Is Your Faith Being Tested

Abed_nego2

Well-Known Member
Our Text - James 1:2-4, “Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything”

God’s Goal is “That we may become PERFECT, COMPLETE and LACKING nothing”

(1) God tests ALL believers’ numerous times in many different ways and you’re never too young or old to be tested by God. Warren Weirsbe said, “A faith that cannot be tested, cannot be trusted”. 1 Peter 1:6-7 says this, “In all this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith – of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire – may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed.”
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(2) Some Principles in the Testing of Our Faith would be – (a) the test is only for a LITTLE WHILE; (b) if NEED BE; (c) every test brings PAIN of some kind; (d) there are VARIOUS trials; (e) God brings the trials so that we have GENUINENESS of our faith; (f) our faith is more PRECIOUS than gold; and, (g) our FAITH is God’s glory at the second coming.
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(3) God knows EVERYTHING about our test or trial

As believers in Jesus Christ, we will experience testing in our life here on earth, some of which will cause us to waiver in our faith and those that will cause us to stand firm and will increase our faith. However, Satan, the accuser of the brethren, and an angel of light, will be tempting us to do that which is contrary to God’s Word. When God test us, it is for our own good and will make our faith grow even stronger.

Usually when an accident or crippling disease strikes or when we encounter disappointments and trials that perplex and bother us, we often cry out, “O Lord, why do You allow these things to happen?” It’s natural for us to question God’s workings, but continually asking why; can delay the demonstration of His strength and purpose for it. Even though our present trials may be heartbreaking, the all-wise heavenly Father wants to strengthen our faith and demonstrate the sufficiency of His mercy, grace and love through our trials. That can only happen if we get beyond asking why, and say, “What do You have for me now, Lord?”

To illustrate my point, Ruth Paxson was a missionary to China during the nineteenth century. She told the story of a woman she met on a train in Finland. The first thing Miss Paxson noticed was her radiant face. Then she observed the woman had a steel hook in place of a right hand. As they talked, Miss Paxson learned that she had been a missionary in India, had contracted a serious lung disease, and was sent home. She returned to her native Finland and bought a farm. One day, while working on the threshing machine, her right hand was severed. She told Miss Paxson, “When my hand was cut off, I immediately looked up to my Lord and said, ‘Lord, what do You want me to do now that my right hand is gone? What work? I’m not asking why, but what?’” God later used her to turn her farm into a home for elderly Christians, bringing blessings to many.
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(4) God is with us in EVERY test or trial – (Hebrews 11:17-18)

God was with the test of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego as recorded for us in Daniel 3:15-16; 25). Another example would be Abraham’s faith found in the book of Hebrews, chapter 11, verses 17-18, "By faith Abraham, when God tested him, offered Isaac as a sacrifice. He who had embraced the promises was about to sacrifice his one and only son, even though God had said to him, ‘It is through Isaac that your offspring will be reckoned’”. Abraham had been waiting a very long time for a son. Then God tested Abraham to sacrifice his only son, Isaac.

Now let’s imagine one day God gives you something you have been waiting for - for a very long time, only to have Him challenge that promise with a test. That's what happened to Abraham. God gave Abraham the promise he would become the father of many nations, and we know now that's what happened. Abraham wasn't perfect and he made a lot of mistakes (and we are no different). In this test Abraham stood his ground and set the example for us to follow today. There are some things we can learn from Abraham in order to pass our own test of faith today. They would be:

(A) God’s HEART

The heart refers to the central part of a person. The heart is the nature of a person, and to know the heart of someone is to know that person’s innermost character or feelings. Proverbs 4:23 puts it this way, “Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it” and Proverbs 16:1 says, “To humans belong the plans of the heart, but from the LORD comes the proper answer of the tongue.” The heart of God is the essence of who He is, what He desires, His will, and His purposes for us. We can know God’s heart by:

(1) First and foremost, knowing JESUS CHRIST as SAVIOR.

