Sun, Sep 09, 2001

ENTER MY REST! MATTHEW 11:28-30

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Ministry of Pastor Joe Guglielmo teachings through the Bible, verse by verse for a better understanding of Gods Word.
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ENTER MY REST!
MATTHEW 11:28-30
 

Please turn in your Bibles to Matthew chapter 11 as we look at the rest we have in Jesus. Many times, when we try to rest, things just don’t go the way they are suppose to, the way we want them to go, as you will see in this story called Shell Top Camper from Gayle Erwin’s book, "That Reminds Me Of Another Story..." Gayle says:

Many years of pastoring the same church resulted in a whole month of vacation every year for the pastor and his wife. Their favorite form of vacation was camping in a pickup with a camper shell. One particular year, as they neared the end of another joyous rest and they made their way home, they found themselves further away on Saturday night than they planned. It would be necessary for them to drive all night to be back in time for him to preach the next morning.

As the journey droned on, the pastor finally said to his wife, "I can’t do it. I am already sleepy and it isn’t safe for me to continue driving."

She responded, "But we have to continue on. You are expected back in the morning." He drove a while longer and finally gave up. All was not lost.

His wife said, "I am not sleepy. Let me drive. You can get in the back of the camper and go to sleep while I drive."

Excellent idea. They stopped. He got out and walked back and into the camper, took off all his clothes except his shorts and settled into a deep sleep while his wife drove.

After a couple of hours, she became a little drowsy herself and almost missed a stop sign on a lonely wilderness stretch of road. In fact, she had to put the pickup into a power stop that caused it to shudder violently to a stop. She hoped that it didn’t wake up her husband in the back; however, he woke with a start and immediately thought, "Oh no, we’ve had a wreck."

He quickly, but groggily, stumbled out the back of the camper to look around and see what she had hit. At that moment, his wife had regained her composure and sped off into the dark wilderness. He ran and yelled to no avail.

Now, here he was dressed only in his shorts beside this almost deserted road in the middle of the night. As the occasional car passed, he would try to flag a ride. But they would only speed up. Finally, a highway patrol man drove along, stopped and asked just what was he doing beside the road dressed only in his shorts.

"Well, I am a pastor and..."

"Sure you are! Here, breathe into this balloon and walk this line."

Finally, sobriety at least proved, they took him to the station and a quick phone call to one of his elders at the church verified to the police that this was, indeed, the pastor of their church. After all the chuckles, clothes were provided and money loaned to charter a light plane to fly him on home.

One problem: he got home before his wife and didn’t have a key to get in, so he sat on the front steps to wait for her. Sure enough, just before dawn, the headlights of the pickup turned onto their street. As she turned into the driveway, the light fell on her husband and she was so shocked that she hit the accelerator rather than the brake and demolished the garage.

End of story. However, I often wonder what went through the mind of the elder who knew the story and whether he was able to keep a straight face as his pastor spoke that morning.

- Gayle Erwin, That Reminds Me Of Another Story..., pp. 117-119

Obviously that was not the kind of rest he was looking for nor is it the kind of rest we want. And often, our rests seem to turn out like that. Here in Matthew chapter 11 we are going to see Jesus offer to us a "rest for our souls" that may be far different from what you are thinking right now. As you will see this morning, this rest is not speaking of an absence of activity or trouble or work. With that said, let’s read through our text beginning in verse 28 of Matthew chapter 11, and see what the Lord has for us this morning!

MATTHEW 11:28-30

Notice the invitation that Jesus gives to the Jewish people, "Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest." Matthew 11:28. Why would He make such a statement? What was the reason these people were laboring, feeling the unrelenting weight of this world upon their lives? What work were they doing that they needed rest from?

Their desire to find God through a works relationship was more than they could handle, the task that was before them was overwhelming. In fact, the task was an impossible one no matter how much they did. And the reality was, and is, the more they did and the more we do, the heavier the weight becomes until we are weary and in despair. It ends up reaching a point of placing that straw that broke the camel’s back, and we are broken. There is no comfort, there is no hope, there is no rest, but the works just continue on with no assurance of salvation! Just ask anyone who believes you have to do this and do that to be saved. That is religion, and every religion has a set of rules, a set of works that you must do to get into heaven. I am sorry to ruin this for some of you, no I’m really not, you see, the reality is that Christianity is God reaching down and saving sinful man. Do you see how refreshing that is! There is a rest for our souls in that!

