The message was brought by Eddie Foster.
Thanks. I needed that. This is an unusual title to a message but when you realize what it’s about, it will help you. We may not see it at the time something is happening to us, but we realize it later. Job didn’t know about the conversation between Satan and God. He didn’t realize why he lost all he had including his children. He didn’t know it when he was covered in boils and in so much pain he scraped himself with a potsherd. But yet he didn’t forsake God.
Job 23:8 Behold, I go forward, but he is not there; and backward, but I cannot perceive him: 9 On the left hand, where he doth work, but I cannot behold him: he hideth himself on the right hand, that I cannot see him: 10 But he knoweth the way that I take: when he hath tried me, I shall come forth as gold. 11 My foot hath held his steps, his way have I kept, and not declined. 12 Neither have I gone back from the commandment of his lips; I have esteemed the words of his mouth more than my necessary food.
Back in the day there was a popular commercial where a man slapped shaving lotion on his face and said “thanks; I needed that.” In school a test was teaching us to determine deficiencies in our learning. You would research the ones you missed; you dug deeper. A teacher could see your progression. During the trying times of Job, he examined himself to see if it was really a test or chastisement of God. In trouble, ask yourself that question. We don’t like chastisement, but sometimes the Lord has to take us to the woodshed. Would you rather have a dad who lets you do whatever you want or one that corrects you to keep you from harm? God does the same to protect us and keep us from going down the wrong road. We don’t like it, but thank God he’s still there doing it. If you don’t feel the presence of the Lord, then is the time to worry. If you are not chastened by God, then you are not a child of God.
You will never overcome testing. In II Chronicles 32 Hezekiah was instructed to get his house in order because he was going to die. He prayed and God gave him 15 more years. Then the ambassadors came. It now appears that Hezekiah had let pride enter his life. He pointed out his own accomplishments to the men instead of pointing to God. There won’t be a day we won’t face trials. It’s part of living here. We still live in a world with a curse upon it. It rains on the just as well as the unjust. One day the curse will be lifted and what was in the Garden will be restored. Satan has robbed God’s people through the ages, but one day we’ll be done with the devil.
Temptation may be a test. Temptation itself is not a sin. If it was, Jesus sinned, and we know that he didn’t. Jesus was tempted but never gave in. He used the Word of God against Satan. Our best defense and offensive tool is the Word of God. James chapter 1 reminds us that we are tempted to sin and when we allow it in our lives it brings forth death. Blessed is the man that endureth temptation: for when he is tried, he shall receive the crown of life, which the Lord hath promised to them that love him. Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God: for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth he any man: But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed. Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death. The next time something wicked comes through your mind, don’t blame God. It’s of the devil. What happened to Job came upon him by permission of God. It was to prove to Satan that Job didn’t serve God because of what God did for him. Job lost all he had but refused to curse God even when his wife told him to curse God and die. Job had a choice to say “why me” but he kept his integrity and stood for God.
Testing may demand great sacrifice. In Genesis 22 the Bible says God tempted Abraham, but in this context it means tested him. Following that is the potential sacrifice of his son Isaac. This son was the promise for the nation of Israel. If God took him away the promise would be exempted. Let’s not try to figure out how God will do it. Abraham didn’t question God; he just took Isaac on up the mountain. At one point Isaac asked his father about it saying he saw the wood and the fire and asked where the sacrifice was. Abraham told him that God would provide himself a sacrifice. Isaac was a willing participant just as Jesus was. He saw what was happening. Just as Abraham raised his arm to fulfill the command, an angel of the Lord stopped him. A ram was caught in the thicket; God provided a sacrifice. We may be tested by a great sacrifice, and we can come through it by trusting God’s leadership. It may be in a different way than we think. God led the children of Israel by a cloud and fire as he led them a different way. They murmured and complained. We’re a complaining people. Instead of seeking God, Israel blamed him. God sent fiery serpents to bite them and many died. Moses interceded to God and was told to put a serpent upon a pole and all those who looked to it lived. Remember Jesus said as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up. It was a simple cure for Israel. The cross is a simple cure. You’ll either look to God or away from him when trouble comes. Church is where we need to be when it happens. Run to help.
Testing is an opportunity for choices. In I Kings 3, the Lord came to King Solomon and told him he’d give him whatever he asked for. Solomon was the new king. He didn’t ask God to do his job for him; instead he asked for wisdom to do it. Don’t ask God to do for you what he wants to do through you. We have a commission from God to reach a lost and dying world. This is Plan A and there is no Plan B. It’s what we’re supposed to do. Solomon’s request pleased the Lord. The Bible says God said unto him, Because thou hast asked this thing, and hast not asked for thyself long life; neither hast asked riches for thyself, nor hast asked the life of thine enemies; but hast asked for thyself understanding to discern judgment; Behold, I have done according to thy words: lo, I have given thee a wise and an understanding heart; so that there was none like thee before thee, neither after thee shall any arise like unto thee.
Testing may be a hard task. In John 6 we read of the feeding of the 5,000. We always refer to this as such, but it was more likely upwards of 15-20,000 with the women and children. There is a truth here. Jesus asked Philip, for Philip’s benefit, what they were going to do. The Bible says Jesus said this to prove him: for he himself knew what he would do. Jesus already knew what he was going to do, but Philip and the others so quickly could forget the greatness of God. We do too.
Testing may come through suffering in the pathway of duty to God. Paul and Silas were thrown in prison. Daniel was thrown in a den of lions. Shadrach and his friends were thrown into a fiery furnace. God may not always deliver us from the time of testing, but he will be with us as we go through it. Of course, we all pray for the easy way out, but at times God allows us to go through difficult times. He’s with us all the way, even to the end of the world.
Good can come out of bad things. Mark failed a few times and was even rejected by Paul to go on a missionary journey. Because of that Paul took Silas on a journey and Barnabas took Mark. That meant instead of one group going, two were. Later in his life as Paul was facing death in prison, we find Paul requesting Mark. He said to bring Mark for he is profitable to me for the ministry. Mark had passed his time of testing. In the midst of our failure, God can use us if we let him. Without testing, where would we be when the trials come? The Lord stands ready to assist. God used Peter, a man who denied him. He can still use us. He’s the God of second chances.