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An Invitation to Rest
Posted by Rev. Jeff Dixon, Senior Equipping Minister at Covenant Community Church on Mar 1, 2001, 21:17

An elderly woman had just returned to her home from a church service when she was startled to find an intruder in the act of robbing her home of its valuables.

She yelled, "Stop! Acts 2:38!" (which reads, "turn from your sin").

The burglar stopped dead in his tracks. The woman calmly called the police and explained what she’d done.

As the officer cuffed the man, he asked the burglar, "Why did you just stand there? All the old lady did was yell a Scripture at you."

"Scripture?" replied the burglar. "She said she had an ax and two .38’s!"

In the book of Matthew, chapter 11, verses 28-30 we read an invitation from Jesus to each of us. The verses are short but they are loaded with invitations for those who need to rest. What about you today, do you need to find the rest that only comes from Jesus? If so, you have an open invitation to discover that today as we look at this passage, lets see what we can find.

First we find An invitation to Rest Physically
(v.28) “Come to me all who are weary. . .”

The invitation is for ALL who are weary. Have you ever thought about how much Jesus could identify with those who work and grow tired ? He understood about long hours of hard labor, from the carpenter’s shop to fishing expeditions. . to dealing with the people that came wanting something from him. He understood and valued a strong work ethic, he chose hard working men to be his disciples. He knew it would take work as his message was shared. When you are tired and you wonder if you can go on, Jesus understands and cares. He offers us strength (this time of reading and study should be a time of strengthening for you) and refreshment by resting in Him.

In an article on old-timer pickup softball games--where seniors in Naperville, Illinois, gather twice weekly to test their skills against one another--writer Ted Gregory explains the risks: not pulled muscles and sprained ankles, but sometimes senior softball players suffer heart attacks from exerting themselves in the hot sun.

Despite the risks, 63-year-old Bill Body explained why he plays: "If I’m going to die, I’m going to die doing what I love doing, whether it’s playing softball, fishing, hunting, or something else."

We’re often tempted in the church to slow down, cut back, take it easy because we get tired of taking risks--and in Christ’s work, there are a lot of emotional and spiritual risks. But Bill Body is exactly right: life itself is a risk--we’re all going to die. So we might as well get involved, take the risks, and do the things in Christ we really love. Sometimes we are tired because we spend so much time not doing the things we love, and we are exhausted with no energy to do the important things.

Next see An Invitation to Rest Emotionally
(v.28) “Come to me all who are weary and burdened . . .and I will give you rest”

The invitation is for all who are heavy laden or burdened. Emotional burdens will drain our strength and worry wears us out. But in Jesus we have one who allows us to cast our cares upon him (1 Peter 5:7). He gives us peace when we are troubled and He guards our hearts (Phil. 4:6-8). His grace is more than sufficient for all our needs. When we pause long enough to think about it, we can be an emotionally spent group of people. There is only one place to go for refreshment when we feel that way, and that is to Him.

Here is another, please notice An invitation to Rest Spiritually
(v. 29) 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

The promise here is so important. You will find rest for your souls. There is no real rest, until you rest in Him. We are constantly struggling as human beings. We try to do good things, we try to do religious things, we try to be perfect on our own. But we end up being worn out spiritually.

Gregg Easterbrook writes in The New Republic: "Recent studies indicate that men and women who practice in any of the mainstream faiths have above-average longevity, fewer strokes, less heart disease, less clinical depression, better immune-system function, lower blood pressure, and fewer anxiety attacks, and they are much less likely to commit suicide than the population at large. These findings come from secular medical schools and schools of public health.

In the most striking finding, Dr. Harold Koenig of Duke University Medical Center has calculated that, with regard to any mainstream faith, ‘lack of religious involvement has an effect on mortality that is equivalent to 40 years of smoking one pack of cigarettes per day.’

Another new study, conducted mainly by researchers at the University of Texas, found that those who regularly attended worship services lived an average of seven years longer than those who never attended."

Only Jesus gives rest. How, you may ask? Trust Him first. You discover He is gentle and kind and then you will begin to rest.

How about it? Are you tired and weary and badly in need of rest? You have just seen an open invitation extended to you from the Creator of the universe. What you do with that invitation is up to you.

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