Matthew 11:29-30 (AMP)
Take My yoke upon you and learn of Me, for I am gentle (meek) and humble (lowly) in heart, and you will find rest (relief and ease and refreshment and recreation and blessed quiet) for your souls. For My yoke is wholesome (useful, good—not harsh, hard, sharp, or pressing, but comfortable, gracious, and pleasant), and My burden is light and easy to be borne.
Why all the pressure? Like a sealed cooker about to explode, why do believers feels such pressure and stress in life when we are promised peace that passes all understanding and inexpressible joy? Yet it seems in every day and every way possible the pressures of life bear heavily upon us. Jesus invited us to take His Yoke. The word “yoke” immediately looks like a heavy wooden piece of equipment used to tie two stubborn animals with a tremendous burden. It will make the two fall into step and move according to their master’s direction. It sounds like bondage. Jesus came to set us free. How does exchanging one oppressive weight for another release us from anything at but just adds to the constant pressure that we are already under? Jesus has promised to teach us gentleness and a humble heart. Have you seen what this world does t such people? They are preyed upon and taken advantage of in such a vulnerable state. He promises that those who decide to live with a gentle and humble heart will find rest. Not just any kind of rest, but relief, ease, refreshment, recreation and blessed quiet beginning in our souls. His Yoke is wholesome. What is wholesomeness? It is useful and good. It is not harsh, hard, sharp or pressing – well that doesn’t make sense when I feel pressed to be found faithful and obedient. Why the contradiction? His Yoke is comfortable, gracious and pleasant. It is light and easy to bear. Why the contradiction between living a life joined, coupled and untied to Jesus Christ and the life that we actually life? Where does one find relief from the constant pressures of life? Could it be that as human beings filled with sin makes us in apparent opposition to wholesome living that is conducive to moral and general well-being? Maybe it is the sinful nature that is struggling to stay alive? What is the point of such pressure and how does one find relief?
Colossians 2:13-15 (AMP)
And you who were dead in trespasses and in the uncircumcision of your flesh (your sensuality, your sinful carnal nature), [God] brought to life together with [Christ], having [freely] forgiven us all our transgressions, having cancelled and blotted out and wiped away the handwriting of the note (bond) with its legal decrees and demands which was in force and stood against us (hostile to us). This [note with its regulations, decrees, and demands] He set aside and cleared completely out of our way by nailing it to [His] cross. [God] disarmed the principalities and powers that were ranged against us and made a bold display and public example of them, in triumphing over them in Him and in it [the cross].
Our sinful nature is at odds with our spirit at all times. God brought us to a new way of living with Jesus Christ due to our forgiveness for ALL our transgressions, we are not to pursue righteousness and have abundant life. God’s Purpose in offering His Son, Jesus was that we would not just be spared from death but would have abundant life that was overflowing. (John 10:10) It is not a do it yourself plan but a total commitment to live in alignment with Jesus Christ knowing that He is the Way, Truth and Life. (John 14:5-6) Our flesh has a problem with that because in order to become a believer – our flesh must die and give way to the Spirit of God within us. This is the conflicted pressure that we feel every day. God disarmed the principalities and powers that were at war against us. Jesus overcame the world and everything in it. It is up to you and me to overcome our flesh and sinful nature.
Matthew 7:13-14 (AMP)
Enter through the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and spacious and broad is the way that leads away to destruction, and many are those who are entering through it. But the gate is narrow (contracted by pressure) and the way is straitened and compressed that leads away to life, and few are those who find it.
Righteousness is God’s Immediate Response when we call on the Name of Jesus Christ, repent of our sins, and ask for salvation making Jesus our Savior and Lord. It is in that moment that we are allowed access to close proximity with the Lord and position our self in the Presence of God. However, whether or not we maintain it is completely and totally up to us. God has a plan and purpose for our life. There is a definite outcome to obedience that is vastly different to the random circumstances of our rebellion. Obedience to His Will, Way and Word by walking the narrow road will produce expected results in our life. Surprises will be things that are more than we could think or ask. “Blessed (happy, fortunate, prosperous, and enviable) is the man who walks and lives not in the counsel of the ungodly…but his delight and desire are in the law of the Lord, and on His law (the precepts, the instructions, the teachings of God) he habitually meditates (ponders and studies) by day and by night.” (Psalm 1:1-2) Godliness (god-likeness), holiness and righteousness born of obedience produces prosperity, promises and blessing from the Lord in our life. It is our inheritance so although we cannot earn it, it belongs to us. We must only find our way home to have it.
