Thursday 6 July 2017

Matthew 11 v 28/30

There must be very few Christians or non- Christians who have not experienced some worry, some anxiety. We need hardly ask whether worry harms, it causes us to lose sleep, takes the joy out of living, causes our hair to fall out or turn grey, even leads to an early grave.

There are so many fears in modern life. Young people facing life away from home for the first time. The man in his 40s fearing redundancy. Young managers worried at having to constantly achieve ridiculously high targets. The business man working such hours he hardly has little time to see his family. There is the fear of marriage breakdown, or serious illness; fear of losing someone dear.

What is the answer for the growing number of older people frightened to venture out of their homes? The one parent abandoned by their husband /wife.

In addition to all such personal problems there is the worry of what is going on in the world at large as we see a psychopathic leader of a small insignificant country wanting to take on the mightiest country in the world. We face terrorist threats in our cities’ and irresponsible politicians call for civil disobedience to overthrow a government or to reject the result of a democratic held referendum,

In our own country there is a deep concern over the future as one Party cannot make its mind up and another lives in a kind of make-believe world.

It is like watching two trains heading towards each other on the same track.

As Christians we need to ask, ‘what is life all about’? So many people, especially the young, have no meaningful purpose. They have a hard outlook of, ‘live life to excess, get what you can out of it by any means whatever’, and we see drug and alcohol addiction. The Bible says life has no meaning apart from God, but for many God is unreal.

The Bible says that God is separated from us by sin. Sin is not just immorality; it is an attitude of rebellion and independence, saying ‘I go my own way’. The Prodigal Son went his own way to be free and independent, but failed to find any true purpose in life, and found he was cut off from the only person who really loved him. Yet this is a common situation.

God is willing to pour His grace upon all. You can’t however come to God except through Jesus Christ. Not by Mohammed, Buddha, or anyone else. Jesus came, sent from God with the sole purpose of bringing us into a living relationship with Himself.
Christ came to seek and to save the lost, the fearful and the lonely, the worried and the broken hearted.

To all who are worried, afraid or anxious, Jesus says, ‘Come to me all you who are weary and heavy laden and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, 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.’ It is said that these are the most wonderful words spoken by our Lord, the very heart of Christianity. They speak of the failure of men and women to solve the problems of the world.

Come===, just as you are; He is waiting. Jesus has said, ‘Here I am. I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him, and he with me’. But the door handle is only on the inside, and it has to be opened from within, you are the one who can turn it, in faith.

In the East to receive an invitation to eat with someone was considered to be a most generous, honoured and favoured act, and the greatest act of friendship is to dine with someone Jesus is ready to be faithful to His Word; we come at His invitation in a spirit of simple trust. Jesus was brought up in the East, and is offering to dine with anyone who invites Him.

The invitation was given in a chapter where John the Baptist had expressed doubt about Jesus. The task of telling of God’s love, mercy and compassion had been given to Jesus, but many had rejected Him as they are doing so now.

So who can come? All those who are weary and heavy laden with care. This is a selective invitation. There has to be recognised a need and be prepared to admit it. The problem may not be despair; it may be something quite different. All who are weighed down, to all these Jesus speaks.

The Bible says, ‘there is no distinction since all have fallen short of the glory of God’. It doesn’t matter what the past has been, if you repent and turn to Christ, God is ready to blot out your sins and give you a clean sheet. We have all broken God’s laws, but if we are prepared to admit this, then Christ’s invitation is for us.

What happens if you come? Jesus said, ‘I will give you rest’. These are words spoken by someone who fulfils His promises. So many people make promises they either cannot, or have no intention, of fulfilling. All the changes in the world will make no difference. On the other hand, if heart and mind are at rest, that is a priceless feeling. It is constant peace that Jesus is offering. He says, ‘I can set you free for I am the Way, the truth, and the life. He is able to do all He promises, and is faithful and willing to do what He promises. Rest is what we all find pleasant, but so many are restless and weary. Comfort offered equips and strengthens us to live on as Christians.

