All who are weary…Rest

resthereWe looked yesterday at how Jesus says to all who are weary, “come to me”. His arms are wide open for the weary and restless.

But what happens when we come to him? What will we receive in exchange for our weariness and burdens? There are several things he gives, and one of them is rest.

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.”

Jesus gives us rest for our weary hearts. Jesus is our Noah (Noah meaning rest or comfort in Hebrew). He provides a shelter in the storm and carries us through to safe land. When you are weary and heavy laden, Jesus beckons you to come to Him and find rest.

I love the story of Elijah. I really like the bit where he sees the Lord do all these amazing things, raining down fire and showing that He alone is God. Then there is that bit straight after where Elijah freaks out and runs away. As he runs away and hides, he becomes weary and tired. He gets to the point where he is so overwhelmed that he wants to die.

Ministry can get like that. Life can get like that.

My guilty conscience would say: “Get up and get on with it! Don’t be lazy, there is more work to do”. But the Lord is kind and gentle and instead he does this:

And he [Elijah] lay down and slept under a broom tree. And behold, an angel touched him and said to him, “Arise and eat.” And he looked, and behold, there was at his head a cake baked on hot stones and a jar of water. And he ate and drank and lay down again. And the angel of the Lord came again a second time and touched him and said, “Arise and eat, for the journey is too great for you.” And he arose and ate and drank, and went in the strength of that food forty days and forty nights to Horeb, the mount of God. (1 Kings 19:5-8, ESV)

Do you see what happens here? The angel provides Elijah with food, water and sleep. Elijah rests and the Lord provides that rest through practical things. This doesn’t feel very spiritual does it? This feels very human. I love that the Lord knows what we need and sometimes our bodies need this kind of rest. When we are carrying heavy burdens and feeling tired sometimes all we need to do is sleep, eat and drink and enjoy what the Lord provides for us.

So when you come to Jesus be prepared for him to say to you – “Go, sleep and eat and be refreshed”. You don’t need to be more spiritual than that.

The other type of rest we get, is a peaceful rest from the worries that stir in our heart. By giving us rest, he is saying that he has dealt with sin on the cross, he has defeated the evil one, he has given us our identity and worth and we have no need to fear.

His perfect rest means:

  • You no longer have to strive and conquer to feel like you are worth anything – Jesus has won the victory for you.
  • You no longer have to win approval from others or from God – Jesus loves you and died for you.
  • You no longer have to worry about where you will eat, sleep or what you will wear – Jesus says the Father provides that for you.
  • You no longer have to search for your identity in others or in things – Jesus has clothed you and calls you his bride.

Jesus gives rest to the weary heart. He gives assurance to the worried heart. As the song goes:

In Jesus I’ve found a sweet rest
From sorrow, from toil, and from care;
In Him I am happy and blest,
For He all my burdens doth bear.

I came to the Lord for release,
When burdened with guilt and with sin;
He cleansed me, and gave me His peace,
The Spirit to witness within.

Though many the troubles I meet,
He’ll keep me, and help me along;
I’ll sit at His glorified feet,
For He is my joy and my song.

Sweet Rest in Jesus – L. S. Riggs, pub.1885

**Photo: By oliverkendal (Flickr: Creative Commons licence)

All Who are Weary…Come

There is a beautiful verse in Matthew 11:28 which I have been thinking about and I would like to share with you some of my thoughts.

Firstly, all who are feeling weary, Jesus says: “Come to me”.

Bilbo in Lord of the Rings says:

“I am old, Gandalf. I don’t look it, but I am beginning to feel it in my heart of hearts. Well-preserved indeed! Why, I feel all thin, sort of stretched, if you know what I mean: like butter that has been scraped over too much bread. That can’t be right. I need a change, or something.”

Bilbo carried a great burden and it caused him to be weary. He was stretched like butter scraped over too much bread. Ever felt like that?

I think there can be a weariness in your soul which is caused by many things in life. Most of the time it can be because our focus is on the wrong thing, we become weary of trying to please others or obtain approval from God. At other times in can simply be the grind of life, the cycle of repetition, the ache of suffering, the doubts that plague our mind.

As I read the account of Job, I notice how weary he is. He is weary of his friends making stupid comments. He is weary of his suffering and weary of the wicked never getting justice.

There are many things that can cause the heart to become weary, but the point isn’t to linger  there, the point is to ask: “Where can I find refuge?”

And Jesus says: Come to me.

Why would you want to go to Jesus?

Because Jesus is the refuge of our soul. He is the balm to our hurts. He is peace to our weariness. He beckons us to come to him.

Jesus is our great comfort and will comfort us. There is no use carrying on with anxieties on your shoulders, with weariness in your hearts and burdens in your hands which will just twist the heart into cynicism and mistrust. Come to him now, do not linger anymore.

