Matthew 11:28–30 NKJV “Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest” — Jesus was not referring to a day of rest but a Person of rest, which is Himself. Christianity is not a religion but a relationship with Jesus. When we come to Jesus, we find rest.
These are notes on the sermon, Rest for Your Soul in Restless Times, preached by Pastor Joseph Prince on Sunday, 31 July 2022, at The Star Performing Arts Centre, Singapore. We hope these sermon notes will be an encouragement to you!
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Pastor Prince begins the sermon by explaining that pastors and leaders in the church are not meant to lord over you but to serve you and bring you closer to the Lord.
The body of Christ has a variety of different gifts and calling. For example, some of us may be gentle and tenderhearted while others may be passionate and full of energy. The way God has made us is a reflection of our gifts and calling.
Each one of us has a divine purpose and a calling that was given to us when we were still in our mother’s womb. It is important that we understand this now and possess what God has given us, else we miss out on all that could have been. As children of God, in all we do and pursue, Christ is meant to be revealed through us.
Although Apostle Paul was the one who wrote that God called him even when he was in his mother’s womb (Gal. 1:15–16), he took some time to come to understand his calling. He first started out chasing the wrong calling by persecuting Christians. He possessed the right gifts and desires to serve God but it was used in a way that God did not intend for.
When you go against the teachings of Jesus, the only one who will end up at a disadvantage is you. The Lord cannot be affected or defiled by us.
Fulfillment in life is found in the calling that God has given to you. The process of living out that divine calling will be a restful one because God has equipped you with the gifts and anointing, the charismatas, that will help you to excel.
When we read the book of Ecclesiastes written by King Solomon, we must understand that it was written by someone who had access to every kind of pleasure and enjoyment. He is not only the wealthiest man to date, but he was also the most powerful king on earth during his time. His wisdom was admired by all. At his command, he could have anything he wanted. Yet, in Ecclesiastes, he wrote that nothing under the sun can fulfill you. God has given us many things to enjoy under the son, such as music, but we are not meant to find our fulfillment in these things.
In the next book in the Bible, Song of Songs, King Solomon wrote about the love between a bridegroom and his bride—a picture of the love between Jesus, the Son of God who is not under the sun but above it, and the church. We will find fulfillment once our eyes and priorities are on the Son of God.
In Ecclesiastes, we learn that it does not benefit us to gain the world and all earthly pleasures but lose our soul in the process. And in Song of Songs, we learn that we will find the fulfillment of life in God’s love for us.
We must enjoy the Lord now. Build a relationship with Him by finding more about Him. Get to know His personal love for you.
Jesus is the water of life (John 4:14). The woman at the well understood what Jesus was saying because she was looking for love in all the wrong places. She tried to find it in relationships with many men, yet she could not be satisfied. Yes, God ordained marriage but He did not mean for us to look to our spouse for fulfillment. Even when we are married, we should still look to the Lord for what only the Lord can give us.
Do not pursue things just to make money. Even if you have a billion dollars, are you sure that you’ll be happy? Even Solomon, who was the richest man, found no fulfillment in the things he had.
We are exposed to many different opinions in the world today, and it can be difficult to discern if they are true or not. In order to tell whether what someone is saying is trustworthy, look at the fruits in their lives (Matt. 7:20). Has the opinion-giver left a positive impact in your life? Is what they are saying focused on God? If their hearts are aligned with God, there will be the results of God working in their lives.
Our church is Jesus-centric. And as the preached Word goes forth, lives are transformed. The countless testimonies that we receive from people all over the world are the fruits of God in this church. We have to speak God’s truth to His people, even when it is a form of correction. We do not have to be afraid that they will leave after the correction. When people are corrected, they feel loved and they stay because they know that they are cared for.
Be careful of what you listen to, and don’t give heed to people who are trying to sow discord in the church. It is important that we guard the gates of our hearts from people speaking poison, such as those who cut down your leaders so that instead of your leaders, they are the ones who have influence in your life. Always seek out their intention and where their words are coming from—are their words coming from a bitter place? Do not simply take in what they say and allow their words to take root in your heart.