Romans 7:18-22 (AMP)
For I know that nothing good dwells within me, that is, in my flesh. I can will what is right, but I cannot perform it. [I have the intention and urge to do what is right, but no power to carry it out.] For I fail to practice the good deeds I desire to do, but the evil deeds that I do not desire to do are what I am [ever] doing. Now if I do what I do not desire to do, it is no longer I doing it [it is not myself that acts], but the sin [principle] which dwells within me [fixed and operating in my soul]. So I find it to be a law (rule of action of my being) that when I want to do what is right and good, evil is ever present with me and I am subject to its insistent demands. For I endorse and delight in the Law of God in my inmost self [with my new nature].
Oh how I relate to these passages of Paul. I struggle every day with my flesh and sinful nature. It is our sinful nature that is the obstacle of oppression that keeps us from experiencing the benefits of being yoked to Jesus Christ. It keeps us from surrender and submission to the Lord and fights for control of our mind, soul and body in every way possible. Our flesh has no interest in becoming a living sacrifice because it must pay the ultimate price. Surrender is for losers after all. Submission is only for the weak. No my friend, when it comes to living a life on the narrow road and choosing the Highway of Holiness such concepts allow us to live in full agreement and alignment with the Word, Will and Way of God through the Grace and Mercy provided by Jesus Christ. Those who choose rebellion cannot be yoked to Christ. They will go nowhere because both are headed in opposite directions. Jesus has no interest in darkness. He is the Light. The Lord is not going to walk in evil for He is only good! Something is going to have to give under the constant pressure – it will either be you submitting your life to Jesus Christ or choosing to remove the yoke (partnership and unification) with Jesus Christ to rebel and walk away. Pressure, stress and worry are not indicative of His Yoke that affords peace and rest in our mind, soul and body. If you are not experiencing such a life, a change must be made. Here’s hint: God does not change. He does not life or change His Mind so it will have to be you!
Proverbs 16:2-7 (AMP)
All the ways of a man are pure in his own eyes, but the Lord weighs the spirits (the thoughts and intents of the heart). Roll your works upon the Lord [commit and trust them wholly to Him; He will cause your thoughts to become agreeable to His will, and] so shall your plans be established and succeed. The Lord has made everything [to accommodate itself and contribute] to its own end and His own purpose—even the wicked [are fitted for their role] for the day of calamity and evil. Everyone proud and arrogant in heart is disgusting, hateful, and exceedingly offensive to the Lord; be assured [I pledge it] they will not go unpunished. By mercy and love, truth and fidelity [to God and man—not by sacrificial offerings], iniquity is purged out of the heart, and by the reverent, worshipful fear of the Lord men depart from and avoid evil. When a man’s ways please the Lord, He makes even his enemies to be at peace with him.
The only way to experience all the benefits of our salvation is to live a life in agreement to Jesus Christ. You do not have to do it, but must if you desire the fullness of abundant life that you have been promised. We must roll all our works upon the Lord committed to wholly trusting Him with the burden of our life living in agreement to His Will in order to have His Plans established in our life. If we choose to live in agreement with the Lord it means releasing our way and we are no longer hindered in our pursuit of Jesus Christ. We are released from the constant pressure of opposition to the Kingdom of God to live in the benefits and blessings of citizenship. As we surrender more of our life to Christ allowing our heart to be molded and shaped into something useful by submission, we can expect God’s Promises and Blessings to be found each new day. We must give up our own way willingly to be yoked to Jesus Christ.
Romans 5:2-4 (AMP)
Through Him also we have [our] access (entrance, introduction) by faith into this grace (state of God’s favor) in which we [firmly and safely] stand. And let us rejoice and exult in our hope of experiencing and enjoying the glory of God. Moreover [let us also be full of joy now!] let us exult and triumph in our troubles and rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that pressure and affliction and hardship produce patient and unswerving endurance. And endurance (fortitude) develops maturity of character (approved faith and tried integrity). And character [of this sort] produces [the habit of] joyful and confident hope of eternal salvation.
