HMCdigital Tuesday 10AM Devotional with Dave – He Will Carry You

MATT 11:28-30
May 26, 2020

Have you ever been tired and just needed to stop and take a break? You needed to catch your breath? I can! As you know, I have been doing more exercising the last several months as I have been trying to get back into shape. Just the other day, I went on my bike for the first time in 2 years. I will admit, I was a bit nervous as the last time I biked, it was a lot heavier and in way worse shape. And at that time, it had been years since I had been on a bike. I was nervous to say the least. Overall, it went well, but there is one hill where, even with everything I gave it, I had to stop because my legs just couldn’t push hard enough. I had to get off my bike, walk it up the hill, take a rest, before I kept going. And when I finally did get home I had to rest because my legs were so tired that they felt like rubber.

We all get tired. We all need a break. We all need a rest. This is a reflection on all of life. There are times where whatever it is we are facing is exhausting and we need a break. Life happens for everyone, and with that is a whole lot of good, but also a lot of things that are completely exhausting that come from every angle: Physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual. It can be situational, circumstantial, relational, or as the result of our own choices. Whatever the cause, no one is exempt.

There are days I am sure that any one of us will be tempted to throw our hands up in the air and ask “when will I get a break from this? When will this end? Where is my help, my relief, my break? I can’t do this anymore, so who is going to help me?” It is in those moments that I find the words of Jesus from Matthew 11:28-30 to be especially needed.

Read Matthew 11:28-30

VERSE 28 –

The statement here is to “Come to me”. That phrase could be translated and re-understood as “believe in me, receive me, accept me.”

Who is to “come”? All who are weary and heavy burdened. In other words, all those who are tired, worn out, exhausted, spent, and are carrying around what feels to be the weight of the world on their shoulders. This is directed at all those who are stressed out with life as of late, wondering how the bills will be paid, wondering how their job is going to turn out, how they are going to get their kids to study, concerned with what will happen to their mortgage, worried about their own health and the health of others. This invitation to come is written to anyone who is facing life, especially us today!

What happens when we who are weary and carrying burdens believe, accept, and receive? Jesus gives us rest. He takes what appears to be stormy waters in our hearts and minds and speaks peace into it. He takes those moments where we are exhausted, worn out, and stretched out of shape on every angle, and brings refreshment and renewal to our lives. All of us who are tired and carrying the heaviness of life, through our belief and acceptance of Him as our Saviour and friend, we find rest.

VERSE 29 –

When Jesus mentions ‘yoke’, the crowd would have understood Jesus to be talking about a farming device used with the oxen who were pulling a load and being worked. It was a wooden beam which would come across the shoulders and neck of an oxen, and pair it with another so that the two oxen would pull together, and the collective force of the two animals could be harnessed together.

The word ‘yoke’ would have also evoked images of being enslaved or tied to something.

In this case, the term ‘yoke’ would have also been a reflection upon obedience to the Law that the people had to follow.

What Jesus is telling the crowd is that they are tied to, partnered with, and enslaved to a law that was heavy, tiring, and unattainable. They were tied to the religious system of the day that crushed people under the weight of what the Pharisees and Scribes expected and taught as the only way to be religiously right and acceptable before God. It was a heavy load, and unrealistic load. Read Matthew 23:1-4 to get an idea what that load was like.

Jesus implies that the people are feeling that they are under a heavy yoke that they can not carry. They feel worn down, weary, tired, and overwhelmed by the impossible task ahead. It is in that implication that Jesus says “Take my yoke”… not the yoke of the religious leaders, not the heaviness of all that was imposed on them by others, but take the yoke that Jesus wanted to put on them.

He says: learn from me, learn about me, learn my teachings, the way of living that I model for my followers. Don’t be caught up in the learning of the religious leaders who burden you with all the DOs and MUSTs, don’t fall into their traps, but instead learn from me. Model your life after me. Know me. I am not a slave driver or task master. I am not harsh and demanding. I am gentle, I am humble, I came to serve and be like the least. Learn from me.

When this happens, Jesus says that their souls would find rest. There would be a break, an intermission, a period break from the heaviness that people were carrying.

VERSE 30 –

Why is this possible? Because the yoke that Jesus wanted and wants to give is easy. It is good, virtuous, mild, and pleasant as opposed to the harsh, oppressive, impossible, and heavy yoke that the people would have expected in their own religious system. Jesus says “the burden you are carrying today that is imposed on you, the heaviness you face is not so with me. What I give you is light.”

