found the answer to what true rest really is! One of the Scriptures the Lord gave me as I sat in front of the ocean was: Matt 11:28-30 – “Come to Me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. 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. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”
This is not only one of the most beloved passages in the New Testament, but it’s the key to rest. When I read it again recently, I said, “Yes I’m weary and burdened. Please Jesus, where is my rest?” Yet as I studied the passage in depth, I realized that there was more to it then just “claiming the promise.” Jesus is telling a group of people to “Come to Me.” I always thought that this passage was to Christians, but as I studied it more, I realized that God was saying for ALL to come to HIM.
So this passage reaches out to you who can’t seem to find that missing piece of the puzzle in life, even though you may have religion. This life is wearing you down, and you have a load of guilt and problems that you’re carrying on your back, this passage is for you.
You may be a Christian and you’re wrapped up in a ministry, and yet you still can’t seem to find the peace and joy that God has promised. You’re almost questioning your own heart and salvation, because you’re also weary and carrying a load of problems, this passage is for you.
“Come to Me…”
Jesus is starting off by saying “Come to Me,” – God in the flesh, the predicted Messiah in the Book of the Prophets who came to bring us salvation, Creator of the heavens and the earth, the Lord of Lords and King of Kings in whose image you were created. Come to the One who said, “I AM the I AM” of the Book of the Law and the Prophets. “I AM the Alpha and Omega, the Beginning and the Ending, the Way, and the Truth, the Resurrection and the Life.” And Jesus calls out in love to come to Him, but sometimes this is the last thing that people want to do. They will take ANY other alternative, but Jesus.
In India, the Hindus worship the rat!! At the Karni Mata temple in the desert state of Rajastan, the effort to stifle the first outbreak of plague in 28 years takes a back seat to an old Hindu practice – rat worship! In one of their shrines, they have over 10,000 rats in the temple, while the priests sit around and chant and play cymbals. Imagine going to temple filled with rats…I get the shakes just thinking of it! So instead of coming to Jesus, the Hindus would rather sit in the middle of 10,000 rats, singing worship songs to them!
We have people who would rather get high and drunk, than to turn to Jesus. They would choose a life in the gutters over a life as a child of the King. They know of Jesus, they believe that God has created them, they believe in heaven and hell, but they still want no part of Him.
And yet Jesus is gently calling out, “Come to Me…,” all who are empty inside, all who are tired of their lives, all who are weary from sin. Those who are hurting, or are lonely…”Come to ME.” Those who don’t feel loved, those in broken lives, “Come to ME.” There are no conditions here. He does not say “come if you’re clean,” or “sinless,” “come if your act is all straightened out,” “come if you’re out of debt.” He is not saying “come if you’re one of the beautiful people” (thank God), or if your an “intellectual” (thank God again), but He simply is saying to all those in the highways and byways, “come to the wedding feast…all who are good and bad, Come to ME.”
So this is the start: accepting the open invitation from God, as He is calling out to us, “Come to Me.” “Believe in Me and receive Me. Let Me abide in you and give you the true riches of life, the love, joy, and peace that the world cannot give. Then I will prepare a home for you for eternity with Me.”
It’s important to remember that God is NOT starting off by saying:
Come to church. Come to a pastor. Come to a tradition or a ritual. Come to a Christian psychologist. Come to a religion. He starts off by saying simply, “Come to Me…”
Isaiah 55:2-3 represents the invitation: “Why spend money on what is not bread, and your labor on what does not satisfy? Listen, listen to me, and eat what is good, and your soul will delight in the richest of fare. Give ear and come to Me; hear Me, that your soul may live. I will make an everlasting covenant with you…” This is the start of your rest: coming, or receiving Jesus. The important part to remember is not just believing in Jesus, but receiving Him, asking Him to abide in you and fill you with His Spirit. You could believe that I have a five dollar bill in my pocket, but unless you receive it, your belief in my five dollar bill did nothing for you! The same is true of Jesus. You could believe in Him all you want, but unless you receive Him, or become born again from the Spirit above, your belief is worthless! There is no rest in any other name or thing, but Jesus, because then you receive your peace with God.
“All Who are Wearied…”
God calls those that are weary, those who are to the point of utter exhaustion. You’re weary from trying to find God, you have searched religions, rituals and traditions, and you are just plain tired of searching for God. I went this route, and let me assure you that it is wearisome. You can be weary from the affects of the world beating you down, the alcohol, the drugs, the painful relationships. You’re just sick and tired of what is going on. I went this route as well, and I know by experience how depressing it is and how it can make you feel like you don’t even want to exist! You can also be weary from trying to serve God on your own resources, or power!! You have several ministries and they are just exhausting you. You press on to “serve God until you burnout.” For some reason, there is no joy in your ministry, just a persistence to work for God. You have used every bit of your own resources and your wisdom, and you have nothing left to give.
