June 5-9


Love’s Invitation
Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Matthew 11:28 (ESV)
Someone once asked Emily Post, the etiquette expert of another generation, “What is the correct procedure when one is invited to the White House but has a previous engagement?” Post replied, “An invitation to dine at the White House is a command, and it automatically cancels any other engagement.” Historically, the highest invitation to any US citizen is an invitation to come to the White House. The Bible teaches the greatest invitation in all of Creation is an invitation into a relationship with Jesus. In Matthew 11 Jesus extends a personal invitation to each of us. Jesus does not say to come to the church, to a creed, to a pastor, to a denomination, or to anything else, but to Jesus Himself. We are invited into a vital, dynamic, radical relationship with the Living Lord. As Oswald Chambers says “Personal contact with Jesus alters everything.”
Jesus said in John 14:6, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.” What are some of the things this verse promises we get when we come to Jesus?
Thank God for inviting you personally into a relationship with Him. Thank God for loving you enough to want you to know and experience His blessings.


An Invitation to the Weary
Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Matthew 11:28 (ESV)
The date was August 15, 1930. On that day, a 45-year-old New York State Supreme Court Justice named Joseph Crater, after spending an evening eating out with friends, hailed a taxi and was never seen or heard from again. It remains one of the most mystifying Missing Person cases in FBI files. His disappearance earned Crater the title of “the missingest man in New York.” The FBI immediately suspected a kidnapping by someone who held a judicial grudge against Justice Crater. But that didn’t seem to pan out. They then suspected Mafia activity because Justice Crater was an enemy of the Mafia. But, again, that led nowhere. At the time, there was only one clue. When Mrs. Crater returned to their apartment the evening her husband disappeared, there on the table was a large check made out to her and a note attached to the check, in her husband’s handwriting, which simply said, “I am very, very weary.” We can all relate to being weary at times. Jesus’ invitation in Matthew 11 wasn’t for everyone. It was for “all” who were  “heavy laden.” Another version translates that “weary and burden.” Jesus calls to Himself everyone who is exhausted from trying to find and please God in his own resources. It was for everyone who had been burdened with the man-made rules of religion. Gordon MacDonald says, “In order to truly come to Jesus, a person must admit that he is burdened with the weight of sin. Only those who acknowledge they are lost can be saved.”
Jesus said it is not the (spiritually) well who need a physician but the (spiritually) sick. When did you first admit to God that you were spiritually sick without Him and His grace?
Praise God for caring about our struggles. Talk to Jesus about any areas where you are feeling weary and ask for His strength.


An Invitation to Rest
Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Matthew 11:28 (ESV)
In London, there is an official governmental office for lost and found items. It is the London Transports “Lost Property Office.” It is located on the side of Baker’s Street Station, just across the street from the fictitious residence of Sherlock Holmes. It has been there since 1933 and it is where all the lost items found on or in any of London’s transportation systems, subways, buses, or cabs are kept. Items are placed there to be reclaimed. Every year between 150,000 and 200,000 items are found and turned in to the LPO where officials attempt to locate owners and return their lost items. Every year people lose wheelchairs, false teeth, watches, backpacks, lunch pails, umbrellas, and cell phones. Oddities found and turned in included urns with human remains, a suitcase full of money, a human skull, and a lawnmower. (Monty Newton, Who’s Missing and Does It Matter?) In Matthew 11, Jesus promises to “give you rest.” The word “give” can also be translated as “find.” “Find” comes from the Greek verb from which we get our English word “Eureka!” (Translated as “I have found it!”) Although we don’t hear this word much today, in the past it was a triumphant cry of joy on discovering or finding something one greatly values! Spiritual rest is one of God’s great treasures for believers who lay hold of it by trusting in Jesus.
Rest means to cause someone to become refreshed as the result of resting from work. Spiritual rest begins with Salvation and placing our faith in Jesus. We realize we no longer have to work for God’s approval. Spiritual rest continues when Jesus refreshes, restores our strength, or gives us new spiritual strength, He relieves our spiritual fatigue and He revives our drooping spirits. Do you need rest? Do you need to be refreshed?
Praise God for the gift of rest. Ask Him to help you rediscover the daily refreshing that comes from trusting Him daily.


