2020. Wow, what a year we’ve had so far. Can I do a quick review?
- Kobe Bryant died on January 26th. I love basketball (I love all sports) but Kobe was amazing to watch. I hated him because he constantly beat up on my Nuggets, but oh my… he was outstanding to watch. I will never stop shooting my trash into the bin with a spinning fadeaway while saying, “Kobeeeeee!”
- Shortly after that, the entire world was crippled by Coronavirus. Our kid’s schools closed. My office closed. We were all sent home on just a few day’s notice. My wife became a homeschool mom overnight. And if I could brag on her just a bit, she did amazing! My office closed down in literally 24 hours. We had to pack up the equipment we needed, or thought we would need, and we couldn’t go back. And then church… I’m currently working at a church plant. We just got our very own building in January. We were excited after nearly two years of setting up and tearing down every single week. Starting to hit a rhythm and then…. BAM! Close the doors and figure out how to do an online church service. That’s not to mention stores going crazy and toilet paper is more valuable than gold and hand sanitizer was nothing more than a myth! I’ll tell you this right now, and those of you who have a big family will understand our pain with this one. Our grocery shopping was already at a pandemic prepping level, even before the pandemic hit. It’s hard to keep a family of 6 fully stocked on all the goods and necessities. People were looking at us and our overly full cart like we were crazy… LAST YEAR!
- Then our entire country enters into civil unrest that has torn apart families, friends, neighbors, cities, and states. The emotional wellbeing of our country tanked fast as a lot of pain and anger was finally being expressed. A lot of people were and still are hurting.
- Then we had the threat of murder hornets. I think in any other previous year… 2019, 2018, 2017… that would’ve been a thing. Like one of those things that we look back in December of that year and thought, “wow. I’m glad we survived that.” But in the mix of this year, that story didn’t even last a week. We didn’t have any time to worry about murder hornets.
Can you believe we’re only just over halfway through this year? It seems like a lot already right? But hold on to your seats because it’s a presidential election year so as we approach November, it should be interesting to see what comes next.
I have a lot of pastor friends who started this year off with their 20/20 Vision sermon series. They thought they were being clever with their puns. I just want to know if anyone saw what this year had in store. My guess… probably not.
So where are you at? Has your year gone as planned? We’re sitting here at the end of July, and my question to you today is this, “Are you tired, yet?”
I am. I’m tired. I’m worn out.
This wasn’t a fun exercise. But I sat down and mapped out a typical day. My Monday-Friday schedule looks like this. 730 wake up. 800 at my desk to start work. 830 – 1100 phone/video meetings. 1100 – 100 get work done. 100 – 200 grab a quick bite to eat and help Caryn with house duties (laundry, dishes, cleaning) 330 the kids get out from quiet time (for mom’s sanity) 500 finish work, start making dinner, eat dinner, play with kids. 730 get the kids to bed, family bible, and prayer time 800 Caryn goes to bed. 830 – 1230 get school work done or get church work done. And then do it the next day all over again until the weekend when we go play as hard as we can.
I’d be willing to bet that if you did the same exercise, your schedule would be pretty close in the level of busyness. No wonder we’re exhausted. We’re constantly going and we need to keep going to keep the ship floating.
And that doesn’t take into account the stress that accompanies the other stuff that we’ve encountered this year so far.
The stress of protecting your family from a global pandemic and weighing the risk of going to a store to get a gallon of milk verse possibly getting sick.
The stress of trying to respond to my COO on a conference call while my wife is sitting across the room trying to teach my oldest son about the different body parts of bugs and at the same time trying to teach my 6-year-old daughter Latin with 2 other kids destroying the house and playing daredevil off the couch.
The guilt of sitting at my desk trying to finish up a report that was due 30 minutes earlier and telling my kids I can’t come outside and play right now for the 1000th time that day.
The guilt of saying goodnight to my kids and trying to explain to them why I’m not able to cuddle them that night because of the paper that I haven’t started yet is due in 4 hours.
The guilt of promising tomorrow will be better and the stress of not knowing if you can follow up on that promise.
The amount of weight that we put on our shoulders, the burdens that we carry is too much. Eventually, they will crush us if we’re not careful.
One thing that I’ve had to rely on in the last couple of months is that God doesn’t want us to carry our burdens. He doesn’t want that weight on our shoulders.
Turn with me to Matthew 11. Flip over in your bibles or turn them on if they’re electronic. I want to look at Jesus’ words that he spoke about this.
Matthew 11:28-30 says this:
28 Then Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.
29 Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls.
30For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light.”
