Tag Archives: rest

Genesis 12; Matt. 11; Nehemiah 1; Acts 11

Merry Christmas; Happy New Year; Glad Tidings; Joy to the world – songs and cards and greetings for a season. Many of us wistfully desire to keep holiday smiles, generosity, and sentimentality the whole year through. Life interrupts. We’re pulled up short. Then we wonder, “Where did my joy go?”

Commercialized industry urges us to pack up our Christmas joy, stuff it in the attic for next year, and wait obediently for the next brief holiday to hit the shelves. I have to admit that I keep my Christmas decorations up long after the New Year’s party is over, perhaps fearing I will box away joy leaving home and heart as void as my depleted checkbook. I was asked the other day if I am someone who sees the glass half empty or half full, and I could only stutter something unintelligible about relativity. So I prayed, “God, teach me where to find Your joy.” I think He took great pleasure in answering right away.

In Genesis 12:2, God promises Abraham that all the families of the earth will be blessed through him, “I will make you a great nation; I will bless you and make your name great; and you shall be a blessing.” Joy can be found in God’s smile and in the warmth of His pleasure. Even before Abraham left his countrymen to follow God’s plan, God was happy with him. I, too, can enjoy the blessings of an intimate relationship with God.

But fear and anxiety can steal joy. Over the last six months, the grandson of a good friend has been undergoing cancer treatment at St. Jude’s. I marvel to read his testimony of courage and strength, penned by his Christian mother. She points to the blessings spoken by Jesus Christ in Matthew 11:29. “Take my yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.” Joy can be found in that invitation, for fear and anxiety melt away when burdens are laid at the feet of Jesus.

Joy also comes from knowing that God looks and listens when we pray. Nehemiah 1:5 records the confidence in Nehemiah’s prayers. “I pray, Lord God of heaven, O great and awesome God, You who keep Your covenant and mercy with those who love You and observe Your commandments; please let Your ear be attentive and Your eyes open, that You may hear the prayer of Your servant which I pray before You now, day and night…” Day or night, in triumph or tragedy, even in the midst of confession there is joy in that the God of the universe sees and hears me and, most of all, answers prayers!

So when I look for joy, I need not venture far. I can see the grace of God in me, in my friends, in the church, and in the salvation of each new Christian. I want to be like Barnabas, the New Testament missionary, when he responded to Gentiles receiving the gospel message. Acts 11:22-24 says, “When he came and had seen the grace of God, he was glad and encouraged them all that with purpose of heart they should continue with the Lord.” Joy does not end with the passing of a season or the storage of the Baby in a manger. Nor is my cup half empty or half full. For my  cup is overflowing with joy from the daily blessings of a good Father, divine rest from heavy burdens, and unending grace in the presence of Christ Jesus. Wouldn’t you like to drink this cup of joy?

Cheers to us all!

Janet (jansuwilkinson) All Scripture quoted from The Nelson Study Bible, New King James Version, Trinity Fellowship Church 25th Anniversary Commemorative Edition. (2002)

After writing, today, I listened to this sermon delivered by the son-in-law of my good friend. What a delight to hear a similar message (much better delivered, too!) about joy.

Save

Advertisement

5 Comments

Filed under 66 Books, Acts, Bible in a year reading plan, Genesis, M'Cheyne Bible reading plan, Matthew, Nehemiah, New Testament, Old Testament, Uncategorized

Nehmiah 10-13 & Revelation 8

I don’t know about you but I feel like the time between Thanksgiving and Christmas was the shortest 4 weeks in history this year. I know that every year the amount of time between the two stays the same but this year the time flew by even faster than usual. During this season of advent as we wait for the celebration of our Savior’s first coming, we are to be preparing our hearts and waiting with great anticipation as the angels did so many years ago. Yet, that’s certainly not what my life looks like. It never fails. Each and every year I am determined to make this season special, to place special focus on preparing my heart and my children’s hearts for the great celebration of all. I try to cultivate a spirit of patience and stillness and awe of what the Lord has done for us but yet….. No matter how hard I try the season feels too rushed. From Christmas parties to shopping for the perfect gift, we are rushed, over committed and just plain tired!

As I read today’s scripture there is one piece that the Lord spoke to me through without a doubt. It stuck out like a sore thumb. Not because it had anything to do with advent and Christ’s birth but because it was a fantastic reminder that the feelings I have of being unfocused and rushed are not exclusive to this season alone. For me, our family is busy in every season. We are typically over committed in some way or double booked at least 1 out of the 3 weekend days each week (but usually more). The Lord reminded me that there is one very special day each week that HE created for our rest. The Sabbath. He created it for us. For. Us. Sorry to repeat myself but that was for me. A reminder that God knew exactly what he was doing when he created a day of rest. That day is designed for our bodies to rest from the 6 days of hard work. It is a day to be still before the Lord and seek his will for our lives. A day to focus our attention and worship on Him alone in thanksgiving and praise. Yes, the 4th commandment He spoke through Moses is most often overlooked, especially in 2016.

Even long ago, Nehemiah knew saw that this day that was to be kept Holy was instead being treated like any other day of the week. He could see the people were continuing about their usual work instead of taking their time to rest and reflect. So he took great measures to ensure the people followed the Lord’s command.

When evening shadows fell on the gates of Jerusalem before the Sabbath, I ordered the doors to be shut and not opened until the Sabbath was over. I stationed some of my own men at the gates so that no load could be brought in on the Sabbath day.  Once or twice the merchants and sellers of all kinds of goods spent the night outside Jerusalem. But I warned them and said, “Why do you spend the night by the wall? If you do this again, I will arrest you.” From that time on they no longer came on the Sabbath. Then I commanded the Levites to purify themselves and go and guard the gates in order to keep the Sabbath day holy. Nehemiah 13:19-22 (NIV)

Nehemiah was protecting his people from themselves and others who were leading Israel astray from keeping the Sabbath day holy. Like him, I need set up safeguards for myself and my family to set aside time each week that provides us with rest and refreshment. If I don’t do this now, my children will learn the rat race that our culture is so used to. The Sabbath was made FOR us, not us for the Sabbath. It was to keep us well both physically and spiritually.

During this season of advent and every week during the year, may we be still before the Lord our God our Maker! May we put down our cell phones, I-pads and office work and place our focus on Jesus, the greatest gift we could ever receive!

Lord, help us guard our hearts and minds during this season and in every season. Help us to live in the world but not be of the world. Help us take advantage of the special time you created for us and special moments resting and reflecting on who you are and what you have done for us. Amen.

2 Comments

Filed under 66 Books, Nehemiah, Revelation, Uncategorized

2 Kings 20; Isaiah 38-40; Psalm 68; 1 Corinthians 11

29The Lord gives strength to those who are tired.

He gives more power to those who are weak…

31But the people who trust the Lord will become strong again.

They will be able to rise up as an eagle in the sky.

They will run without needing rest.

They will walk without becoming tired.

Isaiah 40:29-31

I. AM. EXHAUSTED.

My roles as solo mama to three under the age of six, house cleaner for my own home (well, I’m trying) and for three others, sole breadwinner, daughter, friend, leader, studier of the Word…and on top of that never sleeping for more than 3-4 hours straight due to kids having nightmares or the insomnia brought on by thinking about my ever-growing to do list, has made me truly understand what it means to be sleep deprived.

And yet, I can’t stop. I can barely slow down; though there are days that I force myself, because I can’t afford to get benched by illness, and the cleanliness of my house suffers or we have cereal for dinner for the third night in a row. As much as I’ve pared down and said “No” to as much as possible, just the basics of life completely take it out of me…and unfortunately, there are way too many things left that if I don’t do them, they don’t get done.

I am desperate for strength and power. I am desperate to walk and run and rise up like the eagle. I am desperate to thrive and not just (barely) survive. I am desperate to live. I am desperate for God.

2Hezekiah turned toward the wall and prayed to the Lord. He said, 3“Lord, please remember that I have always obeyed you. I have given myself completely to you. I have done what you said was right.” And Hezekiah cried loudly. 2 Kings 20:2-3

Hezekiah’s situation was different; he was literally on his death bed. He was desperate. And so, he cried out to Jesus, he cried loudly, unashamed. God heard his cry, honored his faithfulness, and restored his health.

To survive this season, all seasons of my life, it is so important to call on Jesus. Every day. Every moment. It is necessary to seek His presence, His, strength, His grace, His mercy. I can’t do it on my own.

3But those who do right should be glad.

They should rejoice before God.

They should be happy and glad.

4Sing to God. Sing praises to his name.

Prepare the way for him

who rides through the desert.

His name is the Lord.

Rejoice before him. Psalm 68: 3-4

When I take the focus off myself, my struggles and difficulties, my needs, and put the focus back on God’s goodness, I am immediately refreshed. When I praise Him through song, lifting His name to the heavens, I am strengthened, because I am reminded that He never leaver nor forsakes me. When I rejoice, I am encouraged in the ways He provides for my needs in the midst of my struggles, my fatigue, my overwhelm, and He meets me where ever I am.

Yesappa, Thank You for hearing me and being bigger that my circumstances. Thank You for meeting me where I am, despite my fatigue and my overstretched to do list. Thank You for Your strength and Your rest. Thank You for healing my body, my mind, my heart when I cry out to You. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Blessings – Julie

 

International Children’s Bible, Copyright © 2015 by Tommy Nelson™, a Division of Thomas Nelson, Inc. All rights reserved. Used by permission.

