Resting With A Yoke On

I’m one of those happy people who gets to work in my pajamas sometimes. My work, however, doesn’t involve sleeping. I have to be awake. More than that, I have to be thinking, communicating, and putting significant effort in if I’m going to do a good job. You too, huh?

Maybe I was just extra-ready for bed, but when I read the classic verse recently, the reference to “rest” made me laugh:

“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.” –Matthew 11:29

Who rests with a yoke on?

Worn by animals under the direction of their master as they labor, yokes are devices for steering oxen and other livestock through the process of completing their purpose. Biblically, people are referred to as being under the yoke of slavery to sin and the yoke of kings or oppressive nations.

Taking on Jesus’ yoke means we, as laborers for Christ, submit to Him as a master. Jesus tells us about what He’s like as a master: gentle and humble. He says His yoke teaches us. That certainly differs from other kinds of yokes used to burden or belittle.

But the idea of His yoke being restful?

Work isn’t restful- even for doers like me.

Of course, the plain text isn’t talking about sleep-rest. What Jesus refers to is “rest for your soul.”

Rest for the soul– that we actually do find when submitting to His yoke, as His laborers.

rest-for-the-soul-that-we-actually-do-find-when-submitting-to-his-yoke-as-his-laborers

Our lives are wrapped up in striving. We live by effort, working at this and that to create and fulfill until it’s time for what’s next. We work for money just to need to work for more money. Our goals are stepping stones to bigger goals. The mentality tends to be “make it count.”

Meanwhile, our souls are ever straining against the yokes of these masters. Our earthly masters don’t aim to fulfill us, but to be fulfilled.

Whether money, reputation, ambition, or meaning, our not-Christ masters and their yokes chaff against the truth of what God made us for: Him.

“That is why we labor and strive,” Paul explains to Timothy, “because we have put our hope in the living God, who is the Savior” (1 Timothy 4:10.)

Do you want rest for your soul, rest for the soul weary from the striving to save you using money, fame, ambition, or anything else?

Put your hope in your Savior. You’ll put on His yoke. He’ll lead you without all the chaffing and straining against deadlines and expectations you weren’t made to meet. He’ll lead you in the way of perfect peace, a soul-restful path indeed.

 

Interested in guest posting on First And Second? Click HERE…new series on Sin Lies, looking for your thoughts!

This post may also be shared on: #TestimonyTuesday, #RaRaLinkup, #Intentionally Pursuing, #WomenWithIntention, #TellHiStory, #Thought-Provoking Thursday, #DanceWithJesus, #LLMLinkup, Faith-Filled Friday, Sitting Among Friends, and #SoulSurvivalLinkup.

 

#1 Way You’re Doing It Wrong

How does a Christian grow in their faith?

We like to start by building ourselves up in the Lord when we work our praying and ministering muscles.

Another strategy is to stretch ourselves by extending our hands out to others with the love of God. We often lift our Bibles higher and higher, making them heavier and heavier as we scribble in the margins and stuff them with notes.

But the first step in the growth of Spiritual muscle takes place when the inner stuff breaks down.

The first position of the believer being strengthened is bent low on humbled knees.

strengthonknees

Growth in the Lord doesn’t begin by doing more or carrying weightier virtues and ministries.

Rather, spiritual growth originates in becoming less.

Becoming strong in the Lord requires the laying down of our bulky burdens at the cross to be free to train as our trainer leads.

“Be strong in the Lord and in His mighty power” never calls us to be more or greater. In fact, “be strong” can be misleading. The words translate more directly to “be strengthened” or “be empowered.” The rest of verse makes this clear.

We have to be strengthened by the the source of our strength.

To be strengthened by the Lord, kneel before Him. Heave off the weights you aren’t meant to carry. Let your Spiritual muscles be broken down by the Lord, examined, and made stronger as true muscle, earned by submission to the trainer.

Sweet relief for the weak (all of us!):

We are strong in the Lord when we grow in His mighty power, not when we’re mustering up our own.

This post may also be shared on: #TestimonyTuesday, #RaRaLinkup, #Intentionally Pursuing, #WomenWithIntention, #TellHiStory, #Thought-Provoking Thursday, #DanceWithJesus, #LLMLinkup, Faith-Filled Friday, Sitting Among Friends, and #SoulSurvivalLinkup.

Facing the Big “What If”

I recently had the privilege of sharing a brief devotion with a bunch of teenage girls. Weeks in advance, when I asked the Lord what He might have me say, His answer was clear: “tell them they can pour it all out to me, they can always come to me.”

The Lord never gives you a lesson to share He isn’t also going to teach you through.

I kinda forgot that.

See, I talk to God all the time. But I don’t always talk to Him like He is who He says He is.

A few hours before I shared with the girls, He got my attention. Listening to those same girls, I began listening to the Lord about what I know goes on in their lives…and what I know will go on because they are humans living in the same fallen world I am.

They (and we) are going to face a lot of “what ifs” that plunder their prayers:

What if God never has me get married?

What if God never gives me or shows me my dream job?

What if God never makes me healthy again when I get sick?

What if God never heals the broken relationships I can’t fix myself?

What if I fail?

These are valid questions, and it’s alright to ask them. There is wisdom in preparing for many “what ifs.”

But the question of “what if” can also be a positive one.

What if God actually has plans for my life?

What if God is waiting to comfort me in my struggle?

What if God loves me more than the people in my life can and wants time with me too?

What if God is a confidant and an advisor?

