Give Thanks to the Lord

Just a step away from Experiencing God, sharing a scripture from today’s reading in the One Year Bible.

S: Scripture – “Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good! His faithful love endures forever. v2 Has the Lord redeemed you? Then speak out! Tell others he has redeemed you from your enemies. v3 For he has gathered the exiles from many lands, from east and west, from north and south.

O: Observation –  These scriptures remind me that we should always give thanks, not just for the things we ask for, not just for Him loving us, but for redeeming us. What does it mean to  be redeemed?

Here’s what the dictionary definition is:

re·deem

tr.v. re·deemed, re·deem·ing, re·deems
1. To recover ownership of by paying a specified sum.
2. To pay off (a promissory note, for example).
3. To turn in (coupons, for example) and receive something in exchange.
4. To fulfill (a pledge, for example).
5. To convert into cash: redeem stocks.
6. To set free; rescue or ransom.
7. To save from a state of sinfulness and its consequences. See Synonyms at save1.
8. To make up for: The low price of the clothes dryer redeems its lack of special features.
9. To restore the honor, worth, or reputation of: You botched the last job but can redeem yourself on this one.
Look closely at #7  To save from a state of sinfulness and its consequences.
A: Application – God sent his only Son, Jesus Christ, to redeem us, save us from our sin and consequences. What can we do to be thankful to a God who did this for us, how do we give back to the unselfishness of the Lord God? Answer: Serving and praising Him for all that he is and all that he has done.
P: Prayer – Father we are thankful for your saving grace. We appreciate all that you provide for us. We are grateful for the freedom to serve you. Teach us, guide us, and help us to know and do your will with a joyful heart. In Jesus name, amen.
11 May 2010
Copyright Reserved @mlb
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What is a Yoke?

Date: January 16, 2010

Tired? Be Yoked with Jesus

Scripture Readings: Gen 32:13-34:31, Matt 11:7-30, Psalm 14:1-7, Proverbs 3:19-20

S – Scripture: Matt 11:28-30 Then Jesus said, “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.”

O – Observation:

Jesus said he would give, ‘rest for the weary.’ What is weary? What is a yoke? A ‘Yoke’ means a bar of wood, constructed to unite two animals, enabling them to work the fields. http://bibleseo.com/christian-life/yoke-bible-definition-word-study/

In the various commentaries and bible dictionaries I’ve searched – figuratively, “Yoke” is a symbol of submission (see link). In these verses, Jesus is saying to take “his” yoke. If we unite with him, he will teach us. Can you imagine having a ‘yoke’ connecting yourself and Jesus, plowing fields, drawing loads, going through your daily life. As he is the knowledgeable one, the other person (like the two united animals) who helps bear our burdens. Jesus is so kind to say that his ‘yoke’ is easy, because he will help and not allow the ‘yoke’s bar’ to chaff on us, because he is right along side of us. We don’t need to carry burdens (loads) of stress, work, oppression, bondage – we can cast our cares to Jesus. We can be freed from this. I Peter 5:7 ‘Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.’

A – Application:

I have read this scripture countless times, over the years, yet I am often amazed that as I go before the Lord in my quiet time, that new wisdom is revealed. I knew what a yoke was, I had heard this passage taught by many teachers, yet today it’s the Holy Spirit teaching again, that Jesus is with me. That I can be linked up with Jesus and I don’t have to or need to, carry any burden on my own. Too often I say, “I can’t do it, it’s too much, I’m so overwhelmed.” Yet the bible clearly states I don’t need to carry burdens alone.

Today’s devotion for me is as if Jesus is telling me, “Fool! How many times do I have to tell you, stop doing things on your own? That’s why you’re tired, overwhelmed, depressed, and moody! Snap out of it!”  Well, that’s how the Spirit of God has to speak to my spirit sometimes, so that I listen, I’m a little thick skulled at times. Always thinking and thinking and thinking – how to do this, that, and whatever, yet I need to go to Jesus first. Hey, if we’re yoked together, he’s not far. And since the Word of God says, in Jesus words himself, “Come to me.. I will give you rest… take my yoke… learn from me… you will find rest for your souls… my yoke is easy and my burden light.”

These verses also remind me of:  II Corin 6:14 Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers. For what fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness? And what communion has light with darkness?  – Is this true for marriage, friendships, work? You can look into that. I believe definitely for marriage. I believe that those we spend the most time with, have an influence on our Worldview. It’s a challenge to spend large amounts of time with people who don’t have the same biblical foundation as yourself. Think about it this way, do the people you spend time with challenge you ‘towards’ God or away from him? Most of us will need to work in the secular arena. Most of our children will need to attend public schools, vs Christian or Home School. However, we do have a choice with our thoughts and actions in our “down” time. After work, we don’t need to get a drink with the gang. After school and during breaks – do we have gossip talks, and/or do things that are questionable in God’s eyes? Seek God Mt 6:33

P – Prayer:

Lord Jesus, thank you for being with me every step of the way. Even in times when I think I am alone, there you are, right next to me, yoked along side – saying you’re trying to guide and I’m pulling in another direction. Thank you for your patience, your forgiveness, your love and understanding. Help me to know and do your will, so that I’m not pulling in the wrong direction as I stay ‘yoked’ along with  you. Amen.

