Jesus said, “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” (Matthew 11:29-30 KJV). Why then, do people put burdens on themselves and make life difficult? When people place burdens on themselves in the name of being a “better Christian,” they become religious or even self-righteous. They place self-imposed standards of holiness on themselves that they cannot possibly live up to, especially in their own efforts. While having the desire to have a deeper relationship with God and to serve Him well is wonderful, the methods people choose to get there may not be so wonderful.
It is easy to make a vow or resolution at some watermark event. Hence, there’s the proverbial New Year’s Resolution because it represents a “new beginning.” For others, it might be a conference or even something catastrophic that brings hardship. Whatever represents some new beginning can also be the start of a new burden that should not be borne. It is ironic that Jesus can set people free of the yoke of bondage, only to have some put an even heavier one on their own neck. Religious bondage is not freedom. So what is the solution? Relationship.
The interesting thing about faith is that is starts the relationship with God and it requires a relationship with Him in order to function. Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God (see Romans 10:17). Rhema is the Greek used for “Word,” which denotes the spoken word, and what can be uttered in speech and writing. More specifically, it refers to what the Holy Spirit speaks to us, in spoken or written form. This verse carries a least a couple of applications. One is that it refers to when a person hears the Gospel, the Holy Spirit breaths on the message, a person receives it and enters into the relationship by calling on the Name of Jesus. Another application is that in order to walk by faith there has to be interaction with God. Jesus said that, “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every Word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God” (Matthew 4:4). That means in order to do something by faith, we have to hear from God first, and that means what we do should be the result of the relationship.
Here’s the key: faith works by love (see Galatians 5:6). That means the first step in walking by faith is walking in love. Love will fulfill all those resolutions people make without the religion. Love absolutely destroys the yoke of bondage. For example, someone might make a resolution to be more obedient to the Lord. In his mind he has an idea of what that looks like. Pray more; in fact, get up early to pray. Go to church more, read the Bible more, and of course, don’t cuss. It becomes some kind of religious list of dos and don’ts. When we grasp what obedience really means, it may be easier to fulfill. Obedience is the intent to believe what God says and conform to His desires out of love. In other words, obedience requires love to be genuine.
If a person does things out of self-imposed compulsion or even as the result of pressure from others, it will not take very long before failure soon follows. Resentment and feelings of unworthiness will come along for the ride as well. Then comes another vow to do better and the next thing you know, he is in a vicious cycle. All this “I will do more and I will not do” stuff is nothing more than dead works. They are not faith-based; they are self-generated.
Get back to the relationship through Jesus Christ. Spend time with the Father. Let Him speak to you and simply listen to what He has to say. If He leads you to pray, then pray. If He leads you to do something specific, then do it with gusto as unto the Lord. Please understand that being a disciple of Jesus Christ does require discipline. Meaning, we have to be careful about “not feeling led” simply because we do not feel like it. Relationships sometimes embrace hardship for Love’s sake. The flesh hates discipline and obedience that may require hardship. Because of Love, Jesus endured the Cross. So yes, you may need to have a specific time to meet with God. Sometimes discipline is needed in order to spend time in your Bible and so on. However, in the relationship, the Lord may give you the specific parameters as to the how, what and when aspects. For example, He may lead you as to when you should read your Bible and what you should study. The relationship will actually define the parameters of faith when you walk in love. One last thought: if you are new in Christ Jesus, you do not need a new day to be new because you already are in Him.
Question, for those who barely open your Bibles, what are you afraid of? There is a segment of believers who have open access to the Bible, and in fact, a number of them own several. Nevertheless, that same segment does not treasure those Bibles as the ones who do not even have a page, and in many instances, are in danger of losing their lives if they do manage to obtain one. If you are not in danger of losing your life for having the Word of God, why don’t you read it?
Perhaps for some, there is a fear of death of the old man. Face it, crucifixion can be found in the pages of the Bible. The Word clearly says Scripture is profitable for doctrine, reproof, correction and instruction in righteousness (see 2Timothy 3:16). Doctrine, in this instance, means divine teaching. Sometimes, teaching leads to correction, which in turn leads to the death of the old nature. Conviction comes by the Holy Spirit when He uses Scripture to reveal that we are hanging onto the old nature and need to change the way think (repent). When conviction comes, so does a decision. We all must decide if we are going to deal with what the Lord is revealing to us, or ignore it and go our own merry way. What does the old nature offer that is greater than the things of God?
It is easy to receive those positive words of comfort and love, but can you allow for words of correction? Can you let the Word search your heart? We know that things written in the Bible are to serve as examples. Some are positive and some are negative. For instance, when you read about the idolatry of Israel, do you consider your own heart? Meaning, Do I have any idols? When the Bible talks about people being stubborn and prideful, do you ask yourself, “Am I being stubborn and prideful?” The idea is not to use the Bible to accuse yourself; rather, to allow it to keep things real. When you read about the humility of Jesus, do you ask yourself, “Am I humble?” How do things you read apply to your life? Don’t compare what you read to other people, compare it to the one in the mirror.
Sometimes, the Word of God can really challenge our belief systems. Our belief systems need to be challenged in order for us to reach our full potential. If we do not believe the way Jesus believes, we will find it difficult to navigate in His Kingdom. Sometimes, people love to believe what they believe, and do not want to be challenged. Wrong beliefs hold you back from God’s best for you. That is one reason is it important to study Scripture. Ironically, the Bible true is God’s Love Letter to us, yet some do not see it that way. They actually have issues with God and do not fully believe He is Love; therefore, they find it difficult to believe He has good intentions for them. If they want to continue to believe God does not love them, they need to keep their Bible closed. Why? Because it will completely contradict their belief if they honestly read it. Some people say they don’t have time to read their Bible. Perhaps, change is the issue and not time!
