Rest in God – Matthew 11:28-30

God Gives Us Rest For Our Souls

28 “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. 29 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. 30 For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

Back-Breaking Burdens

God never intended for our burdens to so overwhelm us as to be impossible.  In the beginning, the only rule was to not eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.  Only one fruit was forbidden.  Adam and Eve were given free rein to do pretty much whatever else they wanted to.  Yet even that became a burden to them.

Most of us are burdened down with life and the responsibilities that we shoulder.  Every day, our list of duties and expectations increase, until we reach that feverish point where, in exhaustion, we stop, and someone who is a little better rested takes our place.  God intended for us to experience fellowship with Him and have joy in our work.  Yet the fall of man brought difficulty into that:

17 To Adam he said, “Because you listened to your wife and ate fruit from the tree about which I commanded you, ‘You must not eat from it,’

“Cursed is the ground because of you;
through painful toil you will eat food from it
all the days of your life.
18 It will produce thorns and thistles for you,
and you will eat the plants of the field.
19 By the sweat of your brow
you will eat your food
until you return to the ground,
since from it you were taken;
for dust you are
and to dust you will return.”

The leaders of the Jews were afraid of being sent into captivity, and decided to implement some additional “suggestions” that had the weight of law to ensure that the Sabbath was fully maintained.  There were over six hundred additional rules given to the people so that they would not work on the Sabbath, and therefore be conquered by their enemies and dispersed from their homeland.  One of these rules was that you cannot spit on the ground on the Sabbath, because you might accidentally roll it over the ground with your foot and make mud, and therefore be accused of working.

Christ came to lift these heavy burdens from us that do not need to be there, and to show us what truly is required of us in the sight of God.

Royal Rest

Jesus promised us rest from our burdens.  We no longer have to strive to earn God’s favor.  This is something that we cannot do on our own, for His standard is perfection.  Jesus came to fulfill the law so that through belief in Him, we might be freed of our attempts to please God through our well-intentioned but misguided efforts to earn God’s favor.  Christ gave us His righteousness, earned through living a perfect life, for our sinful nature, and thus gives us rest from our burdens.  You can relax and be free – Christ did all of the heavy lifting.  All we need to do now is be obedient to Him!

Bearable Burdens

Jesus is gentle and humble in heart.  He gives us burdens that are light and a yoke that is easy.  He gives us the life of submission to the Spirit of God and obedience to His word.  And because we cannot do this in our own power, we have been given a down-deposit on our inheritance, the indwelling of the Holy Spirit in our lives.

The very power that raised Jesus Christ from the dead, and performs miracle upon miracle every day for us, is living within us.  We have been given the strength and ability to do everything that God desires through submission to the Spirit of God.  Once we yield our stubborn hearts to God, our burdens will be light, and our yokes will be easy, for God Himself will do all the difficult work.

A Qualifying Question

Let’s ask a question:  Am I allowing the Spirit of God to do all of the heavy lifting in my life through submission to His Spirit and obedience to His word?

A short prayer of preparation:

Father in Heaven, You have provided us with a way to be obedient to You.  Help me today to yield my spirit to Yours so that You would have control in my life.  You know everything that will happen before it happens, and You can provide the wisdom to guide me through it.  Help me to submit to You in obedience to Your word, that You would be honored and glorified before men.  This I ask in Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Want more?  Why not try A. B. Simpson or A. W. Tozer?

Sleeping in Christ – Isaiah 57:1-2

And We Await His Coming

1 The righteous perish,
    and no one takes it to heart;
the devout are taken away,
    and no one understands
that the righteous are taken away
    to be spared from evil.
Those who walk uprightly
    enter into peace;
    they find rest as they lie in death.

Slumbering Saints

What happens when the Saints of God shed their bodies?  To be absent from the body is to be present with the LordJesus referred to it as sleep:

He went in and said to them, “Why all this commotion and wailing? The child is not dead but asleep.”

11 After he had said this, he went on to tell them, “Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep; but I am going there to wake him up.” 12 His disciples replied, “Lord, if he sleeps, he will get better.” 13 Jesus had been speaking of his death, but his disciples thought he meant natural sleep.

Paul also indicated that those whose mortal bodies are no longer alive are sleeping:

That is why many among you are weak and sick, and a number of you have fallen asleep.

After that, he appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers and sisters at the same time, most of whom are still living, though some have fallen asleep.

18 Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ are lost. 19 If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are of all people most to be pitied. 20 But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep.

14 For we believe that Jesus died and rose again, and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him. 15 According to the Lord’s word, we tell you that we who are still alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will certainly not precede those who have fallen asleep.

Brothers and sisters, we do not want you to be uninformed about those who sleep in death, so that you do not grieve like the rest of mankind, who have no hope.

51 Listen, I tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed— 52 in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. 53 For the perishable must clothe itself with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality. 54 When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true: “Death has been swallowed up in victory.”

A Pleasing Promise

It is a glorious thing to think about – that although our bodies have failed, our spirits will be with the Lord when our mortal flesh fails us.  And we await the Coming of the Lord in the skies when those who are still (mortally) alive are gathered up to greet Him in the clouds with the saints that have fallen asleep!

