Morning. David Sorn. Lead Pastor here at Renovation Church.
If you would…allow me to take a few minutes before we get started to talk about something incredibly important that’s happening this week in our church.
Starting tonight, our first of 5 house groups kicks off
We have five house groups that are offered on 4 different nights.
And they are insanely popular here at Renovation.
In fact, in 2 weeks, we’ve already signed up nearly 170 people!!!
House groups typically have around 30-40 people in a group…which means on an average night…there’s anywhere from 20-30 or so people in a house.
The night consists of social time, some activities to get to know each other, a DVD teaching (that I do) that’s based on our Sunday morn topic, and then we break up into small groups for the 2nd half of the night
To discuss, study the Bible more, or just listen if you like.
We do groups of 20-30 for a reason
If you get invited to a dinner party of 6-8 people that you don’t know…it could be great, but could be super awkward.
But 20-30 is like going to a BBQ of 20-30 people. You intuitively know that by the end of the night, you’re going to find some people you connect w/.
And it’s not simply that you’re looking for 90 minutes every week that are going to blow your mind (although I think you’ll love it), it’s that this is allowing you to establish a network of people around you (a real Christian community…not a crowd like this)
SO THAT when LIFE happens, you have a group of people that know you…that are there to encourage you, to babysit your kids, to challenge you, to be there at a funeral, to be in your wedding.
And that so you too could be that for other people
There are few things as amazing as Christian community.
And that’s why COMMUNITY is 1 of only 3 Core Values of this church.
Our vision is to “Be a people being changed by God to change the world”
It’s not…all of us…isolated in our own lives…changing the world on our own.
No, it’s “TO BE A PEOPLE.” We do this together.
In community…and then bring others who are seeking out God into our awesome, supportive communities as well!
So even if you know you can’t come every week…you should still sign-up…because we all need a community around us.
INTRODUCTION…STATE THE PROBLEM
OK. Thanks for indulging me for a few moments.
We are continuing this morning in our “I Promise” series where we’re studying a few of the promises that God makes to you.
Today, we’re going to look at God’s unique promise of “rest” that He offers to His followers.
Before we look at it though…let’s first acknowledge why this is so important…
Particularly to our culture…especially in modern times.
We are a perpetually tired people.
You’d be hard-pressed to find even a few people in this room who could say, “Yeah, I’m not tired at all. I’m just fully alert every day, and relaxed, and rested…ready to go!”
We’re a worn-down, worn-out people.
Part of it’s in how we work.
For those of you who work, boy do we as Americans know how to work…a lot.
I just heard this the other day: According to the International Labor Organization, “Americans work 137 more hours per year than Japanese workers, 260 more hours per year than British workers, and 499 more hours per year than French Workers.”
No surprise on that last one anyway.
We love to work.
And I think it’s getting worse.
It’s not that employers are demanding you stay in the factory or in the office longer, it’s that they’re insisting that you keep on working…even when you get home.
It’s like you have the “on-call” shift…every day.
Many employees are expected to check their emails, voicemails and more even while at home w/ their families.
And the exhaustion of being both “dad” & “employee”…the exhaustion of being both “mom who makes dinner”…and “employee who responds to the latest financial report” at the same time…is exhausting!
But it’s not just in how we work…it’s in how we play.
When my parents were kids…you didn’t really DO activities for kids until maybe you could join 7th grade football.
And for my mom…they didn’t even have sports for girls back then.
Even when I was a kid…there were a decent amount of activities you could do in the summer…but once school started…there wasn’t much of anything kids could do in the evening.
Unless you were in 7th or 8th grade or something.
Today…it’s a different world.
You could bring your 3 year old to activities 7 nights a week if you wanted to.
Especially in the suburbs.
There’s an endless litany of activities for families to choose from…and most of us treat it like an “All You Can Eat Buffet.”
And yet…we’re tired. Really tired. Really, really tired.
What are we going to do?
DIFFERENT KINDS OF REST
I think a large part of the answer lies in understanding and accepting your human limitations.
Understanding how God made you.
God made you as someone who needs to rest.
Ever think about how weird it is that humans have to sleep?
Like, what’s the point of that? Why didn’t God create us in such a way that we wouldn’t need to sleep?
I think in SO MANY ways…God uniquely created us so that we would see our own limitations…and in turn…realize that we need Him.
And one of the ways…culturally…that we’re REALLY struggling with this…is in acknowledging our limitations in what we can and can not personally accomplish in a week.
