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Saturday, February 9, 2019

Come to Me and I Will Give You Rest

Come to Me and I Will Give You Rest
We are tired. Overworked. Stretched thin. We rush around with long lists of things to do.  So many people to please and so many jobs to perform.  We never catch up.  Never get everything right.  Always things left undone. And there’s always someone around wanting more from us.  Adding more burdens onto our already overburdened life. 
We stay away from church because we think that even God will expect too much from us.  Give us more burdens to carry.  And more rules and laws to keep.  It would be too much work trying to be good. But we have to be good to get into heaven, don’t we?   
 But how good is good enough? What do we have to do to be good enough?  Be moral?  Pray all day? Be honest?  Work harder? Pay our taxes? Keep the Sabbath? Keep our promises?  Pay ten percent to the church?  Stay sober? What level of good is good enough?  Good enough to get into heaven? Seems like no one can answer that question! Sounds like a lot of work and we are already tired.
But Jesus comes in and breaks all the rules.  Changes everything.  Jesus calls to us saying: “Come unto Me all you who are tired and heavy laden, and I will give you rest.”  (Matthew 11:28) And then He tells us that we don’t have to work or earn our way or do anything to go to heaven!  That salvation of the soul is unearned!  A free gift for us to take.  We do nothing and He does everything! “For by grace are you saved through faith and not of yourselves, it is a gift of God, not of works, lest any person boast.”  (Ephesians 2:8-9)  
God offers us a free gift. God’s grace is poured out onto us. This grace of God spoken of throughout Scripture is greater than we could ever imagine.  We don’t need to earn God’s love or grace.  We already have it.  We don’t have to perform for God or struggle to get His grace. He gives it to us freely.  The only thing we must do is take it through faith.  Faith’s only job is to receive what Grace offers.  If you don’t believe you have a gift, then you won’t reach out and take it.  But Scripture says: “Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved.” (Acts 16:31)   It’s simple enough for a child to understand. Faith and believing are the same thing.
But some folks stumble because receiving salvation is so simple.  They want to make it more complicated! We sometimes find it hard to trust the miracle of God’s amazing grace!  We are a proud people, so used to believing that we must make our own way.  At least make part of it.  We want to run our own life and make our own choices. We tell God to get out.  We want to do our own thing without God’s interference.  He might get in our way.  We want His help but not His interference.  No strings attached.  We are special and we want it all on our own terms!
But we find we can’t do it all on our own. Our own way doesn’t seem to work very long. We are stuck fast in our sins and prejudices and pride.  No matter how hard we try we can’t wiggle out and save ourselves. And things aren’t going right in our lives either!  We struggle along through life anxious, fearful, angry and frustrated.  Where is the rest and peace and joy that we hear about in the Scriptures?  Shouldn’t God just be our bellboy in the sky handing us everything we want or demand while we do our thing and run our own life?  
Scripture says we must humbly come to God and believe in Christ as our Savior and Lord?  The Church calls it “justification by faith”.  Why does the whole Bible insist that “faith” or “believing” is so important?  Why did God command Adam and Eve, the first man and woman, to enjoy all of the fruits in the Garden of Eden or Paradise, but not to eat the fruit of just one tree?  Why was that one little thing so important?  Is God telling us humans that He will give us salvation, rest and peace and joy, that He will give us Paradise, but only if we belong to Him?  For Adam and Eve – if they only obeyed and didn’t eat that one fruit.  And for us, if we only believe in Christ!  Simple trust ties us to God.
We find we can’t run our lives on our own.  We must have God’s amazing grace! So, we stop believing we can do it all and humbly ask God to help us.  And we step out in faith and believe in Christ. And then God, in His gracious kindness declares us not guilty.  He has done this through Christ Jesus, who has freed us by taking away our sins.  (Romans 3:24-25)
“God didn’t overlook your sins, lest He endorse them.  He didn’t punish you, lest He destroy you.  Instead He found a way to punish the sin and preserve the sinner.  Jesus took your punishment and the sin, and preserves the sinner, giving you credit for Jesus’ perfection.  It’s a sweet exchange, your sins for His righteousness. (See Max Lucado’s book, “Grace”, p.36)
But God’s grace doesn’t just give us eternal salvation.  God’s grace also gives us rest and peace and joy while we are living our lives here on earth.  Christians are called to rest in His grace.  Give our problems to Him and trust Him to take care of them.  Scripture says: “Casting all your cares on Him, for He cares for you.”  (1 Peter 5:7)  
We become “citizens of the Kingdom of God” when we believed in Christ.  And the Bible tells us that the Kingdom of God is “righteousness, peace and joy.” (Romans 14:17)   In other words, it is a Paradise!  As followers of Christ that is our heritage and our inheritance.  Scripture says: “For we who have trusted in God and relied on Him do enter that rest….” (Hebrews 4:3)
God tells those who believe in Christ to ask and we shall receive, seek and we shall find, and knock and it shall be opened to us. (Matthew 7:7-8, Luke 11:9) That sounds like Paradise to me! When we pray and ask God for something, we often expect our prayer to be answered quickly and in a certain way.  But God often takes a different route in answering our prayers. That’s when we need to trust God and rely on His grace.
God may not work the problem out the way we thought He would. But He knows the way through the wilderness.  He knows our problems and He will answer our prayers and work out things for the best, and in His time frame.  He gives us the precious promise – the grace - that He will answer all of our prayers if they are in His will and if we will trust Him enough to allow Him to do that.  (Romans 8:28)
So, you don’t have to be afraid and you don’t have to worry or be anxious. Scripture says: “Be anxious in nothing but in everything by prayer and supplication, make your requests known unto God, and the peace that passes understanding will keep your minds and hearts in Christ Jesus.”  (Philippians 4:6-8) The Holy Spirit is our “Comforter”. (John 14:26) We can rest and have the peace that God has all of our problems and requests in His Hands.  We can relax and let grace happen. What can I say!  It doesn’t get any better than that! 

Some of the ideas in this blog were taken from Max Lucado’s book, “Grace” and from Joyce Meyer’s book, “Grace of God”.

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