First Things First

First Things First

Passage: Matthew 11:28-29
Service Type:

Have you ever had a slow leak in a car tire? You search for the nail, but can’t find it. But you know it’s there because the air leaks out over a span of days. Having a soft tire effects the handling of the car and eventually becomes a safety hazard.

It is the same with our spiritual energy.

Many of you will recognize this statement. 

“Work smarter, not harder.”

An equal component of working is resting…

“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 11:28-29

Rest - to cease work or movement in order to relax, refresh oneself, or recover strength

Jesus promises REST for all who come to him.

Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened…”

Weary and burdened from what? WORK


“For the wages (payment) of sin is death…” Romans 6:23a

Listen to this description of rest in relation to sin.

Therefore, since the promise of entering his rest still stands, let us be careful that none of you be found to have fallen short of it. 2 For we also have had the good news proclaimed to us, just as they did; but the message they heard was of no value to them, because they did not share the faith of those who obeyed. 

3 Now we who have believed enter that rest…” 

Hebrews 4:1-3a

Now we who have believed enter that rest…”

PART 1: First things First…

1. To repent is to remove the yoke of sin.

Repentance is not merely conviction of sin.

Ever been convicted and done nothing in response? 

“When a man is getting better he understands more and more clearly the evil that is still left in him. When a man is getting worse he understands his own badness less and less. A moderately bad man knows he is not very good: a thoroughly bad man thinks he is all right. This is common sense, really. You understand sleep when you are awake, not while you are sleeping. You can see mistakes in arithmetic when your mind is working properly: while you are making them you cannot see them. You can understand the nature of drunkenness when you are sober, not when you are drunk. Good people know about both good and evil: bad people do not know about either.”

~ C.S. Lewis

Neither is repentance only sorrow for sin.

“I have seen people weep bitterly and writhe and struggle, yet hug their idols, and in vain you try to shake them from them. If Jesus Christ would only have saved them with the idols, they would have had no objection at all. If they could have got through the straight gate with this one particular idol, they would have gone through long since; but to part with that is another thing.”

- Catherine Booth

Neither is repentance a promise to forsake sin in the future.

“There is scarcely a poor drunkard that does not promise, in his own mind, or to his poor wife, that he will forsake his cups—but he does not do it.

Always do sober what you said you'd do drunk. That will teach you to keep your mouth shut.

~ Ernest Hemingway

“Turning from everything you know of sin… 

to everything you know of God.. 

and doing it now.”

“If you have decided you want what we have and are willing to go to any length to get it, then you are ready to take certain steps.”

– Alcoholics Anonymous

Take my yoke upon you…”

What is a yoke? “a wooden crosspiece that is fastened over the necks of two animals and attached to the plow or cart that they are to pull.”

2. Everyone decides which yoke they bear.

Probably the greatest thing about God is his love. 

And something that’s essential for love to exist is choice. 

So here’s the appeal…

Do not be like the horse or the mule,

    which have no understanding

but must be controlled by bit and bridle

    or they will not come to you.

Psalm 32:9

The yoke of sin: 

Obsession, control, hatred, self-pity, envy, strife, and pride NOW with hell LATER. 

The yoke of Jesus: 

Faith, hope, peace, and love NOW with heaven AFTER.

“All the days of the oppressed (yoke of sin) are wretched, 

but the cheerful heart (the yoke of Jesus) has a continual feast.” 

Proverbs 15:15

In other words, no fancy motivational speech or yoga class replaces the forgiveness of Christ of a soul who repents.

“Any appeal to the public in the name of Christ that rises no higher than an invitation to tranquillity must be recognized as mere humanism with a few words of Jesus thrown in to make it appear Christian. But only that is truly Christian that accords with the Spirit and teaching of Christ.” 

- A.W. Tozer

There’s no substitute for the Real Thing.

Ever heard of a placebo?

Example: His Aunt Beatrice had been kept alive on sympathy and placebos for thirty years.

“Repent therefore, and turn back, that your sins may be blotted out, 

that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord…”

Acts 3:19-20

3. Repentance ushers in the refreshment of God.

Entering the rest of God doesn’t mean nothing bad will happen. 

“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”

John 16:33

It means that the people of God can rest and be content with life as it happens.

“…and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart…”

A yoke helps a beast, how?


Direction, and the 

Peace of not being left alone.

“Now a feature of a man’s maturity is responsibility towards other people, towards existing orders. He must let himself be controlled, ordered, restricted.”

~ Dietrich Bonhoeffer

Don’t be so skeptical you miss this. Take what’s being offered.

Next week: “Learning from Jesus”

What does it look like to take the yoke of Jesus?


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