A Cross To Bear

I wish I had time to discuss the adventures and life of King Hezekiah. Maybe I will do it as a separate study or a muti-part “Morning Message.” Anyway, I was rereading the story of Hezekiah’s reign, and there is an interesting verse regarding King Hezekiah in II Chronicles 32. I am referring to verse 31:

“When envoys were sent by the rulers of Babylon to ask him about the miraculous sign that had occurred in the land, God left him [King Hezekiah] to test him and to know everything that was in his heart.”

Interesting, isn’t it? “God left him, to try him!” A similar thing happened to the Hebrews as they left Egypt. Remember? It is described in the 13th chapter of Exodus where it says, “When Pharaoh let the people go, God did not lead them on the road through the Philistine Country, although that was shorter. For God said, ‘if they face war, they might change their minds and return to Egypt.‘ So God led the people around by the way of the wilderness toward the Red Sea” (Exodus 13: 17-18).

See? Even before the people of Israel sinned and had to wander for 40 years in the wilderness, God already knew something about them. Moses told them to remember that event because He did to “humble you and to test you in order to know what was in your heart . . .” (Deuteronomy 8:2-5, 16). It worked then, it worked for Hezekiah and it is working today, in your life.

The Lord will test you in your greatest need. Something a friend reminded me of is how the Lord will always test you concerning your obedience to His Word. Satan, however, always tempts you to disobey God‘s Word.

You won’t like hearing this, but, if you are going to go hard after your God, you will experience a time[s] in each of our lives when the very foundations are shaken. These are times for us to hang on to heaven. Times for us to anchor our faith in the Rock of God‘s Word. Oh, it might be pressures from without, or tremendous struggles within. They may be troubles and difficulties we never expected, or times of disillusionment when it seems we have given more to the Lord than we are receiving.

Have you ever felt like that? Have you ever felt like “it wasn’t supposed to be this way!”? “That‘s not the way my TV preacher told me it would be. If I ever saw him in person I‘d cram these tapes down his throat.”

What started all this is when I began rereading Hezekiah’s story and thinking how some of us become so preoccupied with the testing, that we forget the end results. Let me ask you . . . is it possible that the great trial you are facing right now, the burden you are carrying, is actually our Father at work proving you?

Remember the story of Abraham and his son Isaac? The Scripture says, “God tested Abraham and said to him . . . “Take your son, your only son, whom you love — Isaac— . . . Sacrifice him there as a burnt offering . . .” (Genesis 22:1–2). Scary, huh? How would you like to be told to sacrifice one of your most prized possessions? As we have seen, Yahweh tested Abraham, Hezekiah and an entire nation just to find out what was really in their hearts?

If you are going to follow after the Lord, even when you are faithfully fulfilling whatever He directs you to do, you are going find yourself thinking that He has forsaken you. You will be tried to the limits of endurance and it will feel as though He has left you all alone to battle the forces of hell. Every man (or woman) God has ever blessed has been proved in the same way.

Do you find yourself in strange circumstances? Do you feel forsaken and alone? Do you fight a losing battle with an unpredictable enemy? Is your heart clear of any sin or rebellion? These are signs pointing to a time of testing.

Victory is always desired, but if you fail, remember: It is what remains in your heart that your Lord is interested in, your attitude after you have won or lost the lonely battle. Your devotion to him in spite of failure is his desire.

Jesus has promised never to leave us or forsake us, but the record of Scripture tells us there are seasons when the Father does withdraw His presence to test us. Even Christ experienced that lonely moment on the cross. During these times our Savior is touched by the feeling of our infirmity — and he whispers, “I am praying for you, so that your faith will not fail.”

Jesus said that we are to take up our cross and follow him (see Matthew 16:24). What is that cross? It is the flesh with its frailness and weakness. Take it up, move on in faith, and his strength will be made perfect in you. Is your cross of self and sin too heavy? Then, my friend, take up your cross and follow on. He understands and is there beside you to lift the heavy burden!

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: Mail List)

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