RSBC Bible Reading Plan

"...Your word is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path..." - Psalm 119:105

June 21 – Deuteronomy 23
The book of Deuteronomy is the 2nd giving of the law following the 40 years of wilderness wandering of the Israelites. Note – that all these promises are ‘Yes’ and ‘Amen’ in Jesus (2 Corinthians 1: 20). Zoom in on V.5 – “But the Lord your God was not willing that the curse rest upon you. But the Lord your God turned the curse into a blessing for you. Because the Lord your God loves you.” Notice that terrible word, ‘curse.’ In Hebrew, it literally means, “To dam up the stream.” It pictures a muddy trickle. It’s the purposeful choice someone made to block life-giving water from flowing down to others. A curse devalues someone and sets them up for failure. It is the very opposite of the Blessing – which adds value and hope to our life. The curse is when someone chooses to stop that flow of words and actions from pouring into our heart and life, leaving us with subtraction, emptiness, the feeling like a desert. This leaves us with that deep thirst for the Blessing. Pause and Claim the promise of V.5 as God’s promise to you – to remove whatever is damming up the stream of His blessing in your life and to pour out living water in you. Write out a prayer that you can freely give the blessing of living water to near ones in your life.

June 22 – Mark 10
The Blessing is so much a part of what Jesus did in loving us.
• In Mark 10:14,16, knowing the great need of a child, we read, “And they were bringing children to Him that He might touch them, but the Disciples rebuked them.” But Jesus wouldn’t stand for that. “He (Jesus) took them (the children) in his arms, and began blessing them, laying his hands on them.”
• In Mark 14:22, knowing of the great fear and uncertainty surrounding His Disciples on that last night before His crucifixion, we read “And while they were eating, He took some bread, and after a blessing, He broke it and gave it to the Disciples, and said, “‘Take, eat, this is my Body.’”
• And can you guess the very last thing Jesus did for His Disciples on earth? After His resurrection, literally as He was being lifted up into Heaven, we read “While He was blessing them, He parted from them and was carried up into heaven.” (Luke 24:51)
Pause & Reflect – If you missed the blessing as a child, Jesus’ love is the one thing strong enough to fully, completely, “reverse the curse” of that terrible subtraction. If we’ve faced huge trials and uncertainty in our lives, including the loss of important others, Jesus’ words of Blessing can bring us genuine hope and courage. At the most important moments in our life, Jesus is there with His Blessing. Imagine being a child received in Jesus’ arms and blessed. Write a prayer celebrating His love to bless you, reversing the downward curse of sin.

June 23 – 1 Peter 3
The apostle Peter is writing to believers scattered because of persecution. It would be easy for these believers to become cynical and critical. Focus on V. 9 – “not paying back evil for evil or insult for insult but, on the contrary, giving a blessing, since you were called for this, so that you may inherit a blessing.” In the first 2 chapters, Peter reminds the 1st century believers of the incredible blessings they have received through their faith in Jesus, and now he encourages them to ‘give a blessing’ to one another. Pause and Listen to God – Who in your traffic patterns could benefit from you speaking a blessing to them? Who could benefit from you pausing to pray for their need and for God’s provision? This maybe an opportunity to demonstrate Jesus’ love to one who is not yet a believer. “Abba Father, Speak, Lord, for I am listening. I sense _________ could benefit from me speaking a blessing. I ask You to help me ___________________ as I encounter him/ her today, for I humbly pray in Jesus’ name, Amen!”

June 24 – Jeremiah 29
God is speaking to His people in exile through His messenger, Jeremiah. Times were bleak and seemingly hopeless. People felt like God was against them. Focus on V. 11; what do you think these words from God did to the people’s hearts in that day when they read: “‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans for welfare and not for calamity, to give you a future and a hope.’” Have you ever been there? When times were so tough to the point of despairing life? Or at least at a place where it seemed like you had no future or hope? Are you there now? Pause and reread verse 11 as God’s promise to you when times are tough and you feel overcome with despair. Write a prayer expressing your heart for the hope that you have in Jesus – see Colossians 1: 27. Sources used from – Preach2Engage.com & SHOW ME THE FATHER discussion guide (https://www.showmethefathermovie.com)

