Tag Archives: testing

Leviticus 9; Psalm 10; Proverbs 24; 1 Thessalonians 3

Last year I read a book that really influenced my perspective. There were many parts that spoke to me, and this one verse was gentle encouragement for a raw heart. Reading it today is calming still.

A house is built by wisdom
    and becomes strong through good sense.
Through knowledge its rooms are filled
    with all sorts of precious riches and valuables. Proverbs 24:3-4, NLT

Lord, build this house.

Not very much farther down the screen (I read online), these words stand alone:

If you fail under pressure,
    your strength is too small. Proverbs 24:10, NLT

I think on times and things I’ve quit, and times and things I’ve wanted to quit. Even last night, elusive sleep and restless from this time of What It Is, I wondered where is the exit for these tasks I feel grossly unqualified for. I feel that pressure. I feel like I’m faltering. Yes, my strength is too small.

Lord, be my strength.

My child, eat honey, for it is good,
    and the honeycomb is sweet to the taste.
14 In the same way, wisdom is sweet to your soul.
    If you find it, you will have a bright future,
    and your hopes will not be cut short. Proverbs 24:13-14, NLT

These afternoons, I prepare a warm mug of tea, sweetened with a heaping spoon of honey. I sit and savor the break, the sweet drink. I find sweetness in His Word, and scriptures from memory remind me–oh, taste and see, the Lord is good.

We sent him to strengthen you, to encourage you in your faith, and to keep you from being shaken by the troubles you were going through. But you know that we are destined for such troubles. Even while we were with you, we warned you that troubles would soon come—and they did, as you well know. That is why, when I could bear it no longer, I sent Timothy to find out whether your faith was still strong. I was afraid that the tempter had gotten the best of you and that our work had been useless.

But now Timothy has just returned, bringing us good news about your faith and love. He reports that you always remember our visit with joy and that you want to see us as much as we want to see you. So we have been greatly encouraged in the midst of our troubles and suffering, dear brothers and sisters, because you have remained strong in your faith. It gives us new life to know that you are standing firm in the Lord. 1 Thessalonians 3:2b-8, NLT

Lord, on the days I take my eyes off you and look too long at the impossible or at the what-if road ahead, I weaken. Learning daily, to be–daily, and to know my limitations are not your limitations. I cling to your promises, grateful for your strength and wisdom. When I feel weak, help me to stand firm in you, keeping my eyes on you.

Courtney (66books365)

 

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Exodus 27; John 6; Proverbs 3; Galatians 2

He already knew what He was going to do.

Jesus soon saw a huge crowd of people coming to look for him. Turning to Philip, he asked, “Where can we buy bread to feed all these people?” He was testing Philip, for he already knew what he was going to do. John 6:5-6, NLT

Philip looks around at what they have–a boy’s lunch of loaves and fish, and a crowd of thousands.

I glance at my calendar, empty grids awaiting my pencil to fill in the tasks–a lot of unknown, and it all feels too big. I know these days will move fast and powerful, and in my own strength, my limited sight and wisdom, I look around at what I have and at what needs to be done. I am thankful and clinging to peace: He already knows what He is going to do.

The people wanted proof and proof, even after their bellies were filled. Miracles are marvelous morsels, but they don’t sustain–only Jesus can.

26 Jesus replied, “I tell you the truth, you want to be with me because I fed you, not because you understood the miraculous signs. 27 But don’t be so concerned about perishable things like food. Spend your energy seeking the eternal life that the Son of Man can give you. For God the Father has given me the seal of his approval.”

28 They replied, “We want to perform God’s works, too. What should we do?”

29 Jesus told them, “This is the only work God wants from you: Believe in the one he has sent.”

30 They answered, “Show us a miraculous sign if you want us to believe in you. What can you do? 31 After all, our ancestors ate manna while they journeyed through the wilderness! The Scriptures say, ‘Moses gave them bread from heaven to eat.’” John 6:26-31, NLT

I don’t need the miracles in order to follow Jesus. I know that by following Him, the miracles will come.

Spending time at His feet today, I find peace and rest. He calls me His child, and I am quieted. When urgency and unknown press against me, I fix my gaze upon Him. I listen and there is deep joy. These were the first words I read this morning, in Proverbs 3, Trusting the Lord.

My child, never forget the things I have taught you.
    Store my commands in your heart.
If you do this, you will live many years,
    and your life will be satisfying.
Never let loyalty and kindness leave you!
    Tie them around your neck as a reminder.
    Write them deep within your heart.
Then you will find favor with both God and people,
    and you will earn a good reputation.

Trust in the Lord with all your heart;
    do not depend on your own understanding.
Seek his will in all you do,
    and he will show you which path to take.

Don’t be impressed with your own wisdom.
    Instead, fear the Lord and turn away from evil.
Then you will have healing for your body
    and strength for your bones.

Honor the Lord with your wealth
    and with the best part of everything you produce.
10 Then he will fill your barns with grain,
    and your vats will overflow with good wine.

11 My child, don’t reject the Lord’s discipline,
    and don’t be upset when he corrects you.
12 For the Lord corrects those he loves,
    just as a father corrects a child in whom he delights.

13 Joyful is the person who finds wisdom,
    the one who gains understanding.
14 For wisdom is more profitable than silver,
    and her wages are better than gold.
15 Wisdom is more precious than rubies;
    nothing you desire can compare with her.
16 She offers you long life in her right hand,
    and riches and honor in her left.
17 She will guide you down delightful paths;
    all her ways are satisfying.
18 Wisdom is a tree of life to those who embrace her;
    happy are those who hold her tightly.

19 By wisdom the Lord founded the earth;
    by understanding he created the heavens.
20 By his knowledge the deep fountains of the earth burst forth,
    and the dew settles beneath the night sky.

21 My child, don’t lose sight of common sense and discernment.
    Hang on to them,
22 for they will refresh your soul.
    They are like jewels on a necklace.
23 They keep you safe on your way,
    and your feet will not stumble.
24 You can go to bed without fear;
    you will lie down and sleep soundly.
25 You need not be afraid of sudden disaster
    or the destruction that comes upon the wicked,
26 for the Lord is your security.
    He will keep your foot from being caught in a trap. Proverbs 3:1-26, NLT

Thank you, Jesus.

Courtney (66books365)

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Genesis 41; Mark 11; Job 7; Romans 11

When the going gets tough, the tough get going, right? What happens when we see mountains impossible to climb or when broken legs won’t carry us over the mountain? Our lives crescendo and crash through the years that God has given us to live. Have we met these ups and downs with stoicism and personal effort or have we sunk to our knees in humble, steadfast trust in God? Joseph, Job, and Christ instruct us when we are challenged by difficult circumstances in life.

Joseph’s life story records how circumstances take him from being the favored son with his multi-colored robe to nearly being murdered in a pit, from being the over-seer in Pharaoh’s house to being thrown in a dungeon for a crime he did not commit, and finally from being elevated to the second most powerful man in the king’s court to falling on the neck of his brothers, forgiving and washing them with his tears . In Genesis 41:16, we get a clue on how Joseph could rise time and time again. He told Pharaoh, “It is not in me; God will give Pharaoh an answer of peace.” Joseph lived what he preached.

Still we question that God should be interested in the lives of ordinary men. Job 7:17-18, asked, “What is man, that You should exalt him, That You should set Your heart on him, That You should visit him every morning, And test him every moment?” Sometimes, if we are honest, we may wish that we were not the focus of God’s attention. We may join in Job’s query (7:21), “Why then do You not pardon my transgression, And take away my iniquity?” This intimate picture of Job communing with God alludes to God walking and talking with Adam in the Garden of Eden.  The changed relationship between God and man after the fall has man instinctively fearing God’s gaze. Desperate cries of, “How long?” explode from bodies wrecked with chronic pain, disabling disease, ongoing trauma, or depression, anxiety, and a host of other disorders that interfere with daily functioning. Do we plead as did Job that God would take His eyes off us, forgive us, and end the suffering? Job acknowledged that man can do nothing to save himself and that we depend on God to save us. Can we trust that God understands our physical, spiritual, and emotional vulnerability on this earth?

