Thursday, March 31, 2011

Tests and Trials

As you may already know, Moses was called by God to lead the Israelites out of slavery in Egypt and into the Promise Land. However the Israelite people had a bad attitude and were rebellious against the commandments of the Lord, so what was only supposed to be an eleven-day journey turned into forty years of wandering around aimlessly in the wilderness. Despite all the miracles God had performed for them, the parting of the red sea, the miracle manna that fell from the sky for them to eat every day, the water that gushed out of a rock when they thirsted- the people still complained and disobeyed the Lords commandments. If you can believe it, they even made for themselves idols out of silver and gold to worship instead of the Lord who had redeemed them. Once they reached the promise land Moses says to his people “And you shall remember that the Lord your God led you all the way these forty years in the wilderness to humble you and test you, to know what was in your heart, whether you would keep his commandments or not” (Deut 8:2)

How many of you have not reached the promise land in your own life? I am talking about the Promise Land here on earth that all Christians should be living in. Be honest, are you bearing the fruits of the spirit (Love, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, joy, self control, and gentleness) in your life? I don’t mean on occasion, I mean always? As Christians (being born again) we should be transforming into the character of God. We should enjoy every day that we are living no matter what our circumstances are. If you are like me, and have not reached the promise land but want to;  please read on. I am determined to not settle for a harvest in spring, but my desire is to have the fruits of the spirit flourish throughout all the seasons of my life. I refuse to be lost in the wilderness like the Israelites were for forty years before I get my heart right with God. I am willing to be humbled and tested in order to take a step forward in the direction of the promise land.

To humble you and test you, to know what was in your heart”  Deut 8:2

What is one of your weaknesses? Let’s pretend for a moment that you said you have a problem with feeling jealous of other people. If you ask God for forgiveness for coveting you bestfriend’s bank account- He will forgive you, but I can guarantee that you will wake up the next morning with the same temptations as you had before. Let me be clear about something, God does not temp us. Temptation is the devils work. However, God allows us to be around temptation as a test to see the condition of our heart. I found this out the hard way about a year ago after praying that God would change me into a patient person. Well the next day I woke up thinking that God, with his mighty hand and outstretched arm, had eagerly wiped that ungodly characteristic off of my personality whiteboard. But I was sadly mistaken. For the next two weeks I found myself in the most frustrating situations that had tested every ounce of my patience. I would be in the car, already running late for work, when the world’s worst driver cut me off and drove 20 km below the speed limit. Then a few days later I found myself behind ten people in Shoppers who all seemed to have loads of items when all I had to pay for was a single toothbrush. So, like any impatient person would do, I walked over to the cosmetic counter and asked the lady if I could paid for it there. After a few more situations like these it finally hit me; my request to receive patience came ringing back in my ears like a voice memo. God was testing me and I was failing miserably. It was obvious, God was not just going to make life easy for me. Rather, He was going to build my character by putting me through countless situations that would test my patience. The next day I found myself behind another slow driver, instead of passing the car, I stayed behind it, driving 30km over the bridge. I laughed “You sure do have a good sense of humor” I said as I sensed the Lord was chuckling along with me. I was super excited that I had passed the first patience test of the day. However, when the Israelites turned away from their idolatry it did not mean they were declared a faithful nation by the Lord. They still had to be tested until they continually became victorious over the sins that were keeping them from inheriting the promise land.  Likewise, just because I had overcome my impatience that one time does not mean that I had destroyed the stronghold it had over me. I had merely taken my first step in the right direction. Just like a parent finds Joy in watching their child take their very first step, I believe God reacts the same way when take our first steps toward the promise land.

 Ol’ Moses says “that He might humble you and that He might test you, to do you good in the end” (Deut 8:16) God does not find pleasure in watching us flunk a test over and over and over again; just like He did not enjoy watching the Israelites wander around in the wilderness for forty years. It hurts God to see His children fall into the enemy’s traps repeatedly but the good news is that He will never give up on you. Just like I learned with my request to acquire patience, God is going to let me take that test again, and again, and again until I pass it with straight A’s and begin bearing that “righteous fruit” in my life. Like Joyce Meyers says “it is not about having a good attitude when things are going your way, rather the real test of your character comes when you can have a good attitude when your circumstances have changed for the worse”. The Bible says that God changes us from glory to glory (Cor 3:16). What that means is that no matter where you are in your spiritual journey God will always be leading you to becoming a better person than you are today. James 1:2 says “count it as pure joy when you encounter trials of all sorts knowing that the testing of your faith produces perseverance”.  So when you find yourself tested be glad and rejoice in knowing that this is your opportunity to grow. Remember that God is rooting for you to pass so that He can change you from glory to glory.

 Take heart Sister, the trials you encounter are to do YOU good in the end. They are designed to build your faith and with each test that you pass you are one step closer to becoming the person God created you to be. Remember that Gods love is perpetual and that your life and all of its ups and down are part of his divine plan to make you enjoy your everyday life here on earth and of course to prepare you for receiving his greatest gift-HEAVEN.  The important questions to ask yourself are: how do you handle the tests and trials in your life? Are you aware of when you are being tested, act accordingly and persevere. Or, are you still being held back in your “spiritual” grades because you keep failing the same test over and over again?  I don’t know about you guys but I am no longer going to turn a blind eye when something bad comes my way, I am going to say “This is a test, and I will persevere, and my faith will grow from passing this test”. Amen!

  “Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, because when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him” -James 1:12

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