Daily Distinctives June 11, 2015

June 11, 2015

Daily Reading:

[Mat 11:28 NKJV]
“Come to Me, all [you] who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.

[Mat 11:29 NKJV]
“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.

[Mat 11:30 NKJV]
“For My yoke [is] easy and My burden is light.”

Daily Distinctive:

It has been a minute since I last blogged here in the Daily Distinctive, but much has transpired in my life since my last entry. I won’t get into all of the details, other than to say it has been a brief season of adjustment for my family. God is faithful and good and I know that He will continue to work in and through us to bring glory and honor to His name. But if you are reading this you are probably not as concerned with what is going on in my life as you are with the study of God’s WORD. I chose the Scriptures for today quite purposefully. We all deal with burdens in this life, especially when we are in the pursuit of godliness. And so it is my hopes that this study will serve as an encouragement to us all…so, let’s dig in.

In context we find Jesus teaching in the cities. We see that He had just received the news of John the Baptist and went into a discourse on John’s mission and the purpose of the prophets, even of Himself. Then he began to rebuke the cities for their lack of repentance. Finally Jesus prays to the Father and it is here that Jesus speaks about how it through Himself that we can know the Father.

And so as I read this I am so very thankful to the LORD that He has chosen to reveal Himself to me. It is encouraging to know that my hope rests not in the things of the world, in men who are well meaning but equally subject to the proclivities of sinfulness. I am even more thankful that my hope does not rest upon me. When we place our hope in anything other than Christ Jesus we are going to be disappointed. This is because there is only hope in Jesus who is our redeemer and the One who works in us to draw us into His presence. And so Jesus does just that by way of invitation. And might I add that this invitation is open to anyone who will simply call upon the Name of the LORD and put their trust in Him for salvation. And so Jesus says….

[Mat 11:28 NKJV]
“Come to Me, all [you] who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.

I could spend hours talking about the pitfalls of ministry here, and how our labor in the LORD can drain you physically, emotionally, and spiritually. This “burn-out” usually happens when we seek to serve the LORD in our flesh, rather than waiting upon the LORD and serving Him according to His terms. But even if you are not in the ministry, this life, this world, and simply drawing each breath can be quite cumbersome. And so whether you labor in the LORD or just labor in life, you can likely relate to what Jesus is saying here. We all face difficulties and some times they seem insurmountable. The toll that living in this world takes on a person is exhausting and often times the cycle seems never ending. We try our best just to get through the day and by the time we hit our pillows we are drained.

Work is a good thing, and laboring in the LORD is excellent. Still, it requires enormous amounts of energy and perseverance to see each day to completion. I am so glad that my own days are numbered by the LORD and that He has a plan for me. And so what do we do when the weight of this life feels unbearable. The answer is simple and is before us today. All we must do is simply come.

Jesus says, “Come to me all you who labor and are heavy burdened…” The onus is on us to simply come. This means that we must seek Him out. Jesus understands each of our individual needs and the things that weigh heavily upon us and He desires to carry our burdens so that we can rest in Him. It is here that we find a conditional promise. If we come to Him with our labors and burdens, then He will give us rest.

Of course this could be physical rest, but I don’t think that is fullness of what Jesus is saying here. What I believe the LORD is speaking of is complete rest, the kind that comes when our spirits are lifted and new life is breathed into us through renewal of our faith. I am immediately reminded of the beginning of the 23rd Psalm which says…

[Psa 23:1 NKJV]
A Psalm of David. The LORD [is] my shepherd; I shall not want.

[Psa 23:2 NKJV]
He makes me to lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside the still waters.

[Psa 23:3 NKJV]
He restores my soul; He leads me in the paths of righteousness For His name’s sake.

It is in Christ alone, our Good Shepherd, that we find rest in the midst of the tumultuous storms of life. It is in Christ alone that our needs are met. It is in Christ alone that we find true peace and true rest. We need only come. But then not only must we come, we must also take. Look at the next verse.