Unequivocally, the answer is YES! Christ’s saving work on the cross punctuated the truth of His words…words that affirm, comfort, and empower us: Mark 11:22, 24, “Have faith in God. Therefore I say to you, whatever things you ask when you pray, believe that you receive them, and you will have them.” The cursed, fruitless fig tree that withered from the roots up overnight was meant to be a teachable moment on faith, prayer, and belief. Jesus could just as easily have said to the fig tree, “Feed my followers,” similar to His miracle with feeding the five thousand. How amazing and satisfying it would have been to see the fig tree branches heavy laden with large, ripe, and delicious figs practically popping into the hands and pockets of His apostles.  Yet seeking to more than quiet the noise of their empty bellies, Christ adjured His followers to have faith in God the Father, who will answer when we pray with belief that God is for us. Christ tells us that this is so. What now should we believe?

Faith does move mountains; prayer is a powerful change agent; and belief in the salvation of Christ is how the tough will stay committed to seeing this earthly walk with God all the way through. Romans 11:33 declares, “Oh, the depth of the riches of both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and His ways past finding out!” So when the going gets tough, the tough should really get down on their knees. “For of Him and through Him and to Him are all things, to whom be glory forever,” (Romans 11:36).

Janet (jansuwilkinson)

All Scripture quoted from The Nelson Study Bible, New King James Version, Trinity Fellowship Church 25th Anniversary Commemorative Edition, 2002.

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Jeremiah 38, 39, 52; 1 Peter 2

18 You who are slaves must submit to your masters with all respect.[k] Do what they tell you—not only if they are kind and reasonable, but even if they are cruel. 19 For God is pleased when, conscious of his will, you patiently endure unjust treatment. 20 Of course, you get no credit for being patient if you are beaten for doing wrong. But if you suffer for doing good and endure it patiently, God is pleased with you.

21 For God called you to do good, even if it means suffering, just as Christ suffered[l] for you. He is your example, and you must follow in his steps.

22 He never sinned,
    nor ever deceived anyone.[m]
23 He did not retaliate when he was insulted,
    nor threaten revenge when he suffered.
He left his case in the hands of God,
    who always judges fairly.
24 He personally carried our sins
    in his body on the cross
so that we can be dead to sin
    and live for what is right.
By his wounds
    you are healed.
25 Once you were like sheep
    who wandered away.
But now you have turned to your Shepherd,
    the Guardian of your souls.

We had such a wonderful time discussing this recently in my small group. It was used in correlation to the verses in Colossians 3:22-25.  I have to admit, I kind of got hit alongside the head with the proverbial 2×4 as I thought about those verses in relation to my job.  It really made me question my attitude at work.  Why do I behave certain ways at work?  Quite frankly, my answer was to get along with people and not burn bridges.  THAT was my reason for “doing good”!  Plus, of course, the more you do the better your review—who doesn’t want that affirmation they are doing a good job.  It totally fills my significance bucket!  Not once did I think of doing right because it is what we are called to do.  Not once did I think of it in light of finding that significance from working for God—especially in a secular place of business. My thoughts were purely selfish and all about me!

There is a verse in Colossians that isn’t included in today’s reading but has the same theme:

Colossians 3:23–Work willingly at whatever you do, as though you were working for the Lord rather than for people.

One of the ladies in my group stated, “We should work as if Jesus is sitting with us. Because He is!”  Wow!  Truth spoken in love!

