Our first study group on Finding the Rest of My Faith began this past Thursday. If you want to follow along with what we’re discussing or weren’t able to be at the first meeting, these summary posts may help. At the end, I’ll include a few ideas for self study.
There were just three of us. We decided to use a KWL chart to simplify our findings. Simply put, you just fill in what you KNOW about a topic, what you WANT TO KNOW, and then as you go, what you LEARNED. Presumably, by the end of six weeks, we will have filled in our charts.
We began by discussing what we already KNOW about rest, sharing Scriptures that we’d looked up on our own. One easy way to do a topical study is to go to Biblegateway.com and simply type in the word or words that you are researching. That is how we found many of these. In the passages below, I will highlight words or phrases that we found particularly meaningful. If you’d like to follow along, you might find it helpful to copy passages down in your own handwriting, whether in a journal or on a notecard.
Genesis 2:2-3 (NIV)
2 By the seventh day God had finished the work he had been doing; so on the seventh day he rested from all his work. 3 Then God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it he rested from all the work of creating that he had done.
We talked a little bit about how there are different Hebrew and Greek words that are translated to the word “rest” with different meanings, like “sabbath,” or “stillness,” or “peace.” We plan to look into these different words a little bit and see what we can discover.
Isaiah 30:15 (NIV)
15 This is what the Sovereign Lord, the Holy One of Israel, says:
“In repentance and rest is your salvation,
in quietness and trust is your strength,
but you would have none of it.
In this passage, we noted how horrifyingly TRUE it is that, in spite of recognizing the need for rest and even knowing where to find it, we often refuse. Here’s another similar statement.
Jeremiah 6:16 (NIV)
16 This is what the Lord says:
“Stand at the crossroads and look;
ask for the ancient paths,
ask where the good way is, and walk in it,
and you will find rest for your souls.
But you said, ‘We will not walk in it.’
We concluded that our problems with refusing rest are not NEW ones. Apparently, God has been trying to get his people to rest for a long time.
WHAT IS OUR PROBLEM? WHY CAN’T WE/DON’T WE REST? (I wrote this in my WANT TO KNOW column.)
Here’s some more that we found.
Philippians 4:6-7 (NIV)
6 Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7 And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
I also wrote in my WANT TO KNOW column: What is and how can I truly attain peace that transcends? I’m not feeling that in my life. Which of the things in the list in verse 6 am I neglecting?
John 14:27 (NIV)
27 Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.
In the passages below, we started noticing the connection between REST and SHELTER. A lot of the passages use the REST metaphor and talk about hiding or taking refuge in God’s protection as a fortress or tower. We noted that in this context, we are passive, hiding, and NOT the one fighting. The person resting is behind, under, or inside the protector. Cool, huh?!
Psalm 61:2-4 (NIV)
2 From the ends of the earth I call to you,
I call as my heart grows faint;
lead me to the rock that is higher than I.
3 For you have been my refuge,
a strong tower against the foe.
4 I long to dwell in your tent forever
and take refuge in the shelter of your wings.
Psalm 62:1-2 (NIV) A psalm of David.
1 Truly my soul finds rest in God;
my salvation comes from him.
2 Truly he is my rock and my salvation;
he is my fortress, I will never be shaken.
1 Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High
will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.[a]
2 I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress,
my God, in whom I trust.”
In keeping with the idea of being passive, the below passage is from just before the Israelites crossed over the dry path in the Red Sea and then watched God wipe out the pursuing Egyptian army. I think many of us would give way to fear and anxiety and frantic planning at such impending doom, but God’s instructions are clear.
Exodus 14:14 (NIV)
14 The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still.”
Here’s more on the idea of stillness.
Psalm 37:7 (NIV)
7 Be still before the Lord
and wait patiently for him;
do not fret when people succeed in their ways,
when they carry out their wicked schemes.
Psalm 46:10-11 (NIV)
10 He says, “Be still, and know that I am God;
I will be exalted among the nations,
I will be exalted in the earth.”
11 The Lord Almighty is with us;
the God of Jacob is our fortress.
Oh, heck. There’s ANOTHER FORTRESS. I gotta get me one of those.
And then here’s one of my favorite passages where Moses is FLIPPING out and needing reassurance from God as he leads God’s people into the wilderness.
Exodus 33:12-14 (NIV)
Moses and the Glory of the Lord
12 Moses said to the Lord, “You have been telling me, ‘Lead these people,’ but you have not let me know whom you will send with me.
(Moses has forgotten that God has told him approximately 20 bagillion times that HE-himself will go with them, but perhaps Moses was expecting GPS or Siri or something.)
You have said, ‘I know you by name and you have found favor with me.’ 13 If you are pleased with me, teach me your ways so I may know you and continue to find favor with you. Remember that this nation is your people.”
I love Moses boldness with God here because a few chapters ago, He was hiding his face from God and was totally chicken. Now he is DEMANDING God’s favor. AND, instead of blasting him off the mountain, God responds . . .
14 The Lord replied, “My Presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.”
SO . . . that’s kind of where we went during Week 1. It was neat getting an overview of what we had individually found. I loved sitting at the table and talking it through like a study group.
As we head into Week 2, here are some study/journaling questions that you can pursue in preparation for our meeting OR just for your own self study. Don’t forget, if you are new to Bible study and don’t know where to look, try out Biblegateway.com. If you want to get REALLY deep into research, you can use an online concordance like Strong’s, which will look up the original Hebrew or Greek for you.
1. What synonyms can you think of for your idea of REST? Look for a few passages that use these words. Write them down if they resonate with you.
2. What antonyms occur to you for the OPPOSITE of rest in your life? Look for passages that use these words. Write them down if they resonate with you.
3. On a day to day basis, what happens mentally or practically that prevents you from getting the REST that you desire?
4. Describe the kind of rest that you desire. See if you can find a passage from Scripture that defines or reflects your idea of rest.
5. On a day to day basis, what could you change to enable yourself to have FIVE MINUTES OF REST (or five more than you have now).
6. Give thanks. Jot down five or ten things in your life for which you are thankful. Reflect upon how/why thankfulness and rest are connected.
If you aren’t attending the study group, feel free to share your responses in comments. I’ll try to consistently post these summaries on Tuesday. I know that is a bit late, but it is my first opportunity with an empty quiet house after the Thursday night group.