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Vol.  9  No. 7 July 2007  Page 8
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Priscilla's Page By Marilyn LaStrape *Editor's Note*

God Can and Does Test Us; What Is on the Test?

Marilyn LaStrapeBy Marilyn LaStrape

    If we have been in this world for any significant length of time, we soon learn life is full of trials, temptations, set backs, disappointments, frustrations and heartaches. There are also times when we experience joy, happiness, peace, fulfillment, contentment and pleasure.

    We have no problem whatsoever enjoying the latter; it is the former that causes us perhaps to start asking the question, “Why is this happening to me?” When we know how God deals with us, then we will know how to deal with any of life’s situations, good or bad. We will know if it is a test from God to strengthen us or a temptation from Satan to destroy us. Hebrews 12:7-8 says, “If you endure chastening, God deals with you as with sons; for what son is there whom a father does not chasten? But if you are without chastening, of which all have become partakers, then you are illegitimate and not sons.” Do we really have the faith we need to deal with life as it comes?

    God blesses us in countless ways daily, and we should be thanking him daily, realizing all of our sufficiency comes from him. Sometimes, God also will allow great suffering into our lives in order to gain our attention so we can understand what is really important in life. Sometimes through a trial of testing, God takes our lives in a direction we may not understand or even initially be ready to accept.

    So how do we distinguish between a test to strengthen and a temptation to destroy? James says it best when he said, “My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience, but let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing” (James 1:2-4). Is our faith strong enough to see the perfecting work God wants to accomplish through a trial to make us more useful in his service?

    The children of Israel are one of the strongest examples in the entire Bible when it came to testing. When God brought them out of Egyptian bondage, one of their many complaints was about food being provided or what kind they had. Exodus 16:4 says, “Then the Lord said to Moses, ‘Behold, I will rain bread from heaven for you. And the people shall go out and gather a certain quota every day, that I may test them, whether they will walk in My law or not.’”

    The Israelites got their chance to “pass God’s test” in verses 16-31 of that chapter. God told them to gather just enough bread or manna for each family to be fed daily, and on the sixth day to gather twice as much since no bread would be provided on the Sabbath rest. Some of them received an “A”; others received an “F.” Why was that? Those who received the “A” responded in submissive, obedient faith; those who received the “F” rebelled by disobeying.

    Some of them left part of the bread until morning, and it bred worms and stunk. They had been told not to do that; they ignored that command, and Moses was angry with them. Some went out on the seventh day looking for the manna when Moses had already told them to gather twice the amount on the sixth day. “Now it happened that some of the people went out on the seventh day to gather, but they found none. And the Lord said to Moses, ‘How long do you refuse to keep My commandments and My laws?’” (Exodus 16:27-28). How many times has God asked us, as it were, that very same penetrating question? Why do we continue to refuse to seek God’s will, and continue to pursue our own will for our lives? It is the temptation from Satan to destroy us!

    When God gave Moses the Ten Commandments, the people were literally trembling before him and stood afar off. They told Moses, “You speak with us, and we will hear; but let not God speak with us, lest we die” (Exodus 20:19). Moses said to them, “Do not fear; for God has come to test you, and that His fear may be before you, so that you may not sin” (Exodus 20:20). David said it so plainly in Psalm 119:11, “Your word I have hidden in my heart, that I might not sin against You.”

    As David instructs the leaders to gather the provisions for the construction of the Temple, he prays and gives thanks to God for the generosity of all the people who offered willingly for that work. Second Chronicles 29:9 says, “Then the people rejoiced for they had offered willingly, because with a loyal heart they had offered willingly to the Lord; and King David also rejoiced greatly.”

    Later in that chapter, David prays, “O Lord our God, all this abundance that we have prepared to build You a house for Your holy name is from Your hand, and is all Your own. I know also, my God, that You test the heart and have pleasure in uprightness” (2 Chronicles 29:16-17a).

    King Hezekiah was one of the good kings of Judah; however, he did have his moments of weakness and faltering. Hezekiah had very great riches and honor, for God had given him a lot of property, and he had prospered in all his works. He made the mistake of showing the princes of Babylon all the house of his treasures (2 Kings 20:12-19). When he did that, “God withdrew from him, in order to test him, that He might know all that was in his heart” (2 Chronicles 32:31b).

    When we understand the purpose for God testing us, we will endure that test by faith, and the only reason we need is the knowledge from his Word that he is going to do it! God determines our worthiness in the kingdom by testing us. Endured trials strengthen; resisted trials weaken, and we deny ourselves the spiritual growth and maturity God intended. We fail to understand that the trials God allows in our lives must be if we are ever to reflect the likeness of Christ!

    One of the most striking examples of our Lord’s testing was before he died on the cross. “And being in agony, He prayed more earnestly. And His sweat became like great drops of blood falling down to the ground” (Luke 22:44). None of us can relate or identify with that kind of stress, trial or testing! Hebrews 12:3-4 speaks of how Christ endured testing that we can never properly envision. “For consider Him who endured such hostility from sinners against Himself, lest you become weary and discouraged in your souls; you have not yet resisted to bloodshed, striving against sin.”

    When we were in school and the teacher gave a review for an upcoming test, some of us would be furiously taking notes and marking pages to make sure we reviewed those in order to pass the test. If someone asked if a certain section would be covered and the answer was no, we ignored it. We virtually all had the same attitude, “If this is not going to be on the test, I am not writing it down because there is no reason to remember it.”

    Do we have this kind of attitude when it comes to the church? Do we sometimes decide that it really is not necessary to be actively involved in the work of the church to our fullest capacity? Do we reach a point where we are no longer learning, sharing, growing and working in the vineyard of the Lord? As Christians, are we subconsciously asking, “Is this going to be on the test?” Beware! This is a temptation from Satan to destroy us! Yielding to the temptations, deceptions, compromises and lies from Satan to disobey God will ultimately destroy us! We are to fear God and keep his commandments for this is our whole duty (Ecclesiastes 12:13-14). Jesus said, “So likewise you, when you have done all things which you are commanded, say, ‘We are unprofitable servants. We have done what was our duty to do’” (Luke 17:10). Who among us has done “all”? Continuing steadfastly in the apostle’s doctrine is still on the test! Being faithful until we die is still on the test!

    God has got to know we are ambassadors for his Son, his personal representatives to the world. He has got to know we can be counted on to carry the message of salvation to the world. He has got to know we can be counted on to, “Take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand” (Ephesians 6:13).

    Paul said, “For we walk by faith, not by sight” (2 Corinthians 5:7). Knowing this, we must be making those “spiritual deposits of faith” in our accounts every day; for as sure as we have been born, God is going to test us to prove our genuineness, sincerity, loyalty and trust in him.

    The final question will be through the testing that God allows in our lives; did we pass each test? Heaven is a prepared place for prepared people. Praise God through all that he allows to happen to us; he is preparing us for our heavenly home!

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