CQ Plus September 14-20 2013

Designed By God

Preface: The Holy Spirit can help break down the barriers in our relationship with God and the barriers in our relationships with one another. The greatest demonstration of the power of the gospel is not necessarily what the church says but how the church lives. “ ‘By this all will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another’ ” (John 13:35, NKJV). Without this love, all our talk about revival and reformation will come to nothing.

We live in an action-oriented world, and it seems that simplifying our lives has never been more complicated! Doesn’t it seem that there’s always work to do and no time for rest? Answer the following questions as honestly as you can to determine if you need to rest: Do I wake up tired? Do I feel stressed when functioning in my normal day-to-day activities? Is it difficult to find joy? Do I get the kind of rest my body needs?

At Creation, God established a pattern of work and rest, which is a model for believers. For six days God worked to bring order to our world. But on the seventh day, after He had finished all His creative activity, He rested. God demonstrated that rest is appropriate and right. We need to take care of ourselves, and when we do so, we have more strength for revival and reformation.

Jesus showed us the importance of rest when He sat wearily beside a well after a long walk (John 4:6) and when He slept in the back of a boat with His head on a pillow (Mark 4:38). He also rested when He and His disciples got away from the crowds (Mark 6:31, 32).

If the Lord rested from the work of creation and from His earthly ministry, we need to rest from our work as well. Our times of rest refresh us for times of service. Schedule some “slow down” time this week.

In the normal course of providence, God works in and through creation, not despite it. For this reason, some answers to prayer are difficult to prove with certainty. We believe a prayer has been answered not because of any scientific criteria proving it, but because we have faith.

Most of the ways we encounter God—nature, the Bible, the Lord’s Supper, the church, other people, service—include things we can touch. God’s own state, though, is the realm of spirit.

Although we may ask God to intervene directly, it should not surprise us if He responds in a more hidden way in cooperation with our own choices. An alcoholic prays, “Lord, keep me from drink today.” The answer to that prayer will likely come from the inside—from a stiffening resolve or a cry for help to a loyal friend—rather than from some marvel like the magical disappearance of liquor bottles from a cabinet.

Whether God supernaturally intervenes or is giving us the power to obey Him, we trust His character. We see a true partnership, intimate and intertwined.

Mark Andrew Paterniti, Taylor, Michigan, U.S.A.