An Invitation to Lighten Your Load
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 11:29-30 (ESV)
As Sarah Smiley was preparing to descend a 5,000-foot Rigi Mountain peak in central Switzerland, her guide told her that she should let him carry her load. She agreed to give some of it to him, but she kept a few items. As they made their way down the mountainside, Sarah felt hindered by her load. Soon, she had to stop and rest. When she did, her guide demanded that she give him everything except her Alpine walking stick. This time she agreed and transferred the load to his strong shoulders. Without the extra weight, she made the rest of the trip with ease. It was as if her Lord was trying to say to her, “O foolish, willful heart, have you indeed given up your last burden? You have no need to carry them, or even the right.”
How often we are just like Sarah Smiley! When we face a difficulty, we carry the burden by ourselves. God invites us to cast all of our cares on Him, and He is strong enough to shoulder the burden. Let’s take Him up on the offer. Our pathway will be easier and our steps lighter. (P. R. Van Gorder, Walking with the Guide) In Matthew 11:29-30, Jesus asks us to let Him carry our load. Adam Clarke writing on Jesus’ command to take His yoke remarks that this is indeed a “Strange paradox! that a man already weary and overloaded must take a new weight upon him, in order to be eased and find rest! But this advice is similar to that saying, Psalm 55:22, “Cast your burden on the Lord, and He will sustain you; He will never allow the righteous to be shaken.”
Jesus’ command to take His yoke is a call to submission of our will to His good and acceptable and perfect will. It is a call to surrender our rights and all that we are to Jesus. Living and working for ourselves and others is draining. Living and working for Jesus leads to purpose and true rest. What loads are you carrying unnecessarily?
Thank God for carrying your load and giving you purpose. Ask Him for clarity on what you need to let go of and what direction you should be going.


An Invitation to Learn
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 11:29-30 (ESV)
Thomas Carlyle said, “One example is worth a thousand arguments.”  That was John Stott throughout the latter half of the 20th Century. He was one of England’s great Christian leaders. In a Christianity Today article, Tim Stafford recalls what Latin American theologian Rene Padilla said about one of his early encounters with Stott. “On the previous night, we had arrived in Bariloche, Argentina, in the middle of heavy rain. The street was muddy and, as a result, by the time we got to the room that had been assigned to us, our shoes were covered with mud. In the morning, as I woke up, I heard the sound of a brush –John was busy, brushing my shoes. ‘John!’ I exclaimed full of surprise, ‘What are you doing?’ ‘My dear René,’ he responded, ‘Jesus taught us to wash each other’s feet. You do not need me to wash your feet, but I can brush your shoes.’”
Jesus wants us to learn from His example. The word “learn,” used in Matthew 11:29, comes from the word we get the word “disciple.” It means to genuinely understand and accept a teaching, to accept it as true, and to apply it in one’s life. It was sometimes used of acquiring a life-long habit. Jesus said we should learn from Him because He is “lowly and humble.” These traits help us understand why His yoke is easy and his burden light, for He is not harsh nor filled with pride. He will not oppress us or give us a burden too great for us to carry. Jesus presented a striking contrast to His Jewish audience who were well acquainted with the Pharisees who were harsh and proud, the opposite of Jesus!
In difficult times, we don’t need dictators and arguments. We need leaders who will show us what to do by the example of their lives. Jesus practiced what He preached here on earth. Following Jesus’ example leads to greater peace. What are some things you have learned from Jesus lately that you are putting into practice?
Thank Jesus for humbling Himself and leaving Heaven to come and rescue us. Ask God to help keep your heart teachable.
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