The Psalmist noted that “it’s useless to rise early and go to bed late, and work your worried fingers to the bone.” Does that sound like someone you know? I remember a time when I was that person. I was all work work work. What happens then? You don’t enjoy life. You don’t have time to get done what God truly wants you to do in life. You busy yourself up so much with useless work. You end up not giving each area of your life the attention it requires because you keep piling on the work.
Even if what you do is important, it can be a problem if you are working your fingers to the bone. I was working in nursing. I was taking care of people. Hard work is important. Hard workers should be something we all strive to be; however, there is a difference between hard workers and over-workers. There is a difference between giving everything a hundred percent and shortchanging some areas of your life because you are pushing yourself too hard in another area.
God enjoys giving us rest. He loves us. He does not want us to be burdened to the bone. If you are in ministry and you are working too much, you are pushing too hard in an area where the Holy Spirit does the greatest work. At your job if you are overburdened, you need to consider where the problem lies. Are you not delegating tasks? Are you taking on too much? Do you understand your job requirements? Are you working too much for the overtime pay? Remember, whatever it may be, God wants you to work hard at everything you do, but He always wants you to rest.
“If God doesn’t build the house,
the builders only build shacks.
If God doesn’t guard the city,
the night watchman might as well nap.
It’s useless to rise early and go to bed late,
and work your worried fingers to the bone.
Don’t you know he enjoys
giving rest to those he loves?”
-Psalm 127:1-2 [MSG]
Elijah came on the scene with no introduction and announced the Word of God. He told the people there would be no rain, upholding what was said in Deuteronomy 28:24 for those in disobedience. Ravens brought him food and when the brook dried up, he went to the widow of Zarephath and God provided.
Elijah then had a showdown with the prophets of Baal. As Elijah watched, the prophets could not get Baal to produce fire. Elijah poured 12 jars of water in a trench and God produced fire that drank up all of the water and burned the surrounding stones. It was an amazing display of God’s power, but then Elijah ran in fear and hid himself in a cave.
God approached Elijah and asked him – What are you doing here? There was incredible wind, an earthquake and fire but God was not in any of them. Then came a gentle whisper. Elijah was reminded of God’s greatness. There are moments when we need to be reminded of God’s greatness – when fear and doubt creep in and try to discourage us. Today, ask yourself how great is our God? How great is our God! Step out of the cave.
“When Elijah heard it, he pulled his cloak over his face and went out and stood at the mouth of the cave. Then a voice said to him, ‘What are you doing here, Elijah?’” – 1 Kings 19:13 [NIV]
Life can be tough. There are times when we can feel a bit overwhelmed and discouraged. Fear and doubt can creep in and we may sink lower into despair. I’ve been there and I will surely be there again.
We all have moments like these; however, we do not have to sink downward. We need to remind ourselves of the great power that we have through Christ. Remember that you have “the same mighty power,” – God’s power within you.
Don’t limit yourself by trying to do life alone. God gave you His Spirit to dwell within so that you can get through each day and accomplish what He has called you to do in life. He didn’t give you His Spirit to simply reside within you, but to be this “incredible greatness” that will help you to rise above and press onward to finish the race.
“I also pray that you will understand the incredible greatness of God’s power for us who believe him. This is the same mighty power.” – Ephesians 1:19 [NLT]
We cannot do everything but too often we try to do everything anyway. We find ourselves helping out others and before we know it, we have a filled plate. We volunteer for the PTO, start coaching soccer, sign up for the church bake sale, teach Sunday School, and take on a second job. We sign up for overtime at work, agree to organize the family picnic, mow the neighbor’s lawn, and handle most of the chores in the house. We find ourselves swamped with stuff to do and our shoulders are not able to support everything. If there is too much – if the load is far too heavy—something will break.
In today’s passage, Moses was faced with the complaints of the people among other things. He was getting overwhelmed. He admitted to God that he couldn’t do it alone. That is one of the first things we each must do—admit that we cannot do everything alone. Then God shared with Moses His plan to assist so Moses would not have to carry the load alone. God was going to give the Spirit to a group of people to help Moses. All Moses did was tell God His problem—his need – and the need was met.
