I Will Give You Rest

Bible:

[Jesus said:] “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” Matthew 11:28-30 ESV

Turn to me and be gracious to me,
for I am lonely and afflicted.
The troubles of my heart are enlarged;
bring me out of my distresses.
Consider my affliction and my trouble,
and forgive all my sins. Psalm 25:16-18 ESV

Reflection:

Do you have a dog? They can be a lot of work. You have to clean up after dogs, and feed them, and make sure they get exercise, and brush them, and sometimes give them baths. But the work of having a dog is nothing compared to the joy people can get from their pet. Some dogs have special jobs to do. There are service dogs who might help people who are deaf or blind or have other problems. Service dogs give people the ability to live better lives, and can even save the lives of the people who own them. There is also a type of dog called an emotional support dog. Emotional support dogs don’t perform any special services, but they are just there to give the love and companionship to a person who is very sad and lonely. People who own emotional support dogs might have to do the work of caring for their dogs, but the work seems like nothing compared to all the love and happiness these dogs give them when life seems very hard.

Jesus is a tiny bit like an emotional support dog. He called people who were tired and working hard in their lives to come to him, and he would help them and love them and give them the rest they needed. He said that he was humble and gentle and would give their souls rest. But he also said that people who come to him would have to wear a yoke. A yoke is something an animal, or sometimes a person, would wear across his or her shoulders to do some kinds of work. Oxen would wear a yoke to pull a plow through the field, for instance. But Jesus said that the yoke he would give people would be easy, and the burden they would have to carry would be light. It would be kind of like giving care to a special dog. The work of caring for the dog seems like nothing compared to the love and help the dog gives the person.

The way Jesus gives us help and love is to forgive all our sins. We don’t have to carry the weight of guilt and shame, and we don’t have to be afraid of God’s punishment. Jesus paid for all of our sins on the cross, and we can give all of our sins to Jesus and have complete rest and comfort every day. Jesus gives us work to do for him, but he doesn’t leave us by ourselves to do it. He is with us always, helping us and showing us his ways. He continues to forgive us and comfort us when we fall short, and blesses us with his love, now and always.

Prayer:

Dear Jesus, thank you for taking away the burden of our sins and making us yours forever. Amen.

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God’s Purposes Will Stand

Bible:

Sometime after the prophet Hananiah had broken the yoke-bars from off the neck of Jeremiah the prophet, the word of the Lord came to Jeremiah: “Go, tell Hananiah, ‘Thus says the Lord: You have broken wooden bars, but you have made in their place bars of iron. For thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel: I have put upon the neck of all these nations an iron yoke to serve Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon, and they shall serve him, for I have given to him even the beasts of the field.’” And Jeremiah the prophet said to the prophet Hananiah, “Listen, Hananiah, the Lord has not sent you, and you have made this people trust in a lie. Therefore thus says the Lord: ‘Behold, I will remove you from the face of the earth. This year you shall die, because you have uttered rebellion against the Lord.’”

In that same year, in the seventh month, the prophet Hananiah died.

This is the purpose that is purposed
concerning the whole earth,
and this is the hand that is stretched out
over all the nations.
For the Lord of hosts has purposed,
and who will annul it?
His hand is stretched out,
and who will turn it back? Isaiah 14:26-27 ESV

Reflection:

In 1666 the King’s bakery in London broke out in flames. It was summer, and the weather had been hot and dry. The blaze took hold and soon 300 houses collapsed as the fire spread rapidly. King Charles II ordered that houses in the path of the flames should be pulled down, but this didn’t stop the fire. Soon the king was joining others in bucket brigades, trying to put the fire out. They even blew up houses in the path of the flames with gunpowder to try to stop it, but by the time they finally got the fire out, only one-fifth of London was left standing. St. Paul’s Cathedral and 89 other churches, almost all the government buildings, many halls and markets, and over 13,000 homes were destroyed. But the people of London didn’t abandon their city. Instead, they rebuilt it to be a better and cleaner and safer place. An architect named Christopher Wren designed the new city and rebuilt many of the churches as well as a beautiful new St. Paul’s Cathedral. The disaster didn’t stop Londoners in their purposes.

When the false prophet Hananiah told lies about God’s purposes, he even broke the wooden yoke that Jeremiah had been wearing. Jeremiah had used the yoke as a picture of the idea that the people needed to obey the king of Babylon, and after Hananiah took it off his shoulders and broke it, God told Jeremiah to tell Hananiah that the Lord would make a stronger yoke, one made out of iron. God’s purposes would not be stopped. He was working out his purposes in the world by bringing Nebuchadnezzar to power, and one of his purposes was to punish his people for their sins. The Lord’s judgment also fell on Hananiah for lying to the people in God’s name. The Lord said that Hananiah would die before the year was over, and seven months later he died.