What if God can lean in, listen, and embolden me like (or more than!) my best friends?

 What if we believe, when we speak to God, He is listening as lovingly, patiently, kindly, perfectly, gently, and honestly as He says is in His Word?

What if we believe

In Ephesians 6, Paul encourages believers to put on the armor of God. Then He goes on to say “And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests.”

Prayer is included right there in the battle plan. But notice it fits in, bound to, other pieces of armor like salvation, righteousness, and faith. Notice how God speaks elsewhere about praying with a right heart, not for our own selfish ambitions (James 4:3.)

In other passages, God tells us we must ask and believe (Matt 21:22.)

What I’ve been convicted of is this: our prayers are plundered when we don’t believe or don’t recognize exactly who it is we’re talking to.

The best place for “what if” in prayer is “what if God is really listening, really cares, and has a perfect plan?” Because He is, and it changes things when we believe Him.

At very least, praying while believing God is who He is changes our perspective from desperately attempting to persuade God to resting in the blessed assurance of Christ.

This post may also be shared on: #TestimonyTuesday, #RaRaLinkup, #Intentionally Pursuing, #WomenWithIntention, #TellHiStory, #Thought-Provoking Thursday, #DanceWithJesus, #LLMLinkup, Faith-Filled Friday, Sitting Among Friends, and #SoulSurvivalLinkup.

WordoftheWeek: Strengthen

“Be strong and of good courage… do not cower.

Do not heed your fears. Take the land I have given you to possess.”

Joshua 1:6, 7

Joshua is one of my favorite books of the Bible. The third chapter in particular grips me every time. So thankful Christine shared about the Lord using Joshua to encourage her to worship Him during battles of all kinds.

Genuinely praising God amidst the crazy and chaotic takes strength.

That’s the word this week, pulled from Joshua 1: Be Strong.

4 Facts:

  1. “Be Strong” is a Verb

I’m referring to the word strengthen because in this verse, in context, “be strong” means “grow strong” or, simply “strengthen.” It’s an action word.

Strength is not something we just possess. To be strong is to exert power.  It’s to use what you have been given with might.

  1. Strengthening is Multi-Faceted

Sometimes being strong means grasping something tightly. That might involve seizing hold of it…or it may mean clinging with force to what is already in your grip.

When you exert strength, it takes effort and sustenance. You must firm up your muscles- even your Spiritual muscles.

  1. Strength Derives from Something Given

“Adopt” and “apply” are some of the first words listed in the definition of strengthen. The potential of the power and might have been given. The Lord’s promises have been made and His call has been issued.

To be strong is to apply what has been given. Flex the faith-muscle God has been growing.

  1. Being Strong Means Relying on the Lord

Another aspect of “be strong” is “be encouraged,” or, “fasten.” What is it that the Israelites were called to be strong in? What is it we’re to fasten ourselves to, take hold of, and grip with all our strength?

God’s promises. Be strong in taking hold of God’s promises.

Securely and resolutely take hold of the one who is growing you.

That’s what it is to be strong: to flex our God-given muscles in the battles we face.

<ClickToTweet>

We take hold and flex in praise, in faithful following, and, as the verses that follow state, in obedience.

Will you stretch and flex from the soul with me today?

This post is being shared on: #TestimonyTuesday, #RaRaLinkup, #Intentionally Pursuing, #WomenWithIntention, #TellHiStory, #Thought-Provoking Thursday, #DanceWithJesus, #LLMLinkup and #LifeGivingLinkup.

Love With All Your…

“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind”

–Luke 10:27

Really, Lord? Because we know our hearts, and they are deceitful above all things. Our souls are constantly warring with the flesh. Strength, to us, is less preferable than weakness in you. And our minds? Our minds are so easily led astray.

It seems like our ability to love God is measly and miserable. To do so with our whole person seems to add up to very little.

Praise the Lord that He is glorified by and delights in our love- even if our love is far from perfect!

So loving is He that:

  1. He Guards the HEART We Are to Love Him With

Though our hearts are wild and rebellious, the Lord guards them. He works to protect our hearts from further corruption. He is intent on giving us pure hearts, washing them clean through Christ. Scripture also says He replaces our hearts of stone with hearts with hearts of flesh.

  1. He Redeems the SOUL So That We Can Love Him Personally

Apart from Christ, we would have no way to love God in a personal relationship. But He, in loving us, sent His son to die for us. He made a way for our souls to be reconciled to Him eternally. Because of that, our wretched souls are counted free. We are called His friends and His children –and forgiven.

  1. He Gives us the STRENGTH to Love Him Always

Does it take strength to love God? Ask anyone who’s betrayed Him or sinned against Him. So, ask anyone. There is nothing in us courageous enough to perfectly stand up against the world and all of sin and say “I love God more.” But He, He can makes us able. He makes a way out of temptation. He gives us endurance and His Spirit to keep us from sin and help us to lovingly glorify Him even when we are weak.

  1. He Renews Our MIND to Love Him More Fully

Romans 12:2 tells us that if we are to live according to His Will, and even to know His Will, we are to have our minds renewed. We are to see everything in light of Him and understand ourselves, our lives, our decisions, etc., according to our newness in Christ. This complete changing of the mind to fit with His enables to love Him because it enables us to know Him.

What love is this, friends!? Our Lord loves us enough to make a way for us to love Him despite our corrupt version of love. A precious gift.

This post is being shared on: #TestimonyTuesday, #RaRaLinkup, #Intentionally Pursuing, #WomenWithIntention, and #TellHiStory