Archive for July 1st, 2013

The yoke destroyer

from JO’s sermon tonight:

the word “yoke” is used several times in the scripture.  they were more familiar with this term, because they used oxen all the time.  a yoke was something they put around the neck of an ox to help control the animal.  it limited its movement;  if the ox started to get off course the yoke could pull it back.  it was a constant burden.  even though the ox was very powerful, this small yoke could keep it from doing what it wanted to do. some people don’t realize it, but they’re living with a yoke around their neck.  they wonder why they can’t get ahead, everything’s a struggle;  it’s because of the yokes that are dragging them down.  negative words that were spoken over you can become a yoke.  every time you start to step out, you hear you hear that parent or coach saying, “you’re not that talented, you don’t have what it takes.”  it plays again and again;  eventually you shrink back.  that’s a yoke.  in a relationship, you want to love that person, but your mother got hurt in the past, the last person did you wrong, and you just can’t trust anybody;  another yoke.  some yokes have been passed down to us.  all through life, these yokes are trying to come on us:  a yoke of depression, low self-esteem, compromise.  if we’re not careful, we’ll live burdened down, everything’s a struggle, we’re working hard but we can’t get ahead.  what’s the problem?  we have all these yokes that are controlling us.  this is what happened to the Israelites, when they were facing the Assyrian army in Isaiah 10.  the Israelites had gone through all kinds of heartache;  they had lived out in the wilderness, been mistreated, taken advantage of.  now they think, “here we go again, this is the way our life is always going to be, one struggle after another.”  they had been wearing this yoke for years, so much so that they had gotten comfortable with it.

Isaiah 10:27 (NKJV)

27 It shall come to pass in that day
That his burden will be taken away from your shoulder,
And his yoke from your neck,
And the yoke will be destroyed…

God was saying to them, “this is a new day;  you’re not going to continually struggle, live defeated.  I’m not only going to remove the burden, I’m going to destroy the yoke.”  from that day forward, they stepped into a new level of their destiny;  what they used to struggle with wasn’t a struggle anymore.  that constant pressure to overcome enemies was lifted off of them;  God gave them favor to conquer opponents that were much bigger and more powerful.  instead of being looked down on and mistreated, they were respected and given what belonged to them.  what happened?  the yoke-destroyer showed up.  God is saying the same thing to us that He said to them;  “you’ve struggled, dealt with that addiction, been dogged by those family problems long enough;  I am going to take away that burden.  I’m not only going to remove the yoke, I’m going to destroy the yoke;  it’s not going to come back.  that depression is not going to dog you your whole lifetime.  that addiction that keeps getting passed from generation to generation, the buck stops with you.  that sickness that looks like it’s going to be the end, no, this is a new day, the yoke is being destroyed, the burden in being removed.”  some of you have been living with a yoke your whole life;  it’s been passed down to you, maybe you don’t realize it, can’t seem to get ahead, struggling in your marriage, children won’t do what’s right, low self-esteem, that’s all you’ve known.  but God said to the Israelites:

Acts 7:34 (KJV)

34 I have seen, I have seen the affliction of my people which is in Egypt, and I have heard their groaning, and am come down to deliver them. And now come, I will send thee into Egypt.

God sees every yoke, unfair situation, everything that you struggle with.  He doesn’t just sit back and say, “well, too bad,” no, He says, “I’m coming down to do something about it.  you don’t have to worry, the yoke-destroyer is on the way.  I’m coming down to put an end to that struggle.  I’m shifting things in your favor, delivering you from addictions, removing the burden and setting you free to walk into the fullness of your destiny.”  the God we serve is a yoke-destroying, burden-removing God. you may have struggled in an area for a long time;  but don’t go through life thinking, “this is the way it’s always going to be.  I’m always gonna struggle in my marriage, fight this depression, be lonely.”  it says in the book of Job:

Job 28:3 (WYC)

God hath set (a) time to darknesses, and he beholdeth the end of all things. Also a strand parteth a stone of darkness, and the shadow of death, (God hath set an end for darkness, and he beholdeth the end of all things; a stone of darkness, and the shadow of death.)