The word for burdened means carrying a load…a load of guilt, or a load of problems. You feel like you lost control of your problems years ago, and you starting to pay now for the choices you have made. You have mounds of bills, or family problems, even health problems, and you wonder where God is in all of this. Through all of this God is telling us, “I will give you rest.” The rest that God is talking about in this passage means: ease, refreshing or relaxation.
Recognizing God in the Storms
We see in Mark 4:36-41 how God calms the storms in our lives, to give us rest. “Now when they had left the multitude, they too Him along in the boat as He was. And other little boats were also with Him. And a great windstorm arose, and the waves beat into the boat, so that it was already filling. But He was in the stern, asleep on a pillow. And they awoke Him and said to Him, ‘Teacher, do You not care that we are perishing?’ Then He arose and rebuked the wind and said to the sea, ‘Peace, Be Still!’ And the wind ceased and there was a great calm. But He said to them, ‘Why are you so fearful? How is it that you have no faith?’ And they fear exceedingly, and said to one another, ‘Who can this be, that even the wind and the sea obey Him!'” Now this must have been some terrible storm for professional fishermen to concede that they were in trouble. I’ve been on fishing boats before where the waves rocked the boats and I shook like a leaf, but the fishermen were never concerned about it. Yet as the waves starting getting larger, the disciples had the fastest and most decisive board meeting ever and decided to “wake up God,” to tell Him that the boat was in trouble. So they woke up Jesus and told Him, “Don’t you even care for us…we are ready to die??” Sometimes we act the same way towards Jesus, when we are in the middle of a personal storm where our whole life is being rocked by waves of problems. And we think that Jesus is sleeping through our problems and that He does not care about us. Even though Jesus was asleep, technically God wasn’t really sleeping, because the Scriptures tell us that “He never sleeps nor slumbers.” (Psalm 121:4) Yet there are times we think that God is sleeping in the mist of our storms and instead He is right there in the mist of the storm with us!! Once we recognize that Jesus is with us, and that our life and faith is built upon Him, and that He cares for us, we can hear Him say, “Peace, Be Still,” to our hearts. Jesus’s disciples traveled with Him for three years, and they had to go through the storm to realize that He was the God of the storms. We too have to recognize that God is with us in the storm, no matter how many waves are rocking our lives. When we give Him control of the storm, He simply says, “Peace, Be Still,” and then you experience the calm of peace that only He could give.
“Take My Yoke upon You…”
I want to reiterate some of my wife’s teaching from the last newsletter here. A yoke is a wooden harness that was commonly used in Biblical times to link two animals, usually oxen, together for purposes of plowing and working the fields. Because they were yoked, the animals could then be used together and kept under the master’s control. The yoked animals worked together in plowing the land, or each sharing the burdened to be pulled. We ALL have yokes, we are all connected to something. It just depends on what we are yoked or connected to. We could be yoked to a bondage, or we could be yoked to sin. We could be yoked to drugs or alcohol, or we could be yoked to painful relationships or sinful relationships.
Jesus is telling us the secret to rest right here. We are to be yoked or connected to HIM. When you are connected to other things but Jesus, God is not in control of your life. Instead, the one who is in control is the one whose yoke you are wearing. So God tells us that in order to have rest, we are to be linked to Him.
