Not my Burden to Bear

By: Pastor Jarren Rogers

“If you feel that the weight of your circumstances is too heavy to bear, maybe it’s because the burden is yours, not His.” – Jennifer Rothschild

Annie and I live on the third floor of our apartment building. This means, whenever we are taking in groceries, we both try to take as many bags as possible with the hope that we only need to take one trip. I usually stand with my arms outstretched as Annie feeds grocery bag after grocery bag onto and up my arms. I usually end up with around ten bags on each arm.

Let me tell you, carrying twenty grocery bags up three flights of stairs is a big burden to bear!

Sadly, in this life, the burdens that we have to carry aren’t just physical ones. There are emotional and spiritual burdens that many of us are carrying even now. We might have been carrying the same burden for a really long time.

The good news is this. In the words of Jesus:

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,” (Matthew 11:28-30).

Are you burdened today?

In this passage Jesus making us a deal. He says that if we yoke ourselves to Him, just as two oxen are yoked together, he will remove our burden.

You might be thinking, “Well, that’s a pretty crummy deal. It seems to me that I’m exchanging one burden for another.”

But here’s the catch:

Jesus says that his yoke is easy and his burden is light.

If we yoke ourselves to Him, Jesus promises that the burden upon our shoulders will be lifted.

He promises us rest; soulful rest.

Yoke yourself to Jesus. Cast your burden upon Him. Learn from Him. His yoke is easy and his burden is light.

Find rest.

Parents: Ask your children about the heaviest thing they have ever carried. Ask them if they’ve ever been through a hard time where it felt like they were carrying something heavy on their shoulders. Explain to them that Jesus wants to take that burden from them.

Jesus the Gardener

“Following Jesus simply means learning from him how to arrange my life around activities that enable me to live in the fruit of the Spirit” – John Ortberg

 My wife is an amateur gardener. She loves plants and flowers. She loves how they smell and how they look. Sometimes, I have to tear her away from the gardening section at Wal-Mart before we spend more money on plants then we do on groceries.

Every once in a while, I will sit and watch her as she fills a pitcher full of water, walks to the plant on our balcony, and slowly pours the water over the soil in the pot. I’ll watch as she carefully examines the plant, picking up a branch and looking over it, rubbing the leaves between her fingers, pulling out and pruning what is unnecessary.

If it wasn’t for Annie’s watering, the plant would wither and die. Without Annie’s pruning of the plant, it would choke and die. The plant needs Annie in order to thrive and survive.

Just as Annie is for her plants, Jesus is for us.

I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. If you do not remain in me, you are like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned. If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples,” (John 15:5-8).

Jesus is our lifeline. When we are attached to Him we find our life. Apart from Jesus we are nothing and can do nothing. Remaining Him produces good fruit that glorifies God. With Him we are able to do more then we can possibly imagine and our fruit helps build His Kingdom.

If you don’t already know Jesus, I encourage you to believe in Him because he is alive, real, and working, He wants a relationship with you and He wants to use you. Accept Him as your savior and ask him to forgive your sins. Continue to learn more about Him in Scripture and grow in Him.

If you already know Jesus, just like a plant, continue to grow with Christ as your gardener. Allow him to prune off that which he finds unholy or unnecessary. Let him water you with His Spirit. Let him plant you where he wants you.

Jesus is the vine. We are the branches.

Let us produce good fruit.

Parents: Go buy a plant and let your children help you take care of it. Explain to them that just as you are taking care of the plant, Jesus takes care of your family.

We are Family

By: Pastor Jarren Rogers

“God designed the family to be a spiritual garden that grows flowers for today and seeds for tomorrow” – Dennis and Barbara Rainey

 The Bible talks about family A LOT. There are whole chapters dedicated to listing family lines. The entire Old Testament follows one families’ descendants through the years. The Ten Commandments specifically talks about family.

Families are a big focus of Scripture.

But why?

I think that families, along with marriage, are used by God as a means of holiness. Being a part of a family forces us to take our focus off of ourselves. It makes us think about our relatives, their wants, their needs, and their wellbeing. It is God’s way of turning our selfishness into selflessness.

Let’s look at a few verses that show how God calls us to view family.

Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long in the land that the Lord your God is giving you,” (Exodus 20:12).

The root word in Hebrew for “honor” in this verse can be translated as heavy or burdensome. I think this is the case because the honor we are called to have for our parents is not passive. It is a heavy responsibility that we have. We should be actively honoring our parents, not just waiting for an opportunity to arise.

Here’s another verse from the book of Isaiah:

What I’m interested in seeing you do is: sharing your food with the hungry, inviting the homeless poor into your homes, putting clothes on the shivering ill-clad, being available to your own families,” (Isaiah 58:7).

We are called to serve our families and be there when they need us. God wants us to step up and help our families out. If you see a need of a family member, you should do everything that you can to fulfill it. It is God’s will for you.

You could write a book on all of the things that Scripture says about family, and I’m sure there are already some great books on that very subject, but the fact of the matter is this:

Families are one of God’s means of holiness. Our families should be loving, respectful, caring, hopeful, building, dignifying, honoring, God-fearing groups of people that God can use, not only for the betterment of the individual but for the betterment of the world.

Will you allow God to use your family?

Parents: Go out to eat with your family. Set the example for Christlike living and pray for God to put your family in situations where He can use your family to build His Kingdom.

The Spiritual Lab Experiment

By: Pastor Jarren Rogers

“Selfishness turns life into a burden. Unselfishness turns a burden into life!” – Robert Schuller

If you took sin into a spiritual lab, poured it into a test tube, held it over a Bunsen burner, burned away all of the excess material, and examined the core element of sin, you would find this:

Selfishness.

Selfishness is the essence of sin. It is that which all of sin sprouts from. Look at any of the seven deadly sins: pride, greed, lust, envy, gluttony, wrath and sloth. Each one begins with selfishness.

Selfishness or self-sovereignty can make you miserable. Always thinking about yourself can cause you to constantly be comparing yourself to others. You find yourself in a constant state of competition and unsatisfied desires. You are always thinking, “Why is this happening to me?” Being absorbed in self-pity can steal your joy and truly make you miserable.

Selfishness is bad for us. It makes us bitter and paranoid, yet it is such an easy and natural trap for humans to fall into.

The good news is this: Selfishness is at the core of sin, but selflessness is at the core of holiness.

True selflessness is a gift that comes through a relationship with God and the infilling of His Spirit.

A truly selfless person does not compare themselves with other people, rather they show love, compassion, and caring for the other. They do not look at their situation and say, “Why is this happening to me?” but instead say, “How can God use me?”

Selflessness is the God-given cure for the miserable, attractive, stinking, mess that is selfishness.

Selflessness takes a huge weight off our shoulders. It means that we no longer have to care about ourselves because God is doing just that on our behalf. Best of all, it makes us more into the image of Christ.

Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus,” (Philippians 2:3-5).

Selflessness is a gift.

Will you receive it?

Parents: Explain to your kids how selfishness can affect them. Let them know that God wants to help them care more about others then they do about themselves. Pray for selflessness from God along with them.

Put on Christ

By: Pastor Jarren Rogers

“‘Putting on Christ’ is not one among many jobs a Christian has to do; and it is not a sort of special exercise for the top class. It is the whole of Christianity. Christianity offers nothing else at all” – C.S. Lewis

The number one, most important, all-encompassing, total, defining responsibility for the Christian is this:

To imitate Christ in all things you do.

Being Christlike is always in God’s will for you. Doing as Christ did will never lead you astray. Following Christ’s example will never cause you to sin.

Here’s the catch:

We can’t do it on our own.

If being Christlike was something that each of us could simply decide we wanted, who wouldn’t want to become more like Christ? If Christlikeness could be flipped on with a switch, why wouldn’t anyone make the change?

The only way we can truly be Christlike followers of God is through a relationship with Him. It is the infilling and the changing of the Holy Spirit that makes us more like Christ.

Not only will being full of the Spirit mold us into Christ, but the fact of the matter is, if we want to look like Jesus we must be full of the Spirit.

Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led around by the Spirit in the wilderness” (Luke 4:1).

If we are to fulfill our call as Christian to be more and more like Jesus then being full of the Holy Spirit is a necessity. Not only because the Holy Spirit changes and molds us into Christ’s image, but because Christ Himself was full of the Spirit.

