So, let’s continue our teaching which I have entitled— “Stress Out!”—where we are learning how to live the stress-free lives that Jesus Christ has enabled us to live.
And the first thing we learned in this series of teachings is that the things that cause stress in our lives, things like fear, worry, and anxiety, are strictly forbidden. Yes, we saw that we have a myriad of Scriptures that teach us to not have anxiety about anything, to not worry, and to fear not. Therefore, what stress really is is a result of disobedience because if we would choose to live a care-free life, stress would be a non-factor. Someone might say, “Yeah well, living a life free from all cares doesn’t seem possible. I mean, how can you expect me to do this, pastor!?!” Well, first of all, it is not me who set the bar; this is what thus saith the Lord, not thus saith Trey. Therefore, we saw that with the words that tell us to live this way comes the ability the walk in those words. So, just as Peter walked on that one word from God that said, “Come,” and did what most of this world would call impossible by walking on the water, likewise, you and I can walk on these words that we have from God and walk in supernatural peace and rest. Glory!
Then, last week, we looked at John 14:27 where the Lord Jesus told His disciples that He left His peace for us. So, we saw from this passage of Scripture that if the Lord said He gave us peace and left it with us, then we shouldn’t be asking Him to give us peace. It would be like me telling you that I left you something in your mailbox and then you calling me later and asking me to please give you that thing I already left in your mailbox. What do you think I would tell you? I might say, “I left it in your mailbox, dude! Didn’t you get what I left for you?”
You see, the very peace that Christ Himself walked in has already been given to you and I. It’s ours! Therefore, it is up to us to collect what He has already given.
Then we went over to Mark chapter four and learned from the story of Jesus resting in the boat as his disciples were being flooded with cares about the great windstorm they were caught in, that this describes our lives.
We saw that just as they were stuck in the middle of the storm at evening time, we too have a promise by the Master that in the world, we will have tribulation (see John 16:33). You could say that in the sea, you and I will have storms, winds and waves. It is just a normal part of living the waters of this world. However, Jesus went on to say for us to be of good cheer because He has overcome the world. In other words, just as He walked on the water, He has already shown you and I how we can walk in the supernatural like He did and overcome the winds and waves of life. Amen!
But we also saw that we have to let it happen: Yes, just as Jesus—the Word made flesh Himself—said to His disciples, “Let us cross over to the other side!” we too have to let ourselves walk in this supernatural peace. And I made this point because we need to understand that we need to cooperate with the Lord. And one major way that we do not cooperate is by allowing ourselves to fear, worry and be anxious. Therefore, you could say that a way to not let ourselves get to the other side is to let our hearts be troubled.
But in this remarkable story in Mark chapter four, we saw both how stress tries to sink us and how we are to deal with it by what Jesus did after His disciples woke Him up:
In Mark 4:37, we saw that a great windstorm arose and how the waves beat into the boat. Now we saw that the “windstorm” is symbolic of the trials, tribulations and persecutions that arise in our lives. However, it is not these windstorms that sink us; it is the waves that beat into our boat as a result of the storms. So, we saw that these waves would be the cares, worries, fears, etc. that come as a result of the problems we face in the natural. In other words, it is not the physical trials that steal our peace; it is the waves they produce in us that will steal our peace if we let them.
And then we saw that this is when the stress begins to affect us—for these worries and cares like to “beat into” our souls to where we are “filled” with those troubled waters. That water that fills our boats is the stress, and that is actually what sinks us. So, we learned that if we do not deal with the winds that are crashing into our boat and we become filled with the water from those waves, it is going to be all but impossible to cross over to the other side.
But this is when, as Jesus’ disciples failed to realize, we need to recognize that Jesus is in our boat! Yes, because Christ lives in our boat, we have a hope of glory of getting to the other side! Amen! So, if Jesus is in our boat resting, then we can rest in Him!
But as we saw, Jesus’ disciples were not at peace in the least bit. Even though Jesus was in the boat with them, they were stressed out to the max trying to keep the water from filling their boat. And the ironic thing about this was that they didn’t think Jesus cared about their predicament! That’s why they went and got Him and asked, “Master, carest thou not that we perish!?!” But we learned that the real question is not, “Does He care?”; the real question is— “Why are we caring?” So, while we might want to know why the Lord doesn’t seem to care about what is going on in our lives like we do, He wants to know why we are not resting like Him? Amen?
