People Carrying Heavy Loads
We must recognize the difference between burdens that are right for us to bear and burdens that are wrong. We should never bear the burdens of sin or doubt, but there are some burdens placed on us by God which He does not intend to lift off. God wants us to roll them back on Him— to literally “cast your burden,” which He has given you, “on the Lord….” If we set out to serve God and do His work but get out of touch with Him, the sense of responsibility we feel will be overwhelming and defeating. But if we will only roll back on God the burdens He has placed on us, He will take away that immense feeling of responsibility, replacing it with an awareness and understanding of Himself and His presence.
Many servants set out to serve God with great courage and with the right motives. But with no intimate fellowship with Jesus Christ, they are soon defeated. They do not know what to do with their burden, and it produces weariness in their lives. Others will see this and say, “What a sad end to something that had such a great beginning!”
“Cast your burden on the Lord….” You have been bearing it all, but you need to deliberately place one end on God’s shoulder. “…the government will be upon His shoulder” (Isaiah 9:6). Commit to God whatever burden He has placed on you. Don’t just cast it aside, but put it over onto Him and place yourself there with it. You will see that your burden is then lightened by the sense of companionship. But you should never try to separate yourself from your burden.
|APRIL 13, 2015
What Does Real Love Look Like?
“And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’” Matthew 25:40 (ESV)
She’s a name-dropper.
The kind of woman who always needs the world to know what famous person tweeted at her, liked her post or followed her on Instagram. She’s always at the important meetings, the ones where the people in charge see her. And she schedules lunches and coffee dates with people who can take her career further.
We all know this woman. She’s our neighbor. Our co-worker. Our ministry leader. She’s everywhere.
And maybe, at times, there’s a little bit of this woman in each of us.
The world tells us in order to go higher we must surround ourselves with people who will take us higher. Our mommas taught us at a young age we will become like those we keep close. And in high school we grouped together with people who were like-minded.
While I understand the importance of keeping company with the right kind of people, I see Jesus taking a different approach at times as I study His life in the Bible.
It’s true Jesus had good friends like His disciples, Mary, Martha and Lazarus. But as I look closely at the steps of Jesus, I see He invested a lot of His time into the “least of these:” the poor, the hungry, the broken, the weak and the people who had absolutely nothing to offer Him.
Jesus always had a genuine concern and focus on people in need.
If we are always surrounding ourselves with the “best of these,” how will we ever truly learn to love the least of these?
It’s an honest question to reflect on as we go about our days, make our schedules and choose where to invest our energy. But I don’t really know if in Jesus’ eyes this concept of serving the least of these is optional.
Do I always get this right? Goodness no.
My excuses for a lack of service to those in need are shameful:
- I’m too busy.
- I already give so much.
- I don’t have what they need.
- I forgot.
God blesses us so that we may bless others. May we be compelled to take our eyes off ourselves and turn our heads to the right and to the left. Let us see those around us in need and give whatever we have to bless them.
Here are three ways to do this right now:
- Spend time with someone who has nothing to give back to you.
- Ask God if there’s anything you have in your possession that could bless someone else. Maybe it’s a coat, a pair of shoes, a purse, jewelry … what can you give up to bless another?
- Write a note of encouragement to someone who is down, sick or weary. Tell her specific things you are praying over her life.
We don’t always need to be with the “best of the best.” There is life, love and opportunities to expand our souls if we will humble ourselves and become just a little bit more like Jesus today and serve the least of these.
From: Back to the Bible
Deuteronomy 30:19-20 (NIV) 19This day I call heaven and earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live 20and that you may love the LORD your God, listen to his voice, and hold fast to him. For the LORD is your life, and he will give you many years in the land he swore to give to your fathers, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.
Blessings and life or curses and death, those are our choices. There is no middle ground. We must choose one or the other. Heaven and earth will bear witness to the choice we make. Our choice is visible to all created realms.
It is a wonder that Almighty God gives us such a privilege. Considering the horrible consequences to others if we make the wrong choice. It is a wonder that we get to choose at all. But God is not after robots. He wants relational, volitional creatures. He is looking for those who will desire Him and His goodness of their own free will.