Anyone who has seen Jesus has seen the Father (John 14:9). No one can truly know the heart of God without knowing and trusting in His Son, Jesus Christ for salvation. Jesus Christ revealed the Father, for “He is the image of the invisible God” (Colossians 1:15). Since Jesus and the Father are one, Christ visually represents the heart of God, the essence of who He is (John 10:30). In Christ we see God as the Savior of mankind who desires all to come to know Him and experience the salvation He offers (2 Peter 3:19).

Hebrews 13:5 says, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” Charles always sit in the row ahead of Sam in church. Charles smiles and says “good morning” when he comes in. Charles says “See you next Sunday” when he leaves. But one morning, Charles adds a little conversation: “Sam could you give me a hundred dollars?”

Unfortunately, that’s the way some people treat the Lord. They have a Sunday-only relationship with Him until they need something. But God desires much more. The Lord want us first of all to know Him as our Savior. “This is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent” (John 17:3). After we become His child (John 1:12), God desires an ongoing dialog with us and a growing knowledge of who He is and who we can be with His help. He doesn’t want to be a Sunday-only acquaintance or Someone we cry out to only when we’re desperate. God wants us to have a personal relationship with Him. He also wants us to grow in our desire to please Him by obeying Him. “We know that we know Him, if we keep His commandments” (1 John 2:3). God loves you and wants you to know Him. He does answer prayers. But before you start asking, make sure you know Him personally.

(2) READING and MEDITATING on God’s Word.

To know the heart of God, a person must read His Word, for that is God’s revelation of Himself and His message to all. People read autobiographies about celebrities to get an idea of who they “really are.” Historians read journals and letters from people in history to understand what their life was like and what influenced and motivated them.

Unfortunately, that’s the way some people treat the Lord. They have a Sunday-only relationship with Him until they need something. But God desires much more. The Lord wants us first of all to know Him as our Savior. “This is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent (John 17:3). In a more profound way, the Lord has given us His Word so that we can know Him. By reading the Bible, a person can know the heart of God because Scripture was divinely breathed out by Him (2 Timothy 3:16). From Genesis to Revelation, the entire Bible speaks of God and reveals who He is and what He is like. Reading the Bible merely to gain facts about God will not bring a person any closer to the heart of God. John 5:39-40 says, “You study the Scriptures diligently because you think that in them you have eternal life. These are the very Scriptures that testify about me, yet you refuse to come to me to have life.”
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(3) Spending time in PRAYER.

Spending time with the Lord in prayer assists in knowing His heart. Just as a child must spend time with his father to know him personally, so we also must spend time with God in prayer to know Him more deeply. The first part of James 4:8 says, “Come near to God and he will come near to you.” Spending time alone with God in prayer will encourage a deeper relationship and create a greater intimacy between us and God, in which our desires will become more aligned with His.

Abraham Lincoln was a man of prayer. When he became president of the United States, he was tasked with leading a fractured nation. Lincoln is viewed as a wise leader and a man of high moral character, but another element to his makeup, perhaps, was the foundation for everything else. He understood that he was inadequate for the task at hand. His response to that inadequacy? Lincoln said, “I have been driven many times upon my knees by the overwhelming conviction that I had nowhere else to go. My own wisdom and that of all about me seemed insufficient for that day.” When we come to grips with the massive nature of life’s challenges and the severe limitations of our own wisdom, knowledge, or strength, we find, like Lincoln, that we are utterly dependent on Jesus, the One who has no limitations. Peter reminded us of this dependency when he wrote, “Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you” (1 Peter 5:7).

Seeking to know the heart of God is a serious endeavor, as knowing Him will change a person’s entire life. The more a person learns and knows about the Lord, the more he or she will long for Him and declare with the psalmist, “As the deer longs for streams of water, so I long for you, O God” (Psalm 42:1).
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(4) Attending CHURCH SERVICES.

