February 23

Exodus 34:14 (NIV) 14Do not worship any other god, for the LORD, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God.

We run into trouble when we think of God as we would think of man. That is all we have to relate to, other humans. With the exception of Jesus' physical life, all human comparisons with God's character are flawed. When we read this passage, at first, we may think of jealousy is an unholy quality. That would be thinking as if God was like man. He is not. He is utterly holy. We can understand Him calling Himself a jealous God if we consider His other attributes.

His jealousy is out of a holy heart of real love. Since we are dedicated to Him as His bride, He longs to see us uncompromisingly dedicated to Him. His desires are entirely pure and unselfish. The motivation of His jealousy is His genuine love that knows His ways are best for us. He wants to see us made into a pure and spotless bride.

The same word for jealous in Hebrew can be translated zealous. God has a great zeal to see us transformed into the image of Christ. It is out of His great love that we see this jealousy, or zealousness, in God. It is hard to fathom that Someone so great could love us so much. We, in proper response, should allow our love for Him to flourish. We should be zealous about Him as well. We should also be sensitive to times when something may be competing for our love for Him. It is not a good idea to arouse His jealousy. It is there for our good.

Meditate on the zealous love of God for you. Is there something that is competing for your love for Him?

February 23

Matthew 11:28-30 (NIV) 28"Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. 29Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30For my yoke is easy and my burden is light."

Has life worn you out? Tired of trying to get it all done? Tired of trying to please God, feed your family, help a friend, and take care of the million little demanding details that life can be full of? Go to Jesus! He will give you rest. Take His yoke upon you and learn from Him.

Yokes are usually for a tandem pair of oxen. Younger oxen would often plow with the older experienced ones. Imagine yoking up with Jesus. Talk about experience! He went through it all without sin. He can teach you how to plow through life. Yoked to Him, you will learn from Him. He is gentle and humble in heart. No better qualities could you find in a teacher. He won't get on your case because you didn't get it right the first time. He gently instructs and directs. Learning from Him is a place of rest for your soul. That means your thoughts, emotions, and impending decisions can all rest in His perfect instruction.

Yoked together with Jesus you will see that God has it all under control. He teaches us to trust in the Father and act at His leading. When we do that, everything comes out best in the long run. We can trust in His wonderful knowledge about all things and His power to do anything. That makes the yoke feel light and the load we pull easy. He plowed this path before us and broke up the soil we could never have pulled the plow through. Now we pull the plow through the furrow that He already plowed for us. Just stay in the yoke with Him. Don't go trying to plow another field in another yoke. You'll find that without Him, you can do nothing. The yoke will be unbearably heavy and the burden unmovable. Which yoke are you under? Which burden are you pulling?

Consider: If the yoke is unbearably heavy, it must not be Jesus' yoke.