June 25 – Isaiah 30
Today begins a 24-hour prayer movement on the church campus at 9 a.m. till Sunday at 9 a.m. REST is experienced in God’s people as a church when we turn to Him and trust Him in our hearts. As you reflect on Isaiah chapter 30, focus on Verse 15 – For the Lord God, the Holy One of Israel, has said: “You will be delivered by returning and RESTING; your strength will lie in quiet confidence. But you are not willing.” God’s people in the prophet Isaiah’s day were turning to idols and unstable political powers rather than the Lord for deliverance. God’s invitation to His people ‘then’ as it is ‘now’ RETURN TO ME TO FIND REST. Could it be possible that as God’s people in His church at Roswell Street that we have turned to distractions of culture and things rather than the Lord? Confess any of these distractions to the Lord as His Spirit brings them to your mind. Reflect now on Verse 18. What does this text reveal to You of the Real God revealed in the pages of the Bible? What does He long to do for you today? What is He rising from on high to bestow on you? Express your heart to Him in prayer. Heavenly Father, we pray that as our church humbles ourselves in these 24 hours of prayer that we would find REST from distractions and self-made idols. Empower us to be what You are calling us to be in this time in our city. Allow us not to focus on our past, but to place our eyes wholly on You to find renewed freedom, for we pray humbly in Jesus’ name, Amen!

June 26 – Acts 3
Acts chapter 3 reveals the power of God evident in the early church by the healing of the lame man. This created a commotion among the religious elite in the Temple complex, and this gave Peter the opportunity to preach the Good News of Jesus’ love to the people. Focus on Peter’s calling to the people in Verses 19 – 20 – “Therefore repent and turn back, so that your sins may be wiped out, that seasons of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord, and that he may send Jesus, who has been appointed for you as the Messiah.” Today is a Special United Prayer Gathering as a church at Roswell Street. This is an act of repenting and turning back to God, so that our sins may be wiped out in fresh new ways. Whatever maybe hindering spiritual awakening among us, we are asking God to remove as we confess our sins. Our hope is ‘that seasons of refreshing may come from the Presence of the Lord.’ Ask the Lord to turn your heart in repentance to Him from any known sin or doubtful habit. Pray for an outpouring of Jesus’ love in our worship gathering this morning as we humble ourselves in prayer.

June 27 – Psalm 46
Read this Psalm several times and make it your prayer confession today. God know the ‘times of trouble’ you are experiencing. He sees the fear in your heart and stress you are carrying. Now, take several deep breaths and experience Verse 10 – “Be still and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!” Be still = rest. Rest is entering the supernatural natural life of being empowered by the Holy Spirit. It is becoming free from past regret and future fears to live presently the abundant life of God. Pause to express your troubles and fears to the Lord. Ask Him to fill you with His perfect peace.

June 28 – Mark 4
As you reflect on chapter 4, think on Jesus’ parable of the Sower, and His explanation of the parable. What type of soil is your heart? Sadly, the cares of this world choke the good work of God’s Word in our hearts. Now focus on encountering Jesus in Verses 35 – 41. Put yourself in the boat in the midst of the breaking waves that threatened to sink you. Have you ever been at that place emotionally, physically, mentally, relationally, or financially in your life? See Jesus rebuking the wind and waves resulting in a ‘great calm.’ Remember that Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever. The Living Jesus who calmed the threatening storm ‘then’ is the One who does the same ‘today.’ Respond with your heart to Jesus. Cry out to Him in faith to ask Him to calm you in the storm you are experiencing. Write out a prayer in a journal.

June 29 – Mark 6
As you read this chapter of the Gospel, imagine what a day would look like in the life of Jesus. He was God in human flesh, so nothing was more important than what He was doing – delivering people from demons, teaching in the synagogue, commissioning the 12 disciples, feeding the five thousand, and receiving the sad news of John the Baptist’s beheading. Focus on Jesus’ words to His disciples in Verse 31 – “Come away by yourselves to a remote place and REST for a while.” Jesus calls his disciples away from the busyness of ministry to a place of REST. How are you doing with Jesus’ calling for you to REST? Answer the following introspective questions:

• When is the last time you slept more than 8 hours?

• When have you taken 24-hours to rest without responding to texts, calls or interruptions?

• When have you taken extended time away for more than 7 days?

Listen to the Lord for areas that he would desire for you to REST. ‘Self-care’ as God directs is the key to spiritually flourishing as His Spirit-empowered disciple. Share with a family or partner what you sense God speaking to you.

