Below you will find content we chose for you based off your preferences. You’ll also find some fresh content we hope will encourage you and inspire you to open up the Bible. 

My Top Five

A personal Bible is one of the greatest treasures you can carry with you through life. So first, we want to make our case for why owning a physical Bible will serve you well. Then, though the Bible is incomparable in its value as it is God’s Word, we will compare it to an essential tool you need to equip you for the challenges you will face in this life.


Owning a Physical Bible Is a Blessing

Here are some benefits of owning a physical Bible as opposed to always borrowing one or using a device.

You can commemorate significant lessons God taught you through his Word by taking notes in it or highlighting your favorite passages.
“I will remember the deeds of the Lord; yes, I will remember your wonders of old” (Psalm 77:11 ESV).

You can have a physical legacy of spending time in God’s Word to pass along to your children or grandchildren, and a treasure to leave them.
“Your testimonies are my heritage forever, for they are the joy of my heart” (Psalm 119:11 ESV).

You can use it as an opportunity to share your faith when someone sees you with your Bible, like at a coffee shop or in the car or when sitting outside.
“Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have” (1 Peter 3:15 NIV).

You can become familiar with the books of the Bible, their placement, and the overall story of Scripture.
“But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have become convinced of, because you know those from whom you learned it, and how from infancy you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus” (2 Timothy 3:14-15 NIV).

You can thoughtfully contribute to conversation and community when you’re at church.
A physical Bible helps you find familiar passages easily. It also helps you follow along during Bible studies or at church when the speaker may jump around from passage to passage.
“Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing” (1 Thessalonians 5:11 NIV).

You can hold in your hands a physical reminder that God is real, that he speaks, and he loves you.
“What other nation is so great as to have their gods near them the way the Lord our God God is  near  us  whenever we pray  to  him?” (Deuteronomy 4:7 NIV).


The Need for a Physical Bible

Those are just six reasons to get a physical Bible. There are many other reasons to own a physical Bible. So far we’ve talked practically about why we ought to own a physical Bible, but now let’s talk about its spiritual value.

The Bible compares itself to military equipment. Ephesians 6 calls the Bible our one offensive weapon in the fight against the dark powers in the world world, our sinful nature, and the devil. It’s our sword: “Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God” (Ephesians 6:17 NIV).

Or the author of Hebrews writes, “For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart” (Hebrews 4:12).

Why would we need a sword? Because we are in a battle, or what Scripture calls “the good fight” (1 Timothy 6:12). Our battle in this life is unseen—but it’s no less real than a physical war. In fact, it’s far more serious:

For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world, and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. (Ephesians 6:12 NIV)

The biblical worldview places a priority on the unseen—the hearts and souls of people. Humanity’s greatest problem, though it manifests itself in visible forms, is unseen: sin and opposition against God. We need the Word of God, our sword, to battle lies with the truth, accusations with the assurance of God’s love, and temptations with the promise of God’s goodness.

For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ. (2 Corinthians 10:3-5 NIV)


Will You Get a Bible?

The ultimate value of the Bible is that it’s God’s Word. It is your offensive weapon in the war of faith. Use it.

Have we convinced you? The best way to understand why we treasure the Bible is to get one and start reading it yourself. We pray God helps you open the book and opens your eyes so you may see wonderful things in God’s Word (Psalm 119:18).

From the Editor: Is it possible to stop watching porn? Some people think this habit is too rooted, the desires are too great, and the power to overcome just isn’t enough. But is that what the Bible teaches? We hope this helpful chapter from Garrett Kell’s book Pure in Heart: Sexual Sin and the Promises of God gives you confidence that it is possible to overcome a pornography addiction and any other sexual addiction through Jesus Christ. May the Lord Jesus set you free today. 


Sin No More

Mike broke his silence as he leaned over the table: “If I’m a Christian, why do I keep doing this? We both know we’ll be back here in a couple weeks having this same conversation. I’m not sure there’s any reason to keep trying.”

If you were sitting across the table, what would you say to Mike?

In such moments, when I’m the one across the table, I feel helpless. I want to drop a magical gospel bomb that blows back his hair and makes him shout, “That’s the answer! That settled it. I’m finally free!”