Being full of the Spirit and imitating Christ is God’s wish for you.

Asking the Spirit of God to permeate your life is one of the best decisions you can make.

Watch as God gives you a new, vibrant love for people and His creation. Be surprised by the joy that you feel in even the simplest of activities; it’s like being a kid again! Feel a peace that passes all understanding fill you through the good times and the bad. Experience self-control, gentleness, and patience that you never thought you had. Be kind and good in all things to all people. Find your faith in God renewed and strengthened like never before.

Become more like Christ.

 

 

Parents: Tell your children about God’s will for them to look more and more like Jesus. Tell them that the Holy Spirit will give them love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness, and self-control.

Jesus Wept

By: Pastor Jarren Rogers

“God weeps with us so that we may one day laugh with him” – Jürgen Moltmann

The shortest verse in the entire bible is in the book of John. It occurs after Jesus shows up at the tomb of Lazarus.

He arrived in Bethany four days after Lazarus had already died.

There he found Lazarus’ sisters, Mary and Martha, along with a group of Jews who were there to comfort them.

The sisters believed that Jesus had come too late.

Mary even broke into tears saying, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.”

It is when Jesus sees her crying and the tears of all the Jews around them that we see something that rarely happened in Scripture.

Jesus wept,” (John 11:35).

Even though this verse seems pretty straightforward I think that it carries pretty heavy theological implications.

You see, we believe that not only is Jesus God’s Son but that He is God Himself. We can learn more about who God is by looking at the person of Jesus in the Gospels.

When Christ saw all of those who were broken around him Scripture says, “he was deeply moved in spirit and troubled,” (John 11:33) and he cried. To me, this shows the kind of person that Jesus is and therefore shows who God is.

God is loving. He loves you enough to cry with you in your circumstances. He is saddened by what saddens you. He is hurt by that which hurts you.

God is compassionate and sympathetic. He doesn’t look upon our pain and suffering passively. He doesn’t ignore our tears and our struggles. He shows compassion and sympathy. He feels our pain and understands it. He is affected by our experiences alongside us.

I think we can take this one step farther and say the God suffers alongside us. To me, this implication doesn’t belittle the God we serve. It’s the opposite. I am much more willing to serve a God who suffers beside me when I am in pain. This is a God who cares and loves me enough to feel the pain of my experiences.

Let this short verse ring in your mind when you are going through the fire because we serve a God who goes through the fire right along with us and He feels every burn and every spark with us.

Jesus wept.

Parents: Talk to your children about the last time they were hurt. Explain to them how Jesus cries along with them and he feels their pain. He walks alongside them because he loves them so much.

To an Unknown God

By: Pastor Jarren Rogers

“Every Christian is either a missionary or an impostor” – Charles Spurgeon

I was in Eastern Europe last summer as a missionary for three months. While I was there I had the opportunity to visit Athens. One of the sites I was most excited to see while we were there was Areopagus Hill (Pictured Below).

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What makes this giant rock so fascinating is that the apostle/missionary Paul preached from it to the people of Athens in Acts 17. In this passage, Paul stands up on this rock and preaches an impromptu sermon to the Athenians strolling by.

He tells them that while he was walking through Athens he saw many altars to a variety of different gods, but one altar caught his eye. It was an altar bearing the inscription: To an Unknown God.

Paul goes on to share with them who this God is that they have not yet come to know. It is Jesus Christ. God who came in the flesh and died for their sins. After telling the people of Athens about Jesus, some were converted and their lives changed forever.

As I thought about this story, I thought about how people, even today, walk around with a void in their hearts that is set aside for “an unknown God”. People try to fill that void with many different things: drugs, sex, alcohol, television, video games.

But nothing can fill it.

Maybe some of you have experienced this void, but you have also experienced the complete infilling brought on by the grace and love of Jesus Christ when you first believed. That void was more than filled, it was like a cup overflowing (Psalm 23:5).

It is our job to be missionaries in our daily lives, sharing the Good News with those around us. We have to be the ones to tell others who that “unknown God” is that they have been searching and longing for.

Go. Share. Help others see God.

 Parents: Encourage your children to share the Good News with their friends at school. Tell them why it’s important to share their faith.