Day 1:

The Heart of Jesus


Come to me,

all who are weary and heavy laden, and I will give you rest.

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 11:28-30)

At one point in my professional life, I hired a consultant to help my team develop a 5-year strategic plan.

While I expected him to get us started by casting vision, creating a mission statement, setting goals and objectives; instead, he started with having each of us do personality inventories. I was perplexed. 

I will never forget his reasoning: Being comes before Doing.

In other words, what we will do flows out of who we are as a person: our values, our personality, and our strengths. 

In the passage above, we see the results of Jesus’ “personality inventory”.  It is the only place in eighty-nine chapters of the four Gospels where Jesus tells us about his heart.

“…for I am gentle and lowly in heart.”

The heart, in biblical terms, is not part of who we are but the very center of who we are. It’s what defines and directs us.  The heart drives all that we do.

In his book, Gentle and Lowly, author Dane Ortlund explains these two defining characteristics of Jesus’ heart as follows:

Gentle. Jesus is not trigger-happy. Not harsh, not easily exasperated. He is the most understanding person in the universe. The posture most natural to him is not a pointed finger but open arms.” 


Lowly. Humble. He is accessible. For all his resplendent glory and dazzling holiness, his supreme uniqueness and otherness, no one in human history has been more approachable.”

“This is who he is. Tender. Open. Welcoming. Accommodating. Understanding. Willing.”

Think about it. The rest of those eighty-nine chapters in the Gospels go on to vividly demonstrate how Jesus’ doing flowed from his being. He touched lepers. He healed the sick. He socialized with tax collectors and prostitutes. He lifted the downcast. He calmed the demonic. And at the very end, he died on a cross hung between two thieves.

This kind and approachable Jesus stands ever ready to lead us into abundant life, now and forever.

For reflection:

1. What two words best represent your current view of God? What experiences have led you to that view? 

2.  Think about the gentlest, kindest person you know. How do both your body and mind react when you are near that person? Then imagine how much more Jesus can bring comfort to you.

Day 2:

Come to the Table


It was Christmas dinner. Our son-in-law, who is an executive chef at a neighborhood eatery, had meticulously prepared all the dishes for us. Savory and delicious are understatements.

Around the table were eleven hungry, eager adults. An assortment of family and friends. Young adults and seasoned folks. Two were recently divorced. One battling chronic illness. Several aren’t sure what to make of God and the church right now.

Two things struck me as I sat at that table.

My son-in-law, who tends to be reserved, was delighted to describe and share the dishes he had prepared for us. His enthusiasm further stoked our anticipation for the meal.

Regardless of issues any of us were wrestling with in our normal lives, at that very moment…there was only a palpable sense of light-heartedness, goodwill, and joy.

Perhaps this Christmas dinner experience (and the millions of variations of it in other homes around the globe) is a small glimpse of the rest and delight that God has prepared for us.

Jesus invites us to come to him to receive God’s rest. The Bible lexicon notes that the word “come” is exclamatory in nature. In other words, Jesus is urgently and enthusiastically calling out to us to COME!

Today, I invite you to participate in the spiritual practices of scripture reading and supportive musical reflection. 

1.  Begin by reading Jesus’ parable of The Great Dinner found in Luke 14:15-24

2.  Next, listen to and read the lyrics for the song, Come to the Table* (Follow this link to the music video and written lyrics.)

(* If you prefer to search for this song on your favorite music app, please note that there are several different songs with this same title. Make sure the version you use for this spiritual practice is the one from the Common Hymnal written by Mark Alan Schoolmeesters.)

For reflection:

1.  How does the parable and the song portray Jesus’ heart and God’s desire for us and all people?

2.  Is there anything keeping you from coming to the table? Tell Jesus about it.

3.  Imagine entering the hall where the great dinner is being served. At the door, Jesus is greeting everyone. As he makes eye contact with you, what does he do or say to you?  

Day 3:

Jesus Offers Rest


School recess. Sports timeouts. Work breaks. Show intermission. Weekly sabbath. Annual vacation. Snow days.

We love these opportunities to stop and rest. They permit us to cease from activity in order to recover and refresh physically, mentally and emotionally. These pit stops help us establish a healthy and productive rhythm in the race of life.

Jesus promises rest to all who follow him. The type of rest recorded by the disciple Matthew alludes specifically to rest for the soul.

For those who heard Jesus’ words, this would have been an especially significant and appealing promise.

They lived under the burdensome requirements of Mosaic law and tradition. In their zeal to pursue noteworthy obedience to God, religious leaders over time had concocted more than 600 laws and rules. A suffocating consciousness of sin was a heavy yoke for the common person to bear.

But how about today? How might we desire soul rest? Allow me to share three examples from my own life experience.

For decades, I lived with the notion that God was some type of cosmic judge just waiting for me to screw up. I labored to do all the right things to earn His approval. Faith was an ongoing roller coaster of spiritual hide and seek.

For decades, I was a world class people-pleaser. (You would probably find my picture in the dictionary along with the definition.) Constantly trying to live up to everyone’s expectations and win others’ approval just simply wore me out. I became emotionally exhausted.

For decades, I sought to fit into various types of Christian cultures (Anabaptist, 1970’s Jesus movement, Evangelicalism, etc.) Each one represented a particular expression of faithfulness and had their own set of expected behaviors. Each offered a special perspective and was

well-meaning, however my striving to fit into that culture often supplanted my personal seeking to know God. 

Now, yielding to a gentle and approachable Jesus, helps me: 1.) change my previously toxic view of God, 2.) keep others’ expectations in perspective, and 3.) lessens the influence of other cultures upon me. As a result, I am finding more rest for my soul.  

Looking back at the list of examples at the beginning of this reflection, perhaps, snow days are the best metaphor for soul rest in Jesus.

On snow days, everything ceases. We delight in the newfound opportunity to just stop and rest. There is no agenda. The falling snow brings beauty and a sense of stillness.  There is room to just be and not do. Snow days provide lovely opportunities to refresh.

We all need to relish “snow days” with Jesus - taking time to stop and look heavenward allowing the fresh crystal pure snowflakes of Jesus’ kindness to fall upon our faces. (And may it make us giggle in response.)

For reflection:

1.  What is causing me to feel “weary and heavy laden”?  Can I identify what’s at the root of it?

2.  Take a few moments now to have a “snow day” with Jesus. Pause. Sit comfortably. Place hands in an open position. Take a few deep slow breaths. Mediate upon Jesus’ invitation: “Come to me all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest.”

Day 4:

Spiritual Practice

For today’s devotional you are invited to select and do a practice from the spiritual practices page. God bless your time with the Lord today.

Spiritual Practices