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Do you sometimes feel like the problems of this world are overwhelming? I know I certainly do. Honestly, just problems in our own families can seem overwhelming. People we know and love battling physical and mental illnesses, pain and suffering, debilitating addictions, terrible loss, financial insecurity, and the list goes on. When we sit in our beds and pray at night, our prayers can sometimes seem to take forever because there are soooo many people who need prayer. What about national issues? What about the world?? Fear-mongering news at our fingertips 24/7. Do you feel overwhelmed, confused?? Do you find yourself growing exhausted at running around, putting out fires all over the place, just to have another “fire” suddenly pop up?

This past year and a half has felt that way for many, many people. Normal problems were bad enough, but now we can add Lockdown and Isolation, Covid19, Racial division, Political schisms to the list.

What can we do?

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Honestly, I’ve been thinking about this and contemplating our innocence in the Garden of Eden. Man was not created to hold the weight of the world on our shoulders. Man was not created to get sick, grow old, witness violence and oppression, be isolated and alone, deal with fear, pain and suffering, toil long hours of exhausting labor..and eventually die. We were not created to live in a confusing world filled with deception where making the wrong choice could cost us everything. This was not God’s intention for man. We were created to be joined with our Creator where there is perfect love, peace, joy, health (shalom), and rest. We were created to be joined with the PERFECT ONE (YHWH) where making the “wrong choice” is not possible because YHWH (the ONE we’re joined to) always makes the RIGHT choice. In our modern world this problem is amplified because of all the technology. We are continuously bombarded with information, both true and false!!

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This is why we feel overwhelmed and stressed when faced with all of the world’s problems. It’s just too much for us….but thankfully, it’s not too much for God.

In the Old Testament, the prophet Elijah found himself overwhelmed. He had just defeated over 450 prophets of Baal, which enraged the evil Jezebel (Queen of Samaria/Northern 10 Tribes of Israel). Humiliated and full of wrath, Jezebel set out to immediately have Elijah killed.

Elijah was afraid and “ran for his life”, away from the presence of Ahab and Jezebel. After traveling for about a day in the wilderness, Elijah stopped running and just decided he’d rather die. One might even call him “suicidal”. He found rest under a broom tree.

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1 Kings 18:3: And he (Elijah) was afraid, and got up and ran for his life and came to Beersheba, which belongs to Judah; and he left his servant there. But he himself went a day’s journey into the wilderness, and came and sat down under a broom tree; and he asked for himself to die, and said, “Enough! Now, Lord, take my life, for I am no better than my fathers.”

The broom tree that Elijah rested under in the Negev was the Retama raetam, also known as the white broom and the white weeping broom tree.  The broom tree is thought to be indigenous to the Middle East, North Africa, and possibly Sicily. Although called a tree, it is really a shrub with a broad canopy.

The symbolism of the broom tree is renewal.  With renewal comes a restoration of vigor and a new freshness; what is faded or disintegrated is made whole. When Elijah arrived at the broom tree, he was exhausted, depressed, and ready to die.  What began as a victory for God and Elijah over Baal and his prophets turned into Elijah fleeing for his life from Jezebel and her henchmen. 

If anyone needed to be renewed, it was Elijah.

The Broom Tree symbolized this renewal for Elijah. If the shrub was blooming, Elijah would have seen thousands of tiny white blooms and smelled their soothing scent.  Sinking below the tree’s canopy of shade, Elijah fell asleep on a cool bed of broom leaves. Warm embers under the sand may have helped maintain his warmth in the cool desert night.  When Elijah was at his lowest point, begging God to take his life rather than allow him to be taken into the hands of a cruel Jezebel who would have likely tortured him to death, God sent His angels to minister to Elijah. The broom tree’s embers were used to bake a cake of bread for Elijah; and God provided Elijah water in the desert.

