Tag Archives: Christianity

Tested By God

About twenty years ago, I went to purchase a truck. Throughout the process, the salesman would tell me little things about how the different parts of the truck had been tested. One of them I remember clearly was the cloth seats. He showed me a video of how the put blue jeans on a robot arm that rubbed across the seat cloth and pressed down. They said they tested it 250,000 times and the cloth held up. They did this with many parts of the truck. What they were trying to tell me was that this truck was going to last and they knew it because it had been tested and proven.

Believe it or not, God puts you and I through tests. Over and over we go through things that test our mettle, our faith, our endurance and our trust in Him. It’s never fun to go through these times, but they have a purpose. When you go through adversity, no matter how banged up and bruised you are, it gives you the confidence and faith to make it through the next. I heard someone say that they want to arrive at Heaven riding in on fumes, banged up, dented in and exhausted because it would mean they gave life their all and God would have trusted them to go through Hell to bring people out of it. The more you’re tested, the more you can be trusted with greater things.

Here are some Bible verses on being tested by God.

1. Be glad about this, even though it may now be necessary for you to be sad for a while because of the many kinds of trials you suffer. Their purpose is to prove that your faith is genuine. Even gold, which can be destroyed, is tested by fire; and so your faith, which is much more precious than gold, must also be tested, so that it may endure. Then you will receive praise and glory and honor on the Day when Jesus Christ is revealed.

1 Peter 1:6-7 GNT

2. Study and do your best to present yourself to God approved, a workman [tested by trial] who has no reason to be ashamed, accurately handling and skillfully teaching the word of truth.

2 TIMOTHY 2:15 AMP

3. God tested us thoroughly to make sure we were qualified to be trusted with this Message. Be assured that when we speak to you we’re not after crowd approval—only God approval. Since we’ve been put through that battery of tests, you’re guaranteed that both we and the Message are free of error, mixed motives, or hidden agendas. We never used words to butter you up. No one knows that better than you. And God knows we never used words as a smoke screen to take advantage of you.

1 Thessalonians 2:3-5 MSG

4. For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow.

James 1:3 NLT

5. For You have tested us, O God; You have refined us as silver is refined.

PSALMS 66:10 AMP

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The Law Of Favor

If you were to stand on a chair and jump. 100 times out of 100 jumps you would go down. No matter how many times you try it, you will always go down. Why? Because the Law of Gravity is at work. You don’t have to believe in gravity for it to make you go down. You don’t have to see gravity for it to work. Laws work no matter what. You and I would never challenge the Law of Gravity because we’ve seen it at work our entire lives. Isaac Newton simply observed it, tested it and put it into words giving it at name.

God’s laws are no different that the laws of nature that He created. They work 100% of the time whether you believe in Him or not. The Bible is full of these laws and they are constantly at work in our lives. For example, you will reap what you sow. If we think of it in the farming context, if you plant corn kernels, you will grow corn. You can’t plant a corn kernel and expect a potato. If you plant kindness in others, you can expect kindness. If you give, it will be given to you in full measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over because this is God’s law.

Another law at work is found in Proverbs 11:25. It says, “Those who live to bless others will have blessings heaped upon them, and the one who pours out his life to pour out blessings will be saturated with favor” (TPT). This law works just like the others. If you will live to bless others and pour your life out, you will find God’s hand of blessing and favor. My wife and I like to say, “Favor ain’t fair,” because it’s in direct proportion to your blessing others. You don’t have to have money to bless someone. Spend time with them, walk through their struggles with them, send an encouraging message, show them unconditional love or anything that reflects Christ. If you do these things, the Law of Favor will go into effect for you.

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Greater Things Ahead

Have you ever looked at someone and thought, “Man, they have it all. I wish I had their…”? So many times we look at what people have and identify with the end result without stopping to think about what they went through to get there. We want the reward without the work or the struggle. There’s a saying, “The greatest overnight successes were twenty years in the making.” Most of us face our battles and struggles in obscurity. Others don’t see that part of our story. They see us years later after we’ve endured and are enjoying the fruits of our labor. What we forget is that without the struggle, there is no success.

God wanted to promote David from shepherd boy to king, but he wasn’t ready. David faced years of struggles between being anointed king and taking the throne. He was chased by the current king. There were people he knew that betrayed him. He lived in a cave in an inhospitable desert. He fought several battles with very little rest. He had a lot of struggles because God uses them to prepare us for our future. We can choose to complain about the things we face or we can lay them at the feet of Jesus and push through them knowing there is something more ahead.