Nowhere in the Bible does it say we must have our names on a church membership roll to be saved. However, that doesn’t mean that joining with other believers in a local church is not vital to our spiritual growth. Gathering regularly for worship and instruction encourages love for others, good works, and mutual accountability as stated in Hebrews 10:23-25. If you have been neglecting one of God’ greatest provisions for your spiritual growth, find a church that believes and teaches God’s Word and start attending faithfully. Take time to get to know others and let them get to know you. Above all, ask God to help you find ways to serve others and the local church.
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(B) God’s PROMISE

What was God's promise to Abraham? Was it about just having a son in Isaac? No, it wasn't. It was about being a father of many nations. That made Abraham realize that even if he did sacrifice Isaac, God wasn't done yet. He could raise Isaac from the dead or even stop the execution. God's intention was not for the human sacrifice to have ever happened but to teach and test if Abraham kept his eyes on the prize. What is God's promise for you today? So many times, when tests/trials come, we easily forget the promises of God.

Parents love to remember the developmental milestones of their children. They will record in a baby book when their little ones first roll over, then crawl, and take their first steps. Often, they will take photographs and save baby clothing to bring back the memories of those precious experiences. According to Luke 2:19, Mary, the mother of Jesus, kept a baby book of sorts, that is in her heart. She treasured the promises that had been given about her Son and “pondered them.” The Greek word for “ponder” means “placing together for comparison.”

Mary had heard of great things concerning her Son from angels and shepherds. As His life unfolded, she would compare those promises with how her Son acted to fulfill them. Our faith will be strengthened and we will be encouraged when we meditate on what the Scriptures say about God and compare it with the way He works in our own lives (John 14:21). He is a God who answers prayer (1 John 5:14-15), comforts us in our suffering (2 Corinthians 1:3-4), and provides for our needs (Philippians 4:19). Remember that God gives by promise that we may take by faith.
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(C) God is in CONTROL all the time.

Proverbs 21:1, “The king’s heart is in the hand of the LORD; he directs it like a watercourse wherever he pleases”

God is in control and absolutely nothing escapes His awareness of what’s happening in world. In the Book of Daniel, the theme is the overwhelming sovereignty of God in relation to nations. It was God who caused men to create this Nation and who led our forefathers to develop a Constitution based upon Biblical concepts. The United States of America, our beloved nation, is and has been at a crossroad for some time now where we don’t honor God and Jesus Christ and are following the path of previous nations into obscurity?

As God was able to force Babylon's king Nebuchadnezzar to worship him, there is no ruler on the earth today who is immune to God's authority. They rule by his permission, and one day they all will answer for how they use or abused their power! Moreover, because God is in control over leaders, He exhorts us (1 Timothy 2:1-2) to pray for our leaders. Every government answers to him, and every person will do the same. The following words penned by a Christian musician: "God is in control, though Godless men conspire, His will unfolds, though mortal man is sometimes left to doubt, His ways are higher than our ways, and even through the fire, take heart and know, God is in control."
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(D) God’s UNLIMITED (or Infinite, unrestrained and boundless) Power

To know Gods power can be found in Joshua 10:13 when the sun stood still, and the moon stopped, till the nation avenged itself on its enemies, as it is written … the sun stopped in the middle of the sky and delayed going down about a full day. Psalm 114 refers to the exodus of the Israelites from Egypt and the parting of the Red Sea (Exodus 14:13-31) describes God’s great power.

There is nothing like the awesomeness of God’s power displayed in His creation. His power is displayed in the pounding waves of the sea and oceans. From ages past, the continents have been separated by the mighty oceans. Man has learned to travel over them, to descend to the bottom of them, and to travel through them, but their immensity and the unyielding force of their waves remain untamable. Rocks are crushed, shorelines are changed, and even experienced sailors can be driven aground or sent to the bottom of the sea. The combined genius of man and the most powerful equipment can do very little to conquer the seas and oceans.

