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

As Jesus traveled along the dusty paths and streets of Israel he met many people from many walks of life. Some, like the woman at the well who had been divorced five times and the woman caught in adultery were struggled with emotional issues, feeling the guilt, shame and embarrassment of failure.

Others had more physical issues. The blind, the lame, the leprous suffered daily in a world of pain and darkness. Socially outcast and physically in pain they lived a life of pain and misery.

Then there were those who marveled at his teaching. For their entire lives they had been held captive by a religion which offered no hope. Strict rules and empty hope were just another irrelevant part of the journey they called life. It was a religion built on guilt, shame and fear.

Then Jesus came along. He offered rest to those who struggled with relationships. Don’t think for a minute that kids didn’t rebel back then. Pornography and lust were different then, but not non-existent. Feelings of failure and desperation were just as real then as they are today in your life.

One would think that the people who saw the miracles would follow. You’d expect that every person healed and all their families would give up everything to become his disciples. Some did. Most didn’t. In fact the very people he offered rest to from their physical and emotional trials were the ones who shouted ‘Crucify Him!’

Seems outlandish doesn’t it? Then again, maybe not. Over 2000 years later we are still doing the same thing. Jesus offers us hope. He offers us emotional healing. When he doesn’t offer physical healing he offers us strength to endure the pain. But people still seek religion over relationship; rules over freedom; death (spiritually due to sin) over life.

There is no religion on earth that offers us the things that Jesus does through a relationship with him. All he asks is that he be the only source of your praise, worship and love. Friends will mislead you. Religion will use you. Only Jesus gives you rest.

The hard truth is, as in any love relationship, you can’t experience the total joy Jesus offers without total commitment. Darkness has no place with light. Sin has no place in the life of a Christ-follower. Can you be forgiven? Yes. Can you live comfortably (physically)? Sometimes. But you won’t experience the total joy and peace Jesus offers until you come to him, only him, for rest.

PRAYER: Lord Jesus, I confess to you that there are so many times I seek pleasure, peace and comfort from things and people rather than you. My focus shifts from the eternal to the temporal. I want, so I go after it even if I know it will hurt my relationship with you. Forgive me for my refusal to sell-out to you completely. Empower me by you Holy Spirit to live completely for you. In your name I pray, Amen.

 


When Jesus landed and saw a large crowd, he had compassion on them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd. So he began teaching them many things. Mark 6:34

Jesus had just received word that his cousin John had been brutally murdered by an evil King who was motivated by the jealous actions of his wife. We must never forget, when we read Bible passages, that these are real events in the lives of real people. What we read in the Bible are not just stories and fairy tales. The people involved had real feelings, got hungry, were lied to by friends, had financial hardship, got sick and all the other things you and me experience on an emotional plain.

Jesus was just a few months younger than John and I would imagine that even though they lived a distance apart, they saw each other often because Mary, Jesus’ mom, and Elizabeth, John’s mom, were very close.

Because of this you can well imagine the heartache and perhaps anger that Jesus felt when the word came to him. There was nothing fair about what happened to John. There was no justice in the palace. Only greed and power driven lust.

When the disciples returned from a preaching journey, Jesus suggested they get away and rest for awhile. He needed some time to mourn. They needed some time to rest from the rigors of ministry. Just a few days, maybe even a few hours.

We all know the feeling. Life gets so hectic. Things that hurt or disappoint us come and go with such haste that we barely have time to rest, time to think, time to mourn. The old adage ‘when it rains it pours’ is often very true. Calamity always seems to bring company.

They went to a quiet, solitary spot that Jesus and his disciples had visited before. It was on the far side of the lake, far from people, far from the hustle and bustle of life. But by the time they got there, word had spread of their approach. Rather than being met by a quiet spot by the lake, they were greeted by hundreds, maybe even thousands of people in need of Jesus’ touch.

He was tired. He was emotionally spent. He had compassion. Did you notice that? In the midst of Jesus’ despair and fatigue he had compassion on those who need his touch. Couldn’t it wait one day? Was anything so important that he had to be interrupted? Didn’t they realize that he had feelings too?

