Exodus Bible Study

Rest, Boundaries, and Banners

I always thought that if I wasn’t doing something or with someone, that I was missing out. If I didn’t go to a party or commit to a business opportunity that I would fall behind in popularity or status.  If my schedule wasn’t packed with social event, then I didn’t have enough friends.  If my work life wasn’t busy, then I wasn’t good enough at my job. I took pride in being the one that people could rely on to say “yes” and be there or do that.

You know what happened? I burned out…and quickly.

Saying “no” to things doesn’t come easily.  But can it?  Resting from life means not being productive.  But can it be?

As I read the following chapters in Exodus, I was reminded of some practical, real-life lessons that are necessary in life. God calls us to live differently that what the world says.  He invites us to trust in him with our time and energy.

It may not be easy, but it’s worth it!

S – Scripture: Exodus 16-18

  • 16:3-5 – “‘If only the LORD had killed us back in Egypt,’ they moaned. ‘There we sat around pots filled with meat and ate all the bread we wanted. But now you have brought us into this wilderness to starve us all to death.’ Then the LORD said to Moses, ‘Look, I’m going to rain down food from heaven for you. Each day the people can go out and pick up as much food as they need for that day. I will test them in this to see whether or not they will follow my instructions. On the sixth day they will gather food, and when they prepare it, there will be twice as much as usual.'”
  • 16:17-20 – “So the people of Israel did as they were told. Some gathered a lot, some only a little But when they measured it out, everyone had just enough. Those who gathered a lot had nothing left over, and those who gathered only a little had enough. Each family had just what it needed. Then Moses told them, ‘Do not keep any of it until morning.’ But some of them didn’t listen and kept some of it until morning. But by then it was full of maggots and had a terrible smell. Moses was very angry with them.”
  • 16:26-29 – “‘You may gather the food for six days, but the seventh day is the Sabbath. There will be no food on the ground that day.’ Some of the people went out anyway on the seventh day, but they found no food. The LORD asked Moses, ‘How long will these people refuse to obey my commands and instructions? They must realize that the Sabbath is the LORD’s gift to you. That is why he gives you a two-day supply on the sixth day, so there will be enough for two days. On the Sabbath day you must each stay in your place. Do not go out to pick up food on the seventh day.'”
  • 17:11-13 – “As long as Moses held up the staff in his hand, the Israelites had the advantage. But whenever he dropped his hand, the Amalekites gained the advantage. Moses’ arms soon became so tired he could no longer hold them up. So Aaron and Hur found a stone for him to sit on. Then they stood on each side of Moses, holding up his hands. So his hands held steady until sunset. As a result, Joshua overwhelmed the army of Amalek in battle.”
  • 17:15 – “Moses built an altar there and named it Yahweh-Nissi (which means ‘the LORD is my banner’).”
  • 18:11 – “I know now that the LORD is greater than all other gods, because he rescued his people from the oppression of the proud Egyptians.”
  • 18:14 – “When Moses’ father-in-law saw all that Moses was doing for the people, he asked, ‘What are you really accomplishing here? Why are you trying to do all this alone while everyone stands around you from morning till evening?'”
  • 18:22-23 – “Let the leaders decide the smaller matters themselves. They will help you carry the load, making the task easier for you. If you follow this advice, and if God commands you to do so, then you will be able to endure the pressures, and all these people will go home in peace.”

IMG_8423O – Observation:

  • God provides exactly what we need for each day, no more and no less.  He knows the practical things we need for survival, as well as the emotional and spiritual fuel we need for the day. Can I trust that God knows what I need better than I do, and be 100% content with it? Can I give up control of the security and provision that I think I need to get for myself?
  • There are enough hours in a day and days in a week to get the things done that God calls us to do.  Even more, there is enough time in the week to have a Sabbath Day.  He made us that way.  When I over-extend my schedule, and not allow that time or day of rest, I don’t do my things well during the following week. My brain needs a break!
  • The Sabbath is a gift! I love this! My attitude changes towards a day of rest when I view it this way.
  • The Israelites tried to stock up on manna, not trusting that God would provide it the next day.  They found it spoiled and not edible. God gives new provisions each day, we don’t need to stockpile his blessings.
  • When the Amalekites attacked Israel, Moses sent Joshua to lead an army and fight.  He carried his staff to the battle scene, and as long as he had it raised in his arms, Israel was victorious.  If his arms fell, they started getting defeated.  Aaron and Hur had to help keep Moses’ arms up the whole day! In the end, they beat their enemies and Moses built an alter naming it “The Lord is my banner.”
  • Jethro, Moses’ Father-in-Law comes to visit and hear about all that has happened.  After hearing about all that the Israelites had been through and all that God had done, he proclaims their God to be the most powerful of all other gods.  What an amazing testimony Israel has!
  • Jethro shares advice with Moses after seeing how tiresome all of his duties were in taking care of the mass amounts of people.  He suggests appointing leaders to help him handle the minor disputes that arise.  Only the major issues will be brought to Moses.
  • It’s good to have someone in your life to speak truth when you feel like you have to do it all.