When oxen are first yoked it is their nature to struggle and strive against the weight and restriction of the device. As they fall into step with the other beast of burden, they begin to move together and learn to stay in step until they become fully obedient to their master. This is not the type of obedience that the Lord is offering. He has a plan and purpose for our life that is good with a future and hope. He gave us Eternity in our heart. (Ecclesiastes 3:11) Life in agreement with Jesus Christ forces us to endure and suffer affliction and pressure at times to be transformed. It is human nature to give up or give in to pressure. But that will not produce what you are after. God wants His Glory to pour out of our life. God’s Glory is expressed in His Love and Favor being poured out of your life to others around you. (2 Corinthians 4:7-9) The pressure in our life once we are yoked to Jesus Christ allows us to stick it out on the narrow road in full obedience and uncompromising righteousness even in the midst of overwhelming pressure, tremendous hardship and long lasting pain because we see past this life to the fulfilment of a solid partnership with Jesus Christ. As we mature, we prosper. To prosper literally means to come to maturity. Maturity is a sign of approved faith and tried integrity that release the Blessings of Abraham in our life. We become patient and unswerving in times of trial and testing knowing that God’s Glory outweighs any random outcome that we can produce. This kind of character produces habitual joy, confident hope, and peace that passes all understanding. Don’t grow impatient in the process of maturity that you are in today. When was the last time you saw a plow carried by two animals yoked together? I have only seen a few but each time I have seen them they were not running through the field but slowing making progress along their way. You will be required to follow the Lord’s leading every step of the way as He works to perfect the details of your life and to produce the harvest that you have been waiting for.
Philippians 3:8-10 (AMP)
Yes, furthermore, I count everything as loss compared to the possession of the priceless privilege (the overwhelming preciousness, the surpassing worth, and supreme advantage) of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord and of progressively becoming more deeply and intimately acquainted with Him [of perceiving and recognizing and understanding Him more fully and clearly]. For His sake I have lost everything and consider it all to be mere rubbish (refuse, dregs), in order that I may win (gain) Christ (the Anointed One), and that I may [actually] be found and known as in Him, not having any [self-achieved] righteousness that can be called my own, based on my obedience to the Law’s demands (ritualistic uprightness and supposed right standing with God thus acquired), but possessing that [genuine righteousness] which comes through faith in Christ (the Anointed One), the [truly] right standing with God, which comes from God by [saving] faith. [For my determined purpose is] that I may know Him [that I may progressively become more deeply and intimately acquainted with Him, perceiving and recognizing and understanding the wonders of His Person more strongly and more clearly], and that I may in that same way come to know the power outflowing from His resurrection [[a]which it exerts over believers], and that I may so share His sufferings as to be continually transformed [in spirit into His likeness even] to His death, [in the hope]
It is time to cut our losses and ties to this world to fully submit and surrender our lives to Jesus Christ. This is not a radical decision marked by an impetuous nature but a methodical step by step surrender to the Lord’s leading each and every day. It is to find the value of submission and defeat the calling of our flesh to retreat and rebel against Jesus and His Way today. It is not an easy task but a total commitment of our life to the narrow road marked before us. You do not have to follow God’s Way and you do not have to have His Blessing. This is the choice that you make each day when you decide to move closer to Christ or take a step back. The pressure will not subside because you backed off but only intensive as the cry of your heart for Eternity remains unanswered. You will not be released because you fully conceded either as God works to express His Glory in our life from the inside out. Constant pressure is a part of every person’s life. Our response to the constant pressure is what dictates the results. So much for random living, now is a good time to choose uncompromising righteousness that leads to radical obedience which expresses God’s Glory in our life with expected outcomes, precious promises and overflowing blessings from the inside out!
Philippians 3:12-14 (AMP)
Not that I have now attained [this ideal], or have already been made perfect, but I press on to lay hold of (grasp)and make my own, that for which Christ Jesus (the Messiah) has laid hold of me and made me His own. I do not consider, brethren, that I have captured and made it my own [yet]; but one thing I do [it is my one aspiration]: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the [supreme and heavenly] prize to which God in Christ Jesus is calling us upward.