God has already set an end to the difficulty, sickness, loneliness.  don’t get comfortable with it, you’re not gonna wear that yoke your whole  lifetime;  our God is in the yoke-removing business.  what could you accomplish without that yoke of compromise holding you back?  what could you become without that yoke of small thinking?   “I’ve reached my limits, I never get any good breaks.”  where could your family go without that yoke of addiction, bad habits that keep getting passed down?  you owe it to yourself to get free;  you don’t have time to go another year letting that yoke weigh you down.   your destiny is too great, your assignment is too important;  you’ve gotta draw the line in the sand, and say, “this is a new day.  every yoke that is holding me back is being destroyed.  that yoke of sickness that keeps getting passed down is being destroyed.  just because mother and grandmother had it doesn’t mean I’m gonna have it;  I know the secret, the yoke-destroyer has come down.  that yoke of debt and struggle is being destroyed;  I am the head and not the tail, I will lend and not borrow.  I am getting this yoke off of my neck, I’m gonna live my life free.”

Rahab was a Canaanite woman;  Canaanites were descendents of Noah’s son Ham.  Ham was the one, when he saw his father Noah drunk and naked, instead of covering him up and downplaying it, he went out and told everybody, made it worse.  when Noah found out, he cursed Ham and all of his descendants.  years later, Rahab is a prostitute living in Jericho.  her family is under this curse, as a descendant of Ham.  she could have thought, “just my luck, it’s been passed down to me, I’ll always struggle, make poor choices.”  no, she did something to break that curse, she got that yoke off of her neck.  one day, Joshua and the Israelites were about to attack her city of Jericho.  Joshua sent 2 men in to spy out the land, and somebody noticed who they were and told the authorities.  just as they were about to be captured, Rahab took the spies in and hid them in her home.  they said, “since you’ve helped us, when we come and attack the city, we’re going to spare you and your family.”  even though Rahab had all this negative baggage, was living a dishonorable life, she made a decision to honor God;  that one choice changed the course of her family line. that day, God removed the yoke that had been holding her back, broke the curse that had been in her family for generations.  here’s how good God is:  Rahab went on to marry a Jewish man, they had a son named Boaz, who had a son named Obed, who had a son named Jesse, who had a son named David.  this means Rahab, a former prostitute, is in the family line of Jesus Christ.

this is what happens when you make decisions to honor God;  the yoke is removed, and you step into the fullness of your destiny.  some of you are one decision away from getting that yoke off your neck, breaking a curse that’s been in your family for generations.  don’t put it off, you’ve been wearing that yoke long enough;  today is your day. this is your time to come out of that yoke of compromise, making poor choices, giving in to temptation.  you’re better than that;  you can set a new standard for your family.  this it the time to come out of that yoke of loneliness, those thoughts that keep telling you, “you’ll never meet the right person, you’re too old, it’s too late,” no, this is a new day, things have shifted;  get ready to meet someone new.  do your part;  honor God, be friendly.  that yoke of loneliness is being destroyed;  God is removing that burden.  this is your time to come out of that yoke of family problems, struggling in your marriage, children won’t do what’s right, no peace in the home, strife, division;  that yoke is being destroyed.  God is doing a new thing;  He is releasing healing, forgiveness, joy, peace, victory.  this is your time to come out of that yoke of average;  God never created you to be ordinary, He created you to leave your mark on this generation.

God wants you to do something big, go further than anyone in your family.  you have seeds of greatness on the inside.  that yoke of average that’s been around your neck is coming off.  God is about to thrust you to a new level of your destiny.  it’s going to be exceedingly, abundantly, above and beyond.  you’re going to see the yoke-destroying, burden-removing power of our God like never before.  this is a new day;  yokes of depression that have robbed you of your happiness are being destroyed.  yokes of sickness, chronic pain are being destroyed.  yokes of fear that’s holding you back, lack of confidence, intimidation, are being destroyed.  that yoke of compromise that keeps getting passed down, like father like son, no, they’re being destroyed;  from now on it’s gonna be like heavenly Father like son.  if you will receive this into your spirit, not talk yourself out of it, it will ignite your faith and become a reality. otherwise, you’ll think, “that was good, I enjoyed it,” no, it’s gotta go beyond being encouraging to being, “this is for me, this is my destiny.  something new is being birthed.  yokes are coming off of me, chains are being broken, I am stepping into the fullness of my destiny.”

