A Different Kind of Rest

by Julie Zine Coleman

And [Jesus] said to them, “Come away with me to a secluded place and rest awhile.” Mark 6:33 NASB

It had been an exhilarating ride. Sent out as representatives of Jesus, the disciples had traveled in pairs from town to town, preaching repentance, healing the sick, and casting out demons. Now days later, they arrived back with stories to tell of amazing healings, exorcisms, and miraculous provision. It had been an experience like no other.

But as exciting as it had been, the men were now exhausted. The adrenaline rush had faded. The constant demand had left them drained. Jesus saw their weariness, and kindly offered a respite. “Come away by yourselves to a secluded place and rest awhile,” he said. They collectively breathed a sigh of relief and boarded a boat to take them away from the crowds.

But respite was apparently not to be had. Word had spread, and people spotted them on the water from land. A huge crowd awaited them where they came to shore. Rather than avoiding the crowd, Jesus went right into their midst and began to teach them. So much for rest, the disciples must have thought.

The hours slipped by until it had grown quite late. The crowds must be starving, the disciples wearily realized. They approached Jesus. It surely was time to send them into the nearby towns so they could purchase food.

Jesus’ response took them by surprise. “You give them something to eat!” he commanded them. They looked at each other in dismay. There was definitely not enough money in the till to feed a crowd like this! But Jesus had a different idea. “How many loaves do you have? Go look!” The disciples found they had five loaves and two fish. Hardly enough to feed a crowd of 5,000.

Jesus took the loaves and fish and thanked His Heavenly Father for His provision. He broke them into pieces and gave them to the disciples to distribute to the crowd. Much to their amazement, the food never ran out. Five thousand ate until they were satisfied, and there were even leftovers. Jesus sent the disciples to collect them. Each disciple returned with a basket full.

Jesus had promised the disciples rest. What they got was a long day working with an enormous crowd. So where was the rest Jesus promised?

The disciples may have been the hands and feet that delivered the food, but the power and provision were all from God. The miracle was a powerful lesson for their future ministry. Their power source would be God alone.

God’s power was amply displayed for each disciple as he filled his basket to the brim with the leftovers from the feast. The crowd ate until they were satisfied, and still there was more. The disciples learned another important lesson that day. As they served God in the years ahead, He would provide even more than they could use. Rest would be available to them every time they leaned into Him. An inexhaustible supply was theirs for the asking.

“Apart from me you can do nothing,” Jesus warned his disciples. (John 15: 5 NASB) Yes, we are willing, warm bodies. But the responsibility to accomplish the work is on God’s capable shoulders. Even in the middle of a taxing ministry, we can be at rest. He intends for us to do all things through Christ, who will strengthen us.

We can rest even when in the middle of the fray. His supernatural power and provision will be all we need.

Julie-Coleman-headshot-295x300About the author: Julie Coleman helps others to understand and know an unexpected God. A popular conference and retreat speaker, she holds an M.A. in biblical studies. Her award-winning book, Unexpected Love: God’s Heart Revealed through Jesus’ Conversations with Women, was published in 2013 by Thomas Nelson. Julie is the managing editor for Arise Daily. When she is not glaring at her computer, she spends time with her grandchildren, gardening, or walking her neurotic dog. More on Julie can be found at unexpectedgod.com and Facebook.

Free Book Contest!  Arise Daily will use a random number generator to pick a winner Screen Shot 2017-12-22 at 2.39.03 PMfrom today’s comments. To enter our contest for Julie’s book, Unexpected Love: God’s Heart Revealed through Jesus’ Conversations with Women,  please comment below.  By posting in our comments, you are giving us permission to share your name if you win!  If you have an outside the US mailing address, your prize could be substituted with an e-book of our choice.

Join the conversation: What character quality makes it possible for you to in rest God?

 

An Identity I Didn’t Expect

by Edie Melson

“So Miriam was shut up outside the camp for seven days, and the people did not move on until Miriam was received again.”  Numbers 12:15 NASB

Miriam’s sin brought the entire nation of Israel to a screeching halt for seven days while God dealt with her and brought her back in line with His will. It must have been devastating for Miriam to realize she was the cause of an unscheduled stop.

How do I know presume to know what she was feeling? Because it wasn’t too long ago that I discovered I’m a Miriam.

Have you ever said yes to something because you thought you should, or continued serving even though God was leading you in a different direction? In my zeal to serve God, I’d become prideful and thought I knew better than Him. I once again ran ahead of His will. I’d said yes to too many things and become a stumbling block to a ministry I love.

For years I’ve known that trying to do too many things at once meant I wouldn’t be able to do them well. But I seem to be a slow learner, or at least someone with a poor memory. When I pay attention to the Holy Spirit, this misguided urge stays in check, but when I stray, life gets stressful . . . for everyone.

My desire to serve overcame my desire to be obedient. When that happened, everyone around me suffered. My family had to take up the slack because I was doing things I hadn’t been called to do. I was grumpy, tired, and frustrated—emotions that affected all who came in contact with me. What started off with the best of intentions, ended up causing stress and grief.

