Being Yoked To Jesus
Matthew 11:28-30 “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”
Yokes were made of wood with two hollowed out sections on the bottom portion that rested on the necks of oxen, which used to plow or to draw a cart. Figuratively, a yoke symbolized servitude or submission. Jesus is admonishing us to submit ourselves to Him, for true rest comes from serving Him – not ourselves.
A new ox was often trained for plowing or drawing a cart by yoking him with an experienced ox. The yoke kept the young ox from “doing his own thing” and he soon learned obedience to his master. In like manner, we are to commit ourselves to being yoked to Jesus. “… it is not in man that walketh to direct his steps.”, Jeremiah 10:23. Therefore, we have to “bear the yoke in our youth”, Lamentations 3:27, if we want to become mature Christians. The comparison ends at this point, though. Unlike the, sometimes, harsh treatment oxen are given to bring them into subjection, Jesus is “meek and lowly in heart,” and wins us by love. Jesus pulls more than His “share” of the load; therefore, our burden is light.
The most loving father in the world cannot compare with the love our Heavenly Father has for us. And yet, many times we find it easier to believe in the willingness of a father or mother or mate to help us than in the willingness of God to use His power on our behalf. Relatively few people really doubt God’s ability, but rather, it is our doubt of His willingness to use His ability on our behalf that causes most people to do without. Jesus assures us that God’s love, and His willingness to demonstrate that love, is far greater than we can ever experience in any human relationship. Not only does He want our love, but wants you to let Him love you today.
God Or Man Pleasers
John 5:43-44 “I am come in my Father’s name, and ye receive me not: if another shall come in his own name, him ye will receive. How can ye believe, which receive honour one of another, and seek not the honour that cometh from God only?”
This is in reference to the fact that Jesus came in the power and authority of His father to point men to Father God. Jesus existed before His advent on this earth in the form of God and was equal with God. Yet, He humbled Himself and became a servant while here on earth, Philippians 2:6-8.
He did not come to promote Himself but to give His life to provide the way to the Father, John 14:6. In the same way, the Holy Spirit does not exalt Himself, but points all men unto Jesus. Jesus came, meek and lowly, totally submitted unto and seeking only to please the Father.
This is radically different from the way so called “great men” present themselves. The Roman Caesar of Jesus’ day proclaimed that he was God and demanded worship. Lesser leaders ruled by exalting themselves over the people they governed; but, Jesus showed us that “whosoever will be great among you, let him be your minister; and whosoever will be chief among you, let him be your servant: even as the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many” , Matthew 20:26-28.
If we are concerned about what people think in an attempt to gain their approval (or honor), we will never take a stand in faith for anything that might be criticized. This one thing has probably stopped as many people from receiving from God as anything else. You cannot be a “man-pleaser” and please God at the same time. Commit your all to Him – every thought, word, and deed
God’s Kind Of Love
Matthew 8:9-10 “For I am a man under authority, having soldiers under me: and I say to this man, Go, and he goeth; and to another, Come, and he cometh; and to my servant, Do this, and he doeth it. When Jesus heard it he marvelled, and said to them that followed, Verily I say unto you, I have not found so great faith, no, not in Israel.”
There were only two things in all of scripture that caused Jesus to marvel. They were (1) the Centurion’s faith and (2) the Jews’ unbelief, Mark 6:6. A faith that made Jesus, who is the author and finisher of our faith, marvel is worth examining. This centurion believed that the spoken word of Jesus was sufficient to produce his miracle. He didn’t need Jesus to come to his house. He had faith in Jesus’ word. Therefore, we can see that the person who simply believes the written Word of God is operating in a much higher form of faith than those who require additional proof. Compare this centurion’s faith with the “little” faith of Thomas in John 20:24-29!
Thomas refused to believe what He couldn’t see or feel. Our five senses were given to us by God and are necessary to help us function in this life. But if we do not renew our minds to acknowledge the limits of the five senses, they will keep us from believing. Faith can perceive things that the senses cannot, Hebrews 11:1.
The type of faith that Thomas operated in was a human or natural faith that was based on what he could see. Jesus said there was a greater blessing to be obtained. That greater blessing comes from using a supernatural, God-kind of faith that is based only on God’s Word.
