Find Rest My Soul Matthew 11:25-30 Rom. 7:7-25 I am Tired, Yes, I'm tired.

For a couple years I've been blaming it on iron- poor blood, lack of vitamins, dieting and a dozen other maladies that make you wonder if life is really worth living. But now I found out, it ain't that. I'm tired because I'm overworked. The population of this country is 237 million. 104 million are retired. That leaves 133 million to do the work. There are 85 million in school, which leave 48 million to do the work Of this there are 29 million employed by the federal government. This leaves 19 million to do the work. Four million are in the Armed Forces, which leaves 15 million to do the work. Take from the total the 14,800,000 people who work for State and City Government and that leaves 200,000 to do the work. There are 188,000 in hospitals, so that leaves 12,000 to do the work. Now, there are 11,998 people in prisons. That leaves just two people to do the work. You and me. Bummer.. And you're sitting there reading this. No wonder I'm tired. We go through life in struggle. It‟s part of who we are. We need to realize that giving effort IS part of the human condition. Yet, there are things we struggle with in our Christian life that may not need that kind of struggle. Paul wrestles with this in Romans 7. Jesus was dealing with it in the Gospel of Matthew. Putting these passages together for reading this week brings us an incredible picture of our condition and Christ‟s solution. This is, of course, the July 4th weekend. If you didn‟t notice before, the echoing throughout the sanctuary probably tipped you off. The story of the American Revolution is probably my favorite time period in history. I am enthralled by the bravery of men and women in that time period. I am also blown away by the YOUTH of that era.

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Thomas Jefferson was 34 when he wrote the Declaration of Independence. George Washington was in his 40s and considered an old man when he was commander of the Continental Army. They had zeal, passion, intelligence, and worked hard to forge our nation. I love the


The story of the Revolution is a story of struggle. For years Washington was more a master of retreat than a gifted victor. It was his ability to get the troops AWAY from the British Army that kept the patriots from losing the war early. They battled lack of funding. They battled poor conditions in their camps. They lacked international support for so long. And through it all they determined to be free and independent. They made it through the struggle. In one of the bleakest moments of the struggle Thomas Paine wrote the words that caused the American troops to rally and pull off a surprise victory that shook the British.

THESE are the times that try men's souls. The summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will, in this crisis, shrink from the service of their country; but he that stands by it now, deserves the love and thanks of man and woman. Tyranny, like hell, is not easily conquered; yet we have this consolation with us, that the harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph. What we obtain too cheap, we esteem too lightly: it is dearness only that gives every thing its value. Heaven knows how to put a proper price upon its goods; and it would be strange indeed if so celestial an article as FREEDOM should not be highly rated. (The Crisis, Thomas Paine, 1776)
“What we obtain too cheap we esteem too lightly.” The colonies pulled it off and less than five years later they won their independence from Great Britain. I love those stories. It‟s our American spirit. It‟s our historical DNA. It‟s the fabric of who we are, what we have come from, the cloth from which we are cut, so to speak. I don‟t apologize for that American spirit. On this weekend I deeply honor the spirit of those men and women who fought for that independence.
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There is a BUT here... There is something about THAT particular spirit, that spirit to strive and achieve, that does come up against some attitudes within the Kingdom of God. It‟s not that we DON‟T have effort. Grace isn‟t opposed to effort. It‟s opposed to EARNING. And it‟s that EARNING part where we have the struggle as believers at times in our lives. And it probably comes from that DNA that helped forge our nation. It‟s human nature as well. We strive to earn. We strive to perfection. WE GET TIRED! That is the struggle you can feel from Paul in Romans 7. And who doesn‟t know that struggle? The good we know we need to do... WE DON‟T DO. The stuff we want to avoid... THAT is what we do! I play the game of “Don‟t think about the pink elephant” with people. Most of the time people crack up with that one. One time I asked, “What are you thinking about?” and a student said, “A BLUE elephant.” We get so caught up with the DOING. The striving. We struggle. We struggle for perfection. We struggle for acceptance. Paul lays out the issues for us. 1. The Law is spiritual. 2. WE ARE NOT -- We are flesh and blood. We are UNspiritual! 3. Our allegiances are all off. We are SLAVES to sin! The results are awful. The very things we don‟t want to... even the things we HATE to do... WE DO. Hear the struggle and see if you don‟t identify:
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18 I know that good doesn‟t live in me—that is, in my body. The desire to do good is inside of me, but I can‟t do it. (CEB)
A war rages on in our minds. I have described that through our walk through the disciplines of the mind. We need to RENEW THE MIND because the battle is in the mind. But the end result is scary. Paul lays it out:

It wages a war against the law of my mind and takes me prisoner with the law of sin that is in my body. (v. 23b, CEB)
Who hasn‟t struggled with some sin, some bondage and cried out like Paul, “I am just wretched!” “I am a miserable human being!” I think about the movie “Over the Hedge.” It‟s about a group of animals that have suburbia creep up on them and a raccoon that is trying to save his own hide from a bear. He needs to swindle the group into collecting a massive amount of human food in a week so the bear won‟t eat him. He‟s convinced them and they think it‟s a great thing and they‟ve fallen in love with RJ the raccoon. But he knows he‟s just ripping them off. They treat him well and give him a home because he‟s talked about losing his family to the WEED WHACKER. They get him a chair and tv with satellite the porcupine children hacked from one of the suburban homes. It‟s hilarious. As RJ is channel surfing all the channels are talking about traitors and betrayal and low life scum bags like himself. There‟s one channel where you hear the voice of Dr. Phil saying, “You‟re a dirt bag and you need to say it. Say it! „I‟m a dirt bag!‟” There are times when we don‟t need any prompting. We‟ve struggled. We‟ve fought. We‟ve used every tool we know to use in our struggle and at the end of the day we end up saying to ourselves, “I‟m a dirt bag!” WHO WILL RESCUE US FROM THIS HORRIBLE DILEMMA!
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Here is what we need to understand: The answer does not lie in our own doing. Think back to Matthew 9 from last week. Jesus looked out and saw the masses. They were helpless. They were sheep without a shepherd. They were troubled. That‟s us. We keep wandering around. IS THERE AN ANSWER? They sought the religious leaders of their day. All they got was MORE STUFF TO


