Friday, October 1, 2010

Come, Take, Learn, Rest

Continuing with my pastor's thoughts...

Thoughts from the Pastor
(9/27/2010)

Dear Members and Friends of Lake Crest Presbyterian Church,
I have been reminded of late how resentful I have tended to become in the service of Jesus. After all, the nature of a ministerial calling is for life and for all of it. But I tend to want some free-time, as if any of my time were really free. I find I am not alone. Many pastors fall to this temptation to hoard their time as if it were their own. Our gracious Master lets us get away with this faulty attitude for awhile, but eventually brings us back to reality. Working hard in the kingdom is just like working hard anywhere else – it’s hard work. But it’s His work for us to do, not our work which we do for Him.
But because the work is sometimes hard, we get the idea that our Master is hard. He is not. In Matthew 11: 28–30 Jesus made this statement, “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 light.” If you think about it, we fear the very One who promises us rest, because we think His yoke will be difficult and His burden upon us heavy. As I point out some things in this verses to us, let me confess that I have had to ponder these things for me personally, long before I felt comfortable sharing them with you. But here are some random thoughts:

1. We must “take His yoke upon us”. It must be a voluntary assumption of the duties that He gives us. Ephesians 2:10 tells us, “For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” Those “good works” must be approached voluntarily. Not because we must do them, but because we want to do them. But they must be deliberately taken up nevertheless.
2. We must also be willing to learn from Him as we take up the tasks He has given us. He is gentle and so must we be. Isaiah 40: 11 describes the Great Shepherd, “He tends his flock like a shepherd; he gathers the lambs in his arms and carries them close to his heart; he gently leads those that have young.” He is humble and so must we be. We are reminded of the attitude of the King of Kings in Philippians 2: 8 when it tells us, “And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death – even death on a cross.”
3. We desperately desire rest for our souls, peace in the midst of trouble and sustenance in the midst of spiritual and physical famine, but we must give up something to get it. If we as Christians would have real rest, it must be His rest, not ours. God-given rest does not necessarily equate with the human idea of rest. See Jesus in the wilderness being tempted by Satan? Forty days and forty nights is a long time to fast. Yet our Lord told Satan in Matthew 4:4, “…It is written; ‘Man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.’” Or what did Jesus tell his disciples when they questioned Him at the well in Samaria in John 4:32 & 34? “I have food to eat that you know nothing about.” “My food is to do the will of him who sent me and to finish his work.”
4. Did you notice that here are three things the Lord commands us to do? “Come” to Him, “take” His yoke and “learn” from Him. Then, and only then, will we find His true rest for our souls.

Worry will not give us rest, harder work will not give us rest, more vacations will not give us rest. St. Augustine said it well when he said, “Thou hast created us for Thyself, and our heart is not quiet until it rests in Thee.”
I cannot tell how it happens. I only know that He says we will receive His rest if we do what He gives us to do. Thus far – I have found Him to be faithful to His promises. I confess that I constantly try to do His work my way, and as a result find no rest. But when we seek to do His work in the strength of His Spirit, the promise mentioned above will be fulfilled. He gives us rest in the middle of whatever storm we find ourselves. Try Him and find Him faithful for yourself, and may He show Himself to us all this week as we seek to do what He has given to us to do, for “His yoke is easy and His burden is light.”

In Christ,
Thomas
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