This week's memory verse:
"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 11:29
Rest....do you get enough of it? While you might get enough sleep.. does your brain rest? There are so many things to worry about...the situation in Japan, riots and wars around the world, rising gas prices that cause prices of everything else to rise as well, unemployment, violence and drugs and sex in our schools and on our streets, struggles in our marriages and other relationships...how do we EVER find rest in our minds and souls???
If you ask me how I find rest in all of that and more within my very busy and hectic life...I have learned (and still am learning!) to turn to the Bible, the lessons it teaches me and to my God who gives me strength. Just seeing those words...it seems too easy to be true. But, I am here to tell you that I HAVE found peace and rest in my life in just that way.
In Matthew 11:28 Jesus says "come to me all you who are weary and burdened and I will give you rest." These are not just words...they are a promise. If you look toward God for help, he has given us Jesus to be our strength. He is able to carry our burdens easily. Our memory verse talks of a yoke. A yoke can be a devise placed on two load-bearing animals to link them together, giving more power to pull more weight. A yoke can also be a frame fitted to a person's shoulders to carry a load in two equal portions. Either way, a yoke is designed to make lifting a load easier. Jesus is saying "take my yoke upon you..." He is offering to be linked with you...taking some of the load from you...making lifting that heavy burden you are carrying easier for you.
I love the Message translation of our memory verse..."Walk with me and work with me. Watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won't lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you." Many times, a lot of the pain and weight, and pressure we are carrying around we have caused ourselves. I put a lot of pressure on myself to live a "right" life...being everything to everyone...busy, busy, busy. And some of us have allowed religious "rules" and regulations and rituals to put SO MUCH pressure on us that guilt is sure to follow us when we can't live up to the strict standard set for us. If we look to Jesus...how he handled those situations, we will see that even he didn't live that way....although he WAS sinless.
Read Matthew 12:3-13. While the Pharisees were trying to trip him up, Jesus gives examples and quotes scripture back to them to prove them wrong...especially about serving others on the sabbath.We have rules and laws to guide us and protect us...God gave us guidelines on how to live to protect us and also to allow us to live in a way that would give Him glory. There are times we need to hold the line and obey the rules...BUT, as Jesus taught above, there are also times we need to bend as well. How do we know when to hold the line and when to bend??? Go to God and let Him lead you. That's what He wants...for us to rely on Him! When we do that...THEN we can find rest and peace.
Dear God, I am still learning to look to You in all situations. Many times I still hold on to my worries and burdens and responsibilities. Help me to be open to You and to your teachings. Help me to know when to bend and when to hold the line. Help my friends learn these important lessons too. Being yoked to you will help us carry our loads easier, giving us the rest and peace we need and desire. Thank you for teaching us you have a plan for us! Amen.