Your “Go To” Yoke

Merriam Webster definition of yoke
1 a: a wooden bar or frame by which two draft animals (such as oxen) are joined at the heads or necks for working together
b: an arched device formerly laid on the neck of a defeated person
e: (1): a crosspiece on the head of a boat’s rudder
(2): an airplane control operating the elevators and ailerons
g: a clamp or similar piece that embraces two parts to hold or unite them in position
2 plural usually yoke : two animals yoked or worked together
3 a: (1): an oppressive agency
(2): SERVITUDE, BONDAGE
b: TIE, LINK especially : MARRIAGE

The overall definition of yoke combines the idea of bondage and control. Whether we want to admit it or not there are innate things, baked into our character that just “kick in” under certain conditions of our life. Things like the visible expression on a face in response to something heard or seen or the invisible fight or flight emotion that is triggered within us. These “yokes” are sometimes labeled habits, preferences or the phrase “our go to” _____ (fill in the blank).

Jesus taught us that we should choose His Yoke,
Matthew 11:28-30 Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 29 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. 30 For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.”

Lately I have been thinking about staying on guard against letting “old yokes” take the place of Jesus’ Yoke. These “old yokes” are where we use to hide when times got rough or uncomfortable. Maybe it’s turning to a sinful attitude, that comfort food, a getaway drive or shopping until the uncomfortable emotion eases up. I have heard speakers talk about our “go to” places in response to having our buttons pushed or triggers pulled. Choosing to not let the a habitual yoke have dominion over our emotions and choosing to let Jesus’ Yoke be in control isn’t easy in the heat of battle. When you get blindsided with the unexpected. The days we are living in seems to have so many “bombshell” events, twists and turns trying to manipulate us but that’s not the worst of it. We Christians are triune beings – body, soul and spirit. We have to remember the spiritual aspect of our battle to keep the Right Yoke on, Jesus’ Yoke!!!

Ephesians 6:12 For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.

Even if you are a “Born Again with God’s Spirit” Christian you have to face the fact that wicked spiritual forces are at work to manipulate your mind into reverting to our old carnal “go to” responses. These wicked spiritual forces are “master manipulators” and know extremely well all of our sensitive buttons and triggers. So what’s a good Christian to do except fight the good fight, Right? Maybe not. As I said, Satan and his demons are master manipulators.

Take fighting the “Good Fight.” How do I fight it? In my strength? In a way yes but to a large extent NO!!! Have you ever heard the saying, “winning the battle but losing the war?” If you accept my premise that Satan and his demons are master manipulators you have to accept their strategy too, they let us win sometimes. They let us win some battles we fight in our “own strength” so that we don’t rely on Jesus’ Strength.

What I’m saying comes from experience. For years after becoming a “Born Again with God’s Spirit” Christian I conquered demons from my past, some by the Grace of God’s Goodness and some through my own efforts. Then came one of the “final battles.” Actually there are NO Final Battles for a Christian on this side of eternity. I fought it with all my might but kept loosing it. The more determined I was to win the worst the sting of defeat was when I didn’t. It wasn’t until I gave up and realized I couldn’t win this battle in my own strength that I began to shamelessly cry out to Father God for His help and strength. I truly believe God let me loose this battle so many times for a reason. To teach me that He Alone, by living in me could bring the victory I begged for.

Yesterday’s verse of the day in MyDailyBible app was,
Galatians 5:1 Stand fast therefore in the liberty by which Christ has made us free, and do not be entangled again with a yoke of bondage.

Many temptations that try to place a “yoke of bondage” back on truly “Born Again with God’s Spirit” Christians. Now I want to mention what I think may be the worst of all, PRIDE!!!

This sin is a sinister weapon in the arsenal of the wicked spiritual forces we fight. They present it and enforce it to our psyche as a strength. Pride let’s us think if I’m good enough, obey enough, trust God enough, study my Bible enough I will be “Holy Enough” to please God enough to make it into His Heaven. The best battle I ever lost was the one that let me realize I needed God to win. The worst situations I’ve ever faced in my life were opportunities to bring me to the place where I realized that unless God stepped in all was hopeless.

I remember the day I woke up, sat on the side of the bed and felt like one more day facing the turmoil at this job was more than I could bare. Then came the best thought of my life, “this situation is no surprise to God and He is allowing me to go through this for a reason.” It was like a ton of weight just lifted off my shoulders and heart. All of a sudden I had strength to see what that day would bring and what God would show me in it.

