November 21, 2012
The Easy Way to Live the Abundant Life
Jesus said, “Come to me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from me, for my yoke is easy and my burden is light,” - (Matthew 11:28-230 NIV).
Friend to Friend
Here’s a question. Do you think obedience to God is easy or hard? Hmmm. Obedience may seem hard at first, but in reality, obedience is the easy way. It is difficult to cope with the messes we get into when we don’t obey. The consequences of sin are hard to deal with. Think about the times you have disobeyed or turned your back on God. What were the results? Easy? Hard?
Satan will try and convince you that obedience is much too hard, that it carries too high a price, but he will never tell you the cost of not obeying God. He will never tell you the glory moments you will forfeit by refusing or ignoring God’s invitation to join Him.
Practicing Acts 17:28 (In him we live and move and have our being.) will never lead to sin. When we wrangle from God’s embrace and set out on our own, that’s when we get in trouble. God isn’t telling us to obey to make life difficult. God wants us to obey to make life less difficult. The end result of obedience is the blessed way…smooth moves.
Jesus said, “Come to me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from me, for my yoke is easy and my burden is light,” (Matthew 11:28-30). The yoke is simply a farmer’s understanding of the divine dance of obedience. When two oxen are yoked together, they move as one—walking in tandem to the bidding of the master. Usually, an older, more experienced animal is yoked with a young upstart. The apprentice ox learns from the more seasoned ox as they walk along tethered together. If the younger animal tries to surge ahead, the yoke chokes at his neck and slows him down. If he lags behind, the yoke chafes at his neck and prods him to hurry along.
And what does Jesus say about this yoke? It is not hard. It is not difficult. It is not heavy. It is easy. It is light. Being yoked to Jesus actually makes life much simpler…smoother…more peace-filled.
God said to the people of Israel: “If only you had paid attention to my commands, your peace would have been like a river, your righteousness like the waves of the sea.” (Isaiah 48:18). A river flows unhindered over rocks and boulders as it moves from one place to the next. It flows around them, over them, and past them—all the while smoothing rough edges. A river doesn’t strive to get from one place to another. It simply flows. That is the glory life of living and moving and having our being in Christ. We simply flow with a sacred inner calmness. Sometimes circumstances will be like tumultuous white-capped rapids, other times like a lazy gentle stream. But the life in union with Jesus keeps flowing. Moving forward. And in the journey, we catch glimpses of sudden glory in the scenery as we move between life’s banks.
Obedience is so much more than following a list of do’s and don’ts. Practicing religion rather than enjoying a love relationship with Jesus is like trying to plow the field alone. It will exhaust you rather than energize you. You will feel like a martyr and then wonder why others around you seem to be so joyful in their calling. Obedience because of our love relationship energizes our lives. Obedience out of a sense of duty or law drains. Always drains.
Religion operates on a “works of the law” principle: “I obey God, therefore, I am accepted by God.” Relationship operates on the gospel of grace principle: “I am accepted by God through the finished work of Jesus, therefore I obey—because I love and trust Him.” We’re going to talk more about that in the next chapter. This is important to understand because until we grasp the difference, we will never experience the joy of living and moving and having our being in Christ.
Obedience is aresponse to love. Jesus said, “If anyone loves me, he will obey my teaching. My Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him. He who does not love me will not obey my teaching,” (John 14:23-24).
Sometimes relinquishing control and following Jesus’ lead through obedience can feel uncertain or awkward, like when your dance partner leads you into a new move for the very first time. But each time you say yes to God, a new passion and peace flows through your veins until eventually, hopefully, a total transfusion of Christ-centered living replaces self-centered stubbornness. Intimacy becomes sweeter. Passion grows stronger. Glory moments become easier to see. Unique glory moments…selected especially for you.
Dear Lord, thank You for loving me enough to provide boundaries in which to experience the abundant life. Help me to obey You quickly and fully, so that I can experience all that You have for me. I don’t want to miss a single blessing because I’ve chosen to walk through the wrong door.
In Jesus’ Name,
Now It’s Your Turn
Think of a time you flat out disobeyed God. What was the outcome?
Think of a time you willingly obeyed God. What was the outcome?
Which outcome was the best in the long run?
There’s an old saying in the South… “Dance with the one who brung you.” (I know that’s incorrect English. But it correct “southern.”) So here’s the question…Are you willing to dance with the One who made you? Remember before you answer…He has to be the leader.
If your answer is yes, click on to my blog post at www.sharonjaynes.com and say, “I’m dancing with the One who made me, and I’m following His lead!”
More from the Girlfriends
My new book, A Sudden Glory: God’s Lavish Response to Your Ache for Something More, is all about raising your expectations to experience the full, abundant life that Jesus came to give. If you’ve settled for a ho-hum, so-so, Christian life, it is time to start enjoying the abundant life Jesus came to give. God wants you to experience His presence every day through moments of sudden glory where He makes His presence known. Ready to get started? Download a free sample chapter or watch the videos on my website!
Click here to learn more about hosting a Girlfriends in God conference in your area or having one of the GiGs speak at your next women's event.
Originally published Wednesday, 21 November 2012.