However, they are no problem for God, the One who created them, because He does with them as He wishes. To further illustrate God’s powers; in Joshua 10:13, The psalmist wrote, “The sea saw it and fled” (Psalm 114:3). Then he asked, “What ails you, O sea, that you fled?” (v. 5). The answer is implied, “The seas were obeying the command of God.” When the turbulent seas of adversity are threatening, we need to remember the awesome power of God. As the seas fled before Him and as the sun stood still, so too can the obstacles that seem so overwhelming to us. They have no more resistance to God’s power than water in a teacup!

Whatever storm you are facing today, God is bigger and more powerful than the storm you’re going through and He can rebuke it if He so desires. However, He allows that storm to brew around you because He wants you to learn how to focus on His power, and not the power of the storm we are facing. Thus, to know God’s presence is to know God’s power. and nothing is impossible for God!
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Some Ways God Will Test Our Faith and Character

God’s goal for our lives is for us to grow in spiritual maturity. So, how does God grow you? Through tests. It’s like when you work out in a gym, where you test your muscles by lifting weights. The more you test your muscles, the more your muscles grow. God builds your character in a similar way. But the tests that God gives you examines many areas in your life, such as your character, patience and humility to name a few.

James describes it like this: “When troubles of any kind come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing” (James 1:2-4). The Bible tells us that when our faith is tested, our character will grow. Throughout Scripture, we see God test and grow the faith of some of the greatest biblical heroes. Some of the test of faith that God uses to strengthen our faith are:

(1) A Difficult New Task - You’ll face this test many times in your life and in your ministry. God will tell you to do something that seems impossible. It’s like when God called Noah to build the ark when no one on earth had even seen rain. God may not ask you to build an ark, but he will ask you to reach for an impossible dream or complete an impossible task.

Faith is facing the future without knowing “what” that task may be.
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(2) A Major Change - This could be called the “where” test. It’s a test that happens when a major change comes into your life and you don’t know where God is taking you. God tells us to go—and changes everything in our lives in the process—but he doesn’t tell us where. God told Abraham to go from Ur to somewhere new without telling him where. And Abraham obeyed. Maybe God wants you to serve in a different area than where you’re currently serving. Or maybe he is telling you to sell your house, and you’re wondering, “But where am I going?”

Faith is following God’s leading without knowing “where.”
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(3) A Delayed Promise- This time you’re asking, “When?” God, when will you answer my prayer? When will our church grow? When will my marriage change? You’re not the first to ask the question, “When?” The Bible tells us Abraham had a similar experience: “Even when he reached the land God promised him, he lived there by faith—for he was like a foreigner, living in tents. And so did Isaac and Jacob, who inherited the same promise. Abraham was confidently looking forward to a city with eternal foundations, a city designed and built by God” (Hebrews 11:9-10). Abraham based his life on God’s promises—not explanations. And his faith grew because of it.
Faith is waiting for God’s timing without knowing “when.”
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(4) An Unsolvable Problem - This is the “how” test. You have a problem and do not know how to solve it. Remember when God told Abraham that he would be a father? At 99 years old, it was physically impossible for him and his wife to have a child. But God did the impossible—through the faith of Sarah (and Abraham). The Bible tells us, “It was by faith that even Sarah was able to have a child, though she was barren and was too old. She believed that God would keep his promise” (Hebrews 11:11). Faith is expecting a miracle without knowing “how.” You might be experiencing a problem in your family or your church that seems unsolvable. But as you trust God, even with the unsolvable, your faith will grow.
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(5) A Senseless Loss - Sometimes we face a loss in life that makes no sense at all. Often, we look for an explanation even when there is none. You can spend your whole life looking to explain the unexplainable. Our response to this senseless loss is usually, “Why?” Why did the person I love die? Why did my dream end? Why did I lose my job? Imagine putting yourself in Abraham’s shoes. God asked him to sacrifice his son—his only son upon which all of his dreams of fathering a nation rested. Abraham couldn’t explain why God asked him to do this, but in faith, he obeyed. And then God provided another way.