1 Kings 19: 5 Then he lay down and fell asleep under a broom tree; but behold, there was an angel touching him, and he said to him, “Arise, eat!” And he looked, and behold, there was at his head a round loaf of bread baked on hot coals, and a pitcher of water. So he ate and drank, and lay down again

 But the angel of the Lord came back a second time and touched him, and said, “Arise, eat; because the journey is too long for you.” So he arose and ate and drank, and he journeyed in the strength of that food for forty days and forty nights to Horeb, the mountain of God.

THE BROOM TREE🧹

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Elijah under a Broom Tree

Elijah was exhausted, depressed, overwhelmed at carrying the weight of the world, at interceding for a rebellious and idolatrous Israel, and he was just done. As a “wanted man”, he was now afraid for his life and wasn’t trusting that God had his back. FLEEING into the stark Judean desert where food and water were scarce, Elijah reached his breaking-point. It was here that Elijah literally begged God to take his life……But it was also here that God showed up in a big, big way. The Broom Tree that Elijah RESTED under was God’s sign that He was about to refresh and strengthen him. The broom Trees embers were used to bake a cake of bread for Elijah. God quenched his thirst with living water and strengthened him enough to complete the arduous 40 day journey to the mountain of God.

The Bible later tells us that not only did Elijah NOT DIE in the Judean wilderness, he NEVER tasted physical death as he was one of only TWO people IN THE ENTIRE BIBLE who were taken to Heaven without seeing death. (Enoch and Elijah). Clearly God had other plans for him.

Renewal, it’s what God does. It’s who HE is. Those who receive the Lord Jesus Christ as their personal Lord and Savior, Trusting that they will never walk alone, are made new each and every day. But still, even as born again Christians, we tend to take on too much and overload ourselves. Jesus tells us to TRUST HIM. He tells us to hand HIM our burdens, things that are weighing us down, that are just too heavy for us.

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Matthew 11:28: “Come to Me, all who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest29 Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For My yoke is comfortable, and My burden is light.”

1 Peter 5:7: having cast all your anxiety on Him, because He cares about you.

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There is a story in the Talmud of a poor man who had no wagon or donkey to carry his heavy bundles.  He had to carry the load on his back and walk many miles with his burdens to the village.  A wealthy man with a large wagon rode by.  Seeing the poor man struggle with his burdens, he stopped and offered the man a ride.  The poor man was more than grateful to have his burden eased.

After traveling some time, the wealthy man noticed that his companion was sitting with his bundles still upon his shoulders.  “Why don’t you put your belongings down,” Asked the wealthy man.  “There is plenty of room in my wagon to lay your burdens down.  Are they not heavy?”

“Indeed they are,” sighed the poor man. “But you have been more than gracious to offer me a ride and I do not wish to take advantage of you by weighing down your wagon.”

When we accepted Jesus Christ as our personal Savior, He not only took our lives, He also took on our burdens, our anxieties.  To not take our burdens off our own shoulders and lay it upon Jesus makes us like this poor man who continued to carry his burdens needlessly.

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The Hebrew word “cast” in 1st Peter 5:7 (cast all your cares upon HIM) is the Greek word epiriptō which means to to throw upon, place upon. It infers transfering OWNERSHIP of something.

The Greek word epiriptō is used in only one other place in the New Testament.

Luke 19: 33 And as they were untying the colt, its owners said to them, “Why are you untying the colt?” 34 They said, “The Lord has need of it.” 35 And they brought it to Jesus, and they threw (epiriptō )their cloaks on the colt and put Jesus on it.

Why did the Disciples throw their garments onto the donkey?

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Before answering this question, it’s important to note which Gospels this account appears in and who penned these Gospels.

There are 4 Gospels (Good News) in the Bible that tell the life story of Jesus Christ and record HIS WORDS. Matthew, Mark, and Luke are known as the Synoptic Gospels. The word “synoptic” has its roots in Greek and means “seen together.” These three Gospels have similar stories and chronology (timeline) of events.