PRIDE tells us if “I” work at be holy hard enough and long enough I will someday grab the prize of the high calling through my efforts. PRIDE lets me forget that only with Jesus’ Yoke can I ever hope to be made Holy in God’s Eyes. Jesus’ Yoke is His Holiness, Righteousness, Sinlessness and Perfection. Jesus’ Yoke is the Precious Blood that He ALONE could shed to atone for my multitude of sins. The ONLY Holiness God will ever see in me is the Holiness Jesus imparts to me because I was willing to take His Yoke upon me and admit, “all my self righteousness is as filthy rags in God’s Eyes.”

There are about 12 Hebrew words linked to Holy with the root of “kadosh” and the thing they have in common is that “something has been set apart.” God is HOLY because He is “set apart – different” than anything like us or anything we can imagine. Temple prostitutes are “kedeshah” because they were “dedicated – set apart” for their service.

The only holiness that will ever be seen in me through the Eyes of Father God is what He imparts to me. I can agree, cooperate with and seek with all my heart, mind and strength to walk with God but unless He FIRST sets me apart, it’s PRIDE on my part.

Anything I can do in my own strength without considering God’s direction and leading is opening the door for wicked spirits to fuel self pride in me. Jesus told us that even sinners want to “do good” for their own friends and relatives. Jesus also warned us of being a “do-gooder” without keeping His Yoke upon us.

Matthew 7:21-23 “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. 22 Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ 23 And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’

Jesus tried to teach us the principle of relying on Him, His Strength, His Holiness and Righteousness in many ways.

John 15:3-6 You are already clean because of the word which I have spoken to you. 4 Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me.
5 “I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing. 6 If anyone does not abide in Me, he is cast out as a branch and is withered; and they gather them and throw them into the fire, and they are burned.

Jesus could have taught us anything He wanted through His Word from heaven because He Is the WORD. Jesus came to this earth to be born of a woman but conceived by the Holy Spirit of God to live a TOTALLY sinless life for ONLY one purpose. It was to shed His “HOLY” spotless, sinless and perfect Blood. Understanding that should make us all realize how much I can do nothing “apart” from Him.

The Apostle Paul wrote something that some have perverted and have used as a license to sin. I woke up from that thinking one day and realized that it’s meant to teach us of our need to stay connected to the vine, keep His Yoke on, beg and plead for the victory until it comes. Never, never, never get comfortable with a weakness or sin of any kind. God won’t deliver you from your friends, only your enemies. If we have the “Mind of Christ” we will hate sin no matter how great or small.

2 Corinthians 12:8-10 Concerning this thing I pleaded with the Lord three times that it might depart from me. 9 And He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. 10 Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ’s sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

Only after becoming a “Born Again with God’s Spirit” Christian did my sins and weaknesses make me cry out to God for deliverance. Before then, even if they bothered me, I decided what to do about them or not. God’s “Gift of Repentance” let me realize how much I needed to get right with God and my powerlessness to do so.

Acts 11:15-18 And as I began to speak, the Holy Spirit fell upon them, as upon us at the beginning. 16 Then I remembered the word of the Lord, how He said, ‘John indeed baptized with water, but you shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit.’ 17 If therefore God gave them the same gift as He gave us when we believed on the Lord Jesus Christ, who was I that I could withstand God?”
18 When they heard these things they became silent; and they glorified God, saying, “Then God has also granted to the Gentiles repentance to life.”

In the Bible those who “walked with God” and who shared a meal with God are smiled upon as doing something good. Anything good or bad that causes me to draw nearer to Father God in the end is a “Good Thing.”

Psalm 73:21-28
Thus my heart was grieved,
And I was vexed in my mind.
22 I was so foolish and ignorant;
I was like a beast before You.
23 Nevertheless I am continually with You;
You hold me by my right hand.
24 You will guide me with Your counsel,

And afterward receive me to glory.
25 Whom have I in heaven but You?
And there is none upon earth that I desire besides You.

26 My flesh and my heart fail;
But God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.
27 For indeed, those who are far from You shall perish;
You have destroyed all those who desert You for harlotry.
28 But it is good for me to draw near to God;
I have put my trust in the Lord God,

That I may declare all Your works.

All Things, good or bad, can work together for my good if they cause me to seek God’s Nearness with all my heart, mind and strength.

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