Saturday, November 21, 2009

Rest (Part 2)

Matt 11:28 - 30
"Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. 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. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light."


These verses are often used in evangelical outreach - rest for the weary souls from worldly affairs, materialism chasing, personal glory and success building. Only Jesus can fill the void in our hearts and bring refreshment to the needy soul. But during the time of trial, new revelations about this verse emerged.

Come
The first word is to come. Come as we are. Broken and tired. Jesus will never turn any who comes to Him away. If we who were once sinners were received into His presence with joy, how much more will we receive now as sons and daughters of God when we come?

To Him
Recognise that we are not in control. Jesus is. He who holds the universe in the palm of His hand can number the hairs on your head. Amazing but true.

Keep Coming
I used to think this verse was meant for non-Christians. Or perhaps for Christians at the very end of themselves and when they most needed Jesus in their struggles.

Until God told me, “Son, it is not a one time thing. You keep coming. Not only will you receive rest, you will continue to remain in the realm of rest.”

Keep coming to Him and remain in the realm of rest.

All You Who Are
There is no condition in this verse except to come, all you who are. How difficult is it to come to him then?

The truth is it can be difficult for someone who still wants to be in control. Yet at the end of day, every knee will bow and confess His Lordship. Why wait till then?

This brings into remembrance that when Jesus walked the earth, NOT all in Israel were healed. But ALL who came to Him received healing.

All who came, received. Do you fall into the category defined as ‘All you who are’?

I Will Give You Rest
If we read the original Greek meaning, it is actually a causative statement. It should be interpreted as “I will cause you to rest”.

Not only will Jesus give our souls the much needed rest, He will make, cause or enable us to rest. It reminds me of Psalm 23.

1 The LORD is my shepherd, I shall not be in want.
2 He makes me lie down in green pastures,
he leads me beside quiet waters,

3 he restores my soul.
He guides me in paths of righteousness
for his name's sake.

4 Even though I walk
through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil,
for you are with me;
your rod and your staff,
they comfort me.

5 You prepare a table before me
in the presence of my enemies.
You anoint my head with oil;
my cup overflows.

6 Surely goodness and love will follow me
all the days of my life,
and I will dwell in the house of the LORD
forever.

We can rest in the many assurances from the Good Shepherd who leads and causes us to rest in Him. Six times in this six-verse Psalm.

The only reason why we are not at rest is because we choose to walk into the shadowy valleys of our own makings. Valleys created using our own strength and human understanding. Yet the good news is even when we fail, He is with us walking THROUGH the troubles.

We will always pass through to the other side. There is always hope.

Take
This is a very commanding and blunt word - TAKE. It borders close to rudeness. Yet Jesus says, “Take from me”.

It pleases him when we allow Him to be God. He is not El-Cheapo but El-Shaddai. He is Jehovah Jireh, our Provider and Abundance.

Take from Him. Draw from Him. Use Him (I put this in a respectful way).

Allow Him to wash your feet. Anything less and you have no part with Him. Allow Him to transform the mundane plain water of our daily lives into excellent, intoxicating wine for His glory. Allow Him to love and serve you.

When we fail to take from Him, we dishonour Him as God. When we refuse to draw from Him but lean our own understanding, we disrespect Him as Lord.

Recount the Samaritan woman who took from Him at the well. She drew forth the everlasting water from the Fountain of Life Himself and was changed. So dramatically and instantly that she preached Jesus to the very town people who had scorned her. And they believed Him because of her testimony.

See the Roman centurion who took the power and authority of Jesus’ words. Just say the word and his servant was healed.

Learn from the woman with the issue of blood who stopped the Creator in His tracks when she drew forth healing power from Him.

Revisit the five-thousand strong crowd who took from Jesus when He blessed the five loaves and two fish. They, including the women and children, ate until they were all satisfied.

Ask the fishermen who received the net-breaking, boat-sinking load of fish. So much that the uncouth fisherman Peter fell to his knees before Jesus.

His blessings overflows. God doesn’t know when to stop.

Allow Him to be God. Take.

My Yoke
Jesus was speaking to the Jews who were under the yoke of the Law. The yoke is the heavy wooden weight tied upon the neck of oxen to toil the soil. These people were hard pressed to achieve the unattainable standards of the Law.

Our burdens and sins we exchanged for His rest and acceptance before God at the cross. Take my yoke, He says, and give me your self-efforts and struggles. I am gentle and humble. My grace is easy because I carried your burdens at the cross.

When we know how much He loves us enough to sacrifice for us, we will enter into that rest. Rest from our guilty conscience. Rest from our efforts to produce a holy living.

He looked up and cried, “It is finished!” There is nothing you can do or add to what He had already done.

At the foot of cross, lay your burdens down. At the feet of Jesus, we find rest.

Rest.
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Friday, November 20, 2009

Rest (Part 1)

It has been a good long while since I have written any encouragements. Allow me to give you a glimpse of my struggles in the past two months.

I have been swarmed at work since my Sydney holiday trip on 1 Oct. I have been working at least 55 hours per week including weekends. My customers are UK-based, thus conference calls usually start at 7:30pm and end around 9:30pm.

I had a new assignment to a project which had gone off-rails. My job is to get it back on track. All sounded easy until I realised the huge financial impact for the year if this project fails. All other projects within that account are tentatively ‘put on hold’ until this project goes successful ‘live’. To miss the deadline is to miss two major payment milestones. Now that something the executives do not want to hear.

This means there is absolutely no room for any failure. The drop date is 14 Dec (which recently got changed to 7 Dec). There is barely two months left when I came aboard! Within moments, I discovered numerous outstanding issues and risks. Furthermore the project team members were distraught and unmotivated because the previous project manager was not a team player. He had been quite unresponsive to technical issues and escalations. Key project members had left the company because of him and his style of management. There were huge technical gaps due to the exodus that needed filling in. Even if new resources came aboard, they would need time to assimilate into the project team. Time is something I do not have.

During this period I was so stressed that I accidently burst my right eye capillaries while rubbing my tired eyes too hard. That resulted in a corneal abrasion. The GP doctor diagnosed it as ‘sore eyes’ and gave me a wrong medication which resulted in swollen eyelids for a few days!

Nearly every morning waking was an agonising effort. The intense pain to the optic nerves whenever sunlight enters the eye had caused a dull throbbing headache. My sleep had been interrupted because I often woke up from the pain and ceaselss flow of tears. I practically had to wear sunglasses all day and night. Any sort of light hurts the eye. I was basically mopping around at home. I could not watch TV and I could not look at my laptop for too long.

After two weeks, the eye got a little bit better. However recurrent corneal abrasion symptoms followed in which the healing wound on my cornea would open again whenever I wake from sleep.

Has the thought of being blind ever crossed my mind? Absolutely yes! I kept browsing the internet and reading up on the medical articles and stories on corneal abrasions. I felt I was going to end up like the bad cases described there.

Good news is that you will not go blind in a corneal abrasion except experiencing a lot of discomfort. In worse cases there might be a remote chance of infections which can lead to blindness. The cornea healing takes just 72 hours. However the restoration of vision can take several weeks. Or months. Praise God, my vision is nearly complete even I write.

In all these struggles I still had to continue my project work with one eye. As each day pass there is mounting pressure from the senior management to deliver. I cannot recount how many times I was asked if we could deliver. At this moment I felt like quitting work, lay back and rest. And that’s what God revealed to me – REST.

(Part 2 continues...)
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