Encouragement From The Word

He will carry you through

This weekend marks the unofficial end of summer; though the meteorologists tend to think of it this way, astronomical summer doesn’t end, of course, until much later this month!  There are traditional celebrations of labour, but mostly, it’s either a scramble to get ready for back-to-school, or it’s that one final excuse to take it easy before the fall season ramps up.

Back-to-school has a lot more gravitas to it this year, doesn’t it?  There’s controversy over potential job action, over vaccinations, over masking policies, over safety…it’s a lot to take in, and a lot to manage for those who are most affected.

In the midst of the craziness, the weight, even the fear, let me encourage you to renew your trust in the Lord.  Just as yesterday was no surprise to him, neither is today, or tomorrow, or the next day, or the next day.  We serve the Lord of all time and space.  He wants to guide you through whatever this next week (or weeks) will bring.

Let me offer you a guided prayer; you can use this as a jump-start to your own prayer for the day, the weekend, and the weeks to come:

Lord, you know my situation (you can describe it to God here).  Thank you for having been with me through all I’ve dealt with, good or bad, in the past.  You have been trustworthy; help me to renew my trust in you today, knowing with confidence that whatever I face, you will be with me.  Pour out your Holy Spirit upon me, that I will be able to discern well what is your will for my life.  Help me to accept Jesus’ invitation, to come to him with my weariness and my burdens, so that he can give me rest.  Enable me to unload my own burden and to take his yoke upon me, which is easy…or, at least, easier, because of your grace at work in my life.  I ask this in Jesus’ name…

Consider the chorus of an old hymn by Horatio Palmer.  It calls God’s people to avoid temptation, but I think the words of the chorus apply even to those who are dealing with craziness, weight, and fear of what the new season will bring:

Ask the Saviour to help you,

Comfort, strengthen, and keep you;

He is willing to aid you,

He will carry you through.

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. For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light’” (Matthew 11.28-30, NLT).

Encouragement From The Word

God’s concoction: rest

I was talking with a group of people the other day about busyness, and how our society glorifies it.  Anytime you ask someone, “How are you?”, you’ll get the reply, “Great.  I’m so busy.”

Even the church sometimes glorifies busyness.  We would look askance at a pastor, for example, who said she or he was always bored.  We’d be thinking, Why aren’t you doing your job?

But there’s doing your job, and then there’s slowly killing yourself.

This isn’t a cry for help – I have lots on my plate, but I also take a weekly Sabbath, a day for rest from my regular work that allows me to be refreshed for the week to come.  Yet I think we all need a reminder that the glory of busyness is entirely a worldly concoction.

The idea of Sabbath, where one day in seven is set aside for worship and rest, is God’s concoction.  He modelled it for us in creation.  In Genesis 1, we see that he made the world and everything in it in six days, and on the seventh day, he rested.

Why did he do that?  Is God so weak that he needs time off?

Not at all!  He rested on the seventh day so that his covenant people would see their own need for a day of rest.

In ancient Hebrew culture, this day of rest grew to have all manner of laws and rules attached to it.  A friend of mine, a few years ago, was out for a walk in his neighbourhood when a lady called him to her door.  He thought she was in distress, but she had a small task for him:  to turn on her oven.  She was Jewish.  It was the Sabbath.  She wasn’t allowed to turn on her oven on the Sabbath…laws and rules.

He turned on her oven and carried on with his stroll.

Jesus reminded his followers that the Sabbath was made for humanity, and not the other way around.  He even healed on the Sabbath, which the Pharisees considered work.

Rarely, though, do we give much thought to how we observe Sabbath, mostly because we’re not very good at observing it at all.

Let me encourage you to view Sabbath not as a law, but as a gift.  On whatever day you are able to take a Sabbath, accept Jesus’ invitation:  “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. For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light” (Matthew 11.28-30, NLT).

Work hard.  And rest in the Lord.

Encouragement From The Word

I heard the watch ticking

Donald Grey Barnhouse once told the story of a man who operated an ice house and lost his watch in the sawdust.  (You know it’s an old story when it’s talking about keeping ice cool with sawdust!)  He wanted his watch back badly, and offered a reward to anyone who could find it.  Many people went through the sawdust, by hand and with rakes, but to no avail.

A young boy went into the ice house after all the searching was done, and he came back out with the watch.

How did he find it?

“I just lay down in the sawdust and listened, and finally I heard the watch ticking.”

You may not have lost your watch, but in the busyness of life, you may be missing something else:  your body and soul may be out of sync.  Your relationship with God may be off the rails.  Your spiritual disciplines may be not all you wish they were.

With kids out of school and summer finally here, perhaps this is your opportunity to lay down in the sawdust and hear the watch ticking.  Maybe now is the time to let your body and soul catch up with each other, to re-rail your relationship with God, to beef up your spiritual disciplines.  You have the chance to gain some rest…in the Lord.

Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest” (Jesus, Matthew 11.28, NLT).

Biblical Messages, Uncategorized

From Judgment to Rest

“Come to me, all you who are weary…and I will give you rest.”  Many are familiar with these words of Jesus, but do we realize what their context is?  The section right before Jesus utters these words unique to the Gospel of Matthew finds him condemning entire communities where he and his miracles were well known, but the response was underwhelming.  The key question in this message is, “How will you witness for Jesus?”

Based on Matthew 11.20-30 in The Message, you can listen to the message here:

Biblical Messages

The Yoke’s on You!

In the midst of summer’s last gasp, as those going back to school might phrase it, we can do a gut check and ask ourselves if we got enough rest this summer. I learned a lesson as I began my vacation – a lesson in rest, a lesson passed on in today’s message, based on Matthew 11.20-30. Listen here: