Saturday, 23 August 2014

Sermon for SMYL CAMP (7-11 year olds) Sunday 24 August 2014. Kim

"Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest."  Matthew 11: 28 [NIV]
Are you in pretty good shape? Are you pretty strong? Do you exercise regularly? I have decided that I need to get in better shape, so one day last week I went to the gym to work out. There were a lot of others there working out too. Some were riding exercise bicycles and some were lifting weights. As I watched the weightlifters, I noticed that some of them were working in pairs. One of them would lie down on the bench to lift the weights while the other would stand near the lifter's head. I learned that the person standing near the lifter's head is called the spotter.
The spotter stands near the lifter's head just in case the lifter gets in trouble and needs some help. Sometimes, the spotter doesn't do anything at all. Just knowing that the spotter is there is enough to give the lifter the confidence needed to lift the weights.
At other times, the spotter calls out words of encouragement to the lifter. "Come on, you can do it! You can do it! Push! Push!" he calls out. Those words of encouragement are just what the lifter needs to give him the strength to lift the weights.
As more and more weights are added, the bar becomes very heavy and the lifter becomes very tired. When the weight gets to be more than the lifter can handle, the spotter reaches in and helps the lifter lift the weights.
As I watched these weightlifters, it occurred to me that it was a good picture of the way our God our Father helps us to bear the burdens we face in our daily life. There are some days that things seem to be pretty easy. Oh, we may struggle a little bit as we face a few obstacles along the way, but just knowing that God is with us gives us the confidence we need to overcome those obstacles.
There are some days that are more difficult and we may need more encouragement. We find that encouragement in God's Word. "Don't be afraid, I am with you." (Gen.26:24) "I'll give you strength." (Psalm 28:7) "I'm with you in times of trouble." (Psalm 34:6) These words of encouragement are just what we need to face the hard times that may come our way.
Do you ever have a day when the weight is more than you can handle? Of course you do. We all have days like that, don't we? It is good to know that when things are more than we can bear, God is there! Listen to these words that Jesus spoke, "Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light." On those really hard days, Jesus steps in and lifts our burden. With him, our burdens are lighter.
It’s good to know that we have a spotter in heaven looking down on us, waiting to step when we let or need him.  It’s not always easy. We need to be not only physically fit as we can but we also need to be spiritually fit.
A what?
That's right — a spiritual workout. It takes the discipline and effort of a physical workout, but has even better results — strong spiritual muscles.
Some Exercises
Here are a few exercises that can help keep you spiritually fit so that you can have an effective ministry.
If you don't stretch before a physical workout, your muscles won't be ready and you may hurt your effectiveness. It's the same with a spiritual workout. Without stretching and preparing your soul, you can overextend yourself. You see, you are only able to give to others what you have received. If you try to give more than you have, you will lose your effectiveness. Before you begin ministry, you need to focus on God and receive from Him.
Knee Bends!
The next thing you need is the right attitude. Become a servant leader and "bend down" to help others. Jesus says in Mark 10:43 that "whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant." Jesus was the best example of this. He washed His disciples' feet, healed many people (even when He was tired), and welcomed children. Jesus continually served and ministered to the needs of others—often at the expense of His own needs.
But, what does it practically look like to serve? It means being patient with them, driving an extra ten minutes to pick someone up, being willing to do the jobs that don't get noticed, being kind to someone you don't like. Basically, it is putting others before yourself. It's being willing to do whatever God asks you to do for His glory and not yours.
Team Building
Working out is great, but we all know it's tough to do alone. It helps to have someone next to you, pushing you to greater heights. As the Bible says, "iron sharpens iron." Did you know that even a giant redwood tree can't stand by itself? You see, as the tree grows, its roots need to join with the roots of surrounding redwoods. If it doesn't have this network, it will fall over as soon as a strong wind blows.
Anyone of us can fall without encouraging support. You are now a leader. Could falling happen to you? Yes! But accountability is your safeguard. Find a trusted person who can ask you the tough questions and be honest with you. It involves submission, trust and risk, faithfulness, courage and fear of God.

Father, sometimes life is hard. We are thankful that you are always there to help us, to give us strength, to encourage us, and to lighten our load. In Jesus' name we pray. We are thankful that when we stumble and fall under the load of life's burdens, you are there to pick us up.  Amen.

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