Partnering with Christ

Matthew 11: 28 – 30

Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.

I opined last week that this passage is ultimately about partnership, partnering with the Divine that is. This is the message I believe Jesus wants us to hear in this age.

There are two ways we generally attack our problems or take on tasks. The first is that we try to do it in our own might. Truthfully, most of us pray about the project, but then we go forward in our might asking Father to anoint our path. When we fail, we often turn back to prayer, which is a good thing. Here, though, we have two ways to turn and based on how powerless we feel we choose our next course. We may opt for the second way of problem solving at this point. That is where we pray and “give the problem to God.”

Wouldn’t we all say that giving any problem to God is a good thing? Sure, we would. Here is the thing though. Sometimes we throw the problem on the floor at God’s feet and walk away. We have figuratively thrown our hands in the air in desperation. Sometimes we begin here. Other times we choose this methodology after attempting to succeed in our strength.

There is a third option. It is partnership. I understand it can be very difficult to achieve the proper balance of roles. Who does what? What do we do? Is our entire job prayer? Is there more? What I observe is that many times people begin in their own strength. Even if they do also offer prayers, they really are relying on the work of their hands. Most of us have been trained to be somewhat self-reliant if not entirely so. Even our pastors teach us, rightfully, that we are to lay our hand to something and then God will bless it. So, I want you to hear that you aren’t wrong, just that there is more.

Other people spend more time crying out to God for the help they know they need. The mistake we can so easily make here is that we take our hands off the plow completely. No longer are we giving God the opportunity to bless the work of our hands. We ask him to do the work and bless the work. I hear so often the hopeless prayers of people. They have given up and their only thought is that if they will pray strongly enough, maybe God will intervene. They give it to God and disengage themselves completely.

The whole truth is that God wants to partner with you. There are so many ways He can do so, but the first step is in us recognizing the importance of partnership. Once we enter into partnership, we no longer need to ask God to anoint our path. He will show us His path which is way better anyway. Of course, our prayer changes significantly because in this collaborative space, we can ask Father or Jesus to show us the way rather than begging them to bail us out of an impossible situation.

There is so much more to say on this topic, however, I want you to see this concept from Jesus’ perspective. First, he recognizes that doing things our way and in our own strength has exhausted us physically, mentally and even spiritually. Therefore, the first step he offers is, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened.” That’s recovery, healing and restoration. Rest and restore. The second part is, “Take my yoke upon you and learn from me.” Wow, I hope that jumped out at you. I don’t think the church has yet to grasp the awesome invitation to working with him that is on offer here. Rest, get yourself restored and then come work with me. Take my yoke. He isn’t taking on your yoke. He is asking you to join him. Be paired with him. What? Do I hear, “Be partnered with me?”

Exactly! That is exactly what Jesus is saying to us. Come join me. He is calling us to join his team and learn his ways. He will be the senior partner who shows us how to move forward with that impossible situation, difficult challenge or even show us how to recover from absolute failure. You see, his yoke is his school of methods. He invites us to work jointly with him so he can show us the ways that will give us the success we desire. Enroll in his school and your demanding situation becomes a class project. Sometimes, it is as simple as changing our prayer.

I remember the story of a woman who was praying every health scripture she knew over her very sick son. She spent night after night praying over him. She knew all the scriptures, so it was a task she was well educated for. Finally, though, in desperation she cried out to God. The child was getting worse instead of better. When she relinquished her control and inquired of God, He told her she was praying the wrong prayer. He guided her to a prayer on death. You see, she had been praying but she was praying the scriptures she thought would impact the situation. When she stopped and asked God, He led her to an entirely different group of scriptures. The child then recovered. It wasn’t that she wasn’t praying to God. It was that she wasn’t truly partnering with Him. You can see how this could be confusing. She thought she was working with Him but she wasn’t. She didn’t ask Him what she should do. She just did what she knew to do. It may be subtle but there is a huge difference.

Other times, Jesus will show us an entirely new strategy for doing the work. Maybe you fish off the left side of the boat and he will tell you to drop your net on the right-hand side (John 21: 6).

It may take some time pondering these differences to understand what is being suggested today. Of course, you can take this straight to Yahweh and ask Him. Rather than filing away this Word of the Day, ask Jesus to explain it. Do you know he will speak with you? You can have an entire conversation with him. Don’t know how? Ask me. I can coach you.