June 30 – Genesis 1–2
As you reflect on these awesome chapters, think of God’s mighty power of taking nothing and creating everything. How long did it take God to create the heavens and the earth? ‘Day’ in the Hebrew text is ‘Yom’ which speaks of a unit of time reckoned from sunset to the next sunset. This is a 24-hour time. Think about 2: 1 – 3 – “So the heavens and the earth and everything in them were completed. 2 On the seventh day God had completed his work that he had done, and he rested on the seventh day from all his work that he had done. 3 God blessed the seventh day and declared it holy, for on it he rested from all his work of creation.” Why did God rest on the Sabbath day? Was it because He was exhausted from the previous 6 days of creation? No- God rested to create a ‘sacred space’ for His creation made in His image to draw close to him. Rest means to cease from activity. Choose a day on the calendar when you cease from your normal day-to-day activity to give God His sacred space in your life. Consider the following on your day of rest:

• Longer times of Bible reading, prayer, and journaling.

• Prolonged times to take naps, lounge and do nothing.

• Extended times of conversation with near ones, seeking to become an attentive listener.

• Taking a walk or bike ride to enjoy the wonders of God’s created world.

July 1 – Isaiah 50
As you reflect on this chapter, begin to sense God’s heart of grief over His people’s spiritual wandering and unfaithfulness. Read verses 4 & 5 several times outloud, for these are the words of the Son of God to His Father – “The Lord God has given me the tongue of those who are instructed to know how to sustain the weary with a word. He awakens me each morning; he awakens my ear to listen like those being instructed. The Lord God has opened my ear, and I was not rebellious; I did not turn back.” In contrast to the culture of disobedience, lead your heart to follow Jesus with a posture of obedience. Pray this text to God and experience His loving favor. He longs for You to listen to His voice and experience the REST of His Presence.

July 2 – 3 John
Read this one little book and chapter over a few times. It is the writing of the apostle John in the 1st century to fellow believers. What caused John great joy? What caused him grief? Focus on Vs.14 – “I hope to see you soon, and we will talk face to face.” Who is it that you would like to see face to face and talk? Maybe a friend, family member or mentor. Pray and ask the Lord to show you a plan for meeting this person. Send a text expressing your desire to see this person soon. Put a date on the calendar. REST is experienced by deepening caring connections.

July 3 – Acts 27-28
The apostle Paul was held as a prisoner of Rome by the Sea in Caesarea for several years. He appealed as a Roman citizen to appear before the emperor Nero, and this appeal led Paul on a voyage by sea to Rome. As you read these chapters, notice the various places which are mentioned. Look at a map (maybe the back of your Bible) of Paul’s travels. One way to experience renewal and REST is by traveling and experiencing new places as a family or group of friends. Prayerfully consider traveling to a place you have never been. Make it fun for your family and friends. Listen to the Lord and ask Him where He might desire for you to go. Don’t make excuses; simply hear His voice and follow His guidance.

July 4 – John 8
If America is the home of brave and the land of the free, why are many living without courage and personal freedom? Why is there such a rise in depression, anxiety, restlessness, hospitalizations related to mental illness and psychosomatic illnesses? Sadly, this is true for Christians as well. Jesus has come to set us free just as He did with the adulterous woman from guilt and condemnation – see V. 11. He sets us free from darkness by His Light V.12. Reflect on Jesus’ words in Vs. 31 – 32 – “If you continue in my word, you really are my disciples. 32 You will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” From what sin do you need Jesus to free you? Write a prayer from your heart responding to Jesus at the point of His promise for freedom.

July 5 – Romans 16
Read and highlight the names that Paul mentions in this chapter. Who are these people mentioned? They are personal friends of Paul. Write down the names of family and friends for whom you are grateful. Pray expressing gratitude to God for these ‘near ones.’ Ask God to give you a special day to spend time with one or several of them. Life is filled with REST when connected with one another.

July 6 – John 20
Imagine the fear and anxiety of the disciples were experiencing following Jesus’ arrest, trials, and crucifixion. In this chapter, we find the disciples behind closed doors and Jesus appears to them. Put yourself in the upper room as Jesus enters in His resurrection body; imagine Him breathing on you and speaking these words to you – Vs. 21 – 23 – “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, I also send you.…. Receive the Holy Spirit.” Express your heart to Jesus. What does that do to your heart hearing these words of Jesus to you? REST is experiencing the supernatural Presence of Jesus in our hearts and minds.

