‘Come unto me all ye that labour and are heavy laden and I will give you rest’ (Matthew 11:28)
Notice the first word in this verse - ‘Come’.
It is an instruction as well as an invitation and it looks for a response from us. There are some things that will never happen for us spiritually unless we come. It reminds me of the story of the prodigal son. He got to the place where he said ‘ I will arise and go to my father’. When he did that, his father ran to meet him and everything began to change.
In the verse we are looking at today it is the same - if we come to Christ (for He is the speaker) we will find rest. There is a calmness in Christ and there is something in His Presence that brings rest and soothing into our souls. How often do we come? Just in a crisis? Surely it is a good thing to come much more often that that. Perhaps at the end of each day - to lay down the burdens of the day at His feet and to find that our weariness goes as we draw strength from Him, just by being where He is.
'Behold I stand at the door and knock. If any man hear my voice and open the door I will come in and sup with him and he with me' (Revelation 3:20)
This is different. In the first verse, it is our need that draws us to Christ. In this verse we must be listening for Him and ready to respond to His knock. The words were spoken by Christ to His church - to those who already knew Him as Saviour. One translation of the final part of the verse is ‘ and we will share a meal together as friends’. The verse speaks of an intimacy of relationship with Him, a communion between our soul and the Lord Jesus.
Have we progressed from the first invitation to the second? There will always be times when our need drives us to Him but there should be many other times when we are listening for the knock on the door of our hearts and want to be in His Presence simply because He is our Beloved and our Friend.
But my God shall supply all your need, according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:19)
When we read this verse, very often our thoughts go to material things - money, food, a home to live in etc. And down through the centuries God has Indeed supplied these things again and again for his people - from the feeding of the 5,000 in Bible times to the provision of food and accommodation at crisis times in places like Christian orphanages, Teen Challenge Centres and many other Christian works.
But there are other needs - the needs of the soul - and God also meets these needs. Think of the fruits of the Spirit that we are encouraged to look for in our lives.
Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self control. (Galatians 5:22, 23)
The growth of these qualities in our lives comes from him. Are you looking for that growth? We need these virtues in our lives if we are to show forth Christ and if we are to grow spiritually. And we are told, not only that He will meet our need, but also that He will meet it ‘according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus’. What an abundant supply! And how little we draw from that supply!
Think of it like a bank account - there are plenty of funds there, but we draw a meagre amount and try to meet the demands of life using only that pittance! We should look at our needs and then draw from that abundance. What are you short of today - joy..... patience...... gentleness? There is a supply in Christ Jesus. Let’s ask God to help us draw from His supply - remember, very often ‘we have not, because we ask not’.
Try asking, today.
He goeth before you, He knoweth the way
When He guides your footsteps you can’t go astray
Smoothing the rough place, oh be not afraid
He goeth before you, He knoweth the way.
Most of you will be aware that in eastern lands the shepherd goes ahead of his sheep and the sheep follow him. In those lands there is much barren ground and many steep and rocky places. The sheep would never be able to see that after going through these places there is pasture and quiet waters - but the shepherd knows and he leads them through.
I think we are too ready to take our own way through each day and as a result we get stuck in the barren places. Often, it is not that we mean to be headstrong or disobedient - it is simply that we are used to setting our own course and we do it without thinking. Then, when things have gone wrong we cry to Him for help.
Thankfully, He comes again and again and picks us up but how different it is when we deliberately, consciously, commit the day into His hands and ask Him to go before us, to lead us. Sometimes it can help if we think of where we are going to be that day, who we might meet, what difficult situations we might be in - and ask Him to go before us, to lead us over the rough ground and rocky places, strengthen and guide us each step of the way. If we are conscious of letting Him lead, we can find that He gives us wisdom in what we say and strength in the difficult places. And we begin to learn that His ways are better than our ways and this is the best way to live.
He will walk with us, but we need to allow Him to be the guide. And, in time, we will find again that there are green pastures and still waters - and He restores our souls.
The king also himself passed over the brook Kidron
(2 Samuel 15:23)
I read this verse a few days ago in a daily reading from Spurgeon and I make no apologies for using the verse and some of the thoughts from what I read.
It has been a week with a great deal of sadness for many of us and this verse comes from a story of great sadness - David fleeing for his life when Absalom usurped his throne. He left, weeping, and crossed the brook which was filled with all the waste from the city of Jerusalem. Centuries later, the Lord Jesus crossed that same brook on His way to Calvary. He was being driven out too, and around Him was all the sin of a world that was rejecting Him.
It was a time of grief and sadness in both of these situations, and we are told very clearly in the Bible that for us, too, there will be tribulation and grief in this world. What do we do at times like this? Where do we go?
In the story of David we read these words spoken by one of his followers, Ittai -
‘I vow by the Lord ....that I will go wherever my Lord the king goes, no matter what happens - whether it means life or death’. (2 Sam. 15:21)
Our path is to follow the King. He knows the road of pain and sorrow - He has walked that road Himself and will walk it with us in the times of our pain and sorrow. Put your hand in His hand and He will lead you through.
And remember, David came back in triumph to Jerusalem. Jesus came back in triumph from Calvary. And He will return again, in triumph, to take us with Him to our eternal home. And between now and that day He will comes to us many times in triumph to lift us up out of whatever sadness and difficulty tries to engulf us on our way.
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