Devotional topics on 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, we 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.

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

 

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

 

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

 

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 humblel 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

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If you’d like to know more about who publishes the articles, videos, and other materials on tools4trenches, you can click on the picture of me and my wife.

 

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