December 3, 2004
Encouragement for Today
"Yet the news about Him spread all the more, so that crowds of people came to hear Him and to be healed of their sicknesses. But Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed." Luke 5:15-16 (NIV)
Rest at Christmas time? "Ha, ha," I can hear you chuckle. If you only saw my "to-do" list, you say. It looks something like this: bake cookies, frost cookies, eat too many cookies, buy presents, wrap presents, return presents, shop sales, spend too much money, and so on.
Most of us simply don't get enough rest, either in the physical or spiritual sense. And the month of December is often the worst time of year. We can wear busyness as a badge of honor, and neglect the havoc it causes in our spiritual lives. I wonder if we shouldn't pause in the midst of licking the mixing beaters, and rediscover God's design for rest.
God modeled the importance of rest on the seventh day of creation, although He certainly didn't need it. God showed us that it's important to set apart a day from our normal routines. It's so important, God made the day of rest holy.
We often think of rest as recreation, but that's not necessarily the type of rest that refuels a waning spiritual life. When my friend Lysa gave up watching television, she told us it wasn't that TV was bad. It was that she watched it when she was tired and drained. God revealed to her that when she was in this empty state, He wanted to fill her up.
Jesus knew the importance of true rest and often spent time alone in prayer. Luke 5:15-16 tells us, "Yet the news about Him spread all the more, so that crowds of people came to hear him and to be healed of their sicknesses. But Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed." (NIV)
In another passage in Mark 6, Jesus invited His disciples to rest. "The apostles gathered around Jesus and reported to Him all they had done and taught. Then, because so many people were coming and going that they did not even have a chance to eat, He said to them, 'Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.' So they went away by themselves in a boat to a solitary place." (Mark 6:30-32 NIV)
My friend Lequetta Bramer, a leader in women's ministry, taught on "Inspired Work, Inspired Rest" and observed this about Jesus: "One of the striking things is that Jesus withdrew from the crowds just when He was most in demand. There were thousands of people waiting for Jesus to heal them, to teach them, to bless them. They were ready. The opportunity and need was great. And yet, Jesus was nowhere to be found. Why? Wasn't that irresponsible, to take a day off when there were so many people needing His help? Wasn't that a bit self-indulgent? No. Not in the least. Jesus understood that the need was endless. But in order to accomplish the purpose for which God had sent Him, He had to remain spiritually strong. And that required regular times of prayer and meditation, regular times of rest and recuperation."
In this busy time of year, when there is much to be done, learn from Jesus how to rest. Take time to pray and bask in the love of your Heavenly Father. Set aside time to read God's word, to yourself and to your family. Turn off the TV and enjoy the stillness of the night, or the laughter of your children. To make the most of this glorious Christmas season, remember to take time to experience God's rest.
My prayer for today:
Heavenly Father, I praise You for Your love and faithfulness. Forgive me when I rush through my days and neglect to pursue the rest You have ordained. Help me to discover Your purpose for rest in the busyness of this season. In Jesus' name, Amen.
Review your schedule for the coming days. Identify time when you can withdraw and refresh yourself in God's presence. Commit to taking a break, even in the busiest part of your day. Go to the Lord in prayer and read His word.
Read Mark 6:30-32. Why do you think Jesus invited His disciples to go with Him to a quiet place? Why do you need to take time to rest?
If you went to a solitary place with Jesus, what would you talk about?
How do godly rest and recreation differ?
Why is it difficult to experience true godly rest?
How can you find rest this holiday season?
"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 (NIV)
"My soul finds rest in God alone; my salvation comes from Him. He alone is my rock and my salvation; He is my fortress, I will never be shaken." Psalm 62:1-2 (NIV)
"He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty." Psalm 91:1 (NIV)
"By the seventh day God had finished the work He had been doing; so on the seventh day He rested from all His work. And God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it He rested from all the work of creating that He had done." Genesis 2:2-3 (NIV)
"The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not be in want. He makes me lie down in green pastures, He leads me beside quiet waters, and He restores my soul." Psalm 23:1-3a (NIV)
P31 Woman Magazine by Proverbs 31 Ministries
Becoming a Woman Who Listens to God by Sharon Jaynes
A Woman's Secret to a Balanced Life by Sharon Jaynes and Lysa TerKeurst