Jesus and God’s Word are one, John 1:1, 14. Believing God’s Word is not just putting your trust in some printed words on the pages of a book we call the Bible. There is much more involved. It is a relationship with a person, the person behind the words. Get to know Him through His Word.
More Than Just Sowing And Reaping
LUKE 6:38 “Give, and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall men give into your bosom. For with the same measure that ye mete withal it shall be measured to you again.”
This verse reveals one of God’s cardinal laws that will work in the spiritual realm, as well as the physical world. Just as we “give” seed into the ground to receive back multiple seeds, so it is with everything we give. Whether it’s money, possessions, an emotion such as love or hate, prayers, or our time, we will reap a harvest of whatever we give. We reap exactly what we sow and proportional to the same measure that we give, Galatians 6:7-8.
“…He which soweth sparingly shall reap also sparingly; and he which soweth bountifully shall reap also bountifully.”, 2 Corinthians 9:6. This law works on positive or negative things that we sow.
Although this is an unchangeable law of God, it can be overcome by a greater law in much the same way that we can escape the law of gravity by using the greater laws of thrust and lift. The negative things we have given don’t have to come back to us if we apply the greater law of forgiveness, 1 John 1:9. Likewise, the good things we have sown can be voided if we don’t continue in well doing, Galatians 6:9.
God is our source, but God uses people. If we pray for finances, God is not going to make counterfeit currency and put it into your wallet. He will use people to get the money to you. So, it is not always as simple as praying for money and receiving it the next minute. We need to believe the Lord hears and answers our prayers, and then pray for the people He’s going to use to deliver the answer. This could mean any number of people such as our employer and the people who buy our goods. Ultimately God is your source, trust Him.
Let Christ Live Through Us
Matthew 9:9 “And as Jesus passed forth from thence, he saw a man, named Matthew, sitting at the receipt of custom: and he saith unto him, Follow me. And he arose, and followed him.”
To “follow” means to come or go after; move behind in the same direction; to come or go with; to accept the guidance or leadership of; to adhere to the cause or principles of; to be governed by; obey; comply with, John 10:27-29; Romans 10:9-10, 13.
When a person first comes to Jesus, it is impossible to know everything that following Jesus entails. No one, however, should be fearful of making a total commitment because of some imagined problem that may never come to pass. There should be a willingness to forsake everything to follow Jesus. Once we make that decision, then Christ begins to live through us and we find a strength that is not our own, equal to whatever test we may encounter, Galatians 2:20.
It is Christ living through us that is the secret of victorious Christian living. It is not us living for Jesus, but Jesus living through us. Failure to understand this simple truth is at the root of all legalism and the performance mentality. The law focuses on the outer man and tells it what it must do. Grace focuses on the inner man and tells it what is already done through Christ. Those who are focused on what they must do are under law. Those who are focused on what Christ has done for them are walking under grace.
Just as the life of a root is found in the soil, or a branch in the vine, or a fish in the sea, so the believer’s true life is found to be in union with Christ. The Christian life is not just hard to live, it’s impossible in our human strength. The only way to walk in victory is to let Christ live through us
Faith That Is Seen
Mark 2:5 “When Jesus saw their faith, he said unto the sick of the palsy, Son, thy sins be forgiven thee.”
Faith can be seen. Just as Jesus explained to Nicodemus in John 3:8, faith is like the wind. Faith itself is invisible, but saving faith is always accompanied by corresponding actions which can be seen, James 2:17-26.
It was not only the faith of the paralytic that Jesus saw, but also that of his four friends, Mark 2:3. This demonstrates the effect our intercession in faith can have upon others. Jesus saw their faith. However, although our faith released on behalf of others is powerful, it is not a substitute for their faith. It is simply a help. The person who is to receive the miracle must have some degree of faith, also. Even Jesus could not produce healing in those who would not believe, Mark 6:5-6. In this instance, it is evident that the paralytic himself also had faith because he was not resistant to the four who brought him; and he got up and obeyed Jesus’ command (v. 7) without having to be helped.
