Key verse:
“Come to 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 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 NKJV

A world in trouble

The great invitation: that is the sub-heading in my King James Study Bible, just above the three scriptures that make up my key verse(s) for today’s message.  The great invitation!  I feel like shouting that out because invitations, depending on the invite I suppose, are fun – it’s fun to get invited somewhere, right?  There is an invitation out there, with your name on it, to enter into the Lord’s heavenly kingdom.  The question is: have you accepted or rejected that invitation?

We see everything that is going on in the world: the natural disasters occurring left and right, and two men who are dead set on sending two nations to war because both are trying to prove their manhood.  So-called prophets are running wild as they are predicting the end of the world is at hand.  We were not supposed to wake up this morning because the world was supposed to come to an end on September 23, 2017.

So-called prophets quoting scripture from Luke 21:9-11 and are loudly shouting that is over down here.  Yet, Jesus Christ said, “no one knows the day nor the hour” of His coming.  When the end does come, scripture tells us that it will be too late to try and ‘get right’ (Matthew 24:38-39).  That is why today, I pray, we can come to focus on our commission (task) of letting others know of the great invitation.

In the full text of scriptures that I’d recommend you read (Matthew 11:20-30), we see that Jesus warns the cities of Chorazin and Bethsaida; they had not repented even after witnessing Jesus’ great works (miracles).  Jesus begins to preach about the Day of Judgment; a day so terrible that what happened in Sodom would seem tolerable (Matt. 11:24).  This sounds exactly like what a lot of people like to do nowadays: preach on and on about the coming end.  There is nothing wrong with doing this IF you actually follow the way in which Jesus did.

Notice Jesus says (v.28), “come to Me […] and I will give you rest.”  You see, Jesus preached about that Day of Judgment, but He brings with that message a welcoming invitation into Him!  Jesus then goes on to say (v.29), “take my yoke […] and you will find rest for your souls.”  Here we have a heartwarming invitation to keep the wicked from having to see that Day of Judgment.  I feel as if we often forget this part, and simply wish the worst would happen to those that do not believe – that’s not right.

Rest for the soul

As stewards of the faith, we should be concerned for the souls of one another.  Last year, I spent a great deal on preaching and teaching about the soul because we take the soul for granted.

Jesus spoke of a yoke in our passage of scripture for today.  The yoke: a two-ended device that’s strapped around the neck for the purpose of carrying; it, I imagine, is not a very pleasant device to have to use.  I have never had to have a yoke about my neck, but I know that they are used on both animals and humans; I have seen people use a yoke to carry buckets of water.

The yoke of which Jesus speaks of does not necessarily sound like that; Jesus’ offer is one that guaranteed rest.  We must pay attention to the fact that this rest is not for the body but for the soul!  He says, again, “you will find rest for your souls.”  I have heard this passage of scripture often quoted, but it is never quoted completely through.  The one quoting the scripture usually is talking about physical rest, but that is not what Jesus speaks of here – this invitation is a spiritual invitation.

I have also noticed another scripture, very similar to this one, often get quoted in a style in which the person quote it refers to physical strength.  Isaiah 40:31 speaks of how the one that waits (believes) on the Lord will mount up wings; will run and not get weary, and will walk but not faint.  We cannot mount up wings physically!  Spiritually, however, we can certainly mount up wings and never grow tired – this is a spiritual blessing!

Our soul is very important.  As I have said many countless times, your soul truly is you, not that physical body.  We are spiritual beings wearing around a shell which is made up of working organs.  However, I will tell you that it is your spirit (your soul) that fuels your body!  This is why we should seek to strengthen our soul because once the soul begins to break, the body begins to break.  The body can break, but the soul can still keep pushing that body – I truly believe this because I am a testimony to this!  Our bodies will one day stop working but, I tell you this, it will not be the end for our soul!

Our soul can certainly grow weary.  The soul is always constantly in search of trying to find happiness.  The other thing that we often dismiss is the fact that we are born into a world of sin – again, this is spiritual.  Our soul is absolutely burdened by sin (I spoke about this last week).  The longer we try to lift the weight of our sin, the longer we are taxing our soul – we end up trying to find a way to relieve such a burden.  Mankind had to bare that yoke of sin all the way up until the Lord sent His only begotten Son, Jesus Christ.

The yoke of Christ

Jesus came with the Lord’s gospel.  Jesus spread the Lord’s gospel through miracles, teaching of the truth, His death, and in His resurrection.  Jesus then left mankind with a choice: believe or do not believe.  We must choose take up Christ yoke or let it sit by the wayside.  We must choose to learn of Jesus Christ or completely ignore Jesus Christ – the choice is ours.

You ever hear of that saying, “it’s too good to be true”?  I always look for a catch when someone comes up and tells me something that is too good to be true – what’s the kicker?  Jesus says (v.30), “My yoke is easy, m y burden is light.”  The first thing people say is, “it’s too hard being a Christian” – they just cannot believe the burden of being a Christian is light.

I am at age where I begin to ask, “What exactly is hard about being a Christian?”  Don’t get me wrong, the spiritual journey is certainly not an easy one, but I can’t imagine what it’s like trying to be on a spiritual journey without the Lord’s help!  There are certainly valleys, hills, and mountains on the spiritual journey but to not have the Lord there to help you makes the journey seem impossible, in my mind.

What’s so hard about walking with the yoke of Jesus Christ?  We have walked all our lives with the yoke of sin about our necks, allowing sin to burden us and weigh us down.  I don’t know about you but I much rather allow Jesus to lift that yoke off my neck!  Yet, people cry, “I can’t have any fun or do what I want.”  I don’t know about you, but I am certainly have a great time and am so wonderfully blessed in this life that the Lord has given me to live.

It’s time for us to put up these excuses!  The reasoning behind these excuses reminds me of what children say when a parent tells them it’s time to cut out some of their childish behavior!  Are we afraid of growing up, spiritually?  Are we afraid of growing up, period?  Frankly, some of us have gotten to old to still be out and about acting like teenage kids!

Jesus has not asked for much out of us!  Jesus asks us to follow Him!  My uncle often references how Jesus asked the disciples to wait an hour for Him in the garden (Matthew 26:40).  Jesus also asks for us to have just a little faith, the grain of a mustard seed – He’s not asking for you to have a ton of faith!  Are you willing to have just a little faith?  Are you willing to take on the yoke of Christ – trust Him, be obedient, and keep His ways?

Jesus tells us that if we are willing to take His invitation, put on His yoke, that He will grant our souls rest!  You will no longer need to take those soul searching trips; the Lord will renew your soul!  When you put on the yoke of Christ, you no longer have to worry and be ashamed about those sins because Christ has taken that yoke up from you!  You put on the yoke of Christ and you will most certainly gain entry into the Lord’s heavenly kingdom.  The invitation is still out there and waiting, even in this world that we live in today.  You must choose to accept or reject putting on the yoke of Christ.

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