Dear Comfort Cafe Friends,
In this Bible Study series we are continuing to look at what it means to love the Lord your God with all your heart and your neighbor as yourself. The lessons run monthly and focus on “Looking Inward,” (relating to and loving God), and “Looking Outward,” (relating to and loving our neighbor). In this series, the entire lesson each month is presented here on the front page. We hope you will join us in applying knowledge of God’s character to deeper levels of life. Previous lessons from 2014 remain available under the Table of Contents and Archive page.
©2013 Kay Smith and Ruth Wood. All rights reserved. Used by permission. User Permission Notice: This study may not be sold or used for profit. However, copies may be made for personal use. Questions? Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Do you experience racing thoughts at times? Tightness in your neck and shoulder muscles? Shallow breathing? These are symptoms of stress, of course. In our hurry-run-run culture, we hardly know what it means to slow down. We may even be so revved up that the idea of spending time being quiet only increases our anxiety. However, until we learn how to be with ourselves and our God in stillness, we will not find the peace we so desperately want.
God is an ever-present God. This means that he is also ever present with Himself in the unifying oneness he shares with Jesus and the Holy Spirit. Imagine what it would be like to live in such joyful, intimate connectedness moment by moment.
In Jesus’ prayer in John 17:22-23 he says, “I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one— I in them and you in me—so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.” How wonderful and how amazing that Jesus draws us in to this divine bond he shares.
Understanding we are loved and wanted in this way, however, may be difficult and remain only an abstract concept. Unless we, like Jesus, spend time alone with the Father, we will not know this truth experientially. Let’s look at three ways to still our minds before the Lord.
Jesus was a celebrity in constant, high demand, yet he withdrew frequently to spend time with his Father. How much more do we need the refreshment of close communion with the Lord. Whether finding a quiet place in our homes or out in nature, we must remove ourselves from the busyness, distractions, and noise of modern life. We must also withdraw from people. So easily we lean on a friend or family member in our attempt to fill a depleted heart and then wonder why we remain unsatisfied or frustrated. While God uses people in our lives to encourage us, they can never replace him.
Solitude can be practiced for any length of time. What sometimes deters us is thinking that we have no room in our schedules. But anyone can carve out 5 minutes to simply be quiet with God. Taking small steps like this is a good place to start, especially if you’re intimidated by the idea of solitude.
Making solitude/quiet a daily habit strengthens our ability to truly relax in the love of God. Designating a weekly day of rest allows more extended time to practice solitude, and sometimes setting aside a full day or weekend is what we need. It is always a privilege to respond to Jesus’ invitation to his disciples, which still stands today, “Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.” (Mark 6:31).
Meditating on the Word
Our need is usually not more knowledge, but to believe and act on the knowledge we have. Our ability to trust is what needs to grow. Meditating on scripture as a way to keep God’s character foremost in our minds helps. Praying over these scriptures with an attitude of gratefulness and expressing our trust is important.
We need to understand the importance of choice here. We may not feel like we’re in “a trusting mood.” We may have doubts. We may have emotional obstacles such as too many memories of a parent who was not reliable, who repeatedly let us down. However, we can still “choose to choose.”
How do we “choose to choose” trust? First, if we have significant trust issues because of our past, seeking help to address these may be a wise first step. Always, however, we can choose to pray prayers of faith in response to the scriptures. Praying these prayers out loud reinforces, through our hearing sense, that we are choosing to trust. Memorizing or writing out scriptures on 3 X 5 cards for frequent review throughout the day is another way to remind us that God is trustworthy.
Praise and Worship
Worship places our focus on God and keeps us from fixating on our problems. During praise and worship we begin to glimpse that he may be powerful enough, wise enough, and caring enough to see us through our challenges. We come away from times like that with new perspectives, renewed confidence and hope, and greater peace.
What does trust look like? It means relaxing in the love of God. It means not striving but resting. It means enjoying deep quietness because ALL my confidence is in God, not myself. Without trust we cannot hope. Without trust we cannot produce the fruits of the spirit. Without trust we cannot thrive. In specific terms, what would completely trusting God look like in your life?
What is at Stake
Without spending time alone with God, who and what will suffer in your life?
David writes in Psalm 23:1-3, “The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing. He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, he refreshes my soul.” Describe the relationship between the sheep and the shepherd here.
Psalm 46:10 He says, “Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.” What do you need to do in order to become still? How will it benefit you to know, truly know, that God is God?
In Isaiah we read, “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 . . . “ Isaiah 30:15. What is the result of repentance and rest? What is the fruit of quietness and trust?
When we are in distress, we long to be rescued. Lamentations 3:25-26 says, “The Lord is good to those whose hope is in him, to the one who seeks him; it is good to wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord.” In this verse, how do we see trust expressed?
Consider writing out the following scriptures on 3 X 5 cards, enter them into your Smartphone, or memorize them. Then refer to them often.
- Jeremiah 10:12, “But God made the earth by his power; he founded the world by his wisdom and stretched out the heavens by his understanding.”
- Psalm 86:5, “You, Lord, are forgiving and good, abounding in love to all who call to you.”
- Psalm 100:5, “For the Lord is good and his love endures forever; his faithfulness continues through all generations.”
- Isaiah 41:10, “So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”
- Matthew 11:28-29, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.”
- Matthew 28:18, “Then Jesus came to them and said, All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.”
- Ephesians 2:4-5, “But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved.”
- 2 Peter 3:9, “The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.”
- James 1:17, “ Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.”
- 1 John 4:10, “This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.”