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Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Horses in meadow along Colebrook Road
Horses in meadow along Colebrook Road

"Unequally Yoked"

Message Summary: For you are the temple of the living God. As God has said: 'I will dwell in them and walk among them. I will be their God, and they shall be My people'."

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"Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers. For what fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness? And what communion has light with darkness? And what accord has Christ with Belial? Or what part has a believer with an unbeliever? And what agreement has the temple of God with idols? For you are the temple of the living God. As God has said: 'I will dwell in them and walk among them. I will be their God, and they shall be My people'" (2 Corinthians 6:14-16).

Amish team in field
Living among the Amish provides an opportunity to experience "living history". The other day I was passing the field across from the meadow where today's horse photo was taken and spotted our Amish neighbor out doing field work with his team of horses. We kind of wonder if the working horses look across the road to the other freely grazing horses with envy!

Oxen with yokeIn many ways the Amish farming methods are closer to the Bible period than the modern period with the use of yoked animals rather than tractors. However even today we still have a reminder of the initial source of power with the term "horsepower" still applied to modern engines.

Today let us consider a verse that we first recall often being applied to dating relationships and marriage. It begins, "Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers" (2 Corinthians 6:14).

The phrase "unequally yoked together" is the translation of a single Greek word, heterozygountes (see here). This is a compound word that means, "to yoke up differently; to associate discordantly; unequally yoke together." It is used only one time in the Bible. The word "yoke" means a coupling as when two oxen are coupled or yoked together by a pulling beam to do work such as plowing a field or pulling a wagon.

Brooksyne's grandpa
Brooksyne spent a week every summer with her grandparents in the mountains of northwest Arkansas. Her grandfather (photo on left) didn't own modern equipment but still farmed his land using a plow pulled by two mules. He hooked them together with a yoke before hitching them up to the plow. The yoke prevented the mules from going two directions and provided double the strength and speed of a single mule.

Essentially, the yoke united the mules for one singular purpose. This analogy helps me to remember why Paul cautions believers to be wise in their relationships because light and darkness cannot be as one – their purposes for existence are completely opposite. To try to blend two contrasts and make them one would bring about complete chaos, confusion, and weakness.

The apostle Paul calls believers, "Do not be yoked together with unbelievers." As we mentioned above, this verse is often used in the context of dating and marriage and certainly applies to those kinds of relationships, but in this context Paul does not limit it to a physical relationship. As we compare this verse to others in the Scripture he seems to be speaking of the friendships and partnerships we build in our lives. Paul is not speaking of mere contact with those not of the faith, for that's an essential part of our reaching the lost in this world. Earlier in 1 Corinthians he acknowledges that inevitably we will have contact with people who live in darkness, otherwise "you would have to leave this world" (5:10).

Paul follows this command "Do not be yoked" with a series of questions, each requiring the negative answer:
  • For what fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness?
  • And what communion has light with darkness?
  • And what accord has Christ with Belial?
  • Or what part has a believer with an unbeliever?
  • And what agreement has the temple of God with idols?
This section ends with "For you are the temple of the living God. As God has said: 'I will dwell in them and walk among them. I will be their God, and they shall be My people'."

In the spiritual realm the Bible clearly instructs us to leave the life of darkness and to walk or live in the light. Today as we are surrounded by spiritual darkness let us again remember God's call. We are to move out of the darkness, walk in the light and stay in the light. Don't be caught lurking in the shadows, fearful of taking a stand, whether it's at our workplace, in our neighborhood, or even within our own family. We read of the outcome of Peter's denial of Christ when he, along with other disciples, moved away from Jesus and observed from a distance, even hiding in the darkened shadows. Instead let us be bold in our walk and take a stand in this age where there is great temptation to "blend in" so that everybody is comfortable. Jesus stood apart and He challenges us as well, "Be ye holy, even as I am holy."

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying manDaily prayer: Jesus, You call us to come unto You and find rest. We are to take Your yoke upon ourselves so that we are not singly walking in our limited strength, our imperfect wisdom, or our inadequate abilities. Instead we are yoked together with You, learning to walk in Your ways, following Your commandments which are holy, just and good. We are learning self-denial and how to overcome difficulties as we trust You in all Your ways. It is a yoke of pleasantness as we find that Your assistance daily checks our attitudes while navigating our duties as we walk in the light of Your Holy Word. We are one with You as we daily walk in Your Spirit. Amen.

Wood cook stoveNote from Brooksyne: With such fond memories I recall the summer visits during harvest season in Mountain Top, Arkansas (also called Batson). Grandpa and Grandma Sherrell had 200 acres that overlooked beautiful Horsehead Lake. A lot of it was wooded acreage including bluffs, though he cleared and farmed several acres. Though Daddy bought a used tractor and hauled it nearly 200 miles from our home in Tulsa, Grandpa simply preferred his reliable team of large mules, one of them I still remember, was named Rhodie. Grandpa would let us kids ride on the wagon behind the mules as we would leave the fields.

Daddy also bought a car and took it to the mountain for Grandpa but it sat in the driveway unused till the tires eventually flattened and the rust overtook it. Grandpa had no Amish roots but just lived very simply. My uncle drove them to church and once a month he'd take them down to the valley (about 25 miles) so they could run errands and stock up on their groceries which might include a very large canister of flour or shortening.

Large canSince they didn't have enough chairs around their table we children would often sit on these large canisters that contained flour or shortening. (My sister sent a photo since she has of one of these type canisters.)

Grandma did accept Mom and Dad's gift of a kitchen stove we brought them one year to replace the wood cook stove that I Grandma used when I was very young. I don't think she ever got used to baking in a modern stove. Grandpa and Grandma's simple lifestyle was not contagious, as I was accustomed to indoor plumbing, modern transportation and shopping centers in Tulsa, but their devotion and love for our Lord was very contagious. I caught the "bug" even as a small child and it influenced me greatly, even to this day. What a marvelous spiritual heritage I received from two plain, simple, hard-working country folks!

Today's Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources

"Know Ye Not"  Video  Church service  We recall singing this about 30 years ago!  This song is dedicated to our Arkansas friend Tommy Carpenter whom we are quite sure has been to this church. This is not all that far from where Brooksyne describes her grandparents living which is here on a Google map.

"Sanctuary"  Video  Randy Rothwell

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Scripture references are from The Holy Bible: New International Version. © 1984 by International Bible Society; NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1995 by The Lockman Foundation, New King James Version (NKJV) Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. and the King James Version.

Personal Mission Statement: "I am created by God to bring Him glory. Through God's Son Jesus Christ I have been redeemed and make it my life's goal to please the Lord. My mission in life is to honor God through my faith and obedience and prepare myself and all whom I may influence for eternity."

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