The faith test – Part 2

Speaker: Rev. Shine Thomas

INTRODUCTION

In almost every area of life things must be tested before there can be of any benefit to the human race. Medicine is tested before it is made available to the public. Airplanes are tested for safety before its takes passengers. The BMRCL (Bangalore Metro Rail Corporation Limited) phase 1 line is operational from MG Road to Byappanahalli, yet it is not open to public because they are conducting test drives. Everything we see around is tested for its purposes. Now, we are God’s people, called by Him for a divine purpose. Therefore God tests our faith to prepare us for his purposes.

HF: Last Sunday we saw how we can test our Christian faith; today we are going to see how God tests our faith.

James 1:2-3 2Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, 3 because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.

James 1:4 Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. Why does God test our faith? God tests our faith so that we may be mature, complete, and do not lack anything that God wants us to have.

Job who went through so much of testing in his life would say the same thing to us. Job 7:17-18 17 What is mankind that you make so much of them, that you give them so much attention, 18 that you examine them every morning and test them every moment?

Did you realize that God is testing you every moment of your life? Every moment of the day your faith is being tested. In fact the past week your faith was tested and this week your faith is going to be tested. The problem is most fail the test because we don’t even realize it is a test from God.

Today I want to give you four ways how God tests our faith. Actually there are more than these but I just want to cover the most common and we’ll probably get tested on every one of them always.

HOW GOD TESTS OUR FAITH?

1. God tests our faith through trials.

1 Peter 1:6-7 6 In all this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. 7 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.

James 1:12 Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him.

Our trials are a test from God. Nothing happens by accident for a disciple of Jesus Christ. Every of your trouble is custom made to mature you for glory.

Now please don’t misunderstand me. I’m not saying that God plans all the bad things that happen to you. We live in a fallen world. A lot of problems we bring on ourselves because of our foolish choices and please do not blame God for that. There are other trials and problems people bring on us and we become innocent victims. Then there are other trials that are permitted by God.

What I am saying is that nothing comes into your life if you’re a child of God without God’s permission. If you wholeheartedly seek him God is powerful to turn around your situations for your good.

Now our trials are portrayed in the Bible as a furnace. Isaiah 48:10 See, I have refined you, though not as silver; I have tested you in the furnace of affliction. The Bible frequently compares our problems and difficulties to a furnace. Many of you are in the furnace of affliction. The goldsmith put gold and silver in the refiner’s fire, he heats it up so high that the gold and silver melt and all the impurities are burned away. So when you come out of that particular trial you are facing you will come out pure for the Lord.

Proverbs 17:3 The refining pot is for silver and the furnace for gold, but the Lord tests the hearts.

Psalm 66:10 For you, God, tested us; you refined us like silver.

Illustration: An old silversmith was once asked, “How do you know when the impurities are burned away in the silver?” He said, “When I can see my reflection in the silver.” When we go through the furnace of affliction and when God takes away all our impurities, we become like Christ, Christ minded. That is why God takes us through trials.

How should I respond in trials? James 1:2 Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds. James says when you’ve got a problem, when you are in a furnace, relax. Be joyful and praise God because God is with you in your furnace.

2. God tests our faith through demands.

God sometimes asks us to do things that seem impossible in human capacity. The Word of God places a lot of demand from us. There are more than 1000 demands in the NT for us to obey, that is a test of our faith.

Let us see two demands:

a. “Be holy, because I am holy.” We feel the demand is too high and we cannot be that holy in this present world. This demand is a test.

b. “Don’t worry about anything.” It is a tough one to follow. We regularly face trials which makes us to worry and to be sad. God is telling do not worry; rejoice always.

Remember, every time God gives us a command in the Bible it is a demand to test your faith. When God gave manna which is bread from heaven for the people of Israel God put a demand on them. Exodus 16:4 Then the LORD said to Moses, “I will rain down bread from heaven for you. The people are to go out each day and gather enough for that day. In this way I will test them and see whether they will follow my instructions.”

God sent plenty of food from heaven to them and asked them to pick up just enough for a day. Exodus 16:21 Each morning everyone gathered as much as they needed, and when the sun grew hot, it melted away. They could just take enough for a day. The remaining got wasted, melted in the sun. Now this command does not make sense to human mind. Why can’t I gather enough for the week? Why should we waste what God has given? What if I get sick tomorrow? Picking just for a day never made any sense to them but that wasn’t the point. The point wasn’t does it make sense to you. The point was God wanted to test them so that they would trust Him on a day-to-day basis.

We all know of Abraham. He was 75 years old. He was about to hang up all and prepare for a silent retirement and God said: Genesis 12:1 The LORD had said to Abram, “Go from your country, your people and your father’s household to the land I will show you.

God said, “Go out of your people and your country.” “Where Lord?” “When you go out I will show you.” Do we ever travel like that without knowing where we are going? But if you are a man of faith you blindly travel after God. I praise God for some of you who are blindly following God. You do not know about your tomorrow, you do not know about your future but you are following God who has called you. Following God is sometimes a risk.

Don’t you think God who knows the future as well as the past should have told Abraham exactly where he should have gone or at least the name of the place so that he could Google out the place? No, God will not sometimes reveal our future to us and that is a test from God. How did Abraham go? Hebrews 11:8 By faith Abraham, when called to go to a place he would later receive as his inheritance, obeyed and went, even though he did not know where he was going.

