In Harness

‘You will find rest for your souls.’ Matthew 11:29 NIV

One of the greatest promises Jesus ever gave us is: ‘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.’ (Matthew 11:28–29 NIV) How could Jesus talk about being yoked in a harness, which suggests hard work, and about rest in the same breath? To most of us, rest means kicking back in the recliner.

That’s not the kind of rest Jesus was thinking about. A yoke is a harness that goes around the necks of two oxen so they can pull a load. Accepting Jesus’ yoke is a picture of submission. It’s also a picture of help because you’re not pulling the load alone. In each team of oxen one is the leader and the other follows. Jesus will take the lead but you must be yoked to Him to get the benefit.

So to enjoy intimacy with Christ, you have to bow before Him and accept His will. Jesus promises that His yoke won’t choke you, it won’t be wearisome or confining; you won’t chafe under it. In fact, the irony is, if you want to be truly free you must allow yourself to be yoked to Jesus by submitting your will to His.

Now it’s possible to accept Christ’s yoke, but then start pulling against it when life doesn’t go the way you want it to. You start wanting to be the leader in the partnership—to get Jesus to go your way instead of choosing to move with Him and at His pace. Peace and rest come only when you relax in the yoke and let Christ lead the way.

SoulFood: Job 35–37, Luke 19:20–27, Ps 38:1–12, Pro 8:22–23

word4today an adaptation of The Word For Today is authored by Bob and Debby Gass and published under licence from UCB International Copyright © 2019

Today’s Readings

Job 35–37 ()

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35:1 And Elihu answered and said:

  “Do you think this to be just?
    Do you say, ‘It is my right before God,’
  that you ask, ‘What advantage have I?
    How am I better off than if I had sinned?’
  I will answer you
    and your friends with you.
  Look at the heavens, and see;
    and behold the clouds, which are higher than you.
  If you have sinned, what do you accomplish against him?
    And if your transgressions are multiplied, what do you do to him?
  If you are righteous, what do you give to him?
    Or what does he receive from your hand?
  Your wickedness concerns a man like yourself,
    and your righteousness a son of man.
  “Because of the multitude of oppressions people cry out;
    they call for help because of the arm of the mighty.
10   But none says, ‘Where is God my Maker,
    who gives songs in the night,
11   who teaches us more than the beasts of the earth
    and makes us wiser than the birds of the heavens?’
12   There they cry out, but he does not answer,
    because of the pride of evil men.
13   Surely God does not hear an empty cry,
    nor does the Almighty regard it.
14   How much less when you say that you do not see him,
    that the case is before him, and you are waiting for him!
15   And now, because his anger does not punish,
    and he does not take much note of transgression,
16   Job opens his mouth in empty talk;
    he multiplies words without knowledge.”

36:1 And Elihu continued, and said:

  “Bear with me a little, and I will show you,
    for I have yet something to say on God's behalf.
  I will get my knowledge from afar
    and ascribe righteousness to my Maker.
  For truly my words are not false;
    one who is perfect in knowledge is with you.
  “Behold, God is mighty, and does not despise any;
    he is mighty in strength of understanding.
  He does not keep the wicked alive,
    but gives the afflicted their right.
  He does not withdraw his eyes from the righteous,
    but with kings on the throne
    he sets them forever, and they are exalted.
  And if they are bound in chains
    and caught in the cords of affliction,
  then he declares to them their work
    and their transgressions, that they are behaving arrogantly.
10   He opens their ears to instruction
    and commands that they return from iniquity.
11   If they listen and serve him,
    they complete their days in prosperity,
    and their years in pleasantness.
12   But if they do not listen, they perish by the sword
    and die without knowledge.
13   “The godless in heart cherish anger;
    they do not cry for help when he binds them.
14   They die in youth,
    and their life ends among the cult prostitutes.
15   He delivers the afflicted by their affliction
    and opens their ear by adversity.
16   He also allured you out of distress
    into a broad place where there was no cramping,
    and what was set on your table was full of fatness.
17   “But you are full of the judgment on the wicked;
    judgment and justice seize you.
18   Beware lest wrath entice you into scoffing,
    and let not the greatness of the ransom turn you aside.
19   Will your cry for help avail to keep you from distress,
    or all the force of your strength?
20   Do not long for the night,
    when peoples vanish in their place.
21   Take care; do not turn to iniquity,
    for this you have chosen rather than affliction.
22   Behold, God is exalted in his power;
    who is a teacher like him?
23   Who has prescribed for him his way,
    or who can say, ‘You have done wrong’?
24   “Remember to extol his work,
    of which men have sung.
25   All mankind has looked on it;
    man beholds it from afar.
26   Behold, God is great, and we know him not;
    the number of his years is unsearchable.
27   For he draws up the drops of water;
    they distill his mist in rain,
28   which the skies pour down
    and drop on mankind abundantly.
29   Can anyone understand the spreading of the clouds,
    the thunderings of his pavilion?
30   Behold, he scatters his lightning about him
    and covers the roots of the sea.
31   For by these he judges peoples;
    he gives food in abundance.
32   He covers his hands with the lightning
    and commands it to strike the mark.
33   Its crashing declares his presence;
    the cattle also declare that he rises.

