Related Corporate Devotional Topics / Commentaries
Resting, wresting, and wrestling in Christ: paradoxes of peace in the wilderness of this world.
Rest and peace sound wonderful, don’t they? They are, of course. If I’m completely honest, though, when I think of those words I often think of longer weekends, less conflict, the occasional nap, and awesome times with awesome people. The reality is that no one and no thing in this world is perfectly awesome, restful, or peaceful while we wander through this wilderness. Remember, Jesus said “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.” (John 14:27) For the people who follow Jesus by faith in Him, rest and peace are not passive, automatic, or trouble-free.
Yes, He calls us to rest and peace in His death on cross in our place and His promises for God’s peace purchased by His own blood, but we’re also daily wrestling. We wrestle against strong and subtle temptations of our own flesh, the world, and the devil that try to wrest (forcibly pull) us from walking toward God the Father by the grace of the Son in the power of the Holy Spirit.
Real rest, however, must not be in our wrestling – not in our strength, our zeal, our perseverance, our technique, or anything else about us. Real rest (I.e., confidence) comes in knowing the goodness of Christ wrestling with us until – like a parent holding a toddler who’s pitching a fit – His gracious nurture and His firm discipline softens us to the point that He defeats our self-centered will and we collapse in His unyielding love submitting to His good will…again and again.
The passages below in Numbers, Isaiah, James, and 1 Peter may be good devotional material to reveal some of the paradoxes of resting in Christ in the wilderness of this world. Each book opens by describing a time of God’s people struggling, and that’s when we crave rest and peace the most. In such times it’s usually easier for believers to distinguish between the peace the world gives and the peace Jesus gives.
Isaiah 1:1-20 – Rest in the Lord, for the goal of His discipline in this wilderness is to turn us to Him
Isaiah 4:1-6 – Rest in the Lord, for the day of our humility in this wilderness is also the day of His blessing
Isaiah 6:1-9 – Rest in the Lord, for His burning brings us purity and passion to go for Him back into this wilderness
Isaiah 8:11-22 – Rest in the Lord, even when He promises to delay His deliverance from this wilderness
Isaiah 9:1-7 – Rest in the Lord, for the power and passion of His Son will overcome the nations’ gloom in this wilderness
Isaiah 11:1-11 – Rest in the Lord, for His humble shoot (Christ) will accomplish the impossible in this wilderness
Isaiah 20:1-6 – Rest in the Lord, for He will humble those who exalt themselves in this wilderness
Isaiah 26:1-9 – Rest in the Lord, for He will come for those in this wilderness who yearn for Him
Isaiah 37:1-7 – Rest in the Lord, for He will judge those who mock Him and His people in this wilderness
Isaiah 38:1-7 – Rest in the Lord, for He is able to bless His people in this wilderness for the whole world to see
Isaiah 39:1-8 – Rest in the Lord, for even the godly leaders in this wilderness will disappoint us
Isaiah 40:1-11 – Rest in the Lord, for He promises to send His Shepherd to lead us in this wilderness and out of it
Isaiah 42:1-9 – Rest in the Lord, for the power we need in this wilderness is His gentleness
Isaiah 45:1-13 – Rest in the Lord, for He can use even surprising sources to rescue His people
Isaiah 52:13-53:12 – Rest in the Lord, for there is no greater love than His Son has paid
Isaiah 55:1-13 – Rest in the Lord, for only His Word is fully satisfying and reliable
Isaiah 58:1-14 – Rest in the Lord, for His love calls us to work for others’ rest
Isaiah 65:17-25 – Rest in the Lord, for He will recreate everything for an eternal rest
1 Peter 1:1-2 – Rest in the Lord, for the love of the entire Trinity works for the obedience of His people as His priests
1 Peter 1:3-12 – Rest in the Lord, for all of heaven is focused on the purity of God’s people for God’s praise
1 Peter 1:13-25 – Rest in the Lord, for He has paid the price of His own Son for His people to move forward in holiness
1 Peter 2:1-12 – Rest in the Lord, for God’s people are His children in a vicious spiritual war
1 Peter 2:13-17 – Rest in the Lord, for He places His people under human authorities to do good for His glory
1 Peter 2:18-25 – Rest in the Lord, for suffering wrongly is His gift to love as Christ loved
1 Peter 3:1-6 – Rest in the Lord, for true beauty comes from the Spirit He gives to His peoplr
1 Peter 3:7 – Rest in the Lord, for He answers the prayers of those who honor His vulnerable people
1 Peter 3:8-18 – Rest in the Lord, for His love brings unity, even when wronged
1 Peter 3:18-22 – Rest in the Lord, for He suffered wrongly and joined His people to Himself (I.e., baptised us) to bring them to God
1 Peter 4:1-6 – Rest in the Lord, for living by His Spirit for His will involve daily suffering in the flesh
1 Peter 4:7-11 – Rest in the Lord, for the end is near and only He can strengthen us to serve others for His glory
1 Peter 4:12-19 – Rest in the Lord, for those who follow Christ will suffer as He did for God’s glory
1 Peter 5:1-5 – Rest in the Lord, for God gives grace to the humble so we can care for each other as Jesus does
1 Peter 5:6-11 – Rest in the Lord, for He will restore the humble after their suffering
1 Peter 5:12-14 – Rest in the Lord, for this suffering for God’s glory is the true grace (literally, “gift”) of God: to love as Jesus loves