His face will be kind and not stern. His arms will be wide open and not closed. He will delight over you and not frown. Come to him weary soul and find refuge in our saviour. And so than we may sing:

Dear refuge of my weary soul,
On Thee, when sorrows rise
On Thee, when waves of trouble roll,
My fainting hope relies
To Thee I tell each rising grief,
For Thou alone canst heal
Thy Word can bring a sweet relief,
For every pain I feel

The refuge of your weary soul is Jesus. So come to him. If you are reading this now and in your heart you feel tired and ready to give up, than Jesus says to you “Come to me“. Get to your knees and pray, allow the spirit to comfort you and point your gaze to Christ. Gaze upon the beauty of the Lord and come back to him again and again until your heart feels softer and lighter.

“When you are so weak that you cannot do much more than cry, you coin diamonds with both your eyes. The sweetest prayers God ever hears are the groans and sighs of those who have no hope in anything but his love.” –C.H. Spurgeon

 

*Photo: By chefranden. (Flickr: Creative Commons licence)

Preaching Christ

Just read a wonderful blog post about preaching to the depressed, but I think this is for everyone as well. David Murray goes through 8 ways preachers damage those who are depressed by preaching anything other than Christ. I may be so bold to say, that some of those ways damage everyone. Sometimes I feel damaged by them. This is worth reading, here is the most beautiful part of the post:

And that really brings me to the best way to preach to the depressed, and that’s to preach Christ. Preach His suffering and sympathizing humanity. Preach His gentle and tender dealings with trembling and timid sinners. Preach His gracious and merciful words. Preach His beautiful meekness. Preach His miracles to demonstrate His power to heal. Preach His finished work on Calvary. Preach His offer of rest to the weary. Preach the power of His resurrection-life. Preach His precious promises: ”A bruised reed He will not break, and smoking flax He will not quench.”

Preach Christ! Preach Him winningly and winsomely. Preach Him near and ready to help. Preach Him from the heart to the heart. Preach Him again, and again, and again. Until the day dawn and the shadows flee away.

Christmas: The Tender Mercy

lightinreedsAdvent Day 23

Zachariah Says:

And you, child, will be called the prophet of the Most High;

for you will go before the Lord to prepare his ways,

to give knowledge of salvation to his people

in the forgiveness of their sins,

because of the tender mercy of our God,

whereby the sunrise shall visit us from on high

to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death,

to guide our feet into the way of peace.”

(Luke 1:76-79 ESV)

We know that John will preach the Good News of Jesus and we know that Jesus will bring salvation. The cause of all of this is down to the character of our triune God. He is a God of love and he has tender mercy. This is a beautiful verse. Not only does the Lord have mercy, but it is tender and his mercy is tender to those who are in darkness, in death and are sinners. His tender mercy is for the weak and the suffering, for all those who call on the name of the Lord for salvation.

This is a God who brings forgiveness and mercy. A God who sends his Son to earth to take on flesh and walk in our footsteps and die a death for us. He is a Son who calls out to the weak and helpless to come to him because his mercy is tender and will bind up their broken hearts and offer them comfort.

Spurgeon says:

“Like as a mother comforts her children, even so does the Lord comfort His people, and like as a father pities his children, so the Lord pities them that fear Him. My Lord is as gracious in the manner of His mercy as in the matter of it. Glory be to His name! O sinner, come to the gentle Jesus and live”

Christmas is about the tender mercy of the Lord.

Bruised Reed – Christ our Physician

So we have been looking at what a bruised reed is and that as we go through a Psalm 42 season we can know that our Father lavishes his love on us through his son and has a purpose for the season we are in.

But as we go through this season, often our first thought isn’t to run to Christ but to go to everything else, only to find that it wont ever satisfy. But what fear do we have when we think of running to Christ?

What do we think Christ will do to us Christians that feel bruised and broken? Will he cast us away? Will he tell us to get over ourselves? Will he judge us and call us pathetic? Thankfully not.

Sibbes shows how Christ is full of mercy –

“Physicians, though they put their patients to much pain, will not destroy nature, but raise it up by degrees. Surgeons will lance and cut, but not dismember. A mother who has a sick and self willed child will not therefore cast it away. And shall there be more mercy in the stream than in the spring? Shall we think there is more mercy in ourselves than in God, who plants the affection of mercy in us?”

This gives me most comfort of all, that Christ has much more mercy then I do, yet sometimes I think Christ will judge me more harshly. But when we think of Christ and the names he gives himself, we cannot escape how tender he is towards those that mourn and come to him with a humble heart.

Sibbes continues –

“But for further declaration of Christ’s mercy to all bruised reeds, consider the comfortable relationships he has taken upon himself of husband, shepherd and brother, which he will discharge to the utmost. Shall others by his grace fulfill what he calls them unto, and not he who, out of his love, has taken upon him these relationships, so thoroughly founded upon his Father’s assignment, and his own voluntary undertaking?”

Christ is full of tender mercy. I think Sibbes wants to encourage us to come to Christ on our knees and find comfort in Him and not be afraid. This picture of Christ as a Shepard and husband is full of love and kindness and the scriptures continue to remind us of how Christ invites us to come to Him when we are in times of need –

” Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 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. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”  (Matthew 11:28-30 ESV)

“He is a physician good at all diseases, especially at the binding up of a broken heart.” – Page 9

Christ binds our broken heart, he is our great physician. We have no fear to come to him – but we must come to him because he is our life-giver, open armed and ready to give great comfort to you.