Hi y'all, my apologies for falling behind on this. My computer's HD crashed last week and I have been working on re-loading everything after replacing the HD.
(You can read the introduction to this 8 week study here. You can also click the tag at the bottom of this post and all of the Biblical Motherhood posts will be shown to you.)
Yoked Together (Part I)
Call on the name of the Lord before you begin this study! Ask Him to help you believe His mercy for you, and His plan, which, when you seek Him, cannot be ruined!
“If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit,” Galatians 5:25.
Not long ago, your family members used a team of horses or oxen to work or to travel. You can still see those strong beasts at work if you drive through areas where the Amish live, during a season of fieldwork. The whole idea of yoking two animals together to work has been used by men, but was invented in the mind of God. He designed it to teach us about Himself.
A man fashions a yoke, or buys one, to enable two oxen, horses, etc., to pull together out of necessity. Work too hard for one becomes doable by two. The power is doubled or more because of the strength and encouragement of working together. Usually one of the beasts pulls stronger than the other, but they work together and could not do it alone.
God uses this as a picture for us to understand what it is for us to walk with Him (keeping in step with the Holy Spirit), and then for us to be instructed in our relationships with others as well.
Today we will discuss those other relationships of joining together, especially in marriage, and tomorrow we will study the same, but with our children in mind.
Please make a list of relationships or responsibilities in your life that you must yoke up with another to have or to do.
In any working relationship that we have, in order to be productive, we must be walking in the same direction as those with us. This is God’s original design, because it exemplifies how we will live life best keeping in step with the Lord Himself. And it explains why it is so appealing for us to be with people who have our same interests! But at times, we find ourselves in a situation where we are not equally yoked with others. I’m not just talking about befriending someone who is very different from ourselves, but an actual joining together to accomplish something, such as in marriage.
Most women in our country have a say in who they marry, but regardless how it comes about there will always be surprises in marriage; maybe something you took for granted would be in your marriage, or out of it, has left you disappointed, sometimes situations arise we never foresaw, and at times, we find one of us has changed. How we deal with such differences, whether it is day to day or a crisis, is not only crucial to the survival and/or health of our marriage, but to our walk with our loving Lord Jesus, Whom we are yoked up with first.
Then, when we are equally yoked with another person, much good can be done and enjoyment had, and we will escape much trouble, though there will always be trials to go through. But we must refuse to look at an already existing unequally yoked marriage as hopeless! Rather, it is an opportunity to see the faithfulness of God at work! In either case, we will learn much of our God as we allow Him to take the weight of the burden in our lives, and to wash us from our guilt.
A favorite passage in the Bible for anyone who has experienced a load too heavy to bear, and has found that burden lifted by Jesus, is Matthew 11:28-30,
“Come unto Me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 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.”
There is where the meaning of the yoke is fully realized. It is an illustration of something God wants us to understand in the spiritual realm, which we cannot see – yet.
This yoke is fitted once for all when we come to Jesus for salvation, the saving of our souls for eternity. Some people sense a burden lifted when they receive the forgiveness of God; others don’t. Salvation doesn’t hinge on a feeling, but on fact! Yet, we experience the yoke of rest in this life little by little in the areas where we learn to trust the Lord and leave off our own ways. Wherever we learn to give control to God and simply walk, “pull”, together with Him, that is where we will experience peace and rest, and we will find the work being done to accomplish His purposes in love, just as He promised!
In our work or relationships with other people we never leave the yoke of Jesus. Instead, because of our yoke with Him, we learn to choose wisely how to work together with others.
One area of life this passage directly relates to is marriage. God counsels His daughters and sons not to marry a mate who is not yoked together with Himself. No matter what the situation, it is not God’s heart for a precious child of His to become linked together with someone who has not been born again. This is actually the only “interracial” marriage there is: a child of Adam (stillborn in spirit) yoked together with a child of God (born again by the Spirit)! Not only this, but it is also possible for two Christians to be unequally yoked together and thus to be pulling in separate directions. These relationships begin most easily in times of compromise and the confusion that always accompanies sin. But once vows before God and witnesses have been said, both types of marriages are received by the Lord as valid and sacred, and He will now work them into life as instrumental in His plan.
For those unmarried, God’s Word to you is: wait on the Lord! Trust in Him, be about His business and don’t look for a partner. Allow Him to meet your needs, and you will know it if/when He brings someone for you. Be single-hearted in your life with Jesus, and you will receive and not miss His plan for you. Love and enjoy the Lord, stay in His Word, and He will give you His desires for your life!