July 7 – Exodus 19-20
As you prayerfully read these chapters, imagine being one of the Israelites at the base of Mount Sinai. How might you respond to all that was occurring with the mountain shaking and the dark clouds descending? Zero in on chapter 20, verses 8–11 – The Lord God says, “Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy: 9 You are to labor six days and do all your work, 10 but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the Lord your God. You must not do any work—you, your son or daughter, your male or female servant, your livestock, or the resident alien who is within your city gates. 11 For the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and everything in them in six days; then he RESTED on the seventh day. Therefore, the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and declared it holy.” Why is the Sabbath day important? What are you to do on the Sabbath day? God declared ‘holy’ the Sabbath day, which means it is to be a ‘sacred space’ for you to engage with the everlasting God. When is your Sabbath day? How do you observe the Sabbath day? REST occurs in your soul as you regularly with a rhythm give space for God and sincerely obey His command (not suggestion) for a 24-hour day of Sabbath rest. Think about it – Just like your device or computer needs a reboot, so your soul needs a weekly reboot by keeping a day of rest.

July 8 – Mark 2
This chapter in Mark’s Gospel leaves you in awe of the power and authority of Jesus. As you read this chapter, can you see Jesus’ authority displayed? Turn your attention to how Jesus observed the Sabbath in verses 23 – 28. Why were the Pharisees so upset with Jesus’ disciples? How did Jesus respond to the irrelevant religious rules? God had given the Law to encourage the Israelites to love him and to love others (Mark 12:30 – 31). He had never prohibited doing good on the Sabbath. The Pharisees acted as if God had created people so that he would have someone to keep the Sabbath, but Jesus clarified that God had given the Sabbath as a gift to the people he had created (Mark 2:27). Since Jesus is the Lord of the Sabbath, what steps might you take to honor Him as Lord on a day of rest? Write out a prayer of surrender to obey Jesus on a day of rest.

July 9 – Hebrews 3
Tomorrow Pastor Michael begins the new series REST based on Hebrews chapters 3 & 4. Focus on V.1 – “Consider Jesus, the apostle and high priest of our confession.” There is a lot to unpack about the person of Jesus from this text but focus on considering Jesus. REST is experienced by fresh encounters with Jesus. This Jesus in the pages of the Bible is the Living Jesus who is before us today. Consider Jesus as the faithful Son over God’s household, of which you are a member. Vs.6. How do you feel that you have been accepted into God’s household? Express your prayer to Jesus whose arms are open to welcome you today. REST is found in the acceptance of Jesus as the Head of the most important family of all – i.e., the Church!

July 10 – Matthew 11
REST is experienced when you have fresh encounters with God’s Son. Reflect on Jesus in Matthew chapter 11. Here we encounter Jesus reassuring John the Baptist in his doubts and grieving over an unresponsive  generation. Imagine Jesus standing before you with a ‘Yoke’ of oxen and hear Him inviting you – “Come to me, all of you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you REST. Take up my yoke and learn from me, because I am lowly and humble in heart, and you will find REST for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” What worry or anxiety are you experiencing today? Picture this worry being removed as you place your neck under Jesus’ yoke. Respond in Prayer – “Jesus, as You graciously invite me to join Your yoke, I willingly submit to you. My soul does need the rest that only You can give. May I experience Your yoke of leadership, which is easy and light, for I humbly pray in Your name, Amen!”

July 11 – John 4
As you read and reflect on this amazing chapter in John’s Gospel, notice how Jesus met the needs in this woman’s life while providing her the water of life to quench her soul’s thirst. He met her relational needs of attention, acceptance, and respect. Take a moment to consider the heart of Jesus and what moved Him to meet the needs of the Samaritan woman.

• His desire that she wouldn’t feel alone

• His love and respect for her as a person who had made some poor life choices but was still worth the gift of forgiveness.

• His love that she would experience the power of His forgiveness and new life.

Jesus looked past her poor choices to the hurting heart of the Samaritan woman. What do these truths about the nature of Jesus make you feel today? Would you allow Jesus to meet your needs and care about your life? Consider praying something like this: Jesus, thank You for welcoming me as I am. Thank You for your desire to relate to me, both at the point of my aloneness and my sinfulness. Thank You for your grace and compassion. Would You fill my heart with Your love and teach me to follow You? Now share with someone today and celebrate with them! Tell them, “I am loved and forgiven, and so are you!”