Faith is trusting God’s purpose without knowing “why.”
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(6) A Prolonged Pain - This could be called the “how long” test. It’s about the chronic pain in your life. Whether it’s relational, spiritual, or physical, it is suffering that won’t go away. You simply must live with it. In Hebrews 11:24-26, the Bible tells us that Moses endured all kinds of suffering—including conflict, criticism, and pain—to pursue what God wanted to do through his life. At times, he must have asked God, “How long, Lord?” Moses didn’t choose what felt right. God’s Word tells us this about Moses: “He thought it was better to suffer for the sake of Christ than to own the treasures of Egypt, for he was looking ahead to his great reward” (Hebrews 11:26).

This test will help you develop faithful steadfastness. You don’t always feel like turning the other cheek when you face criticism. You don’t always feel like staying in a troubled marriage. But like Moses, we keep going. That’s faith. Faith is persisting through pain without knowing “how long.” If you’re not facing one of these tests right now, it’s coming—and likely it may be soon. God gives you these tests because he loves you and wants you to grow. Will you respond in faith the next time you face one?
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Passing the Faith Test

It is not “if” we have a trial – a difficult time that will test our faith and trust in God – but “when”. It is certain we will have testing of our faith. The book of James give us some amazing insight into the testing of our faith. The questions are will you:

(1) Rejoice or complain? - (James 1:2)
(2) Run or stay? – (James 1:3-4)
(3) Seek wisdom or try to do it your own way? – (James 1:5)
(4) Focus on the promise or the problem? – (James 1:6)
(5) Abide in the love of God or be drawn away by some temptation?
(6) Walk in peace or let anger rule you when things are difficult? – (James 1:19-20)
(7) Help others in the hard times or focus on yourself?
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Closing Illustration

Some background information on Roy S. Nicholson, the person I’m going to speak about. He served The Wesleyan Methodist Church in every general elective office except as publisher and secretary of world missions. His influence and contribution even to those ministries were extraordinarily strong and effective. He was the dominant figure in the latter period of the history of The Wesleyan Methodist Church (1935-1968). Roy did not remember when he was first taken to church because he always went. There were daily prayers at tome and his mother always prayed with her children, but there came a time when he felt that he must go to the altar and ask God to save him. One winter, when Roy was 14, a revival was held. God spoke to him very clearly. He knew he must decide whether he would follow his own plans or let God have his life. He chose God’s way. After Roy was saved, he knew that God wanted him to become a preacher. Often while sitting on his mother’s lap as she read from the Bible, he would interrupt to tell her, “I am going to preach on that someday!”
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Pastor S. Nicholson told of a time when he had no money to buy food. Determined to trust God by faith for his needs and not telling anyone, he and his wife presented their case to the Lord in prayer. The next morning, he set the table for breakfast, confident that the Lord would provide something to eat. Just then a boy from their Sunday school came to the house with a sack of flour and some milk. Tears welled up in the pastor’s eyes. No sooner had he left than “Granny” Turner appeared at the door carrying a large serving tray loaded with Virginia ham, eggs, grits and gravy, hot biscuits, butter, jelly, and coffee. Nicholson was filled with praise to God.

In our study, Abraham faced an even more serious test of faith. God had told him he would become the father of a great nation, but then God asked him to sacrifice his promised son Isaac on the altar. How could Abraham do such a thing! Yet, many years of trusting God for his long-awaited son had taught him that his confidence in God would be fully rewarded. “God will provide for Himself the lamb,” he told Isaac. Faith like that is not born in a day. It’s the result of years of seeing God’s faithfulness to His promises, and it grows as we daily choose to trust in what He says and abide in His precious Word. "Are you passing the test of your faith".
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The God who delivered us yesterday is worthy of our obedience today.
 
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