Thursday, September 3, 2015

A heavy yoke (Acts 15:1-18, Ephesians 6:12, Proverbs 3:24, 1Timothy 5:18, Matt 11:28-30)

"He gives us rest for our souls"
© Karen Kyle Ericson, all rights reserved.

My husband and I celebrated our 23rd Anniversary last week.  He spoiled me with flowers : )  They are still beautiful.  We've had some great days, good days, and really bad days.  I think these Bible verses are good for us all.  Real life is full of challenges.  I'm also looking forward to seeing the movie, "War Room."  It's about being prayer warriors.  

18 For the Scripture says, “You shall not muzzle an ox while it treads out the grain,” and, “The laborer is worthy of his wages."
(1 Timothy 5:18 NKJV)
A yoke was a curved wooden collar that would be placed over the neck of oxen while they treaded grain.  If the oxen was muzzled it couldn't eat anything and the work was hard with no reward.  Jesus said, 
28 Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 29 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. 30 For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.
(Matthew 11:28-30 NKJV)
To me this is saying that when I feel stressed and like things are too hard, I need to stop and remember Jesus and allow Him to refresh my soul.  Sometimes I just focus on Jesus' name and find peace.  Also memorizing Bible verses helps me.

1 Certain people came down from Judea to Antioch and were teaching the believers: “Unless you are circumcised, according to the custom taught by Moses, you cannot be saved.” 2 This brought Paul and Barnabas into sharp dispute and debate with them. So Paul and Barnabas were appointed, along with some other believers, to go up to Jerusalem to see the apostles and elders about this question. 3 The church sent them on their way, and as they traveled through Phoenicia and Samaria, they told how the Gentiles had been converted. This news made all the believers very glad. 4 When they came to Jerusalem, they were welcomed by the church and the apostles and elders, to whom they reported everything God had done through them.

5 Then some of the believers who belonged to the party of the Pharisees stood up and said, “The Gentiles must be circumcised and required to keep the law of Moses.”
So everything seems like it's going well.  Then the question of circumcision came up.  I can understand how the Pharisees would believe Christianity and Judaism can't be different.  There is only one God and if He wanted them to be circumcised as babies, new believers should go through it too.  But that's not what Jesus had in mind.
12 For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.
(Ephesians 6:12 NKJV)
Most of what we deal with isn't people that disagree;  it's against evil and darkness.   Satan would like to destroy people to deceive and destroy.  There's a battle in Heaven.  Angels fight demons and protect believers.  Jesus is at the throne praying for us.  I still think that is totally cool!  Most powerful person in the universe praying for us.
6 The apostles and elders met to consider this question. 7 After much discussion, Peter got up and addressed them:“Brothers, you know that some time ago God made a choice among you that the Gentiles might hear from my lips the message of the gospel and believe. 8 God, who knows the heart, showed that he accepted them by giving the Holy Spirit to them, just as he did to us. 9 He did not discriminate between us and them, for he purified their hearts by faith. 10 Now then, why do you try to test God by putting on the necks of Gentiles a yoke that neither we nor our ancestors have been able to bear? 11 No! We believe it is through the grace of our Lord Jesus that we are saved, just as they are.
We are saved by Jesus' grace and our faith, not by performing rituals.  It's not about how many people we lead to Christ.  It's about how many people Jesus wants to come to Him.  He is the gift we share.  He is the Savior and we are the servants.  I believe that's how God wants us to approach others.

12 The whole assembly became silent as they listened to Barnabas and Paul telling about the signs and wonders God had done among the Gentiles through them. 13 When they finished, James spoke up. “Brothers,” he said, “listen to me. 14 Simon has described to us how God first intervened to choose a people for his name from the Gentiles. 15 The words of the prophets are in agreement with this, as it is written:

16 “‘After this I will return

and rebuild David’s fallen tent.

Its ruins I will rebuild,
and I will restore it,
17 that the rest of mankind may seek the Lord, even all the Gentiles who bear my name,
says the Lord, who does these things’ —
18 things known from long ago.
And now we wait for Jesus' return.  I've been reading what the Jews for Jesus are saying.  God will never forget Israel.  They are His chosen.  He will include us too.  They are trying to map out the date of Messiah's return : ) No one knows the time of His coming.  We all hope it will be soon.

Heavenly Father,
Thank You for rest and peace when we stop trying so hard and just let You work.  You are so patient and wise.  I have so many thoughts in my mind, You see all and know all.  we know looking to You all is well.  I pray You will bring peace to those in the middle east who are struggling to survive.  I am so grateful for our country and I pray we will grow in righteousness and honor You.  Guide us with wisdom and expose the deeds of darkness as we elect our next president.  Father please help us all to pray hard, like a warrior.

Our Father in heaven,
Hallowed be Your name.
10 Your kingdom come.
Your will be done
On earth as it is in heaven.
11 Give us this day our daily bread.
12 And forgive us our debts,
As we forgive our debtors.
13 And do not lead us into temptation,
But deliver us from the evil one.
For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.

(Matthew 6:9-13 NKJV)

In Jesus' Name, Amen.

Here's a song from Steven Curtis Chapman, "Warrior" (link)

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