But arguably the biggest thing we learned last week was how to deal with the storms that try to drown us in cares: We saw that just as Jesus rebuked the wind and said to the sea, “Peace be still” in verse 39, we can experience the same “great calm” when we follow His example.
So, what did Jesus do again? First, He rebuked the wind—which we likened that wind to the circumstances themselves. So, He rebuked the circumstances—and to “rebuke” something means “to correct, admonish, instruct, or charge authoritatively.” So, this means He set the source of the problem straight by “speaking to the mountain”—which was the wind that was causing all the problems on the water.
Then we saw that He “said to the sea.” Now we likened the sea that was beating against the boat and filling it with water to those fears and worries that impact us as a result of the circumstances. So now what we see is Jesus speaking to the sea, and we are told exactly what He spoke to it— “Peace, be still!” What did He say again? PEACE! In other words, we need to speak the peace of God over our mind, will and emotions when those unruly waves are trying to drown us with cares.
Now we saw that these words in this verse “Peace, be still” describe “to be quiet, remain silent, & to muzzle.” So what Jesus was literally saying to the sea was, “SHUT UP!” And did you know this is exactly what you need to do with those thoughts and emotions that are beating against your heart and mind—tell them that you will have peace and for them to be quiet! In other words, we have to quiet our souls by telling all that is within us that we are not going to tolerate any anxiety and that we are going to put our attention on the Prince of Peace. Amen!
So, we learned that Jesus said we are going to get to the other side! So, no matter what the storm, winds and waves are telling us, we too can stand up in the midst of those troubled waters of life and say to our soul— “Peace be still!” and experience a great calm—that is, that perfect peace that passes all understanding! Hallelujah, and amen.
Now then, let’s go over to our golden text in Matthew chapter eleven and look again at what Jesus said is our inheritance.
Again, in Matthew 11:28-30, Jesus said, “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.”
Now what I want to begin doing this week is begin breaking down Jesus’ words in this passage of Scriptures because I believe there are keys contained in His words that will unlock this stress-free life that we all desire. Yes, I see this saying by the Master holding many practical ways that you and I can walk in the peace that passes all understanding and free from the stress of life.
First of all, I want you to notice how the Lord was addressing “all you who labor and are heavy laden.” How many of you know that this is just another way of describing stressed-out folks!?! So, the Lord is addressing all of us out there who “labor and are heavy laden” with the cares and stresses of this life and inviting us to come to Him.
WORKING WITH HIM VS. WORKING FOR HIM
Now the word for “labor” describes “the feelings of being tired, fatigued, or weary that come as a result of the hard work one is doing.” Therefore, it denotes working hard, laboring, toiling, and the physical and emotional effects that this effort can have on us. And while this word was primarily used to describe physical labor, the likelihood is Jesus was using it to describe those whom were fatigued, weary, and stressed out in the spiritual sense. In fact, I’ve found that jobs and projects that require a lot of hard work both mentally and emotionally are oftentimes even more exhausting than the hard, physical labor that one can do. Sure, working hard with our hands can make us physically tired, but that soulish stress can leave one feeling even more fatigued than someone who works a very physically demanding job.
So, here Jesus is including “all who labor”—both from the physical sense of working hard, physically and mentally demanding jobs to those who are feeling the fatigue from other spiritually related things that they have been carrying.
Now let me say that there is certainly a place for some forms of “labor” in our lives. We see this word used in a positive way throughout the New Testament to describe one laboring for the Lord. But obviously those that Jesus was describing here as “laboring” were those who were apparently laboring apart from Him—thus the reason Jesus told them to come to Him first.
You see, there is a laboring with Him and then there is a laboring for Him, and there is big difference between these two. One can work for the Lord, but it not be Spirit-led or Spirit-empowered—meaning, they can do a lot of good, well-meaning and religious duties, but it not be what the Lord has directed us to do or how He directed us to do it at that specific time. I can assure you that if a believer is becoming stressed out over the good works that they are doing for the Lord then one of two things are true: Either they are doing something that the Lord did not tell them to do or they are doing what He might have told them to do, but in their own strength. How can I be so confident in this, you ask? It is because, as we’ve seen, the Lord’s yoke does not have stress accompanying it. It is really that simple.
Let me give you a couple of examples of how a Christian can “labor” without Him:
I could have a sufficient amount of duties on my plate, but then, in my heart to help someone who maybe needed a ride somewhere or someone else who needed to talk for a couple of hours, begin to overextend myself as I just don’t have the heart to say no. Well, because I just don’t feel like I can turn someone down who needs help, my plate then goes from having enough to this heavy, burdensome thing. This is when I have to “come to Jesus” and find out what I have added to my plate that wasn’t me laboring together with Him—for I’ll remind you that His yoke is easy and His burden is light and if there is no apparent grace on all of these good things I’m doing, I need to find out what it is I’m doing that I’m not yoked up together with Him on.
