"Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light."      Matthew 11:28-30

There is a land which has fallen into anarchy. People are robbing each other....setting each-others houses on fire. Pirates control the countryside. The king has an army stationed in fortresses across the land and he has commanded his army to go out and bring things back under his authority. But each time the troops march forth from their fortress the thing ends in a fiasco. The people of the land, for all their misery, don't want the king or his army to rule and they know just what to do to send the king's soldiers packing back to their fortresses like scared rats.

One morning the captain gave all the soldiers a pep talk.

"Now you're going to go out there and bring things under control. You're going to get some respect for the king and you're going to deliver the old and the weak and all the victims from those pirates!"

"Hurrah!" shout the soldiers as they burst from the fortress with their swords flashing.

But as soon as they came to the outskirts of the first village everybody in the village started pointing their finger at the soldiers.

"Shame! Shame!" they say. "Who are you to come out here and tell us to do anything? You soldiers are useless!"

And sure enough, one by one the soldiers sheath their swords, hang their heads, and shuffle back to the fortress like beaten dogs.

A few days later the soldiers come out again. This time they're going to do it…no one is going to intimidate them! But when they reach the village the whole populace bursts into laughter.

"Here they come again! Look at those clowns... they call themselves soldiers, All they know how to do is stumble over their own feet'"

Again the army is demoralized and slinks back to the fortress.

After a time of recuperation the soldiers make a third try. They aren't going to worry about accusations or laughter, or anything else! They're going to start conquering the land for the king! They march into the public square and are about to establish justice in this unjust land when suddenly all the citizens pour out of the stores and houses and saloons shaking their fists and making the most frightening faces. Again the army wilts and breaks into a running retreat for the fortress as fast as it can.

It's easy enough inside these walls,

- to talk about covering the earth with the gospel, 

- calling the nations to repentance,

- opening the eyes of the blind, setting the captives free and bringing good news to the poor.

And how many times we go out that door determined that this week we're going to take some territory for the Lord ... we're going to do the will of God in our daily life - really live by faith ---and we're going to manifest God's mercy to those around us, and we're going to boldly preach Jesus Christ and him crucified. But as soon as somebody points a finger and says, "Who are you to talk to us about God?" we wilt. Or when people start laughing at us...or when they growl and rave and threaten, our hearts melt.

The reason we are so easily intimidated by accusations, ridicule, hostility, coming at us from outside is because we are unsettled on the inside.

- When I'm settled and at peace inside my own heart,

- when I know who I am in God and what God has done for me and what God has called me to do,

- when I am sure that Jesus Christ is in me and that whoever receives me receives my Lord,

then I can go out there and do the will of God and speak a prophetic word and not be undone by a negative response.

My own inmost heart has to come to rest in God. If I'm at rest inside, the unrest on the outside can't upset me. When Jesus says,

"Come to me all you who labor and are heavy laden and I will give you rest,"

this is the kind of' rest he's talking about ... inner rest ... rest that holds us steady within while we work and think and struggle to do battle with evil.

"Take my yoke upon you and learn from me for I am meek and lowly of heart and you will find rest for your souls," ...not necessarily for our bodies, but our inner soul's rest that refreshes both soul and body.

When we have this inner rest we can endure strain and keep going through long seasons of difficulty and remain fresh. We need this inner rest in three areas:

1. We need rest from a troubled conscience.

A troubled conscience puts us on a treadmill where life becomes one long struggle to atone, to justify ourselves ... it wears us out. You wake up in the morning and there's this vague uneasy feeling --- something's wrong --- and it lingers with you all day long.

Sometimes it's like a man who committed a horrible crime long ago and can't even remember what it was, but he knows that whatever it was the stain of it is on his heart and one day he will stand before a judgment seat and he'll have to pay. So he can't enjoy life anymore and he's in dread of death ... he can't sleep well.

Sometimes it's like a man who not only remembers the wrong he's done, he can't stop doing it. So the guilt keeps piling up and his conscience is like a large infected open wound that throbs, aches, sends pain through his whole being.

