Behold, how good and how pleasant it is, For brethren to dwell together in unity!

Psalm 133:1

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Time magazine noted that back in the sixties, experts predicted that advances in technology would radically change how many hours a week people worked. They forecasted that the average person would be working 22 hours a week within twenty years. “The great challenge,” the experts said, “would be figuring out what to do with all the excess time.” Fifty years later, after major advances in technology, how many of us have excess time on our hands?

Finding spiritual rest
Let’s see how many of us are being dragged through life. Fill in the blanks:
• I’m ready to throw in the…
• I’m at the end of my…
• I’m just a bundle of…
• My life is falling…
• I’m at my wit’s…

Apparently we’re all experiencing the rat race. Just when you thought you were getting ahead, along come faster rats. But remember, he who wins the rat race is still a rat!
We need to learn how to experience rest. If all we needed was physical rest, we can always take a nap. If we needed only emotional rest, we can always take a vacation. But where can we find spiritual rest? How can we obtain relief regarding the deepest issues of life at the deepest level of our hearts?

You need to come
Over and over again God urges us to come. It must be one of the Lord’s favourite words. It is used approximately 1 825 times in the New King James Version of the Bible.
• “‘Come now, and let us reason together,’ says the Lord.” Isa 1:18
“Everyone who thirsts, come to the waters...without money and without price.” Isa 55:1
“Come aside by yourselves to a deserted place and rest a while.” Mark 6:31
• “All that the Father gives Me will come to Me, and the one who comes to Me I will by no means cast out.” John 6:37
• “And the Spirit and the Bride say: “Come!” And let him who hears say: “Come!” And let him who thirsts come. Whoever desires let him take the water of life freely.” Rev 22:17.

The greatest invitation
Jesus regularly invited people to come to Him to meet their needs. Christianity begins with meeting Christ personally. Going to McDonalds does not make you a hamburger. Going into a garage doesn’t make you a car. Going to church does not make you a Christian - you must meet Christ personally.

Gathering information about Jesus does not make you a Christian. Joining a group does not make you a believer. Having Christian parents doesn’t make you one too. You become a Christian through a moment of time when you chose to answer His invitation to turn from your own ways and come to Him.
You will find that He’s been waiting for you all along. Have you done that? Can you look to a time when you decided to answer His call to come?
You say: “but my life is really a mess, I don’t think I am ready to come.” His invitation is to come as you are!

If you’re hungry, He is the bread of life. If you are thirsty then come and drink from the fountain of life. If you want eternal existence, He promises you an abundant life that will never end.

Jesus is the ultimate gift
The search to satisfy these needs on our own leads down many empty roads. The tiresome search of the soul...this is what Jesus is referring to. He has the ultimate gift to give. There is rest for those who labour: there are many people who put so much effort into good works and trying to please God. They are sincere, conscientious people who are trying to balance the scales of good deeds versus bad deeds in an effort to be accepted by God. You never know how your account is balanced at any time.

You will find rest at the Cross
Human effort falls far short of the standard God requires. The Cross is the place of exchange where what I am is placed on Him and what He is, is given to me. My bad deeds are removed and placed on Him. I rest on His perfect deeds credited to my account.
There is rest for those who are heavy laden, for those who stagger under the hefty weight and burden of sin. It is also available for those living for possessions, prominence and pleasure.

Finding peace with God
In Jesus Christ the full penalty has already been paid. You can begin life anew and have the page wiped clean. God did not send Jesus to rub our sins in, but to rub them out. He bore the guilt and paid the penalty, there is nothing left to pay! Come and rest in what Jesus has done for you.
The sense of relief of burden is real for all who’ve come to Christ. The Bible calls it “peace with God.” You can come to Him right now, by faith!

Don’t struggle alone
In Matthew’s Gospel Jesus invites us to “take My yoke upon you and learn of Me...For My yoke is easy.” A better translation of the Greek would be “well fitting”. Jesus was a carpenter. He knew what it was to measure the neck of the oxen so that the yoke exactly fitted and didn’t chafe or gall the neck of the ox. When Jesus places His yoke upon you, it exactly fits your circumstances. His yoke fits well and is lighter than the one we’ve been pulling alone. 

A yoke is a type of harness that connects a pair of oxen. Yokes are made for two, not one. We were not meant to go through life living apart from God. We are not meant to struggle through our problems on our own. He says that He will never leave us nor forsake us.

The idea of a yoke pictures the forward motion of two connected together. You cannot be yoked to Jesus and go your own way anymore. We follow Him and His direction for our life. His yoke is easy compared to man made religious yokes. His burden is light compared to the burden of human effort.

Salvation is a free gift
In Acts 15, the Apostle Peter warned the leaders of the fledgling church in Jerusalem about the danger of imposing the yoke of following rules and religious system to be accepted by God.
This is the way most people are familiar with the idea of relating to God – through rules and religion. This is not the yoke that Jesus speaks of. Which yoke have you been under? Jesus’ or man’s?

Rules and religion don’t fit the need for personal relationship. There are scores of religions around the world and all of them urge their followers to work out their salvation. Only in the Gospel do we find a way of salvation based, not on our own efforts. God has intervened in human history and stepped in to lift us up.
The Apostle Paul explains it in this way: “God saved you by His grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God. Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it.” Eph 2:8-9.

Stop trying to earn your salvation. You will never find peace and spiritual rest in rules and religion, but only in a personal relationship with God based on the finished work of Jesus.

The Lord’s invitation to you
There is a standing invitation for you to come. Come with your burdens and issues. Cast them on Him. Turn from your efforts to climb the infinite ladder to Heaven. Rest in Him and find that perfect peace, a peace that is beyond comprehension.

If you have never answered the invitation of Jesus to come and you have no assurance that you are a child of God, that your sins are forgiven and you have eternal life, we invite you to contact us to request a free booklet, “Steps to Peace With God.” Simply email: info@joymag.co.za and we will be happy to send this to you.  

 

Nico Bougas is the International Coordinator of  Hellenic  Ministries. For more information email: 
nico@bougas.info or  www.hellenicministries.com

Contact JOY! Magazine
Tel: +27 (0)21 852 4061
Fax: +27 (0)21 852 5781
E-mail: info@joymag.co.za
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