My posts come from my personal daily scripture readings and a part of my personal accountability. If we are going to grow as followers of Christ, we must be in the Word! If you miss these a few days, something has kept me from it; but if they're gone for too many days, call me on the carpet. We need to hold one another accountable. Join me on this journey as our lives are to Reflect the Image-and Jesus IS the image. Peace, Carla Sunberg
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Freedom from Oppression
A team of horses yoked together in Banff National Park.
Isaiah 9:4For the yoke of their burden,
and the bar across their shoulders,
the rod of their oppressor,
you have broken as on the day of Midian.
Isaiah was writing to a people who were living under the oppression of life in exile. The yoke of slavery was heavy upon their shoulders as they lived lives of servitude to those who controlled their lives. The bar across the shoulders represents the power to be controlled. Just as oxen are yoked together to keep them plodding in unison in the same direction, so that which oppresses has power to control our lives and keep us moving in the direction of the one who has the power. In this case it was a political power and the people were to be freed. The oppressor used the rod to beat those who refused to submit to the authority of the bar. The promise of God was that this slavery would come to an end, and the tools of the oppressors would be destroyed.
There was another yoke to be destroyed, and that was the oppressive yoke of the law. The religious leaders had used that yoke to create a strangle-hold on their people by far too many rules. The law had become a yoke across the shoulders of the people, used by the leadership as a way to control the people for their own benefit. This yoke was to be broken by the arrival of the Messiah. In his letter to the Galatians Paul proclaims, “For freedom Christ has set us free. Stand firm, therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.” (Gal. 5:1, NRSV)
The light was beginning to dawn on the people who found themselves in exile. Today is Christmas Eve and we celebrate the long-anticipated arrival of the Messiah. Far too many of us are living in exile, in a place of oppression. This may be the oppression of the situation or circumstance in which we find ourselves. When we allow the world to become the barometer for our lives, we may find ourselves yoked to something or someone that is leading us astray. Jesus came to break this yoke, including the oppression of habits, lifestyle, and addictions. No longer do we have to be controlled or prodded by these, but we can be absolutely set free! The light is dawning, and the yoke of slavery can be broken.
Paul knew what it meant to find freedom in Christ. When the law becomes a comparison for our lives, we can only stand condemned. We can never measure up to the laws of God. Jesus didn’t come to condemn or to ask us to measure up to him. Instead, he came to break the oppression of the law and to invite us into a right relationship with him. There, instead of being compared to the law, or even to Christ, we are privileged to reflect Christ. This is completely different and in this we find beautiful freedom. Jesus said to take his yoke upon his for his yoke is easy and the burden of his yoke is light. We are all yoked to something, and only we can determine what it is that we will allow to control our lives. Every other yoke is oppressive in light of the yoke of Jesus. When we are yoked to him, he does all the heavy lifting and simply says to follow him.
There are other yokes in our lives. The yoke of what others think about us. The yoke of being a people-pleaser. The yoke of success. The yoke of perfectionism. And many others. As we celebrate this Christmas Eve, we focus on the light that is now dawning. Freedom from oppression is at hand. The yoke, any type, is broken by the power of the presence of Jesus.
Lord, please break any yoke that may keep me from being all you have for me. Amen.
Rom. 6:22 But now that you have been freed from sin and enslaved to God, the advantage you get is sanctification. The end is eternal life. Rom. 6:23 For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Two sides of life are presented here in great contrast. One is a life of sin and enslavement to evil. The other side of life is freedom which provides the advantage of sanctification (or holiness as some translate the word) that leads to eternal life. The options here are a life of sin, slavery and death; or freedom, holiness and eternal life.
The advantage of holiness or sanctification is the benefit of the life of freedom. Jesus died so that we might be made holy like him and this is something that is offered as a “fruit” or “advantage” right now. The end is eternal life — but the living of life is that it can be lived out in holiness.
The next verse is really just an affirmation of the verse 22. Sin will lead …
Scripture: Rev. 3:14 “And to the angel of the church in Laodicea write: The words of the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the origin of God’s creation: Rev. 3:15 “I know your works; you are neither cold nor hot. I wish that you were either cold or hot. 16 So, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I am about to spit you out of my mouth. 17 For you say, ‘I am rich, I have prospered, and I need nothing.’ You do not realize that you are wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked. 18 Therefore I counsel you to buy from me gold refined by fire so that you may be rich; and white robes to clothe you and to keep the shame of your nakedness from being seen; and salve to anoint your eyes so that you may see. 19 I reprove and discipline those whom I love. Be earnest, therefore, and repent. 20 Listen! I am standing at the door, knocking; if you hear my voice and open the door, I will come in to you and eat with you, and you with me. 21 To the one who conquers I will give a plac…
Galatians 4:19 My little children, for whom I am again in the pain of childbirth until Christ is formed in you, 20 I wish I were present with you now and could change my tone, for I am perplexed about you. Observation:
Paul’s deep love for his spiritual children in Galatia becomes evident in this passage. With very pastoral tones his heart grieves that these children have not pursued their very basic need, and that is for Christ to be formed in them. All else becomes a distraction to the desire that they become Christlike disciples. His heart aches at the loss of his children, those that had already been conceived but failed to thrive. Chrysostom refers to the loss of these children as spiritual miscarriages, and those for whom Paul is again, willing to travail in labor. Paul is perplexed by the Galatians’ attitude and is at a loss for words to understand what they have done; the result is a broken heart. Application:
Many churches have cute catchphrases and mission statement…