Here is today's message based on Matthew 11: 25-30

Throughout life, we have all kinds of challenges put before us or that we are engaged in.
When you’re in school, you need to take classes and pass those classes.
If you meet or exceed the demands of those courses, you get honor awards or at least pass and move on.
But if you don’t meet the demands of coursework……you fail; sometimes staying back.

We grow up and get jobs and there are expectations for any job we take on.
If we meet or exceed those expectations, we remain on the job or even get promoted.
If we do poorly in the job, that is, if we don’t meet the expectations, we’re failures and we get fired.

In life we all have relationships with others and those other persons will have things they feel we ought to do.
If things click with the other person and we meet their needs, the relationship continues and grows.
If we don’t do what they expect in a satisfactory way, then the relationship fails and withers away.

On and on it goes throughout all we do in our entire lives.
So that a regular burden of demands, expectations, and things we ought to do is placed upon us to succeed.
Those demands, expectations, and needs can be like a weight upon us as we trod along like an ox pulling a plow.

There is another major aspect of many, if not most people's lives, that I left out,… that of religion/faith.
And, like the rest of life, one of the things religion can do is hoist the same kinds of burdens on people’s shoulders.
It can become a set of ‘demands’ and ‘expectations’ and ‘ought to do’s’ given to us that we need to do to be OK.
And if we fail to meet the demands, expectations or needs of a religion, then we will have failed.
When such things become paramount, then religion can become a burden or weight that must be carried in life. 
The danger with religion being this way is that, unlike school, jobs, or relationships, failure there gives us pause to think of grave consequences.

Jesus makes the statement “come to me all you that are weary and carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest”,…. 
and later concludes “you will find rest for your souls.   For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light”.

Now, I’ve been saying in sermons and devotional messages and everywhere else that being a follower of Jesus is not an easy thing to do!
So are Jesus and I not on the same wavelength or coming from different schools of thought here?

Actually,….He says to the people that my yoke is easy and burden is light because their religious leaders had made faith a burden.
Besides the 10 Commandments, there evolved from their leaders a plethora of other demands for them.
Rules that included around 600 specific infractions just describing behavior that constituted a violation of ‘working on the Sabbath’.
And so their religion had become a heavy load to carry that was strapped upon their heart and souls.

Jesus uses the term ‘yoke’ because they all knew what a ‘yoke’ was.
A yoke was a wooden bar that was strapped to the shoulders of an ox for the  purpose of pulling a plow.
And that yoke became the conduit to what that ox had to carry and pull each and every day of its life.
What Jesus tells the people is that,…in him,…they will find rest from the burden of those excessive religious demands in their lives.

Does this then mean that being a follower of Jesus,… a Christian person, is an easy task with very few demands, expectations, or things needed to be done?
By no means!   
What you’ve been reading in my newsletter pieces, and devotionals, and sermons is all based on lots of other Jesus comments in the bible.
And don’t think that the God we know in Jesus Christ is a softy teacher who gives out easy A+ grades.
Or that the God we know in Jesus Christ is a lackadaisical supervisor who turns a blind eye to poor performance.
Or that the God we know in Jesus Christ is like a patsy partner who lets us walk all over him in our relationship.
Jesus’s ministry is not about diminishing the demands, expectations, or wants and needs of God.
As he said once, he did not come to change one jot or tittle of the Law,….i.e. the 10 Commandments.

However,…and here’s the difference: being a follower of Jesus means that,… unlike all other endeavors in life,… you cannot fail with God!
We may not satisfy the demands, expectations, and things we ought to do for God,….but we cannot fail!
Jesus does not threaten that if we can’t meet expectations of God that he will fail us like a nasty school proctor.
We will not be cast out into the street like by an angry boss if we have not achieved God’s expectations of us.
We will not be forsaken or rejected if we don’t meet the wants and needs of God in our relationship with him.

As long as we’ve got Jesus,….we cannot fail with God.
He asks us to be repentant for our failures and give it another go,…..but we won’t fail.
We may get report cards saying we’ve not payed attention to or just skipped the classes that Jesus taught,…
Our we may be critiqued by God as not being good at ‘playing well with others’ or ‘sharing our toys’….
We may get written up or reprimanded for violating the God’s rules or producing less goods than expected,….
And we may be guilty of hurting God in our relationship by being selfish and worrying about just ourselves,….
It may even sometimes feel like God is giving us the cold shoulder or has just walked away.

But he never will!
God will never say we’ve failed to make the grade so you’re out of here.
God will never say your work is lame so we’re done with you altogether.
God will never abandon, divorce, or break up with us.
God will never fail us, in this life,….or the next.

Amen.