If you are exhausted in your efforts to try and find God, then listen carefully to what Jesus said, "Come to Me!" He did not say "Work to Me!" Nor did He say "Do these things to get to Me!" Or "If you meet these standards, you can get to Me!" He said to "Come to Me!" That is an open invitation for all who can hear. The heavy burden speaks of sin and our efforts to appease God, to be reconciled to God by doing works.

Remember what Jesus said in Matthew 23:4, "For they bind heavy burdens, hard to bear, and lay them on men's shoulders; but they themselves will not move them with one of their fingers." You see, the Orthodox Jewish Religion had become a thing of burdens, of doing this and doing that to make you more acceptable before God. It was a righteousness that was based on the law, a series of "Thou shall not..." And that list gets longer and longer and it makes people more and more frustrated, weighed down and seeing their own spiritual bankruptcy as they try to save themselves, and of course they can’t.

Now Jesus comes on the scene and He says, "Thou shall..." And He tells them that they don’t have to work any more for their salvation, just receive it by faith. You see, you can rest in the finished work of Christ on the cross of Calvary, that He paid in full the price for our sins, the penalty for our sins! Even in the Old Testament we see this truth, that they were saved by faith.

In Romans 3:28-31, listen to what Paul says, "Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith apart from the deeds of the law. Or is He the God of the Jews only? Is He not also the God of the Gentiles? Yes, of the Gentiles also, since there is one God who will justify the circumcised by faith and the uncircumcised through faith. Do we then make void the law through faith? Certainly not! On the contrary, we establish the law." That does not negate the law, for the law is perfect. The problem is that we are not, and the law only points to our sinfulness, our shortcomings, our failure to be perfect like our Father in heaven.

Because of that, listen carefully to what Paul goes on to say in Romans 4:1-5 regarding Abraham. We read, "What then shall we say that Abraham our father has found according to the flesh? For if Abraham was justified by works, he has something to boast about, but not before God. For what does the Scripture say? ‘Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness."’ Now to him who works, the wages are not counted as grace but as debt. But to him who does not work but believes on Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is accounted for righteousness."

Faith is an abstract idea but now Paul puts a face on it by pointing to Abraham to show what true faith is all about. You see, Abraham, who lived hundreds of years before the law was established, trusted in God by faith that the Messiah would come and because of that he was accounted as righteous, not because of his works. His works were done out of love, his salvation came by faith! And that was true of all the Old Testament saints, they looked to the coming of the Messiah by faith and we as New Testament saints look back to His finished work on Calvary!

In Hebrews chapter 11, in the Great Hall of Faith section, we see men like Abel, Enoch, Noah, Abraham and Sarah, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Moses, Joshua and others, and the focus is not their works. Some 18 times out of 40 verses in this chapter we see the phrase "By faith..." and not once do we see the phrase "By works..." And these Heros of Faith are to be examples to us of the kind of life that God desires, a life of faith!

And the reality of trying to live by the law, be justified by the law, is you have some major hurdles to overcome, in fact, impossible ones. You see, James 2:10 says "For whoever shall keep the whole law, and yet stumble in one point, he is guilty of all." In other words, if you are going to live by the law you are also going to die by it. You can keep the majority of the law and yet just stumble in one area, like you lied, and you would be guilty of the entire law. And none of us are even close to living that kind of life. You see, the law won’t save you, it will only point out your weaknesses, your shortcomings. It is Jesus who says, "Come to Me"and when we do, when we come to Him by faith, receiving Him as Lord and Savior, that we will receive the forgiveness of sins and His righteousness will be imputed into our lives. Our salvation is by faith, and thus, all we can do is receive it, and yet, now some are saying that to maintain it you have to do this and do that. Wrong! Paul said in Galatians 3:3 to the Galatians and to all of those who are trying to maintain their faith by works "Are you so foolish? Having begun in the Spirit, are you now being made perfect by the flesh?" If you truly believe that you can, then Paul says you are foolish. God is not only the author of our faith, but the finisher of our faith!