Moses was in a leadership position and we likewise have leadership positions, whether we are parents, teachers, bosses, or simply a person trying to do it all. If you find yourself getting overwhelmed because the load is far too heavy, simply take it to God and watch as He helps you carry the load. As well, do not try to take on too many things. When the Spirit of God was given to this group of men, there was delegation. You were not meant to do it all.
“I can’t carry all these people by myself! The load is far too heavy! … I will come down and talk to you there. I will take some of the Spirit that is upon you, and I will put the Spirit upon them also. They will bear the burden of the people along with you, so you will not have to carry it alone.” Numbers 11:14, 17 [NLT]
This morning it was drizzling but I still faithfully took my dog for a walk. As we continued up the street, I noticed that there was a newspaper that was poking through the plastic covering that the delivery person used for protection. In a quick moment, I passed by thinking that the newspaper would get all wet and perhaps I should pick it up and put it under the safety of the porch roof. But instead, I did nothing. I left it where it was and made excuses as to why I could not do that simple act. As I was a few blocks away, I started to feel regretful for not taking the opportunity that was right before me. It was a simple act of love that did not happen.
I think that too often there are opportunities presented to you and I, and I personally know that there are times in my life when I make excuses to not take action. I have heard many excuses as to why help cannot be given to someone, to the church, to a family in need, to a cause. Though this world is a hectic place and our schedules get busy, I think of how Jesus was walking toward one person when another person came in need of help. The lady reached out and touched His garment, and although He was on His way to pay a visit to the daughter of Jairus, He stopped and spoke to this woman (Mark 5). I remember how even after He was teaching at Capernaum and most likely tired from a busy day, He went back to Peter’s house to settle, only to still continue healing and reaching out to help others (Mark 1).
We will not always reach out. We will find ourselves making excuses. We will say we are too tired, too overwhelmed, too busy, too focused elsewhere, too unworthy, too untrained, too afraid. The list could go on and on with excuses I’ve given or heard. Thank God that He never makes excuses.
Today I encourage you to be the person who puts the newspaper on the porch. I pray that when you notice that you are making excuses for something that you can easily do before you walk away so that later you won’t be feeling guilty that you did not do more. Edmund Burke once said, “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.”
“Do not neglect to do what is good and to share what you have, for such sacrifices are pleasing to God.” – Hebrews 13:16 [ESV]
I recently moved and I’ve had to make a lot of phone calls to get some things organized. I noticed that while I was getting everything in order, that I hesitated to make the telephone calls. I looked to see if I could contact people online instead of making the actually physical phone calls. When I had to initiate my internet, I decided to active online. When I had difficulties, I even chatted with a representative because I felt it would be quicker and not eat up my cell phone minutes. At the same time, I really did not want to be on the telephone.
I didn’t find anything to be a problem until I noted that I had some things left to do, and everything on the list was what needed actual telephone calls. I had avoided making the calls. I was disconnected. This was something we spoke about in my media ministry course last semester. Our society has gotten so accustomed to communicating online and with technology that there is this great lack of people being connected with people. We even send a text message or chat on Facebook with people who are in the same room.
I am not against technology. I love technology. However, I think that we need to make sure that we do not spend so much time with technology that we try so hard to not connect with people in person and on the telephone. Sometimes people need to know that a real person cares about them, that another actual human being was thinking about them enough to take the time to call or to stop by for a visit.
I see a lot of images on Facebook depicting a cell phone screen shot showing God calling or sending a text message. The image is accompanied with the question on whether a person would answer and respond or not. I like that image because it makes a statement about society– that we are very much into technology– but that God meets us where we are at in life. At the same time, I believe He also would stop by and visit. He would sit with you and spend the afternoon together. He would call and send a text message. God wants to be connected to you. In John 15, Jesus speaks about the need for the disciples to stay connected to the vine. If the branches are unattached, they will not bear fruit.