Another good example is that I could see that in the Bible the Lord stresses the importance of the church taking care of the poor, and that spiritual duty has been engrained in me somehow. Therefore, every time I see a poverty-stricken person, I drop everything and do what I can to meet that need. Well, how many of you know that if we gave everything to everyone who has a need, it won’t take long until we don’t have anything left to give. No, there is a wisdom aspect in this. The Lord obviously doesn’t expect us to give everything away to every poor person we come in contact with. In the world we live in today, if we gave to everyone who let’s us know of their need, we would be sowing our precious seed on bad ground because how many of you know that there are a lot of folks out there who are milking the system, are unwilling to work, and are using others’ hard earned money to pad their pockets? Doesn’t the same man who emphasized his desire to give to the poor time and time again say that if a man doesn’t work, he doesn’t eat? (see Second Thessalonians 3:10). So, the Lord is obviously not telling us to give to every person who says they need our help because not everyone who solicits our charity has truly fallen on hard times and legitimately needs our help. The fact is, some are just working the system and preying on the good consciences of Christians who desire to help the poor.
I just bring this example up because someone can even be doing a good, spiritual activity and be laboring for the Lord, but not with Him. I have found this to be a major key to living free from stress—to be led by both wisdom and the Spirit of God. Not to just do good works because I’ve been trained to do them or because I’ll feel condemned if I don’t. That is not a good motive and will certainly tend towards stress. The key is living by the perfect law of liberty—that is, not feeling pressured to do the things I do, but to only do what I believe the Holy Spirit is directing me to do. Now I certainly must tend towards the duties of Christianity (I don’t want to err on the side of doing less than I am responsible for), but I do not allow my heart to condemn me if I ever feel led to say, “no” to something.
So, a good rule of thumb is to wake up every day and invite the Lord into our day, saying, “Holy Spirit, what do you have planned for us today? I know you have good works for me to walk in today, so I ask you to show me what I am to set my hand to today. Give me the green light regarding what I am to do, but give me the red light regarding what I am not to do.” Then, I live that day constantly communing with the Holy Spirit and being led by Him.
But then there is the laboring we do that is not only not with Him but isn’t even for Him. This would be all of those worldly—not necessarily sinful, but just natural things of life that we work so hard at that leads to us getting stressed out. So, even in these normal routines of life, we still ought to include the Holy Spirit, asking Him what His plan is.
But always remember this: The Lord wants to do life with us, saints! No, not just in the spiritual or religious things; He desires for us to include Him in the other things like our jobs, hobbies, etc. And living our lives in constant communication with Him and looking for His direction in every step we take is a key to keeping the stress out of our lives—because, again, I can assure you, He is not going to lead you and I into a stress-filled life!
The point is that we must learn to labor with Him and not just for Him or apart from Him. The moment we begin to work in our own strength and according to our own abilities is when we are capable of letting the stress in. This is why we must take His yoke and not our own or another’s—so that we can avoid the physical, mental, emotional and spiritual fatigue of “laboring” apart from Him. Amen?
But it was not just those who “labor” that Jesus invited to come unto Him; He also included those who are “heavy laden.”
Now this is not terminology that we might use today. So, what does it mean to be “heavy laden”? This phrase describes placing a burden upon someone or to be (over)loaded and (over)burdened. And, oh, how this is certainly a cause of stress because if you recall, one of the definitions used for “stress” is to put force or pressure on something to where it might even begin to bend. Well, this is what happens when one becomes overloaded or burdened by something. It will place stress on our souls.