In all my years of pastoral ministry, however, that’s never happened. Not even close. And it won’t for you, because there are no quick fixes in the war against sin. Nevertheless, the truth that Mike and every other Christian must believe is this: you don’t have to obey sin anymore. This does not always feel true, but it is—because God says so in his Word.

If you are in Christ, you are not who you used to be, so you do not have to do what you used to do.

Consider what the apostle Paul says:

How can we who died to sin still live in it? . . . just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life. . . . our old self was crucified with him . . . so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin. . . . So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus. Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, to make you obey its passions. Do not present your members to sin as instruments for unrighteousness, but present yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life, and your members to God as instruments for righteousness. For sin will have no dominion over you. (Romans 6:2–14 ESV)


Dead to Sin

You are not who you used to be. Mike struggled to grasp this truth. Maybe he knew it intellectually, but not experientially, not in a way that seemed to actually help him. The itch to scroll through sensual images can be strong. The urge to masturbate seems reasonable, if not insatiable. The thrill of a hookup or adulterous rendezvous is powerful.

Yet in Christ, we are free to flee. God has “delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son” (Colossians 1:13 ESV). And walking in freedom requires understanding and acting on what God has done for us in Christ.

Who You Were

We were once alive to sin and dead to God (Ephesians 2:1–3). We wanted to sin because we loved it. We suppressed truth about God and traded him for idols that catered to our lusts (Romans 1:18, 23). We dreamt up ways to sin and encouraged others to join (Psalm 36:4; Romans 1:32). We isolated ourselves from people who told us the truth. We did not fear God, and we confused his patience for approval (Psalm 36:1; Romans 2:1–4). Even when we avoided evil, our motivation was rooted in self-preservation rather than pleasing God. Sin owned even our best days.

We had to sin, since sin was our master (Romans 8:6–9; 2 Timothy 2:26).[1] And like a slave master, sin forced us to embrace our identity as slaves. You are a porn addict. You are gay. You are a failure. You are unwanted. You are a cheater. You will never be free. Sin demoralized us and stole any hope of escape. Perhaps it even told us our slavery was liberty: You have the right to do whatever you want with your body. Anyone who doesn’t affirm your choices is your enemy.

Have you heard these lies? Believed them? Slavery to sin isn’t just a theory about human trouble; it’s the reality of our condition apart from Christ. Sin controls not only what we do, but how we see God, ourselves, and others. It shapes our view of our bodies and our sexuality. Sin makes us think we’re free, when in fact we’re not. It makes us think we’re on the road to happiness, when in fact we’re headed for destruction.

Who You Are

You were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked . . . and were by nature children of wrath. . . . But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ. (Ephesians 2:1–5 ESV)

“But God” is one of the sweetest phrases ever uttered. It turns the spotlight from our hopeless slavery to our healing Savior. We were dead, but God rescued us (Ephesians 2:4–5, 12–13; Romans 5:8; Titus 3:5; Hebrews 2:15). We were enslaved, but God bound our oppressor. We were far off, but God brought us near. Jesus was buried, but God raised him again (Luke 11:21–22; Acts 2:24; Ephesians 2:13).

What makes this good news is that Jesus did this for us. Through faith we are united with Jesus and given both new life and a new identity. Positionally, we stand accepted by God’s grace; practically, we step as liberated children loved by God. If we are in Christ, we are brand-new creations (2 Corinthians 5:17).[2]

Of course, our union with Jesus doesn’t immediately extinguish all sinful desires. Far from it. Sin tempts us to think like we’re still slaves. But in Christ, we have been given innumerable heavenly blessings to oppose it. We are clothed in his righteousness, sealed by his Spirit, forgiven of every sin, secure in his love (John 10:29; Acts 10:43; Romans 4:5; 8:28–39; 2 Corinthians 5:21; Galatians 5:16–26; Ephesians 1:3, 7, 13–14; 4:30; Hebrews 8:12; 9:22; 13:5; 10:18; 1 John 1:7–9).