Today you might be busy, overwhelmed with a list of things to do that surely will take you most of the day. You may not think you have the time to visit or call anyone. Perhaps you are tired and simply don’t feel like taking the initiative. I challenge you to make some time, visit or call someone you haven’t talked to in awhile, and simply enjoy their company. You may need the call more than they do. Also, spend time with God. Remember the branch cannot do much when unattached to the vine. He’s always available!
“Don’t just pretend to love others. Really love them. Hate what is wrong. Hold tightly to what is good. Love each other with genuine affection, and take delight in honoring each other.” – Romans 12:9-10 [NLT]
“I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing.” – John 15:5 [NASB]
There are moments in life when you feel drained, overwhelmed by your current situation. In those seasons of life, it is difficult to find the strength to do much of anything. Breathing alone can sometimes be a chore. Things don’t always go your way. Promises are not always kept. Relationships do not always work out. People cannot always be relied upon. Your workplace can be stressful. Your co-workers can test your patience. You can find yourself wanting nothing more but a holiday away from everything. You can find yourself wanting so badly to scream at the top of your lungs.
These are simply moments in life, but they go away. Our biggest moments of weakness can actually become our greatest moments with God’s strength. When we are weak, then He may show His strength. When we humble ourselves and are low, He lifts us up. When we are at the lowest point in our life, He shows us the compassion, the grace that no other can provide. We are not promised life without tribulation, but we are promised to never be forsaken. The Bible says that we are the apple of His eye. The Bible says that He has a plan and a purpose.
So if you are having one of those moments in life where you are feeling drained, fear not for God is with you. You don’t have to walk this stretch alone. Your burdens in life may be heavy, but His yoke is light. Your stressors may be getting the best of you, but they won’t get the rest of you. Give whatever you have, all you can to God, and watch how things turn around. In His time, in His way, He will provide you the strength you need through Him so that you can overcome.
“The Lord GOD is my strength, and He has made my feet like hinds’ feet, and makes me walk on my high places.” – Habakkuk 3:19 [NASB]
Life can be overwhelming at times, especially when we try to carry everything on our own. The Lord tells us to come to Him for His yoke is light. The Bible says we aren’t to worry, because worry is not from God. Instead, we are to give it to God and trust Him.
It is difficult to give it to God and then not worry. We are so tempted to give only so much to God, and then try to solve the rest on our own for whatever reason we have in our mind. Sometimes we do not even know why we cling to something that drags us down. What is worse is when we see that something is too much for us, and yet we still fight to survive with it weighing us down.
In the Book of Isaiah, the Assyrians were trying to get the people of Israel to not trust in Hezekiah’s leadership and in his word from the Lord of upcoming deliverance. Rabshakeh stood before the people and told them why they should not believe and should not follow Hezekiah or his God. Later Hezekiah even received a letter to bring him down. This could have turned into a situation of doubt and fear. Hezekiah could have drowned his sorrow, ran from his problems, turned his back, or sank down and left Assyria have their way.
Instead, Hezekiah took the letter he received, entered the house of the Lord, “and spread it out before the Lord” (Isaiah 37:14b NASB). Then he prayed, acknowledging God and seeking His answer.
We receive “letters” all the time, letters that crush our spirits, diminish our hopes, challenge us, hurt us, intimidate us, and make us feel anything but confident. We fear, we doubt, we hurt. We get tired, overwhelmed, depressed, and ready to throw in the towel. But instead of allowing the senders of the letters to get the best of us, we have a God who is above all, a God who can do the impossible. We have the option to take our letter, spread it out before the Lord, and let Him have a go. It may seem easy, but it’s not. Nonetheless, after you’re able to fully release it out of your hands and place it in the hands of your loving Father, you’ll find this peace overcome you. It may not happen overnight, but there will be a change.
“Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, 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 SOUL. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.” – Matthew 11:28-30 [NASB]