Now it needs to be said that there is a difference between the load we have the responsibility of carrying and those burdens that the Lord has not assigned for us to carry. We see this difference in Galatians 6:2-5 when the apostle Paul says for us to help bear one another’s burdens, but that every person has their own load to carry. In fact, in the original King James version, the word for “load” in verse five is translated “burden.” This has led to some confusion because Paul just said in verse two that we are to bear one another’s “burdens.” So, is he contradicting himself? Of course, he’s not. You see, he used two different Greek words. In verse 2, the word used was baros, which describes something that is heavy, weighty & burdensome (i.e. more than one could carry on his own). In this verse, the word Paul used was phortion. This word was used to describe a pack that a marching soldier was designated to carry. In other words, it was his own personal load to carry. Therefore, it would be considered irresponsible of him to require another soldier to carry his pack for him. This word was also used in Acts 27:10 to describe a ship’s cargo—which was obviously considered before the ship left the dock. Likewise, the Lord knows how much we can carry, and He is faithful not to give us more than we can bear (First Corinthians 10:13). So, if the heat in my house went out in the middle of winter, while it would be okay for me to go stay at someone else’s home for a short time, it would be irresponsible of me to move in with them until winter is over. In other words, there is a difference between helping others bear their burdens when they need it, and each one bearing their own load (i.e. responsibilities) that they must attend to themselves.
However, we ought not make the mistake of associating our load with a burden either. In fact, this word phortion was the word the Lord Jesus used in Matthew 11:30 when He said that His “burden” was light. And the reason His burden is light is because the Master takes the heavy end. So, if you and I are yoked up together with Christ the way He intends for us to be, our “load” is not going to be some heavy, weighty, burdensome load. It will be a “light load” with joy & peace accompanying it every step of the way. Hallelujah!
But another interesting fact is that this word Jesus used for “heavy laden” here was only used in one other passage of Scripture (see Luke 11:46) and there it says, “And He said, ‘Woe to you also, lawyers! For you load men with burdens hard to bear, and you yourselves do not touch the burdens with one of your fingers.’”
It seems obvious to me here that Jesus is talking to those who have been overburdened by the law and keeping of religious rules and rites. Therefore, Jesus is beckoning those who are burdened by the law. All of this leads to stress—for when we try to work harder, even in our spiritual lives, we add stress that is unwarranted. You see, many people have the mentality that with anything from our vocation to our spiritual walks that if we just work harder, everything will be better. But that is not necessarily the case: working harder is not always the answer and certainly is not wisdom. Like they say in the business world, we need to learn to work smarter and not just harder. This applies to the kingdom business world too! We need to learn to work smarter for the Lord and not just do more and more.
So, those that labor and are heavy laden are those who are busy in life, working hard for the Lord, and are burdened down with their religion. All of this equals stress. We must learn to:
THE GREAT INVITATION
But as much as I can offer you practical advice about how to “labor” properly and how to avoid being “heavy laden,” the greatest piece of advice is Jesus’ invitation at the beginning of Matthew 11:28 when He said, “Come to Me…”
In fact, do you know what these words in Matthew 11:28 denote? They signify that if we are in this condition, then we haven’t truly come to Him. No, not that we have never come to Him for salvation, but that currently we have not come to Him to where this peace is being experienced in our lives. Amen or Oh me?
Now this word “come” is not necessarily a command as much as it is a friendly invitation. While He certainly wants us to come to Him and while it certainly is in our best interest to come to Him, He simply puts the ball in our court and invites us.
And this is just the way God does things: From beginning to end, the Lord gives mankind freewill. While He created Adam and placed him in the Garden, He gave him the option of turning from the beauty of His perfection, which we know Adam & Eve obviously did.
And at the end of the Bible, we see the apostle John making this declaration— “And the Spirit and the bride say, ‘Come!’ And let him who hears say, ‘Come!’ And let him who thirsts come. Whoever desires, let him take the water of life freely.” (Revelations 22:17)
This declaration by the Holy Spirit, the bride of Christ, and everyone who hears to “Come!” is a plea for the Lord Jesus to return and the establishment of His kingdom on the earth. But the next half of this verse is that in the meantime for him who thirsts and desires this water of life to come and take it freely.
So, the Lord apparently gives the invitation to “come,” but it is up to us to accept that invitation and “come.” As He also said in Isaiah 55:1– “Ho! Everyone who thirsts, Come to the waters; And you who have no money, Come, buy and eat. Yes, come, buy wine and milk without money and without price.”
Also, the Lord is said to be standing at the door of our heart knocking (see Revelation 3:20). Many use this as an evangelistic verse, but the fact is, this is written to a church full of believers—not to unbelievers. So, is it possible that a born-again, Spirit-filled Christian can have the Lord knocking at the door of their hearts and not already living in their hearts? Apparently so. Now that doesn’t mean that they are not saved; it just means that Jesus is not occupying their lives like He desires to. And that is a major point: He obviously desires to or He wouldn’t be standing at the door knocking. Amen?
However, He is not going to kick the door down. He will patiently wait until we decide to open the door and invite Him in. This is the beauty of the way He operates!
