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Archive for October, 2012

Finding rest in Jesus

“Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest” Matthew 11 v 28
Jesus invites us to come to Him and discover rest.  In a busy world this is an appealing statement, often enjoyed and then forgotten as we head back to the never-ending rush.  But this is a statement that deserves our meditation, and demands a response.  It starts with an invitation to do something.  Jesus asks us to ‘Come’ to Him.  In order to receive his rest we need to first go to Him.  There is no good in us saying that we didn’t receive the rest, if we first have not gone to him!  There is so much within this statement, so let us only consider two of the most important themes.  First, who are those who ‘labor and are heavy laden’.  It is in one sense everyone who is trying to earn his or her salvation.  People, who have read the Bible, read about sin, about our need of forgiveness, and our need of saving from our ‘default position’ which is eternal separation from God.  It is not a nice thought, it is terrifying to think of this and in order to avoid this situation, we start working hard and trying to become ever more religious.  But Jesus presents a different way, the only way when He said from the cross ‘it is finished’.  He has done all that is needed for our salvation.  We can be certain of going to Heaven and not Hell, and it has nothing to do with effort on our part.  To have such a wonderful assurance, we need only do one thing:  ‘come to’ Him.  It is as simple as praying (which is talking) to Jesus, who is alive today and telling Him that you want His forgiveness.  Tell Him that you want to know Him, invite Him to be Lord of your life, and He will indeed become your Saviour, and your very best friend.  We (humanity as a whole) have turned our back on God.  Its not hard to see that in the world today, after all God is practically non existent in our understanding of the world, our lives, our thoughts and our conversations.  Instead we live in a mixed up world where we look out for ourselves without much care for others (that is one aspect of sin).  It is so easy, and yet so hard for us to ‘come’ to Jesus.  But that is all it takes.  Then we can stop striving.  He has forgiven us and we will experience amazing rest from our efforts towards salvation.  This is a controversial thing to say.  Two thousand years ago when Jesus said that He, and only He is ‘the way, the truth and the life’, it offended people, and he was killed as a result.  It has offended people ever since, but I can honestly say that I have never met anyone who believed this, and took Jesus up on his offer who was disappointed.  It is almost funny how every one of us (me included!) struggles against God and gives so many reasons to avoid Him, and then when we turn to Him it all changes.  We are a bit like a child not wanting to go to bed, but once in there you can’t get us back out again!  Unlike bed though, you can’t get too much of Jesus, who is through and through good for us, and to us.  If you are curious to know more, check out http://www.lookingforgod.com.
There is also another aspect to this verse.  Many who have indeed come to Jesus and find peace from their salvation work are still working hard and striving.  It’s not to earn salvation, but it is for some other reason.  Maybe we feel we need to please other people, or perhaps we think we need to work hard to please God.  People’s opinion of us does not matter, and God already loves us completely.  Our striving is for nothing, and Jesus invites us to rest in Him.  There is no need to work to earn approval, or ‘to get things done’.  It is done.  God has got everything covered.  He certainly invites us to become involved in His work.  Some are called to do more than others do, but none are called to save the world for God (with perhaps, but not for).  Our society worships busyness (but interestingly it rarely leads to productivity!).  If we have made an idol of busyness let us say sorry to Jesus and come to him today.  He will indeed give us rest.  This is actually something that I have struggled with for a long time.  In fact everything on this blog is something that God is working out in my own life.  It is the qualification of any teaching, or sermon, that God will work it in the teachers own life before they are qualified to teach someone else, but that is a side issue.  I have found myself a slave to the ‘to do’ list and I thank God that He has shown me that it became more important than He was in my life, in other words an idol.  It is not easy to overcome such deep-seated habits and thoughts, but it is possible if we entirely submit to God and let Him change us.  Trying to change ourselves is just futile.
On a final note, how do we come to Jesus?  It is as simple as spending time with Him.  It is turning the television off, closing the door and getting alone with the Father.  It won’t come naturally, but my only advice is stay with it.  Keep spending time with God and don’t leave His presence until you have been blessed.

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