Discipline of Rest 4 – Secure in Gods hands

The aim of this devotional study is to consider what type of rest the souls needs.

Scripture

Genesis 1:26-31, 2:1-3

26  Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” 27  So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. 28  And God blessed them. And God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it, and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.” 29  And God said, “Behold, I have given you every plant yielding seed that is on the face of all the earth, and every tree with seed in its fruit. You shall have them for food. 30  And to every beast of the earth and to every bird of the heavens and to everything that creeps on the earth, everything that has the breath of life, I have given every green plant for food.” And it was so.  31  And God saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good. And there was evening and there was morning, the sixth day.

2:1  Thus the heavens and the earth were finished, and all the host of them. 2:2  And on the seventh day God finished his work that he had done, and he rested on the seventh day from all his work that he had done. 2:3  So God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it God rested from all his work that he had done in creation.

Observation and reflection

  1. When did God make the first people? And what did He do after that?
  2. Concerning the day of rest from this Text:
    1. How long did Adam and Eve live before God pronounced a day of rest?
    2. How much work had they done before God pronounced a day of rest?
    3. Do you suppose Adam and Eve needed physical rest?
    4. What type of rest did they experience that day? [take your time on this one]
  3. As Adam and Eve walked around on that first day of rest, what could they observe about God and his work?

Personal reflection and Prayer

After creation God appointed man as governor and keeper of the earth, but the first thing man had to do was rest.  Here we have Adam and Eve created in perfection – no sin, no ageing, no sickness, no tiredness (they have not even lived a full day!) and they had to observe a resting day!  What “rest” did they need to observe?  A rest of reflection that takes off the pressure of responsibility: God is in control, so it does not all depend on me.

Psalm 46:10 “be still and know that I am God” (Psalm 46:10).

  1. What makes God, God? What sets God aside from mankind and everything else? [hint: time, space, origin, ability, knowledge, change, etc]
  2. Look outside the window to something beautiful that God had created and still maintains (or to this inserted picture)
    1. What do creation communicate about God’s ability?
    2. What do creation communicate about God’s character?
  3. Consider your greatest responsibilities or challenges.
    1. What are you responsible for?
    2. What can you not do?
    3. What can God not do?
    4. What will God not do for you? [hint: Romans 8:32]
  4. Praise God for his power and goodness. Then “cast all your cares on the Lord, for he cares for you” (1 Peter 5:7)
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Discipline of Rest 3 – Refreshing the soul

The aim of this devotional study is to consider our Lord’s example of resting when life becomes to demanding.

Scripture

Mark 6:7-13, 30-32

7  And he called the twelve and began to send them out two by two, and gave them authority over the unclean spirits. 8  He charged them to take nothing for their journey except a staff–no bread, no bag, no money in their belts– 9  but to wear sandals and not put on two tunics. 10  And he said to them, “Whenever you enter a house, stay there until you depart from there. 11  And if any place will not receive you and they will not listen to you, when you leave, shake off the dust that is on your feet as a testimony against them.” 12  So they went out and proclaimed that people should repent. 13  And they cast out many demons and anointed with oil many who were sick and healed them…

30  The apostles returned to Jesus and told him all that they had done and taught. 31  And he said to them, “Come away by yourselves to a desolate place and rest a while.” For many were coming and going, and they had no leisure even to eat. 32  And they went away in the boat to a desolate place by themselves.

Observation and Personal reflection

Context: Jesus sent his disciples on their first missionary journey into Capernaum, and as they returned they told their stories.  But Jesus grew in fame and the crowds were pressing in to see Jesus, so that he invited the disciples to take a break from ministry.

  1. Jesus and the disciples were doing God’s will and meeting real needs in their ministry to people who walked far to hear of God and receive grace from him. In light of this, do you find it strange that Jesus instructed the disciples to “come away for a while?”
    1. What principle do you learn from this?
  2. Consider verses 31-32, and reflect on the meaning and impact of Jesus’ words:
    1. From verse 31, why did Jesus prompt the disciples to “come away”? Say this in your own words. When will you know that the demands of your work and life necessitates you to “come away for a while”?
    2. Jesus did not say “go away” but “come away” – what is the difference? What difference that that make in our times of rest?
    3. Why did Jesus consider it necessary for him and his disciples to draw “away”? Why not rest while staying there?  What principle do you learn from that time of rest?
    4. Jesus invited the disciples to come away “by yourselves”. Why not bring friends and family along? What lesson do you learn from this time of rest “by yourself”?
    5. Jesus did not take the team of disciples to sight-see Jerusalem, but they went “to a desolate place”. Why “to a desolate place”? What principle do you learn in the phrase “[rest in] a deserted place”?
    6. Jesus invited the disciples to break away to “rest for a while”, not just for the evening or a whole day. Why do you suppose did Jesus think the disciples needed a longer break? [consider the context]. What do you learn from this?
    7. The disciples escaped the persistent crowds by going “away in the boat”. What principle do you learn from this?  How can you secure resting time “away from the crowds” in our day and age?

Prayer

Prayerfully consider your own life and business.  Thank God for the example of Jesus who wisely considered to walk away from good and meaningful work because he knew they needed it for the health of their souls.  Now pray about your hurried life, and ask the Lord for wisdom and courage to respond well.

