Bethel Baptist Church
Worship Service @ Home
25 July 2021
Service available on Youtube, or as text (below), or for audio see the Podcasts page.
Our response to the latest Government announcement re. lifting of restrictions and way forward will be in next week’s Service @ Home.
Agreed by Elders and Deacons that we should postpone this from the original date of 31 July.
‘The rescheduled church weekend away has been confirmed for 3rd – 5th June 2022. If you would like to go please contact Andrea for an info. letter and sign-up form.’
“I became a follower of Jesus the first day I visited a church. I was lost but Jesus found me. Unfortunately, my family found out that I had become a Christian. My brothers forbade me from returning to church and even threatened to kill me if I went back. But I discovered that the church service is broadcast on SAT-7. I’m so blessed! Now I’m able to attend the church service in my room – “Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom”.
Nabila*, Algeria, (From Sat-7 magazine) * – name changed to protect identity
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.Matt. 11:28-30
Last Sunday at Bethel, I gave an illustration using two rucksacks and there was some good feedback regarding the impact it made. I carried the first rucksack (filled with heavy books) around to illustrate my life before Jesus, it was exhausting after a while. Inside this rucksack were labels, each with the name of an individual sin I committed before Jesus came into my life. It was hard work, and heavy work living the life I lived.
The second ruck sack was empty apart from some labels, each with the name of the wonderful blessings we experience when Jesus comes into our lives.
I took the first rucksack off (which in itself was a relief as I was finding it very heavy) and dumped it at the foot of the cross – made possible because of Jesus’ great love for us in dying for all our sins – all those we have committed in the past, all those we are presently committing, and all those we will commit in the future. However, the point was made that unless we fill the vacuum with Jesus Christ Himself, we will find ourselves in that depressing circle of confessing the same sins over and over again, common to some religions. Putting the empty rucksack on was a joy, there was an ease about it, such is the life Jesus offers each one of us:
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.Matt 11:28-30
Jesus, in His great, great love for us offers everyone (“all”) a new yoke, His yoke. We can get rid of:
- The Religious Yoke
- The Yoke of Sin, Guilt and Shame
- The Yoke of doing life “My Way”
(1) The Religious Yoke
Religion in the wrong hands can be very cruel, depressing, mean, even vicious. In that sense Jesus is not about putting religion on us, but about giving us new life, life to the full, life more abundantly (John 10:10). It’s the enemy, the devil who comes to steal, kill and destroy (John 10:10). Think of some of the fruit of the Spirit: “Love, Joy, Peace …” Many religious people don’t show joy. This was one of the ways that the apostle Paul knew there was something wrong at the Galatian Churches: “What’s happened to all your joy (‘blessedness’)?” (Gal. 4:15). What had happened to the Galatian churches was that they had moved away from Jesus and from living in the grace of Jesus Christ (Gal. 1:6). They had turned back to their old religious ways (“a different gospel which is no gospel” Gal. 1:7), like taking off the light rucksack and putting that old heavy one on again.
Religion, as being used here, is where we try to live to appease God in our own strength and ability, rather than pleasing Him by trusting in His Son and relying on the Holy Spirit. It is remarkable how many people when asked if they are a Christian reply, “I was christened as a baby; I used to go to church; I’m not a bad person like some, I try to do a good deed every day”. All that is good but it isn’t the gospel. Christ died for our sins and rose again to give eternal life to all who believe, all who trust in Him and His righteousness and not in themselves and their own self-righteousness. To all who believe He gives the gift of His Spirit to enable us to follow Him.
The Pharisees were renowned for putting a heavy religious yoke on people and Jesus addresses such people carrying such a heavy load: “Take my yoke upon you and learn from me … my yoke is easy and my burden is light … I am gentle and humble of heart … you will find rest for your souls.” If you are not enjoying Jesus, check what yoke you have taken upon you, then get rid of it and get back to Jesus’ yoke.
(2) The Yoke of Sin, Guilt and Shame
God didn’t make us to sin or to live with a load of guilt and shame. If I put water in the petrol tank, oil in the radiator, and petrol in the sump, you would tell me I was going to have big problems driving this car. Likewise, people put sin in their lives so to speak, which leads to guilt and shame. Yes we might get a way with it for a time but sin, shame, guilt have a habit of suddenly surfacing, even years later. What a relief when finally we surrender to Jesus, repent and with the Spirit’s enabling start living more righteous lives. It really is like having a bad painful tooth taken out, when Jesus lifts that heavy burden of sin, guilt and shame off us. How? “Come to me,” Jesus says, “all you who are weary and heavy laden … Take my yoke upon you” His yoke is one of purity. Not only does He take the “bad tooth” out, but He replaces it with a beautiful new one – the pure life of Christ!
(3) The Yoke of doing life “My Way”
God created Adam and Eve, and desired them to live in Him, with Him, for Him, living life His way. But instead of this they chose to know both good and evil, and pure selfishness entered the world – the “I, Me, My Way.” But Jesus said, “I Am The Way” and inevitably there is a clash. That clash came to a head at the cross when the world and the devil himself, all conspired and joined together to put the Spotless Lamb of God to death on that tree. But big mistake, for God raised Him from the dead, a great victory which enables Jesus to say, and do, to all who come to Him: “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.”
Put Him to the test, find out as you totally surrender to Jesus if it’s not true: “I will give you rest.” I cannot emphasise enough how beautiful, wonderful, glorious, breath-taking is this new life in Jesus, and it gets better and better, especially in glory! For sure being a disciple of Jesus is a life long process of learning how to live as He requires, but such does not bring weariness, heavy, heavy, burdens, guilt, shame and misery, rather, life, life more abundantly, life to the full. Try it out, surrender fully to Jesus, trust in Him and He will do it, Amen!
Questions for Discussion
- Do we reap what we sow in this life?
- Why don’t you think Christianity works for some people?
- Have you known a time when, like the Galatians, you moved away from fully trusting in Jesus? What were the consequences?
- How would you explain the meaning of this verse to an unbeliever?
Quote of the week
“Those who follow Jesus, far from being in distress, have a ‘kind yoke’ and a ‘light burden’”
Verse for the week
Be careful, however, that the exercise of your rights does not become a stumbling-block to the weak.1 Cor. 8:9
Oh Jesus, You are amazing, awesome, wonderful; all glory praise and honour to You. Thank You again and again for Your great, wondrous and amazing love. Teach us more about the length, breadth, height and depth of Your love. Lord we give to You all those heavy yokes [name them] that have left us weary and burdened.
We come to You afresh, and receive Your rest and Your yoke, the Yoke that is easy and the burden that is light. In Your immense love be with all Your people and let them shine more brightly for You in this dark world, In Your Name, Amen!