Why did Jesus minister forgiveness of sins to this man instead of meeting the obvious need he had of healing? God is more concerned with the spiritual health of a man than his physical health. Or, Jesus, through a word of knowledge, may have perceived that the real heart-cry of this man was to be reconciled to God. In some instances (not all – John 9:2-3), sickness was a direct result of sin. Therefore, Jesus would be dealing with the very root of the paralysis. Whether or not this man’s paralysis was a direct result of sin, sin in our life (that has not been forgiven) will allow Satan to keep us in his bondage. Through Jesus’ act of forgiving this man’s sins, the paralytic was free to receive all the blessings of God, which certainly included healing.
The point Jesus is making is that both forgiveness of sins and the healing of the paralytic are humanly impossible. If Jesus could do one of these things, He could do the other. He then healed the paralytic showing that He did, indeed, have the authority to forgive sins. In Jesus’ day, the people were more inclined to accept His willingness to heal than they were to accept His forgiveness of sins without the keeping of the law. Today, the church world basically accepts forgiveness of sins, but doubts His willingness to heal. They were never
Matthew 6:7 “But when ye pray, use not vain repetitions, as the heathen do: for they think that they shall be heard for their much speaking.”
Some of the most effective prayers are the shortest prayers. Jesus said, “Peace, be still,” and the wind and the waves ceased, Mark 4:39. He said, “Lazarus, come forth,” and Lazarus came back from the dead, John 11:43-44.
Today, there is a new emphasis on the quantity of prayer instead of the quality of prayer. Jesus never advocated long prayers, and there are only a few instances where Jesus prayed long prayers. This is not to say that communion with God is not important. It certainly is, but formal prayer is only one part of our communion with the Lord.
Psalm 5:1-2 uses the words “pray” and “meditation” interchangeably. Therefore, communing with God through keeping your mind stayed on the things of the Lord is also prayer. There are also times in prayer when we need to be still and know that God is God, Psalm 46:10.
Many times we ask the Lord to speak to us, but He can’t get a word in “edge-wise.” We’re doing all the talking.
The Best Defense
Matthew 5:39 “But I say unto you, That ye resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also.”
Which would you rather have – God defending you, or you defending yourself? That’s the choice that Jesus is offering us here. “Turning the other cheek” is not a prescription for abuse but rather the way to get the Lord involved in your defense.
Many people feel that these instructions of Jesus guarantee that others will take advantage of us. That would be true if there was no God. But when we follow these commands of Jesus, the Lord is on our side. He said in Romans 12:19, “Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord.”
When we fight back, we are drawing on our own strength. But when we turn the other cheek, we are invoking God as our defense. Once we understand this, it becomes obvious that these instructions are for our own good.
James 1:20 says that the wrath of man does not accomplish the righteousness of God. Regardless of how appropriate our anger may seem, and regardless of how we think our wrath could make a person or situation change, we will never achieve God’s best that way.
When we defend ourselves, we stop God from defending us. It has to be one way or the other. It cannot be both ways. When we turn the other cheek to our enemies, we are loosing the power of God on our behalf. Let God defend you today.
Only The Hungry Are Fed
Matthew 5:6, “Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled.”
In the natural world, people eat even when they aren’t hungry. Many of us can prove that by turning sideways and looking at ourselves in the mirror. But in the spiritual realm, only those who are hungry can get fed. One of the worst things that can happen to us is spiritual complacency.
Being hungry for the things of God is one of the best things that can happen to us. Most people don’t feel that way. They would rather have the feeling of being full. But Jesus promised us that fullness would follow hunger. No hunger, no fullness.
Therefore, what many people hate is actually a sign of spiritual health. Longing for more of God is a healthy sign. No one hungers for God on their own. That is not the nature of man. No man hungers for God unless the Spirit of God is drawing him, John 6:44.
Hungering for God doesn’t cause God to move in our lives, but it is a sign that God is already at work in us. We should praise God for spiritual hunger and be encouraged. He doesn’t make us hungry and then let us starve. He does so in order to fill us with His blessings and love. We need a hunger that will never be satisfied until the marriage supper of the Lamb.