Resting Like Jesus

The Creator of the universe is always with us, so we have nothing to fear from any hardship life brings.

Matthew 8:23-27

During His time on earth, Jesus demonstrated how to have a healthy relationship with God. Everything our Savior did flowed from a life of restful dependence on His Father—even when resting seemed foolish and negligent to those around Him.

In today’s passage, the disciples were crossing the sea in a small boat during a violent storm, and Jesus was taking a nap. They may have wondered, Why is He sleeping at a time like this? Doesn’t He see our need?

It seems the disciples viewed Jesus’ resting as a sign of inattentiveness (Mark 4:38). But the truth is, God sometimes delays responding to our fears to better display His glory at work in our life. A moment later, Jesus commanded the waves and wind to be calm (Mark 4:39), and the disciples witnessed firsthand the power of God.

Jesus’ ability to surrender, even in the middle of a turbulent storm, reveals complete trust in His Father—something the disciples were also invited to experience. The invitation holds true for us as well: Why fear when the Creator of the universe is on our side? In times of hardship and testing, it’s easy to be consumed by the physical reality of our situation. But let’s not lose sight of the truth that God is with us. Always.

If God’s People Rest

We will be blessed if we listen when God instructs us to stop striving and wait.

Isaiah 30:15-21

In the season of upheaval described in today’s reading, God clearly specified how the people of Israel could be saved from their enemy. They were under threat from Assyria, and God said to wait on His ultimate deliverance instead of trying quick fixes like running to Egypt for protection. Repentance, rest, quietness, and trust were His gracious prescriptions for those awaiting restoration.

Tragically, the Israelites “would have none of it” (v. 15 NIV). Some fled on horses only to meet with disaster—a stark reminder that relying on our own efforts can easily fail us. So how can we learn to accept God’s invitation to trust and rest when we’re tempted to take matters into our own hands?

This is our hope: No matter how bleak our circumstances seem, God is our constant source of security—our “very ready help in trouble” (Psalm 46:1). It is our confidence in His character and constancy that enables us to experience peace, even when chaos surrounds us. We serve a gracious and just God who longs to pour out compassion and deliver us. Our choice to rest is a profound act of trust. Indeed, “blessed are all who wait for him” (Isa. 30:18 NIV).

Peace With One Another

The Lord speaks to His children—are you listening?

Romans 12:18-21

Scripture calls us to encourage, help, and get along with others— but most of us know at least one person with whom we have more conflict than comfort. Discord can take many forms: Personalities may not mesh; different belief systems can lead to arguments; and words or actions might be misunderstood. But through the Lord, almost any difference can be overcome.

Living in submission to Jesus creates a channel by which His goodness and grace can flow through us and create harmony. First, when we make a habit of lifting up the other person in prayer, divine grace becomes part of the situation. Next, to uncover the conflict’s source, we must be willing to share our concerns and listen to the other’s point of view. This means honestly discussing the issue, whether a past wound, incorrect assumption, or unhealthy thought pattern. (Sometimes working through this step requires enlisting the aid of a godly counselor.) Finally, once the root issue is known, both parties must cooperate in restoring harmony—and maintaining it by agreeing to confront new issues as needed.

God desires that believers live in peace, but He knows we can’t achieve this on our own. That’s why He gave us a Helper—the Holy Spirit—through whom we can attain unity and be bound together in peace (Ephesians 4:1-6).

The Motivational Power of Grace

Unmerited favor is God’s gift to you—you are fully loved and accepted forever.

Romans 6:1-4

Some Christians have a hard time with the doctrine of grace. They think, It just seems too easy to say, “Believe in Jesus and you’re accepted no matter what you do.” To please God, shouldn’t believers have to live a certain way? This reasoning mixes legalism with grace by saying, “Sure, we are saved by grace, but after salvation, you’d better follow the rules to stay in God’s favor.” Such thinking misses the point of grace and the message of hope.

Grace is a greater motivator than law (2 Corinthians 4:15-17). If you think you must perform in order to please God, guilt is your constant companion. Every time you fail to live up to your own expectations, you may question whether God loves you—or maybe even whether you’re really saved. The Lord doesn’t want us to live like this. We’ve already received His acceptance, and there is nothing more we can add to it. Grace not only sets us free from guilt but also motivates us to obey and serve God out of love and gratitude for everything He has done for us. Instead of feeling burnt out in our service, we will have a burning passion for Him.

Are you working to please God? Ask Him to help you to accept His grace and to walk in it. You’ll find living that way is energizing. Obedience and service will be a natural result of His overflowing love, and you’ll live a life filled with joy and gratitude.

The Gospel of God’s Grace

Eternal love and security belong to all who believe Jesus died and rose again.

Acts 20:16-24

The apostle Paul had a ministry to fulfill and a message to deliver— about faith that saves. His words in today’s passage from Acts 20 help us understand the foundational concept involved in our salvation. Paul called it “the gospel of God’s grace” (v. 24).

We’re saved simply because God is gracious. We could never do enough righteous works to bridge the gap between our sin and His holiness. That’s why you’ll never hear of “the gospel of the Law of God.” Can you imagine singing, “Amazing law, how strict the sound that saved a wretch like me”? We could never fulfill the requirements, especially when you consider how Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount expanded the law’s meaning (Matthew 5:1-48; Matthew 6:1-34; Matthew 7:1-29). But grace is totally different. It has nothing to do with our worthiness or performance but is based solely on God’s favor and love.

What’s most remarkable is that the avenue for our salvation is through faith alone. The grace God extends is His gift—not anything we can add to with our works (Ephesians 2:8-9).