Jesus said I leave you with peace of mind and heart, and the peace I give you is not fragile like the peace the world gives.

The Bible tells of men who went to Him blind, sick and poor. Jesus gave them sight and riches beyond measure, releasing them from restlessness enabling them to face the future.

Jesus said, ‘take my yoke upon you and learn from me’. A yoke was a wooden frame used to put over a pair of animals to enable a load to be shared. So Jesus is saying ‘let me help you carry your burden. Instead of going your own way turn around and come with me’.

The moment you come to Him is the time a lasting and new relationship begins. But it is not just mouthing words. It is truly believing that Jesus died on that Cross for your personal sins, and because of that alone, you can be forgiven totally by God and earn your place in heaven. It means putting Him as a priority. If we give preference to some other activity we are putting God in second place, and in the Commandments He tells us He is a jealous God and will not be relegated.

Jesus will welcome all, pardon any failures, cleanse your heart and relieve your anxieties and cares, because of the promise He made in John’s gospel, that whoever comes to Him will never be turned away. The Bible tells us that the love of Christ goes far beyond human understanding, to break every barrier down. Only pride, fear or doubt can hold us back

You see it is not just being religious or even coming to Church that brings peace and rest, or indeed makes you a full Christian. A person can be baptised, confirmed and be regular at Church and not be a true Christian. Many Church people are really unpleasant, arrogant and very un-Christian. Coming to Church should be a delight, like sons and daughters coming to meet their (heavenly) Father in complete harmony, as children go their earthly parents’ home, giving support to each other.

It may be someone’s life is in a mess. It may be God seems far away. It may be after long time searching there is still a reluctance to commit. It makes no difference, if we are humble enough to admit our need.

The words of the hymns this morning have so much meaning, telling of God’s faithfulness, and 10,000 blessings beside. Of the friend we have in Jesus who will all our sins and grief He bears; no need to be discouraged in our trials and troubles; in His arms He will shield you and give you peace without needless pain. We are invited to take it to Him in prayer.

A question often asked is, ‘does God answer prayer’. One Minister said dependent on the prayer the answer was yes, no, maybe or you got to be kidding. Being serious the true answer is yes, even if God says no to your prayer, because just like an earthly father who will refuse a child’s request on account of it not being good for him/her, so God our heavenly Father acts to protect His children.

There are some qualifications, you must have accepted Jesus as your Saviour; be free of un-repented sin; not living a life which is in total contradiction to God’s teaching in the Bible, which increasingly many Church people are doing, and as Jesus stressed have faith.

Jesus said, ‘and whatever you ask in prayer, you will receive, if you have faith. Whatever you ask in my name, this I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son’.

I believe the burden most borne for which we seek Jesus’ aid is regarding sickness, of ourselves and those dear to us. The gospels record 41 separate healing miracles in the life of Christ. People with various maladies were brought to Jesus from Galilee and Syria and he healed them all. Some were blind, others deaf, some were demonized, some paralyzed, and still others were sick with various diseases. He healed them all. There is no record of Jesus ever failing to heal anyone who was brought to him.

In the last few years a whole host of studies has validated the fact that when people of faith pray for the sick, the sick get better. And in recent years there has been a reemphasis on the importance of praying for the sick. In some churches this has become a major ministry involving healing services, as indeed in my Church for a number of years.
There is a need to be careful. I have seen some excesses in the practises of some charismatic services, and I have known people suggest we throw away all medications. The healing by the use of medicine can be used in combination with prayer, for we pray for God to help mankind to discover was to find cures.

Some illnesses stem directly from our sinful actions and attitudes, such as excessive smoking and drinking. Until those things are confronted and confessed, it is pointless to pray for healing.

It is an undeniable fact that not everyone we pray for is healed. This is a mystery here that cannot be fully explained. Just because the doctors have given up doesn’t mean we give up on God.

Let us then in all circumstances when weary or heavy laden, come to Jesus. Believe His promise, take Jesus at His word, come, just as you are.

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