Have you ever heard more beautiful or inviting words? Jesus was talking to a culture that stressed by the pressures to perform and the guilt of not performing well enough. It sounds familiar.
But what Jesus is saying is this, “Hey, if you’re worn out from trying to keep the rules and making sure that your pleasing God enough, why don’t you just come to me? I’ll do the work for you.”
Those words must have sounded so go to all the spiritually exhausted people who had found the demands of keeping their cultural and religious laws to be too difficult. But Jesus came and offered them rest through a relationship with him.
Let’s look at what he said a little closer.
Jesus’ Invitation: “COME TO ME”
Jesus was constantly inviting people to come to himself. We invite people to church, or a bible study, or a conference, or a special event. We invite them to read a book or watch a movie or listen to a podcast. But we never invite people to, well, us.
We say, “This is what you need.” or “That truth can be found when you go here.” Imagine for a second what would happen if you told someone that all they needed to discover truth was to come and be with you, that you were somehow what they were looking for.
I hope you wouldn’t do that. But that’s exactly what Jesus did!
He didn’t hesitate to tell people that what their souls most desperately needed could be found solely in a relationship with Him. He didn’t point to a potluck, or a small group, or a television preacher. He tapped himself and said, “I’m what you’re looking for.”
Let’s look at some of His words.
“The Spirit of the LORD is upon me, for he has anointed me to bring Good News to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim that captives will be released, that the blind will see, that the oppressed will be set free, and that the time of the LORD’s favor has come.” | Luke 4:18-19
“I tell you the truth, those who listen to my message and believe in God who sent me have eternal life. They will never be condemned for their sins, but they have already passed from death into life. | John 5:24
Jesus replied, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never be hungry again. Whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.” | John 6:35
Jesus spoke to the people once more and said, “I am the light of the world. If you follow me, you won’t have to walk in darkness, because you will have the light that leads to life.” | John 8:12
Jesus told her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Anyone who believes in me will live, even after dying. Everyone who lives in me and believes in me will never ever die. | John 11:25-26
You call me ‘Teacher’ and ‘Lord,’ and you are right, because that’s what I am. | John 13:13
Did you catch the theme that was in these verses? Jesus was either the most self-centered, self-deluded person in history, OR as we know to be true, He was indeed the answer to every human’s prayers.
When you enter into a relationship with Jesus, you’re not entering into a system that is maintained by your hard work, or one where you will be graded for your performance. You’re not told to obey the rules, check off the boxes, or keep a running tally of your deeds. You’re simply invited to know him.
But who is He inviting?
Jesus’ Guest List: “ALL OF YOU WHO ARE WEARY AND CARRY HEAVY BURDENS”
Jesus didn’t target the put-together, the well-polished, and the religious performers. Jesus targeted those who were down-and-out. He invited the spiritually broke and the religiously lost. He wanted those who didn’t seem to “make the cut” because they couldn’t meet the high standards set by the elite.
Look at the way he described them, “weary and carrying heavy burdens.” The first thought that comes to mind is physically exhausted. We have it pretty easy. We have vehicles to get us from home to church, and back again. We have tractors to work the fields with a push of a button. We have remotes to change the television for us. We have children to do the chores.
This is a new revelation for us. We just created a chore chart for our kids. If they check off all the little boxes at the end of the week, they get a small reward. I haven’t had to pick up a single toy for a week and it’s fantastic!
But what I’m trying to get at is that we have it easy. Much easier than the folks in Jesus’ day who had to walk in the desert to get something in at the market knowing they had to carry anything and everything back with them as they walked back to their house which didn’t have A/C or running water. Could you imagine the physical exhaustion they experienced? Kind of puts into perspective my exhaustion.
But on top of that, Jesus was also talking to those who are spiritually exhausted. Those who realized their efforts to please God by following the unrealistic rules that the Pharisees had placed on the people. Those who feel like they’re always a day late and a dollar short when it comes to their relationship with God. Those who feel like they are a constant let down or failure to God’s expectations.
Jesus described this using the imagery of a yoke. We all know what that is, right? It’s the heavy piece of wood that was used to guide oxen or cattle as they pulled other heavy farming equipment. We use this yoke to pull our burdens along. It weighs us down and hurts us.
But Jesus’ response was to tell us, “Connect yourself to me and let me help. I’ll make you pure, I’ll heal your wounds, and I’ll make you right before God.” How sweet is that!
If you’ve ever been at that place where you can’t possibly take another step, take off the yoke of your burdens and allow God to help.
