The Importance of Rest
On this special date of Labor Day that we set aside to celebrate the American hard work ethic that has brought us this far, many of us have the best intentions of getting extra rest. Yet, deliberate relaxation can be challenging for certain personalities!
I remember Labor Day weekends growing up when we had various projects on the agenda. We organized the garage, sorted through outgrown clothes in our closets, and did yardwork in the cooler evening hours, to name a few memories.
As an adult, I continued the same trend. For a day off work, I wrote an unreasonably long to-do list of all I wanted to accomplish. Relaxing felt like a waste of time! Why is it so hard for some of us to rest? The Holy Spirit, as a wonderful Teacher, has been teaching me the value of rest—the art of being still. (Psalm 46:10) After all, it’s what God Himself modeled perfectly for us in the very beginning of Creation’s story. (Genesis 2:1-3)
The Psalmist paints a dramatic display highlighting God’s work. We are drawn into the vivid descriptions of His powerful activities:
“He made heaven and earth, the sea, and everything in them. He keeps every promise forever. He gives justice to the oppressed and food to the hungry. The LORD frees the prisoners…opens the eyes of the blind…lifts up those who are weighed down…protects the foreigners…[and] cares for the orphans and widows.” (Psalm 146:6-9a NLT)
That’s not all!
“The LORD is rebuilding Jerusalem and bringing the exiles back to Israel. He heals the brokenhearted and bandages their wounds. He counts the stars and calls them all by name…He covers the heavens with clouds, provides rain for the earth, and makes the grass grow in mountain pastures. He gives food to the wild animals and feeds the young ravens when they cry.” (Psalm 147:2-4,8-9)
The picturesque illustrations of God’s work continue in Psalm 147, filling us with awe and wonder of all our Maker is actively performing. Still, we remember His established priority of rest, when He refers to that critically important time of resting that He took Himself. (Hebrews 4:1-11)
Even Jesus emphasized His need for rest after His long days of ministering to people. (Matthew 14:22-23, Mark 6:30-32) He demonstrated the importance of taking time to rest and be alone with His Father. Those were exhausting days for Him, as He (in fleshly form) felt the same fatigue we do. If resting was a necessity for Jesus, how much more so for us!
I’ve personally found the permission to rest by Jesus’ example. In my times of thorough exhaustion, I realized I had been pushing myself too much—something God never intended. Jesus said,
“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.” (Matthew 11:28-29)
How liberating it has been to have a day off work and simply relax—without feeling guilty about it that I’m not conquering my to-do list! What I have discovered is that I’m actually more effective and can accomplish more when I’ve had adequate rest.
Be encouraged to let go of the work-cycle and enjoy Labor Day for what it is!
“Father, I love how You exemplified the importance of resting. With a grateful heart, I receive Your gift of setting aside my work, letting You restore and refresh me as I rest. In Jesus’ name, Amen.”
The One Who Feeds on Jesus Will Live
Julia Prins Vanderveen, Author, Today Devotions
SCRIPTURE READING — JOHN 6:52-69
“Just as the living Father sent me and I live because of the Father, so the one who feeds on me will live because of me.”
Jesus tells the people who have come to him with questions that he is the bread of life and that whoever feeds on him will live forever! This is a strange teaching, and not all of the people who heard it could accept it. Can you blame them? It is quite unusual for a teacher to say that whoever eats their flesh will live. When they heard this, some people turned away, saying they could not accept this teaching.
Yet this mystery that we cannot explain rationally is at the heart of the sacrament of communion, the Lord’s Supper. Symbolically we eat and drink the body and blood of Jesus Christ, our Lord, because we accept that he is the one whom God has given to provide us salvation and eternal life. Jesus knows that some people will find this offensive, but he isn’t bothered by that. He promises that the Spirit gives life and that the words he has spoken are “full of the Spirit and life” (John 6:63).
Even today these words are hard to explain. They only make sense in the context of faith when we, like Simon Peter, say, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. We have come to believe and to know that you are the Holy One of God.”
Lord Jesus, your words are “full of the Spirit and life.” Help us not to be afraid or alarmed when some people find your words offensive, but enable us to trust your word completely, to feed on you, and to receive the eternal life that only you can give. Amen.
Spurgeon at the New Park Street Chapel: 365 Sermons
The new heart
“A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh.” Ezekiel 36:26
Suggested Further Reading: Matthew 9:10-17
The promise is that he will give us new hearts and right spirits. Human nature is too far gone ever to be mended. It is not a house that is a little out of repair, with here and there a slate blown from the roof, and here and there a piece of plaster broken down from the ceiling. No, it is rotten throughout, the very foundations have been eroded; there is not a single timber in it which has not been eaten by the worm, from its uppermost roof to its lowest foundation; there is no soundness in it; it is all rottenness and ready to fall. God does not attempt to mend; he does not shore up the walls, and repaint the door; he does not garnish and beautify, but he determines that the old house shall be entirely swept away, and that he will build a new one. It is too far gone, I say, to be mended. If it were only a little out of repair, it might be mended. If only a wheel or two of that great thing called “manhood” were out of repair, then he who made man might put the whole to rights; he might put a new cog where it had been broken off, and another wheel where it had gone to ruin and the machine might work anew. But no, the whole of it is out of repair; there is not one lever which is not broken; not one axle which is not disturbed; not one of the wheels which act upon the others. The whole head is sick, and the whole heart is faint. From the sole of the foot, to the crown of the head, it is all wounds and bruises and putrefying sores. The Lord, therefore, does not attempt the repairing of this thing.
The Source of Peace
From: Intouch Ministries
Jesus died in our place to provide the peace we need.
Most of us want peace in our heart, our relationships, and the world. But the most important area of peace is with God. Without it, we’re doomed. When Adam and Eve sinned, a barrier was erected between humanity and the Creator. The harmony that had previously existed between God and man was destroyed, and only God could restore it.
The cost of reconciliation was the horrific death of God’s Son as He hung on the cross, bearing the weight of mankind’s sin. That day Jesus Christ paid the full penalty for our transgressions. At the moment of His death, the massive temple veil dividing the Holy Place from the Holy of Holies was torn in two from top to bottom, signifying that reconciliation had been accomplished. Now peace with God was possible.
Though an instrument of brutality and death, the cross will stand forever as a symbol of peace. But peace with God is given only to those who through faith receive Jesus as their Savior (John 1:12-13). What greater peace could there be than the certainty of perfect harmony with God? Have you received this gift?
Bible in One Year: Ezekiel 29-31