In Christ, we have been delivered from sin’s penalty. We will not face God’s wrath, since Jesus took it for us (1 Thessalonians 1:10; 5:9). We’re also being liberated from sin’s power. We don’t have to yield to it any longer, since Jesus is our Lord (Romans 6:15–23; 1 Corinthians 6:19–20). And someday we will be delivered from sin’s presence. When Jesus returns, he will glorify our bodies and set us free to sin no more.

We are free from sin because we are united to Jesus. What is true of Jesus is true of us.[3] He died for sin; we have died to sin. He was raised from the dead; we have been raised spiritually as we await the final resurrection. He ascended to sit at the Father’s side; we are seated with him, too. He is raised to live forevermore; we are alive to walk in new life (Romans 6:2, 6–9; 8:11; 2 Corinthians 4:14; Ephesians 2:6; Colossians 3:3).

The gospel of Jesus does not just free us from hell someday; it can also free us from sin today. It’s true that we are to be pitied if our hope in Christ affects only this life (1 Corinthians 15:19). But we are also to be pitied if it affects only the life to come. If there is no good news for Mike, or you, or me as we fight sin today, then we might as well quit. But there is good news—and our union with Jesus has just as much a miraculous effect today as it will on that last day, when he pulls our bodies from the grave.

Union with the Savior liberates us from slavery to sin. Again: we are not who we used to be, so we do not have to do what we used to do.

As union with sin produced a slave identity, so union with Christ produces a new identity. Your old self is dead. You are alive to God. You are eternally loved. You belong to God. You are forgiven. You are blessed. You are delighted in. Your life is so united to Christ’s that he will not appear in glory apart from you (Colossians 3:4).[4]

You are in Christ, and he is in you. You can become like him. You will become like him. No matter how faintly his beauty flickers in your corrupted body now—plead that God and others would help you see it. And as you catch glimpses of his grace in your life, know they are the firstfruits of God’s eternal purpose to make you like his Son.[5]

1 For a helpful study on our love for and slavery to sin, see Freedom of the Will by Jonathan Edwards and Bondage of the Will by Martin Luther. These brothers approach the subject from different angles, but arrive at similar conclusions.
2 The phrase “in Christ,” or some derivation of it, appears over 150 times in the New Testament. God continually reminds believers of their union with Jesus because they are so often tempted to forget it.
3 This does not mean, as Mormons or some prosperity teachers say, that we actually become little gods. That is blasphemy. Rather, through union with Christ, we partake of God’s life, as a branch does a vine, and produce the fruit of godliness.
4 See Sinclair Ferguson, “The Practice of Mortification,” TableTalk, January 1, 2007,
5 For a wonderful reflection on this truth, read J. R. Miller’s sermon “Transformed by Beholding,” 1888.
Content taken from Pure in Heart by J. Garrett Kell, ©2021. Used by permission of Crossway.

She Is Royalty

Dear Son,

She matters too. She matters more than you know. That girl, that woman, the one on the porn site—she isn’t just pixels on a screen. She’s real. Somewhere, right now, she’s out there trying to get by. I’ll bet you any amount of money she didn’t volunteer for porn. She was degraded and abused into it. And that precious woman has hopes and feelings and longings and sorrows, just like you. She is as human as you are, as worthy as you are, as royal as you are.

In this letter, I have some hard things to say. But here’s where I’m going. I’m asking you to change how you see that woman on the porn site. I’m not asking you to make anything up. I’m only asking you to accept the way God sees her. He is on her side. He is indignant at the ways she is objectified, monetized, and mistreated.

Which leads me to ask you for something else. I’m also asking you to change how you treat her. I want you to stop abusing her and start defending her. You’re doing one or the other. More on that in a minute. But for now, just hold your emotional horses long enough to let me make my case.

The King of the universe created you to stand as royalty, advancing his kingdom. Let that awareness settle on you. Here’s your next step: she is royalty too. God created every woman with high dignity and immeasurable worth. Whether or not any woman herself believes it, this is still true: God created her for majesty. God is why she matters. And no one has the right to degrade her, since God has dignified her. Whoever a woman is in his sight—that’s what she’s really worth.

