Now for this very reason also, applying all diligence, in your faith supply moral virtue, and in your moral virtue,
knowledge ;

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Matthew Chapter 11 part 2

In Chapter 11:28-30, Jesus says; " come to Me all who are weary and heavy laden and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from Me for I am gentle and humble in heart; and you shall find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy, My burden is light."

Last year when Kirk, Hannah and I went to the fair, I was walking around by myself while Kirk and Hannah were on one of their hour long carousel riding sessions. I came across a crowd of people sitting on a set of bleachers set up in a half circle. In the center was a small elderly woman with a small switch that looked like she had taken it from a young tree and pulled all the leaves off. Standing calmly next to her, in the middle of the half circle, was an enormous team of yoked oxen. The oxen were less that 6 feet from the crowd of people watching her demonstration . She had no ropes on them. No apparent way to stop them if they decided to run away or charge. I am used to horses. There is no way in the setting like the fair, that you could take a horse anywhere without a halter and a lead line. As I walked by I was shocked at the sight of these huge animals standing so near the crowd of people . The scene seemed surreal. I stopped to look and hear what the woman was saying. She was teaching the crowd about oxen. She was explaining her team and how her large ox on the right was her "old soul". She said that when she put a team together, she would look for an "old soul" to be her lead ox. This ox would be large, steady and even tempered even from it's youth. The oxen teams were usually put together when they were calves.  The woman was showing us, as part of her demonstration, how she controlled them with the small stick she held in her hand. I was absolutely amazed. What was amazing to me was the size and temperament of her animals.She was the master of this oxen team. They followed her calmly to and from the demonstration.

I've since done some research on oxen. They are quiet animals, which means, they do not excite easily.
They are intelligent, patient, consistent and able to bear heavy burdens for long periods of time .
If they have a master, and they are equally yoked, they are very willing to work for 10 to 12 hours a day. 

The yokes for oxen are still made by hand. They are carved from wood and shaped to fit each individual oxen  within the team. The yokes are carefully crafted, shaped, carved and sanded, repeatedly as the oxen grow and  mature.  The master doesn't want the oxen to be sore or chaffed from his work.  
After becoming aware of all of this information about oxen I find verses 28-30 in Chapter 11 to be amazing and incredible. Jesus is likening himself to the "old Soul" in an oxen team. He is saying that He is strong, steady, and patient. He is saying that the master will shape the yokes of our lives perfectly to fit us. Jesus is saying that He will shoulder the load of our lives. He will take us the way we should go if we will get in the yoke with Him. 
The old soul in an oxen team is the leader, he keeps his team member on the straight path, he gives the confidence to keep going, to keep working. 

One account I read was written by a man and a woman who train oxen teams. They had a team who had been together for a number of years. The lead ox was injured in one of his hind legs and had to be put down. The remaining ox wandered aimlessly, and hopelessly ran at anything that moved. They had to put down the remaining team member because he couldn't function without his "old soul".

One of the most important things that the Lord has shown me in these verses, is that not one word in the bible is  by chance. It wasn't by chance that He uses the example of oxen and a yoke in these verses. He could not have used other words here and given us the same meaning. The Lord's word is so purposeful. So amazing. 
One more thing about the oxen and their yokes. When they are yoked together they have to stay very close . Sometimes their massive bodies are actually touching as they work. They are always within inches of each other.
God bless you girls, read more, get closer. 


Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Matthew Chapter 11 part 1

Bible Matthew Study
Someone told me that she likes to guess what I will use to remember the next chapter we are going to study . I doubt she will  guess this. I know that it is a little odd, but I think prison bars look like the number 11, if you view them just right. So, we will use prison bars to remember this chapter. 
There are two things in this chapter that are striking to me. John the Baptist is in prison and Jesus comparing our union with Him to being yoked together as oxen.
I think I will write this in two parts. Chapter 11 part 1 is about John the Baptist. Part 2 is about the yoke and the oxen, verses 11:28-30.