I was reminded of what Pastor Robert had the Lord Jesus tell Him in response to Him coming back with him to show Himself to the world. Jesus said, “I have come to man, now man must come to me.” This means that Jesus already came and made everything available—all things that pertain to life and godliness and every spiritual blessing. Now it is up to us to come to Him and receive everything He died to provide for us. Amen?
WHO IS INVITED?
But who is Jesus inviting here in Matthew chapter eleven? It is those whom it seemed good in the sight of the Father to reveal Him to—namely, the uneducated and unwise (see verses 25-27). So, while it certainly is true that the Lord has invited whosoever will come, the fact is, not everyone responds to the call. In other words, everyone who got an invitation does not accept it. Amazing, huh?
Let’s look at a significant parable given to us by the Lord that is along these lines: In Jesus’ Parable of the Great Supper found in Luke 14:15-24 we see a similar invitation going out to many that said essentially the same thing— “Come.” In fact, in Matthew’s account, the exact same Greek word for “come” is used (see Matthew 22:4), but they all made excuses that were based on their stuff and relationships being more important. Let’s look at this parable more in depth:
The Parable begins after one of those who were sitting at the table eating with Jesus and others said to Jesus, “Blessed is he who shall eat bread in the kingdom of God.”
Now the “bread” of God’s kingdom has been likened to healing and deliverance (see story of Syrophoenician woman in Matthew 15:21-28), and obviously would denote the things that are ours to partake of in the kingdom of God. But the point is that this statement is what generated this parable by Jesus. Why? It is because I’m sure that this man who made this statement represents the majority of believers who think that the bread of God’s kingdom will be partaken of by more than what will in reality happen.
Like it is with our salvation in general, to all of the other benefits of God’s kingdom, not everyone will receive what the Lord has provided. And this certainly includes the peaceful, stress-free life that Jesus offered to us. We must come to Him to receive that bread just like we do everything else that He has made ready for us. So, that is the point of this parable. Now let’s delve into it:
Jesus begins by saying, “A certain man gave a great supper and invited many…” So, we see that this man (an obvious type of God the Father) gave a “great” supper. That indicates this was a big deal! He did a lot to prepare all of this food and drink! Likewise, the Lord did a lot to prepare so great a salvation for us. Sure, He killed the fatted calf which provided the meat of our salvation (a type of Jesus’s death, burial and resurrection which assured our salvation), but He also provided many delectable sides and desserts that come with this so great of a salvation—which would include the fruit of peace. Amen.
Then we see that He “invited many.” That indicates that He did not just invite a “select elect;” no, he invited a bunch of people—for many are called, but few are chosen. Now there are varying beliefs of who these chosen were, but I personally believe the few that are chosen are the few that decided to come when the invitation was sent out to many.
Now in verse 17, Jesus went on to say, “and sent his servant at supper time to say to those who were invited, ‘Come, for all things are now ready.’” So, we can clearly see that since the “certain man” was Father God that “his servant” is His Son, Jesus Christ. Therefore, Jesus was sent to the earth at “supper time” in the kingdom of God. Why? “To say to those who were invited…” Notice that they were invited before He was sent. This describes to us the true doctrine of election. You see, it is not that God predestines one to life and another to destruction. No, He simply made preparations for the Great Supper and sent out the invitations beforehand. Then He sent out His Holy Servant, Jesus, to say to those who were invited, “Come, for all things are now ready.” This was essentially the Gospel that Jesus came to preach during His 33 years on the earth.
But again, did they “Come” in response to His invitation? Nope! All of these that Jesus was sent to did not accept the invitation to the Master’s Great Supper. Notice what Jesus said next in verses 18-21— “But they all with one accord began to make excuses. The first said to him, ‘I have bought a piece of ground, and I must go and see it. I ask you to have me excused.’ And another said, ‘I have bought five yoke of oxen, and I am going to test them. I ask you to have me excused.’ Still another said, ‘I have married a wife, and therefore I cannot come.’ So that servant came and reported these things to his master.”
So, what we see in this parable is that all of these people who were invited began at the same time (i.e. with one accord) to make excuses as to why they could not attend. Now I don’t believe this is necessarily how folks reject the Gospel’s invitation to receive what Jesus died to provide for them. Just like there might not be a formal invitation to a dinner given, there might not be a verbal “RSVP” given. In other words, actions speak louder than words. So, sometimes just simply putting something else before Him is us communicating the same thing as these guys verbally did in this parable.