As we close, lets be clear. Not everyone who does not get into the Word as much as they could is afraid of change. As a matter of fact, they want change and that includes how much they read and study. How much a people read their Bible is between them and the Lord. Some struggle with comprehension, and that is where adjustments can be made in a variety of ways. Of course, the first place to go for understanding is the Lord, Who can give us greater revelation through the Holy Spirit. Jesus also gave gifts to the Church which includes teachers who can help us grasp what we read (see Ephesians 4:8-14). With modern technology, such things as audio books and podcasts are readily available. Naturally, they can be valuable to those on the go. Of course, there are a variety of translations that make it easier as well. Even if you do have a difficult time reading, keep reading, even if it is a little bit at a time. Your comprehension will increase as you do. God loves to reveal His Word to those who will diligently search the Scripture. In fact, He loves to take that journey with you because He is your Father. How many parents love to read to their children? Where do you suppose they got that from?
Lying prostrate is a spiritual position that can manifest in the prone position. A person can lay on the floor during praise and worship, but it does necessarily mean he is laying prostrate. If he is not surrendered to God, he is just laying on the floor. A person can be walking down the street and actually be laying prostrate before the Lord as he walks. Meaning, spiritually he is lying prostrate in heaven before God in complete surrender, since we are seated in heavenly places in Christ Jesus (see Ephesians 2:6). We can be sitting on the couch and still be lying prostrate, spiritually.
Jesus gave the Example many times during His earthly ministry. He spent time alone with the Father in the early hours of the day, and in one recorded incident, He prayed an entire night (obviously He probably did it more than once). What was the result? He did what He saw the Father do and said what He heard the Father say. While ministering to people, nowhere do we read that He took special positions to minister or even layed prostrate in a public setting. Yes, sometimes He looked up into heaven, or in other occasions He laid hands on people. He even sat while blessing children. Often He simply spoke a Word. Everything He did was in complete obedience to the Father without pretense. Spiritually, He was prostrate which included when He walked on the water.
Sometimes, directions from the Lord are more discernible when we least expect it. That sounds like an oxymoron, especially when we have been taught to expect to hear from God. That is part of faith (see Romans 10:17). So yes, absolutely believe to hear God speak to you. The issue is overemphasizing a particular area that “requires attention.” The problem arises when we are not in a state of rest. When anxieties takes over, and faith is elusive. Faith required trust, and when we over focus on the issue in front of us, you know that mountain, somehow God is no longer at the forefront. When we lose sight of God, we lose sight of faith.
God is Alpha and Omega, He holds the ending from the beginning. He knows our future because He is already there with it in His hand. He has every answer for every questions there is, and He knows what you need, when you need it. You have to trust Him with answer before He gives it to you. Sometimes, He teaches people to walk in peace in the Holy Spirit by withholding that answer before He gives it to them. Some people will not rest until they know it. That is a big problem. Rest does not come with knowing everything first. It comes with trusting the One Who knows absolutely everything. Some of you will not rest until you have the answer. He can teach you patience in the process. As long as you try to get an answer before you trust Him, it may elude you. What happens if you do not like the answer?
That leads to another issue. What kind of answer are you looking for? The one you want to hear, or the one you need to listen to ? When you are bent on a particular answer because you are determined to have your way, you’re going to have a hard time getting one from God. This operates on at least two plains. One is that if you are not willing to hear the truth, you will be deaf to it. Secondly, God does not lie. You cannot expect a particular answer from Him, if it is the wrong one. It is easy to forget that His answers are better than ours. In fact, His dreams are much bigger than ours as well. If you refuse to listen to what the Father has to say to you, do not be upset with Him. Is it the one in the mirror that you are having issues with.
It very well could be that the answer you hope to hear is the right one. The heart of the matter might be the heart. Meaning, is your will submitted to Him? When is the last time you prayed, “Your Kingdom come, Your will be done in earth as it is in heaven?” What about this one, “Nevertheless, not my will be done, but Your will be done?”
When we surrender our will to Him, it is amazing how much faster peace will come. When we do not expect a particular answer, that is usually when it comes the fastest; even, if we have to wait for a while. Someone might say, “I’ve waited for a long time,” but it could take even longer if you don’t trust Him with it. When peace comes, our hearts and minds are more ready to receive. We become responsive to that still small Voice that whispers in our ears. Anxiety rages against that Voice which is why it is imperative to come into the Secret Place, our Refuge and rest in the arms or our Helper in the time of need (see Psalms 91:1-6; Hebrews 13:5-6).
Finally, it is easier to hear God when we spend a lot of time with Him. We recognize the voices of those we know. How do we get to know people? By us spending time with them. For those who struggle to hear Him, do you only talk with the Lord when you need an answer? Has it occurred to you that He loves to talk about others things besides our crises? Yes, come to Him when you have need, but remember the Father loves His children and loves spending time with them. Jesus is absolutely amazing Company. In fact, in His presence is fullness of joy (see Psalm 16:11). Our Father loves to hear about our dreams. He loves doing things with us. Could the reason some are not getting an answer is the answer they are looking for does not include Him? He wants to be part of your solution; in fact, He is your Solution!