Last week we talked in Warning: Do Not Harden Your Hearts that when we aren’t faithfully obeying our Lord, our hearts harden and we do not enter into rest (the promised land — where He wants to lead us). On Friday morning I was praying asking the Lord when and how I could ever feel rested; I am always so tired. I pulled out my phone and googled something (honestly I don’t even remember what exactly what my search was) and the first thing that popped up is a sermon which I have excerpted from below.
How do you respond when someone asks you how you are? Most Christians I am blessed, which can be an easy response. We are Christians, we are saved, we have Salvation, we are God’s children. But so many of we do not correctly deal with our burdens. We go to church Sunday morning and we raise our hands and praise and worship our Lord and our hearts are so full of joy. And then as soon as they leave the church, we go back to our lives. When we arrive at church we leave at burdens at the door but when we leave, we pick them up again. We leave all the joy, all the happiness at church. Why is that?
We take our burdens with us, we carry them we hold on to them. But that is not what Christ wants for us. He wants to give us rest from our burdens. The problem is as soon as we leave the church we pick up our burdens and start to carry them again. But Christ is willing to carry all of our burdens for us, yet so many find it hard to give them to him.
“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.” (Matthew 11:28-29) Let’s focus on two words from this passage: Burden and rest.
Actually the original text states all [ye] who labor and who are heavy laden. The Greek word used for heavy laden is – phortizo (for-tid’-zo) which literally means to load up, like they would load cargo on a ship or would load up goods on a donkey. So in the first part of this text, our Lord is addressing how He knows we ‘load up’ burdens upon ourselves. So what burdens do we ‘load up on’? Although there are many things we load upon ourselves in our spiritual life, let’s look at four of them now.
Worry: We worry about money, we worry about our jobs, we worry about our loved ones, we worry about relationships, we worry about our health. Sometimes we even worry about worrying. Do any of you do that? Our Lord told us not to worry, but for many of us, that is a hard command to follow. Many think that Jesus just does not understand how hard life is. God became flesh for a reason. God himself knows exactly what it is like to be human. God knows all the problems we face because He to faced them. And what happened? The Apostle John quoted Jesus specifically to address this John 16:33 “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” Satan loves us to worry because he knows it is nothing more than not truly trusting God. He knows that if we continue to worry about our lives, it further divides us from the Lord. Instead, we are carrying our burdens ourselves, and are not truly leaving our burdens at the cross and this creates doubt.
Doubt is another burden that He is willing to take from us and yet we hold on to it. Sometimes we listen to the world (Which is controlled by Satan for now) instead of listening to God. We believe our doubts and doubt our beliefs. When we have doubts we not only doubt ourselves, but we are also doubting God’s promises and His word. Doubt can effect anyone. Remember Peter? Peter himself had heard the voice of God. Can you imagine actually hearing God’s voice? Peter suffered from doubt at least 2 times in the bible.
We all know the story of Peter wanting to get out of the boat and meet Jesus who was walking on the water (Matthew 14:22-33). When he first stepped out of the boat he had faith. Then he started to think, then came the doubt. How can I do this, I am human, this is not possible. And when he started to doubt, like many of us, he started to sink. But then he did a very wise thing that we all should take example from. He reached out to Jesus. When we cry out to Jesus, he catches us by the hand and raises us above the seemingly impossible surroundings. That is EXACTLY what we should do every time we suffer with doubt.
Peter also doubted the night that Jesus was arrested. He expressed his doubt by denying our Lord three times. Three times he said he did not know Him. But one of my favorite redemption stories is how Jesus dealt with this. After his resurrection Jesus dealt with this. “The third time He said to him, ‘Simon son of John, do you love me?’ Peter was hurt because Jesus asked him the third time, ‘Do you love me?’ He said, ‘Lord, you know all things; you know that I love you.’ Jesus said, ‘Feed my sheep.'” (John 21:17) Jesus asked Peter do you love me? Not just once but three times. He did this to rectify Peter, to release him from his guilt. We should ask ourselves when we doubt, which in essence is denying Jesus, how many times will Jesus have to ask us if we love him? I think for most of us it is many more than three.
Strongholds are our endless containers of sin that we continuously hold on to and carry throughout our life. Strongholds can be anger, PRIDE, self- doubt, lust, laziness with our faith. and also the things mentioned before such as worry and doubt. Strongholds is exactly what it says, it is Satan’s strong hold on us. It is what keeps us from totally releasing and giving our lives to God.