July 12 – Romans 5
Read and reflect on the wonder of V.8 – “But God proves his own love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” God accepts you by His startling love demonstrated through His Son’s death for you on the cross. Wow, this is amazing acceptance! REST is experienced when You encounter Jesus’ love at the Point of His Word. Pause to consider all that God has accepted about you:

• Your mistakes and sins by forgiving them through Jesus’ blood

• Times when you may have judged others, based on their surface appearance and not the neediness in their hearts

• Times when you may have missed the hurt in another person’s heart or been a part of hurting them yourself

Pause to pray by filling in the blanks of names as the Lord prompts you: Lord, when I consider all that You have accepted about me I feel ________________________________________. Thank You for seeing past my failings and loving me. I want to love others the way You have loved me. Father, let Your heart of compassion flow through me. Equip me to see others the way You see them. In particular, help me to love  ____________ the way You would love them.

July 13 – Acts 1
As you read Acts chapter 1, put yourself in the text. What would it have been like to be one of the early followers of Jesus in the upper room? Meditate on Jesus’ promise to you in V.8 – “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come on you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” Becoming Jesus’ witnesses is simply sharing our story and allowing others to hear our experiences with Jesus. Pause now to REST and consider with whom you might share your story—your experience with Jesus’ love, acceptance, and compassion. Now pray: “Lord, would You fill my heart with Your love and prompt me to express acceptance, respect, and attention towards those You bring into my path today? Thank You for showing me how to see people the way You see them, needy of You and me.” Now commit to keep your eyes and heart open for those people God puts into your path. Be ready to share the incredible story of Jesus! REST is discovered by encountering Jesus and responding to His Spirit to become His witness by sharing your story.

July 14 – Joel 1
Reflect on Joel chapter 1. We are in the same condition as God’s people during the time of the prophet Joel. The alarm is going off, and we must respond to it. It’s time for the church to wake up, just as the priests and the ministers of the Lord in Joel’s day were shaken out of their sleep over the sinfulness of Judah. If we are to know God’s supernatural power, we, too, must have spirits that are contrite and broken. It broke the priests’ hearts that they could not make any offering at all to God. God’s judgment had been so mighty that there was nothing left to offer. They wept and wailed before the God of heaven. They humbled themselves through fasting. They demanded national repentance by calling for a solemn assembly to cry out to the Lord. Their tears were expressions of honest grief, and in their pain, they interceded for the people of God. They knew this was God’s gateway to spiritual power and His gateway to see spiritual breakthrough. PRAY and Experience Scripture “Apart from me you can do nothing” (John 15:5). Pray your own prayer of declaration. Tell God how much you need His help to change your spiritual condition—that apart from Him you can do nothing. As you pray, believe that Jesus is present, available, and sufficient. Lord, my power and my strength are not sufficient—I need You. I need You to… __________________________.

July 15 – Joel 2-3
How do you read this passage from Joel chapters 2 & 3? Do you see it as another fascinating but perhaps ho-hum history of an ancient people who never seemed to be able to get it together spiritually? Or do you read these verses as a prophetic rendering of where we live today? Let’s reflect on this passage for us at Roswell Street. May God’s Word touch us, break us, and drive us to a new desire to know God. When was the last time we were broken with grief over our own sins and alienation from our heavenly Father? When did we last intercede on behalf of our bosses, our colleagues at work, or the members of our own families with sorrowful hearts? When was the last time we fasted and prayed over our own spiritual plights, the spiritual conditions of our churches, and the spiritual health of our country? When was the last time we sensed God’s calling us to repent of anything, especially our separation from the God who made us, loves us, and gave His Son for our eternal souls? When was the last time we were consciously willing to submit to His leadership and willfully turn from sin when He called us to repent? When was the last time we called for a solemn assembly to cry out for God to forgive us and our brothers and sisters from our sins of racial prejudice, greed, lust, love of material things, and anything else that stands between us and God? REST is experienced as you hear God’s voice and turn to Him with all of your heart. Write out a prayer response to the Scripture.

