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-BROKENNESS – Part 6

 
Picture Frame Our loving Father uses the breaking process and what is broken to transform, strengthen and bless. BROKENNESS – Part 6 Last month, we looked at how God uses brokenness to bless His people. This month we’ll see how God uses brokenness to release us from bondage and free us to worship Him.
Broken To Release
“God is looking for broken men who have judged themselves in the light of the cross of Christ. When He wants anything done, He takes up men who have come to the end of themselves, whose confidence is not in themselves, but in God.” — H. A. Ironside“Your most profound and intimate experiences of worship will likely be in your darkest days – when your heart is broken, when you feel abandoned, when you’re out of options, when the pain is great – and you turn to God alone.” — Rick Warren “This is God’s universal purpose for all Christian suffering: more contentment in God and less satisfaction in the world.” — John Piper
A Broken Yoke Frees The Ox Over time humans have thought of ways to harness and exploit the strength of animals in transportation and agriculture. A yoke is an “m” shaped piece of wood that was tied over the necks of two oxen. Their joined strength was useful in ploughing fields and moving carts. The yoke limited their freedom. It forced the oxen to move together, at the same speed, in the same direction. The Lord God seemed to be happy with this arrangement, but warned: “Do not plough with an ox and a donkey yoked together” (Dt. 22:10). Because that yoke was unequal, it was not good for the animals, and it would not work well to get the work done.

Scriptures use the yoke figuratively to illustrate positive ideas such as team work, support, assistance and responsibility. In this context, “It is good for a man to bear the yoke while he is young” (Lam. 3:27). But the yoke is also used to illustrate sinful attachments, bondage and slavery. These negative yokes may be physical and visible, as seen in Leviticus 26:13: “I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of Egypt so that you would no longer be slaves to the Egyptians; I broke the bars of your yoke and enabled you to walk with heads held high.” But they also may be spiritual and invisible as seen in Psalm 106:28: “They yoked themselves to the Baal … and offered sacrifices to lifeless gods.” Our natural urge may be to live free of all constraints, so it is easy to view all yokes negatively. But we will only grow if we learn to submit and cooperate under good yokes, and avoid or break bad yokes.

Yokes That Help Lead To Blessing
Our Lord loves to teach through visual lessons. Some 2700 years ago, He told Jeremiah to go and “make a yoke out of straps and crossbars and put it on your neck” (Jer. 27:2-6). But Jeremiah’s message was neither popular nor well received. Then came along a more popular prophet: “Hananiah took the yoke off the neck of the prophet Jeremiah and broke it” and proclaimed a more acceptable message (Jer. 28:9-10). When yokes reflect the Lord’s design for our life, we should not run from them or break them.

Has the Lord called you to serve Him in a ministry? “See to it that you complete the work you have received in the Lord” (Col. 4:17). You should remove a ministry yoke only when the Lord directs, and not because of boredom, fruitlessness, conflict or crisis. Are you going through a difficult time in your marriage? Are you considering breaking the marriage yoke? “Guard yourself in your spirit, and do not break faith with the wife of your youth” (Mal. 2:15; 1 Cor. 7:10). Marriage is a God-designed yoke. Seek God’s grace to pull together, at the same speed, in the same direction.

The Lord Jesus extends a warm and practical invitation: “Come to Me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. 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. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light” (Mt. 11:28-30). Have you responded to His invitation? Has raising your children, looking after a sick relative or leading a children’s Bible club become a heavy burden to you? Who gave you that burden? If you received it from the Lord, you should not carry it alone. If it is His project, He invites you to take up His yoke and work together with Him. He never intends you to carry the load or do the work alone.

Yokes That Hinder Lead To Bondage
There are some unwise, unhealthy and sinful yokes, commitments or relationships that must be avoided or broken. The Scriptural warning is clear: “Do not be yoked together with unbelievers” (2 Cor. 6:14). Once we are tied to an unbeliever, our life is compromised; we are no longer free to follow the Lord’s guidance. Christian congregations may also bind their members to their own rules and religious legalisms. Paul warns against such yokes (Acts 15:10; Gal. 5:1). You may have yoked up your soul with a wicked oath or promise (Num. 30:2). It must be renounced and broken in the name of Christ.

