May 14, Thursday

NEW Today’s AMI QT Devotional is written by Andrew Kim who serves as the executive pastor at Tapestry Church in Los Angeles.  Andrew, a graduate of Eternity Bible College, is currently attending Fuller Theological Seminary. 

Devotional Thought for Today

“Why We Struggle with Resting”

Matthew 11:25-30

 At that time Jesus declared, “I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that you have hidden these things from the wise and understanding and revealed them to little children; 26 yes, Father, for such was your gracious will. 27 All things have been handed over to me by my Father, and no one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son chooses to reveal him. 28 Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 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. 30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”

james-bold-lMQv3xVa8X4-unsplash The pandemic has provided us with what we might call a forced sabbatical—a chance to slow down, catch our breath, and finally rest. This is a great opportunity since we haven’t found much time to recuperate while living in a culture of busyness and packed schedules. However, one thing I’ve come to realize is that rest takes hard work; it’s not as easy as one might think. You see, our culture does not understand the complexities of rest. It sees rest simply as the cessation of activity. Rest is equated with entertainment, travel, and simply finding new experiences. But I would venture to say that these are at best either momentary distractions that make us feel better for a moment, or ways to medicate and distract ourselves from the exhaustion and difficulties of life. The proof is in the fact that many of us still find ourselves tired even after going on vacation or entertaining ourselves.

It seems to me that the true source of our weariness is this inner struggle to feel good enough. There is a deep soul level striving to prove ourselves as worthy and lovable. And this produces within us a restlessness that keeps us constantly striving even when we’re not working. Have you noticed people who have obsessive work ethics? Many of them are driven by the fear that if they don’t succeed, it will undermine their sense of identity and value. For this reason, even while attempting to rest, their soul is still hard at work—trying to secure their worth. We all do this in various ways, whether with our relationships, careers, or reputation. We try to rest but it’s hard for our hearts to be still. We are filled with anxiety and need. Entertainment and vacations might provide a momentary reprieve from the anxiety, but it doesn’t give us the true rest we’re longing for. We can only experience true rest when that deep soul level striving to be good enough has been dealt with. What we actually need is what Jesus calls “rest for our souls.”

In today’s passage, Jesus provides the means by which to find rest from our deep inner striving. Prior to this passage, Jesus has been indicting the Jewish leadership for placing a heavy yoke on the people of Israel. A yoke that calls them to meet the impossible standards of the law in order to be good enough before God- a similar struggle that we all wrestle with in our attempt to meet the standards of our career, relationships, and reputation. However, Jesus calls those who are tired and weary, and offers them a yoke that is easy and light. It is light because He would take our failures, our shortcomings, and our inability to meet the requirements of the law to the cross on our behalf and make us good enough through His righteousness and sacrifice. For this reason, we will only find true rest if we surrender our inner soul striving to be good enough on our own and take up the yoke of Jesus and find our “good enough” in Him alone.

Prayer: Father, I confess that I am weary and tired from everything that is going on. Everything from the pandemic to my own sense of insecurity and feeling not good enough. I surrender that before You and ask that You would help me to find my value, worth, and identity in the work of your Son Jesus Christ!  Amen.

Bible Reading for Today: Isaiah 21


Lunch Break Study

Read Philippians 3:2-11: Look out for the dogs, look out for the evildoers, look out for those who mutilate the flesh. For we are the circumcision, who worship by the Spirit of God and glory in Christ Jesus and put no confidence in the flesh— though I myself have reason for confidence in the flesh also. If anyone else thinks he has reason for confidence in the flesh, I have more: circumcised on the eighth day, of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; as to the law, a Pharisee; as to zeal, a persecutor of the church; as to righteousness under the law, blameless.But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith— 10 that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, 11 that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead.”

Questions to Consider

  1. Where did Paul’s sense of righteousness come from prior to meeting Christ?
  2. Where does Paul gain his sense of righteousness (a sense that he’s good enough) and why does it depend on faith?
  3. Where do you place your own confidence?

Notes

  1. Paul makes a list of his achievements in v.3-6 that he has done before coming to Christ. In a way, he was the model Jew, who fulfilled much of the law and was passionate about what he thought God was about. He had status as one of the elites as a pharisee.
  2. He counts all the things he has achieved as rubbish in comparison to the righteousness given to him by Jesus. It depends on faith because it’s not something he can earn by working harder or doing more, but can only be received in surrendering his prior confidence for a confidence rooted in the work of Jesus.
  3. Personal response.

Evening Reflection

ian-keefe-LiKtiYl0GTQ-unsplashTake some time and reflect on where you find your sense of value, worth, and identity. If it’s not in Jesus, take some time to surrender those things up to God and ask Him to help you find your confidence and security in Christ alone.

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