When it comes to dealing with conflict within the church, we must always remember the truth that the church is filled with imperfect people who have a perfect Savior who loves us perfectly. His love casts out every fear. Do not allow strife to come in. When there is envy and strife, there is confusion and every evil work (James 3:16). Do not listen to words coming from a bitter place or spoken with a bad intention. Do not allow strife to enter.
Bitterness and bad intentions can also be present in the things you read on the news or media outlets. We need to watch out for them. When it is hard to determine what is true in this world, remember that the Word of God is truth.
Know that the Lord has made everything beautiful in its season. If you are a parent, you can pray over your children that they “increase in wisdom and in favor with God and man” (Luke 2:52) just like Jesus did when He was young.
“Come to Me, all you 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 NKJV
“Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest” — Jesus was not referring to a day of rest but a Person of rest, which is Himself. Christianity is not a religion but a relationship with Jesus. When we come to Jesus, we find rest.
Back then, everyone was “heavy laden” because they knew that no one could keep the law. This sermon Jesus preached was for people who were struggling to please God. They were trying to keep the law of God and man-made laws to no avail.
We experience rest in two ways when we come to Jesus. The first one is rest in our conscience.
God created time; He is timeless. The work of the cross is outside of time. We must be aware of the freshness of Jesus’ death—it is not just something that happened a long time ago but something that is always fresh and relevant and impactful right now. When Jesus was on the cross, God saw all your sins—past, present, and future—and put them on the cross. At any given time, we can have the assurance that our sins are forgiven and God remembers them no more. Jesus’ finished work on the cross is in effect. This gives us rest for our conscience.
People shun this kind of teaching as they think that it will produce more sin. But we have to realize that we cannot stop sinning by our own effort. It has to be by Jesus. When we know that we are forgiven much, we will love Him much. And when we love Him much, our desire to sin goes away.
Just because we are no longer under the law does not mean that we become immoral. In fact, the fruit of the Spirit are morals such as love, joy, peace, gentleness, and even self-control. Consciousness of sin is what causes us to avoid God. But when we know that all of our sins are forgiven, we can rest and enjoy being in the presence of our heavenly Father.
Pride, the sense of entitlement, gives our souls unrest. Many times, when we find ourselves restless or we find our emotions in an uproar, it is because of pride. An example of this is road rage, which happens when we feel a sense of entitlement, like we have the right of way when we are on the road.
The truth is that pride stems from the insecurity of being looked down on by others. These little battles we engage in are because of the hurt we have received at some point in our lives. This is what is causing our souls to be in unrest.
Jesus was secure in God’s heart for Him and in His standing with God, which is the reason He was willing to serve His disciples by washing their feet (John 13:3–5). You become secure when you know who you are in Christ. People who know that they are loved by God and have received from Him are the people who can afford to serve.
The second type of rest we receive from Jesus is rest for our souls.
“you will find rest for your souls” — The rest that Jesus is referring to is rest in our minds and emotions.
“I am gentle (meek) and lowly in heart” — In the King James version, “meek” is used in place of “gentle.” Meekness is strength under control. If you go off and spout profanities when you are angry, you are not in control. It takes strength to be gentle or meek.
Having gentleness and lowliness in heart does not mean being a pushover. In His gentleness, Jesus washed the feet of His disciples. Yet in His strength, Jesus could also single-handedly drive corrupt money changers out of the temple. He was a man who was able to get His disciples to follow Him with only two words—”Follow Me.”
When Jesus said to “turn the other cheek” (Matt. 5:39) when someone slaps you, He means that you should take control of the situation instead of reacting based purely on your emotions. Do not let pride or the need to win rule over you. The flesh will always want to fight back or react. We can resist it by looking to Jesus.
“My burden is light”— When we hear something about God that makes us feel heavy or burdened, it is not of Jesus.
Some of us may be pursuing something or serving in an area that we are unsure is what God is really calling us to. Know that when God calls you to something, He will equip you for it.
