“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.” Matthew 11:28-30
Perhaps it’s morning when you are reading this. Your day is just beginning, yet your heart is already heavy. Or maybe it’s the end of the day and you feel weakened by the burdens you have taken on. Rest in the kindest person there ever was. Let his words soothe and strengthen you.
Perhaps you have taken on more then what God is asking you to, physically or emotionally. Christ himself makes it clear that his yoke is easy and his burden is light. If your yoke is too heavy, perhaps you aren’t supposed to be carrying it in the first place. Learn from Jesus. Refusing wrong yokes won’t necessarily feel natural to you. But ask and learn. As you do, he will strengthen your ability to know the difference, so you might enjoy his rest.
Then the apostles returned to Jerusalem from the hill called the Mount of Olives, a Sabbath day’s from the city. when they arrived, they went upstairs to the room where they were staying. Those present were Peter, John, James, and Andrew; Philip and Thomas, Bartholomew and Matthew: James son of Alphaeus and Simon the Zealot, and Judas son of James. They were all joined together constantly in prayer, along with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus and with his brothers. Acts 1:12-14
Imagine what it would have been like to be those women who gathered with the apostles ( I would have love that) at the very beginning of the early church. It would have been exciting to experience the presence and power of the Holy Spirit. Excitement would also have been mixed with fears, doubts, and quite possibly the ridicule of outsiders. Nevertheless, all the followers of Jesus were united and prayed together often. Here, there was no distinction between people groups or gender. All could play a part in establishing God’s kingdom on earth.
It is important to remember that God desires unity in the church in the same way that the early apostles did. If you are part of a church or community of believers, then your presence and affirmation is needed to encourage the church. Don’t let the enemy tell you that you are insignificant, or that you don’t need to attend that prayer meeting. Actively engage with other Christ followers so that you can be encouraged as well.
For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angles nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 8:38-39
Love, in human terms, can become very conditional. We show love when we feel good about someone, or when they have earned our respect and trust. We find it harder to show love when we have been betrayed, dismayed, or even disobeyed! Anger, hurt, and pride can easily separate us from others.
Authentic love, from God, has been demonstrated to us through Jesus Christ, We know that he laid down his life for all humanity and that his sacrifice was not conditional on those who deserve it. For those of us who have been chosen to accept his grace, we can be convinced that nothing will separate us from his love. Nothing, Your heavenly Father loves you, completely and unconditionally.
When he had said this, Jesus called in a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out!” The dead man came out, his hands and feet wrapped with strips of linen, and a cloth around his face. Jesus said to them, “Take off the grave clothes and let him go.” John 11: 43-44
The world we live in today is a world riddled with suffering, sickness and death. The story of Lazarus is therefore good news for us. It tells us that suffering and sadness don’t have the last word. God the Father and Jesus Christ, His Son, have the final say. This does not mean that death does not exist; we as human beings suffer and die. We are not immortal. But there is one above us and out of our physical reach, whose ways and omnipotence are far beyond our understanding. He is the Lord of life and He conquered death. In the final instance your life is in His hands because he holds the power of life and death, and also the future, in His almighty hands.
Always remember to distinguish between Lazarus being raised from death and Jesus’ resurrection. Lazarus was raised from death to continue his normal life-span like other people. When Jesus was resurrected at Easter, he was transformed, transfigured and empowered. Death had no authority over Him.
Jesus offers you His life-giving presence. Put the grace of your sins, depression, selfishness and despair behind you. When you have done that, allow Jesus to set you free from former bad habits, thoughts, attitudes and memories that bind you to the past. Jesus commands you to let them go and to enjoy HIs fullness, abundance, peace, joy, faith and love.
My dove in the clefts of the rock, in the hiding places on the mountainside, show me your face, let me hear your voice, for your voice is sweet, and your face is lovely. Song of Solomon 2:14
Stress threatens to get the better of us, and sometimes we just want to hide. Remembering that secret bar of chocolate in the pantry, we may scurry off to do just that: bury ourselves away with the temporary but sweet comfort that helps the world slow down, if only for a moment.
The same instinct can arise with God. We get overwhelmed by his ministry or overdue for his forgiveness or out of touch with his Word and lose track of who he is, instead of running toward him, we hide from him and look for other ways to meet our needs. We cannot hide from him, and in love he calls out to us.
God, I cannot outrun your love for me and I don’t want to try. I choose to leave the false safety of the clefts and crannies and pantries with hidden chocolate to feel the pleasure of your friendship and love.
Immediately Jesus made the disciples get into the boat and go ahead of him to the other side while he dismissed the crowd. After he had dismissed them, he went up on a mountainside by himself to pray. Later that night he was there alone, and the boat was already a considerable distance from land, buffeted by the waves because the wind was against it. Shortly before dawn Jesus went out to them, walking on the lake. When the disciples saw him walking on the lake, they were terrified. “It’s a ghost,” they said and cried out in fear. But Jesus immediately said to them “Take courage! It is I, Don’t be afraid.” Lord, if it’s you, Peter replied, tell me to come to you on the water. Matthew 14:22-28
Have you ever stepped out in “blind faith” and said yes to something crazy that God called you to do? The valley of the decision can be long and difficult, so when you finally take that step of saying yes, we can expect everything to come together almost instantly on the other side.
But, when God calls you to get out of the boat, to walk on the water with him, you can’t expect to step out onto solid ground. Water will never be concrete. Why are we surprised at the raging waves that at the moment could sweep us under? The circumstances in life are never going to be sure. Our plans are never going to go off without a hitch. After all, we’ve trying to walk on water. But if we keep our eyes focused on his, we can walk across even the tempestuous water, as if they were simply solid ground.
Answered me quickly, Lord; my spirit fails. Do not hide your face from me or I will be like those who go down to the pit. Let the morning bring me word of your unfailing love, for I have put my trust in you. Show me the way I should go, for to you I entrust my life. Rescue me from my enemies Lord, for I hide myself in you. Teach me to do your will for you are my God; may your good Spirit lead me on level ground. Psalm 143:7-10
Walking before God on the path of righteousness can feel like an impossible task. Just when we begin to feel holy, we succumb to temptation and we fall. We are reminded all at once of our innate humanity and overwhelming need for God.
We don’t immediately know how to do God’s will when we get saved; we have to be taught. We don’t naturally begin to walk in his ways; we need to be led. The beautiful thing about salvation is that we aren’t expected to do any of it on our own. God puts his Spirit within us and leads is in righteousness on level ground. The sanctified, Christian life is only possible when we completely surrender ourselves to the grace of God, the teaching of Jesus Christ, and the leading of the Holy Spirit.