Other Things – Pt. 1
My mind today has been racing. Racing to figure out all my “how to”(-s).
- How do I start making enough money to replace my car?
- How do I reconcile the difference I have with those I love?
- How can I face the future when today alone seems so uncertain and overwhelming?
I know the typical “Christian” answer…”Just trust God brother…“. Yes, and I agree with that, but how?
How do I get from theory to fact?
How do I get from active worry and anxiety to genuine trust and rest.
Well, I know to look to Jesus because He is the author and the developer of my trust in Him. This is not just a generalized truth – it is also specific. He will “author” & “develop” trust in my heart in Him* concerning every area of my life, including the ones which troubled my mind in the early hours of this day.
“Come to Me, all you toiling and burdened ones, and *I* will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me; for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For it is good to bear My yoke, and My burden is light.” – Matt. 11:28-30 Weymouth
Man! What an invitation! But, what is He actually saying?
Jesus here tells us to take His yoke upon us. Well, what was His yoke? For that matter – what IS a yoke?
A yoke was a device used to attach two beasts of burden to pull a load.
Notice two things:
- A yoke does not signify the work TO BE DONE, but merely the method BY which it is done.
- A yoke is not worn ALONE.
How then did Jesus DO His work? Jesus said many times that He did nothing, spoke nothing and in fact COULD do nothing without His Father.
“In most solemn truth I tell you,” replied Jesus, “that the Son can do nothing of Himself–He can only do what He sees the Father doing; for whatever He does, that the Son does in like manner.” – John 5:19
“I can of my own self do nothing. As I am bidden, so I judge; and Mine is a just judgement, because it is not My Own will that guides Me, but the will of Him Who sent Me.” – John 5:30
John Wesley commented on this,
Joh 5:19 “The Son can do nothing of Himself – This is not His imperfection, but His glory, resulting from His eternal, intimate, indissoluble unity with the Father. Hence it is absolutely impossible, that the Son should judge, will, testify, or teach any thing without the Father, John 5:30, &; John 6:38; John 7:16; or that He should be known or believed on, separately from the Father.”
So in Matthew 11:28-30, Jesus is offering to remove your current yoke and join Him in His. This is His answer to everything! Jesus is inviting us into intimacy with the Father. Take My yoke upon you is an invitation to walk as He walked – in total union with the Father – by the agency of the Holy Spirit. Furthermore, Jesus is telling us that intimacy, union – oneness with the Father is the answer to the burden you have been carrying. Notice the context of this verse. Jesus had been verbally rebuking the unbelief* and unchanged thinking (un-repentance) ** of the people in the cities in which He had done the greatest miracles. He had showed them the Father and they chose to ignore the invitation.
“All things have been handed over to Me by my Father, and no one fully knows the Son except the Father, nor does any one fully know the Father except the Son and all to whom the Son chooses to reveal Him. Come to Me, all you toiling and burdened ones, and *I* will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me; for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For it is good to bear My yoke, and My burden is light.” – Matt 11:25-30
Perhaps the greatest part of the yoke is the learning. Jesus said, “Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me“.
What then will He teach me? “….for I am gentle and lowly in heart”.
Teaching us to be gentle and lowly of heart means that Jesus will draw you away from “control” and into reliance. Jesus was not haughty. He did not look to Himself as a source, but instead emptied Himself1 of Himself and became submissive, offering agreement without protest to the Father. He allowed the Father to live through Him. In this case and throughout His entire earthly ministry, Jesus was the branch and the Father was His vine. By Him, Jesus bore much fruit!
This is the invitation and it always has been.
Remember, the preceding statement was that Jesus was going to reveal the Father to whomever He chose. THEN He called to you and I, inviting us to come and assume His way of living and doing. To walk with Him, sharing His yoke of humility and submission. Allowing the Father to live His life in and through us both!
What did Jesus say would be the result of this union? “…and you will find rest for your souls.”.
Today, stress is directly related to more illnesses and deaths than any other single contributing factor! Unfortunately this is just as true in Christ’s body as in the world. In fact, I have heard of studies, which reveal that in some ways, Christians are worse. I personally believe that to be true, because there can be no more miserable person in the world than one who has intimacy with the Father available to them and in fact, given to them as a desire in their hearts by the Holy Spirit (Phil. 2:13) – but will not allow themselves to enter into the fellowship of that union by trusting Him.
Going at life as though you were not one with Him, is to live a lie!
Yes I called it a lie! An insidious lie that will eat at the child of God like a cancer.
