Thursday

Could God Be Testing You?

My grandmother was a Portuguese immigrant. The daughter of textile mill workers, she was much older than the English speaking students in her class, and they mocked her. She quit school after the fourth grade when she learned to read, write, and do simple math. 

At 14, she lied about her age so she could join her parents and eldest brother in the mill. When mill work became too strenuous, she hired herself out to babysit other mill workers’ children.


She once told me a story about the first man for whom she worked. “Money was always tight,” she said. “They had five children. But every now and then Mr. P. would leave money lying around on a table or a dresser. I wondered why he would be so careless. . .”

Peering at me over the top of her over-sized reading glasses, she raised an eyebrow and shook her finger. “THEN I figured it out. He was testing me. He wanted to see if I was honest.” Her eyes looked beyond mine and into the past. “I never took anything,” she said softly. “Not even a coin I found in his pocket when I was doing the laundry.”

The concept of testing is biblical.

God tested Abraham when he told him to sacrifice Isaac on the altar (Genesis 22:1). God tested Hezekiah, too: “But when envoys were sent by the rulers of Babylon to ask him about the miraculous sign that had occurred in the land, God left him to test him and to know everything that was in his heart” (2 Chr. 32:31).

Because God is omniscient (all knowing), he knew Abraham would trust his promises and be willing to sacrifice Isaac on the altar, so why did he test him? He knew what was in Hezekiah’s heart and how he would respond to the test set before him, so why did he test him?

And why does he test us?

Maybe because Abraham needed to know whether he loved God more than anyone and anything else. And maybe because Hezekiah needed to know whether his heart was wholly committed to the Lord.

Times of testing, when circumstances are overwhelming and God seems far away force us to make a choice: will we believe God’s promises, or will we allow our circumstances to steal our faith?

Joshua summed up the choice in one sentence: “Choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve,” (Josh. 24:15). 

Mr. P. didn't leave money around because he hoped my grandmother would steal. He left money around so she could prove she was honest. God doesn't test our faith because he hopes we will fail. He tests us so we can stake our faith firmly on him.

If you’re going through a faith crisis, I challenge you to keep your eyes on Jesus. Trust him with your past, your present, and your future. Throw in your whole lot with the one who loved you enough to die for you.

I can say with confidence, God will not disappoint you. 


When you weather a crisis and come out on the other side with your faith not only intact, but stronger than ever, God will use your testimony to strengthen and encourage others. He’ll give you authentic and indisputable faith stories. He’ll use your tears to water others’ fledgling faith, and he’ll use your obedience to accomplish spiritual deeds on his behalf—all because you passed the faith test.

So how do we pass? By mustering up our own courage, strength, or trust?

No.

We pass God's test by clinging tightly to his hand, asking him to strengthen us, and trusting his will for our lives. We say with Joshua, “as for me and my household, (no matter what) we will serve the LORD.” 

I hope one day I'll hear God say the same words he said to Abraham: “Now I know that you fear God.”

What about you? Are you experiencing a trial? Could it be a test from the Lord to strengthen your faith? God's given you the power to pass the test, and he's rooting for you.  How are you going to respond?



Next month, I'll be leading a one day seminar at Good Shepherd UM Parish in northwestern Pennsylvania on Saturday, July 14, 2018. 


I'd love, love, LOVE for you to join us if you're anywhere nearby. Two years ago I met readers from Delaware, Ohio, and Pennsylvania in this same location -- how fun was that? We got to learn, worship, and pray together. It was a day-long glimpse of what heaven's going to be like when we're all together. If you're too far away, I'd love to work with your church's women's ministry to put together a one-day or weekend retreat or special women's event. Click on the Speaking Ministry tab to contact me.

Here are all the details about Today You Have Two Choices:

What: One-Day Ladies Seminar
Where:  Brookville, Pennsylvania
When: July 14, 2018
Cost: $35, which includes lunch and a prayer journal
Cost Saver deadline: June 15
How to Register: Contact Kathy Shaffer (814-328-2034)
klshaffer63@windstream.net
gsumc@windstream.net

Three Fantastic Sessions:

Session 1 - Today You Have Two Choices: 
Grumbling or Gratitude
In this hilarious session, Lori shares a story from her life that demonstrates how life can go from cruising to crashing in an instant. We'll examine the two options that usually accompany a crash and see what God's Word (and modern-day research) have to say about them.

Session 2 - Today You Have Two Choices:
Bitterness or Forgiveness
Bitterness, it's said, is like taking poison and waiting for the other person to die. We know it's destructive, yet we often struggle to overcome it. Sometimes we're not even sure we want to. In this powerful session, we'll study two women who made two very different choices, learn from their examples (good and bad), and discover what God can do when we surrender our bitterness to Him.

Session 3 - Today You Have Two Choices:
Fear or Faith
Hebrews 11:6 says, "Without faith it's impossible to please God," yet it's often easier said than done. When the circumstances of life hit us hard, fear often becomes our default setting. How can we resist fear and choose faith instead? Practical and personal, this workshop will lift your eyes beyond your circumstances to see what God can do if you commit your life to wholly trusting Him. This session includes a simple yet profound method to make your Bible reading come alive.
Melissa Sylvis will lead us in worship. 

When you register, please let me know so I can look forward to meeting you!





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