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.
Scripture: Proverbs 21:17Whoever loves pleasure will suffer want; whoever loves wine and oil will not be rich. Observation:
Some have said that this verse speaks of the dangers of an Epicurean life-style. What does that mean? Generally we have attributed this to the teaching of Epicurus, a philosopher who was born in 341 BC. He encouraged people to find a static state of pleasure where one was satiated — or full. When the pleasures have been completely, or entirely satisfied, then one feels full. Later Epicurean societies adopted a motto: Non fui, fui, non sum, non curo ("I was not; I was; I am not; I do not care”). In contemporary society this phrase has been adopted to be used at humanist funerals, or to be carved as an epitaph on a headstone.
The problem is that they don’t understand what Wisdom was trying to say. Pleasure alone would ultimately leave one wanting. The Epicurean life of rich foods and drink, as well as the investment in oils and cosmetics could not be sustained. T…
Proverbs 15:17Better is a dinner of vegetables where love is than a fatted ox and hatred with it. Observation:
The guests are invited to dinner but the host is concerned that there is little to offer. Without the financial resources of the wealthy, they are unable to kill a fatted ox and can only serve vegetables. While some may be discouraged by this, wisdom tells us that the satisfaction depends upon the appetite of the guest. If the guests who are invited are hungry, then even a small meal will be enjoyed and received with gratitude. They will experience the love of the host who was willing to share all he had with his guests. Application:
I was born in Germany where my parents served as missionaries. It seems that our financial resources were often limited, and yet, there was an endless supply of guests at our table. Not only did we have our dear German friends gathering with us at the table, but also many visitors from other countries who would stop by, wanting to see “t…
Scripture: Job 38:1-2 Then the Lord answered Job out of the whirlwind: “Who is this that darkens counsel by words without knowledge? Observation: Trying to give a reason for Job’s circumstances, his friends had provided every explanation imaginable to the human mind. Now, it was time for God’s response and reality is brought into focus. The friends were bringing counsel to Job, but they did not have knowledge. There was far too much that they did not understand. Following this question God reminds Job that God alone has power over creation, and this knowledge is far beyond Job’s understanding. Therefore, the words of Job’s friends are hollow with misunderstanding. They do not know God, and should not presume to speak for God, for their counsel becomes words without knowledge. Application: If our first instinct is not to run to the Lord in difficult circumstances, we may be allowing ourselves to be counseled by words without knowledge. There are plenty of people who are willing to give us ad…