July 23, 2017: 7th Sunday after Pentecost

Let us pray: Dear Savior, life is often a burden for each of us. All sorts of pain and stress are heaped upon us and pull our spirit’s down. Today we long for rest, peace, and quietness from all such negativity. Since You are the Prince of peace, You can give us such rest. Please do so and train us to cultivate all those gifts of inner peace that You bestow. Amen


TEXT: Matthew 11: 25-30

Dearly Beloved By Christ:

I still remember the moment. My friend was middle-aged and in pain. They had about 3 chronic ailments that all worked together to weigh them down. After dealing with them for a couple of years my friend got so frustrated that one day they said to God: “Lord, if I’m going to have to face this kind of pain for the next 25 or 30 years, just take me now!” And they meant it! Chronic pain impacts the physical side of life, the emotional side, and the spiritual side. If one is affected, all suffer. That’s because God made us as whole beings and didn’t compartmentalize us.

The last few sermons have been a bit heavy-duty. They all have dealt with some of the stressors we either have or will face and the attendant pain those stressors bring. That’s why today is a breath of fresh air! Because instead of feeling helpless and alone amidst the problems of life, we have help—God’s help in coping! And it’s all found in that wonderful passage: “Come unto me all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.”


If you desire physical well-being one of the things you must do is: strengthen the core of your body. The body is a whole. Every part is inter-connected. So none of your limbs will function very well unless your trunk, your core, is strong. That’s why people have taken to Tai Chi and Yoga exercises, as they are all about strengthening your core.

But, the body doesn’t exist in a vacuum. Emotions control us and our bodies. Most folks don’t engage in 10 or 12 hours of hard physical labor as in years gone by. Instead, we sit at desks, in cars, and in front of the television! But, we’re just as worn out as previous generations, perhaps even moreso. Why? Emotional stress is the modern burden we all bear. Emotions like: indecision, rejection, resentment, dread, humiliation, unworthiness, helplessness and many others plague modern humans. They, in turn, affect our inner organs and especially our brains and our ability to cope. But, it doesn’t stop there. No, we also are made with a spiritual component. We possess an eternal soul which draws our entire being together. Contrary to the view of most, the spiritual side of you is the most vital of all. It is the “core” of your core! I say this because it contains a part of God Himself. After all, He breathed into you the breath of life at creation. Thereby He gave you a part of Himself separate from the “dust of the ground.” So, if the spirit within you is hurting, the whole body in every aspect will be impacted.

Like you, I often feel physically and emotionally helpless as I watch the world flounder. I don’t need to enumerate the problems today as I’ve done it before and we all see them daily. Sufficeth it to say, when you’re in chronic pain, or emotionally drained, in other words: “when you’re wearied and burdened” it impacts your spirit and you long for rest and recuperation!


Right here in our lesson, Jesus Christ, the Son of God, promises us such rest! Those words: “And I will give you rest” are a promise of God. That means they are etched in the immortal foundation stones of heaven itself. They are immutable. God cannot take that promise back. He cannot ignore it. It is part of His core being.

So, how do we get such “rest”? How do we, personally, attain the seemingly unattainable? Again, Christ tells us: “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.”

Christ’s yoke is the Gospel. It is the forgiveness of sins. It is His eternal love which compelled and propelled Him to the cross and later out of the tomb. And here He offers and seeks to give to each of us that gift. He says: “Just take it, believe it, live in its peace and your soul will be centered.” It’s true! When a person is at peace with God because he knows God is at peace with him or her—well, that translates to the physical and emotional sides of life, too. Isn’t receiving love easy? Isn’t having it flood you with contentment, light to bear? The point is: when you quit fighting God and let His love envelope you all sorts of blessings, we’ll call them “core strengtheners” occur. Suddenly, truth starts of predominate and you don’t lie to yourself or others as much. Justice isn’t scary because you realize that God will right every wrong in the end. Likewise, you realize that evil won’t last forever, but will end. Suddenly, you also begin to focus on higher ideals such as what is truly admirable and foster it in your life. You study God’s Word because it contains Godly ideals which by His grace can become your living reality. You praise God for these gifts and also begin to praise others more often. That, in turn, fosters joy and gladness over just being alive and seeing kids grow up, the seasons come, the orchards bloom and fruit, and you actively seek peace with others instead of trying to exact revenge.

As you employ all these gifts and countless others that come from God, your inner core is strengthened. You become humble, yet strong, just like Christ. You find yourself rising above physical pain, or when facing emotional turmoil–you let go of it. You actually do begin to “forgive and forget” past hurts. Thus your body begins to heal, your emotions develop a more even keel, and most of all, your soul is content and flourishes!

All these things happen as a result of: “Coming to Christ with your burdens and weariness and receiving His rest.” This isn’t a pie-in-the-sky mentality, either. It isn’t just preacher talk. It’s the reality of being a Christian. A reality that sustained God’s people during horrible persecutions, during plagues, during cataclysms, and during death. So, continue to put God first, always first. Continue to go to church, hear His divine truth, ponder and practice its values, and pray for more! Do so with this truth etched front and center in your viewfinder: “For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” Amen