Saturday, May 9, 2009

Rest Sessions 3 and 4

Well, it has been a busy few weeks and I've not had the chance to get on here and put up the last 2 sessions of the retreat. So without they are.

Session 3: "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." Matthew 11:29

Jesus is offering us his yoke. This is something we cannot refuse!

What is a yoke?
A yoke is a heavy wooden collar fitted to the neck and shoulders of an animal. It was used to control the animal so that the owner could use the animal to complete his work. It guided and kept the animal under control. In Jesus' time, the term "yoke" was commonly used in terms of one being subjected under the control of another. It was not a pleasant thing but term of oppression. According to Websters Dictionary, a yoke is "a frame fitted to a person's shoulder's to carry a load in two equal portions." According to Vines Dictionary of the Bible, the term "yoke" was used metaphorically of submission to authority, of Christ's yoke; not simply imparted by Him but shared with Him.

In Leviticus 23 the term "yoke" was used for discipleship. It was considered "coming under the rabbi's yoke". This simply meant to be a student or disciple of the rabbi.

So, what is the soulution? * Have the right yoke!
Too often we create our own standards and create our own inner yokes. This is NEVER going to work! When He offers his yoke to us, we HAVE to take it! He will never force it on us but we must decide that in every situation that we will take His yoke.
The first step toward change is to understand why we don't take Jesus' yoke.
  • We don't truly surrender to God
The word surrender means to be willing to do what Jesus wants you to do even if you don't know what it is. Jesus modeled this behavior and so did Abraham. Some questions to ask ourselves are "How willing am I to surrender my schedule?", "How willing am I to surrender that which I love?", "How willing am I to surrender that which I desire?".
  • We struggle with the other options out there
We look for fulfillment in the options either placed before us or those we actively seek instead of looking to God for complete fulfillment. When we engage in this behavior, we are slipping in and out of Jesus's yoke and are not fully committed to him. We can even get caught up in looking too intently to creation and miss the great things and blessing of our Creator! The lesson here is this: "Don't get consumed by the looking that you miss the listening".

The blessings or benefits of taking on the yoke of Jesus:
  • We get to learn from Jesus
To learn is to receive instruction, to find out, to understand. This ability to understand is a continual process.

John 16:13-16: "When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all truth. He will not speak on his own but will tell you what he has heard. He will tell you about the future. He will bring me glory by telling you whatever he receives from me. All that belongs to the Father is mine; this is why I said, 'The Spirit will tell you whatever he receives from me.'
Isaiah 48:17: "This is what the LORD says-your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel; "I am the LORD your God, who teaches you what is good for you and leads you along the paths you should follow."
Therefore, we come to the conclussion that a yoke which ties us to the heart of the Father is a blessing because it keeps us connected to our lifeline, Christ himself.
  • We get to experience a gentle and humble master
Our master steers us and pulls us back when we need to rest. He knows the terrain that we cover and is mindful of what we need at each point of the journey. He will never lead us down a path that is going to hurt us. His heart is ALWAYS for our good! We can rest in the fact that our master is GENTLE and HUMBLE!
  • We receive rest for our souls
First question, "What is our soul? "

According to Dallas Willard, "Our soul is the ultimate inner depth of our being. It is the inner stream that gives us strength, direction and harmony to every other element in our life."

The word soul means "breath". It is related to when God breathed the breath of life into Adam and caused his heart to start beating in a life sustaining rhythm.
*God's breath starts everything in rhythm before life starts. This rhythm keeps me in beat with my Creator. Our souls are rooted in the vastness of God.

Our souls respond when we are disconnected from God. Damages souls: Matthew 10:28, Psalm 42:5. Broken souls: all of 1Peter. Restored souls: Psalm 23:1-2, Psalm 19.

The lesson learned is that God gives place to pause...stop and get reconnected! He is your life sustainer!

Session 4: "For my yoke is easy and my burden is light" Matthew 11:30

As we go through life, we pick up burdens that we think we can carry. We end up going halfway with them, realize that we cannot handle the load and we give up because we cannot finish.
When we take Jesus' yoke, he disciples us so that we can carry our difficult and heavy burdens.
Matthew 22:35-40: This passage covers the question of what is the most important commandment. Jesus replies by saying that the most important is to love the Lord your God will all your heart, soul, and mind. And that a second is equally important; which is to love your neighbor as yourself. This is a heavy burden. When we are called to love our neighbors, that includes people that we may not feel loving toward. But Jesus instructs us that it is as important as loving God.
Matthew 16:24-25: Jesus tells the disciples here that in order to follow Him, they must take up their cross daily and follow Him. This too is a heavy burden. Crosses are heavy and symbolize an unpleasant task; they are symbolic of death. What thing or things has God called me to carry that are a "death" of some sort? How can I take up these burdens? REALIZE THAT THE YOKE THAT I TAKE IS A DIFFERENT YOKE AND THAT MY RABBI IS A DIFFERENT RABBI!

Another word on yokes, an animal was fitted to his yoke so that the yoke fit perfectly so as not to chaff the animal. When we take on Jesus's yoke, it fits us perfectly. He knows the perfect and best way to teach us and it is going to be just right. It will not bruise us or chaff us.

Matthew 11:25-26, Zephaniah 3:17: The Lord loves us as his children and reveals wise things to us. We are a delight to Him, so much so that He rejoices over us with singing! He takes great pleasure in us.....think on it for a while!
So, what do we do now?
John 1:12: But to all who believed him and accepted him, he gave the right to become children of God.
We need only to receive him. This is how we become his children. He takes great pleasure in the unwise and ill-equiped. He requires only a willing heart. He can use a broken and hurt person, he wants to lift our burdens from us.
Some passages that offer comfort and support:
Matthew 11:27: Jesus knows the Father!
John 17:8: The words that Jesus shares come straight from the Father!
Psalm 56:8: The Lord knows every tear we shed and collects them in his bottle
Psalm 147:3: The Lord binds up the brokenhearted
Our yoke is under Christ (in submission to him) and with him (he has given us a counselor).
Reminders: The Holy Spirit is right by us, with us, getting dirty with us. He goes ahead and prepares the ground, walks with us through the burden, and goes behind us and picks up all the pieces that have fallen.

Final thoughts: He has gone before me and will go after me for my lifetime! PRAISE YOU FATHER!
Here are a few pics of the weekend....ENJOY!

The cross in the meeting area.....interesting note, the ropes and stuff on the cross is a yoke! (not placed by our ladies but already right in God's will for our weekend!)

Pretty capturing God's beauty in creation.

My sweet friend Robin and I...Had a bit of a dreary morning and she insisted that I stand by the yellow flowers so as to get a little happiness and sunshine in my morning!
Thanks Rob!

Gretchen on the ropes course....loved watching these brave ladies conquer their fears. Maybe next year I'll do the same. Too chicken this year!

Our little to bottom: Kay, Robin, Bethany, Sue, and Petra....thank you for a wonderful weekend of bonding, crying, and laughing ladies!


katiegfromtennessee said...

Hey Miss Bethany,

Thanks for sharing these notes and pics from this weekend! I wrote down a lot of scripture references:)


daniella said...

Bethany, this is awesome! What an encouragement you are. Thank you so much for your prayers.