The above verses tell us to do good, even if it means suffering. You mean if my coworker gets that promotion that I think should have gone to me?  Yes.  You mean if I work for a boss who curses constantly, is always yelling, and will cut you down with his words?  Yes.  You mean if I have a coworker who takes personal calls all day, is out on the internet looking at Pinterest, and you have to pick up their slack?  Yes.  Those examples are just ones I thought up as an example.  But, what about the time I was called into my boss’s office for my annual review and told I wasn’t getting a raise this year because it is perceived I add no value to the company?  Yes, even then!  I have to admit I had a big “fail” on that one because it totally changed my attitude about the place I worked. Those 10 minutes in his office undermined an entire career spent pouring my heart into that company.  Where I was once a pitch-in, help others, we’re all on one team kind of person, I developed a bad attitude.  I let what he said define me even though I knew in my heart the contribution I had made to that company.  Instead of trusting God, and believing I am who He says I am, I spent two years in misery.  I am sure many would tell me I was justified to feel the way I did, but if I am going to follow Jesus’ example, that is not how to handle it.  You see, “He left his case in the hands of God, who always judges fairly. 24 He personally carried our sins in his body on the cross so that we can be dead to sin and live for what is right.” What would have been right would have been to continue working the same way I had always worked—with a smile on my face, pitching in to help others, and trying to find ways to make work fun for others.  I really had to repent to God over my actions.

One thing about God, I’ve found, is He will give you a second chance to take that test you fail the first time. As an example, after being unemployed for over a year due to the company being closed down, I was finally hired by a new company.  I worked beside a lady with the most unfriendly attitude.  The boss I had was unapproachable.  No one talked to me for almost a year.  Yet, every day I came in I said, “good morning” as cheerfully as I could and when I left I said “have a good evening” or “have a good weekend” whichever was appropriate.  I got a card for the one lady when her beloved dog died.  I picked up work for her when her brother was sick and she had to take off work.  I kept reminding myself that God was my ultimate boss and I was there to work for Him!  I wanted to quit and find another job so much during that time.  But I really felt God had placed me there so I decided to stick it out until He said it was time to find another job.  Over that time I managed to develop a rapport with the two people I worked with.  At the end of the first year I was there, the company reorganized and I was moved to a different department with a different boss.  Because of the training I had in one department, I was the perfect fit for the new department.  I have friends now and people to socialize with.  I had to patiently endure a little suffering trusting that God is sovereign.

And yet, I still have so much I need to pray about for change in this area! I still grumble and complain when I think things are unfair in regards to work situations or they change some policy that seems ridiculous to me instead of heeding the verses prior to the ones I quoted that say: 13 For the Lord’s sake, submit to all human authority—whether the king as head of state, 14 or the officials he has appointed.  I have been put in this place to be the representative of Christ.  I so want that to be my reason for doing things!

Thank you, Father, that you give us a new day to start over, a new day to look to Jesus as our example in everything we say and do. You are quick to correct us in love when we need it.  We are so grateful to you for showing us a better way to live when we look to You.  In Jesus precious name, Amen

Cindy (gardnlady)

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Genesis 9-11; Matthew 4

And God said, “This is the sign of the covenant that I make between me and you and every living creature that is with you, for all future generations: I have set my bow in the cloud, and it shall be a sign of the covenant between me and the earth. When I bring clouds over the earth and the bow is seen in the clouds, I will remember my covenant that is between me and you and every living creature of all flesh. And the waters shall never again become a flood to destroy all flesh. Genesis 9:12-15

I gave birth to my precious daughter Serah two mornings before. We were both doing well, but the crazy surge of post-partum hormones was making me an emotional basket case. I spent much of the night crying, uncomfortable and lonely, and feeling foolish for being so miserable.

It was the second time I had given birth while my husband was on the other side of the planet continuing ministry in India while I was on baby furlough (we are still praying for the finances that will enable us to apply for the visa he needs to visit the US again). My parents and my oldest daughter were in Maryland and wouldn’t be coming to the hospital until later in the day. And, the girlfriend who stayed with me overnight the first evening had to leave the afternoon before.

Though it was peaceful without the hustle and bustle of visitors and trips to the NICU that I experienced with my first child, that 24 hour period felt a little too isolated for my liking. I was feeling lonesome and deserted. I wanted someone I loved to be there, to sit with me, to care for me.

Aware of bitterness knocking at the door of my heart, I prayed. I laid my heart open for my Heavenly Father to see, unveiling the sadness, the loneliness. I cast my cares at His feet and asked for serenity I knew only He could give.