July 16 – Hebrews 4
Tomorrow Pastor Michael will be preaching from Hebrews chapters 3 and 4. The theme is REST is experienced by listening to God’s voice and responding in obedience. Reflect on times when God has spoken, and you did not pay attention. Can you think of times in your life when you did not listen to God? Maybe you were preoccupied or filled with pain or in a prodigal state? What were the outcomes? God is speaking; Are you listening? Now Pray: “Abba Father, with the heart of young Samuel, I sincerely ask – ‘Speak, Lord, for I am Your servant … I am listening.’ I pray for you to speak into my life’s pain, challenges, relationships, and decisions. Before I know what You may say, my heart says, ‘Yes!’ for I humbly pray in Jesus’ name, Amen!”

July 17 – Deuteronomy 28
Prayerfully Reflect on the blessings which are the result of RESTING as God has directed. Also consider the curses which result if you ignore God’s command to have a regular sabbath rest each week. Disease = Dis-ease Take time this week to SHARE with Others in Community. After you have sensed God’s leading in your life, engage the strength of community—Plan to tell another person about how God wants to bring change to your life to REST. Your words might begin like this: I sense that the Lord wants me to change in these ways… I am committed to praying more consistently about… I am committed to fasting and prayer as I… LOVE Others in Community Finally, ask God to make these changes and then show you how to more effectively demonstrate His love to others: Change me, Lord, to become more like You. By Your Spirit, make me more encouraging, attentive, or compassionate, so that I might better reflect Your love. Change me, heavenly Father.

July 18 – Psalm 4
Do you ever experience sleepless nights? Does worry fill your mind throughout the day? As you read this Psalm, Picture David and his men fleeing from his son, Absalom. (You might read 2 Samuel 15 – 18 for the background). The point is that even though David was experiencing turbulence around him, he had peace within by RESTING in God. Picture your trials and anxieties being put in a box. Now Imagine yourself handing them to God. Commit to memory this text and recall before going to sleep – Psalm 4:8 – “I will both lie down and sleep in peace, for you alone, Lord, make me live in safety.”

July 19 – Isaiah 26
We have read several chapters from the prophesy of Isaiah in this devotional season, but this chapter provides amazing REST in a turbulent time of Israel’s history. As you read this chapter, what do you sense is occurring around God’s people? Do you sense darkness, injustice, oppression, mistreatment? Do you sense the hope that God is placing in the hearts of people by His Word? Focus on Vs. 3-4 – “You will keep the mind that is dependent on you in perfect peace, for it is trusting in you. Trust in the Lord forever, because in the Lord, the Lord himself, is an everlasting rock!” Pray – What thoughts in your mind do you desire to depend on God? Write out a prayer surrendering these thoughts to the Lord. By faith, ask God to allow this text to become a reality in your heart.

July 20 – Psalm 55
As you read this chapter, keep in mind that David is experiencing deep betrayal by a trusted friend. Are you experiencing betrayal or lack of trust from someone important in your life? Maybe you feel like saying with David, “If only I had wings like a dove! I would fly away and find REST.” Vs.6 So how do you find rest in relational pain? Follow the counsel David told himself in Vs. 22 – “Cast your burden on the Lord, and he will sustain you; he will never allow the righteous to be shaken.” Imagine giving your burdens to the Lord. Write out a prayer expressing your dependance on God with the cares of your heart and your gratitude that He cares for you.

July 21 – Exodus 33
Imagine the Lord speaking to Moses, and Moses leading the people. What would this have been like if you were one of the Israelites? Put yourself ‘in the text.’ Listen to God speak these words to you – in V. 14 “My presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.” As you sense the Spirit’s leadership in your life, follow Him by faith. Trust Him to give you the REST that your weary heart so desires and needs. Pray – “Abba Father, as I sense You leading me in new ways, I rest in Your Presence to go with me and to give my soul rest, for I pray in Jesus’ name, Amen!”

July 22 – Psalm 23
Prayerfully read and reflect on this Psalm 23. Who is your shepherd – i.e., the One who cares for and guides you? What is the condition of the sheep in the Lord’s care? Now turn to the Gospel of John chapter 10, verses 27 -28 – “My sheep hear my voice, I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish. No one will snatch them out of my hand.” How do Jesus’ words affect your heart? REST occurs as you attentively listen to Jesus and follow His leadership to still waters, green pastures, and places of restoration. Pray with an attentive heart of surrender to Jesus’ voice.