37:1   “At this also my heart trembles
    and leaps out of its place.
  Keep listening to the thunder of his voice
    and the rumbling that comes from his mouth.
  Under the whole heaven he lets it go,
    and his lightning to the corners of the earth.
  After it his voice roars;
    he thunders with his majestic voice,
    and he does not restrain the lightnings when his voice is heard.
  God thunders wondrously with his voice;
    he does great things that we cannot comprehend.
  For to the snow he says, ‘Fall on the earth,’
    likewise to the downpour, his mighty downpour.
  He seals up the hand of every man,
    that all men whom he made may know it.
  Then the beasts go into their lairs,
    and remain in their dens.
  From its chamber comes the whirlwind,
    and cold from the scattering winds.
10   By the breath of God ice is given,
    and the broad waters are frozen fast.
11   He loads the thick cloud with moisture;
    the clouds scatter his lightning.
12   They turn around and around by his guidance,
    to accomplish all that he commands them
    on the face of the habitable world.
13   Whether for correction or for his land
    or for love, he causes it to happen.
14   “Hear this, O Job;
    stop and consider the wondrous works of God.
15   Do you know how God lays his command upon them
    and causes the lightning of his cloud to shine?
16   Do you know the balancings of the clouds,
    the wondrous works of him who is perfect in knowledge,
17   you whose garments are hot
    when the earth is still because of the south wind?
18   Can you, like him, spread out the skies,
    hard as a cast metal mirror?
19   Teach us what we shall say to him;
    we cannot draw up our case because of darkness.
20   Shall it be told him that I would speak?
    Did a man ever wish that he would be swallowed up?
21   “And now no one looks on the light
    when it is bright in the skies,
    when the wind has passed and cleared them.
22   Out of the north comes golden splendor;
    God is clothed with awesome majesty.
23   The Almighty—we cannot find him;
    he is great in power;
    justice and abundant righteousness he will not violate.
24   Therefore men fear him;
    he does not regard any who are wise in their own conceit.”

Luke 19:20–27 ()

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20 Then another came, saying, ‘Lord, here is your mina, which I kept laid away in a handkerchief; 21 for I was afraid of you, because you are a severe man. You take what you did not deposit, and reap what you did not sow.’ 22 He said to him, ‘I will condemn you with your own words, you wicked servant! You knew that I was a severe man, taking what I did not deposit and reaping what I did not sow? 23 Why then did you not put my money in the bank, and at my coming I might have collected it with interest?’ 24 And he said to those who stood by, ‘Take the mina from him, and give it to the one who has the ten minas.’ 25 And they said to him, ‘Lord, he has ten minas!’ 26 ‘I tell you that to everyone who has, more will be given, but from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away. 27 But as for these enemies of mine, who did not want me to reign over them, bring them here and slaughter them before me.’”

Psalm 38:1–12 ()

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A Psalm of David, for the memorial offering.

38:1   O LORD, rebuke me not in your anger,
    nor discipline me in your wrath!
  For your arrows have sunk into me,
    and your hand has come down on me.
  There is no soundness in my flesh
    because of your indignation;
  there is no health in my bones
    because of my sin.
  For my iniquities have gone over my head;
    like a heavy burden, they are too heavy for me.
  My wounds stink and fester
    because of my foolishness,
  I am utterly bowed down and prostrate;
    all the day I go about mourning.
  For my sides are filled with burning,
    and there is no soundness in my flesh.
  I am feeble and crushed;
    I groan because of the tumult of my heart.
  O Lord, all my longing is before you;
    my sighing is not hidden from you.
10   My heart throbs; my strength fails me,
    and the light of my eyes—it also has gone from me.
11   My friends and companions stand aloof from my plague,
    and my nearest kin stand far off.
12   Those who seek my life lay their snares;
    those who seek my hurt speak of ruin
    and meditate treachery all day long.

Proverbs 8:22–23 ()

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22   “The LORD possessed me at the beginning of his work,
    the first of his acts of old.
23   Ages ago I was set up,
    at the first, before the beginning of the earth.

Fri 22 March, 2019


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