It is as W. B. Yates, the great Irish poet and mystic wrote: "Can one reach God by toil? He gives Himself to the pure in heart. He asks nothing but our attention." Give your attention to Jesus, come to Him and receive the free gift of life, as Paul said in Ephesians 2:8-9, "For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast."

Now Matthew 11:28, I believe, deals with our salvation. It is after we have given our lives to Jesus, experience the peace of God through Jesus, after we have asked Him to be Lord and Savior of our lives, that we hear Him say "Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light." Matthew 11:29-30.

We know that Jesus was a carpenter working in his father’s carpentry shop until His earthly ministry began at around the age of 30. And when we think of carpenter’s we tend to think of people who build houses, frame homes. The only problem was that most of the homes were made of stone during that period of time. So then what did Jesus make? Jesus probably made wooden yokes for the oxen!

What they would do is the farmer would bring his ox to the shop and the carpenter would measure the ox carefully so that the yoke would fit him perfectly. After the initial measurements were made, the carpenter would then start cutting the wood and shaping the yoke to fit the ox. After it was roughed out, then the farmer would bring the ox back to the shop and the carpenter would place the yoke upon him, and he would carefully adjust the yoke so that it would fit him perfectly. You might say that it was a tailored made fit yoke for each ox!

How does that relate to us today? As Christians, once we come to Christ, He places His yoke upon us and it is a perfect fit! You see, by allowing Him to place His yoke upon us, we are saying to Him that we are submitting our lives to His control. He has a plan, He has a purpose for our lives and He wants to guide us, lead us, direct us down that path He has set.

And it is not just coming to Him by faith, asking Him to be Lord and Savior of our lives. It is not just allowing Him to place His perfectly fitting yoke upon our lives. It is also learning from Him! Why? Because we then will know His will for our lives! People are always wondering what God’s will is, but they really are not interested in it many times because it goes against their own will, so they don’t listen. And we are all guilty of that from time-to-time!

My pastor has heard people say "Will you pray and ask God if it is His will for me to marry an unbeliever?" "No! I don’t need to pray! It is not His will that you marry an unbeliever!" Now some are upset by that. Making a statement like that without even praying about it. How can a person do that? Because God has already told us His will in this situation in His Word.

Paul, in II Corinthians 6:14-18 says "Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers. For what fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness? And what communion has light with darkness? And what accord has Christ with Belial? Or what part has a believer with an unbeliever? And what agreement has the temple of God with idols? For you are the temple of the living God. As God has said: ‘I will dwell in them and walk among them. I will be their God, and they shall be My people.’ Therefore ‘Come out from among them and be separate, says the Lord. Do not touch what is unclean, and I will receive you.’ ‘I will be a Father to you, and you shall be My sons and daughters, says the Lord Almighty.’"

I think that is very clear and straightforward. If you doubt that for a minute talk with Pastor Chuck out in Costa Mesa, California and ask about the number of counseling sessions their books are filled with for people that have married an unsaved person, and now their lives are a mess. And I will tell you this, there is no rest in disobeying God’s Word! People who are running from God, not listening to Him are uneasy, anxious, and on the run!

But as you read God’s Word and apply it to your life, there is great blessing, there is great reward, there is rest for your souls! It is as the Psalmist said in Psalm 119:127-133,"Therefore I love Your commandments more than gold, yes, than fine gold! Therefore all Your precepts concerning all things I consider to be right; I hate every false way. Your testimonies are wonderful; therefore my soul keeps them. The entrance of Your words gives light; it gives understanding to the simple. I opened my mouth and panted, for I longed for Your commandments. Look upon me and be merciful to me, as Your custom is toward those who love Your name. Direct my steps by Your word, and let no iniquity have dominion over me." And the whole Psalm deals with God’s Word and how it works in our lives! Out of the 176 verses in this Psalm, only 2 verses don’t deal directly with God’s Word. To bad we don’t see that more often in the churches today, a majority on the Word of God being taught! You see, there is truly rest for our souls as we read and apply God’s Word to our lives!