Harmful yokes can develop unconsciously. Excessive attachment to a parent or child can be unhealthy (Gen. 2:24; 44:30-31). We may develop harmful dependence yokes with people, jobs, churches and places. In the name of Christ these yokes should be broken. You may feel dominated by resentment and bitterness. These yokes can be broken through forgiveness, in the name of Christ. Some may experience demonic bondage (Ps. 106:28; 1 Cor. 10:19-20; Lk. 13:16). Others may feel tied to bad habits, unpleasant experiences or painful memories. “The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the devil’s work” (1 Jn. 3:8).

Don’t become resigned to living in bondage. Christ wants to break every destructive yoke and release you. He wants you free to work with Him under His yoke. You may need the help of fellow believers to break a harmful yoke!

The Broken Flask Releases The Perfume
In each of the gospels we read an account of a woman pouring perfume on the Lord Jesus. The narratives in Matthew 26, Mark 14 and John 12 complement each other. But the story by Luke (7:36-50) refers to a different occasion.

Luke’s story took place in Galilee, in the house of a Pharisee named Simon; the woman who anointed Jesus was a prostitute. Only in this story did the woman shed tears on the Lord’s feet. Her tears and perfume expressed penitence and thankfulness. The story in the other three gospels took place in Bethany, in the house of Simon the leper, in which Lazarus was also reclining at the table with his two sisters present. A woman approached the Lord with “an alabaster jar of very expensive perfume, made of pure nard. She broke the jar and poured the perfume on His head” (Mk. 14:3). John tells us that the woman’s name was Mary, and that she also poured the perfume “on Jesus’ feet and wiped His feet with her hair. And the house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume” (Jn. 12:3). Her perfume expressed love and devotion.

Mary knew Jesus was the promised Messiah. Her heart burned with awe and affection as she contemplated meeting Him again at the house of Simon the leper. On leaving her home, she must have consciously carried with her that flask with perfume, probably her most expensive possession. We know that Mary enjoyed listening to Jesus teach, but this time she did not go for the teaching. There must have been food at Simon’s table, but she did not go for the food. I’m sure she must have had her own needs, but she did not go to request a favor or a miracle. She enjoyed the company of Jesus’ disciples, but she did not go for the fellowship. Her heart and mind were focused on worshiping Jesus. Do you sometimes feel that way?

Alabaster is a fine variety of marble, quarried in Egypt. It was carved into long-necked jars to preserve expensive perfumes. Nard is a plant native to India. Both the flask and the perfume were expensive, worth about one year’s wages of a laborer. Mark tells us that she broke the flask and poured the whole pound of perfume on Jesus. Breaking the flask shows that she did not intend to keep some of the perfume for another use. Did Jesus need so much perfume?

Worship is an expression of the heart. Something has to break inside of us before worship can be fully released. The disciples loved Jesus too, but their hearts were still restricted. They were thinking in terms of good administration, efficiency, effective use of resources and how best to help a needy world. They were not yet broken. They viewed Mary’s actions as a “waste.” But what did Jesus say? “She has done a beautiful thing to me” (Mk. 14:6). He accepted and valued her extravagant expression of worship.

Worship does not spring naturally from our human hearts. We find it difficult to take the time to seek the Lord’s presence. We prefer to do something useful. We easily become distracted as we reflect on the life and death of our Lord. Like the disciples, we prefer action, seeing some results for our effort. Sometimes this well-intended activism has to be broken for us to begin true worship. Sometimes something has to break before we are convinced that God has not chosen us because of our productivity. We do not read in Scripture that the Father “seeks” workers, but we read that He “seeks” worshipers (Jn. 4:23).

Maybe you have worked hard to keep your local church together, but it split anyway. Maybe you have shared the gospel with passion and given yourself fully to your ministry, but the results appear disappointing. Maybe you are tired and disillusioned. Maybe the Lord is trying to break your useful and practical alabaster jar so that something very special may be released. He wants to enjoy you (Zeph. 3:17). He wants you to learn to enjoy Him. The Lord still longs for genuine, even extravagant, expressions of worship.

By Philip Nunn

With permission to publish by: Sam Hadley, Grace & Truth, 210 Chestnut St., Danville, IL., USA. Website: www.gtpress.org

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