Pride: Do you know anyone who carries this burden with them? Maybe you? Pride prevents us from many things. Pride prevents us from going to the cross in the first place making it impossible to leave our burdens there. Pride in ourselves and in our feelings is always put before God. That is why it is pride. “Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.” (Prov. 4:23)
Burdens, burdens, burdens and more burdens. We pile them up, we load them onto our spiritual life. Christ is willing to release us from them and yet many of us still hold on to them. We take them to the cross, lay them down and pick them up again. If we have the opportunity to get all of our burdens off of our backs, and just turn them over to GOD, and GOD has promised to sustain us, and to provide for us, and to give us whatever we ask for in the name of Jesus, then why are so many of us are still walking around with our burden bag securely fixed upon our backs?
Jesus is our burden bearer and He said “I will give you rest”. The Greek term used here for rest is anapano (reflexively) to repose; by implication, to refresh. John MacArthur best described rest this way: “Rest also means to lean on. To enter into God’s rest means that for the remainder of our lives and for all eternity we can lean on God. We can be sure that He will never fail to support us. In the new relationship with God, we can depend on Him for everything and in everything-for support, for health, for strength, for all we need.”
Is this the kind of rest you want? We have a savior that paid the price for our rest, all we have to do is accept it. So how exactly do we get this rest? Remember the verse, Jesus said “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened”. We must come to Him, but how? Let’s discuss three things that are imperative to accept God’s rest in our lives.
The first thing we need to do is repent of our burdens. In Greek the word for repent is metanoe¨® (met-an-o-eh’-o) and it is a verb, which means we have to take action. Metanoeo is made up of two Greek parts, which mean “change” and “think”. We have to change our way of thinking about our burdens. We have to develop a dislike and even hatred for our burdens. It is not true repentance unless you make an effort to continuously change. And it will be absolutely useless to leave our burdens at the cross if we are just going to pick them up again. Many people repent after they have sinned, and sometimes that is okay, because we all fall. However, if you are dealing with burdens, if you truly want Jesus to give you rest, you must remember your repentance, before you give in to a burden. When faced with temptation, you should “Change and think” before giving in. Regardless of the burden or sin.
Next, we have to openly and honestly confess our burdens. “Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.” (James 5:16) Notice it does not say forgiven because the moment you confess your sins to Jesus you are forgiven. The problem is sin, hurts, and shortcomings in our lives actually harms us, and it leaves wounds. Confession to another person takes this burden from our hearts and enables us to allow Jesus to heal us. We are told to “Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.” (Galations 6:2)
This is hard for many of us to do. We fear judgment when we share our shortcomings to others, but honestly none of us are without sin, so we should never judge. If someone is struggling; if someone is reaching out to you, gently restore them. Do not judge them, do not go and tell others, just love them, pray with them.
Last, and the most neglected, is prayer. Our God is always there for us, He never sleeps, He never has a weak signal, and we don’t have to have a load to talk to Him. This is the easiest way to relieve our burdens and yet many Christians do not exercise this plain and simple way to give us rest. God is powerful. He is always there, always listening, and always wants what is best for us. Prayer is our direct lifeline to God and He wants to hear from us. Not just when we need Him, but everyday. And when we pray we must believe that He is there and that He is ready to relieve us; that’s the loving father that He is. How can we expect Him to relieve us if we don’t talk to Him? Are you afraid to confess your burdens for fear of what He might do, or how He might respond? That’s nothing to worry about–God already knows. He is ready to forgive, ready to help, ready to guide us. “Cast your cares on the Lord and He will sustain you; He will never let the righteous be shaken.” (Psalms 55:22)
It is important that when we talk to God, we should also wait for His answer. Many times we will pray to Him for guidance with our minds already set on what we will do to hold on to our burdens. How can He guide us if we have already decided? That is not relying on Godly wisdom; it is depending on human weakness.
Going back to our verses from the beginning, with v 30 added: “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.” Jesus’s burden is so simple. Remember the two greatest commandments. “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.'” This is the burden that Jesus has laid upon us. Simply stated love one another and obey my commands. Which one do you want to carry–yours or His?
I want to invite you to leave your burdens at the cross, regardless of what they may be. Remember the nails of the cross? When we nail something we want it to be permanent, so let’s figuratively nail our burdens to the cross. Let’s give them to our Lord and let Him deal with it. Let’s give Him our heavy load and accept His yoke.