Since, to God above, every woman is regal, cherished, worthy, it’s about time we men demand of ourselves, and of all this world, that she be treated right.

She Deserves the Same Respect as You

Let’s think back to that Scripture I quoted in my first letter. Remember the last line in that verse?

God created man in his own image;
in the image of God he created him;
male and female he created them. (Genesis 1:27 ESV)

Back when the Bible was written, nobody else was saying that. It’s not as though human thought was evolving upward, inching its way toward the equal royalty of the sexes. It’s not as though the ancient philosophers and gurus got the ball into the red zone, and then the Bible finally scored the touchdown. No, Genesis 1:27 surprised everyone. It was God speaking into our abusive world with a bold claim: a woman deserves all the respect any man deserves, because she is created in God’s image as much as any man.

In the ancient world, people came up with their own versions of how we all got going. The Babylonians, for example, believed the human race was the brainstorm of the god Marduk:

Blood I will mass and cause bones to be.
I will establish a savage, “man” shall be his name. Verily, savage-man I will create.[1]

The Babylonians saw themselves as savages, and they acted like it. Their creation story didn’t even mention “male and female.” But the Bible celebrates “male and female.” Genesis 1:27 is the first poetry in all the Bible, because God rejoices over us men and women. He doesn’t call us savage. He happily calls us royal—both man and woman equally.

She Is Worthy of Your Celebration And Cherishing

But there’s no woman like Eve in the Babylonian account of creation. The first woman in all of history, and not even an honorable mention! But the Bible? Adam’s heart leaps with joyous love at first sight.

This at last is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh;
she shall be called Woman,
because she was taken out of Man. (Genesis 2:23 ESV)

These are the very first recorded human words, and again they are poetry. Adam welcomes Eve with relief: “This at last. . . .” He identifies with her, personally, closely, as “bone of my bones / and flesh of my flesh.” He isn’t threatened by her equality. It’s the very thing that thrills him. He just finished naming the animals there in the garden of Eden (Genesis 2:19–20). And lions and tigers have their place, I suppose. But only Eve has Adam’s heart. She isn’t property. She isn’t a prize of war. She isn’t even—not yet, anyway—the mother of his children. In and of herself, by God’s design, she is worthy to be celebrated. And Adam loves it this way—and embraces her.

We call this amazing human arrangement “marriage.” It’s the only place where a man and woman should experience each other sexually. It’s where sex becomes the win-win God wants it to be: “And the man and his wife were both naked and were not ashamed” (Genesis 2:25 ESV). There they are, Adam and Eve, married by God, together in the garden of Eden, naked and sexual and both completely happy. And in that place of permanent belonging and gentle acceptance, the woman isn’t the only one naked and vulnerable. She isn’t exploited, shared, or sold. They are both naked, and not ashamed or degraded or used, but comfortably at ease, fully accepted, tenderly embraced.[2]

A man and a woman can still experience this today, under the blessing of God, within marriage. Through their wedding vows, they give up their solo futures and commit fully to one another. On their wedding day, they step inside the circle of the “one flesh” union of marriage (Genesis 2:24 ESV), where they share everything.


Other healthy relationships limit how far things will go. What’s unique about marriage is the unlimited openness a man and a woman joyfully sign up for. It’s why marriage is sealed, celebrated, and refreshed through sex. Marriage is all about total sharing, total belonging—like real sex. Inside the circle where only a husband and wife fully belong, they cultivate safety and honor, so that sex is unashamedly joyful for both of them equally. When the minister concludes their wedding ceremony with “You may now kiss the bride,” he is saying, “Let the sex, as God meant it to be, finally begin!” Are the man and woman still vulnerable? More than ever. But for that very reason, their intimacy is all the more wondrous.

She Is Precious in God’s Sight

Now let’s fast-forward to the end of the Bible, where we finally see the point of it all. The risen Jesus will not merely upgrade this existence we’re stuck with now. He will lift us into “a new heaven and a new earth,” where we will “reign forever and ever” (Revelation 21:1; 22:5 ESV). In that sparkling new universe, every redeemed woman will stand in glory as a Queen of the New Creation. No matter how she has sinned in this world, no matter how she has been sinned against, she will be radiantly royal forever and ever.

