Moments in the life of a Pastor

Walking with God

4. The Treasure of Testing – Part 2

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James 1:2-8

Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you. But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. That person should not expect to receive anything from the Lord. Such a person is double-minded and unstable in all they do.

The first joyful purpose of testing is that it produces the treasure of perseverance. The second joyful purpose is that it promotes :

  1. PERFECTION – verse 4

Testing promotes perfection but not in the sense of sinless perfection. He’s talking about perfection in the sense of completeness and fullness that comes from following and growing closer to the Lord everyday. But how do we do that, through testing and trials. When talking about the 100% purity of God’s Word, the psalmist wrote in 12:6 that they were as pure as “silver tried in a furnace of earth, purified seven times.” The picture of metal being purified by fire is a common picture in the Bible. In order for precious metal to be purified it has to be heated to extreme temperatures. Temperatures so hot that all the impurities are burned off and the only thing that remains is the pure precious metal. The prophet Zechariah paints that picture of refinement for Israel in Zechariah 13:8-9. God’s people had been disobedient, so God put them through a test not to punish but to purify. The result of these fiery trials is refinement. To make them purer than silver or gold, to make them holy examples of who He is. That’s why God tests His people, not because he is hateful but because He is holy, and He wants us to be holy like Him. How much heat do we need to be holy? Unfortunately, rarely does Godly growth come in the good times but in the groaning times. Think back over your life, if you were to graph out your Christian walk on a chart, you would discover that most of the biggest times of growth have come in the challenges not in the comfort. It’s not when our seas were the calmest, but when storms were at their strongest that we draw closer to God. The tests tend to bring us closer to completeness in Him. Completeness, fullness, perfection, perfection is a joyous thing. Not only do tests promote perseverance and perfection but the third joyful purpose is that it wants:

  1. WISDOM – verse 5

Testing wants wisdom, amazingly one of the first things we say when we are in the middle of a test is, “I don’t know what to do.” Do you remember who the Bible calls the wisest man that ever lived? Solomon, King David’s son. Before David died, he was told that Solomon would succeed him as King of Israel. What a huge responsibility, can you imagine what was going through Solomon’s mind when David died and he was handed the crown? How in the world would he be able to effectively lead God’s chosen people? That’s quite the test but is it any bigger than the tests we find ourselves facing? God, I just got the results of my biopsy back, I don’t know what to do. God I just lost my job, I don’t know what to do. God I just experienced a painful breakup, I don’t know what to do. God, I just… you fill in the blank. Here is the truth most of the time when God places a test before us, we don’t have a clue what to do and we find ourselves in the same position as Solomon. A king without a clue. But in 1 Kings 3:7-9, Solomon prayed to the Lord to give him wisdom. Solomon was overwhelmed with the test that lay before him, he felt like a helpless child. So, what did he do he asked for wisdom so that he could pass the test. Tests can cause you to feel like Solomon did, overwhelmed, confused and helpless. But like Solomon we can seek the Lord and ask Him for wisdom. Today some of you are facing tremendous tests you are confused and overwhelmed and what you want is wisdom. James encourages us to ask our generous God and He will give us wisdom. Sometimes it’s only in the testing that I realize my need for God and His wonderful wisdom. Because as long as everything is going great what I know is enough. The fourth joyful purpose is not only does it want wisdom but it finds:

  1. FAITH – Verse 1:6

Testing finds faith. When you think back to Solomon when he asked God for wisdom, where else could he turn? He couldn’t turn to his dad, David was dead. He couldn’t turn to his family, they were a wreck. There were no “how to be a king” classes at the local college. The test God placed in front of him pointed him in the only direction God. But Solomon could have been stiff necked and refused to humble himself and ask God for wisdom. He could have been determined to go it alone and be the man. But he chose to turn of the pride and look to God in faith. That’s what testing will do for you, it will cause you to follow by faith. In Mark 9, the Bible tells of a man with a demon possessed son. The disciples had tried to heal the boy but failed. Here was a father facing a heart wrenching trial, a son that threw himself into the fire, and when he wasn’t burning himself, he was trying to drown himself. But Jesus told him that his son would be healed if he truly believed. Mark 9:24 records that “straightway the father cried out, I do believe, but help me overcome my unbelief!” This trial caused the father to find faith. He asked Jesus for it and Jesus gave it and the boy was healed. Do all our tests end up with a happy ending? No, sometimes God chooses not to heal the sick. Sometimes He chooses not to remove the thorn from your flesh. But we can rest assured that if we respond rightly not just in our attitudes but also our actions that test will produce perseverance, promote perfection, will cause us to want wisdom and find faith. We will all face tests the question is are we going to pass or fail them? Without Jesus we will fail every time. The greatest test of all only has one question, but it has an eternal grading scale. It is asked by God the Father the maker of heaven and earth “What did you do with My Son Jesus?” Have you trusted Him as your Lord and Savior? Are you living in submission to His supremacy? Only Jesus can give you the patience and perseverance to pass the tests of life. Only He can give you the completeness and perfection you need to pass the tests of life. Only He can give you the wisdom and faith you need to pass the tests of life.

 

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