I was reading through past journal entries and came across one from October 26, 2018. This post is based on an excerpt from that journal entry.
11Not that I was ever in need, for I have learned how to be content with whatever I have. 12I know how to live on almost nothing or with everything. I have learned the secret of living in every situation, whether it is with a full stomach or empty, with plenty or little. 13For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength. Philippians 4:11-13 NLT
Lord, I am weak. But in You I have the strength to do all things — to find and keep my contentment, to know my peace and my joy are in You, no matter my circumstances.
So many people skip over the contentment part of this passage. They focus so much on having the strength, that they miss the reason Jesus is giving us the strength, contentment in Him. That’s what we need more than anything.
1Those who live in the shelter of the Most High will find rest in the shadow of the Almighty. 2This I declare about the Lord: He alone is my refuge, my place of safety; He is my God, and I trust him. Psalm 91:1-2 NLT
We must dwell always in Your presence. Find our rest in You alone. Our confidence must not be in people, things, money or anything else of this world. Our utmost trust must be in You alone.
Since I visited Dad in 2017 after Mom died, and he showed me the book on Psalm 91, You have brought me back to this Psalm often. It is a wonderful Psalm about Your constant presence, love, and protection. I quite literally would never have survived this life without You, my Lord. You have surrounded me with Your love and protection even when I did my best to ignore You. I am ever so grateful for the faithful prayers of my Mom and Dad, which kept me surrounded by Your grace, even when I was far from You in my actions. That mustard seed was still there in my heart. May I continue to serve You all my days and keep the legacy of faith going, covering my extended family with prayer day and night.
28Come to Me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. 29Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me; for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.” Matthew 11:28-30 BSB
This past weekend (May 3 -5, 2019) I led a retreat at Selah Among the Hills, in Arcadia, Missouri. The teaching theme was Jesus: The Chain Breaker. We explored the attributes of God, the Names of Jesus, and how this knowledge reveals the vastness of the power available to us to break every chain that binds us. God showed up in powerful ways! We’re not meant to carry the weight of our burdens. God gave me mental images such as these photos once when I was studying this passage. Alone, our yoke is that of a slave, heavy, painful, and tiresome.
Top photo credit: https://www.history.org/foundation/journal/summer08/power_slideshow/Bottom photo credit: https://auction.catawiki.com/kavels/20983753-great-antique-human-yoke-for-carrying-buckets-or-load
When we choose to come to Jesus with our burdens, first He removes them. Then He removes the heavy, painful yoke we having had to bear alone, and gives us His yoke, a shared yoke (such as those used with a pair of oxen, see below), which allows us to be yoked to Him and keep in step with Him. With this yoke we are not sharing the weight of our burdens with Jesus, they are gone. He promises His yoke is easy and His burden is light. His “burden,” is covered by grace and, I believe, is the work He has for us to do, the purpose He has for our lives. We no longer havr to worry about “performance issues,” because it is in our weakness that His strength is made perfect and thst is His grace to us.
But He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is perfected in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly in my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest on me. That is why, for the sake of Christ, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong. 2 Corinthians 12:9-10 BSB
Can we, along with Paul, delight in our weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties, so we can experience the strength of God’s powerful grace?
Grace does not keep us from experiencing troubles. Jesus warned us that we will have tribulations (see John 16:33 below). But when we are yoked with Jesus, we are empowered. We cannot go in the wrong way. God is the Teamster (driver) and He will never drive us in the wrong direction. Oxen go through much training before they are yoked in a team. They learn to follow the teamster’s commands. We must learn to heed Holy Spirit’s voice. If two oxen were to misunderstand their Teamster’s commands and one try to turn left and the other try to turn right, they would not go anywhere. Follow Jesus’ lead. The yoke for oxen is designed for their comfort, so they are able to pull a great amount of weight with relative ease for long periods. With Jesus we can do both small and great things for the Kingdom of God with great power, because we are yoked to Him.
Photo credit: https://www.ignatianspirituality.com/23419/josephs-yoke
I have told you these things so that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take courage; I have overcome the world!” John 16:33 BSB
Ah, peace. The peace that Paul speaks of in Philippians 4,
“4Always be full of joy in the Lord…. 6Don’t worry about anything; instead,pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. 7Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:4-7 NLT, Emphasis added).
“I am leaving you with a gift—peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give. So don’t be troubled or afraid.” John 14:27 NLT
This peace is unlike anything we can find in the world. It can only come through a faith-filled, trusting relationship with Jesus. And it is only with this kind of peace and trust in the Lord that we can have His strength to walk in His yoke with Him and have that contentment (delight, pleasure, gladness, satisfaction) that is so hard to put into words. I felt that this past weekend. It is such a pure and utter peace and joy that is really beyond words. But, we don’t have to wait for those special retreat times to feel this contentment. We can have it every day. All too often we jump out of Jesus’ yoke and allow the cares of this life to weight us down. Those buckets hanging from that single yoke are overflowing and the edge of that yoke is cutting into our neck and shoulders. If we find ourselves doing this, we need to give it to Jesus and get back in His yoke to find rest for our souls once again. Let’s not let anything steal the peace and joy and the strength of grace from us. Jesus already bought and paid for it. Open your hands. Stop holding onto that single yoke and put on Jesus’ yoke to receive the contentment that only comes through Him.
Dear Jesus, we hear you calling, “Come to me, all who are tired from carrying heavy loads, and I will give you rest. Place my yoke over your shoulders, and learn from me, because I am gentle and humble. Then you will find rest for yourselves because my yoke is easy and my burden is light” (Matthew 11:28-30 GOD’S WORD®). Help us to let go and hand you our burdens and place your yoke on our shoulders, so we can walk in step with You every day of our lives. We want to know that pure peace and joy and the strength that comes only from You, so we can be content in all things and work in tune with You all of our days. We thank and praise You, Lord and give you the glory! Amen.
Blessings, peace, and His contentment be yours,
©2019 Julia Melatis, Hope & Joy Ministries. All rights reserved.
Bible translations used:
NLT, Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.
GOD’S WORD® is a copyrighted work of God’s Word to the Nations. Quotations are used by permission. Copyright 1995 by God’s Word to the Nations. All rights reserved.