It is important to build character, and character is built in the hard times. Trials and tribulation are where the rubber meets the road, spiritually speaking. When we are under pressure, is when we learn to distinguish between God’s testing and His discipline.
Let’s start by looking at TESTING. In Job 7:17-18 we read: “What is man… that You should visit him every morning, and test him every moment?”
Isn’t it amazing that God visits us every morning and tests us every day? That revelation in itself will likely change the way you think of yourself in God’s eyes and how you live your life each day. At least it should. First, it tells you that you and your development are important to God. And that you are on His mind and in His sight every day.
Testing is for the purpose of determining worth and value… so that is a good thing.
What are you believing for today? What did you pray for yesterday? Is your faith still intact for the prayers you have already prayed? When you align with God and His Word in faith, your faith will be tested to prove it’s worth. Is it real faith? Is it strong enough to withstand the test Satan will bring to rob it from you? If you let go of your faith prematurely due to tribulation, it is much like a miscarriage in the natural. Something was forming, preparing for manifestation. But due to a lack of knowledge of spiritual truth, and/or weak faith, the promise was aborted and lost. And believe me, God grieves when that occurs.
Mark 4:15 tells us that when God’s word is planted in our heart, Satan comes to steal that word from us. He does that through attacking our faith with fear, doubt and unbelief. And God allows our faith to be tested to see if our faith is a real, God-kind of faith. Or if it is only our flesh desiring something we want that we are not willing to fight for. “And these are the ones by the wayside where the word is sown. When they hear (God’s Word), Satan comes immediately and takes away the word that was sown in their hearts.”
If God’s testing is to determine value, and if we let go of our faith when it is tested and pressure is applied, then our faith is of little worth–like fool’s gold instead of the real thing. It may look like… sound like… and act like faith. But it is the testing that will determine whether or not that faith is real enough to receive the promise.
“For you have need of endurance, so that after you have done the will of God, you may receive the promise” Hebrews 10:36.
We know from God’s Word that endurance is important–something we all need. But if there is not resistance, then there is not need of endurance. That makes resistance important to our growth and development. So the next time you sense resistance, stop and pay attention to how God may be allowing the pressure you are experiencing, to test your faith or your character.
Too many believe that if something is difficult “It must not be God’s will” and we immediately do all we can to get away from experiencing it. How wrong that thinking is.
In addition, something being difficult, is not a way to test whether it is God’s will or not. The only way we can determine what is God’s will, is what His word says about it–either specifically or in principle. God’s word is the ONLY thing we can base our faith upon. “So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God” Romans 10:17.
So, testing is good. It reveals our character, the strength of our endurance, and the quality of our faith. And it is only by enduring the test that we receive the promise. Whether referring to healing, finances, or our ultimate faithfulness to Jesus as our Lord… we must endure.
Now let’s look at the other reason we experience difficulty, or discipline. This is for the purpose of training. It turns someone away from error and back to what is right and good. When we are in disobedience or rebellion, God will allow tribulation to come as a way to get our attention and shine a light on the problem. It could be an attitude or an action, or even an omission. Out of His love, God will discipline His children to help them recognize their error, repent and bring them back into fellowship with Him.
All children have to be trained in righteousness. Yet, often believers think that once they are born-again the difficulties are over. Any tribulation they experience, they chalk up as an attack from Satan. However, God’s word describes how God grows us up in righteousness through His continual discipline once we become His children. Consider this scripture in Hebrews:
“And you have forgotten the exhortation which speaks to you as to sons: “My son, do not despise the chastening of the Lord, Nor be discouraged when you are rebuked by Him; For whom the Lord loves He chastens, And scourges every son whom He receives. If you endure chastening, God deals with you as with sons; for what son is there whom a father does not chasten? But if you are without chastening, of which all have become partakers, then you are illegitimate and not sons.” Hebrews 12:5-8.
In summary, discipline reveals sonship. It also alerts us that there is need for repentance. But when we are tested, we need to endure. Recognizing when to do what, is important.
If you are being corrected (which requires repentance), and you think it’s a test (which requires endurance), then you are likely simply resisting the devil and it is ineffective. Resisting instead of repenting could also be a sign of pride or unwillingness to change or let go of something you want to keep in your life. And that is disobedience.
Sometimes sins that are ‘secret sins’ are the most difficult because they are being kept a secret even from ourselves. It is only through our sincere submission to the Lord and asking Him to reveal these problem areas to us that we can finally repent and clean house.
Consider this prayer that David prayed in Psalm 119:12-13. “Who can understand his errors? Cleanse me from secret faults. Keep back Your servant also from presumptuous sins; let them not have dominion over me. Then I shall be blameless, and I shall be innocent of great transgression.”
It’s no wonder that God called David a man after His own heart. David, after committing many serious sins, repented and then went so far as to seek God to help him clean out even those things that he did not consciously know about.
As we mature, this is the type of example David displays, we should all follow. But “Why?” you might ask. It may seem like a lot of extra house cleaning and effort when you’re already headed to heaven. The reason is because God has future plans for you and if you are not properly prepared, you may miss out on aspects of your spiritual destiny.
Revelation 20:6 reveals our future. “…but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with Him a thousand years.”
Think of how a young child who is born into a royal bloodline is trained. They are constantly watched over and taught the way to live, think, respond, and how to rule. At least that is the ideal. On earth, all human activity is perverted and corrupted to some degree. But God’s kingdom is free from that corruption. He is preparing His children to reign and rule in eternity with Him. Therefore He is training those who are part of His family for their royal future.
Every test or discipline is designed to mold our character, until we become in Christ all that God created us to be. “Blessed is the man who endures temptation [testing]; for when he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life” James 1:12.
You have a future waiting. A future that God has prepared for you. Now is the time of preparation for that position in God’s kingdom.
With God all things are possible!
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