Some of us may not suit the roles that others are serving in and that is okay. When you flow with God to fulfill your calling, the experience is restful and joyful. This doesn’t mean there is no activity or busyness, but even in the midst of that, it is restful on the inside. The Lord will provide for you the gifts and anointing to succeed in whatever He has called you to.
It is the same when finding a life partner—both parties need to have rest in their souls regarding the relationship. If you believe that God has called you to marry someone, that person must also receive the same calling. Do not feel obligated to be with someone just because that person claims “God says we are meant to be together.” If it is God’s will, He will inform both parties of it.
“My yoke is easy and my burden is light” — Oxen are yoked together so that the mature ox can train the young ox. Take Jesus’ yoke upon you. Follow Him because He knows the way.
Nothing happening in the world today takes Him by surprise. Do not worry about tomorrow or the future. Just flow with Jesus by simply doing the next thing that He tells you to do.
During your Bible reading, if a verse jumps out at you, stop and focus on it. Write it down and study the verse immediately. This is one way that the Lord leads you. When the mature ox lowers its head to drink, the younger ox has to follow.
Similarly, obey every prompting to pray. You may get a sudden prompting to pray for your child even though you already prayed for them the night before. Just follow the prompting and pray again at that moment. It does not have to be a long prayer. It can just be a simple sentence.
When you start to obey these promptings, you are being yoked with our Lord Jesus, and you will find rest for your soul.
Don’t ignore the Lord’s promptings, thinking you will do them later. When we come back to these promptings at a later time, we often find that they are no longer fresh. Satan often tries to snatch the Word away immediately so that it does not take root in your life.
When you read the Bible, trust the Lord to give you a word or revelation for the season you are in now. Learn to not only rely on commentaries but trust the Lord to speak a fresh word to you at the time you need it.
When we look at the context of Matthew 11:28–30, where Jesus is talking about finding true rest in Him, we can see that He preached this when He was being rejected by the people in Chorazin, Bethsaida, and Capernaum (Matt. 11:20–27). Jesus came as the Messiah and He needed to inform the people of the consequences of rejecting Him. He did so not out of bitterness, but out of love. Yet in the midst of this rejection, Jesus still praised God. He had rest in His soul. Jesus cannot be flattered into having a good opinion of people. Neither can they insult Him so much for Him to have a bitter opinion of them.
As the world continues to get darker, be careful of what you listen to. Be sensitive to people’s intentions when listening to them. The best way to see the world is through the Bible. There are a lot of bad things happening but there are also a lot of good things for us to see. We are not pretending that bad things are not happening. We are just choosing to focus on the good.
Convergence in the Promises of God in the Bible
“Blessed is the Lord God of Israel,
For He has visited and redeemed His people,
And has raised up a horn of salvation for us
In the house of His servant David,
As He spoke by the mouth of His holy prophets,
Who have been since the world began,
That we should be saved from our enemies
And from the hand of all who hate us,
To perform the mercy promised to our fathers
And to remember His holy covenant,
The oath which He swore to our father Abraham:
To grant us that we,
Being delivered from the hand of our enemies,
Might serve Him without fear,
In holiness and righteousness before Him all the days of our life.
“And you, child, will be called the prophet of the Highest;
For you will go before the face of the Lord to prepare His ways,
To give knowledge of salvation to His people
By the remission of their sins,
Through the tender mercy of our God,
With which the Dayspring from on high has visited us;”
—Luke 1:68–78 NKJV
In Luke 1:68–78, we can see that there is a mirror image in the verses. For example, the first verse mentioning visitation corresponds to the last verse which also mentions visitation. There is beautiful order in God’s words. Right in the middle, we see that what is holding everything together is God’s covenant.
We see a similar parallel in Matthew 11:28–30, which we have been studying in this sermon.
Once again, the emphasis is on Jesus and our relationship with Him. This is the secret to experiencing His rest. The Lord wants us to be closely connected with Him. He wants us to learn from Him and look at Him. When we behold Jesus, we are transformed from glory to glory by the Holy Spirit, not by our fleshly efforts.
There is another parallel in Psalm 91:
“He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High
Shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty.
I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress;
My God, in Him I will trust.”