that’s what happened to Ishmael.  he was the child that Abraham had out-of-wedlock with his maid Hagar;  Abraham’s wife Sarah told him to sleep with Hagar.  Ishmael didn’t get to choose who his mother would be, where he’d be born;  he couldn’t  help the fact that he was the chid of Abraham’s mistake.  eventually, Sarah gave birth to Isaac, the promised child.  over time, Sarah became angry and bitter toward Hagar, and started mistreating her.  Abraham was in the middle trying to keep 2 women happy;  he can’t win.  there’s all kinds of dysfunction in that family.  Sarah told Abraham that he had to get rid of Hagar and Ishmael or she would leave. Abraham against his will sent Hagar and Ishmael out into the desert.  a few days later, they were out of food, out of water, and:

Genesis 21:17 (NIV)

17 God heard the boy crying, and the angel of God called to Hagar from heaven and said to her, “What is the matter, Hagar? Do not be afraid; God has heard the boy crying as he lies there.

not “God heard the cry of his mother,” not “God heard the cry of Abraham”;  God heard the cry of this little boy born into dysfunction, with all kinds of negative baggage.  but God had a plan for Ishmael’s life;  God said He would bring out of him a great nation.  even though he wasn’t the promised child, was seen by most as a mistake, God in his mercy said, “Ishmael, you may have gotten off to have a rough start, have a lot of  dysfunction, but I’m still your God, I still have a plan for you.  I am going to remove that yoke that’s holding you back, lift those burdens that were put on you, cause you to fulfill your destiny.”  you may have a good reason to settle where you are, to think, “I’m never gonna do anything great.  if you knew what I have to deal with, the struggles, dysfunction in my family line.”  no, God still has something amazing in front of you;  no injustice can keep you from your destiny,  no bad break, no person.  the God we serve is a yoke-destroying, burden-removing God.  if you’ll get your passion back, keep moving forward, making decisions that honor God, He will still make something great out of your life.  no burden is too heavy, no yoke has been there too long.  God said to the Israelites, after years of abuse and slavery:

Joshua 5:9 (NIV)

Then the Lord said to Joshua, “Today I have rolled away the reproach of Egypt from you.”

God is saying to you, “this day I am destroying yokes, breaking strongholds, setting you free, rolling away the reproach.”  that means God is removing the guilt, shame, fear, intimidation.  He’s removing the burdens, and He’s releasing healing, favor, new beginnings.

In Genesis 34, Levi was one of Jacob’s sons.  his sister went to the town of Shechem…  JO is a little confused here;  Shechem is a man, not a town:

Genesis 34:1-4 (NIV)

34 Now Dinah, the daughter Leah had borne to Jacob, went out to visit the women of the land. When Shechem son of Hamor the Hivite, the ruler of that area, saw her, he took her and raped her. 

word got back to Levi and brother Simeon;  they were so enraged they went to the  town and tricked the people:

Genesis 34:14-15 (NIV)

14 They said to them, “We can’t do such a thing; we can’t give our sister to a man who is not circumcised. That would be a disgrace to us. 15 We will enter into an agreement with you on one condition only: that you become like us by circumcising all your males.