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Matthew: was written by the Jewish Tax collector who was one of Jesus’ 12 Disciples. Matthew’s Gospel was written primarily for a Jewish audience, and therefore emphasizes Jesus Christ as the fulfillment of the Old Testament prophecies and also His Role as coming King. 👑

Mark: The shortest and oldest of all the Gospels was written by a relative of Barnabus known as John Mark. Mark was a companion of Paul and Barnabus during their early missionary journeys. Mark wasn’t one of Jesus’ 12 disciples, but is thought to have been a convert of Peter. Mark is a fast paced book aimed at primarily Roman readers and focuses on Jesus’ humanity, as the Suffering Servant and Powerful Savior.

Luke: Paul met the Gentile (non-Jew) physician named Luke when he was in Troas. Luke joined Paul and Silas in their missionary journeys and penned the Gospel of Luke and the book of Acts which chronicles Paul’s missionary journeys and the early Church. Luke’s audience was primarily Greek. luke presents Jesus Christ as the perfect Man (humanity). He addresses Jesus as the “Son of man” 26 times in his Gospel.👨‍⚕️

John: Matthew, Mark and Luke are synoptic Gospels, but John’s Gospel is different. John was one of Jesus’ 12 disciples. John’s audience is the entire world and his Gospel presents Christ as the Son of God, focusing on Jesus’ Divinity (JESUS IS GOD). Jesus Christ is the Son of God who sacrificed Himself for the whole of mankind because God so loved the world. 💖

Even though all 3 of the Synoptic Gospels detail the account of the Disciples THROWING their cloaks upon the donkey, only the Gentile Physician Luke chose to use the Greek word ” (epiriptō), the same word that we find in 1 Peter 5:7 (CAST/THROW all your cares upon Jesus becuase He cares for you).

Why?

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Luke was the physician, the doctor, and a master of the Greek language. Luke’s Gospel emphasized Jesus’ MIRACLES, His healing, His Divine comfort that He brings to hurting people. Luke PURPOSELY chose this word to depict the Disciples casting their worldly concerns about their families, their ministry, their occupation, their health, even their very LIVES ONTO the MESSIAH, the Son of God.

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No matter what the enemy tries to tell us, we are not like YHWH! (Gen. 3:5) We cannot do what ONLY God can do, and attempting to KNOW what YHWH knows will overwhelm our finite human minds. We have no power to save. We have no power to deliver. We have no power to heal (even medical doctors and physicians rely on Jesus Christ to heal, whether they know it or not). We cannot control how other people act or REact, how they treat us or how they treat our family members. We cannot even control whether or not we get hired for a job. We cannot orchestrate circumstances, and we cannot see the future or understand the big picture in the way that God does. We are so limited…We NEED GOD (Father/Son/Holy Spirit)! When we try to CONTROL everything, we get overwhelmed, frustrated, exhausted…totally BURNED OUT!

You get the point. Although we we should take care of that which YHWH has given us… we cannot CONTROL the outcome. Did you notice something else? Most of the anxieties that are “common to man”are problems ROOTED to the earth. When we focus on the things of this world, we easily become overwhelmed. It’s just too much for us! But when we TRUST in our Savior, Jesus Christ, casting or THROWING all of our worries and anxieties onto Him..(like the Disciples CAST their cloaks onto the donkey), literally handing OWNERSHIP of their problems and concerns over to Jesus and TRUSTING HIM to bring the BEST POSSIBLE OUTCOME….we find HEALING for our souls.

I shared a dream on March 21, 2021 with a few friends that emphasizes this point…

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In this dream I was a teacher at a high school. School let out, and now I’m not only a teacher, I’ve been charged to drive the bus on a particular route. Apparently something happened to the regular bus driver, so they needed me to fill in. I’ve never driven a large school bus before, but sure, agreed to help out. The only students on the bus were my own two children. Now, the choice….Turn left into oncoming traffic, which is the direction ALL of the other buses went, or turn right, down a large, curvy hill. The left route was the popular route, it was the faster route, but it still seemed more dangerous to me. I chose right. (In the Bible, the “right” side tends to be Godly, spiritual…the “left”worldly, material)

Ecclesiastes 10:2: A wise person’s heardirects him toward the right, but the foolish person’s heart directs him toward the left.