How can Jesus say this? It comes back to the image of the yoke. It is a partnership agreement and arrangement. Both OX are put into the yoke, and the load is shared. And in the case of Jesus, the yoke is carried for us so that we don’t get crushed under the weight as we too have to push through life. We are paired with an ox who is carrying the heaviness of the yoke for us.

You see, it comes back to partnership, and who you are partnered with. Belief leads to relief. This does not mean a guarantee of an easy life without struggles, trials, hardships, pain, loss, and all the other stresses we face. Those things are still there. But we are getting paired next to the same Jesus whose shoulders were big enough to carry the Cross and take with Him on that Cross all the brokenness, pain, and sin that we were carrying. And because He carried that load, that burden, that weight, that yoke, today He is also carrying your yoke as well. He invites you to believe, receive, and accept. He invites you to come to Him so that as you are facing your load, whatever it might be, He can carry your load. He can carry you so that you don’t have to be weighted down.

Here is the struggle. While we know we are being crushed by our own loads, by the yokes of this life, the struggles, pains, and hardships, and we know it will destroy us if we let it, we hold on. We cling to our stresses, our feelings, our obligations that we place on ourselves. We choose to live in our anxiety. We find security in what we know, and find comfort, even in our pain because it is what we know, even though it is not healthy.

The only way for us to find relief is for us to want to let go of our stuff and actually let go. We have to let Jesus remove from us the self imposed yoke that we can not carry, and replace it with His yoke, where He is the one doing the carrying – where He is carrying you. If you are still spinning with stress and feeling crushed by the weight of life, chances are you haven’t actually let go of our yoke. You may have asked Jesus to help you, but you are still clinging on to your yoke, even subconsciously, as it is what you know.

Lately I have been feeling the exhaustion of life. I don’t know about you, but living in a pandemic is tiring. Life’s routines are all changed. We have to relearn everything. A lot of things don’t seem to make sense. So much is upside down. And if it isn’t this pandemic, it is a whole lot of other stuff in life that is wearing me down. But I also know that I need to come to Him, let Him lift my burdens, my yoke. I need to let Jesus give me His yoke instead where He takes all my pain, all my stress, all my struggling, and as I walk with Him through all that, He carries me. He will carry you also if you let him.

ReImagine: Week Eight

download & print a PDF version of this curriculum

REREAD the big story

JOSHUA 11 (Previous bedtime story: THE KING OF HAZOR) Characters: YAHWEH, Joshua, The King of Hazor, the Canaanite Kings

REVIEW the context

Joshua and the Israelites were warned by God to not make friends with the Canaanites. This wasn’t because God was mean. Rather, God wanted to Caleb overtook the infamous giants of Anak – the very same giants that the Israelites feared forty years previous. He recaptured the ancient city of Hebron, and with it, the burial grounds of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. It had taken hundreds of years. The road was filled with many costly mistakes, and decades of slavery, and exile. Many Hebrews died along the way. There were triumph and failure. But God’s faithfulness to His promised endured. The Israelites had become a nation.

REENTER through the 2nd story

a REIMAGINING of Joshua 15

Caleb stood overlooking a lush green valley. The sinking sun cast a wash of golden light over the hills below. Below Caleb was a series of wide plateaus, brimming with rows of dotted purple and rich blue vines for as far as the eye could see. Not a patch of brown to be found. Life sprung up from every surface. Olive trees, flower blossoms, berries, and grapevines. A clear river flowed at the valley bottom and the freshly scented air told a story of abundant life, richness, and plenty. It was a land flowing with milk and honey. But the valley was not unoccupied. Mixed among the songs of bird-calls and crickets were the rumbles of war. Low-speaking men, clanking metal, and stomping feet. An army was assembling. Peace had been disturbed.

Caleb’s wrinkled eyes stared at his foe. ‘Below you are the giants of Anak!’ Caleb pointed. Caleb was not alone. Surrounding the aged fighter were hundreds of others. Caleb’s own sons and daughters. His people. His kin. The clan of the tribe of Judah, and its warriors. ‘Look at them!’ Caleb said. ‘So-called-giants are big enough, to be sure. But they are not too big to feel the point of my spear!’ The clan hooped and hollered. ‘Agreed! Agreed!’ they laughed.