Lastly, Jesus says "For My yoke is easy and My burden is light." Matthew 11:30. The yoke that Jesus gives to us is easy, and the Greek word that is used for "easy" is CHRESTOS, which means well-fitting! There are times in my life when things are tough, irritating, they rub me the wrong way, and that is because I have placed upon my life one of those yokes that sell for $19.95 and if you send in your order now, you can get a slice and dicer also! And obviously those yokes don’t fit, that is why they rub us the wrong way! The thing that I need to do when I feel this way and the thing you need to do as you are going through tough times, is give it to the Lord.

David, in Psalm 55:22 said, "Cast your burden on the LORD, and He shall sustain you; he shall never permit the righteous to be moved." Then, in the New Testament we are told"casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you." I Peter 5:7. When we do, when we allow His yoke to be placed upon us, then there is that perfect fit and the weight of the world, those burdens are removed and given to Him because He can handle them. Thus, we can then rest in Him even though things we are going through are tough. We are guided by him, knowing He has control of our lives and He has a purpose for our lives, doing those things that are best for us, even though they might not be easy, He is building our faith. And people, things will not rub you the wrong way!

I think that is important for us to understand and remember. Whatever God sends us is made to fit our needs and abilities exactly, perfectly, tailored-made! Now the problem also comes when we do things out of a selfish heart, to satisfy self, not to serve God and to serve man. And what happens is the task becomes a burden to us, it becomes heavy, and we find no rest, just anxiety, exhausted, and uneasiness!

The problem is simple, you are serving man instead of God! One Rabbi put it this way. He said: "My burden has become my song!" What does that mean? He is saying that the burden may not be easy, but when it is done out of love, the heaviest burden becomes light! It is then that we can sing, for when we love what we are doing, when we are doing it out of love, when we are doing it unto the Lord, there is joy and there is song, at least there should be!

There is an old story which tells of how a man came upon a little boy who was carrying a still smaller boy, who was lame, upon his back. The man said to the boy carrying the load, "That’s a heavy burden for you to carry!" The boy responded by saying, "That’s no burden. That’s my wee brother." You see, the burden which is given in love and carried in love is always light!

May we as Christians understand that Jesus wants to give us rest, His rest. Not an absence of activity, or a problem-free life, but a rest that is found in Him and Him alone. You see, in Christ I do not need sleeping pills, tranquilizers, or anything else to help me rest, I just need to draw close to Him, learn from Him, take His yoke upon me, and in that I will find rest for my soul.

Again, in this life we will have problems, trials, labors, heartaches, and-so-on. The thing we need to remember is we do not have to bear those loads all alone! Jesus wants to carry them with us. As I begin to rap things up this morning, let me share with you this story called Yokes Heavier End. It goes like this:

John T. Faris tells the story of a man who was carrying a heavy basket. His son offered to help him. The father cut a large stick and placed it through the handle of the basket so that the end toward himself was very short, while the end toward the boy was three or four times as long. Each took hold of his end of the stick, and the basket was lifted and carried easily.

The son was bearing the burden with the father. But he found his work easy and light because his father assumed the heavier end of the load. So it is when we live for Jesus Christ. "Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me...for my yolk is easy, and my burden is light" (Matthew 11:29-30).

- Martin M. Hyzer

Listen carefully. Before the weight of sin can be removed from your life, you must come to Christ. It is as we make peace WITH God that we can experience the peace OF God in our lives. Paul points that out very clearly in Romans 5:1, where he says, "Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ." You see, first you make peace WITH God through Jesus and then you can experience His peace in your life. Without that, you can’t experience His peace. Paul said in Philippians 4:6-7 this very thing. We read "Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus."

Then we need to allow the yoke of God to be placed upon our lives so that He may guide us as we study His Word, learn of Him. It is as the Lord told Joshua, "This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate in it day and night, that you may observe to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success." Joshua 1:8. You see, in God’s Word and His direction we find rest for our souls!

It is a perfect fitting yoke if we would only submit to His authority and His leading, He wants to help carry us through this life if we would only let Him and wait upon Him, rest in Him, as Isaiah 40:31 tells us, "But those who wait on the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint."

Do you want to be strong, renewed? Do you want to fly, to soar for Christ? Do you want to forge ahead in the work of Christ? Do you want to finish the race? Then rest in Him and wait upon Him, for His yoke is easy and His burden is light!

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