Whether it’s at work…or at home w/ the kids.
You can be just as tired trying to land that next account as you can staying at home with 3 kids trying to accomplish 3 Pinterest quality ideas and craft projects every day with your kids, who as it turns out, would rather play with cardboard boxes & plastic bags.
One of the more fascinating things in the Bible is the fact that Jesus himself often takes time to rest.
Think about that. Why is that we think we don’t need to rest, but Jesus did?
He knew the limitation of the human body…as he was fully God…fully human.
There’s an old Greek Legend about the great storyteller Aesop who was once seen playing a silly game with kids.
A passerby mocked him for wasting his time in such frivolous activity.
Aesop responded by picking up a bow, loosening its string, and placing it on the ground.
And he said, “Listen…if you keep a bow always bent, it’ll eventually break; But if you let it go slack, it will be more fit for use when you want it”
And that’s rest does for us.
Especially if you find a day weekly to rest, like they did in the Old testament.
It keeps you from breaking.
But…in just a moment…we’re going to see that Jesus calls us to an even more frequent rest…
But before we get there…let me say a word about the kind of rest we need to do.
Because most of us are going about it all wrong.
For example…there’s a right and a wrong way to nap.
I don’t pretend to be a sleep expert, and I’ve heard countless different theories on this, but what I can tell you is there certainly are some wrong ways to nap.
Ever take a nap, and you wake up more tired than before you napped?
And then worse yet, you continue to feel more tired?
It’s a miserable feeling!
I think a lot of us are attempting to rest that way.
We feel so worn out. SO worn out. From work…from parenting…from our social life even.
We’re exhausted…and in our exhaustion…we turn to what??
For most of us…it’s technology.
And science is proving that our brains grow more and more addicted to the rush of technology every day. The rush of instant gratification.
And it’s not just that people “relax” in front of the TV every night anymore
It’s that we don’t even have “spare moments” to relax anymore…because every spare moment is taken by our obsession with technology.
Waiting in line for fast food? What should you do? Take a moment to zone out? Relax…take a moment to pray?
NOPE! Time to check facebook?
Stopped at a red light? What should you do? Take a moment to just roll the windows down and enjoy the breeze?
NOPE! Time to illegally text!
In the bathroom for a few minutes…you get the point. J
And the sad reality is the vast, vast majority of these things are merely just the illusion of escape.
But in actuality, we’re not escaping from anything…and sadly enough, we’re not even really resting.
We’re not recuperating. We’re not finding more strength to go on…we’re not finding joy again…or trust in a greater purpose.
We’re trying to rest by numbing out.
And unfortunately that’s not really resting.
It’s more like a bad nap.
WHAT HIS YOKE LOOKS LIKE
But Jesus offers you a different kind of rest. Let’s check it out:
(Matthew 11:28-30) – NIV
“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. 29 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. 30 For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”
So Jesus…knowing what it’s like to live in this world…knows you’re tired.
He knows that you carry a lot of burdens.
That life is hard. Sometimes really, really hard.
And He says… “Hey…it’s okay. Come to me. Just c’mon…bring all your worries…all your troubles…all your fears…bring it all w/ you…and I’ll give you rest.
And then he says…”Take my yoke upon you.”
Do you know what a yoke is?
In case you don’t remember from playing “Oregon Trail,” a yoke is a wooden beam that was normally used between a pair of oxen, which enabled them to work together to pull a load.
(Show Yoke Picture) - Keep up to next verse
And the reality is…in life…everybody has to take some sort of yoke.
Let me explain. Imagine that you’re standing in a field…and you’ve been given 3 options.
You’re told that in life…you can really only pick from 3 yokes.
A religious one, the illusion of no yoke…which really just leads to a yoke later…or the Jesus yoke.
Let’s take a look at those 3 options.
Lots of time this gets skipped over when this passage is taught on, but Jesus is, in some sense, contrasting himself with the religious leaders of the day.
Because the Pharisees that had turned God into an endless list of rules to obey, rather than a God who was passionately in love w/ you
In fact, in Luke 11, he says this to those leaders:
(Luke 11:46) – NIV
Jesus replied, “And you experts in the law, woe to you, because you load people down with burdens they can hardly carry, and you yourselves will not lift one finger to help them.
And the burden of trying to earn your way to God by trying to be good enough…is an oppressive yoke.
One that will weigh you down until it crushes you.
