The AMI QT Devotionals for August 5-11 are provided by Doug Tritton. Doug, a graduate of University of Pennsylvania, is currently serving as a staff at Symphony Church (Boston), while pursuing a M.Div. at Gordon Conwell Seminary. He is married to Cindy and they are proud parents of Audrey.
Devotional Thoughts for Today
“Yoked Part 1 – We’re All Yoked”
In the beginning of the reign of Zedekiah[a] the son of Josiah, king of Judah, this word came to Jeremiah from the Lord. 2 Thus the Lord said to me: “Make yourself straps and yoke-bars, and put them on your neck.”
A major pillar of modern and post-modern society is the concept of “freethought”. This viewpoint contends that an individual’s thinking should be free from authority and tradition. A person should be free to make their own choices, to determine their own futures, and to form their opinions. This value is quite evident in many movies and TV shows, in which main characters are applauded for unshackling themselves from convention and authority (think: Frozen, or really any other recent Disney movies).
However, in this world where freethought is the highest ideal, we are being blasted on all sides to yoke ourselves to something. Advertisements implore us to yoke ourselves to certain values and thus buy certain products. TV shows subconsciously yoke us to certain patterns of thought and ideas of morality. Marvel yokes us to their fictional universe, making us feel incomplete if we miss any movie they produce. TED videos persuade us to yoke ourselves to certain ideas. These different forces lead us, mold us, and influence our decisions.
The reality is that we are all yoked to something. If you’ve been wondering all along what a “yoke” is, it’s a tool used to control beasts of burden like oxen. Oxen or horses are yoked together to pull some sort of load. A yoked animal is an animal that is being influenced and led by a driver. We are all influenced and being led by something. Freeing ourselves from all yokes, while considered the highest ideal in our society, is an impossibility. Thus, rather than trying to rid ourselves of all yokes, we need to be careful to yoke ourselves to that which is best.
Jeremiah was warning the Israelites to yoke themselves to God’s plan, which surprisingly meant being yoked to Babylon. Yet, God knew what was best for the Israelites, while the Israelites were constantly being yoked to ideas or plans that they thought best. We will continue to talk about this idea of being yoked over the next few days, but for today, let’s take a careful look at our lives and ask ourselves, “To whom or to what are we yoked? Who or what is influencing us?” Invite God to search your heart as you answer this question for yourself.
Prayer: Lord, open our hearts to see the yokes that have been placed over us. Sometimes we are unaware of how we are being influenced by the ideas and values that surround us, whether co-workers or TV characters or advertisements or anything else. Help us to see these yokes so that, in removing them, we can instead take on the yoke that is best.
Bible Reading for Today: Nehemiah 7
Lunch Break Study
Read Psalm 139:23-24: Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts! 24 And see if there be any grievous way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting!
Questions to Consider
- What is the author of this psalm asking God to do for him?
- What do you think it means for God to lead us “in the way everlasting”?
- Invite God to show you any “grievous way” inside of you.
- The author is asking God to search his heart, to know his thoughts. This can be a dangerous prayer! God can see straight through us, even seeing things in us that we do not realize. Yet, this is a prayer that will help us to see the things that influence us away from God.
- For God to lead us in the way everlasting means for God to lead us His way. Our own ways and the ways of the world are temporary since they lead to death, but God’s way is everlasting. Asking God to lead us in His way is similar to the prayer in Psalm 23, inviting God to be our shepherd – a shepherd who lovingly leads us.
- A grievous way is a way that leads away from God. As mentioned earlier, this could be a yoke influencing us away from God and His plan. Continue to invite God to point out these grievous ways in our hearts.
As we continue to talk about yokes this week, ask God to prepare your heart to truly be yoked to Him. Our God desires us to be yoked to Him and to Him alone. Consciously invite God to remove all yokes that are apart from Him so that we can be ready to truly yoke ourselves to Him.