"The Tests in Life"
In life we are both tested and tempted. God may test us, but evil tempts us. When you think about the tests in your life, do you have the faith to follow God’s will, or do you listen to the temptation to do it your way?
The Tests In Life
A. Tests. We face them many times in life. This time of year many kids take the ACT and SAT to help them get into college. But there are many other professional tests. Lawyers, doctors, nurses, accountants and many in skilled labor professions have to pass some type of test in order to work in that field.
B. I would say that I was not a good test taker, but that is not totally true. I often simply did not prepare for the tests I took and therefore got the grade I deserved.
C. When we became a Christian, we turned ourselves over to the care and will of God. We hoped the tests were done, but the truth is, the testing of our faith is never completed while we live on this earth. The question is not “Will we face tests?” but “Will we pass the test of our faith?”
I. Put To The Test
A. Peter wanted to communicate to the “elect who were scatted abroad” part of the reason why they were scattered. As he opens his letters he writes that we have a glorious inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled and unfading. So I know that my future is going to be great. But that doesn’t take away the problems of this life. So Peter gives us these words (1 Pet. 1:6-8).
B. Did you hear that? Your faith is more precious than gold. Your faith is more important than any earthly wealth, but like gold, your faith is going to be put to the test, put through the fire so to speak, to see if it is genuine.
C. Everyone’s favorite verse on this subject is James 1:2-4. It is a spiritual maturing process. Do you ever want to tell God that you don’t want to mature, that you just want to be a spiritual baby? I know I have. Growing in my faith necessitates the challenges of my faith. The more I dig into God’s word, the more I see that my faith must grow in order for me be God’s design, not my own.
D. The question is not, “will we face test?” but “will we pass the test of our faith?” One story that helps us to see the depth of testing and passing is that of Abraham in Gen. 22.
II. The Story
A. God had told Abraham and Sarah that they would have a child. The birth of Isaac came with great joy for Sarah. Abraham had his “son of promise” as God had said. The boy was loved by both his parents and their joy of parenthood came at an old age. You see, Sarah was 90 and Abraham was 100 when the baby was born. And Gen. 22:1 starts by saying, “After these things God tested Abraham.”
B. I want you to understand the difference between testing and tempting. There is no doubt that Abraham could have failed. Some would even say that God was tempting Abraham. God was not setting up Abraham to fail. God was setting up Abraham to discover the depth of his faith.
C. You see there comes a time in everyone’s life when we must choose between our faith in God and his promises and what we desire in our heart. Testing is done to help us grow, mature, and become more than what we had been. Tempting seeks to destroy, kill and make a person worse than what they are. No, God was not tempting Abraham to sin, but testing the faith Abraham claimed.
D. God calls to Abraham. Abraham does not know that this is a test of his faith. Abraham simply hears the voice of God and the words that I am sure cut deep into his heart. (read verse 2)
E. There was no getting around this one. Abraham was put to the most difficult test of his life. No parent can read this story and try to understand. But this is a test of proclaimed faith.
F. Early the next morning, Abraham got up, saddled his donkey, and took 2 servants and some wood. On the third day Abraham saw the place God had told him. Isaac carried the wood, and his father took the knife and the fire.
G. As the two of them went, Isaac asked his father the question Abraham must have feared to hear. “Father, the fire and wood are here, but where is the lamb?” The answer he gave is as much a statement of faith as any in scripture, “God will provide for himself the lamb for the burnt offering.” God will provide. Is that your statement of faith when you are tested or do you cry out “Why? Why God are you doing this to me? Why are you letting this happen? WHY!?”
III. The Application
A. Three things that might help us are:
1. Expect tests. Your faith is only as strong as the temptation it can withstand. To the churches in Revelation, Jesus said, expect the trials, and expect the tests. To expect them is to be one step towards passing them.
2. Expect to Pass. By that I mean be prepared to follow though no matter what the cost. We have to make some decisions as to whether we will follow through, or whether we will seek to find a way out. It means that we might have to put the knife into a relationship that pulls us away from God. We might have to offer up a sinful desire that we love. We need to pass the test, even when it hurts. God must be our greatest desire and first choice.
3. Expect help. God may allow the test. God may even cause the test, but he will not ask anything from you that he will not give you the strength to do. The trials that Abraham had gone through with Hagar, Lot, and his own difficulties had actually strengthened him to face this test, his ultimate.
B. When the tests come, when the trial are upon us, we need to focus on the promise, not the problem. God gave Abraham a promise, even before Isaac was born. As long as Abraham believed the promise, he could do whatever God asked of him. We too have a promise. The promise that “God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way so that you can stand up under it.” 1 Cor. 10:13
A. Abraham passed the test. His faith was proven to himself and to God. But before he could plunge that knife into his son, God stopped him. There in the thicket a ram was caught. Abraham took the lamb and offered it to God, and called the place “Jehovah-Jireh” which means “The LORD will provide.”
B. Let me ask you, do you believe the LORD will provide? What does that mean to your testing of faith? When you walk through the valley of the shadow of death, do you walk with the great shepherd or do you think he leaves you alone?