May God help us to see the ways in which we are disturbed within with a troubled conscience. May he help us, where there is a need for repentance, to repent, to bring this thing to the Master.

"Come to me all you who labor and are heavy laden .... with a troubled conscience .... and I will give you rest."

"How, Lord?"

"I will give you rest by washing your wounded conscience in my blood. Just bring it to me, and I'll do it ... and you will have peace."

For if the sprinkling of defiled persons with the blood of goats and bulls and with the ashes of a heifer sanctifies for the purification of the flesh, how much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirt offered himself without blemish to God, purify your conscience from dead works to serve the living God.

                                                            Hebrews 9:13-14

But he was wounded for our transgressions,

he was bruised for our iniquities;

upon him was the chastisement that made us whole,

and with his stripes we are healed.

All we like sheep have gone astray;

we have turned everyone to his own way;

and the Lord has laid on him

the iniquity of us all.                        Isaiah 53:5-6

2. We need rest from an unstable ego.

An unstable ego is one that is so unsure of self that it tries to find some sense of worth by exalting itself above others. Every man or woman who lusts for greatness in the eyes of men ... and who of us doesn't in some way? … has an unstable ego.

We're like a fish swimming endlessly on always looking for that river or that ocean or that pond or puddle where it can get a little recognition or achieve a little status. And how much of our strength is spent on this pursuit!

No wonder we fall apart whenever people around us,

- laugh at us,

- ignore us,

- belittle us,

.....our egos are so shaky.

So we pull in our horns and keep our faith in Jesus Christ a secret. We can't risk being belittled anymore.

May God help us to see how we're letting ourselves be driven by an unstable ego.

"Come to me all you who labor and are heavy laden ... with a shaky ego ...and I will give you rest."

"How, Lord?"

"I will make you to know your worth in the eyes of God so you will be satisfied to be lowly in the eyes of men. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am meek and lowly of heart, and you will find rest for your souls."

The cure for an unstable ego is the mind of Christ which Jesus himself will give us if we will draw near, receive it, and clothe ourselves in it.

Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form he humbled himself and became obedient unto death, even death on across, Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.                        Philippians 2:5-11

What peace...what wonderful freedom we will enjoy when we come to the place where we daily draw near to Jesus and allow him to impart to us his mind!

3. We need rest from a fearful heart…

- Fear of tomorrow.

- Fear of failure.

- fear of rejection.

- Fear of war,

- Fear of sickness,

- Fear of death.

Often our fears are not that well defined. We're just afraid, covered with a cloud of fear, which makes us nervous, self-centered, covetous, miserly, paranoid ... always running away from some danger, always looking back over our shoulder ... never at rest, never at peace.

"Come to me all you who labor and are heavy laden ... with a fearful heart ... and I will give you rest."

"How, Lord?"

"I will give you my Spirit and my Spirit is not a spirit of fear, but of love, power, and self-discipline. My Spirit of mercy will drive fear out of your heart."

When the Holy Spirit came to the believers on Pentecost he brought boldness. And when the Holy Spirit refreshes us today as we open our hearts to him, he again brings boldness.

"And now, Lord, look upon their threats, and grant to thy servants to speak thy word with all boldness, while thou stretchest out thy hand to heal, and signs and wonders are performed, through the name of thy holy servant Jesus." And when they had prayed, the place in which they were gathered together was shaken; and they were filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke the word of God will boldness."  Acts 1:29-31

The servants of God who are being raised up and sent into the harvest at this hour are being equipped by God with a powerful gospel ... armed with the armor of light.     But above all they are being strengthened within with the eternal strength of God. Another name for that strength is rest ... God's rest, God's Sabbath.

- Rest from a troubled conscience.

- Rest from an unstable ego.

- Rest from a fearful heart.

Jesus calls us to that rest right now. He gives us the food of that rest in his body and blood.

If we will abide in that rest as we go forth into the world,

we will make disciples,

we will manifest the kingdom, and the light of God's mercy will shine forth from our lives and no darkness will overcome it.