1 Comment

Filed under 1 Corinthians, 2 Kings, 66 Books, Bible in a year reading plan, Isaiah, New Testament, Old Testament, Psalms

2 Chronicles 22-23; 2 Kings 11; Psalm 131; Matthew 8

Then Jesus got into the boat and started across the lake with his disciples. Suddenly, a fierce storm struck the lake, with waves breaking into the boat. But Jesus was sleeping. The disciples went and woke him up, shouting, “Lord, save us! We’re going to drown!” Jesus responded, “Why are you afraid?You have so little faith!” Then he got up and rebuked the wind and waves, and suddenly there was a great calm.” Matthew 8:25&26 NLT

My pastor was speaking about rest this past Sunday. How timely, after reading these verses about Jesus sleeping during the storm. The disciples went to Jesus out of fear and not faith. They were in panic mode, instead of believing. How many times is this me? More often than I’d like to admit. In Matthew and in my everyday life, Jesus is teaching me to find rest in the storm. So that I can move forward from a refreshed soul who has been in His presence. And not let worry and fear dim my perspective. This is something that I have to give to Him daily. One place that I can get bogged down is seeking the approval of others. Sometimes my judgment can get clouded when I am not pursing him. I wonder if this is how Ahaziah’s mother fell into the trap of wrongly influencing her son.

Ahaziah also followed the evil example of King Ahab’s family, for his mother encouraged him in doing wrong. He did what was evil in the Lord’s sight, just as Ahab’s family had done. They even became his advisers after the death of his father, and they led him to ruin.” 2 Chronicles 22:3&4 NLT

As a mother I pray for Godly influences in my children’s life. I desire for them to seek after Jesus with all their heart. I can imagine that Jehosphat was saddened by his grandson’s sin. I can picture him on his knees praying for his family. Burdened by their hardened hearts. It gives me hope of how one person’s faith can change a legacy and turn it around. Even though it didn’t happen to Jehosphat’s family, Ahaziah was still given a proper burial. He was respected because of who his grandfather was. It had nothing to do of his own ability. He had messed up and made poor chooses. But, grace was given.

Then Jehu’s men searched for Ahaziah, and they found him hiding in the city of Samaria, They brought him to Jehu, who killed him. Ahaziah was given a decent burial because the people said, “He was the grandson of Jehosphat-a man who sought after the Lord with all his heart.” But none of the surviving members of Ahaziah’s family was capable of ruling the kingdom.” 2 Chronicles 22:9 NLT

Dear Father, I pray that I would find true peace in your presence. That I would take time to be still before you and listen to your voice about all others. Amen.

Lord, my heart is not proud; my eyes are not haughty. I don’t concern myself with matters too great or too awesome for me to grasp. Instead, I have calmed and quieted myself, like a weaned child who no longer cries for its mother’s milk. Yes, like a weaned child is my soul within me. O Israel, put your hope in the Lord-now and always.” Psalm 131:1-3 NLT

Leave a comment

Filed under 2 Chronicles, 2 Kings, 66 Books, Matthew, Psalms

Leviticus 8-11; Psalm 110; Hebrews 4

Set apart and holy.

10 You must distinguish between what is sacred and what is common, between what is ceremonially unclean and what is clean. Leviticus 10:10, NLT.

You are arrayed in holy garments,
    and your strength will be renewed each day like the morning dew. Psalm 110:3b, NLT.

Refreshed and rested.

But he himself will be refreshed from brooks along the way.
    He will be victorious. Psalm 110:7, NLT

For this good news—that God has prepared this rest—has been announced to us just as it was to them. But it did them no good because they didn’t share the faith of those who listened to God. For only we who believe can enter his rest. As for the others, God said,

“In my anger I took an oath:
    ‘They will never enter my place of rest,’”

even though this rest has been ready since he made the world. Hebrews 4:2-3, NLT

A priesthood.

The Lord has taken an oath and will not break his vow:
    “You are a priest forever in the order of Melchizedek.” Psalm 110:4, NLT

14 So then, since we have a great High Priest who has entered heaven, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to what we believe. 15 This High Priest of ours understands our weaknesses, for he faced all of the same testings we do, yet he did not sin. Hebrews 4:14-15, NLT

A God that it’s all about.

13 Nothing in all creation is hidden from God. Everything is naked and exposed before his eyes, and he is the one to whom we are accountable. Hebrews 4:13, NLT

16 So let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive his mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it most. Hebrews 4:16, NLT

Sweet Jesus on every page of this reading. These words like worship–my heart stirs. Quiet morning, pre-dawn, refreshed and rested in His presence.

So God set another time for entering his rest, and that time is today. God announced this through David much later in the words already quoted:

“Today when you hear his voice,
    don’t harden your hearts.” Hebrews 4:7, NLT.

Thankful for Today.

Courtney (66books365)

2 Comments

Filed under 66 Books, Bible in a year reading plan