In verse 3, John, from prison, sends his disciples with a question for Jesus. He asks Jesus if He is the expected Messiah or should they be looking for some one else.  I have read a few commentaries on this passage and I think that many of them  over spiritualize what is happening here. It is my goal to see everyone in the bible as flesh and blood human beings,  because  that's what they were. Oh course the Holy Spirit was at work in every bit of the scriptures, but these were people, just like you and me. 
So, when I read this passage about John, I see a man sitting in prison wondering, why he is still there. He knows how he got there (Luke 3:18-20) but probably thought that maybe church leaders would have been outraged to have a godly man treated so badly. After all, he was right about the sins of Herod. He hadn't accounted for the fact that they viewed him as a threat. He was pointing to Jesus as the Messiah. We are told in 10:34 that the Pharisees were accusing Jesus of having the power of the devil behind His miracles and in 12:14  the Pharisees had reach the point of plotting  to kill Jesus.  So they were certainly not going to get His biggest supporter out of prison. As the days wore on, I believe John  couldn't believe that he was still sitting there . After all, he knew who he was. He had had a miraculous birth heralded by the angel Gabriel to his parents (Luke 1:5-25, 57-66,76-80). He was the right hand man of the Messiah so how could He leave him in prison? This was not the way it was supposed to work out. He knew he had always been faithful and bold in his calling. He knew he loved God above all else. His life had been devoted to his calling. So why was he still sitting in prison? I believe that this was the real question that John wanted answered. He wanted Jesus to set up His kingdom, save his right hand man  and get on with ruling and reining forever more in righteousness. (Isaiah 9:6). 
I have been there many times saying  "Lord, I know what you asked me to do. I know I'm doing it. I know I'm devoted to doing it. So why isn't it working out the way I planned that it would when I worked it all out in my head? Why are we struggling? Why are we having to pray psalm 142:5-7 ? What is going on?"

I believe that John was just like us. He knew a lot. But he didn't know everything and he didn't understand that Jesus had come to die on the cross to save His people from their sins. Prison was God's plan for him. It was the part of his ministry that wasn't revealed to him. He was no longer needed to herald the coming Messiah. God would use prison to take him to glory. Amazing! (Isaiah 55:8-9)

So we will use PRISON BARS   I I  to remember this chapter. Also if you let the I I fall inward you get an X to remember OX with. (give it a try)

Chapter 10 is 10 sends out the 12. Jesus sends out His disciples with many famous verses, "confess me before men," "loves father and mother more than me is not worthy" ect.

Chapter 9  is verse 9:9 Matthew is called and double the 9 and you get 18  at verse 18 is the story of Jesus healing the woman with the issue of blood and raising the little girl from the dead.

Chapter 8 is 8:8 Lord I am not worthy to have you come under my roof but just say the word and my servant will be healed. It is the story of the centurion with the great faith Also we want to remember LET THE DEAD BURY THEIR OWN DEAD AND PIGS OVER A CLIFF.

Chapter 7 is JUDGING, plank in the eye,and PROPHET, fruit inspection, both are 7 letter words

Chapter 6 is PRAYER , the lords prayer is here and WORRY.  This is one of the places where the Lord tells us not to worry.

Chapter 5 is BLESS your HEART,  the Beatitudes are here and the adultery in your heart verse is here.

Chapter 4 is THINK FAST,  Jesus fasts for forty days and forty nights and Jesus calls 4 APOSTLES, ANDREW, PETER, JAMES AND JOHN

Chapter 3 is H2O, John baptizes Jesus and we see the TRINITY when Jesus comes out of the water.


Chapter 1 is first 17 verses are genealogy and if you turn the 18 on it's side it looks like a swaddled baby. It's the Christmas story.

Ok, ladies, keep your bibles out. Keep reading. I will post part 2 soon. Start reading chapter 12. read it as many times as you can. Pray to commit the verses to memory and practice during the day and as you go to sleep at night. God Bless
"Therefore do not fear for you are of more value than many sparrows." Jesus