If you are ever up against the wall. If life seems to have put more on your plate than you can possibly handle. When people fail you (or you fail people). Remember this day in Jesus life. There is never a time when he is too tired or too distracted or too involved in other issues that he doesn’t have time for you.

Jesus will always have time for you regardless of how many times you come to him. Never let the enemy tell you otherwise.

PRAYER: Jesus, I thank you today for your love and compassion. I praise you for the truth that no matter what comes my way, you will always be there for me. Always willing to comfort, to guide, to forgive and to show compassion to me. Empower me by your Spirit to be able to rest in the comfort of your arms. In your name I pray, Amen.


For anyone who enters God’s rest also rests from his own work, just as God did from his. Hebrews 4:1

Maybe it’s a guy thing, but I have the tendency to hesitate to ask for help. It doesn’t matter how heavy the object is to lift or how hard the task is, if there is any way I can do it on my own I’ll do it! I’ve had plenty of sore backs and pulled muscles to prove it!

The ridiculous part about being driven to do things by ourselves is that it often causes physical pain, frustration and even damage to people and property. Still each of us is inclined to risk our physical and emotional health to do things on our own.

Sometimes we do that because we see the need for help as a sign of weakness. Sometimes we do it ourselves because we have that ‘pride thing’ going on inside us that says: (1) My way is the best way; and (2) No one can do it as well as I can!

What is true for us in the physical realm can also be true in the spiritual realm. In fact the two intersect in some ways. Those of us that are Christ-followers agree that we are sinners and willingly rest on God’s promise of forgiveness and grace for our eternal lives. However, for some reason, if we aren’t careful we think that once we receive this ‘free gift’ of grace we need to work hard to keep it or earn it.

We do this by taking responsibility to make sure our job is right, our kids are healthy and responsible, or homes are fancy and well kept, we have all the right toys and latest gadgets. We even work hard to make sure our ministry or church is stronger, larger and has more technology than the people across the street. Not all of these things are bad unless they become the sole reason for our existence. When they become all we live for then frustration sets in because we can’t possible achieve all we want!

Jesus says, in Matthew 11:28 “Come unto me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” Jesus isn’t necessarily talking about physical rest here. He’s telling all of us who are spiritually tired and emotionally spent that we can come to Him for rest. He wants to comfort us and encourage us when we are struggling to keep afloat.

One of the mysteries of our human existence is that when we are at peace with ourselves on the inside, the things that bring stress on the outside aren’t as powerful. When I allow Jesus to completely control my thoughts, my attitudes and my feelings about people, places and things I have the strength to endure the attacks that are thrown at me.

God’s rest is both present and eternal. His rest gives us freedom to live life to the fullest while we are here on earth. When we rely on God’s power nothing that comes our way brings complete despair. This is true whether the circumstances we face are a result of our own failures or the attacks of others.

God’s rest is also eternal. As Christ-followers we have a hope that reassures us that no matter how bad things are now, someday all the pain and frustrations will be gone. Our physical lives will end, but will usher in an eternal life of peace, happiness and health, all in the presence of God Himself!

PRAYER: Father God. I’m tired. I’m tired physically, emotionally and spiritually. The things that are happening around me have taken away the joy I thought I was supposed to have in you. I confess that I’ve been struggling at my spiritual life all alone and not accepting the help you have promised. Forgive me for trying to do it alone. Empower me by your Holy Spirit to accept your comfort, your power and your help to make it through the daily grind that seems to pull me down. Thank you for your understanding and your rest. Amen.


He makes me to lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside the still waters. He restores my soul; He leads me in the paths of righteousness For His name’s sake. Psalm 23:2-3 

There are times in our lives when we can become completely overwhelmed by all that is around us. We can be pulled by finances, family issues, relational struggles, health concerns and many other things. In fact, these things of life are just the tip of the iceberg.

While it isn’t mentioned in mental health circles as an official ‘diagnosis’, each of us can be affected by the ‘Messiah Complex’. The Messiah Complex can be described as that thought process that says we are to become the savior of our world. In other words, all that goes on around us is our responsibility to correct, redeem and improve.