In my mind’s eye, I see her there even now. She stands like Lady Galadriel, queen of the elves in The Lord of the Rings. In Tolkien’s vision, Galadriel is breathtaking with beauty, knowledge, and power. She speaks gravely, wisely, and courteously. She is mighty, fair, and fearless. When the Fellowship of the Ring must leave Lothlórien, Galadriel asks Gimli the dwarf what parting gift he would like to receive from her: “‘None, Lady,’ answered Gimli. ‘It is enough for me to have seen the Lady of the Galadhrim, and to have heard her gentle words.’”

Our world today is blind to the glories of true manhood and true womanhood. But the Bible teaches us men to respect every woman as a potential Galadriel, whose glory can, by God’s grace, leave us awestruck forever.

The porn industry sure doesn’t teach us to see women that way. That vile world is oblivious to a woman’s actual glory. But now we know, thanks to the Bible, that every woman was created for a destiny so magnificent that the story of it cannot be fully told in all the ages of time. God’s heart for her, God’s purpose for her, can only be revealed in the eternal new creation. All this world, even at its best, is too small for her, too unworthy of her. And every woman—however much she suffers in this world—if she entrusts her future to the care of the risen King, he will tell her true story in the next world forever.

1 “The Creation Epic,” trans. E. A. Speiser, in Ancient Near Eastern Texts Relating to the Old Testament, ed. James B. Pritchard (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1969), 68.
2 This rhetorical device (“not ashamed”) is called antenantiosis, which uses the negative “in order to express the positive in a very high degree,” according to F. W. Bullinger, Figures of Speech Used in the Bible (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker, 1971), 160. For example, if I say, “He is no fool,” I mean, “He is very wise.” I thank Dr. Bruce Waltke for pointing this out to me.
Content taken from The Death of Porn by Ray Ortlund, ©2021. Used by permission of Crossway.

The book of Proverbs counsels us to humbly accept a tough word. It’s this, that by nature we are ignorant and prone to foolishness. Whatever we’re out to get in this world, Proverbs instructs us to first go looking for wisdom, because we don’t have it.

Proverbs opens like a letter from a father to his son, which gives us perspective on what it wants to communicate.

Ah, here we realize that Proverbs frames us as children, which takes the edge off being called foolish. After all, none of us looks at a child thinking, “What a fool!” for all that they don’t know. We look at them with honest recognition of their ignorance, but with a loving desire to disciple them into life and wisdom.

Part of the process of finding wisdom and listening to our Father’s instruction includes receiving discipline from our Father. Proverbs later tells us that a rod will drive foolishness from the heart of a child (Proverbs 22:15). From this we learn that we are like children who desperately need our sin-sick foolishness driven out of us. We’re simply not grown up enough in godly wisdom to navigate the world on our own—we’re kids who love to do things “by self,” as we used to say as kids in my house.

Proverbs tells us that as we hear God’s Word we embody one of two characters—the wise son who listens to his Father’s instruction, or the fool who despises wisdom (Proverbs 4:7).

Proverbs is God’s loving call to his children to listen, listen, listen (Proverbs 2:1-5). If you’ve ever been around teenagers, just beginning to form suspicions about their parents’ wisdom, you’ll find they’re quick to answer back and slow to listen. God wants us to humbly return to a childlike attitude, to once again assume that our dad knows everything, and to not question his Word.


The Loving Initiative of a Good Father

Why such a strong call to listen?

Like little kids or ignorant teens, God tells us that our hearts are prone to take the ways of death (Proverbs 1:32; 14:12). Our hearts deceive us, our eyes don’t see things as clearly as they ought, and our feet make haste to run into evil (Proverbs 19:2). We’re prone to reach for hot things we don’t know will burn us (Proverbs 6:27), to trust strangers know better than our Father (Proverbs 5:1-6), and to leave the path that is safe and good for dangerous deadly ways disguised as fun (Proverbs 5:3-14).

