May 29, Wednesday

Devotional Thoughts for Today

“A People of Rest”

Exodus 31:13-14

“But as for you, speak to the sons of Israel, saying, ‘You shall surely observe My sabbaths; for this is a sign between Me and you throughout your generations, that you may know that I am the Lord who sanctifies you. 14 Therefore you are to observe the sabbath, for it is holy to you. Everyone who profanes it shall surely be put to death; for whoever does any work on it, that person shall be cut off from among his people.

You know you’re from Atlanta (pronounced At-lan-na) when Chick-fil-A isn’t just fast food; it’s a way of life. And you know that there’s no other day that you want Chick-fil-A more than on a Sunday—the day when this icon of delicious Southern hospitality is closed nationwide. This is what is said on their website in regards to their weekly Sunday closure:

“Having worked seven days a week in restaurants open 24 hours, Truett [Cathy, founder] saw the importance of closing on Sundays so that he and his employees could set aside one day to rest and worship if they choose – a practice we uphold today.” And despite opening one day less than most of its competitors, we see that Chick-fil-A on average sales per restaurant is greater than the likes of McDonalds and KFC.

In today’s passage, God once again reiterates the importance of the Sabbath. We see how important the Sabbath is by looking at the language used: “you shall surely… it is holy… put to death… cut off from among his people.” And the ultimate reason why this commandment is given is so that in observing the Sabbath, the people may know God is the Lord that sanctifies them. It is recognizing that it is God alone who delivered the Israelites from Egypt, it is God alone who provides for them as they wandered in the desert, and it is God alone who shall lead them into the Promised Land.

The Sabbath represents the relationship that God’s people enjoy with Him as they are able to rest from all labor and worship Him on this day. What is implied is that those who are not under this covenantal relationship with God cannot enjoy this kind of rest—they must continue to toil and struggle. It is an expression of trust—trusting that in our obedience, God will take care of the rest. Not that we believe that just because we observe the Sabbath, we will be rewarded with financial success like Chick-fil-A, but there is a peace and freedom that comes from knowing that He is our God and we are His people.

In a society driven by grit and hustle, it is truly refreshing to believe that as God’s people, we can live with this sense of peace and rest, because we know who we truly are in Him.

Prayer: Father, thank You for Jesus who is our peace. We thank You that because of the cross, that we no longer have to live based on our own righteousness, but we are able to live in the reality that we are Your children. Help us to observe the Sabbath as a testament of that truth, not just on Sundays, but everyday of our lives. In Jesus’ Name.  Amen.

Bible Reading for Today: 1 Samuel 19


Lunch Break Study  

Read Matthew 6:25-27: “Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? 26 Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? 27 And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life?

John 1:12-13: “But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, 13 who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.”

Questions to Consider

  1. What lesson is Jesus drawing for the crowd as He directs their attention to the creation? If the argument is from lesser to greater, how are we to understand our relationship with God?
  2. What does the John passage teach us in regards to who we are for those who have received Christ? What connections can we make with the Matthew passage?
  3. When you think about the things you are anxious or fearful about, how might these things conflict with your identity as a child of God? How is the Spirit leading you toward peace?

Notes

  1. When looking at creation, we see that the animals and plants are taken care of by the natural order of God. Unlike their human counterparts, we see that creation does not have an elaborate tactic of security. And if God cares for them, the rhetorical question asked is, how much more so does our Heavenly Father care for us?
  2. John teaches us that through Christ alone have we been given the right to be called children of God. In connection to the Matthew passage, Christ’s offer of grace seals our right to be children of God; therefore, more than all of creation, our Heavenly Father will provide and protect His children. This security is given to us by something more precious than our blood-lineage; it is guaranteed by the righteousness of Jesus.
  3. Personal response.

Evening Reflection

Gratitude is a good thermometer of how we are doing in terms of casting our anxieties upon Him. As you end another day, take some time to recognize and give thanks for God’s many provisions for you, how you can live in true freedom rather than under the yoke of constantly seeking security that can only be held by ourselves.

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