So, we see that Jesus has invited the physically and spiritually exhausted, but what has he invited them too?
Jesus’ Promise: “I WILL GIVE YOU REST”
Jesus is hosting a rest party and you’re on the special guest list.
What Jesus does here is so cool. I love when Jesus takes Old Testament scripture and uses it to make a point. That’s what he does here in Matthew. He is quoting a conversation that God had with Moses back in Exodus 33:13-14.
Moses asked God to protect the people and for His guidance, “If it is true that you look favorably on me, let me know your ways so I may understand you more fully and continue to enjoy your favor. And remember that this nation is your very own people.”
Moses was asking God to not just grant the rebellious people favor, but for favor for himself as their leader. Kind of a bold thing to ask God at that time in their relationship.
But God’s response was this, “The LORD replied, ‘I will personally go with you, Moses, and I will give you rest—everything will be fine for you.’”
This passage in Exodus tells us something about the character of God: God’s presence yields God’s rest. They knew that by REST, God meant not only the protection from the other invading people groups, but also the emotional, mental, and spiritual confidence they would have knowing that God was irreversibly with them.
Rest meant that they didn’t have to worry about the next day. They didn’t have to worry about what was happening around the corner. They knew REST was INSEPARABLE from God’s presence.
Now, saying this phrase wasn’t an accident by Jesus. Any good Hebrew knew what God had promised Moses and the Israelites back in Exodus. So Jesus, by saying, “I will give you rest” it would’ve caught everyone’s attention right away. Jesus was equating himself to God and that was just not something that casually happened back then.
With this phrase, Jesus was telling those who heard him that He was offering the same thing to them that God had offered Moses all those years ago: a chance for mental, emotional, and spiritual rest that can occur only when a person knows God.
So, what’s the point? I believe this is the most important part of this time today.
There are two lessons that you can learn from Matthew 11:28-30.
First, Jesus wants you.
Make no mistake about it. Jesus’ invitation to rest is for you. You are not some random exception; you’re not too far gone that Jesus can’t love you and forgive you. This invitation was given with you in mind.
Do this with me. If you take notes in a note pad or if you’re not against writing in your Bible, do this.
Write this down in the margin of your Bible, “Come to me, __(LEAVE A SPACE)__, and I will give you rest.” Now in that space, write your name. “Come to me, __(WRITE YOUR NAME)__, and I will give you rest.”
We know that Jesus said, “Come to me, all who are weary, and I will give you rest.” The word ALL is powerful. It means there are no limitations. No prerequisite. No conditions to whom Jesus is willing to receive. I want you to see that this promise from Jesus is for you, specifically for you.
Write that down. Remember it. Say it out loud a few times this week. Let God’s spirit speak that to you.
The second lesson is this, whatever the size of your burden, Jesus wants it.
Jesus is in the business of burden lifting. It doesn’t matter what the load is, how long you’ve carried it, or how ugly it might be. If it’s weighing you down and taking your spiritual strength, Jesus wants it.
Try this exercise. Take a moment to read through these and see if any of these statement connect with you.
- You were abused as a child. You have trouble trusting others and forgiving. Jesus wants your burden.
- You recently had an affair and have wounded the people you love most in the world. Jesus wants your burden.
- You’ve had massive financial failures and had to file bankruptcy. Jesus wants your burden.
- You struggle with contentment. Jesus wants your burden.
- You often feel afraid. Jesus wants your burden.
- You’re a worrier. Jesus wants your burden.
- You have struggled with your weight. You don’t feel attractive to others. Jesus wants your burden.
- You feel consumed with guilt. Jesus wants your burden.
- You hate your life and wish you could start over. Jesus wants your burden.
- You battle depression. Jesus wants your burden.
- You’re a recovering drug addict or alcoholic. Jesus wants your burden.
- You have a gambling addiction. Jesus wants your burden.
- You secretly look at pornography. Jesus wants your burden.
- You have never felt significant. You always feel like the world is passing you by. Jesus wants your burden.
- You’re lonely. Jesus wants your burden.
- You feel like God is always angry with you. Jesus wants your burden.
- You feel like you’re always letting God down. Jesus wants your burden.
- You don’t think you can ever be good enough for God. Jesus wants your burden.
- You __(fill in the blank)__. Jesus wants your burden.
There is no statute of limitations for the burdens that Jesus is willing to take. It doesn’t matter how long you’ve been carrying it yourself or how heavy it is.
Whatever your burden is, Jesus wants it.
That’s a promise that we can take with us today, for the rest of the week, and however long God has planned for us to be here.
Peace and Grace.