In these verses we find that the choice of life that we make effects our children, our love for God, our ability to hear His voice, and our endurance in the faith. It effects the length of our lives. When the choice is laid out so clearly, and the consequences made so plain, who would choose curses and death? Sadly many still do. It is easy to believe the lie that other things can deliver these benefits to our lives, when that choice lines up with our fleshly desire.
The LORD is our life. We may think our life is wrapped up in things and family and friends, but all those are from the LORD. He is life itself. He breathed into us the breath of life.
Meditation: Have I recognized that Jesus is life?
Mark 5:27-29 (NIV) 27When she heard about Jesus, she came up behind him in the crowd and touched his cloak, 28because she thought, “If I just touch his clothes, I will be healed.”29Immediately her bleeding stopped and she felt in her body that she was freed from her suffering
There is more going on here than meets the Western eye. This woman had a case of perpetual bleeding. Not only was it debilitating, but according to the Jewish law she was considered unclean and supposed to shout out that fact when she was in public. Jesus was in a packed crowd, but this woman was desperate. She had spent her living on doctors that had not helped her. She had gone without human contact for years and was physically and emotionally drained. Jesus was her last hope.
The Jews had the idea that when the Messiah came, the tassel that hung from the corner of His cloak would heal those who touched it. It is not clear in Mark that this is what she was touching, but the word is clear in Matthew. It is the word that is translated ‘hem’ or ‘tassel’ in NIV. Jesus told the Pharisees that they made this part of their garments long. (Matthew 23:5) It is as if they were saying, “Perhaps I am the Messiah.” When the woman thought, “If I just touch his clothes, I will be healed”, she was expressing her conviction that Jesus was the Messiah.
Many people were touching Jesus in that crowd, jostling up against Him. Jesus stopped and said that someone had touched Him. He perceived power flow from Him. What was the difference between this woman’s touch and the crowds’ touch? She had faith. Faith grounded her like a lightening rod. Everyone else was insulated by unbelief. The believing touch drew the power that made her whole.
Remember: When you go to Jesus in prayer, reach out in faith and touch Him. Pound your lightening rod of faith deep into the earth, grab hold and with the other hand touch the Savior. Then, look out! The power will flow.
Dream Weaver (Daniel 2:24–30)
As you approach the king’s throne, a swarm of whispers fills the room.
“Who does she think she is?” “She’ll never be able to do it.”
Striding steadily forward, and struggling with your own self-doubts, you wonder, “Will all these gawking eyes witness an execution or a miracle today?”
While these thoughts took place in your imagination, a similar situation occurred in Daniel’s reality. He stood face-to-face with an unpredictable despot, King Nebuchadnezzar, who had murdered many of Daniel’s family and friends during their exile in Babylon. Now Daniel’s own life was in danger (along with all the other scholars and key advisers of the nation) unless someone—anyone—could interpret the king’s strange dream. Daniel’s life depended upon being able to do what no one had been able to do—not even the king’s “wise men.”
Talk about stress. Daniel faced a seemingly impossible and dangerous circumstance requiring the utmost wisdom and bravery. Not only had he been exiled to Babylon (modern-day Baghdad), but now he faced an even more pressing drama.
How did Daniel handle this super-dramatic, high-stress situation? He coped with it by cultivating a close relationship with God and depending on God for wisdom and power (verses 20–23). When the drama heated up and he was asked if he could interpret Nebuchadnezzar’s dream, Daniel did not talk himself up. He humbly responded, “No [one] can explain to the king the mystery he has asked about, but there is a God in heaven who reveals mysteries” (verses 27–28). Daniel invited God into his drama.
In the course of our lives, we’re sometimes called to deal with stressful or uncomfortable situations. You may work as the only female in your church’s leadership; you may care for your aging in-laws, who have never thought you were good enough for their son. No matter what the situation, the best way to handle it with grace and wisdom is to invite God to direct the circumstance. Let him weave your way through with his wisdom. Lean on his strength. Rely on his insights. You may not feel like you can handle the stress, but with God’s help, you can.
Taken from NIV Women’s Devotional Bible