—Psalm 91:1–2 NKJV
In Psalm 91:2, we see that this portion of Scripture converges at “He is my refuge and my fortress.”
What does it mean to trust God? We trust God by saying, “He is my refuge and my fortress.” What you are saying shows your trust in God. These days with many bad things happening in the world, instead of saying, “The times are terrible,” say, “The LORD is my refuge.” If there is darkness in your workplace, say, “The LORD gives me success.” Likewise, in your own personal relationships, instead of, “My marriage is falling apart,” you can trust God by saying, “The LORD renews my marriage like wine.”
Noah’s family entering the ark
“. . . went in as God had commanded him; and the LORD shut him in.”
—Genesis 7:16 NKJV
In Hebrew, “the LORD” is Yahweh and “God” is Elohim.
“Yahweh” — This name of God means “the covenant friend.” God’s covenant with us is a bond that He is committed to keeping.
“Elohim” — This name of God means “the creator that moves circumstances.”
When you accept Jesus as your Lord and Savior, it is Yahweh, your covenant friend, that keeps you close to Him.
There are many other times when the name Yahweh and Elohim are used at significant points in Bible stories.
David and Goliath
“This day the LORD will deliver you into my hand . . . that all the earth may know that there is a God in Israel.”
—1 Samuel 17:46 NKJV
Yahweh, your covenant friend, will deliver your enemies to your hand. And to all the world, they will know that there is Elohim, a creator that moves circumstances, in your life.
Uzziah named king of Judah
“. . . as long as he sought the LORD, God made him prosper.”
—2 Chronicles 26:5 NKJV
The way that Yahweh and Elohim are used in the verses above tells us that when we get to know Jesus as our covenant friend, Elohim will work all things for our good. Elohim can move circumstances and events just for you, and that happens when we seek a personal friendship with Yahweh.
The Lord rescuing King Jehoshaphat in battle
“. . . Jehoshaphat cried out to the LORD, who helped him, and God diverted them from him.”
—2 Chronicles 18:31 ISV
When King Jehoshaphat made a mistake and got himself into a situation that endangered his life, he called upon Yahweh, and Elohim moved circumstances for him and kept him safe.
Do you know your covenant friend?
Do not just seek God’s power, but seek His face. Seek time with Him. You do not get transformed by your effort, but you get transformed when you see Jesus and know Him as your covenant friend.
“Heavenly Father, I thank You that Christ died for my sins and rose from the dead and You justified me. All my sins are remitted. I am totally forgiven and greatly blessed. Jesus Christ is my Lord now and forever. Thank You, Father. I am now Your child and You are my heavenly Father. In Jesus name, Amen.”
“This coming week, the Lord blesses you with the blessings of father Abraham and He makes the blessings of Deuteronomy 28 manifest in your life this week. The LORD keeps and protects you and your loved ones from all forms of diseases and viruses. The LORD, Yahweh, keeps you and your families from the power of the evil one throughout this week. The Lord makes His face to shine on you and be favorable to you. He imparts to you grace upon grace and causes your children to increase in wisdom and grace and in favor with God and men. May God's grace be mighty upon your children. The Lord lifts up His countenance and grants to you and your loved ones His shalom wellbeing, peace, and wholeness. In the name of the Lord, Jesus Christ, Amen.”
As we continue to venture into uncertain times, it’s easy to feel anxious, worried, and overwhelmed by negative thoughts and turbulent emotions. Friend, know that nothing takes the Lord by surprise, and we can trust Him to lead us in practical ways daily and give us rest for souls.
This week, take time to get to know Yahweh, your covenant friend. You can talk to Him about your cares and worries, and listen to what He is saying through His Word. Take His yoke upon yourself by being sensitive to His promptings and follow Him step by step. As you behold the LORD as your covenant friend, you can expect to see Elohim, the mover of circumstances, move things in your favor.
We hope these sermon notes blessed you! If they did, we encourage you to get the sermon and allow the Lord to speak to you personally as you watch or listen to it.
© Copyright JosephPrince.com 2022
These sermon notes were taken by volunteers during the service. They are not a verbatim representation of the sermon.
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