Numbers 2:1-2 – Rest with your face to Christ (pictured in the tent of meeting) and your back to the enemies in this wilderness
Numbers 5:1-4 – Rest in God’s purity, though it leads to others’ restlessness in this wilderness
Numbers 9:15-23 – Rest in God’s pace through this wilderness, whether He seems fast or slow
Numbers 11:1-35 – Rest in the Lord, not merely His blessings in this wilderness, for He is gracious but just, too
Numbers 12:1-16 – Rest in the Lord’s sovereign grace, not our comparative righteousness in this wilderness
Numbers 12:13ff – Rest in the Lord’s power, not our circumstances in this wilderness
Numbers 14:34-45 – Rest in the Lord’s discipline, for He values our obedience more than our blessings in this wilderness
Numbers 15:32-41 – Rest in the Lord’s promise to provide in this wilderness, for it is truly a matter of Life or death
Numbers 16 – Rest in God’s chosen leader (Christ), for there is no other option
Numbers 17:1-11 – Rest in God’s priest (Jesus), for God gives supernatural life only through Him
Numbers 20:1-13 – Rest in God’s will God’s way, for others need to see His glory in this wilderness, not ours
Numbers 21:4-9 – Rest in the Lord who is disciplining you in this wilderness, or He will destroy you
Numbers 22:12-20 – Rest in the Lord who uses even the plans of the wicked to bless His people in this wilderness
Numbers 27:1-11 – Rest in the Lord’s grace to the defenseless, maybe especially when it’s counter-cultural
James 1:1-4 – Rest in the Lord, for He tests us only to mature us
James 1:12-18 – Rest in the Lord, for only He is perfectly good
James 1:19-27 – Rest in the Lord, for only obedience to Him brings real freedom to love as He loves
James 2:1-13 – Rest in the Lord, for His glory is revealed in His mercy over judgment
James 2:14-26 – Rest in the Lord, for faith in Him will result in work for Him
James 3:1-18 – Rest in the Lord, for only His wisdom from above is pure, bringing a harvest of righteousness
James 4:1-10 – Rest in the Lord, for He gives more grace to the humble
James 5:1-11 – Rest in the Lord, for He will reward our investments in Him
Help with Devotions and Testimonies
5 Tips for Engaging with Scripture by Tim Challies
Reading and studying Scripture are pursuits that require the attention of both heart and mind. To love the Lord with all our strength, we must actively engage with Scripture—asking questions, learning contexts, making connections, and reflecting on personal applications of the text.
Here are a few ideas on how to enrich your time in God’s Word:
Seven Tips On How To Write A Devotional by FaithfulBloggers.com
Writing a devotion can offer hope to your readers and inspire them in a way that lectures or plain articles, may not. A devotional is a very well thought out piece about one very minute topic usually focusing on a particular spiritual lesson. Writing devotionals does not have to be difficult, there are many steps you can take to calm yourself down, get centered and write what God wants you to write.
How To Write a Devotional:The Ultimate Guide by Jerry Jenkins.com
When you settle on a passage of Scripture as your anchor text, read it in different translations. Pray and meditate over it until you’re certain you thoroughly understand the verse in context. Stay current by offering an illustration today’s reader can relate to. Link modern challenges and questions to longstanding solutions from God’s Word—and make the connections obvious and logical.
Your Testimony Isn’t About You by Jordan Monsan
We live in an age of narcissism. It is the era of self-actualization, the relentless race to perfect the self.
We also see it in our evangelism. A decade or two ago our evangelism still pointed outward. We spoke of the existence of God, objective truth, and the historical reliability of the resurrection. Now, swaths of churches have moved on to leading with personal testimonies.
This contextualization isn’t necessarily wrong. In a postmodern era, stories are often more powerful than objective truth claims. Testimonies can be a valuable way to share the good news about Jesus. But in a society where even Christians are steeped in rampant individualism and self-idolatry, our testimonies can easily sound like another story of self-congratulation.
Your Story is God’s Story: Creating Your Testimony by Cru
The Lord can use you to help others come to know Christ. Ask God for opportunities to share your story and the gospel with others. Explore “Share the Gospel” to learn more.
Read More …
How to Write (and Share) Your Christian Testimony: 7 Tips by Kevin Halloran
Our testimonies should point to Jesus Christ and the transforming work He has done in our lives–not merely positive changes we have experienced. Only talking about positive changes with a token “God” mention here or there might make people think the point of Christianity is to have a better life instead of following Christ and being reconciled to God.
Best Commentaries on Isaiah by Tim Challies
Exalting Jesus in Isaiah (Christ-Centered Exposition Commentary) by Edited by David Platt, Daniel L. Akin, and Tony Merida
Isaiah – Tyndale Commentary
1 & 2 Peter
1 Peter (Exegetical Guide to the Greek New Testament) by Greg Forbes, Robert w. Yarbrough, and Andreas J. Kostenberger
1 Peter (Tyndale New Testament Commentaries – by Wayne A. Grudem
2 Peter and Jude (Tyndale Commentaries Series) (Tyndale New Testament Commentaries) by Michael Green