they agreed (!!!).  while they were recovering from their circumcision, Levi and Simeon wiped out the whole town, killed everyone  in retribution;  Jacob was so angry with them.  at the end of Jacob’s life, he calls all of his sons in;  normally this is when he’d give them the blessing.  this was extremely important, especially in those days.  but Jacob looked at Levi and said, “I’m not gonna bless you, you are stubborn, hot-headed, angry, violent, you tricked those people.”  instead of blessing Levi’s future, he cursed his future.  years later, Moses is on top of mount Sinai;  God had just given him the Ten Commandments.  he comes down from the mountainside, and the Israelites are worshiping a golden calf, having a big party.  Moses said to his brother, Aaron, “what are you doing?”  Aaron said, “we got bored waiting for you, threw some gold into the fire and this golden calf came out.”  Moses pulled out his sword, lifted it in the air, and shouted, “who is on the Lord’s side?”  the sons of Levi raised their hands, the least likely people:   their father had made mistakes, their grandfather had cursed their future, they had all this baggage, dysfunction, yet they rose up and said in effect, “this is a new day, we’re getting this yoke off of our neck, breaking this curse, we are on the Lord’s side.”  because of that decision, God was so pleased with them, from that day forward all the priests would come through the tribe of Levi.  they were cursed by their grandfather in the book of Genesis;  a few books over in Leviticus they are the most blessed, honored people.

what’s been passed down to you doesn’t have to keep you from your destiny.  what your relatives did, they may have made poor choices, but when you rise up and say, “I’m on the Lord’s side.  I’m not under this curse, I’m under the blessing.  I’m not gonna keep wearing this yoke that’s been passed down;  I know my God is a yoke-destroying, burden-removing God.”  when you have that kinda attitude, God will bless you and your family line in spite of past mistakes.  you may have had relatives that made it more difficult on you, maybe you’re the first one that’s really stepped up to honor God in your family;  the first generation that breaks the negative cycle is the generation that gets paid back for everything that should have been theirs.  God is keeping the record.  everything He has stored up for your family that they didn’t tap into, that doesn’t just go away;  God doesn’t say, “too bad, they made poor choices, they missed out on My best,” no, God has been accumulating everything that belongs to your family.  if your parents and relatives would have honored God, lived a life of excellence and integrity, all the favor, good breaks, wisdom, opportunity that they missed out on is still in your account.  if you will be the one to rise up and honor God and set a new standard, then God will pay you back for everything that should have been yours.

this is what happened with the Israelites;  they had been in slavery for 430 years, 10 generations.  God raised Moses up as their deliverer.  as they were leaving the country, some 2 million people, God caused them to have favor with their captors

Psalm 106:46  (NLT)

46 He even caused their captors
    to treat them with kindness.

they gave them their gold, silver, and livestock;  they didn’t leave there empty-handed, they left loaded with God’s blessings.  that was God paying them back for 430 years of working as slaves.  God saw the injustice, He knew what they were owed;  it was all accumulating.  when this one generation rose up and said in effect, “we’re on the Lord’s side, we’re not gonna stay here in mediocrity, we’re heading toward our promised land,” they were the ones that got paid back not only what they were owed, but everything their ancestors had missed out on.

our attitude should be, “God, I’m bold enough to believe that You will pay me back for everything that should have been mine.  every dream that our family missed out on, every opportunity that the enemy stole, every injustice, God I want to thank You that it’s payback time.”  some of you have a whole lot in your account;  it’s been accumulating for generations.  today, because you’re on the Lord’s side, it’s about to be released into your account.  you’re gonna see God’s favor in a new way.  today, the yoke-destroyer has showed up;  yokes of depression, sickness, fear have been destroyed.  God is removing the burdens that have held you back.  no more one step forward and 2 steps back;  that yoke has been destroyed.  no more passing dysfunction from generation to generation;  that yoke is destroyed.  no more bad habits, being held back by compromise year after year, the yoke-destroyer has put an end to it.  no more wearing that yoke of average, mediocre, ordinary;  that yoke has been removed from your neck.  you need to get ready;  you’re about to go where you’ve never gone before.  you’re going to see what you can become without that yoke.  you’re going to make better decisions, accomplish more, live happier, more fulfilled. because you’re on the Lord’s side, God is gonna honor you and your family.  in spite of past mistakes, you’re still going to do something great.  God is going to pay you back for everything that should have been yours. the yoke-destroying, burden-removing God is about to thrust you into a new freedom, new level of your destiny;  you will become everything He’s created you to be.

Read Full Post »