Week 31 July 29 - August 4, 2018

Do you have a tired and weary soul? Physically, are you tired because of working more hours that God intends, or by spending time and money acquiring more things than God desires for you to have?

Emotionally, are you tired because you are trying to control the uncontrollable, or are you seeking to please everyone and meet their expectations instead of the Lord’s?

Spiritually, are you tired because you are carrying around the weight of sin, or are you just worn down by the guilt of living outside the will of God?

If you are exhausted for any of these reasons and are seeking to find renewed strength from a trustworthy source, Matthew 11:28-30 lists three ways we can find true rest for our tired soul directly from the open arms of Jesus Christ.

First, this passage teaches us our tired souls find true rest through listening to Jesus. Matthew 11 begins in verse 28 with Christ reminding us that He alone has what we are looking for. He reaches out His hand of grace and says, “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.”

This invitation reveals that we need to stop asking Jesus to come into our hearts and we need instead to come into His heart and abide. He is our shepherd, and if we are His sheep we should be able to listen to His voice and follow Him wherever He wants to take us. It is in His presence alone that rest awaits us, but if we will not be quiet enough to listen to His words, we will never be surrendered enough to receive His grace.

Secondly, our tired souls find true rest through learning from Jesus. Christ continues in verse 29 by instructing us how we can begin acquiring this rest. He states, “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. 

This concept of a yoke is an agricultural tool used by farmers to bind two oxen to a plow for tilling the fields. Each yoke had two metal straps attached to a wooden beam with a hitch point in the middle where the pole of the plow was attached. The purpose of the yoke was for the older, stronger, more experienced ox to carry the heavier load and help guide the younger ox to learn what expected for each work day. Much like the older ox, Jesus asks us to take His yoke upon us because He wants to carry the heavy load of our burdens and provide guidance and direction in our scattered lives.

Finally, our tired souls find true rest through leaning into Jesus. Christ concludes the passage in verse 30 by reminding us why He can offer rest that no one else can. He proclaims, “For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”

When Jesus says His yoke is easy and His burden is light, He is encouraging us to lean into Him and find rest in His unlimited strength in the midst of our finite weakness. We are called to abide in Christ and allow Him to live His life through us so that we can bear His fruit and bring glory to His kingdom (John 15:5). Simply put, the more we lean into Jesus, the more the burdens that overwhelms us get transferred from our shoulders to His so we can finally experience some relief.

Rest is something our souls never stop searching for. Life will always provide plenty of burdens and we can either choose to carry them ourselves or take on the yoke of Christ and allow Him to bear the weight.  True rest is the rare mark of a Christian who has accepted the terms of Christ’s offer and surrendered fully to the open hole of His yoke. We too can accept this rare offer for lasting rest when we are willing to do the same thing and fully abide in Jesus.

We need to commit to daily devotional time in the Word and prayer to listen to Him, learn from Him, and lean into Him as our master and guide. His yoke still has room for us out in the field, but we need to come and find rest while we can still hear His voice and there is still a harvest for us to reap.

True Rest for a Tired Soul

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The Folly of a Fool’s Heart

Due to the intelligent design of the world revealed in nature, there is indisputable evidence that God exists. However, because of the sinful nature of mankind and the rejection of any accountability for that sin, many suppress the truth by simply declaring that God is a myth. King David addressed this atheistic ignorance in Psalm 53:1 when he proclaimed, “The fool says in his heart, “There is no God.” David understood that despite the atheist’s appeal to science, the only explanation for denying a Creator after witnessing the order of His creation is speaking from a heart that is rooted in foolish deception.

Good News from a Great Fish

Many Old Testament stories are shadows of Christ that point to His future coming as the long-awaited Messiah. The book of Jonah contains several of these messianic shadows. First, Jonah was thrown overboard and sacrificed for the salvation of sailors. This is a shadow of Christ who was sacrificed for the sins of mankind. Then, Jonah spend three days and nights in the belly of the fish before returning to proclaim the gospel of salvation. This was the ultimate shadow of Christ’s death and resurrection, as He spent three days in a tomb before rising from the dead to fulfill the plan of salvation and offer eternal life in the Kingdom of God.

A Creator in Full Control

Throughout the many prophecies of the Old Testament, one foundational theme that the prophets proclaim is God’s sovereign power and control. Israel is repeatedly called to either repent of sin or find hope in restoration because they serve a Creator who is in full control of His creation. This divine sovereignty of God is once again captured in Amos 4:13, which states, “For behold, he who forms the mountains and creates the wind, and declares to man what is his thought, who makes the morning darkness, and treads on the heights of the earth—the Lord, the God of hosts, is his name!”

Week 32 Readings:  August 5 – 11

-Day One:  Hosea 1-3; Matthew 16

-Day Two:  Hosea 4-6; Psalm 58; Matthew 17

-Day Three:  Hosea 7-10; Matthew 18

-Day Four:  Hosea 11-13; Matthew 19

-Day Five:  Hosea 14; 2 Chronicles 26-27; Psalm 61; Matthew 20   


Tips to Keep You on Track

          In our assigned readings this week we will continue our journey through the Minor Prophets as we encounter the book of Hosea. Written by the prophet Hosea during a time of great national turmoil around 700 B.C., this book captures God’s unwavering faithfulness towards Israel despite her wandering heart. Throughout Hosea, Israel’s infidelity to the Lord is compared to everything from a cheating wife to a stubborn heifer. However, despite Israel’s pattern of disloyalty, God responds with a pattern of redemptive love. As you read, pay close attention to the Lord’s unconditional affection for His people in verses like 11:8, which states, “How can I give you up, O Ephraim? How can I hand you over, O Israel? How can I make you like Admah? How can I treat you like Zeboiim? My heart recoils within me; my compassion grows warm and tender.”