But we have a good Father, who desires a good life for us—a life in which, despite all the mess of the world, we can have hope (Proverbs 4:18), we can sleep peacefully (Proverbs 3:24), we can have guidance and direction (Proverbs 3:6), we can have a clean conscience and a life of integrity (Proverbs 2:7), we can experience daily delight in God (Proverbs 8:30), and we can avoid the painful consequences of sin (Proverbs 8:36).

God invites us into this beautiful way of life through the Lord Jesus Christ, who suffered on a cross for all the consequences we deserve for all our foolishness and rebellion.

If we acknowledge that we are fools, and worse than that, intentional rebels, and that Jesus died for our sin, and we believe that he has become for us the wisdom and righteousness we need, we can call out to the Father for mercy, and he will transfer us from the dark road to death onto the path of light (Colossians 1:14).

Just as we first heard the saving voice that called us off the path to death and onto the way of life, so our life after this transfer consists of listening to our Father’s voice. The power of a righteous life comes from having eyes trained on the hope laid out in Scripture, a heart willing to hear the Father, and a mind fixed on God’s law, not our own understanding. Ignoring the wisdom of the world, we must humbly incline our ears to the voice of our loving Father (Proverbs 8:32-34).


The Loving Discipline of a Good Father

Listening to the Father will often be very hard for us, and so we need discipline.

We have foolish heads, fickle wills, and hearts that still battle fleshly impulses to leave the way of life. We don’t even want what’s right, apart from God’s help (Romans 7:18-25). And so, we need to be lovingly trained through sometimes uncomfortable measures to see the wisdom of our Father and to learn to keep to the path of righteousness (Hebrews 12:11).

Those who listen to the Father find comfort in the rod and staff of our Good Shepherd, Jesus (Psalm 23:3). If we’re honest, we know we need correction. We need wisdom. God will give it, because he loves us, but sometimes it will hurt.

Jesus will use his rod to wrench us back onto the path of life, lest we lose our lives by wandering into foolishness we thought was good. Jesus will sometimes have to pick us up kicking and screaming, because we won’t follow him into the good way (Psalm 73:22). He will speak honest words to us about our failure that will set our pride ablaze (Proverbs 13:1).

In his discipline, though, we will find that he has only and always been good. When we’re grown, we will thank him for all the father-son or father-daughter chats he had with us when we were ignorant, squirmy, and jaded. We will see that his loving discipline grew us up into true men and women—men and women who resemble his righteous Son, Jesus (Romans 8:28-29).


The Loving Faithfulness of a Wise Father

We will see in the end that despite our kicking and screaming, our hatred and brutality, and our pride and arrogance, our Father had victory in store for us. He shielded us from unknown horrors that lurked in the darkness. The whole time he guarded our way (Proverbs 2:7-8), and he protected us from the demons behind the delicacies we desired.

We will see that every path was good. Wisdom will enter our hearts, and we will find that it is far better than the childish pleasures we left behind. We will recognize Jesus Christ as the dear friend and brother given to us by our Father. We will love him for his companionship, even when he wounded us with discipline (Proverbs 27:6).

For those who are children of God through Jesus Christ, at the end of life we will finally see that discipline was Love, loving us while we hated him for all his goodness we could not perceive (Proverbs 3:11-12).

Take courage, my friend. Open the book of Proverbs and read it. Oh to be wisely aware of our need for guidance, counsel, and the voice of our Father! God our Father welcomes us to ask him for wisdom (James 1:5). Before we have even asked, he has answered us, by providing us with the book of Proverbs. The question is, will we hear his voice?

“Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30 ESV)

In this wonderful passage Jesus calls out to us: Come to me.

Who is he inviting? “All who labor and are heavy laden.”

Are you in that category? Do you feel burdened? Weighed down by the difficulties of life? Perhaps you’re striving for that job, the perfect grade, the ideal relationship, success at work, or maybe even acceptance from God. Jesus’ voice breaks through the sound of our heavy breathing.

“I will give you rest,” he says. What an offer!

Jesus’ offer of rest implies that rest is something you and I don’t have. You are laboring; you are heavy laden; in other words, you lack rest.

In Matthew 11:28-30, Jesus says that he can give us the rest we restlessly pursue. But how?