At that moment, I looked out of the window of my room. Hovering over the bridge rainbow-juliet2912leading to City Island in the midst of the Susquehanna River was a double rainbow. I had just enough time to grab my phone and snap two pictures before everything disappeared. The second, faint arc vanished even before the camera app opened.

In those same flashes, I heard God’s voice whisper promises into my ear. “I will never leave you, nor forsake you. You are never alone.” He used this double blessing as a reminder to me of His covenant, a bond sealed with the blood sacrifice of His Son. It ministered to my need.

Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. And after fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry. And the tempter came and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, command these stones to become loaves of bread.”

But he answered, “It is written, “‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.’”

Then the devil took him to the holy city and set him on the pinnacle of the temple and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down, for it is written,“‘He will command his angels concerning you,’ and “‘On their hands they will bear you up, lest you strike your foot against a stone.’”

Jesus said to him, “Again it is written, ‘You shall not put the Lord your God to the test.’”

Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory. And he said to him, “All these I will give you, if you will fall down and worship me.”

Then Jesus said to him, “Be gone, Satan! For it is written, “‘You shall worship the Lord your God and him only shall you serve.’”

Then the devil left him, and behold, angels came and were ministering to him. Matthew 4:1-11

When I think about Jesus being alone in the wilderness for 40 days, I can only imagine how He felt. I would have been shattered, my heart susceptible to temptations, my mind willing to believe the lies that the enemy hissed. I was on my own for a day and I was a wreck, even with my newborn in the room and the hospital staff in and out every few hours.

Jesus stood strong, and even though His body was weakened, He KNEW that He was not alone. He held on to the Truth. The Word of God fortified Him. Those Words gave Him the strength to withstand His test and the might to send the enemy away. And when the enemy left, the angels tended to Him and gave Him what He needed, just like God did for me when He painted His rainbow in the sky.

Yesappa, Thank You for always being there for me; and for reminding me of Your presence and Your promises in the midst of my struggles. Thank You for ministering to my heart and giving me peace. Help me remember to stand strong in You when the enemy comes against me. Bring Your Words to my mind and help me use the Sword of the Spirit to prevail. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Blessings – Julie (writing from Sholavandan)


Unless otherwise indicated, all scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version® (ESV®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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Ex. 1, Luke 4, Job 18, I Cor. 5

Scripture “Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit in the desert, where for forty days he was tempted by the devil.” (Luke 4:1-2 NIV)

ObservationJust prior to the beginning of his public ministry, Jesus is led into the wilderness by the Holy Spirit to be tempted by the devil. Jesus resisted the temptation to prove his authority, He resisted the temptation to take the reigns of the Kingdom early in exchange for bowing down to the devil, and He resisted the temptation to test God.

This concept of testing and tempting is not an easy one for me to get my arms around. Could it be that Jesus, the God-man, fully divine and fully human, was also being tested as a man? Consider that Jesus responded to the devil in fully human ways. He modeled the perfect human response to temptation.

ApplicationIn this story of Jesus’ temptation I find both reasons for hope and personal challenges.

Reasons for hope:

  • Jesus displayed a human response to temptation, i.e. He didn’t turn stones into bread or ‘fly’ safely down from high places. I don’t need supernatural powers to successfully resist temptation.
  • Jesus used the Word of God to successfully resist the devil’s temptation.
  • The One who led Jesus into the wilderness has also promised to be my wilderness Guide.

Personal Challenges

  • Through my own sinfulness, I’ve led myself into wilderness experiences that may have been avoidable.
  • Jesus was led into the wilderness by the Holy Spirit. Am I willing to follow the Holy Spirit wherever He leads me?
  • Am I prepared to wield my most powerful weapon – the Word, successfully? Pulling out an unfamiliar weapon in the middle of battle is probably a bad idea.

Prayer – Lord, some days it seems like the tests and temptations come one after the other like waves on the beach … sometimes it’s difficult to discern one from the other. I find myself wondering, are You testing me? Is the devil tempting me? Or is my sinful nature simply rearing it’s ugly head? Help me respond submissively to your testing and to stubbornly resist the temptation to sin. Amen.

Paul

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