July 23 – Numbers 13-15
In our REST sermon series, we are learning the importance of listening to God’s voice, and we are noticing the disastrous consequences of not listening when God is speaking. The writer of Hebrews refers to a time when God’s people hardened their hearts. The writer is specifically speaking of the events from today’s Scripture reading in the book of Numbers. What are some of the Disastrous consequences of unbelief and disobedience for the people then? What might be some painful consequences for you today if you do not respond to God’s call to enter His rest? Write a prayer expressing your desire to listen to God’s voice and obey as He leads you.

July 24 – Revelation 14
Wow! This chapter of the book of Revelation is like the other chapters which are filled with hope and promise for us as the victorious children of God. Pause and reflect on the pronouncement of eternal life & REST in Vs. 13 – Then I heard a voice from heaven saying, “Write: Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on.” “Yes,” says the Spirit, “so they will REST from their labors, since their works follow them.” As you anticipate heaven and the eternal rest Jesus has prepared for you, From what things are you looking forward to resting? (Maybe the struggle with sin, flesh, devil, trials, heartaches….) Write a prayer response expressing gratitude to God for the hope and assurance of an eternal place of REST.

July 25 – Jude
Jude is writing with a heart of love to warn and encourage the believers in the 1st century to preserve. As you observed yesterday from our sermon series of REST, Rest is experienced relationally as we engage with fellow brothers and sisters in Christ. Focus on Vs. 20–21 – “But you, dear friends, as you build yourselves up in your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Spirit, 21 keep yourselves in the love of God, waiting expectantly for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ for eternal life.” Pause and Consider – WHO can you build up by words of encouragement, appreciation, or support? Ask the Spirit to empower you to fill you with hope and express hope to a near one.

July 26 – Psalm 119
Read & Reflect on the longest chapter in the Bible which is all about the Bible. Give yourself a little extra time this morning ☺. Notice the effect of the Word on mind and heart who rests in its promises and provisions. How has the Word of God effected your heart and mind? – ____________________ (greater peace, sense of joy, etc..) Highlight several verses that Speak to you and write a prayer response to God expressing gratitude for His Word. REST occurs as the Word of God frees you from painful emotions and downward thoughts to experience his hope rising within you.

July 27 – Judges 7 & 8
These chapters tell the incredible victory God worked through Gideon and his small army over the Midianites. Zoom in on Vs. 4 – “Gideon and the three hundred men came to the Jordan and crossed it. They were exhausted but still in pursuit. “ Have you ever felt exhausted (physically, mentally, emotionally, spiritually)? God’s antidote to exhaustion is REST. Pause & respond to Jesus’ call – “All you who are weary and heavy laden, Come to Me and find rest.” Abba Father, I find myself at times like Gideon and his army of 300 becoming exhausted and tired. I so long for and desire Your strength. Thank You for your calling to my soul to stop what I am doing and turn my focus on You. I do so now… as I breath in Your Presence and breath out my cares, for I humble myself in Your sight in Jesus’ mighty name, Amen!

July 28 – Mark 1
Both the religious leaders of Christ’s day and His own followers often misunderstood His priorities. Throughout His life on earth, Christ displayed counter-cultural priorities, giving time and attention to people and things which others despised, rejected, or deemed unimportant. The rationale behind Jesus’ behavior becomes perfectly clear when we understand the greater, overarching priority which guided Him: His insistence on hearing from, and yielding to, His Father. “I can do nothing on My own initiative,” He declared (John 5:30). The actions which so confounded the Pharisees and disciples alike give evidence that Jesus’ conduct was guided not by man’s opinions, but by His Father’s heart. Imagine seeing Jesus early in the morning alone with the Father praying – reflecting on Verse 35. Why was this Jesus’ priority? He needed to hear His Father and then yield to what His Father revealed. Hearing the Father must become our pursuit and passion, just as it was the Savior’s. Yielding to all that the Father reveals must become our nourishment, just as it was the Savior’s. Part of our pursuit to hear God is practicing the discipline of solitude. “Be still and know that I am God…” (Psalm 46:10). When solitude (time alone with Jesus) becomes our priority:

• Prayer becomes listening as well as asking.

• Meditation on Jesus nurtures our spirit.

• Withdrawal from the world and connection with Jesus frees us to “Set [our] minds on things above, not on earthly things” (Colossians 3:2).

• Victory in the battle of the mind is experienced as “we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ” (2 Corinthians 10:5).