Discipline of Rest 2 – reaffirming holidays          

The aim of this devotional study is to reflect the rest found in corporate celebration.

Scripture

Leviticus 23:2-6,21

2  “Speak to the people of Israel and say to them, These are the appointed feasts of the LORD that you shall proclaim as holy convocations; they are my appointed feasts.

3  “Six days shall work be done, but on the seventh day is a Sabbath of solemn rest, a holy convocation. You shall do no work. It is a Sabbath to the LORD in all your dwelling places.

4  “These are the appointed feasts of the LORD, the holy convocations, which you shall proclaim at the time appointed for them.

5  In the first month, on the fourteenth day of the month at twilight, is the LORD’s Passover.

6  And on the fifteenth day of the same month is the Feast of Unleavened Bread to the LORD; for seven days you shall eat unleavened bread..

21  And you shall make a proclamation on the same day. You shall hold a holy convocation. You shall not do any ordinary work. It is a statute forever in all your dwelling places throughout your generations.

Observations and Reflection

Context: In this chapter Moses relays God’s commands regarding “holy convocations (or gatherings).” In the Israelite calendar, every 7th day is holy to commemorate the deliverance from Egypt, the forming of their nation under and by God.  Yet in addition to the weekly ray of rest seven other feasts are prescribed, namely the Feast of Harvest, Feast of Trumpets, Feast of Pentecost, Passover Feast, Feast of Booths (tents), Feast of Lights, and the Day of Atonement.  The Israelites were to gather in Jerusalem for these feasts, which occur over three periods through the agricultural year.

  1. Reflect on the practical consequences of these “holy day” commands
    1. For the individual adult
    2. For the devout family farming / doing business outside of Jerusalem
  2. Reflect on the relational implications of attending these “holy day” feasts
    1. What would these “holy gatherings” communicate to an Israelite regarding his or her relationship with God?
    2. What would these “holy gatherings” communicate to an Israelite regarding his or her relationship with other Israelites?
    3. What would these “holy gatherings” communicate to an Israelite regarding his or her identity?
  3. Then in essence, what do these “holy gatherings” facilitate for the believer?

Personal reflection and Application

When you meet someone you typically ask “What do you do?”, then “Are you married? Tell me about your family!” or “do you know so and so?”  We find our identities in what we do and who we closely relate to; we are known by our work, our family and our friends.  “Holy days gatherings” reminded the Israeli that his identity is not found in his work primarily, but in his relation to God and his redemptive purpose, the family and the nation.

  1. Which “holy days” do you do contemporary Christians celebrate that affirm your identity? [hint: just like the Jews we have weekly one as well]
    1. What do each of these “holy days” remind us of?
    2. How do these “holy gatherings” facilitate relationship for you?
    3. How do each of these “holy days” impact your identity?
  2. In which ways could holidays miss to reaffirm our identity and strengthen relationships?
  3. Consider your annual calendar in terms or holidays. How could you plan “holy day periods” to reaffirm your identity and relationships.

Prayer

Thank God for your work (or daily task) and what you benefit from it, remembering the benefits apart from the salary.  Then pray about your identity, who you are in relation to God, your family, your friends, your church as well as your nation.  Then pray to God for grace to arrange your calendar in Godly wisdom – for you and your family.

Discipline of Rest – identity and trust

The aim of this devotional study is to reflect on our soul’s need for rest.

Scripture

Deuteronomy 5:12-15

12  “‘Observe the Sabbath day, to keep it holy, as the LORD your God commanded you.  13  Six days you shall labor and do all your work, 14  but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the LORD your God. On it you shall not do any work, you or your son or your daughter or your male servant or your female servant, or your ox or your donkey or any of your livestock, or the sojourner who is within your gates, that your male servant and your female servant may rest as well as you.

15  You shall remember that you were a slave in the land of Egypt, and the LORD your God brought you out from there with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm. Therefore the LORD your God commanded you to keep the Sabbath day.

Observation and reflection

Context: After their 40 year wandering in Egypt, just before they were about to enter the Promised Land, Moses reminds this new generation of Israelites of the Laws God had given them at Mount Sinai.

  1. Summarize the fourth of the Ten Commands quoted above in your own words.
  2. To whom was this command given?
  3. What are the two things that the Sabbath day was a perpetual reminder and celebration of?
  4. From this command one can see that the identity of the Israelite was closely linked to the Sabbath day. What did the Sabbath day observance inform every Jew about who they were (and who they were not)? [don’t rush this answer]
  5. Respond to this statement: “The Israelites were no longer slaves of Egypt or slaves to their own work; in their Sabbath rest-day they declared that they trust God would provide for their needs.”

Personal reflection and Application

Note that the New Testament believer is not bound by this Law (Colossians 2:16-17) as Jesus said, “the Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath” (Mark 2:27).

  1. Based on your observations above,
    1. Why do you need rest?
    2. From what do you need rest?
    3. What does rest do for your identity?
    4. What does rest do for your cares?
  2. How can you adapt your schedule for time every week for this type of rest?
  3. When will you rest in this way?

Prayer

Thank God that you are not a slave to make a living, but a child of God who is in the care of God.  Reaffirm your identity as beloved child of God and declare your trust in God’s provision. Commit time to rest, asking that God will deliver you from sin of hurriedness and self-dependence.