Fortunately, I had the opportunity make things right by turning over some of my responsibilities to those God had called to serve. And as I sat, listening to them express their joy at that opportunity, it hit me how selfish I’d been. Not only was I disobedient (bad enough) but I stood in the way of others who wanted to serve. In effect, I brought the whole ministry to a screeching halt while God dealt with my disobedience.

It felt good to apologize and let go of the duties I’d disobediently taken up as mine. As I once again aligned myself with God’s will and let Him be the only one in charge peace began to take over. It was a difficult lesson to relearn, but when I heeded God’s discipline the stress receded and the joy is returned.

“Cease striving and know that I am God.” Psalm 46:10 NASB

Edie-MelsonAbout the author: Find your voice, live your story…is the foundation of Edie Melson’s message, whether she’s addressing parents, military families, readers of fiction or writers. As an author, blogger, and speaker, she’s encouraged and challenged audiences across the country and around the world. Her latest book, While My Child is Away; Prayers for While Were Apart is available at local retailers and online. Connect with her further at www.EdieMelson.com and on Facebook and Twitter.

Free Book Contest!  Arise Daily will use a random number generator to pick a winner from today’s comments. To enter our contest for Edie’s book, While My Child is Away,  please comment below.  By posting in our comments, you are giving us permission to share your name if you win!  If you have an outside the US mailing address, your prize could be substituted with an e-book of our choice.

Join the conversation: Have you ever struggled to turn a responsibility over to others?

Fix Your Thoughts

by Twila Belk

And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise. Keep putting into practice all you learned and received from me—everything you heard from me and saw me doing. Then the God of peace will be with you. Philippians 4:8–9 NLT

Be still. That’s easier said than done, isn’t it? Sometimes I wish I could flip on a little “be still” switch to pacify myself, especially when I have days like today. Right now I’m struggling to gain control of my churning insides.

I’m currently dealing with several major life stressors—undergoing treatment for an aggressive breast cancer, caregiving for my husband who has a rare and progressive muscle disease, carrying a huge burden of financial responsibilities, handling concerns about my youngest son’s circumstances, and facing a looming book deadline. Add to that, in the last couple of days, both vehicles stopped working, my faithful recliner broke, and wasps are entering the house through the bathroom vent.

Then this morning, after putting in many hours on a special project for a person I greatly respect, I received a harsh email rather than a thank-you for my hard work. Reading that email, while being physically and mentally exhausted, pushed me into a not-so-good place. I turned into an emotional mess. Although the person apologized a few hours after sending it, my memory naturally wants to replay the narrative again and again, which agitates my spirit more and more.

And here I am with the task of telling people how to be still. Seriously?

I’ve learned over the years that God likes to give me plenty of opportunities to become well-versed in my topic. And this is one of those times. So after much consideration, I decided I need to change topics. I want to be well-versed in something else! (Perhaps I’ll change it to “How to be happy with a million dollars while living in the Caribbean and looking great in a bikini.”)

For now, I’m reverting to self-talk mode. “Breathe in. Breathe out. Calm down, Twila. It’s time to remind yourself of the sermons you so readily give to others.” In other words, I’m giving myself a pep talk to practice what I preach.

And one of the important truths I like to remind people of is this: whatever we focus on becomes magnified.

If I keep my attention on my problems and heartaches (or hurtful words), they become overwhelming to me and tend to control my life. But if I fix my thoughts on God, he becomes magnified in my heart and mind, and I’m reminded of who he is and what he’s able to do. My attitude changes, and my unsettled spirit quiets down. It takes resolve, but it’s so worthwhile.

Philippians 4:8–9 encourages us to think about whatever is true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent, or praiseworthy. If we put that kind of thinking into practice, peace will be ours.

Lord, when the pressures of life become too much for me, and my circumstances are the foremost thing on my mind, I become stressed and overwhelmed. Would you help me to fix my thoughts on you? I want you to be magnified, not the stuff I’m going through. You are excellent and worthy of praise. You are able to calm my agitated spirit. You are the giver of peace. Thank you for being with me.

(This devotion is an excerpt from The Power to Be, (c) 2018 Twila Belk. Used by permission of BroadStreet Publishing.)

twila belkAbout the Author: Also known as the Gotta Tell Somebody Gal, Twila Belk  loves braggin’ on God. Whether she’s writing, speaking, or teaching, she offers hope and encouragement for people to fix their eyes on him. Twila is the author of The Power to Be: Be Still, Be Grateful, Be Strong, Be Courageous and Raindrops from Heaven: Gentle Reminders of God’s Power, Presence, and Purpose as well as five other books. Mom to three grown children and Grandma to three precious little boys, Twila lives with her husband in Iowa, not far from the Mississippi River and the home of American Pickers, John Deere tractors, and Whitey’s ice cream.

Free Book Contest!  Arise Daily will use a random number generator to pick a winner 51veIj1tu+L._SX344_BO1,204,203,200_from today’s comments. To enter our contest for Twila’s new devotional book,  The Power to Be, please comment below.  By posting in our comments, you are giving us permission to share your name if you win!  If you have an outside the US mailing address, your prize could be substituted with an e-book of our choice.

Join the conversation: Isaiah 26:3 says, “You will keep in perfect peace all who trust in you, all whose thoughts are fixed on you!” (NLT). What have your thoughts been fixed on lately? What current issues are keeping you from being still?