“Driving down the highway one day, I saw this slogan on the back of a well known trucking company’s vehicle: ‘We Go That Extra Mile.’ Then I noticed another phrase scrawled in the dirt just below it: ‘Because We Missed the Last Exit!’ ” (Reader’s Digest, May 2000)
In a time when Roman soldiers could compel a man to carry his heavy armor to the next mile-post, Jesus said, “If a man compels you to go a mile, walk two miles with him.” It must have been an aggravating life to live as a servant and follow the whim of a man whom you despised!
Today, our taskmasters are less empowered, yet we are called upon to perform unwanted tasks on our jobs or in the marketplace, and we do what is required of us because we must, not because we want to do it. Our performance is sometimes less than it could be. What kind of testimony could we be to a lost world if we followed the command of Christ?
GospeLines Prayer:Father, this is one command I wish you hadn’t given me. Work on my rebellious spirit, Lord, and make me a willing servant so that your Name will be glorified at my place of employment, in my home, and wherever I am compelled to be a follower. Amen and amen.
In the last hours of His life, historians say that Jesus climbed twenty-eight marble steps in the praetorium of Pilate to reach the throne of his accuser. Roman Catholics claim this stairway, sanctified by the feet of our Lord, was taken to Rome in 326 AD. It was considered an act of discipline, honor, and self-denial to be allowed to climb the Scala Sancta.
Martin Luther went to Rome to prove that no one in the world deserved heaven more than he. Seeking the merit of the church and favor of God, he made his way to the top of the great sacred stairway on his hands and knees. It was there that he heard the voice of God say, “The just shall live by faith.” No works of penance, no acts of self-torture could do that. He knew then and there, once and for all, that men were saved by grace not by works!
Paul said, “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live but Christ lives in me...” (Galatians 2:20). Not by works, not by the law, but by the grace of
God do we find peace in this life. It is when we cease the struggle that pride makes us think we can win, and when we submit ourselves to the forgiving love of God that peace finally comes! Amen and amen.
God thought of everything when He directed Israel through the wilderness, giving them specific guidelines for dealing with transgressions. The Old Testament is filled with instructions for feasts, sacrifices and offerings. There is even provision for “the-devil-made-me-do-it” sins. We might call them unintentional sins, but they are sins nonetheless, and sin disrupts fellowship with God. “Now if you unintentionally fail to keep any of these commands the Lord gave Moses... the priest is to make atonement... and their sins will be forgiven.” (Numbers 15:22-25)
The word for unintentional meant wandering away, as a sheep might wander away from the flock. It referred to sin that stemmed from the weakness of human character rather than outright rebellion. It's part of what we inherited from Adam and Eve, the natural inclination to sin against God. We don’t mean to do it but it happens anyway. How frustrating is that!? To the devoted Christian it can heap guilt upon us every time it happens. As in the Old Testament, God has provided a way to handle those aggravations. Immediate confession brings immediate restoration! Deal with it the moment it happens and our Father extends His forgiveness and grace which is His natural response to repentance.
GospeLines Prayer:Merciful God, every time I sin it hurts me. Turn not away from me in my weakness; forgive my transgression and receive my confession and repentance. Restore our blessed fellowship and cleanse me from all unrighteousness. Amen and amen.
“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.For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.” (Matthew 11:30) We’ve all read these words of Jesus; but, have you ever thought deeply about their meaning?
I must admit that until recently, I thought Jesus was talking about the wooden bar that is fitted on the neck of oxen to allowed two animals to be coupled (yoked) so that they might work together more effectively to pull a plow, cart, or other heavy load.I assumed He was somehow referring to us being linked (yoked) to Him or to the Church or other believers.
Consider these words in Acts 15:10.“Now then, why do you try to test God by putting on the necks of the disciples a yoke that neither we nor our fathers have been able to bear?”I don’t think Peter was talking about “yoking” two disciples together.He was referring to them as individuals.
The yoke Jesus (and Peter) were referring to was not an oxen yoke, but rather a water-carrying yoke.These wooden yokes were custom made to fit the individual’s shoulders.They had to be strong, yet comfortable, light and well balanced. They were made by skilled carpenters.The load they carried was determined by the size of the buckets fitted to the yoke.The bigger the load, the more important comfort (custom fit) and balance became.However, no matter how well the yoke was constructed, if the load was too big, the wearer couldn’t carry the water very far.
What did the carpenter Jesus say?“Take My yoke” – Custom made by My gentle hands to fit your shoulders.When you “Take My yoke upon you” and feel its comfortable fit and its smooth finish, you’ll be able to see into My heart and learn about Me because I put My Soul into My work.He also said, “My burden is light” – So light that you can even rest while carrying it.
You may be thinking, “Wow, what an interesting insight into these words of Jesus.”That’s ok; but, if we stop here, we’ll miss one of Him most significant points.Jesus also said, “My yoke is easy.”Jesus will never tie you up in rules, regulations, exceptions and strange or confounding traditions.His Words are simple and easy to understand: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind; and, Love your neighbor as yourself.Do this and you will live.” (Luke 10:26-28)
Take His yoke upon you and learn from Him, for He is gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.For His yoke is easy and His burden is light.
"…we can face Him with confidence because we live like Jesus here in this world."
It doesn’t snow much on the Gulf Coast of Texas, but it’s just as well that it doesn’t. Folks down here haven’t learned to drive in the white stuff. So, we don’t know a lot about it except that people say there are no two snowflakes alike. I read the other day that snowflakes are made from ice crystals which form on dust particles as they fall gently from the heavens. Did you know that all snow crystals have six sides? But you shouldn’t expect to easily find a perfect six-sided snowflake. They occur only about 25% of the time. Why? Because a snowflake has a bumpy ride and difficult journey on its way to earth. Each flake is buffeted by wind, water and other snowflakes.
It reminds me of people, only in reverse. We are on our journey toward heaven, and along the way it gets bumpy and difficult, and we are pushed around by people and life. It may come as a shock to you but there are no perfect people. As we struggle toward eternity, we latch onto many different things for survival; sometimes we will attach ourselves to the dirt of the world. Anything that seems to be going in the right direction is a probable host but it may have an improbable ending.
I have a news flash for you: Jesus died for a lousy bunch of beaten up, pushed down, bumped around human beings just like you and me. He never asked for perfection from us. All he asked for is our souls. If we will attach ourselves to Him, he will take care of the rest.
GospeLines Prayer:Father, sometimes the journey gets difficult and I find myself bruised and bloodied. There are days when I can become a really big mess. Thank you for overlooking my stumped toes and skinned knees and loving me when I am unlovely. Amen and amen.