Side Notes:

Here’s an excerpt from the Definition of Yoke in the Bible:

Yoke in the Bible (NT):

  • Mt 11:28-30, Acts 15:10, 2 Cor 6:14, Phil 4:3 etc
  • Gal 5:1: “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by the yoke of slavery.”
  • Paul in Gal 5:1 and Peter in Acts 15:10 talk about yoke of bondage that the Law brings, the yoke that no one can carry. The requirements of the Law are beyond our capacity!
  • Rom 8:2 – “Because through Christ Jesus, the law of spirit has set me free from the law of sin and death.”
  • Christ Jesus has set us free from the yoke of bondage through the law. Jesus took upon himself the yoke of Law and fulfilled it. Therefore, through him, we can be set free from the yoke of sin and death.
  • Matthew 11:28-30: “Come to me all you who are weary and burdened 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 souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”
  • Jesus invites all who are under the yoke of Law or sin and offers the true rest for their souls.
  • We may visualize this as Jesus being the master or a farmer and us being yoked with a lighter load. But that is NOT the right picture.
  • Farmers used to yoke the young ox with the old experienced ox to train them. The old ox will take the major load and the young one will be walking along and learning from him. If you read this verses in light of this, it makes more sense.
  • What a wonderful picture, Jesus is giving to those who are exhausted, weary and burdened from carrying the load by themselves! What a comfort, peace, joy and rest it is to know that Jesus is right with us, walking with us, teaching us and strengthening us side by side!

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Honor God with Your Best

Today’s Date:  January 12, 2010

 Honor the Lord

 

Reading: Gen 26:17-27:46, Mt 9:1-17, Psalm 10:16-18, Proverbs 3:9-10

 S – Scripture: 

“Honor the Lord with your wealth and with the best part of everything you produce. Then he will fill your barns with grain, and your vats will overflow with good wine.” Proverbs 3:9-10

O – Observation:

Proverbs 3:9-10 are verses that show further benefit of God’s Wisdom.

While listening to Jon Courson’s commentary on www.blueletterbible.com I was enlightened to hear about (Proverbs 1-3 – Jon describes) Psalms and Proverbs as a balancing act – Psalms deals with worship and Proverbs in the area of work. Psalms is to be read on your knees, Proverbs is to be read on your feet.

We are to “honor” the Lord with whatever we have. Wealth can be defined as, “abundance of valuable material possessions or resources, the state of being rich; affluence.” What’s interesting in one culture a person or people group can be seen as poor – yet in another culture – that same person or people group is seen as wealthy.  Why is that? What does that mean for me? Only when we travel and/or learn about how others live, do we realize that no matter what we have or don’t have, there is always someone who has less then we do.

A – Application:

All that I have belongs to God. Whatever I give to honor God is the best of what I have, not the scraps or that which is blemished or thrown away. I need to give God my first fruits. (“First fruits” were a time of thanksgiving for God’s provision.)  I need to remember to be thankful for the smallest to the largest – gifts from God. Only when I give back the best to God, will I receive an overflow. Some might say, I don’t have anything to give or I’m poor, what can I honor God with? For most it’s easy to give when we have an abundance. The difficulty comes when we have little and God asks for our first fruits.  We are to “honor” him always. Even when we have no possession to give, we have resources that we can offer to God, our time to help others, our skills, our knowledge – all to honor Him.

P – Prayer:

Father thank you for your love and understanding. Thank you for giving and providing. Thank you that no matter what, I am able to honor you in wisdom and truth, with both possession and resources.

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Do I have to love everyone? What if…

January 6, 2010

Title:  Do I have to love everyone? What if they’re…

Readings: Gen 13:5-15:21, Matthew 5:27-48, Psalm 6:1-10, Proverbs 1:29-33

S – Scripture:

‘If you are kind only to your friends, how are you different from anyone else? Even pagans do that.’ Mt. 5:47

O – Observation:

The scripture verses of Mt 5:43-48 talk about the law of loving your neighbor, and your enemies! To pray for those who persecute you! Which is the way we should behave as ‘true children of our Father in Heaven.’  If we don’t love everyone, then we are just like everyone else in the world that doesn’t believe in Jesus Christ (pagans).  The scriptures say that it’s easy to love those who love you, but even corrupt tax collectors do that.

A – Application:

Of all the things that I am to do as a child of God I find this one of the most challenging.  I have a difficult time praying for someone who has wronged me. I have negative thoughts of people who are unkind, lack integrity, and are just plain spiteful that it’s very difficult to do what God asks of me.  I remember talking to a Christian sister about a person I worked with, who was, well let’s say a very difficult person to be around.  After hearing me gripe about the person and their evil ways, my ‘sister’ said, “Did you pray for her?” – I gasped and said, “how can I pray for someone as horrible as that?”  She wisely said, “Because that’s what Jesus wants us to do.”

I struggled over the next few days during my prayer time. I couldn’t even get the person’s name out of my mouth to pray for them.  I found that I had to ask the Lord for forgiveness first. I had to pray that the Lord would soften my heart towards that person first, because it’s easier to pray for someone I cared for. I needed to have a heart like Christ, to love everyone, even when “I” didn’t think they deserved it.  I need to remember that “I” didn’t deserve God’s love, yet he gave his only son for my life.  Once I forgave, I was able to pray with sincerity.

P – Prayer:

Father help me to remember these scriptures in my daily life. Help me to remember your love for us, even though we didn’t deserve your love and grace, you cared for us and gave us your Son so that we can have eternal life.  I pray that as I grow in your grace, that I will offer that same grace to others. I pray that you will help me be a better example; to be called your child is an honor that I do not deserve. I pray that I can love the way you love us. ###