Business Partner

John 15: 5

Apart from me you can do nothing.

I had to stop myself recently and ask how much I believe God is our partner in all things, including in business. If you believe a thing, it will show up in your behaviors. Do we really believe that Yahweh, Jesus and the Holy Spirit are present and active in our everyday lives? Do we believe He (the trinity) intercedes in the affairs of men.

Intellectually and theologically, I absolutely do believe that our Father is ever present and desires to work alongside us in our everyday existences. In fact, did you know that one of the titles of the Holy Spirit is He who goes alongside? What, though, does that mean in practical terms? In other words, even though we may believe this intellectually, how does one partner with the Spirit of God. Does this belief color our actions?

I live knowing my Father is beside me all the time. I speak with Him all day. It is probably the greatest revelation of my life. However, when I arrested myself about God as my senior business partner, I had to face some difficult questions. If you have a boss or a senior partner, do you go about the business of your occupation without checking in with that person? Or do you have regular meetings in order to receive counsel and direction? I was working hard in all the things God has given into my hands, but I wasn’t conferring with Him enough. There is the daily chatter which we keep up and that is great, but it isn’t enough. I need time consulting with Him when I am not driving a car, working out, or applying my hands to any number of tasks. I need that quiet time which is devoted completely to our relationship. Truthfully, I also find it is best if I do that first thing in the morning.

Today’s passage comes from the parable of The Vine. Jesus is the vine; we are the offshoots of the vine and it is from those branches that you find the fruit. Jesus says that he who abides in him and in whom Jesus abides, that person will bear much fruit. The fruit, then, is the product of abiding in Jesus and allowing him to abide with you. There are realms of theology in that statement, but even just at a surface level it means that our lives must be intertwined with him. This is the substance of my logo, lest I forget. He in us, we in him, that is the best business model ever. If we cut ourselves away from the vine, we bear no fruit; we can do nothing.

Here is a little insight for us all. Advancing in our businesses or in another facet of life is in seeking time with the Lord. Sometimes we go to him only when we have a question. Above I wrote that the best thing for me to do is spend time with the Father on our relationship. Out of that relationship flows the river of life. Even when I am not asking Him about business, He is opening my eyes to ideas and insights. My advice, then, to you and to myself is to seek Him. Let us not only seek business counsel but also simply seek the one with wisdom. Seek the lover of your soul. While you seek His heart, He will prosper your business.

More Power Please

Psalm 68: 35

O God, You are awesome from Your sanctuary. The God of Israel Himself gives strength and power to the people. Blessed be God!

You are getting a lot of Psalms and Isaiah this week because these two books, along with the Proverbs, are where I go for strength and encouragement. The Psalms are a good place for you to look for our Father in a time of need.

I need strength and power so I journeyed into the Psalms to find a promise I can hang my hat on. I have taken on a bicycle ride that is a bit of a challenge but like every aspect of my life, I expect Dad to be a full partner for this ride. I need Him to supply the strength and power and I will supply the legs. That sort of ends my commitment. Just like in my work, He has to do all of the hard work. This is an arrangement that is working very well for me and is what He wants my role to be. I know because I asked Him. I felt a bit guilty that I was expecting Him to supply all the strength and all of the power but He told me that is where He wants me. He wants me to rely on Him to provide for my every need. Wow!

I have three BIG guys. Why would I want to do the hard labor. That just does not make sense. Father, Son and Holy Spirit have this covered. And, oh yeah, my part? Well, that was praying about it before I committed myself. If Dad said, “No,” then I wouldn’t be doing this.

This applies in every single area of life. When things present themselves, before we say, “yes” we can go to the Father and ask Him. He manages the resources which include our time and energy. He also knows which things move us forward and which will set us back. We are such rugged individualists that we often forge ahead. “Damn the torpedoes. Full steam ahead.” Well, I am beginning to think that individualism may be at the root of a great many of our social, familial and even personal problems. In fact, I am beginning to wonder if it is sin. Regardless, your Father is here to carry the heavy load for you. He has all strength and all power. He is all we need.

Hey, remember to scratch out the name Israel and write in your own. That is your proper standing in this New Covenant.