“Come to Me… and I Will Give You Rest”

Notice that Jesus’ promise of rest here hinges on our coming. We cannot have rest if we do not come. When we come, he will give rest.

How do we come to Jesus, then?

Coming to Jesus first means leaving our labor. Jesus wants you to put down the work and come to him instead. And if you’re like me, you’re often too proud to stop peddling along the way of productivity.

This is because we’re fixated on earning. We think the sum of life is what we can accomplish. We think peace will come when we finish the project, finally clean up, seize perfection—when really, Jesus is waiting to give us the undeserved gift of the soul-deep peace that we so long for.


“Take My Yoke Upon You”

“Take my yoke upon you,” Jesus says.

Heavy-laden people aren’t interested in yokes. They have enough weight already, don’t they? But Jesus tells us that his yoke is light and easy; somehow under his yoke, we find rest for our souls. Jesus’ yoke still involves labor, but it’s not the strength-sapping labor. It’s life-giving labor.

“And learn from me,” he says. You’re not going to do this work alone—Jesus will teach you as you labor with him. You might wonder what Jesus’ yoke is, and how to take it up—let’s find out.

Jesus tells us here in Matthew 11 how to take up his yoke—you learn from him. Jesus also wants to show us how to take up his yoke.

One way we know the Bible is God’s Word is that all throughout, we find God explaining himself, using one passage over here to help us understand another passage over there. The Bible helps us interpret itself.

God’s Word records a story from Jesus’s own life on earth, so we might understand what learning from Jesus and taking up his yoke looks like.

Now as they went on their way, Jesus entered a village. And a woman named Martha welcomed him into her house. And she had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet and listened to his teaching. But Martha was distracted with much serving. And she went up to him and said, “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Tell her then to help me.” But the Lord answered her, “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things, but one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her.” (Luke 10:38-42 ESV)

Martha was heavy-laden or, “distracted with much serving,” as well as “anxious and troubled about many things.” And yet in all Martha’s labor she was neglecting the one “necessary” task—the one Mary had rightly chosen.

Jesus calls Martha away from labor and into learning.


“Learn From Me”

Mary sat at Jesus’ feet and “listened to his teaching.” Mary was learning from Jesus. Mary’s yoke didn’t include striving, serving, or even speaking. Only listening. Jesus wanted Martha to lay down her load and take up his easy yoke—to stop and listen to him.

In other words, Jesus isn’t primarily interested in enlisting you in his service; his priority is your company. He’s asking you to cease your service for the moment and embrace stillness. He wants you to listen first, labor later.

To take up Jesus’ yoke and learn from him means to listen to his Word.

The first thing he has come to tell you in his Word is “good news of great joy” (Luke 2:10; 1 Corinthians 15:3). He has taken the yoke of sin upon himself that should have broken you. He has carried your cross up Calvary’s hill and died on it in your stead. Jesus took on the yoke of perfectly obeying God’s law, so that you might trade the impossible yoke of perfection for the light burden of believing in him (Galatians 3:21-22).

Jesus wants to set you free of your burdens—first of your burden to sin and trying to earn the right to be right with God, then of all the burdens that steal your peace. And “if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed” (John 8:36 ESV). Lay down the labor, the earning, your sin, and the burden of perfection at Jesus’ feet. Ask him for new life, for peace, and for him to teach you through his Word.


“You Will Find Rest for Your Souls”

Would you believe today that in all of your busyness the Lord of heaven and earth is calling to you, asking that you cease your labor and come sit at his feet? He wants to give you rest, if you’re willing to come and receive it.

We always need rest. The rest Jesus offers is not a one-dimensional gift given at salvation. It is an eternal offer as Jesus kindly beckons us away from our self-sufficiency. It’s a constant offer of fellowship— “learn from me.” It’s a reordering of priorities: listen first, then labor in the strength that comes from sitting at his feet.

Come to Jesus for the first time. Stop laboring to excuse your sin, find peace, and make it on your own. Let Jesus carry your burdens; believe his word that “It is finished” (John 19:30 ESV), that he paid the penalty for your sin and earned God’s favor for you.

Then never stop coming to Jesus.

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