We Are Yoked Together

Hosea 11: 1-4
"When Israel was a child, I loved him,
and I called my son out of Egypt.
But when I called the people of Israel,
they went away from me.
They offered sacrifices to the Baals
and burned incense to the idols.
It was I who taught Israel to walk,
and I took them by the arms,
but they did not understand
that I had healed them.
I led them with cords of human kindness,
with ropes of love.
I lifted the yoke from their neck
and bent down and fed them..."

READ Hosea 11:1-14:9

SITUATION Although Israel abandoned God. God still loved the nation. Through anger and punishment, God desired to show favor to Israel.

OBSERVATION Although at times we tend to be ungrateful, faithless, and loveless toward God, he remains devoted to us.

INSPIRATION Farmers in ancient Israel used to train an inexperience ox by yoking it to an experienced one with a wooden harness. The straps around the older animal were tightly drawn. He carried the load. But the yoke around the younger animal was loose. He walked alongside the more mature ox, but his burden was light. (Read Matthew 11:30.) In this verse Jesus is saying, "I walk alongside you. We are yoked together. But I pull the weight and carry the burden.

I wonder, how many burdens is Jesus carrying for us that we know nothing about? We're aware of some. He carries our sin. He carries our shame. He carries our eternal debt. But are there others? Has he lifted fears before we felt them? Has he carried our confusion so we wouldn't have to? Those times when we have been surprised by our own sense of peace Could it be that Jesus has lifted our anxiety onto his shoulders and placed a yoke of kindness on ours?

And how often do we thank him for his kindness? Not often enough. but does our ingratitude restrict his kindness? No, "Because he is kind even to people who are ungrateful and full of sin" (Luke 6:35).

In the original language, the word for "kindness" carries an added idea the English word does not. Chiefly it refers to an act of grace. But it also refers to a deed or person who is "useful, serviceable, adapted to it purpose." "Kindness" was even employed to described food that was tasty as well as healthy. Sounds odd to our ears. "Hey, honey, what a great meal. The salad is especially kind tonight."

But the usage makes sense. Isn't kindness good and good for you? Pleasant and practical? Kindness not only says good morning, kindness makes the coffee. Again, doesn't Jesus fit this description? He not only attended the wedding, he rescued it. He not only healed the woman, he honored her. He did more than call Zaccheaus by name; he entered his house.

Hasn't he acted similarly with your? Hasn't he helped you out of a few jabs? Hasn't he come into your house? And has there ever been a time when he was too busy to listen to your story? The Bible says, "Whoever is wise will observe these things, and they will understand the loving kindness of the Lord." (Psalm 107:43 KJV) Hasn't God been kind--pleasantly useful--to you? and since God has been so kind to you (you know what I am about to say), can't you be kind to others?

Paul's question is for all of us: "Do you think lightly of the riches of His kindness and tolerance and patience, not knowing that the kindness of God leads you to repentance? (Romans 2:4 NASB). Repentance from what? Certainly from ungodliness, rebellion, and sin. But can't we equally state that God's kindness leads to repentance from unkindness? (From A Love Worth Giving by Max Lucado)

APPLICATION Take time today right now to thank God for his incredible mercy even when you are ungrateful. Prayerfully list the ways God has show mercy and kindness to you recently? Think of at least two ways you can extend God's kindness to others.

EXPLORATION God's Mercy -- 2 Samuel 2:4-14; Nehemiah 9:31; Psalm 25:6, 57:1; Isaiah 63:9; Ephesians 2:4-7; Hebrews 4:16; 1 Peter 1:3

The Devotional Bible - Experiencing the Heart of Jesus, Max Lucado General Editor, New Century Version, Thomas Nelson Publishers

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