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by Minoli Haththotuwa
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“Rest In Me…” (Matthew 11:28-30)

“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 is light.”

Hear the Lord Jesus speak to you today, as He calls us to experience the blessings of the abundant life He came to give!

A yoke is a piece of wood that is fastened over the necks of two work animals (oxen, donkeys, mules) and attached to the plough or cart that they are to pull. It keeps the animals working and walking in unison, and enables them to be led in a specific direction. Yokes are still widely used by farmers in many parts of the world.
Jesus came to this earth during a time when His people (the Jews) were under the heavy yoke of Roman oppression and longed for a deliverer to bring freedom to their land. They were not aware that they were also laboring under the onerous yoke of religion, as they lived to fulfill all the rituals and traditions which they had created Judaism to be. The fear of breaking any of the numerous rules and regulations was probably a stress in itself, as they labored under a double yoke of bondage. The people were weary and burdened – sick and tired of obeying a harsh law which never brought them any joy or satisfaction. They knew that there had to be more to life than showing up at the synagogue on Sabbath day and hearing the reading of the scriptures. There had to be more than the rigorous observances of the many ‘thou shalt nots’ to please God. In the hearts of many was probably the understanding that their spirituality had to be more than just aiming to get into heaven through a back door, and by the skin of their teeth! Despite all the many animal sacrifices that were offered, there was still something missing, as people saw that they were unable to break free of the cycle of sin and guilt, of addictions, pride, fear and self hate. Jesus gave them the good news that there was indeed more! There was a new and better way. He says the same to us today, as we long for that sweet rest which is His to give. Papa is calling us to stop striving and to learn to receive His love, His rest, His deep peace, but how can we get there? Read on:

1) Jesus said “Come to Me”. When people are weary and stressed, they may try to unwind by talking to counselors and friends, focusing on sports and other recreation, or reaching out for a relaxant pill. While these are all ways of getting the stress out of our lives, there is a quicker and more deeply satisfying way – it is just seeking Jesus. The closer we get, the more we experience the awesome de-toxing sweetness that emanates from His presence. Try closing your eyes, taking a deep breath, and saying His name as you stand in a line at the post office, or you ride in a bus or train. Jesus! You are taking a step towards Him. You are accepting the invitation He gives when He says “Come to Me”! As you draw nearer to Jesus in worship, you will find that all the answers you seek are in Him. He wants to draw you near!

2) Receive His rest. Many of us are so accustomed to staying in control and “calling the shots” that even when we come to Jesus in prayer, we hardly stop talking. As we pray, not only do we tell the Lord what to do, but how to do it! I’m sure this makes our Omnipotent Daddy laugh! He really does not need our help – He is God! He knows what is in our hearts and what we want. Of course there are times for intercession and supplication, but Daddy loves us to just come to Him as needy kids, laying all our agendas down, and saying “I’ve just come to be with You. I’ve come to receive Your love and love You”. He loves it when His kids are yielded to His Spirit, and truly receive the goodness and love He wants to pour upon them.

3) Take My yoke. Jesus is talking about partnership. The yoke is something that hitches two equally matched animals together so that they can work optimally and productively on the land. Similarly, Jesus is calling us to link arms with Him as we walk through life. When we receive Him as Savior and Lord, we enter into a powerful covenant sealed with His blood, where He promises (similar to the marriage covenant) to love us always, never leave us, and to protect, provide and carry us through life in the abundance of His blessing for ever. Most of us claim Him as Lord but continue to live like the person who had millions in his bank account but never knew! Instead of living in the ease of partnership, we continue to live under the harsh law of works which held us captive before we met Jesus, still performing, still striving hard to please, never content with who we are and so, always pushing ourselves to do more! Jesus says: “Just come into partnership with Me. Take My yoke upon you. You will see that I am more than fair – I carry the whole load and you will feel truly free!” This is such a sweet supernatural experience that we can only learn divine partnership by allowing Him to teach us what it really means. He says “Learn from Me”, because in faith we have to receive the help of the Holy Spirit to ‘unlearn’ the old way, and re-learn the “Jesus” way, the way of yielding and surrender!

4) His way is rest! Jesus says “for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls, for my yoke is easy and my burden is light”. This sounds like a stress free life to me! It sounds like a great deal! Does this mean that we will not face troubles, betrayal, persecution, disappointments and other difficulties in life? No. In fact we will probably have more of these things than we would ever want. It means, rather, that because we are in partnership with Him, He takes the brunt of it, He carries us through, He makes sure it will all work out in the end! His are the single set of footprints in the sand when the going gets tough. He carries us in His arms when the waters rise too high. He enfolds us in His embrace when we walk through the fire and the flames are nearly upon us. We can be at peace, and know His rest even when disaster strikes, because He holds us in His hands! Trusting Him to be in charge is part of the learning process He speaks about. It takes conscious reminders that Jesus is at the wheel and He knows how to drive!

5) His way is gentleness and humility. Jesus does not demand anything other than that we receive His loving goodness into our lives! This is rest, to know that we can just be who we are and trust Him to lead us, teach us, guide us, as we walk in partnership with Him – going where He goes, saying what He says, doing what He does, because we are yoked to Him! I feel safe and secure being “yoked” to Jesus. He will never let me down, He never forgets me, He loves me for who I am, He will never leave me, and was willing to die for me! While Jesus stands for strength, justice and righteousness, and demonstrates this when necessary (as when He cleansed the temple in Jerusalem), He is the Bridegroom and lover, the friend who sticks closer than a brother. He washed the feet of His disciples and showed them what love was by living it. Being with Him is healing balm to the body and soul. Being His partner can be so much fun! He does all the work and we get to take the credit! His yoke is easy!

Friend, you need the rest and release that Jesus has for you. Many precious people suffer from different infirmities of body and mind because they are constantly wound up to achieve, continuously striving to please, and filled with stress and frustration when things do not work out as expected. The Lord wants you free and enjoying this life He has gifted you with. May you be set free from every false expectation of those around you. May you be released from the law of works and the spirit of performance which keeps you from the deep rest Jesus wants you to have. May you love yourself like Papa loves you, and reach the highest heights in everything you seek to do, because you are in partnership with Jesus, and nothing is impossible with Him. He wants to pick you up and show you the stars in the sky! He wants you to be by His side. There is no limit to what you can see happen, when you link arms with our ‘no limits’ Lord! Receive His rest today. Receive His peace, in Jesus’ name, Amen!

Minoli Haththotuwa, 28 March 2011

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