To be yoked to Jesus is to be yoked to His purpose. John tells us that the purpose for which the Son of God was made manifest was to “destroy the works of the devil” (1 John 3:8). Our purpose is to bear fruit. Think of the parable of the sower: the seeds sown in and through our lives can’t bear fruit if the devil snatches them away, if they have no spiritual nourishment in which to put down roots, or if they are choked by worldly distractions and worries. The “good ground” is where these works of the devil are being or have been destroyed: this is where we bear fruit and where we find our promised rest. Because rest follows work: we enter into the Lord’s rest when we stand in the victory wrought through the work of the cross. Whatever we are seeking to accomplish in the kingdom of God must be a work of the Spirit: unless we truly believe that Christ has already accomplished at the cross the work we are walking in, we will achieve nothing. If it is not a work of faith, it is a work of the flesh and will simply burn in the fire of testing. The rest that is born out of walking in the purpose that God has birthed in us is the rest that is found in the place of victory on the other side of the cross.
Our Promised Land
Our promised land – the “exceedingly great and precious promises that have been given to us” – is this: to be “partakers of the divine nature”. If we allow ourselves to be invaded by the Spirit of God, we not only find ourselves starting to really know Him – to know His heart, His character, His desires for us, and above all His voice – we start becoming like Him. We will do what He did, and we will do the “greater things” promised in John 14:12. We will start to feel His compassion, so it won’t even occur to us to want to feed ourselves before feeding the 5,000. We will speak out of His love instead of our self-interest. Our promised land isn’t our city, the mega-church we want to build, a worldwide ministry, or 10,000 views on our YouTube channel; it’s to be partakers of the divine nature. The prerequisite to entry is that we have “escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust”. All that leaven has to go. Only Jesus can make this happen, because “if the Sonmakes you free, you shall be free indeed” (John 8:36) and He will do it by the power of the Holy Spirit, because “the Lord is the Spirit; and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty (2 Cor 3:17). Peter needed Pentecost to be yoked to Jesus. And if it was necessary for Peter, it is necessary for us.
If you are married, it is very likely that you and your spouse became man and wife because you loved one another. If your marriage is successful, one of the reasons is probably the fact that you were attracted to the qualities you saw in your spouse. You loved – and hopefully still love! – your spouse because of who they are, and because you love the qualities and the attributes that characterise them. We worship God, and tell Him we love Him. It’s reasonable to say that God’s standout attribute is His holiness. So do we love holiness?
If we put a poster on the wall saying “Be holy, for I am holy,” our response to it at any given time would be a good litmus test of whether we are walking in the flesh or in the Spirit. The flesh is corrupt so it will always want to avoid even the thought of holiness, so in the flesh we would most likely just want to take it off the wall and put a photo frame there instead. If we want to run from the poster there is no point praying about anything, because we won’t be praying in the Spirit – unless of course we are praying about not wanting to run from the poster. However, in the Spirit we will see those words and be drawn to Jesus, and coming from our heart will be a cry that He will continue to work in our lives to remove anything that stops the light of His holiness shining in our lives. That would be a good time to pray.
The important lesson for us is that God’s provision is in His very presence. What He wants from us is our hearts: a willingness to trust Him with what is ours, and to place it in His hands. We catch a glimpse, literally, of God’s perspective on our economy when we see Jesus sitting outside the Temple watching people putting their gifts into the treasury. We know the story: the poor widow, whose two mites represented all she had, had put in far more than the wealthy who gave leftovers from their abundance. We don’t see that widow again, but we can be sure that God gave back to her in the same measure that she had given to the Temple. Wealth and poverty have traded places. Our God is a creator, and loves to create, and we can so easily forget that when we look at our bank statements. But if our hearts are rich towards Him, we will see Him create in our material circumstances and fill our baskets, whereas if our hearts are bound by our bank accounts we remain in poverty, and will only ever see the loaves and fishes that we can provide for ourselves.