To wear God’s yoke symbolizes obedience to Him. Jesus said, “If you love Me you will keep My commandments.” In a day and age when people are saying that the proof of the Holy Spirit is the gifts, God is telling us the proof is the love of God and obedience to Him. Please don’t misinterpret what I’m saying because I believe in all the gifts, but these are secondary to the need for complete obedience to Christ. In Second Kings Chapter 5, we see the story of Naaman coming up to Elisha the prophet to be healed of leprosy. Elisha told him to, “Go, wash yourself seven times in the Jordan, and your flesh will be restored and you will be cleansed.” At first, Naaman went away angry because the Jordan was muddy and he expected Elisha to just wave his hand and cure him. But Naaman’s servants told him that it’s better to obey the prophet, and so, Naaman went for a seven dip cleansing. Now, if Naaman decided that after 6 dips he was through, he would have still left with leprosy, because God does not want partial obedience. After the seventh dip the Scriptures tell us that, “his flesh was restored and became clean like that of a young boy.” God’s blessings are found in the path of trustful obedience. “And Learn from Me, for I Am Gentle and Humble in Heart…” I’m still a little astounded at how many Christians were deceived by the prediction of Christ coming back on Sept. 6, 1994. The sad part of this deceitful prediction is that it turned into a downfall for many Christians who lost their jobs, their life savings, even their retirement funds, as they followed the advice of heretical teaching. Yet, if they had only learned from Jesus what the Scripture tells us about His Return, “No man knows the day or the hour when I will return,” then they would have saved themselves from a lot of heartache. We should be learning from Jesus first, opening up the Scriptures and seeing what God says to us. And as we spend the quality time in the Scriptures we will learn wondrous things. We need to Learn from Jesus, getting to know Him and His Word better. Learn how Jesus fought off temptation by quoting Scripture, and apply it to your life. Learn what Jesus says to seek first and then He will supply all your needs. Learn from Jesus what He calls the true riches of love, joy and His peace and how to obtain them. Learn from Jesus what He said about setting your mind on the things above, and what is important to God, and what is important to man. Learn His ways, and His mind in all things. Learn from Jesus how to find rest for your soul.
“And You Will Find Rest for Your Souls…”
As I sat in front of the ocean meditating on finding rest for my soul, the Lord nudged me to Psalm 62:5, “My soul finds rest in God alone.” I felt that scales fell off my eyes and I realized that I was looking for rest in vacations, in churches, in places. Once I submit myself to God’s Lordship, and I learn of Him and spend time with Him, then I am found rested. God shows us the importance of spending time with Him in finding our rest in Luke 10:38-42, “As Jesus and His disciples were on their way, He came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to Him. She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what He said. But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to Him and asked, ‘Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!’ ‘Martha, Martha,’ the Lord answered, ‘you are worried and upset about many things, but only one thing is needed. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.'”
When I read this, I realized that I blew it by not giving importance to the “day of rest.” God emphasized a day of rest for us after we work six days. Leviticus 23:3 tells us, “Six days shall work be done: but the seventh day [is] the Sabbath of rest, an holy convocation; ye shall do no work [therein]: it [is] the Sabbath of the LORD in all your dwellings.” Hebrews 4:4 tells us that God rested on the seventh day as well! Instead, I used the “day of rest” to do ministry, or visit family, or do things. God told Martha that only one thing is needed…to sit at the Lord’s feet, listening to what He says!!
Please don’t let the enemy rob you of your day of rest. Don’t waste your whole day of rest in front of a football game on TV, or in a shopping mall. I’m not saying that football is bad or shopping is bad, but if you are spending hours upon hours of what should be your “rest day,” watching TV or shopping, you are the one being deprived of your rest…you are the one who is losing.
“For My Yoke is Easy and My Burden is Light…”
When you are yoked to Jesus, you are no longer carrying the problems, and your no longer tired and weary because Jesus is carrying your load, your just walking with HIM!! John 15:4 tells us, “Abide in Me, and I you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, so neither can you, unless you abide in Me. I AM the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me, and I in him, he bears much fruit; apart from Me you can do nothing.” So ministry becomes a joy when it’s not you doing it, but rather Jesus working through you. God is gently calling us to be yoked or connected to Him. For some of us that means asking God to change our yoke…to be now yoked or connected to Him ONLY. Simply come to Jesus and ask Him to remove the old yoke and to give you a brand new one. Ask God to help you find your rest in Him alone.
If you are in a ministry and you’re burning out, ask God to show you if the ministry is of Him. If it’s not of God, stop wasting your time and drop the ministry and then wait upon the Lord who will renew your strength. Stop trying to hold up a ministry in your own power and strength. Then there is no more pressure or stress!! Let Jesus do the work as you walk beside Him as He carries the load. God’s invitation is open to all to “Come to Him,” and find rest in Him. To those who don’t know Him, He wants you to find rest for your souls as well. He wants a personal relationship with you, not just a knowledge of Him, but a living relationship with the God of the heavens and the earth. He wants to calm the storms raging in your soul with the simple words, “Peace, Be Still.” God wants to give you the peace that surpasses all understanding. Ask God to give you the new life from the Spirit above. Ask Him to fill you with His Holy Spirit and make you a new person, and you will experience the joy, love and peace that ONLY God can truly give.
To those who are Christians but are weary and heavy burdened, find your rest in God alone. Sit at the feet of Jesus and learn from Him, for He is gentle and humble in heart. Ask God to once again remove the yoke that you are carrying and to yoke Himself to you…and then, and only then, will you find your rest.