We all know about Noah. God comes to Noah one day and says, “Noah, I’ve got a demand. I want you to build an ark.” Remember Noah lived in the middle of a desert. And God says I want you to build an ark because there’s going to be a flood. The Bible says that until that time it had never rained. Water came up from the ground. And God says, “Noah, I want you to build an ark because it’s going to rain.”

Would you build an ark in the middle of a desert when you’ve never seen rain and never seen a flood just because God says so? Noah did. This demand was a test of Noah’s faith, and see how Noah built the ark: Hebrews 11:7 By faith Noah, when warned about things not yet seen, in holy fear built an ark to save his family.

God tests our faith through demands – Sometimes it is a demand through the Word of God, sometimes it is a personal demand. I do not know what God is prompting some of you to do these days, but if God has put a demand in you do it because it is a test from God.

3. God tests our faith with our wealth.

I’m talking now about money which includes our salary, profit, property, gold, silver and everything that God has given. Your wealth is a test of your faith.

For many people finances are the greatest of all. They have no idea that God is actually testing them with their money. See there is a direct connection with how you handle your money and your spiritual life. In fact Jesus says if I’m not faithful in handling material wealth He will not trust me with spiritual wealth. Luke 16:11 So if you have not been trustworthy in handling worldly wealth, who will trust you with true riches? Do you know that your money is one of the greatest tests of faith and character in your life?

God tests our money basically in 2 ways.

a. How we spend. Please check your passbook or your bank statement to know how you spend your money. They way you spend your money is a test of your faith. Don’t overspend; you have to give an account.

b. How we give. I have learned one thing in my life; God determines how much He can bless my life by how faithful I am with what He’s put in my hands. Every time I sit down and write out a check for my tithes, ten percent of my income, knowing very well that I could use that money to pay bills is a test of my faith.

We can never give after all our needs are met. We have to give sacrificially. I am proud of you, 95% of you are regular tithe payers to the church, not because you have plenty but because you love God.

It’s interesting that in giving God not only tests our faith but our giving tests God.

Malachi 3:10 Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this,” says the LORD Almighty, “and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that there will not be room enough to store it.

Giving not only tests us, it actually tests God. If God promised, God will definitely give. See how God gives back to you:Luke 6:38 Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.”

4. God tests our faith through delays.

Have you ever waited and waited for something to happen and it still hasn’t. Have you ever been frustrated waiting? No one likes delay. But it is through these delays that God tests us.

Illustration: Bangalore traffic is getting worse by the day. Everyone is impatient on the road. Often in intersections without signal if you give way to one vehicle then you end up waiting there for minutes because the guy on the farther end of the road also wants to squeeze in not bothered about our delay. No has patience and no one wants to wait but God tests our faith by making us wait.

A good example of this is the journey of the people of Israel from Egypt to the Promised Land. It was a short distance which they could have traveled in two or three weeks. But it ended up taking them 40 years. Why all the delay and wasted time?

Deuteronomy 8:2 Remember how the LORD your God led you all the way in the wilderness these forty years, to humble and test you in order to know what was in your heart, whether or not you would keep his commands.

Our delays are tests from God. Some of you are waiting on something right now. Maybe you’ve been waiting a long time – Waiting for your marriage, waiting for a child, waiting for a drunkard husband to be sober, waiting for your family members to come to faith, waiting for a job etc. Understand you are going through a test. See what happens when we wait: Isaiah 64:4 “God acts on behalf of those who wait for Him.” It pays to be patient. Just remember this: while you are waiting God is working. You’re not waiting alone. God is doing things behind the scenes that you cannot even see.

So if I’m really going to grow in faith I have to wait patiently.

CONCLUSION

Like Job said every moment our faith is being tested. Therefore we need to ask God to increase our faith. Luke 17:5 The apostles said to Jesus, “Lord increase our faith.” So how do we increase your faith so that we can pass the test of faith? There is no shortcut to faith. There are no vitamins, no exercise, or no spiritual meetings that can develop your faith. God builds your faith only by testing it. Faith is like a muscle and when it’s stretched and it’s pulled then it develops.

Some of you are going through trials; you need to be more patient. For some God is demanding something from you, maybe you need to obey. For some of you it is your money, maybe you can hardly make ends meet, debts, loans etc, maybe you need to test God in giving first. Maybe some of you need to curb your spending. Maybe you are facing a delay. You’re thinking, God when? God, how long? Put your faith in Him this morning. God is doing something for you even though you cannot see it.

Illustration: We come here every morning at 5:15 am for the Morning Watch. One of the beautiful thing coming here early morning is you can hear birds sing because of the trees around our church. I always thought that birds sing because they are happy to see the sun again. But the real fact is the birds start singing even before the daylight is visible. In the dark the birds can sense the early lights of the dawn and sing in the darkness. They know the darkness won’t stay for ever.

Isaiah 35:4 Say to those with fearful hearts, “Be strong, do not fear; your God will come, he will come with vengeance; with divine retribution he will come to save you.” Many of you are going through trials and problems, learn from the birds and sing to welcome the light even though you can’t quite see it.

Amen, God Bless You!


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