Testing and Trials

Do you remember that when Jesus received His baptism, he was led by the Holy Spirit for The Test. Notice it was not “a” test, but “the” test. That is something all of us must face. I don’t know what matter of test you will face—and I can’t assure you that there will only be one test. But in this story, found in the 4th chapter of Matthew, the Devil was ready to give “the” Test to Jesus.

Jesus prepared for the Test by fasting forty days and forty nights. That my friends is a chunk of time (and we think, we are Holy doing a three day fast). But that forty-day fast left him, of course, in a state of extreme hunger — in fact, on the brink of starvation. The Scripture says that he fasted forty days and forty nights; then he was hungry!” I bet he was! But that was also a sign that starvation had begun. You can fast for several days and your hunger will disappear. Your body begins to draw energy from the reserves you have, and there will be no hunger. However, once those reserves are gone, hunger returns — meaning starvation has begun. Jesus was in the state of starvation, and the Devil took advantage of it.

He throws in the first test: “Since you are God’s Son, speak the word that will turn these stones into loaves of bread.” In other words, “I know you’re hungry, you have the ability to do something about it, satisfy that need you have.”

I have a friend who the Lord has trained to run. And in the training, the Lord has met her during every run and has given her tremendous insights into herself, her family and into His Kingdom. One day she was running, and it was the first day she was going to reach 5 miles. But before she completed that run, she noticed a shortcut that would have made her run much easier. Suddenly she began hearing a voice say, “Oh, it’s not that a big deal. You are pretty worn out and need a rest. Just turn, and you will be able to finish the race much faster.” But she ignored the voice, and the Lord rewarded her great victory.

Oh, that’s just a silly run, what is so important? She could do the run any day. Ah, but that’s the point. The Lord was guiding her steps and for her to turn off the path he had given her would have weakened her resolve the next time. Each time the Lord sets a “goal,” but you give up, it becomes much easier to give up during future trials.

How can you relate to that? Hmm . . . “You are being overwhelmed with debt, you think your God has called you to do this? If you go back to doing what you used to do, you could make more.” Does that sound familiar?

How about, “Hey, losing that weight isn’t that important. Besides, eating that one cookie won’t offset your weight loss too much. Go ahead and take a bite, it won’t hurt you.”

“Look, you could quite any time you want. Sure, everyone is telling you that you need to quit drinking, but what do they know. One small drink doesn’t matter, does it?” Does that sound familiar?

You can mull that over some, because the next test the Devil threw at Jesus was taking him to the Holy City, Jerusalem, the heart of the Hebrew faith. He sat him on top of the Temple and said, “Go ahead—jump! If you’re really God’s son, he will save you.” He even quoted Scripture! Psalm 91, to be precise: ‘He has placed you in the care of angels. They will catch you so that you won’t so much as stub your toe on a stone” (Matthew 4:6).

Do you see what is happening here? Do you see Satan’s deviousness in this? He isolated a single promise from Scripture — and he tempted Jesus to cast his whole life on that one verse. He was saying, “You say God is with you. Well, prove it! Your Father has already allowed me to harass you this much. Where was his presence in that? You can prove he is with you right now. You can prove it all by jumping. Go ahead, jump! If your father is with you, he will provide a soft landing. Then you can base your confidence on that. Think of the testimony that will bring to all the unbelievers! If not, you might as well die rather than go on wondering if you are on your own. You need a miracle to prove the Father is with you.”

How did Jesus respond? “Jesus countered with another citation from Deuteronomy: ‘Don’t you dare test the Lord your God’” (Matthew 4:7). Well, that’s interesting. . . What exactly did Jesus mean here by “testing “God?

Ancient Israel is an example. Ten times the Lord had proved himself faithful to the Israelites. God’s people received visible proof that their Lord was with them. Every time, the people asked the same question: “Is God among us or not?” Their continual asking if He was there and would help them is what he calls, “testing the Lord.” Jesus uses this same phrase —“testing God” — in his reply to Satan. What does it mean? It shows us that it is a grave sin to doubt Yahweh’s presence or care. We are not to question whether He is with us. Whether He will care for us. Or if He will indeed meet our needs. He made those promises, and unlike us, He keeps His promises. Moses sternly put it this way:

El is not like people. He tells no lies.
    He is not like humans. He doesn’t change his mind.
        When he says something, he does it.
        When he makes a promise, he keeps it (Numbers 23:19)

Copy that an paste on your bathroom mirror so that every time you look at yourself, you will remember our Lord’s faithfulness! Just like with Israel, our Father has already given us an entire body of evidence. First, we have in His Word multiple promises. Second, we have our own personal history with Him — a testimony of the many times He delivered in our lives. Third, we have a Bible full of witnesses to His actions in past centuries.

The Scriptures are clear. There is no ambiguity found: We are to walk with our Father by faith and not by sight. Otherwise, we will end up like faithless Israel. That phrase, “By faith and not by sight,” is from II Corinthians 5:7. The Amplified Version renders this verse, this way:

 “For we walk by faith—we regulate our lives and conduct ourselves by our conviction or belief respecting man’s relationship to God and divine things, with trust and holy fervor; thus we walk not by sight or appearance”

I want to go into this with a little more depth later, but for now understand the weapons of your enemy and don’t listen to his lies. I have told you this many times before. It is T.I.S: Thoughts, Ideas, and Suggestions. Control your thoughts and the things you meditate on. If your ideas are contrary to our Lord’s Word, ignore them; cast them aside and never bring them up again. When you hear those suggestions to compromise, and to take the “easy” road, follow Peter’s instructions and take them captive. Say, “NO! I will not entertain those suggestions!” I am deliberately sending this out today because I presume you will gather with other with other believers for worship and fellowship. So as you begin your day, fix your eyes and attention on the Faithfulness of your Father. Carpe diem, quam minimum credula postero!

Nickolas

(I send out messages like this each morning in emails, and if you are interested in receiving them, send me your email address and I will add you to the list. However, you can also find these messages at: Thought For The Day)

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