This is the second part of a post we started last week.
We were thinking about the fact that the Christian life is a battle, ministry is tough, and leadership is back-breaking work. But in the Bible, Jesus give his followers encouragements to keep us in the game. He promises that he’s the resurrection and the life, that he’ll build his church no matter what, and that he’ll always be with us. Today, we’ll think about three more promises Jesus gives us for our encouragement.
4) Jesus promises to hold his people fast
The fourth promise Jesus makes for our encouragement is that he will hold his people fast. Listen to these words from John 6:39:
“And this is the will of him who sent me, that I should lose nothing of all that he has given me, but raise it up on the last day.”(John 6:39)
Sometimes we worry about whether we can hang on in the Christian life. But, we do not hold on to Christ, rather he holds on to us.
"When I fear my faith will fail,
Christ will hold me fast,
When the tempter would prevail,
He will hold me fast,
I could never keep my hold
Through life’s fearful path,
For my love is often cold.
He must hold me fast."
He gives us the energy and strength to persevere!
Sometimes as church leaders we worry about our people. We think, Wow! This family has followed me into a scheme and now I’m responsible for them. What if it all goes wrong? Or, when one of our disciples walks away, we blame ourselves. We question our discipling methods. Or maybe one of our interns is just struggling to get it. He/she keeps making the same silly mistakes. We feel the weight of our people. Let’s remember that if the Spirit of God is in someone then HE will constantly draw them back to the Saviour. Jesus will not lose one child that HE has called. WE might stumble, WE might trip, WE might fall, but Christ holds his children fast to the end.
Those who the Father chooses will never ever be driven away or lost by Jesus. In other words, Jesus will keep all those who are truly Christians all the way until they die. No matter what we do, no matter where we go, no matter what troubles we face, HE will continue to sustain us. HE will not let our foot slip, HE will not lose us. HE will hold his people fast! We need that assurance in our ministries.
5) Jesus promises to give you rest
Fifthly, Jesus said, “I will give you rest.”
“Come to me, all who labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” (Matthew 11:28–30)
We all get tired. We all get weary. Our ministry in the schemes can be particularly mentally and spiritually exhausting as we deal with needy people day in and day out. Our kind of ministry is not a 9–5 type of job. We can’t, ‘Leave it at the office.” Leaders are constantly praying for their people. But Jesus says that if we are weary and burdened, then he can bring us rest deep down in our souls. What does he mean by rest? Does he mean we can be lazy and watch TV all day? Does he mean go on holiday? He’s not saying don’t work. He’s not saying be lazy. He’s not saying that things aren’t going to be tough. But he is saying that the rest he offers us enables us to get on with life without feeling a burden that we can’t go on. His rest restores us and keep us going.
Why do we get so burdened as Christians? We get burdened because we take on things that are too great for us. We get worried about things that are out of our control. We are proud hearted. But, when we are humble and rely on Christ, we can work for him wholeheartedly without feeling a burden that is going to drag us down. He gives us rest to go on. Jesus says we learn from him.
Listen to Psalm 131:1–2:
“O Lord, my heart is not lifted up; my eyes are not raised too high; I do not occupy myself with things too great and too marvellous for me. But I have calmed and quieted my soul, like a weaned child with its mother; like a weaned child is my soul within me.”(Psalm 131:1–2)
The Psalmist is able to rest because he doesn’t occupy himself with things which are too great for him. Think about who is writing this; it’s King David! Lots to do, but he leaves the control of the universe up to God. And as people in ministry, we need to know that we are not in control of things. We don’t need to get anxious about the future. We don’t need to fret about what’s going to happen. We need to stop being control freaks. And we need to know that God has got things in hand.
We need to remember that serving the Lord Jesus should be a joy, not a burden. I remember a few years ago, I was feeling real low in ministry. It had become a drag. I didn’t want to do it anymore. And the problem was that I was taking on burdens that were not mine to take on. I was trying to control everything, and failing miserably at it. I had forsaken the rest of my Saviour. And in that moment, I needed to repent and remember the joy of ministry! It is a joy. There is NOTHING better than serving King Jesus.
6) Jesus promises us heaven to come
Finally, Jesus promises us heaven to come.
“Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also.” (John 14:1–3)
We can endure this race because heaven is to come. What keeps the marathon runner going? The finish line. What keeps a pregnant lady going? The birth of a child. What keeps us going when work is hard? Holiday! What keep us going to the end? Heaven!
“And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or lands, for my name’s sake, will receive a hundredfold and will inherit eternal life.”(Matthew 19:29)
Some of us are in uncomfortable places. We are out of our comfort zones. Some of us have left family and homes behind. But, all of it will be rewarded on the day of Christ Jesus. And here is the thing. When we get to heaven, we won’t remember the toil as we will be wrapped up in worshipping Christ!
Therefore, be encouraged. Jesus is alive and reigning. He is building his church. He is with us. He will not let his people be lost. He will give us rest along the journey. AND one day he will take us to be with him forever!
Whoever you are, whatever you are doing, and whatever is eating away at you—take it to the Lord Jesus. He understands. Honestly, he does!