One of the Lord’s purposes in our broken world is to judge and punish sin, but all through history God has had an even greater purpose. God loves us and he doesn’t want us to be separated from him forever. His purpose from the very beginning, when our first parents sinned, was to save us and bring us back to himself. That’s why Jesus came. When he died on the cross, he took God’s judgment and punishment for all the sins of the world, and because of Jesus all our sins are forgiven. God has made us his children, and we will live forever with him in his heavenly kingdom. Nothing will ever stop the Lord’s purpose to save us and keep us his.

Prayer:

Dear Heavenly Father, thank you for your loving purpose to love us and save us. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Source:

http://www.historic-uk.com/HistoryUK/HistoryofEngland/The-Great-Fire-of-London/

True and False Prophets

Bible:

Then the prophet Jeremiah spoke to Hananiah the prophet in the presence of the priests and all the people who were standing in the house of the Lord, and the prophet Jeremiah said, “Amen! May the Lord do so; may the Lord make the words that you have prophesied come true, and bring back to this place from Babylon the vessels of the house of the Lord, and all the exiles. Yet hear now this word that I speak in your hearing and in the hearing of all the people. The prophets who preceded you and me from ancient times prophesied war, famine, and pestilence against many countries and great kingdoms. As for the prophet who prophesies peace, when the word of that prophet comes to pass, then it will be known that the Lord has truly sent the prophet.”

Then the prophet Hananiah took the yoke-bars from the neck of Jeremiah the prophet and broke them. And Hananiah spoke in the presence of all the people, saying, “Thus says the Lord: Even so will I break the yoke of Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon from the neck of all the nations within two years.” But Jeremiah the prophet went his way. Jeremiah 28:5-11 ESV

Answer me when I call, O God of my righteousness!
You have given me relief when I was in distress.
Be gracious to me and hear my prayer!

O men, how long shall my honor be turned into shame?
How long will you love vain words and seek after lies?
But know that the Lord has set apart the godly for himself;
the Lord hears when I call to him.

Be angry, and do not sin;
ponder in your own hearts on your beds, and be silent. Psalm 4:1-4 ESV

Reflection:

One invention that made war an even more terrible thing than it had been before is the machine gun. The machine gun made it possible to quickly and automatically shoot many rounds of ammunition at the enemy. It completely changed how World War I was fought, because to protect themselves from machine gun fire soldiers dug themselves into trenches. But the interesting thing about machine guns is that their inventor, Hiram Maxim, thought that they would bring peace. When people asked him if his invention would make war more terrible and cruel, he said instead that it would make war impossible. Many people believed this. They thought that the death and suffering a machine gun could cause would make nations want to work for peace and avoid getting involved in such cruel warfare. But this was a lie, unfortunately. Wars continue to happen, and more and more cruel inventions make them even more devastating.

When Hananiah told the people that within two years God would return the true king and all the exiles to their own country, many people believed him. Hananiah even broke the wooden yoke that Jeremiah had made to give the people a picture of obeying the Babylonian empire. Jeremiah wished that what Hananiah said was true, because of course he wanted his people to know happier times. But Jeremiah said that the only way to tell if a prophet was telling the truth is if what he predicted would come true. Jeremiah knew that the truth was that the people were under God’s judgment, and that there would be more war and trouble to come. Jeremiah was a true prophet of the Lord, but he didn’t argue with Hananiah. He simply walked away, and he left Hananiah and his lies in God’s hands.

We sometimes want to believe lies that are positive and happy. We want to believe that through our own efforts we can bring an end to war, or cure all the sicknesses in the world, or even put an end to death. But these are lies, because only God can do these things. God came to us in Jesus to destroy sin and death and all the forces of evil forever by dying on the cross and rising again. Because of what Jesus did for us, we know that we will live forever in his heavenly kingdom, where there won’t be any more sickness or death or war. In the meantime, it pleases God if we work to heal sickness and pain and to bring peace. We shouldn’t be surprised or worried, though, when we see war and evil and disease, and we can be confident that God will bring all our suffering to an end in his time. We can leave it all in God’s hands.

Prayer:

Dear Heavenly Father, thank you for sending Jesus to destroy sin and death and evil, and help us to trust you to work for good in our broken world. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Source:

http://www.theglobaljournal.net/article/view/1107/