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A Word from Our Staff

Beside Still Waters

Posted by Laurie OToole on with 1 Comments

How We as a Staff Practiced Sabbath…  

by Still Waters

On June 5, Bethany Church staff spent a morning and part of an afternoon at the beach.  While it’s true that summer is quickly approaching, as is So Cal’s “beach season”, this day was set apart for something more than fun in the sun.  As a staff, we set aside intentional time together to worship God, to acknowledge our gratitude what He has done at Bethany in the first 5 months of the year, and to pray for what He is going to do over the summer and in this next ministry season. But we also made time for individual quiet reflection before God, right there on the beach, beside still waters. This was not only a powerful time to reflect on and plan for ministry, but it was a beautiful time to be still before God and allow Him to refill and refresh us.

The following is a sample of what we did at the beach on Tuesday.  After a time of singing together, we moved off by ourselves and spent an hour reading and praying.  We hope this will encourage you to do the same.

Putting Sabbath into practice…  

by Still Waters

Much of life and ministry is spent on “output”… Working, counseling, helping, talking, driving, sharing, planning, giving. All very active verbs.  These activities don’t fit neatly into a 9-5 work week either. Too often, the most pressing needs are those that take place at home with those we love after the work day ends.  Whether in ministry or just everyday life, duty calls us to service and sacrifice and to busyness.

But God calls us to be still before Him.

The nurture and care for our own souls is a crucial foundation upon which God can build a family, business, or ministry.  His Word to Zerubbabel (Zechariah 4) reminded him that it’s “Not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit, says the Lord of hosts.”

Are we running on the fumes of our own strength and ideas?

Or, are we choosing to being filled daily with the mighty power of His Spirit?

Like exhausted children who become hyperactive because of their lack of rest, we too can become more and more busy, spinning our wheels. And like a loving parent who requires his child to nap, God lovingly compels us to rest, to be still.

God created the idea of a Sabbath in the second chapter of Genesis.  In fact, it was the first thing He blessed as holy.

“Thus the heavens and the earth were finished, and all the host of them.  And on the seventh day God finished his work that he had done, and he rested on the seventh day from all his work that he had done.  So God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it God rested from all his work that he had done in creation.” Genesis 2:1-3

God invites us to rest. To rest from our work. To rest from ministry. To rest from weariness. To rest in Him. To be refilled by Him. To be refueled by His Word. To be refreshed by His delight in us. To remind us that He is the One at work in and through us.  

How is your Sabbath, your being still before God?

In a typical work week filled with obligations, making time for a Sabbath can be difficult. It doesn’t come naturally. But rather, it takes time and energy to make time to be still.  It can sometimes be easier to check off “to do lists” than be still because constantly DOING make us feel or be perceived as if WE are accomplishing great things.

But God lovingly calls us to be still before him.  

“Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, but few things are needed—or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.” Luke 10:42-42

So make time to practice Sabbath. Be still.  Allow the Living Water to wash over you, cleansing you and refreshing you. Reflect on His Word. Revel in His delight for you. Refuel in the power of His Spirit.

Be still and savor His Sabbath rest… by still waters!

Suggestions for Savoring the Still Waters

First of all, this isn’t supposed to be complicated.  The hardest part is that you have to make the time to make it happen. Pencil it on your calendar.  Life will try to get in the way, I promise!

Next, find a favorite spot. Take a chair and your Bible and your favorite cup of coffee/tea to a quiet spot on the beach (or the park or wherever you can be alone with God.)  

Schedule at least an hour for prayer and reflection.

What to do during that time:

  • Start with prayer, asking God to quiet your mind, allowing you to hear from Him.

  • Read through some of the passages below. You can read it silently or aloud; once or many times.

  • Reflect on God’s character through the passages by making notes, journaling, drawing, etc.

  • If God leads you to other passages in His Word, follow His lead!

  • Spend time in prayer. Is God leading you to thanksgiving, repentance, guidance, assurance of His love?

  • Sing a worship song or hymn

  • Spend time in quiet, listening to His voice. It’s ok to rest and close your eyes.

What NOT to do:

  • Don’t make this a group project. Be alone with God

  • Don’t make a TO DO list or a grocery list

  • Don’t feel like this is something to “accomplish” or get through

  • Don’t check you phone; use your Bible to avoid outside distractions

  • Don’t post the sacred moment on Instagram. Be still before God, not social media

Some Sabbath Readings to get you started:

  • Psalm 1:1-3
  • Psalm 23:1-6
  • Psalm 42:1-11
  • Psalm 46:1-11
  • Psalm 62:1-12
  • Psalm 63:1-11
  • Matthew 11:28-30 
  • John 15: 1-11


As you read, make consider the following questions:

  1. How did you connect with God’s character?

  2. In what ways did you grow in insight and understanding through His Word?

  3. How is the Spirit leading you to go from here transformed?



Debbie Shields June 9, 2018 5:42pm

What a wonderful day and practical ways to hear from our Lord. Devotions seem to be quick and something to do each morning but this is truly a time to hear from God in
A more worshipful way and Being in awe of Our Lord.