Let Your Soul Rest

Daily Devotional | Day 344

“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. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light” (Matthew 11:29-30, NKJV).

A soul at rest is a soul alive. But a restless soul is an unhappy soul. Such a soul cannot please God. The ability to rest in God is essential for your spiritual and overall well-being. Christian worship is not only about praying and attending church events. Letting your soul rest in God is part of worship. You will know you have faith in God when your soul is at rest. And if your soul is at rest, you won’t need an expert to tell you. You will know for yourself.

When your soul rests, it has many benefits for your body and for every aspect of your life. You will become a blessing to the people around you. You will radiate joy, peace and youthfulness. When people come near you, they will feel energized and refreshed. When your soul is refreshed, your very presence becomes refreshing to others. But all a restless soul has to offer is negativity, self-pity, anger, bitterness and constant criticism of others. Restless souls talk and act as if the weight of the whole world is upon their shoulders. Simply being around them will make you exhausted. For these (and other) reasons, Jesus wants your soul to rest.

Most of us have associated rest of the soul with dead people. When you hear, “May his/her soul rest in peace,” you know someone is dead. Make no mistake; there’s nothing wrong about wishing that the souls of our departed relatives and friends rest in peace. What is unfortunate is that – consciously or not – we apply soul rest almost exclusively to the departed. But what about us, the living? Shall our soul find rest here on earth? Who needs rest the most, the living or the dead? Yes, one day we hope to rest from our labors when our time here on earth is over (Revelation 14:13). But while we’re here, Jesus knows that our soul needs rest. This is why in our opening Scripture, He invites us to seek rest in Him.

Jesus says, “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” (Matthew 11:29). Jesus wants your soul to rest now, not later. And He shows you how you will find rest: “Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me.” The yoke here refers to His commandments. Jesus says you will find rest for your soul when you learn from Him. And learning from Him requires that you do what He tells you. That is His yoke. Learn from Jesus’ life of gentleness and righteousness, and your soul will rest.

To understand what Jesus is saying, you need to understand that your soul is made for righteousnessIt thrives on righteousness and nothing else. Therefore, righteousness supplies to your soul the needed peace and rest: “The work of righteousness will be peace, and the effect of righteousness, quietness and assurance forever” (Isaiah 32:17). But unrighteousness leads to fear, confusion and restlessness (Proverbs 28:1). Jesus further assures everyone that His yoke is easy and His burden is light. This means His commandments are liberating. John testified to this when he wrote, “For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments. And His commandments are not burdensome” (1 John 5:3). Jesus’ commandments are the commandments of the Father. And they are intended, not to hinder your success, but to promote it.

Rest for your soul begins now, not after your death. If your soul doesn’t rest in Jesus in this life, it will not rest in Him in the next. Therefore, let your soul rest in Jesus today and be refreshed. Amen.

For further studyPsalm 62:1-12; 63:1-11

The Agony of A Righteous Soul

Daily Devotion | Day 292

“And [God] delivered righteous Lot, who was oppressed by the filthy conduct of the wicked (for that righteous man, dwelling among them, tormented his righteous soul from day to day by seeing and hearing their lawless deeds” (2 Peter 2:7-8).

Not only is God righteous, He is righteousness. He desires as well that His sons and daughters walk in His character of righteousness. This is important because the Father wants fellowship with His children. It is within this fellowship that one finds eternal life.

Fellowship with the Father is a fellowship of righteousness.

Because He is righteous and holy, the Father does not fellowship with unrighteous people, i.e. those who walk in sin. Paul put it well when he wrote, “Do not be unequally yoked with unbelievers. For what fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness? And what communion has light with darkness?” (2 Corinthians 6:14). If you are righteous, you will know it. The Holy Spirit will bear witness with your spirit (Romans 8:14-16). You will have no doubt about it.

In this world, being righteous or godly comes with a price. This brings us to today’s Bible passage. Peter is writing about Lot. As you recall, Lot was Abraham’s nephew. He lived in Sodom with his wife and two daughters. The Bible tells us that the people of Sodom were involved in all manner of iniquity (Genesis 18:20-21). God eventually destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah. But, as Peter says, the Lord saved “righteous Lot.” Lot was a righteous man living in the midst of unrighteous people. And he suffered on account of the ungodly environment.

Peter says Lot was “oppressed by the filthy conduct of the wicked.” This tells us about the agony of a righteous soul. Righteousness is purity. When you are pure, it makes you highly sensitive to ungodly behavior. When you encounter any form of ungodly conduct, in your spirit you will find it disgusting and distressing. It’s a silent and indirect form of persecution (2 Timothy 3:12). This was what Lot felt. He is not alone. This ‘oppressive’ feeling is common to all who are righteous.