Because you can never be good enough.
And the yoke of Jesus is nothing like that…
But you could also choose no yoke.
Well, that’s how people would describe it anyway.
They’ll say… “Yeah, I’m not doing any of this religious or Jesus stuff. I’m not gonna have some ‘god’ somewhere tell me what to do or how to live my life. I’m gonna be free. I’m gonna “live it up” and do what I want”
And at first glance…it kind of looks like those people are going “yokeless”
They’re throwing it all off. They are slave to no one. They’re living wild and free.
But the Bible says you are either a servant to God or a slave to sin
Because the freedom to “enjoy the pleasures of the world” is just an illusion.
It’s a temporary illusion that soon leads to a heavier yoke than anything Jesus would ever put upon you.
Ask anyone who’s tried to get their fill of sex…money…or power.
And then ask them if they’re happy.
It is a heavy, heavy yoke.
Or…you could…willingly…place the yoke of Jesus upon yourself.
But to the world…it looks silly
Why would you submit to this God and His ways…when you could be “free?”
But as Paul says in 1 Corinthians, what looks like foolishness to the world, is actually wisdom.
Jesus says if you choose his yoke, that it’s light.
But that begs a really interesting question:
Is it light because his yoke is actually physically lighter? Or is it potentially even heavier, but it’s the fact that He’s holding it with you…that makes it lighter?
It’s the second one.
This is why the image of a “yoke” is so cool.
See some people have God all wrong. He’s not driving behind you in a chariot with a whip…
He’s actually standing next to you, under the same yoke…carrying your burdens with you. Wow.
For example…I’ve moved 4 times now in the last 9 years.
Now that we’ve bought a house in Blaine, I hope to not move again unless it’s into the nursery home or heaven.
But every time I’ve moved, I’ve always had some close friends help.
And my friends know that I have pretty bad shoulders. (I’ve had 3 major shoulder surgeries), so they always help me carry things when we move.
Really, my problem is more from dislocations from falling down than my lack of ability to carry things.
But my friends would always look out for my shoulder.
I would notice sometimes that there’d be 3 guys carrying in a big dresser, and I’d have one corner, and I’d be thinking, “Why is this dresser so light??”
Oh because, I’m not actually really bearing any of the weight. J
Or, I heard a story once of a man who was carrying a heavy basket.
Because of the heavy load his young son offered to help.
So the father cut a large stick and placed it in the handle of the basket so that his end was very short, while his son’s end was 3 or 4 times longer.
Therefore, the son could walk along w/ Him, but the Father would be carrying the bulk of the load.
And that’s the image of being yoked with Jesus.
You get to WALK with Him…and He’s carrying your load. Your burdens.
As you start coming to Him daily…in prayer…telling Him what’s going on…Telling Him you’re tired…worn out..
And you start giving Him your worries…your concerns…your problems…
You start to notice… “Hey…my side’s getting a little lighter. God’s got this under control. My GOD can handle this!
He can take my burdens just like He said.
And that in turn, starts to give you rest!
And it’s not because his yoke is light…it’s because He’s carrying it w/ you that it feels light.
Jesus isn’t just asking you to come to church and smile…he demands your all.
He tells us to pick up our cross…to die to our selfish desires and follow Him…daily!
It’s not a small thing. It’s not a light yoke.
However…when we walk with Jesus…under His yoke…it’s amazing what He can do through us.
It’s astounding actually.
Because his Yoke…walking with Jesus…as Doug Webster has said, “is what actually frees us from the burden of self-centeredness. His YOKE is what liberates us from the load of self-righteousness and the judgment of others…it’s what frees us to live the way God actually intended us to live.
And that’s what makes it so much lighter.
It’s like finally getting into the groove of what God actually intended you to do.
It’s like when you finally head the right direction, God’s direction, it’s like you’re biking w/ the wind at your back.
And that’s part of what provides you with rest.
Everything else is just biking against the wind.
And it’s tiring.
In fact, it’s exhausting trying to carry the load on your own.
Will you let Jesus help give you rest?
Will you give some of your burdens up to God this morning?
It’s not just that he’ll take our burdens under the yoke, he’ll relief your weariness…your fatigue.
Again, this is why the “yoke metaphor” is so fantastic.
And here’s why.
I like to run. Weird I know. Who actually likes to run?