Praise God for His wonderful plan. Christ paid our sin debt with His death, and all we have to do is believe it. Even after salvation, God’s grace keeps flowing. We never have to worry that we aren’t good enough and will fall out of favor. His grace is forever.

Equipping by Example

If you want to lead well, follow Jesus.

1 Peter 2:21-24

There’s an adage about parenting that says more things are caught than taught. In other words, our children will pick up more from what we do than what we say. To lead those in our care well, two things are required: right teaching and a right attitude. While the principles we work to instill in our children are vital, the attitude with which we approach those lessons (and all of life, in fact) is key. For the best example of the right attitude to have, we need look no further than Jesus.

Parents are called to lead those in their home, modeling Jesus’ love and sacrifice for the people entrusted to their care. Our kids need to see us spending time with God, turning to Scripture when making decisions, being generous with our resources, and showing love to the people around us. Children learn to walk with God as they watch us apply His principles in daily life. Our right example will build their confidence and trust in His ways.

Even if you aren’t a parent, it’s likely you’re leading others in your circle of influence. Remember that Jesus is the perfect model for us to emulate as we share God’s truth with those around us (Mark 10:42-45). Lean into His example of servant leadership as you teach, train, and love others well. And ask Him to help you grow in godliness each and every day.

Accountable to the Father

Because God is perfect in love and wisdom, we can fully trust that His boundaries are for our good.

Ephesians 6:1-3

Those of us who are parents have a great responsibility to teach and train our children in the way they should go. We have been given authority over them for their protection and benefit. We make sure they brush their teeth, eat their vegetables, do their homework, and say their prayers. We teach them to be respectful, patient, and kind. We train them to know and do the right thing in difficult situations (Proverbs 22:6). While all of this is important, there’s one principle we must teach that surpasses all the rest: They are ultimately accountable not to us but to the living God—His authority in their life is higher than ours will ever be.

One day, our children won’t have to answer to us anymore. So it’s essential that they learn God loves them more than we ever could—and that they’re accountable to Him for everything they do (including behavior, words, and choice of friends). Then our kids will be more likely to continue following Him and His ways even when no longer under our watchful eyes. Their obedience to the Lord will be borne out of their relationship with Him, not based on our expectations. And they’ll recognize He’s always with them, wherever they go (Matthew 28:20). A true understanding of God’s deep love and their accountability to Him will shape our children’s relationship with Him and the ultimate direction of their life.

A Father’s Grace

God’s forgiveness is complete, permanent, and always available.

Luke 15:20-24

The Parable of the Prodigal Son is a beautiful picture of the grace God showers on us when we repent and turn to Him. In this story, the father has been greatly disrespected by his younger son but continues to wait patiently for him to come home. Finally, as the young man is returning, the father runs to meet him and orders the servants to prepare a feast. His eagerness to celebrate his child’s return exemplifies how God stands ready to receive us when we head toward Him. It also provides a perfect model for how we’re to show grace to the prodigals in our own lives.

This illustration of God’s character underscores Paul’s assertion to the Ephesians: “In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our wrongdoings, according to the riches of His grace which He lavished on us” (Ephesians 1:7-8). When we turn to God, He showers His grace on us. He doesn’t forgive our sins begrudgingly or keep a record of our wrongs. He offers complete redemption that leads to new life.

Do you need that kind of grace today? Know that God stands ready to immerse you in it (John 1:16-17). Or perhaps you need to offer it to someone in your life. Let the image of the forgiving father in today’s passage be a reminder of the grace God calls us to extend every day.

Discovering God’s Path

Psalms 25:4-5

Perhaps you have wondered, Does God have a specific plan for my life? And if He does, is it possible to know what the plan is? These are questions many Christians have grappled with at some point. And there’s good news—the answer to both is a resounding yes! God has a plan for each believer’s life. Moreover, He wants us to know and walk the path He has for us. 

Sometimes we make the idea of finding the Lord’s will more complicated than it needs to be. He’s not playing hide and seek with His will. There are three simple things we can do to discover His best path for our life:

  1. We must have a sincere desire for God’s guidance, trusting that He will direct us in His perfect timing (John 16:13).
  2. We should seek the Lord through His Word. After all, the Bible is one of the primary tools He uses to make His will and His ways apparent to us (2 Timothy 3:16-17).
  3. We are to pray continually (1 Thessalonians 5:17), fully expecting that our Father has something to say to us, His beloved children.

As we seek the Lord in these ways, we’ll be able to perceive His direction for our life. Then, we can live with the confident hope that we are walking in His will.

The Father’s Protection

Though life isn’t always easy, we ultimately have nothing to fear, because God is always by our side.

Psalms 18:1-3

All good fathers and mothers want to protect their children. You can no doubt recall inspiring reports of a parent running into a burning house to rescue a child, donating an organ to a son or daughter, or sacrificing mightily to give young ones a better, safer life. Stories like these are not only heartwarming but also encouraging—they point us toward the greater reality of God as the One ultimately responsible for our safety. Earthly parents go to great lengths to shelter their little ones, but our heavenly Father is able to do so much more than we could ever ask or imagine (Ephesians 3:20).

Look at the qualities David attributes to God in today’s verses. He calls God his strength, his rock, his fortress, and his shield, just to list a few. When we think about the Lord’s presence in our life, these might not be the first characteristics that come to mind. But they are key to comprehending His role as our ultimate protector. Understanding these divine attributes can help us appreciate God more deeply and strengthen our faith as we watch for Him daily.

Whether you’ve experienced the protection of a good parent or not, you have a strong Father in God, who can be called on in times of trouble (Psalm 34:17). He will be with you in every situation and promises ultimately to bring good from it all.