[Mat 11:29 NKJV]
“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.

As I read this I don’t see a cessation of working, but rather a kind of heavenly work exchange program. In this life we must continue on, remain steadfast, and perform the work that is before us in obedience to Christ. I have heard it said that we will have plenty of time to sleep when we are dead. Of course we know that to be absent from the body (physically dead) is to be present with the LORD, and so while this saying is well meaning, it does not really paint a correct picture of what our eternity will look like. Still, what we find here is that we don’t simply turn in our works in exchange for a vacation.

Jesus says, “Take My yoke upon you…” This implies that there is still work to be done. A farmer who yokes his oxen to the plow intends to work the oxen to accomplish the task at hand. When the work is done, the yoke is removed and the oxen are allowed to roam and graze or they are placed in a pen or stable to rest. Jesus is not saying “stop working” here, but rather take His yoke upon us.

As I alluded to earlier, all too often we set out to accomplish the work before us in our own strength, on our own terms. This is the reason that our labors become burdensome. Jesus has a better way and a better plan for each of us and so He tells us to come and take. We must first be willing to come to Him, and then we must take upon His yoke rather than the heavy yoke of self-will that we impose upon ourselves. Notice that Jesus says next, “…and learn from Me…”

We need to learn from Jesus how we are to live out our lives. He is our example. When we fail to follow His example, we are left to our own devices. This self-reliance is what weighs us down and keeps us from being productive in every aspect of our lives. It is by coming, taking His yoke and learning from Him that we are truly free from the bondage that we yoke ourselves to. Next Jesus says, “…for I am gentle and lowly in heart…”

This is what Jesus wants us to learn from Him. He wants us to see His character and then emulate this. If we will simply live like Jesus lived being gentle and humble, we will immediately see the weight of our sinful yokes drop away and we will begin to enjoy our work, whether it be our jobs or our service to the LORD. Again, we see that this is likely more of a spiritual refreshing than a physical refreshing because the LORD continues by saying, “…and you will find rest for your souls”

The word here for souls in the Greek is “psychē,” and it literally means “breath of life” or better translated, “…the soul as an essence which differs from the body and is not dissolved by death (distinguished from other parts of the body). This would appear to have spiritual implications more so than physical. Either way, we know that if we come, take, and learn the progression leads to us finding. And what do we find? Rest. And why is Christ’s yoke a better alternative than our own self-imposed yoke of bondage? Well, look at the next verse…

[Mat 11:30 NKJV]
“For My yoke [is] easy and My burden is light.”

I don’t know about you, but when I do things my way I tend to complicate things. Jesus is not just a “better alternative,” His way is the right way. Anything else is troublesome and leads to bondage and ultimately death. You have likely heard the old adage, “I am working my fingers to the bone.” This is figuratively what happens when we do things our own way, apart from Christ. We “burn the candle at both ends,” until we are physically, mentally and worse, spiritually exhausted!

When we take upon the yoke of Jesus what we find is the spiritual order of things makes life much easier than the natural order of things. Not that doing things the LORD’s way is going to be a cake walk, but when we go where God guides we receive all that we need to accomplish the tasks that He puts before us. It is impossible for us to accomplish the heavenly plans that the LORD has for us using the carnal tools of this world. The fact is that we can’t even break ground in the fields the LORD wants us to plow unless we have upon our shoulders a spiritual yoke that can only be given to us when we come, take, learn and rest in Jesus.

Daily Muse:

Oh how I have missed this time with the LORD here doing these devotionals. It is for me like that work exchange program. I had to plow a few other fields here lately (figuratively speaking) and have left this field fallow. But thanks be to the LORD that He has seen fit for me to once again put my hand to the plow.

Daily Prayer:

LORD, my only prayer is that as I plow this field, You will provide the seed, the rain in season and the growth, that I might cultivate and prune and offer the sweet fruit as an offering to You my LORD. I thank You for Your yoke and gladly rest under it’s light burdens. I love you Jesus.  -Amen

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