OUR CHRISTIAN “DYUTY”
But my point is that, just like in this parable where they all made excuses that were based on their stuff and relationships being more important than the supper they were invited to, this is when the stress enters in. In other words, when those who “labor and are heavy laden” do not “come to” the Lord, they will automatically and unnecessarily live in the stresses of life.
Do you reckon that you and I at times have been working like busy little bees dealing with the people and stuff in our lives, when the Lord has been calling for us to come sit at the table and sup with Him? I’m sure we all have been guilty of this at one time or another.
But lest we undress ourselves today, let’s pick on someone else who did this: In Luke 10:38-42, we have an event that perfectly illustrates what we have been talking about today.
This is, of course, the familiar story of Martha and Mary: In this story, we see Martha was distracted with much serving, and how she resented her sister for not helping her. Eventually, she had had it with her “lazy-bum” sister and decided to interrupt Jesus to get Him to correct Mary. But I bet she was not prepared for the response He gave her: He said, “Martha, Martha, you are troubled about many things. But one thing is needed, and Mary has chosen that good part, which will not be taken away from her.” Wow! This verse is loaded with some powerful truths that paint the picture of so many believers!
Notice that in Luke 10:42, Jesus did not say that this one thing—the good part of our calling—is just a good idea; He said that this one thing is “needed.” This is something that we desperately need to understand—that spending time in God’s presence is an absolute necessity and not just beneficial.
Notice that Jesus said only “one thing” is needed, and it was not Martha’s service for Him. Now, He was not saying that her service was unimportant or that it did not have its place. Our service unto Him is important, but Jesus said that Mary had chosen that good part. That “good part” of what? That good part of a believer’s responsibility and calling! What Mary had chosen was the one thing that was needful: And what was that one thing that she desired and sought after? It was fellowshipping with Jesus—drawing near to Him and sitting at His feet! Jesus attested that spending time in His presence was the good and needful part of our relationship with Him! What He was essentially saying to Martha was— “Martha, Martha, you are troubled and stressed out about too many things. All of these things that you are doing are not what is truly important. Only one thing is necessary, and it is not even all of this serving that you are doing. The one thing that is needed is that you ‘Come unto Me’ and sit at my feet.” Amen.
So, herein lies one of the primary reasons that we live stressed lives: it is because we do not make our personal relationship with God our priority. I am convinced that if we would make the “first thing first” and accept the invitation to “Come to Him,” we would be more at rest in our souls. And the awesome thing about it is this: when we draw near to Him, He draws near to us.
Now these three words Jesus said in Matthew 11:28— “Come to Me”—are super significant. First of all, the word used for “to” here is the word pros and describes coming face to face with something or someone. Therefore, Jesus is describing here our spiritual proximity or our relationship with Him. So, you could translate this phrase— “Come facing Me.” In other words, this describes us turning away from the cares of this world that might be distracting us like Martha was distracted and then looking unto Jesus. But this doesn’t just describe us turning where we are at and facing Him, it describes us drawing near to Him to where we actually come face to face with him. And what we need to understand is that this face to face relationship with Jesus is our calling and primary purpose. Interestingly enough, the word “Come” comes from the Greek word deute (pronounced dyu-te). Likewise, coming into this relationship with Jesus is our Christian “dyuty.”
How many of you know that living in this kind of fellowship with the Lord Jesus Christ is our primary purpose and our relationship with Him is our calling? The Apostle Paul makes this clear in First Corinthians 1:9 when he says, “God is faithful, by whom you were called into the fellowship of His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.”
What this verse is saying is that God Himself has called each of us for one specific and primary purpose, and that is to come into fellowship with Jesus. We oftentimes associate our “calling” to what we do for the Lord, but the works we do for Him is not all we are called to do. So, First Corinthians 1:9 means that we all have the same calling. Yes, above everything else God has called each of us to do to promote and expand His kingdom, He has called every one of us to fulfill this general calling first. This is important to understand lest we identify what we do for the Lord as being our relationship with Him.
Let me explain what I mean by this: a tendency that the flesh has is to let what it does for the Lord define its relationship with Him. We have to be careful not to do this because our works are in no way an indication that we have fellowship with Christ. While certainly our service and good works will follow our relationship with God, these works can also be done apart from knowing Him. You cannot know God without serving Him, but you can serve God without knowing Him. So, although we ought to strive to live for God and serve Him, we do not need to view what we do for Him as being our most important calling. Our relationship with God is our most important calling! It is our “dyuty.” Amen.