Peter further explains that Lot “tormented his righteous soul from day to day by seeing and hearing their lawless deeds.”  Lot had a righteous soul. He wasn’t corrupted by the sinful environment in Sodom. However, each day, he put his soul through torment on account of the lawless acts he saw and heard in Sodom. If you have a righteous soul, you can relate to Lot’s experience. A righteous soul makes you spiritually sensitive. It makes you cringe when you witness ungodliness. It makes you feel what God feels when He sees iniquity. This is the agony of the righteous.

With a righteous soul, you can’t participate in ungodly conduct. What others consider entertaining, you find disagreeable. There are TV programs you can’t watch. There are books you can’t read. There are images you can’t watch. There’s music you can’t listen to. There are dresses you can’t wear. There are places you can’t go. There are conversations you can’t have. There are words you can’t speak. There are thoughts you can’t entertain. And, there are friends you can’t have.

It is the price you pay for being a righteous soul. But it’s worth it. “Many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the LORD delivers him out of them all” (Psalm 34:19). And Jesus says, “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 5:10). 

Be a righteous soul. Stay pure. Stay blessed.

For further study2 Corinthians 6:14-7:1; Ephesians 5:1-21 and 1 Peter 4:1-19

God Watches Over Your Soul

Daily Devotion | Day 249

“He restores my soul. He leads me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake” (Psalm 23:3, ESV).

Growing up, Psalm 23 was one of a few Bible passages we were supposed to memorize. Although we didn’t understand what we were reciting, there was something refreshing about it. Today, the psalm makes more sense, thanks to the Holy Spirit’s help. Let’s focus today on two things that jump out of Psalm 23:3. Remember, this is a psalm about the Good Shepherd.

He restores my soul.” – David describes his confidence in the protection and providence of the Lord. His confidence is based on what he knows about the Lord. He declares that the Lord restores his soul. How did he know that? He knew because he walked with God. This tells us something important about the character of God, and that is, He restores the souls of his saints.

When you go through diverse trials, your soul can be burdened. Everyone who walks with God knows this can happen. But the good news is, God can refresh and restore your soul. In 1 Peter 5:7, the Bible urges us to cast our burden unto God for He cares for us. Whatever you’re dealing with that burdens your soul, go to the Lord in prayer and let Him restore your soul. He will renew your strength and revitalize you.

 “He leads me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.” – when you come into covenant with God, He puts His name on you. You become a bearer of His name. This means whatever happens to you can affect God’s name. David says that, in His providence, God leads us in paths of righteousness. There are people who wish that you fall away from the right path. Certainly satan wishes that. When a child of God deviates from the right path, God’s name is implicated.

But God is faithful. If you remain obedient to Him, He will preserve you. For His name’s sake, He will make you walk in paths of righteousness and integrity. As you walk in obedience to God, He will cause His name to be glorified in your life. He loves you, and He will jealously preserve His name. Listen to what Jesus said and the Father’s reply, ‘“Father, glorify your name.’ Then a voice came from heaven: ‘I have glorified it, and I will glorify it again’” (John 12:28). The Father heard Jesus’ prayer. He will hear yours, too.

If you ever come to a point where you need the Father to glorify His name, just ask. He is more than happy to do that.

Blessing: May the Lord cause His name to be glorified in your life. Amen.

For further studyIsaiah 40:25-31

Be Still 

“The LORD is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The LORD is the stronghold of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?” (Psalm 27:1, RSV). 

Fear of people is incompatible with fear of God. In other words, the two kinds of fear are mutually exclusive. A person who truly fears God isn’t afraid of people. Therefore, overcoming fear of people is essential to your relationship with God. The more you fear God, the less you will fear people. In this context, we’re referring to the fear of what people can do to you. God wants you to fear Him alone, for it’s in the fear of God that you overcome your fear of people. No one is God Almighty. Even the strongest of men are fragile and mortal. The truth is, when you fear people, you make them bigger than God. But as you grow in your relationship with God, you’ll realize how big God is and how tiny and fragile human beings are. This godly realization is your key to overcoming fear of people and fear of their threats. This is the realization David had that led him to declare the things we see in today’s Bible text.

You may call this realization a revelation. I’ve mentioned before in one of our devotionals the important distinction between having information and having revelation. You can know in your head all the right things about God and still live in fear. What you need is a revelation, a sort of spiritual awakening that opens your spiritual eyes once and for all that God is your salvation, and therefore, there’s nothing (absolutely nothing!) in people that can cause you to live in fear of them. Jesus told us in Matthew 10:28 that we should not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Herein lies the truth: no human being can touch your soul. Note the words of David carefully. He says that God is his light, his salvation and his stronghold. Three things. David had an unshakable conviction in his heart that God was his light, salvation and stronghold. Consequently, he saw no reason to be afraid of people. When you know – without doubt – that God is your light, your salvation and your stronghold, no matter what comes against you, you shall not be afraid. Today, I want you to ask God to reveal himself to you as your light, your salvation and your stronghold.

Pray with David:

Though an army may encamp against me, my heart shall not fear. Though war may rise against me, in this I will be confident. Amen. 

For further study: 2 Kings 6:8-23