That ye may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world; Holding forth the word of life...
Philippians 2:15-16a

Monday, July 9, 2012

Take MY Yoke

The motto of the Bible college I went to was "Training Servants for the Master."  I can't remember hearing a sermon preached on serving God before I went to Bible college.  It just wasn't something that was stressed in the church I grew up in.  Actually, I don't remember many sermons that were preached at that church.  Typically I was doing something like counting the pages in the hymn book, because I was bored.  The pastor I had at that time tended to try and be very "theological" with his sermons.  He also pretty much typed them out word for word and read them from the pulpit.  He was an okay speaker,  I just didn't get much out of what he said.

Anyways, when I went to Bible college there was a great emphasis on serving God and living for God.  Romans 12:1-2 were verses I heard often and we were encouraged to live those out in our day to day lives.  I had always been involved in ministry at church, even as a young person.  I loved the emphasis put on service, because I already loved serving!  It was refreshing to hear it preached from the pulpit as something all Christians should do.

God has given me some amazing opportunities to serve Him.  He's also given me some incredible abilities.  I am blessed to be able to play piano and sing.  I also love teaching, and I enjoy working with children.  After Bible college, I was asked to work on staff at a church.  I served a lot!  Obviously, it was expected that staff members be involved heavily in ministry.  However, there were times that I felt almost burdened down by ministry.  Then I would feel guilty that I was burdened and tired.  I also felt guilty for not doing more.  I felt like if I was asked to do something, I couldn't say no.  Saying no meant going against the pastor, questioning authority, and a whole bunch of other bad things.  I felt like the church put pressure on me to do more, and I certainly put pressure on myself to do more.  The guilt for not doing more was difficult to handle.  I believe there's often an extra pressure put on single people in the ministry to be even more dedicated to church work, because they don't have a family to care for.

The guilt and burden of ministry lessened greatly when I moved to the church I'm in now.  It's MUCH smaller, so there isn't the intense pressure to do more and more.   Also, I'm slowly starting to learn that "no" is an okay thing to say sometimes.  Although, I rarely say no when I'm asked to do something at church.  Maybe I've just learned how to balance my church ministry better.

This past Sunday we had Bro. Danny Whetstone from World Wide New Testament Baptist Missions as a guest preacher at my church (my Pastor is a missionary sent from the WWNTBM mission board).  He preached a sermon on Matthew 11:28-30, and I'd like to share a few things he said that really spoke to me.

Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.  Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.

One of the points of his sermon was "An Invitation to Serve."  Jesus tells us to take HIS yoke upon us.  Many Christians are taking their own yoke upon them, and they end up serving out of compulsion, fear, or other wrong motives.  They have no joy, because they are not letting Christ fit them with HIS yoke.  Jesus' yoke is easy.  Easy speaks of well-fitting.  The Lord will give us the service (yoke) that we are fitted for.  When we allow Him to fit us with the yoke of service that He intended for us, we don't need to feel guilty about what we are NOT doing!  

Wow!  That spoke to me SO much!  Finally, I don't have to struggle with those feelings of guilt anymore.  Honestly, it hasn't been as much of a battle for me as it was a few years ago, but every once in a while the thought creeps in that I'm not doing enough for Christ.  That I need to do more.  That maybe there's an area I could be more faithful in.  I think there's a difference between guilt and conviction.  Obviously we all have areas as Christians that we could do a better job of living for the Lord in.  That's conviction and that's a good thing.  Conviction comes from the Holy Spirit and God's Word and will result in good decisions.  Guilt comes from ourselves and focuses on self rather than God.  The truth is, if we just surrender and let Jesus put His yoke upon us we WILL find rest and it WILL be easy.  

I think that's a huge reason why many Christians give up.  I saw it again just this week.  Christians giving up.  They give up, because they are trying to wear the yoke of their own making, or maybe they are trying to wear a yoke that another well-meaning Christian has given them, but it just isn't what Christ has for them.  I think it takes a lot of humility to surrender to Christ and accept what He has for us.  Our pride will keep us from surrender every time.

One thing I've noticed on my Christian journey is that when God wants me to do something, I KNOW what it is.  Usually I don't like it at first, but I KNOW I should be doing it.  I've mentioned before how for a time I refused to pray for people I knew weren't saved.  The reason I did that, was because I knew if I prayed for them, I would be responsible for witnessing to them, and my pride made me fear that.  If I didn't pray then I didn't have to worry about the responsibility, but I KNEW in my heart that was SO wrong.  It's like this with most things.  We typically know what God wants us to do, we just fight it in our flesh and pride.  

Jesus said His yoke is easy and His yoke gives rest.  His yoke is guilt free.  His yoke is peace.  His yoke is perfect.  But, it all takes surrender and that takes getting ME out of the way.  Me has so much pride.  I believe many Christians are walking around defeated and discouraged and many are giving up because they simply have too much pride to surrender to what God wants for them.  But what God has for us is SO good!  I could write pages and pages of how God has been SO good to me.  Surrender was hard for me too.  It meant having to give some things up, and having to be content with some things I had that I didn't like, but in the end it brought so much peace.  Here's the thing.  You'll never know the peace, joy, and rest until you surrender.  It's a battle, but if we just let God have His way, and if we just let Jesus give us His easy yoke, we will come out on the winning side every time!  I sincerely pray that many, many more Christians will realize this and start to live it!  That would be wonderful.

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