When we act as though we must look to ourselves as our own source for strength, self-worth, basic needs, inwards and outward safety and security- we become an island unto ourselves and isolate ourselves from the God Who loves us and gave Himself for us. We become strangers to His influence (grace) though He is immediately with and within every one of us who are His children. This would be bad enough, but in addition to this we actually become a temple divided against ourselves, bringing all kinds of destruction upon ourselves within our lives. We CANNOT live separated from our vine without deep and profound consequences! These are not necessarily punishments from God – they are the unavoidable results of choosing to live independent of Him, which is a punishment of its own.
There is far more to say along these lines but let me leave you with some closing thoughts and scriptures to ponder.
I titled this “Other Things” because my actions and worries this morning demonstrated a forfeit of intimate union with Christ brought about by allowing “other things” into my mental view screen for consideration. By “other things” I am referencing a statement made by our Lord when He was teaching about our responsiveness to His Word within us. We often call it the “Parable of the Sower and the Seed“.
Jesus said, that the Word was the seed and it is sown in the hearts of man. It has been sowed in my heart! However, you would not have known that this morning by looking at me. Jesus said that the fruit of the Word sown into our lives is dependent upon the heart of the individual in which is was sown. If you will remember there were 4 heart “types”. These were not intended to be hard and rigid categories, but generalizations which characterize our tendencies as human beings. Today my heart was disloyal to Him. It breaks my heart, just as it should. That might surprise you that I would say this, but it is true nonetheless. If I were to “consider” another woman other than my wife, what does God call that but adultery. “But I tell you that whoever looks at a woman and cherishes lustful thoughts has already in his heart become guilty with regard to her.” – Matt 5:28 [Weymouth] The same is true when we befriend the world and its way of thinking and being as though it were our alley.
“You unfaithful women, do you not know that friendship with the world means enmity to God? Therefore whoever is bent on being friendly with the world makes himself an enemy to God. Or do you suppose that it is to no purpose that the Scripture says, “The Spirit which He has caused to dwell in our hearts yearns jealously over us”? But He gives more abundant grace, as is implied in His saying, “GOD SETS HIMSELF AGAINST THE HAUGHTY, BUT TO THE LOWLY HE GIVES GRACE.” – James 4:4-6.
If it were not for the grace mentioned in the verse above, I would not be in the state of mind to write this encouragement to you now.
You might ask, “what did you do?” I considered something – other than Him. As I was looking at my life, I began to consider the despair that sometimes creeps in due to wondering about choices made, thoughts of defeat concerning being able to provide well for my wife, how uncertain I am about where my life is heading and therefore where I am dragging my precious bride…etc.
You might say, “That doesn’t sound like bad concerns to me?” Well, if initial concern was all it was – it wouldn’t be bad. What was bad was the context in which I was pondering them. My thoughts were of me – what “I” had done or failed to do, what “I” need to do to change things. I was the man with the heart, which was designed for God alone, but decided to share its acreage with such mundane concerns such as “the cares of this world, the deceitfulness of riches and the desires for other things”. Concerning things like this God encourages us,
“For this reason I say to you, ‘Dismiss all anxious care for your lives, inquiring what you are to eat, and for your bodies, what you are to put on.’ For life is a greater gift than food, and the body is a greater gift than clothing. Observe the ravens. They neither sow nor reap, and have neither store-chamber nor barn. And yet God feeds them. How far more precious are you than the birds! And which of you is able by anxious thought to add a moment to his life? If then you are unable to do even a very little thing, why be over-anxious about other matters?” – Luke 12:22-26
His promises are sure! He said if I would seek first His Kingdom and right standing with Him in it (which is found in reliance upon Christ and not in a effort of our flesh to try harder), He would add all the “things” to me which I need.
Furthermore He says,
“Now there is great gain in godliness with contentment, for we brought nothing into the world, and we cannot take anything out of the world. But if we have food and clothing, with these we will be content. But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation, into a snare, into many senseless and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction.” – I Tim. 6:6-9
Here God tells us with what we should be content. Not getting caught up in the world’s rat race to own and possess.
“Don’t be conformed to this world but be transformed by the renovation of your thinking” – Rom. 12:2**
“Share in suffering as a good soldier of Christ Jesus. No soldier gets entangled in civilian pursuits or the affairs (business) of this life, since his aim is to please the One Who enlisted him.” – II Tim. 2:3-4.
Finally He tells us the source of our contentment,
“Your lives should be untainted by love for money. Be content with what you have; for God Himself has said, “I WILL NEVER, NEVER LET GO YOUR HAND: I WILL NEVER NEVER FORSAKE YOU.” So that we fearlessly say, “THE LORD IS MY HELPER; I WILL NOT BE AFRAID: WHAT CAN MAN DO TO ME?” – Heb. 13:5-6.
God encourages us to be content with what we have, because what we have – is Him!
written by Mark Woodson 2010