Solitude & REST moves us beyond a preoccupation with His blessings to intimacy with the One who blesses. Religious practice gives way to the experience of His presence. Express Your heart to God to enter HIS REST with Jesus in prayer. Find a place of solitude and rest in His presence. Make this your prayerful pursuit.

July 29 – 1 Samuel 1-3
As you reflect on these chapters, sense the spiritual darkness and moral desperation of the day when Samuel was born. When everyone was busy doing things for God and deaf to His voice, the Lord was speaking to the young boy Samuel. Make 3: 9 your prayer in response to God speaking to you – “Speak, LORD, for your servant is listening.” Take a moment to practice yielding to God, allowing the Holy Spirit to direct your life as you offer these three requests:

• Ask God to reveal the areas in your life in which your opinions might be coloring your judgment: “Lord, help my beliefs, behaviors, and relational encounters to align with Your Word.”

• Ask the Lord to empower your decision-making: “Heavenly Father, may I have the boldness to address issues in my own life and to offer courageous confessions when appropriate. Help me to stand for what is right and not cave in to others’ pressure.”

• Ask God to provide clarity and confirmation through His Word regarding His will in your current situation: “Lord, give me a clear purpose in life and the ability to support and encourage others in following a clear purpose.”

July 30 – Isaiah 6
Insights from the Prophet: Cleansing precedes clarity “I saw the Lord sitting on a throne, high and lifted up, and the train of His robe filled the temple” (Isaiah 6:1). The prophet Isaiah’s dramatic encounter with the Lord brought with it the need to put away the sin of “unclean lips.” He confessed his sin: “‘Woe to me!’ I cried. ‘I am ruined! For I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips, and my eyes have seen the King, the Lord Almighty’” (Isaiah 6:5). Then God cleansed him by sending an angel with a live coal. The angel touched Isaiah’s mouth and said, “See this has touched your lips; your guilt is taken away and your sin atoned for” (vv. 6–7). Isaiah then heard the voice of God saying, “Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?” The man of God then yielded to the Lord and said, “Here am I. Send me” (vv. 8–9). The story of the Old Testament prophet reminds us that cleansing must precede clarity concerning God’s voice and discernment about His will. We long to hear the Lord so that we, like Isaiah, will want to put away anything that might hinder hearing from Him. Do you need to lay aside and seek cleansing for:

• Particular areas of sin through confessing to God and receiving His forgiveness? — Take a moment to write them down.

• Unresolved emotions, like guilt, anger, bitterness, condemnation, and fear? — Take a moment to write about them.

• Childish things, such as finger-pointing or blame? Preoccupation with self? Idle chatter or gossip? — Take a moment to write these as well.

Pause and consider your own ability to hear from the Lord: Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal anything that might need to be cleansed. Sit quietly before the Lord and allow Him to speak to your heart. Be open to the gentle voice that urges you to purify yourself, so that you might have deepened intimacy with the Creator. “Lord, help me to put away sins that are derailing me. I no longer wish to carry the burden of these unresolved emotions. I’m sorrowed by my childish behaviors and want to renounce them. I wish to hear Your Voice and no longer listen to the distracting noise of transgression.”

July 31 – 1 Timothy 4
Notice in verse 7 & 8 the word “training,” which is Gymnasia, the Greek word for “exercise,” means “to train oneself,” in this case by becoming submissive to God’s will to experience God’s REST in your soul. With regard to yielding, several opportunities for training have been made available to us. These disciplines of yielding or “submitting” train us to deny ourselves, develop trust, and discern the ways of God. Consider several avenues of yielding/submitting noted below. Pause and meditate on the Scriptures related to each one, listening for the Holy Spirit’s prompting:

• Submission to God – “Submit yourselves, then, to God” (James 4:7).

• Submission to Human Authorities “Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God” (Romans 13:1).

• Submission to Family Relationships “Then [Jesus] went down to Nazareth with [Mary and Joseph] and was obedient to them” (Luke 2:51).

• Submission within the church “Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ” (Ephesians 5:21).

Prayerful Reflection: “Lord Jesus, my desire is to live a life submitted to You, committed to yield even before I have heard all that You desire of me. In order to deepen and quicken my inclination to yield, I sense it is important that I exercise additional submission in this area or relationship with _____. By Your Spirit, enable me to submit willingly and joyfully, knowing that it is for my good. In Your name, Amen.”