There remains, therefore, a rest to the people of God

Hebrews 4:9

One of the most beautiful words in all scripture is that word rest. When the soul has come to the end of its own restlessness, its burdens,

its labors,

its anxieties,

its endless chasing from one disappointment to another and has entered into the rest of God.

God's rest is something much more than being able to sit down and take it easy.

A prisoner in his cell can sit down any time he wants to but he has no rest.

An old woman in a convalescent home sits from morning till night, but her troubled mind knows nothing but labor and sadness.

And how many of us who appear, on the outside, to have things under control are inwardly forever on the move, unsettled, burdened.

Even among believers who have truly tasted the mercy of God through the blood of Jesus Christ, there is so often an inward heaviness, a weighing down of the spirit, a restlessness, which indicates that whatever other blessings they have received, they certainly haven't found the rest of God as their abiding place.

Why should we deceive ourselves? If that rest isn't there, it isn't there.

Why should we go on pretending that our hearts are at peace when they're still restless? Better that we should admit that the promised rest has not yet become ours, and seek it.

There remains, therefore, a rest to the people of God.

We know it's been promised and we know where it is to be found. We have gone to Jesus for so many things and we have received: forgiveness, healing, wisdom, insight. But have we ever specifically gone to Jesus for this rest? We've heard His invitation countless times, but have we answered it?

Come unto me all you who labor and are heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am meek and lowly of heart and you shall find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.

Jesus does inside our souls exactly what He did on the Sea of Galilee that stormy night. He says to the storm inside us, "Peace! Be still!" and it ends. The storms outside will rage on and get worse, but when your inmost soul is at rest in God, free from its own burdens, it can take anything.

It's like having two tons suddenly lifted off your back and finding yourself able to stand up straight for the first time in your life. The strain is gone, the anxiety, the heaviness. Right in the middle of all the wars that keep raging in your circumstances, your spirit is filled with the awesome peace of God.

You don't have to wait long years for this to happen. You don't have to learn some complicated mystical exercise. If there is any woman or man reading these words who is laboring and heavy-laden in their soul, Jesus says to you, "Come to me, I will give you rest. Today - this hour."

But the place you find this rest is the last place that you'd expect it. You find rest - you are delivered from your burdens - by putting yourself under yet another burden: the burden of Jesus' yoke.

It looks heavy - that wooden yoke that links two oxen together for labor. Jesus is already under one side of the yoke and calls you to come under the other side.

Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am meek and lowly of heart and you shall find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.

"But Lord, I thought you'd at least give me a chance to sit down on the grassy riverbank for a while and just listen to your words and relax."

"I thought maybe you'd let me sit in the boat and unwind a little while you teach."

"Lord, can't you see I'm too tensed up? I'm not ready to get under the yoke with you!"

"My child, if you sit on the riverbank,you will  still have your burdens. If you sit in the boat, your spirit will still be weighed down. You will find rest only when you come under this yoke with me."

The reason so many professing believers have never experienced God's rest is because they're afraid of Jesus' yoke. They're afraid that if they get under the yoke with Jesus they'll be tied down. So they stagger on under the weight of burdens of self and flesh, which are a million times heavier than His.

The message of God to us is that if we want to enter into His rest we have to place ourselves under Jesus' yoke.

"Take my yoke upon you. Come under the yoke with me. It's the only way."

l. Our souls will be at rest in God when we are with Jesus under his yoke of meekness.

Learn from me for I am meek and lowly of heart and you shall find rest for your souls.

When we come with Jesus under the yoke of meekness, we are immediately delivered from the staggering burden of our ego.

What a burden it is to forever be worried about;

- whether we are being given the proper respect!

- whether we are being taken seriously!

- whether we look right!

- whether we're living up to our heavy reputation!

When we get under His yoke, all that falls away - it doesn't matter - because our goal is no longer to be important, but to be meek. And the Son of God begins to teach us how.

What a relief not to have to worry about our ratings, not to have to defend ourselves before men, not to have to spend half the day polishing our image, but to walk side-by-side with the lowliest man who ever dwelt on earth, who is none other than our Lord and God!

That's divine rest.

That's the beginning of all peace.

2. Our souls will be at rest in God when they are with Jesus under the yoke of the Cross.

Under the yoke of the Cross, our souls are set free from the burden of life itself.... of trying

            to stay alive,

            or look alive.   

Whoever finds their life will lose it, and whoever who loses their life for my sake will find it.                                                                                                             Matthew 10:39

When I'm under the yoke of His Cross,

- I'm dead.

- I'm crucified with Christ.

- I'm freed from myself.

- I'm delivered from the burden of having to prove to anybody that I'm alive.

Now the only life I have is His life. Christ in me, the hope of glory. Now the burden I carry on my shoulders is to follow Jesus in doing the will of the Father even to a cross. And that's so much easier - so much easier than going my own way.

The yoke of His Cross isn't gloom and sadness. It's liberty, unspeakable joy. Don't be afraid of it. It will do you nothing but good.

Far be it from me to glory except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ by which the world has been crucified to me and I to the world.    Galatians 6:14

So now I can go on and do the will of heaven unhindered by the fear of death, failure, or oblivion. I've already been crucified to the world and the world to me. I can live to God.

3. Our souls will be at rest in God when we are with Jesus under the yoke of labor.

Under the yoke of His labor we are set free from the burden of our own labors.

- We no longer work to get to heaven.

- We no longer work to ease our guilt.

- We no longer work to build our own little kingdom.

- We no longer strain our brains to figure out a way to be as lazy as possible.

We work because He works. And it's all joy.

"My meat and drink is to do the will of Him who sent me and to accomplish His work."

"We must work the works of Him who sent me while it is day. Night comes when no man can work."

"I sent you to reap that for which you did not labor. Others have labored and you have entered into their labor."

We don't just come to church and prayer meetings and Bible Studies.

- We go forth into the harvest and proclaim the gospel.

- We preach the Kingdom and heal the sick.

- We make disciples.

- We feed the hungry and clothe the naked and visit the shut-ins.

- We get down on our knees and pray for more laborers.

- We lift the souls of men and women up before the throne and intercede.

It's the saints who work most diligently who are most rested with the rest of God because they have fellowship with the Son of God all the way.

4. Our souls will be at rest in God when we are with Jesus under the yoke of anguish for Zion.

"0 Jerusalem, Jerusalem, killing the prophets and stoning those who are sent to you! How often would I have gathered your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings. But you would not!"                                       Matthew 23:37

And when He drew near and saw the city He wept over it, saying, "Would that even today you knew the things that belong to your peace! But now they are hid from your eyes."                                                                                       Luke 19:41-42

Does Jesus have to weep alone over Jerusalem, over Israel, over the Church/?

When you get under the yoke with Jesus,

- you weep too,

- you get a taste of His heartache over the pride and willfulness that blinds the eyes of the church on earth,

- you share His burden.

And as you do, you are delivered from your burden of self-pity.

When Jesus begins to lay on us his burden for Zion, it's painful, but it's not nearly as painful as the anguish we've had for ourselves all these years. Anguish for Zion is easy compared with the tears we've shed for ourselves, and the regrets, the grudges, the bitterness toward those we've blamed for our troubles.

Jesus knew what that widow was going through weeping for her dead son, because he was weeping for a dead Israel. Now added to that is a dead church.

May God help us this day to get under the yoke of His anguish and start caring the way He cares.

"There remains, therefore, a rest to the people of God." - A real Sabbath.

It remains. It's there. It's waiting for you now if you want it.

"Come unto me all you that labor and are heavy-laden and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am meek and lowly of heart, and you shall find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light."