Serving Jesus from a place of rest - Download This Episode
The title of my message today is “Serving Jesus from a place of rest”. This message has been on my heart for the last few months. I touched on our Bible reading in the December newsletter and it has been building since then.
All of us know what it is to be busy, some of us know what it is to be too busy. We experience busyness of life and work, the busyness of kids and school, the busyness of church and serving in volunteer roles and some even experience the busyness of retirement. Rather than winding down, retirement for some is a winding up! We all probably know what it is at times to feel like we are two steps behind our bodies. This is how my Mum described the tiredness of working 35 years as a night shift nurse.
Today I want to share this message as a new year is upon us and many of the things we do are starting to wind up. So before all the rush begins I want us to stop and reflect on the call of Jesus that is found in today’s reading.
Matthew 11:28-30 says, “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.”
At the heart of these verses is an invitation. An invitation to come to Jesus and an invitation to live differently. Today I want to share four things I love about this passage.
1. Jesus invites us to Himself
Jesus says, “Come to Me”. He invites everyone to come and get to know Him and spend time with Him. It is a personal invitation, but it is also to everyone. We see this in the “all who are weary”. It is an invitation to intimacy like He has with His Father.
In the New Testament, we see that Jesus often drew aside to spend time alone with His Father. In Mark 1:35 it says, “Before daybreak the next morning, Jesus got up and went out to an isolated place to pray.” He needed time alone with His Father to connect with Him and receive orders.
He also called the disciples away to be alone with Him. In Mark 6:31-32 “Then Jesus said, “Let’s go off by ourselves to a quiet place and rest awhile.” He said this because there were so many people coming and going that Jesus and His apostles didn’t even have time to eat. 32 So they left by boat for a quiet place, where they could be alone.”
In my life as a Christian I have heard an audible voice from God twice. Once was when I was in a very busy period of work and ministry and I was staying up late to finish things off after everyone went to bed. In the midst of this work I heard a voice say “Dave”. It was different to the normal sound of my name being said. It was strong and firm, but calming and inviting all in one. It stopped me in my tracks. I walked in to Larissa hoping it was her. She was sound asleep. It was then I realised it was God. I said yes Lord and went and sat in my chair that I did my devotions in. Over the next hour or so I just sat in God’s presence. I didn’t say much. He didn’t say much, but I just sat. I felt a peace and a presence that melted all my stress and worry away. I was weary and God called me to come to Him. The other time I heard an audible was my name again. This time it was when Larissa was in hospital and I was home with two small kids. I had been awake for 24 hours and God said “Dave” again. I sat in His presence again and the same thing happened, my stress and weariness melted away.
Jesus invites us to Himself. He wants us to spend alone time with Him. He promises help for those of us who are weary. So to be effective in serving Jesus from a place of rest, remember Jesus invites us to Himself first.
2. Jesus invites us to take on His yoke
In old style farming a yoke was used to join two animals together. Side by side they would work, until the work was done. Often an older more experienced animal was put with a younger animal. By working with the older animal, the younger one would learn what to do and be under better control.
By using the yoke analogy, Jesus invites us to partner in the work He is already doing in the world and take on His teachings. It is a very different yoke that the religious leaders of Jesus’ day who loaded people up with all types of rules, regulations and works. Jesus invites us to work in His mission field and walk in His ways. In this life, it is easy to get caught up in doing all kinds of “good” things and fulfilling our “religious duties”, but Jesus invites us to be involved in His work and walk with Him. To put on His yoke and join in with Him. It is a much lighter yoke with a much lighter burden.
In John 15:1-5 it Jesus reminds us of the importance of being connected to Him when He says, “I am the true grapevine, and My Father is the gardener. 2 He cuts off every branch of Mine that doesn’t produce fruit, and He prunes the branches that do bear fruit so they will produce even more. 3 You have already been pruned and purified by the message I have given you. 4 Remain in Me, and I will remain in you. For a branch cannot produce fruit if it is severed from the vine, and you cannot be fruitful unless you remain in Me. 5 “Yes, I am the vine; you are the branches. Those who remain in Me, and I in them, will produce much fruit. For apart from Me you can do nothing.
When we are connected to the Vine with His yoke upon us we are at our most effective. We receive life, energy and wisdom from the Creator of the universe. We also receive the direction that being yoked to Christ can bring.
So to be effective in serving Jesus from a place of rest, it is important to take on His yoke and not the yoke of the world.
3. Jesus invites us to learn from Him
Jesus wants to teach us a different way to live. Jesus wants us to follow Him just like He asked the first disciples to follow Him. He promises that He will be gentle and teach us from a humble heart. I don’t know about you, but that is my kind of teacher.
How do we learn from Jesus today?
- We read and memorise the words He said in the Bible – the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 5-7 is a great place to start.
- We read and reflect on His interactions with the people He met – Matthew chapter 8 onwards deals with this.
- We read the prayers He prayed – The Lord’s Prayer (Matthew 6:9-13) and Jesus’ prayer for the disciples in John 17.
- We see how Jesus dealt with temptation from the devil and how He responded with Scripture three times in Matthew 4:1-11.
Not only can we learn from Jesus, we can also learn from the other writers of the New Testament. In a number of places in the New Testament the Apostle Paul likens this life to running a race.
Hebrews 12:1 – Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us.
The important thought in Paul’s writing is running the race that God has set before us and to run with endurance. As I said it is easy to get caught up in doing all types of good things, but the best way is to throw ourselves into the things that God has created for us to do and planned before the world began (Ephesians 2:10). And to run with endurance means to pace ourselves. We can’t sprint at the start of a marathon as we would pass out quickly. We need to run at a pace we can sustain to finish the distance. That is what it is like serving God.
So to be effective in serving Jesus from a place of rest, we must learn from Him and the other writers of the NT.
4. Jesus promises us rest and peace
The last thing we can learn from these three simple verses is that Jesus promises us peace. If we respond to Jesus’ invite to come to Him, to take on His yoke and to learn from Him, He promises us peace.
John 14:27 – “I am leaving you with a gift–peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give. So don’t be troubled or afraid.
Psalms 29:11 – The LORD gives His people strength. The LORD blesses them with peace.
The peace Jesus gives us is a peace not of this world. It is a peace that calms us in the middle of the storm. It is a peace that lets us know God is in control though the world around us is failing. It is a peace that knows the eternal God has everything, even our eternal destiny, under control.
My weariness test
Before I finish I want to do the weariness test that I give myself every now and then. I want to use the letters of the word weary.
W – Am I working day and night? Or am I waiting on the Lord and responding to His promptings?
E – Does everything depend on me to get done? Or does everything depend on God and I just play my part?
A – Am I always rushing around? Or am I allowed to relax and have time off to do the things I enjoy?
R – Am I restless? Or am I resting in Christ?
Y – Am I saying yes to everyone and everything? Or am I yielded to God?
If my answers were more on the left, I may be weary and need to hear Jesus’ call afresh to “Come to me all who are weary?”
As I said earlier at the heart of these three simple verses are an invitation from Jesus…
1. Jesus invites us to Come to Him
2. Jesus invites us to Take on His yoke
3. Jesus invites us to Learn from Him
When we do, we experience His peace. A peace that is not of this world. And we can run the race in a way that does not make us weary.