The messiah complex is rarely intentional. Usually it sneaks up on us. We take on one more responsibility. Our hearts open up to one more problem. Our compassion is directed towards one more individual’s crisis. Soon, without our knowing it, our minds are filled with concerns that really don’t involve us or that we have no control over. The result is frustration, fatigue and perhaps anger. We become so overwhelmed by all we ‘should do’ that we don’t do anything well.

That’s when Jesus says “Come. Rest in my arms. Take time apart to relax.” In fact, the Psalmist implies that our Good Shepherd demands us to rest in His Rest. The Rest that Jesus promises us is complete rest. It comforts the soul, nourishes the spirit and feeds the physical parts of our being.

When we become distracted and overwhelmed by the cares of this world it gives the enemy opportunity to pull us away from the important things that build our relationship with Jesus. When our relationship with Jesus is weakened our relationships with others will falter as well.

Take some time to evaluate your priorities. The world should not rest on your shoulders. Prayerfully consider what things need to be given over to the power of Christ’s righteousness. When we learn to rest in the Rest that only Christ can give. Take another look at Psalm 23:2-3.

He makes me to lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside the still waters. He restores my soul; He leads me in the paths of righteousness For His name’s sake.

Who is the dominant one in our lives? Who is the one who gives rest, strength, comfort and peace? It’s Jesus! We are the receivers. He is the giver of all that we need.

PRAYER: Dear Jesus. I’m tired. I thank You for the fact that you know everything that is on my mind right now. All the stress. All the frustration. All the things that are making me angry. I confess to You that I am taking far more responsibility for things than I can handle. I ask that with the help of Your Holy Spirit you would empower me to rest in your arms. I hand over to you all the things that are troubling me today. In Your powerful name I pray, Amen.


Then Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls. Matthew 11:28-29 (NLT)

During the time that Jesus walked on earth Oxen were valuable for the farmer in order to plow and harvest crops. A good Ox was worth its weight in gold. Because of their value it was important that the Oxen were well cared for. One of the ways this was done was to make sure that they wore well-fitted yokes. An Ox or team of Oxen, with a good wooden yoke could pull a plow or wagon all day long because the stress was placed on the yoke, not the animal.

There is a legend about Jesus and yokes. Everyone knows that his father was a carpenter and no doubt Jesus also learned the trade before He began His ministry at the age of about 30. The legend states that Jesus was an expert craftsman with wood and His specialty was making wooden yokes.

Although it is probably just a legend, the story paints a beautiful picture of Jesus’ concern for us as we journey through the struggles of life. Jesus didn’t discount that we would encounter struggles and burdens in life. In fact, He promises us that we will see tribulation (or trials) as we walk with Him. Sometimes those trials seem to increase as we grow in our relationship with Christ.

Jesus doesn’t say that He will deliver us from the burdens of life. He does say that He will provide a way for us to endure those trials. When storms come, He provides safe haven. When we seem flooded by adversity He provides higher ground. When grief and sorrow attack, He gives peace that passes understanding.

We often struggle with life because the yoke of human endurance and the “I can do it myself” attitude doesn’t ‘fit us well’. It transfers the stress of the situation onto our shoulders and we bear the weight of worry, doubt, despair and shame.

Jesus says ‘Take my yoke upon you’. The yoke of forgiveness, the yoke of grace, the yoke of love. Feel the gentleness of His touch on your life. When we endure the trials of life our bodies may suffer, but with Jesus we experience rest-rest of the soul!

Other people can make us physically and emotionally uncomfortable. They can attack us with lies and shame and guilt about what we do or our past. People can’t attack our soul unless we choose to wear that yoke. Choose today to put on the yoke of Christ’s forgiveness, grace and love. Burdens will come. Some of them very heavy. But God never intended for us to bear them alone. That’s why He sent His Son, Jesus and His Holy Spirit, to give our souls rest.

PRAYER: Dear Jesus. Thank you for the promise that no matter how hard life gets for me, you are always there. Thank you that your yoke is easy and will allow me to bear the burdens of guilt, shame, worry and doubt that seem to attack me on a regular basis. Teach me to rely on You for rest. In Your name I claim rest for my soul even when my body may be filled with physical and emotional pain. Amen.

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