A – Application: 

20170827_191901The Gift of Rest – 

Every Friday I map out my days, meals, and workouts for the coming week.  All of the days I pack to the brim, sometimes knowing that I won’t get to everything.  By the time that Wednesday or Thursday rolls around, I’m done.  I just want to sit and watch TV for hours and not have to think or write or plan.  I just can’t do anymore, which leaves me feeling behind, then overwhelmed, then like a failure. I also get feelings of guilt and shame at the fact that I can’t stick to a simple schedule.

It isn’t until I really stop and break from thinking, planning, writing, and doing, that my mind and body can refresh. I may just need to sleep (which is one of my favorite things to do, haha!).  It may be that I need to get out and do something that fills me, like taking a walk or bike ride outside, doing an art project, meeting with a good friend and having a good conversation, or going on an adventure with my husband.  These allow my brain to shift gears from timelines and schedules to spontaneity and fun.

When I come back to work, I feel renewed and able to do my tasks with more clarity.  I find that I am more productive and enjoy my work more when I’ve given myself that time.

Now maybe you are thinking that rest is impossible with your schedule now.  You are probably right.  But God says that the Sabbath Day is a GIFT! Who doesn’t love gifts! If God needs rest himself after creating the world and feed a ton of people for six days, then we probably need it as well.

Furthermore, God commands the Sabbath.  It’s something to make a priority when he says so.  If your schedule isn’t allowing you and your family rest, it’s time to cut back.  God has provided enough hours in the week for you to get the necessary things done AND have a day of rest.  It’s time to evaluate your activities and commitments and maybe prune some of those back.  You might have to get better at saying “no” to some things in order to pursue rest so that you can do the things that really matter in your life better.

It may not be easy, but it’s worth it!

The Freedom in Boundaries – 

A similar concept as above, I need to set good boundaries in my life so that I can focus on the things that God has really called me to do.  This can be a problem when I feel like, even enjoy, doing it all.  But I can’t all the time.

These are some ways that I, personally, help myself set boundaries:

  1. I set aside time to create goals and dreams WITH God. His purpose for my life matters a great deal to me.  I want to live that out.  When I am certain of (or at least have faith in) what he is calling me to do in a certain season, I am better at committing to only things that fit within that. If something is good, but not fulfilling what needs to happen during that time, I can say “no” a lot more easily.
  2. I make sure to have people in my life who know my goals and care about my well-being. Sometimes, I am so wrapped up in all that I am doing and even feel trapped.  It isn’t until someone points it out and gives me permission to re-evaluate and cut back when I need to. How great is it that Jethro pointed this out to Moses and was able to make a big impact on how Moses spent his time.  How encouraging is it to have a friend who can say, “Hey, you are doing way to much and burning yourself out.” We need those people in our lives!

When I have these boundaries set in place, I have control over my schedule and my life.  I am able set time aside for the things that matter and that I am called by God to pursue.  I am able to spend quality time on the people that matter too.  When I am not over-scheduled, my husband, family, and friends, and I get to build amazing memories together.

It may not be easy, but it’s worth it!

20170827_191501The Life Under God’s Banner – 

Banners, in times of war, were used to represent who’s side you were on.  It signified your family or kingdom.

Under God’s banner, I have chosen to live life in full expectancy of God’s provision and protection.  I have faith in his eternal victory over sin and death.  I think and act in ways that are different from the world.  I hope in things that the world deems impossible.

Under God’s banner, I am loved, cherished, strong, content, fulfilled, and blessed.  I am enough.  I accept that I can’t do it all on my own and need God.  I accept his gift of rest and boundaries because I know they will lead me to pursue the things he has called me to do even when the world says that I need to keep striving and chasing.

It may not be easy, but it’s worth it!

P – Prayer:

God, thank you for your good words on rest, boundaries, and banners.  You have a purpose in everything and can use everything in your time.  Help me to weed out the things in my life that aren’t leading me towards you and your purpose. Help me to set boundaries so that I can say yes to the right things.  Help me to stand boldly under your banner when the world says to do something different. Time and again you have proved that you will provide all that I need and protect me from the enemy when I put my trust in you.  Thank you for that.  Amen.

Link to a Bible Study Blog Post #34 - Rest, Boundaries, and Banners
Finding life and grace through God’s Word.

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