Hear the Call to Yoke Up With Jesus Christ

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The older I get, the less I hear voices.  It could be the ringing in my ears or too many years of enjoying loud music, but truth be known, I’m getting somewhat hard of hearing.  It doesn’t bother me all the time – if the sounds are isolated and no background noise, I can hear fine, but add the buzzing of a fan or the roar of highway traffic and I’m reduced to asking for a repeat of the conversation.  Yet, I have NO trouble hearing from God.  He actually speaks louder and clearer than ever before and I am so thankful for His voice of direction and guidance.  Perhaps it’s because I WANT to hear His voice!

God speaks to me in the strangest places and through the most unusual objects.  A recent trip to Heritage Days (a throwback to pioneer days) found me staring at a large wooden yoke propped up on a chair beside two massive bovine.  Their breed specializes in pulling large loads and the yoke pairs them together to pull even more efficiently.  Though they stood beside a stall grazing, I could easily picture them pulling a wagon across the prairies of Kansas or up the steep grades of Colorado.  They would also pull old fashioned plows through hard and crusty ground in preparation for seed that would flourish once the spring rains came.  Yes, the wooden yoke spoke to me.  It reminded me of the words of Jesus in Matthew.

     “Come to Me all you who are weary and burdened down and I will give you rest.  All of you, take up My yoke and learn from Me because I am gentle and humble in heart and you will find rest for yourselves.  For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.” (Matt 11:28-30-HCSB)  Often I have run to my Savior when plumb worn out by the burdens I attempted to carry on my own.  I have no trouble picturing the Savior yoking Himself with me as I pull the weight resting on my shoulders of responsibilities.

Examples of Old Testament followers of God are plentiful.  Job carried heavy burdens as did Noah.  Moses nearly collapsed under the weight of caring for the Hebrew people.  They turned to the God Jehovah to aid them.  Today, I think of my friend who struggles as she cares for her husband dying with cancer.  Another friend tries desperately to save a marriage that teeters near the edge of divorce.  Runaway teenagers, sick children, and jobs that push to the limit, all these situations weigh heavy upon us.  Jesus holds His arms open wide wanting to bring us rest and peace in the middle of our struggles.

If you find yourself in a peaceful valley of tranquility today, won’t you seek someone out who struggles to find their way?  You can be the hands of Jesus as you shoulder a portion of their load.  You can be the feet of Jesus as you walk beside a friend who needs some encouragement.  Whether for yourself or a friend take Jesus at His word and find His rest.imagesoxen

A Place of Worship

cropped-img1949004-1.jpg     According to song, Love is a Many Splendored Thing, and so is worship of God Almighty-a many-splendored thing – as varied in application as the denominations we have to choose from.  Last week, I chose to return to my spiritual roots, to a small whitewashed country church nestled on the side of a dusty gravel road.  This church was obviously loved by its members and that love reflected in the freshly cut grass, the swept sidewalk and the yellow mums blooming by the door.  Pulling my car onto the grassy parking strip (no asphalt here) and climbing the steps to the front door, I felt at home.  Surrounded by noise of friendly greetings, I felt loved.  I knew in an instant, I was welcome here, and so was God.

I’m not so sure God is welcome in all churches today, not the magnificent God of the Holy Bible.  Many of the recognized churches of today do not welcome ALL the scripture recorded in our Bible and some journey down a path that seems to be detouring from righteousness.  I do not wish to judge; I do not want to ruffle feathers, but deviation from traditional faith is becoming the normal and I’m fearful God does not feel welcome in such places.

So what makes God feel welcome?  What lifts Him up and surrounds Him with well-deserved honor?  I know what makes me feel welcome; smiling faces and genuine greetings, hugs from old friends, and music!  Music pleases the heart of God, too.  The Psalms are filled with words of musical instruments and praise choruses.  Psalm 150 is a good example, “Praise Him with the sound of the trumpet; Praise Him with the lute and harp! Praise Him with the timbrel and dance, Praise Him with stringed instruments and flutes! Praise Him with loud cymbals, with clashing cymbals!  Let everything that has breath praise the Lord!” (vs. 3-6).

I’m partial to musical harmony, but the lady sitting behind me did not know that kind of music.  Her voice surrounded me, loud and strong, and you know what?  There was no offense.  Somehow, I sensed her sincerity of praise and I could join with her in song for the good things God had showered upon us.  This is true worship!  This is holy ground as my heart bows before our Creator God in worship!

The Bible shows how God feels when we honor Him with our lips, but denies Him with our actions.  A church family reveals their love for God in the way they accept visitors.  Are they greeted and welcomed regardless of their dress or appearance?  Do we serve the needy and help meet their needs?  Jesus revealed our target audience in Luke 14.  “When you give a dinner or a supper, do not ask your friends, your brothers, your relatives, nor rich neighbors, lest they also invite you back and you are repaid.  When you give a feast invite the poor, the maimed, the lame, the blind.  And you will be blessed because they cannot repay you.” (vs.12-14)  This is the feast that honors God.

Prosperity is a good thing, but riches and fine things can take our focus off the importance of loving people regardless of their worth.  Take a close look at your worship.  Does it honor the values dear to the heart of God?  My visit to the little church in the wildwood gave me the perfect place to honor God in joint worship with the family of God.  Oh, how blessed it was!