13 Brothers and sisters, we do not want you to be uninformed about those who sleep in death, so that you do not grieve like the rest of mankind, who have no hope. 14 For we believe that Jesus died and rose again, and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him. 15 According to the Lord’s word, we tell you that we who are still alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will certainly not precede those who have fallen asleep. 16 For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. 17 After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever. 18 Therefore encourage one another with these words.

Graciously Grabbed

The Greek word for “caught up” is  harpagEsometha (from harpazo), which means “shall be being snatched (away).”  It will happen in an instant.  We will literally be seized.  Jesus referred to it this way:

36 “But about that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. 37 As it was in the days of Noah, so it will be at the coming of the Son of Man. 38 For in the days before the flood, people were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, up to the day Noah entered the ark; 39 and they knew nothing about what would happen until the flood came and took them all away. That is how it will be at the coming of the Son of Man. 40 Two men will be in the field; one will be taken and the other left. 41 Two women will be grinding with a hand mill; one will be taken and the other left.”

Readiness Required

There is a second kind of sleep.  The one where we aren’t paying attention.  We get so caught up in our daily lives that we can sometimes forget that we need to be preparing for the return of Jesus:

 1 “At that time the kingdom of heaven will be like ten virgins who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom. Five of them were foolish and five were wise. The foolish ones took their lamps but did not take any oil with them. The wise ones, however, took oil in jars along with their lamps. The bridegroom was a long time in coming, and they all became drowsy and fell asleep.

“At midnight the cry rang out: ‘Here’s the bridegroom! Come out to meet him!’

“Then all the virgins woke up and trimmed their lamps. The foolish ones said to the wise, ‘Give us some of your oil; our lamps are going out.’

“‘No,’ they replied, ‘there may not be enough for both us and you. Instead, go to those who sell oil and buy some for yourselves.’

10 “But while they were on their way to buy the oil, the bridegroom arrived. The virgins who were ready went in with him to the wedding banquet. And the door was shut.

11 “Later the others also came. ‘Lord, Lord,’ they said, ‘open the door for us!’

12 “But he replied, ‘Truly I tell you, I don’t know you.’

13 “Therefore keep watch, because you do not know the day or the hour.

The Qualifying Question

So, let’s ask ourselves a question:  Are we prepared for our sleep, or the return of Jesus?

A short prayer of preparation:

Father in Heaven, I thank you for Your Word, as it illuminates every aspect of my life, and brings light into my darkness.  Purge me of all darkness that I may be a light set upon a hill, and that Your Son, Jesus Christ, would shine through me to a wicked and lost generation.  Help me to be prepared for the great day when Your Son returns in glory and splendor.  Help me to be prepared, for I do not know when my life will be required of me by You.  Guard me against worldliness and the attractions of wealth and comfort.  I know, Lord God, that these things are meant to be enjoyed and used for Your glory.  Help me to keep everything in its proper place in the life You have give me.  Help me to remember that separation from those who have fallen asleep is only for a very brief time, and that we will be reunited with You shortly.  Bless all who are called by Your Name and whose names are written in the book of life.  Remember, divinely act upon, all who do not know You, for You have said in Your word that You want all to come to repentance and salvation.  May Your name be blessed and praised forever and ever, Amen.

Want more?  Why not try A. B. Simpson or A. W. Tozer?

Worshipping God – Psalm 46:10

He says, “Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.”

The imperative command, “Be still!”, is very interesting.  It is translated in Young’s Literal Translation of the Bible as “Desist!” Another good way to translate this is “Cease striving!”

How often we strive!  As we go about our daily lives, we take our eyes off of God and try to do things our own way.  God offers us this wonderful place of refuge in Himself, yet we keep trying to change our circumstances ourselves.  We do not avail ourselves of our fortress, our hiding place, our place of rest.  Instead, we worry, we scheme, we fret; we forget that it is God who is sovereign.  When we cease striving, and (experientially) know that the LORD is God, we are able to properly put everything back into perspective.

We then can relax a bit, knowing that the Lord is taking care of our circumstances.  When we step back and do this, we are also better able to properly worship our loving Father.  We get to see with greater clarity the ways in which He works.  We see our prayers being answered, and know for sure that it was God – because we stopped trying to do it ourselves.  It isn’t until we cease striving that God is able to fully manifest Himself in our circumstances and bring the greatest glory to Himself.  Then will we be able to say that God is our refuge.

What issue has you frazzled today?  What deep and abiding pain just won’t go away?  Take God’s advice:  Cease striving, and know that He is God.  Let him enter into your circumstances in a greater capacity, and allow Him to reveal Himself to you in a deeper, more intimate way.

A short prayer of preparation:

Father in Heaven, I come before you today to praise You and worship You as Almighty God.  Too often in this life do I try to do things when You earnestly seek to show me new facets of Yourself – if I would only stop and let You.  Guide me, comfort me, and show me how to step back from these issues so that You would be glorified.  Help me to find rest in You as You work these things out.  This I ask in the name of Your Most Beloved Son, Jesus Christ, Amen.

Want more?  Why not try A. B. Simpson or A. W. Tozer?