‘Today!’ Caleb continued. ‘Today I fulfill my calling. Forty-five years ago I set out as a spy for Moses to this very spot. I stood on this very mound. I watched these same giants occupy the Lord’s land. And I have waited these years for this moment. Today – oh, sons of Judah, and daughters of the lion – we shall taste our long-awaited victory! The Lord stands beside you! Look upon the city of Hebron, the prized-jewel. It is as old as I am! It is where our forefathers and foremothers are buried. Today – it shall be our home!’

Caleb reached into his worn and weathered satchel and pulled out his ram’s horn. ‘Today I call you to fight alongside me! Today I call you to believe and know that God fights with you! Today, I blow this horn one final time – and finish what Yahweh started! The Lord is with you!’ Caleb shouted. ‘Charge! And do not be afraid!’ He breathed in and blew hard. His wrinkled cheeks stretched out round and red. The blast bellowed across the land and the tribe of Judah raised a single thunderous roar. Spear in hand, Caleb sprang from the hillside and rushed towards the enemy, his warriors followed like a pack of hungry lions.

RETHINK in sacred sharing

Spend some time in sacred reflection, conversation, and listening. Use the following questions as a guide.

Q: What are you afraid of?

Q: Is there a difference between fear and dread? Or between fear and anxiety?

Q: What is the difference between fear and faith?

Q: KIDS: How many years did Caleb wait to enter the Promised Land? Why did it take so long?

Q: Have you ever made a mistake that altered the course of your life?

Q: Caleb’s life represented a ‘full circle’ of God’s activity in the world. Where have you Jesus complete a ‘full circle’ in your life?

RECREATE in sacred play

Spend some time in sacred play and slay the giants of Anak! Set up a space (indoors or outdoors) to resemble the Hebron valley and city. Below are a list of props ideas, characters, costumes, and a general flow-of-the-story. Remember – play is spontaneous and child-led! Use the scriptures as a reference but let the children lead!

Spend some time in sacred play and slay the giants of Anak! Set up a space (indoors or outdoors) to resemble the Hebron valley and city. Below are a list of props ideas, characters, costumes, and a general flow-of-the-story. Remember – play is spontaneous and child-led! Use the scriptures as a reference but let the children lead!

COSTUMES/PROPS: Blunt-spears (*see ‘Crafty Time – episode 7); pillows as grape clusters; cardboard shields and swords; stuffies for the bones of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob; ram’s horn.
CHARACTERS: Divide the group. Adults can be the giants of Anak, and the children can be Caleb and the warriors of the tribe of Judah. 
SPACE: Choose a safe spot where a battle can ensue. Clear away all breakables. Set up the city of Hebron, and hide the bones of the forefathers in the city.
FLOW: The tribe of Judah waits on the hillside, overlooking the valley and the city of Hebron. The giants of Anak walk around unawares. When Caleb is ready, he/she blows the ram’s horn, and the warriors of Judah attack the giants.

COSTUMES/PROPS: Blunt-spears (*see ‘Crafty Time – episode 7); pillows as grape clusters; cardboard shields and swords; stuffies for the bones of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob; ram’s horn.

CHARACTERS: Divide the group. Adults can be the giants of Anak, and the children can be Caleb and the warriors of the tribe of Judah.

SPACE: Choose a safe spot where a battle can ensue. Clear away all breakables. Set up the city of Hebron, and hide the bones of the forefathers in the city.

FLOW: The tribe of Judah waits on the hillside, overlooking the valley and the city of Hebron. The giants of Anak walk around unawares. When Caleb is ready, he/she blows the ram’s horn, and the warriors of Judah attack the giants.

REMAKE in a sacred meal

Joshua’s mighty acts of valour in battle had brought the Canaanites to their knees. Kings were defeated. Kingdoms were vanquished. The blessing of Yahweh possessed the land. In total, 31 kingdoms were conquered!

CHALLENGE: Have a feast of treats to celebrate God’s victories in your life! Bake cookies! Make a special drink! But whatever you do – be sure to add 31 special ingredients into the mix (i.e., 31 gummy bears, 31 chocolate chips/cookies, 31 sprinkles, etc.).

RESPOND in sacred prayer

At 85 years old, Caleb corrected a mistake that the Israelites made decades before. But he never denied that giants existed. He didn’t play down the risks. He knew, and likely felt, the fear of attacking such a foe. The difference in Caleb was that his faith conquered his fear. He knew that God was with him.