Copy Psalm 37:4 and commit it to memory!
Is there any hope for those already unequally yoked in marriage, now wanting to serve God and lead their children to Him?
Please read 1 Corinthians 7:10-16. The word “sanctified” or “holy” means “set – apart,” in this case, set–apart for God Himself. In verses 10-11, we find that God’s will for a wife is not to leave her husband, and for a husband not to leave his wife. He says this plainly and without apology. But if something should happen so that she decides to go, what are her choices if she still will please the Lord?
From verse 12 and 13, Paul describes situations where a husband or wife becomes a believer after they are married, and lays down a pattern that will please God in their new situation. What is it?
In verse 14, what does Paul say is taking place as you live together, even in an unequally yoked family situation?
From Acts 1:8, do you see how you can show the love of God in your home even without saying anything?
You are a witness of His, wherever you go! Thank Him that without your help, He speaks of Himself through you! Thank Him that you can join Him and keep in step with His Spirit!
Please write what 1 Corinthians 7:15 tells us a believer should do if his/her unbelieving spouse decides to break their union.
We see in 1 Corinthians 7:16 that the Lord gives hope now! Though the end is unknown, there is hope that the testimony of Jesus through the saved person’s life will draw the unbeliever’s heart. Here is where 1 Peter 3:1-2 give counsel to a godly wife! How is a woman in this situation to “preach the gospel” to her unsaved husband?
Sometimes a believer considers that while a spouse may not be physically unfaithful, he is certainly committing spiritual adultery, loving something more than his family (i.e. addiction to the computer, alcohol, work, etc.), and so God will accept a divorce in this case. Considering that you are made up of body, soul and spirit (1 Thessalonians 5:23), what part of you is made one with your husband? See Genesis 2:24.
What parts of you, as a born-again believer, are joined as one with God? Please read 1 Corinthians 6:17,19,20.
According to these passages in God’s Word, physical adultery can be committed against whom?
And spiritual adultery can be committed against whom?
We know that God intends a distinct image of His relationship with us to be pictured through marriage. In marriage, the physical union is an illustration of the indwelling Holy Spirit in each believer and the intimate relationship He has with one whom He has redeemed. The body and soul are so interrelated that what hurts our body also affects and hurts our soul. A physical union actually involves the soul as well, and that is why it tears the heart apart to engage in physical unity and then break the relationship, or to be involved in an unholy union.
The spirit of a person is interrelated with the soul as well. A person who is not born again is dead in spirit (the connection with God), but a person who is indwelt by the Holy Spirit through faith has been made alive by the Spirit (the spirit has been “born again”)! So a man and his wife who are born again by the Spirit are also spiritually related, since the same Spirit dwells within them both making them children of the Living God.
The soul is the place where body and spirit meet. It is the ground that the enemy claims territory in, the place we battle for by the power of the Spirit of God so that the Lord might reign over us instead. It is the soul where rebellion first is nurtured, and that rebellion is acted out through the body. It is in the soul where we are convicted of sin, and where we must choose what to do with that guilt. The ear is what hears the gospel message of Jesus' death for sin, but it is with the heart, unseen in the soul, that it must be believed (not necessarily understood, but believed) and in so doing, quickens the spirit. The soul can be troubled (John 12:27) and it can be healed (Ps 41:4). It is where we feel delight (Isaiah 55:2), are both afflicted and satisfied (Isaiah 58:10), and where we wait for the Lord (Psalm 62:1). It is the place where we love God (Matthew 22:37). Jesus says the soul is priceless to Him, and we need to see it the same way. “For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?” (Matthew 16:26)
This is why we can be confused about spiritual adultery. Our soul is grieved at a lack of intimacy with our spouse, and we may tend to think of that deep betrayal as a spiritual thing. Really, though, it is the soul that has been wounded. And the Spirit within us is grieved.
Please turn to Malachi 2:13—16.
This passage is written with husbands in mind, but it describes God's heart on the covenant made in marriage. Both a husband and a wife covenant with God in marriage. In Malachi 2:14, we see that one spouse has dealt with the other treacherously. The Doubleday dictionary explains treachery this way: (treacherous): “Likely to betray allegiance or confidence; untrustworthy... Apparently safe or secure, but in fact dangerous or unreliable.” (treachery): “Violation of allegiance, confidence, or faith; treason.”
