The Apostle Paul wrote this letter to the church in Philippi during an epidemic of disunity. Why is it that we, who have such a heart for unity, have such a hard time actually uniting? If the body of Christ struggles to live in unity we should not be surprised that our country and our world also struggles to live in unity.
In our revised format for First 15, each Saturday we invite you to look back on how God has spoken to you during your reflection throughout the previous week.
Reading this invitation of Jesus, we assume he is speaking of a yoke joining oxen, something burdensome. There is a different perspective on “the yoke”.
One piece of uniquely American conventional wisdom is, "hard work is the key to success". By and large, whatever political ideology or social beliefs you subscribe to, if you’re American, you likely accept this piece of wisdom as true. Don’t get me wrong, I agree that laziness will not serve you well. However, in our reflection for today, Jesus somewhat confronts that ideal.
I love these verses. They always make me let out a big sigh. It's as if just thinking about “rest for my soul” brings me peace.
Jesus says, “Come to me all…” Every person is included in these instructions and so is every need. Those who are weary and burdened find it difficult to rest. On their own, it’s impossible for them to find.
The first sentence in this passage is like a breath of fresh air. Then, in the next, we often trip over the word “yoke.” It feels uncomfortable. A yoke could represent the crossbar between a pair of scales or a crossbar coupling two work animals. In Old Testament scripture, a yoke represented bondage, imbalance and heavy burdens.
In our revised format for First 15, each Saturday we are going to invite you to look back on how God has spoken to you during your reflection throughout the previous week.
According to Jesus, we live life from the Inside-out. In Luke 6, verse 45, he says, "A good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and an evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of."
If you were offered a product or solution promising that it would change everything in your life, you would probably have some level of skepticism. “Hard to believe,” “a promise too ambitious,” “something too good to be true,” are just a few thoughts that might come to mind.
While we often think of the heart as where emotions reside, the scriptures speak of the heart in a much broader way. The NIV Zondervan Study Bible has this note on Proverbs 2:10, “The heart is the essence of the self and the spring from which a person’s life proceeds.”
Today I want you to focus on the word, “guard.” That which we most highly value is also what we most strongly defend which means that “guarding your heart” begins with appropriately valuing the vitality of your heart. It’s less about building a wall around it, but instead ensuring that the right things are welcomed there.
Today, focus on the words, “above all else.” We are thinking about what is primary in our life. What is of chief importance to you? What is at the forefront of your mind as you begin this day?
These verses are invitations, invitations from God, Jesus, the Holy Spirit to each of us, invitations that are deeply personal, invitations to a friendship, a partnership, life shared with Jesus Christ. They both reveal to us what God is interested in, the way God works in our lives. God is invested in building a relationship with us that is deep, personal, trusting, and everlasting.
This verse is a landmark verse for me. At a time when I was struggling with my value as a human being, my self image, a friend introduced me to this Psalm of David. Suddenly, as I was reading this verse, I saw myself through God’s eyes. “Fearfully and wonderfully made….” That’s Me! All my self doubt and self deprecation was gone.