Find a restful spot outside. Sit and close your eyes. Name aloud any fears in you heart. Do not ignore how you may feel. Wait. Listen. Allow the Peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, to wash over in the warmth of the sun. Do not be afraid. Live by faith. God is with you.

download & print a PDF version of this curriculum

Cooking with Kristina: Cookies

Here are a few extra tips:

1. If you want to bake easily and not have to wash the entire kitchen from top to bottom afterward, don’t let kids help. Haha.

2. Dissolve the baking soda in 1 tsp of water, or other liquid you are using in the recipe.

3. The recipe calls for chilled dough. In the 10 batches we made today I did not find that it really mattered, but if you do not want to bake all of the cookies right away you can chill rolled dough for a few days or freeze the balls of dough and cook them whenever you want. This is what we did today so the same giant cookies that we gave away today are ready to be baked and given away to everyone who participates on Sunday and sends photo proof.

4. Things tend to go wrong when you are on camera so this recipe will likely be way easier for you than it was for me. haha!!

Enjoy!

HMCdigital Tuesday 10AM Devotional with Lyndsay – Examen/Daily Review

Examen/Daily Review

1) Preparation: enter into a time of quiet, be still and know how much God loves you.
You may like to read scripture, a prayer, lyrics of a song that reminds you of God’s love for you as you prepare.

2). Invitation: invite God to be with you as you search for God’s presence in the day and you learn about yourself during this process of Daily Review.

3) Review: here we identify the main events of a day (week)
– spiritual practice ( e.g. reading scripture, prayer)
– meals (thankful and gratitude.. slow and enjoy provisions given)
– interaction with other people
– any other significant events in day home/work/school

4) Give Thanks: thank God for each part of your day
for is presence with you in the midst of your day,
for those moments you sensed a growing freedom from sin and a greater capacity to love God and others,
if they unresolved issues or questions about the day, expressed those to God,
allow your self to experience gratitude for God’s presence with you even in the places that fell fuel dark and confusing.

5) Confession: name actions, attitudes or moments he fell short of reflecting the character of Christ or the fruit of the Spirit.
As God brings areas to mind, reflect on what contributed to the situation and what might enable you to respond differently in the future.

6) Forgiveness: expressed a willingness to any concrete steps needed to allow Christ’s character to be form in you.
Be assured when you ask for forgiveness that God forgives
Ask God if there is anything you need to do to make things better (situation you confessed)

7) Spiritual Friendship: seek out and share what you are discovering about God and yourself.

There is Something
By: Ted Loder

Holy One,
there is something I wanted to tell you, but there have been errands to run, bills to pay,
arrangements to make,
meetings to attend,
friends to entertain,
washing to do…
and I forget what it is I wanted to say to you, and mostly I forget what I’m about or why. O God,
don’t forget me, please,
for the sake of Jesus Christ….

Eternal one,
there is something I wanted to tell you,
but my mind races with worrying and watching, with weighing and planning,
with rutted slights and pothole grievances, with leaky dreams
and leaky plumbing
and leaky relationships that I keep trying to plug up and my attention is preoccupied with loneliness, with doubt,
and with things I covet
and I forget what it is I want to say to you
and how to say it honestly
or how to do much of anything.
O God,
don’t forget me, please,
for the sake of Jesus Christ….

AlmightyOne
there is something I wanted to ask you
but I stumble along the edge of a nameless rage,
haunted by a hundred floating fears,
of war,
of losing my job
of failing
of getting sick and old
having loved ones die
of dying
and I forget what it is the real question is I wanted to ask
and I forget to listen anyway because you seem unreal and far away and I forget what it is I have forgotten.
O God,
don’t forget me, please,
for the sake of Jesus Christ….

O Father in heaven
perhaps you’ve already heard what I wanted to tell you. What I wanted to ask in my blundering way is
don’t give up on me, don’t become too sad about me,
but laugh with me,
and try again with me,
and I will with you, too.
O Father in Heaven,
perhaps you’ve already heard what I wanted to tell you, What I wanted to ask is,
forgive me,
heal me,
increase my courage, please.
Renew in me a little of love and faith,
and a sense of confidence,
and a vision of what it might mean to live as though you were real, and I mattered,
and everyone was sister and brother.
What I wanted to ask is for peace enough, to want and work for more, for joy enough to share
and for awareness that is keen enough to sense your presence here,
now,
there,
then,
always.
Amen

This prayer poem by Ted Loder expresses the longing which so many of us face, the desire to truly connect with God while being distracted by life.
Ted Loder’s prayer is from “Guerrillas of Grace”.