Service Time : 10:30 am

An Invitation of a Lifetime

Since 2007, the American Psychological Association, has completed an annual nationwide survey to examine the state of stress across our country and understand its impact.  The 2015 study showed that the average stress levels in the U.S. are rising and are above what psychologists deem as healthy.  There was a particular increase among adults reporting “extreme stress,” with 24% saying they were highly stressed in 2015 compared to 18% a year earlier.  

My guess is that you are unsurprised by these findings.  My guess is that you are constantly running into overstressed, overwhelmed, overworked, overcommitted, and overburdened people.  Perhaps, you would say that you’re one of them?  Are you stressed out and tired?  Are you suffering both mentally and physically from trying to keep it all together?  Are you often irritable?  Do you often feel nervous or anxious?  Are you feeling depressed or sad?  Do you find yourself constantly worrying?  Are you having difficulty sleeping?  Is stress causing you to overeat or eat unhealthy foods?  Are you wondering if 2017 can be any different?  Well, it can be because Jesus has extended a remarkable invitation to weary, rundown, stressed out people everywhere.  What’s his invitation?

Matthew 11:28-30 (NLT)

28 Then Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. 29 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. 30 For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light.”

In Jesus’ invitation of a lifetime, we find three keys to entering into God’s rest.

#1 Entering God’s rest requires us to COME to Jesus.

When you look at Jesus’ invitation, you find that the emphasis is on him.  He says, “Come to me.”  I will give you rest.”  “Take my yoke upon you.”  “Let me teach you.” Jesus is making it clear that to enter into God’s rest, we must enter by way of him.  He is the door to soul rest.  He is the way out of an over-stressed, over-committed, and over-burdened life.  If we seek rest for our souls in various people and activities, Jesus is saying we won’t find it.  Sure we may be able to enter into relationships or activities that may provide temporary relief, but none will provide a lasting new way of living that includes God’s rest.  We must come to Jesus.

#2 Entering God’s rest requires us to TAKE from Jesus.

Coming to Jesus and saying, “Here I am!” is not enough to enter into God’s rest.  We must take from Jesus.  “Take” is a word that implies assertiveness.  “Take” connotes the seizing of something.  What are we to seize?  What are we to make every effort to take hold of?  Jesus’ yoke.  But what on earth is a yoke?  In Jesus’ day, a Rabbi’s or a teacher’s yoke was their teaching.  So Jesus is saying that if you want to enter into God’s rest, we must take hold of his teaching, meaning we must learn his strategy for living.  We must enter his classroom and become his apprentice and he will train us in the the best way to live.

#3 Entering God’s rest requires us to LET Jesus teach us.

It is not enough to be with Jesus to learn from Jesus if we are not willing to let go of our strategy for living that isn’t working.  It takes courage to let go of ways of living and patterns of behavior that, although are unhelpful, are comfortable. Letting Jesus teach us may mean letting go of certain relationships, certain activities, certain beliefs, and certain attitudes. Letting Jesus teach us may mean a willingness to let go of grudges and resentment.  Letting Jesus teach us may mean letting go of the need to be in control, of calling the shots, and setting our own agenda.  Letting Jesus teach us may mean letting go of certain goals or dreams.  Letting Jesus teach us requires surrender.  It is a process of dying to ourselves.  You see, often Jesus has to empty us before he can fill us.

Entering God’s rest is a threefold process of coming to Jesus, taking from Jesus, and letting Jesus. Now you may say, “That’s a process that sounds a lot like work.”  And you’re right!  It is counterintuitive, but it takes effort and work to enter God’s rest.  It takes training.  Being with Jesus to learn from Jesus how to think and behave like Jesus is the light burden that leads to God’s rest.  This is where all of our effort should be placed.  Instead of spending all of our energy on trying to make things happen, manage everything, please people, and be ultra productive, we are to simply put a bunch of effort into being Jesus’ apprentice.  And as we do, we’ll find that our life will not necessarily be easier, but more relaxed, less stressful, more restful, more purposeful, more impactful, and even, get this, more productive.  

Have you come to Jesus?  Are you learning his strategy for living that leads to true rest for your soul, and at the same time, letting go of your ineffective strategy that has left you stressed out and overwhelmed?

To learn more about Jesus being your easy yoke, click hear to catch up on the current sermon series.

 

A Note From Pastor Shane
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