Please record here God's word to you in verse 16 concerning treachery. Change “your” and “you” to “my” and “I”.
Does the Lord have reason to be grieved over any untrustworthiness in you?
Are you able to pray faithfully for your husband and to return sweetness for insult?
If bitterness keeps you from loving the way Jesus does, confess it to the Lord now! Bitterness is a tool of the enemy to destroy our soul.
Please turn to Genesis 27. Read the chapter to refresh your memory on what treachery was dealt to Esau.
From Genesis 27:34, what kind of cry did Esau give?
The bitterness in Esau's heart was displayed in his attitude toward his brother who had deceived him. Because he did not confess it as sin to God and turn from this bitterness, what was the end result? See Hebrews 12:16-17.
Forgiveness is a choice you must make, and when you do, showing your regard for His forgiveness of you, God meets you to strengthen you! Please write the first statement in 2 Chronicles 16:9. It is a promise for you from the Lord!
If your husband is committed to something more than to you and/or your family, pray for him (fast and pray!), and ask the Lord Jesus to help you gain ground spiritually for His unseen Kingdom because of this painful trial in your life. But do not allow the enemy to twist the truth of Scripture in your mind.
Commit yourself to the Lord, and wait for Him step by step, not looking for a way out, but staying where He has you and expecting His great work on behalf of you, your husband, and your family, for Jesus’ sake!
It is a battle for the soul, really; the mind, emotions and will. The choices, the beliefs of our heart in our soul are what enact our responses and bring us to side with our flesh or with God’s Spirit in us.
At times where an unrepentant heart refuses to turn from sin (i.e. abuse), a physical separation may be needful. But it should be accompanied with Godly counsel, seeking the heart of God through His Word and prayer.
Please copy 1 Peter 5:6,7 here. (It is another precious verse to commit to memory!)
When you are tempted to mull over those faults of your husband, and find yourself unmerciful to him, stirring up trouble between you, or if you are plagued by past sin and treachery, remember (by 2 Corinthians 10:5, “bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ,”) that God has heaped up all of your and your husband’s guilt upon His Son and it was done away with, paid for in full, at the cross. You must learn to believe what He did on your behalf at the cross, and thank Him! When the accuser comes around to taunt you, ask Jesus to take captive those thoughts against your husband or yourself, and you sing to Jesus and thank Him for what He accomplished on your behalf and on behalf of your husband! Sin has been put to death for you at the cross, and you have been purchased. In your case, yes, you have done things that you are accused of, but Jesus knows them intimately, having suffered your punishment as though He Himself committed those sins instead of you. Confess your guilt to Jesus; yours, not anyone else’s. You can tell Him of your specific hurt, and then release it to Him, unwilling to camp there in your mind again.
At times you will experience grief over your sin. Be sure to grieve, then, as is written in James 4:7-10. But after you have confessed the sin to God, it is no longer He who reminds you of it, but the enemy.
Revelation 12:10 tells us that Satan is the accuser of the brethren. Understand who it is who feeds your thoughts with accusations against your husband or yourself.
Jesus has taken your sin away how far? Psalm 103:12.
If you imagine you hold a globe in your hands, place your finger near the south pole and begin to move it north. Keep moving your finger, and eventually you will be traveling south. But take your finger to the equator and move east. Do you see the physical picture of the spiritual nature of what Jesus did for you? He also suffered for your husband. Jesus is so in love with the both of you, and He is wholeheartedly committed to seeing your marriage through.
“The Lord...redeems your life from destruction,” Psalm 103:1-4.
If you are burdened, take it to the cross where you find healing and rest. Be refreshed in knowing that Jesus is yoked together with you and He will never leave you nor forsake you. You are not alone. If you are lonely, you are in good company with Him. He knows all that you can feel, and He is eager to be the Lover of your soul!
“For thus says the Lord God, the Holy One of Israel: “In returning and rest you shall be saved; In quietness and confidence shall be your strength,” Isaiah 30:15.
Will you pray with me?
Ah, my Father, You are better to me than I realize. Help me to be satisfied in Your precious companionship with me. Help me to love my husband with Your love, and to discern that it is the enemy who tempts me to count everything as hopeless! Teach me to discern Your voice and to listen to You. You have given me a way to pull with you where I will not grow weary and will not be burdened. Let me see my marriage as precious as You do, and let me be wholehearted toward my husband, and to You. Thank You for Your unending love! In Jesus’ name, A-men.