I’ve gotten pretty used to running by myself by now…I’m that guy who just throws on his headphones and awkwardly sometimes sings (off-key) as I stroll through your local Blaine neighborhood
But when I started…I used to run with my friend…and at the time…basically next-door neighbor…Jared Hibma.
And made it so easy because when you do hard work with someone else…the time just flies.
You forget about the hard work.
And Jesus can refresh you like this!
When you get on your knees every day. When you block off time…every day…to just connect with God.
He refreshes you.
When you’re connecting with Him throughout the day…Your burdens…your fatigue…your stress…it lessens…cuz you know Jesus is running with you.
He’s in the yoke…right next to you…and you remember…HE’S carrying most of the load.
He’s a big God…give it up to Him!
HOW IT GIVES US REST
But the trick of all this is: It actually takes a lot of faith to believe this works.
It takes a TON of faith to believe that if you STOP what you’re already doing…and spend time with God…you will actually be more rested.
There are really two different areas that this takes faith.
For one…it takes faith to believe that God can be more recharging than technology.
You might say…nah, that’s not true…I believe God could do that.
But then why does everyone turn to their cell phone, or their tablet, or their laptop or TV when they’re worn out…and not God?
Our actions reveal our true beliefs.
It takes faith to believe that if I had a really stressful day…that if I just went to a room by myself at night…and closed the door and talked with God for 10 minutes…that I actually would feel more rested….more recharged than if I zoned out and watched TV for 2 hours.
It takes faith to believe in the power of his recharging.
And it is a recharging.
Time with God is like plugging in.
You’re like a cell phone…your battery for what you can handle is decreasing all the time.
But plugging into God…can do wonders for your soul. For your rest.
The other area that requires a lot of faith is around our production.
Those of you that are go-getters. You’re driven. You love to achieve to produce. To accomplish.
And again…that can be a mom at home or single guy at the office…
As a person who’s also incredibly driven…sometimes to a fault…I find that it’s really hard to have the faith…that if I stop what I’m accomplishing so I can sit down and pray…that I’m actually going to be in a better place.
And potentially even accomplish more in the long run.
Seems kind of counterintuitive doesn’t it?
Let me explain this way….
There were two men that challenged each other to an all-day wood-chopping contest… (why, I don't know…but they did) J
The 1st challenger worked really hard…stopping only for a brief lunch break.
The 2nd challenger had a leisurely lunch and took several big breaks throughout the day.
At the end of the day, the 2nd challenger won by a substantial margin…to the annoyance of the 1st challenge who hardly took any breaks.
So the first challenger said to him, “I don’t get it…every time I checked, you were taking a rest, yet you chopped more wood than I did?!
To which the 2nd challenger responded, “But what you didn’t notice…was that I was sharpening my ax every time I sat down to rest.”
And that’s what happens when we spend time with God.
He’s sharpening you. He’s renovating you. He’s refreshing you. And that’s why spending time with Him is so amazing.
And that’s why it’s so restful.
But it takes faith to believe in that. It really does.
Ask God for faith to believe that this morning.
I think our lack of willingness to rest in God says a lot about what we think of ourselves…in our pride.
Like the workaholic who thinks the world will crumble if he takes a break.
But it also says a lot about what we think of God.
As Bill Hybels famously said years ago, “Most of us are too busy…NOT to pray”
So I encourage you this morning…leave here this morning willing to make some tough choices about pursuing rest with Jesus…about getting under his Yoke.
Like we talked about last week, make some tough decisions to do whatever it takes to put your relationship with God first.
Whether it’s to make some tough choices about the number of hours you’re working
Or maybe your family makes a decision to limit the number of activities you do, so you can make sure to have time to rest with God.
To put God first.
To say, “We’re going to make our decisions based on eternal things.
We’re going to trust that true joy actually comes from REST…not busyness.
If you’re married, have some tough conversations on the way home today w/ your spouse about these things.
Do what it takes to find rest through Him.
Maybe you even schedule a trip to get away with God at a Wilderness Fellowship cabin (you can get a brochure in the hallway) where so many from Renovation have gone and had an amazing time.
Give Him your burdens.
Trust that He can carry them. That He can take care of it. Let that give you rest.
Whatever God’s been messing with you about this morning…I encourage to listen to Him J
Make steps to follow through on it…even before you leave today
And thanks to our God…let’s all walk a little lighter…and a little more rested this week!
Copyright: David Sorn
Renovation Church in Blaine, MN
You may use this material all you like! We only ask that you do not charge a fee and that you quote the source and not say it is your own.