I think back in church history to the medieval church and the struggles of people. They didn‟t have the Word of God in their language. They didn‟t have the church services in their language. All they knew was from what the priest told them. Then, people would come into their village and tell them how they weren‟t doing ENOUGH. They needed to GIVE MORE. Several leaders within the Church along the way were upset with how things were going. But it was Martin Luther who finally broke through. He was upset with the edicts of Rome demanding money from peasants and lying to them about paying for relatives to get out of purgatory. Challenging Rome and preaching the gospel, people began to hear the truth and the truth began to set them free. The STRUGGLES were over. They realized it wasn‟t about EARNING. Jesus had set them free. Jesus, in Matthew 9, sees those masses. They struggle. They don‟t get answers from the very people God had ordained to GIVE those answers! It had all become a power game! And here, at the end of Matthew 11, comes the great invitation! “Come to me!”

28 “Come to me, all you who are struggling hard and carrying heavy loads, and I will give you rest. 29 Put on my yoke, and learn from me. I‟m gentle and humble. And you will find rest for yourselves. 30 My yoke is easy to bear, and my burden is light.” (CEB)
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The struggle doesn‟t have to be this bad! But WAIT! Just WAIT A MINUTE! Back the oxcart up here a second! YOKE?? As in... YOKE? How do you get REST bearing a YOKE that is meant for beasts of BURDEN?!?! Is this some sort of TRAP? We don‟t have any sense of agricultural terms and even if we did, it would be in terms of tractors and combines. YOKE OF OXEN? But they could look over at the field as Jesus was talking. It‟s like me putting up some points on the screen then pointing them out to you. THERE IT IS. We don‟t have any oxen. But they did. So, Jesus could point to the field. Not only that, they knew how those teams worked. It made total sense. Oxen yoked together were not equals. There was a lead ox. Jesus takes that role. When a farmer put oxen together he had a more mature ox to get into the yoke with a younger more inexperienced ox. The lead ox would set the pace and direction, and the other ox would follow. To be yoked together with Christ is to allow him to lead us, and to submit all of our power and abilities to his leading. The younger ox was to LEARN from the mature ox. Jesus‟ great invitation is “LEARN FROM ME.” Find rest. YES! Get over that struggle to EARN your way. Now, LEARN FROM ME. We walk with him. We find him in the Word. We find him in prayer. We find him in conversation with others. We find him our spiritual reading. We FIND HIM. We walk. We learn. We observe. We are APPRENTICES.
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Learn what? It‟s what he has been teaching all along. We have to PAY ATTENTION. But consider a couple of things he points out here. He is GENTLE and HUMBLE of


What a contrast to the picture of the religious leaders of his day! They were hard driving. They would prescribe MORE work. They weren‟t willing to lift a finger to help, but BOY could they pile on the obligations in YOUR life! You never saw one ox in a yoke. It was always two. One mature to lead the way. Another to learn the way. With the religious leaders of the day, it was always, “YOU do this. Get back to me when you‟re done, and you BETTER get it right!” With Jesus it was, “Come on. Let‟s do this thing together.” It doesn‟t take effort off of us. But it makes things POSSIBLE. We are not earning. We are learning! We labor, but we labor WITH HIM. It is HIS burden. The work is being accomplished, and we are a part, but it is HIS direction. He leads the path. He sets the pace. We are giving our lives, but the burden is his. This word from the Spirit is so strong. FIND REST. You have been striving. You‟ve been laboring like there is no tomorrow. The path has been hard you have asked God for help, but you haven‟t LET GOD HELP. Jesus has put himself at your side, but you keep taking the yoke for yourself. YOU want to lead. YOU want to set the pace. YOU want to set the direction. YOU want the credit... And how is that going for you? FIND REST. There is work to do. But is HIS work. FIND REST. Grace isn‟t opposed to effort. It‟s opposed to earning.
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LEARN FROM HIM. He isn‟t the cruel task master that orders us out into a job without showing us how it is done. He doesn‟t set us up for failure. He is there to SHOW US. LEARN FROM HIM. Hear his Spirit. Hear his Word. Hear what he says through prayer, through Scripture, through teaching, through nature. Watch him. LEARN FROM HIM. See his style. Find his pace. Catch that rhythm. This is what I am trying to set in my own life, and I‟m not very good at it. But I want to LEARN. And I want us to learn AS A CHURCH. There is a RHYTHM of the Kingdom we need to get into our lives. A rhythm of learning. A rhythm of worship. A heavenly pace where we move through life at the pace of the Kingdom and not at the frantic pace of our culture. We celebrate independence. We celebrate dependence. They are not mutually exclusive. They are actually beautifully intertwined.

COMMUNION This week I want us to reflect on our allegiances. Not as Americans. As believers. Are we allowing the life of the Kingdom to penetrate our beings? As partake of this table today, are we truly allowing the yoke of Christ to be joined to us? Are we truly LEARNING FROM HIM?

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