After turning right, I noticed that the weather had changed. The sky had grown dark, it was now nighttime. It began to storm, thunder, lightning and heavy rain. The road was slick. As all of this was happening, I now became aware of a young boy who was a “walker”. He was a poor child, whose family was destitute. He never rode the bus, instead he was a “walker”. He did have bicycle that he rode home every day from school. But this boy had a dangerous trek home. He turned right also, and literally had to cross 4 lanes of highway to get to the other side, and down the road where his home was. There was no “bike lane”. Even after the boy crossed to the other side, he was riding on the side of the road. So, on the night that was storming, rainy, and slick, driving a bus that I was unfamiliar with…I found this boy riding precariously in front of the bus on his bicycle. Now…it gets more intense.

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The bus’s mechanics failed and we lost breaks and steering. Now, I’m trying to avoid hitting this panicked boy on the bicycle who keeps looking back and up at our enormous yellow school bus sliding out of control on the slippery, downhill curvy road. My children are in the front seat, screaming directions…”Mom, hit the breaks”…Mom, steer this way or that way”…so many directions! And I’m shouting…” I AM HITTING THE BREAKS, BUT THE BREAKS AREN’T WORKING!!!,

The steering is out.”…and I’m trying so hard to not hit the now panicked child in front of the bus. Oh, the bus was sliding sideways and totally out of control. I had no control over this bus, even though I was the driver. Just when it seemed we were about to hit the boy, I didn’t see him anymore. Now, we were at the bottom of the hill, everything had calmed down, and I kept asking my kids “Did we hit him? Did we hit the boy?”…Because I couldn’t see him anymore, I didn’t know if he had gotten crushed by the wheels of the bus or if he’d made it into his yard. So intense I had been on trying to control the bus, I didn’t see if he made it. My kids assured me that they thought that he was fine. They were pretty sure they saw him in his front yard. Such relief…Thank God! Immense relief.

This dream is definitely about control. Clearly, I wasn’t in control of the bus, even though I felt the responsibility intensely so. I did seem to have the ability to choose which path to take (Choose Jesus Christ or reject HIM)… but once the choice was made to TURN RIGHT, my control was very limited to none. However, even though the bus seemed to be totally out of control, and the ride was terrifying…THERE WAS A HAPPY ENDING.

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The point is that we need to remember God is the ONE who is ultimately in control. When you give your life to Jesus Christ (turning right)….God will bring the BEST outcome to every situation. We can and should try to do our best, but the ownership of the issue/problem…and the OUTCOME belongs to Christ. This means that our problems are now HIS problems. And there is NOTHING He can’t do! Jesus can even bring a good outcome when we make a wrong choice or a mistake. But we have to TRUST Jesus and not lean on our own understanding.

It pays to TRUST JESUS CHRIST, THROWING ALL of our anxieties, worries, fears onto HIM because THEN we can have PEACE.

Matthew 6:25: “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? 26 Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? 27 Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?

Matthew 6:34: “So do not worry about tomorrow; for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.

Matthew 11:28: Come to Me, all who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest29 Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For My yoke is comfortable, and My burden is light.”

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Matthew 11 speaks about REST, and in a very practical sense, this is why God gave man the Sabbath. We are COMMANDED to REST one day a week, soaking in the soothing presence of our Savior and remembering that HIS WORK on the CROSS is our SALVATION. During His earthly ministry, Jesus Himself would often withdraw to a mountain to spend time alone with HIS FATHER YHWH in prayer. It re-energized Him and gave Him the strength and endurance to complete YHWH’s call on HIS LIFE.

We need to walk in Jesus’ shoes, spending time with THE FATHER in prayer each day and especially on the Sabbath. This will help us with the TRUST issue so that we CAN hand off ownership of our many problems to our SAVIOR, and at the same time RECHARGE our “batteries” preparing us for the week ahead.

May the Grace and Peace of the Lord Jesus Christ wrap around each of you like a thick, warm blanket.