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Monday, July 17, 2017

Mule team harvesting Alfalfa hay
Amish farmer with mule team harvesting Alfalfa hay.
(Click on photo to enlarge)

"Lessons From A Mule Team"

Message summary: It's interesting to get a Bible teaching from the perspective of someone who likely uses farming methods similar to the Bible times!

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"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" (Matthew 11:28-30).

Piggy climbing ramp (photo by Jesse Lapp) Saturday morning I wore another hat, so to speak, a straw hat. My Amish friend, Jesse, who opens his Old Windmill Farm to tours had a family reunion and asked me if I would serve as a tour guide for several hours. He gave me a demonstration tour and highlighted information he wanted me to share with farm guests.

The tour begins in the barn where Jesse keeps his mule team. I learned that a team mule can weigh 1600 pounds and yet pull three times its weight. Their recently acquired piglets dutifully climb up a ramp and shimmy down the slide for their treat. The guests get to feed the calves and then if they choose they can milk a cow. Then we walk on through the milkhouse, the chicken coop, the hay barn and finally through the verdant garden where the visitors are invited to pick some vegetables.

Mule looking out window Throughout the tour Jesse also seeks to share spiritual truths related to agriculture, which of course is a major illustrative theme throughout the Bible. He shared a thoughtful perspective on the daily text focusing on the words "learn from me". He pointed out that a young mule will be yoked with an older mule to learn how to serve as a team.

It's interesting to get a Bible teaching from the perspective of someone who likely uses farming methods similar to the Bible times!

In the Bible times and in our own day, the yoke is still used in many parts of the world. A yoke is a wooden beam which is used between a pair of oxen to allow them to pull a load (oxen almost always work in pairs). They must work in equal cooperation to be effective. Unequal yoking is disastrous in farming, marriage, business partnerships and in ministry. (See 2 Corinthians 6:14-15.)

Ox yoke with oxen Bible teacher David Guzik observed in regard to this passage that according to Adam Clarke, the ancient Jews commonly used the idea of yoke to express someone’s obligation to God. There was the yoke of the kingdom, the yoke of the law, the yoke of the command, the yoke of repentance, the yoke of faith, and the general yoke of God. In this context, it is easy to see Jesus simplifying and saying, "Forget about all those other yokes. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me."

Today we urge our readers to hear and thoughtfully consider these words from the Master.
"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."

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying manDaily prayer: Father, I'm so thankful for the invitation extended to us through Christ that we can come and lay down our burdens as we take up His yoke. It is through being yoked to Jesus that we unyoke ourselves from the world and learn how to find rest for our weary souls. We also learn gentleness, humility and other fruit of the Spirit as we are yoked together with Christ. Satan is a heavy taskmaster when we are yoked with him since we learn ungodliness even while he seeks to devour us. The results are disastrous and leads to eternal damnation. But when we are yoked with Christ we find that His yoke is easy and our burden is light. The results lead to our eternal dwelling place in heaven. There is never a time that we can be at peace and be unyoked with Christ, just as we cannot bear fruit unless we remain connected to the Vine. We remain steadfast and immovable in this present age as we are yoked with You. Thank You for upholding us with Your righteous right hand. Amen.

See Matthew 11:28-30; John 15:4; Galatians 5:22,23; John 10:10; Isaiah 41:10

For more expositional notes concerning today's passage we refer our readers to David Guzik's excellent "Enduring Word" online commentary here.

Additional study note:

Ox yoke lapel pinYears ago I received a small package in the mail from a friend in Missouri. I opened the package and found a small lapel pin in the shape of a yoke. Al Worthley, who for many years was my chaplain supervisor, included a brief note that identified me as a "fellow yokefellow", an allusion to Philippians 4:3.

The yoke is a universal symbol of Christian ministry. If we heed Christ's command to take His yoke upon us (Matthew 11:29) we discover the rich blessing that comes with full participation in the cause of Christ. He offers His yoke to all who will deny themselves, take up their cross and follow Him. In one sense we are yoked with Christ but in another sense we are yoked with all those who are committed to Christ and His cause. We become true yokefellows as we journey here below.

Good's Store 7/13/17
Good's Store is a locally owned Walmart sized store owned by Old-Order Mennonites. It always has a Scripture verse on a whiteboard in the checkout areas so I took a photo of this very familiar Scripture from Zephaniah 3:17.

Rick and Rachel Caldwell 7/14/17
Friday evening we had our friends, Rick and Rachel Caldwell, over for a meal and Brooksyne suggested using the backyard flower garden as a background for a photo.

Old Windmill farm tour 7/15/17
These two Russian/American families enjoyed their tour of the Old Windmill Farm on a very warm Saturday. The highlight for the young girls was feeding water to the calves. The vigorous way they sucked on the bottle, you'd have thought it was filled with milk.

Bench wagon 7/15/17
A special feature of Saturday's tour was explaining the Amish practice of having a church service. They do not use church buildings but rather meet in the homes and barns of church members. On Sunday Jesse and his wife Anna Ruth were hosting the service so the wagon bench sat in their yard. This wagon holds the benches used for the service and travels from place to place.

Bench wagon 7/15/17
The neatly stored benches in the back of the bench wagon. The benches are designed to easily convert to being a table where they join together after the service for lunch. In the past we have joined them and it is a pleasant time where men join with the men and boys and women join with other women and girls.

Barn interior cleaned out for church service 7/15/17
The barn, all cleaned out for the church service, and even had some carpet is laid out! The preacher stands in the middle toward the back and the benches will be placed on both sides facing each other; the men on one side, the women on the other.

Amish tourist cart ride 7/15/17
Leaving the Old Windmill farm Saturday I passed this miniature horse cart ride while travelling down the lane to the main road.

Today's Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources

"Come To Me"  Video  Scripture memory song of today's text

"Come to Jesus"  Video  The Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir

"My Yoke Is Easy"  Video  Dennis Jernigan

"We Will Remember"  Video  Triumphant Quartet

For local readers: This coming Sunday evening, July 25, The Triumphant Quartet will be in Lebanon, PA for the Music In The Park summer concert series. See here for info. This is a free concert! (A free-will offering is received)

Finally today:
Grover DeVault 7/16/17
Yesterday, prior to our church service, I visited for a few minutes with Grover DeVault, a longtime chaplain friend. Grover has had a long season of ministry as an Army chaplain and professor at Lancaster Bible College. He was the State Police chaplain during the time of the Amish schoolhouse shootings ten years ago and continues to enjoy effective ministry to both the police officers and Amish families. See this article.

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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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