In Psalm 55:22 David wrote, “So here’s what I’ve learned through it all: Leave all your cares and anxieties at the feet of the Lord, and measureless grace will strengthen you” (TPT). Our struggles are meant to strengthen our faith in God so we are prepared for what’s next. We can either get lost in the pain, bitter in the disappointment or we can find strength to keep going by giving it to God knowing He’s with us through each battle. The greater things God has for you, the greater the struggle you will go through, The great news is you’re not alone and you don’t have to do it in your strength. Lay down your worries and trust that God is at work and in control.

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Defining Qualities

Did you know that in every group of people you are a part of regularly, you are known for something? You have a personal brand that people identify you by. It can be a good brand or not in their eyes. You may be known as the funny person in the group, the wise one with all the answers, the one who keeps the group together, etc. Have you ever stopped to think how others define you? What qualities stand out to them? For many of us, this is a blind spot in our lives that we rarely get a glimpse into unless we ask or someone let’s us know. We usually think we are known for one thing, but others know us by something else.

Have you ever considered what you want to be known for? Have you thought about what you would want your epitaph to say? I know that sounds a bit morbid, but if you start with the end in mind, you can make changes now that will get you there. You can do things that improve certain qualities in your life so they become who you are. You can also do things to minimize other qualities that detract from who you’re trying to be. It all starts with recognizing what you’re known for now and what you want to be known for.

Proverbs 3:3 says, “Do not let mercy and kindness and truth leave you [instead let these qualities define you]” (AMP). The Bible recommends these three as things we should be known for. Do others consider you as a merciful person? Do they think you’re kind? What about truthful? If you want to improve your influence in other people’s lives, begin to cultivate these three qualities. Nurture them, give them room to grow and they will begin to define you. Every one of us are known for something by others. The more godly the qualities we’re known for, the easier it is to point others to Him.

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My Mentor Job

A friend of mine at “A Mike For Christ” recently asked a question that took me a while to answer. He asked, “Who in the Scriptures besides Jesus teaches you much, whether about God, spirituality, or your own humanity?” I’m not a person who like it when people give me the easy answer, so I don’t like to give the easy answer. A lot of names came to mind when I read the question, but I asked myself, “Which person in the Bible teaches me about all three?” I wondered if there was someone who gave me insight into God, what it means to be spiritual and taught me about my own humanity.

I came up with Job. You may say, “That’s an easy answer. Why didn’t you say Mephibosheth or someone like that?” Job I believe met all three criteria in my own personal life. He taught me a lot about who God is. One of the first things I learned about God is that He doesn’t cause the bad times in my life, but He allows them so that He can prove my faithfulness to Him. Satan went to God and pointed to Job’s righteousness. Satan told God that he only lived that way because of all the blessings. God responded in Job 1:12, “All right, you may test him,” the LORD said to Satan. “Do whatever you want with everything he possesses, but don’t harm him physically.” So Satan left the LORD’s presence (NLT).

Job also taught me about spiritual things. He proved that you could maintain your integrity in the most difficult of circumstances. Having lost his kids, his possessions, his money and everything precious to him, He fell to his knees and found cause to worship God. When his friends accused him of wrong doing, he did not flinch. When his wife told him to curse God and die, he responded with wisdom, “Shall we accept only good things from the hand of God and never anything bad?” When he had no reason to hope, to trust or the worship, he did all three because of his foundation found in his relationship with God.

He reminds me of my humanity later on in the book. God speaks to Job out of a whirlwind and asked him some tough questions like, “Where were you when I laid the foundations of the earth? Do you know where the gates of death are? Can you direct the constellations through the seasons?” I’m reminded that God is in control and my feeble attempts to control my life are out of my hands. The things that happen can be a consequence of my behavior or they can be from God to prepare me for things that are coming. Either way, God has set them into motion and they are far too great for me to understand even if He answered my question of “Why”.

Job is the oldest book in the Bible and it still speaks to me. Every time I read it, I gain insight into who God is and how He sees me. I get challenged to live a life of worship. When hard times hit unexpectedly, they reveal what’s really on the inside. For job, that was worship and integrity. When life’s storms hit my shore, I look to Job for advice and proof that I can survive anything. He was human and he endured Satan’s worst attacks on his life. His humanity was exposed in the storm, but so was his foundation. I want to be that kind of follower of Christ. I want to have that sure of a foundation. I want God to be able to point at me and say, “Have you considered my servant Chris? He is blameless – a man of complete integrity. He fears God and stays away from evil.” If Job did it, so can you and I.

So I ask you, who in the Scriptures, besides Jesus, teaches you much about God, spirituality or your own humanity?

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Throwback Thursday is a feature I’m using to help build some margin into my schedule to pursue other writing ventures. Each Thursday I’ll be bringing you a previously written devotional that still speaks encouragement to us from God’s Word.

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Embracing Your Brokenness

We’ve all read the story of Humpty Dumpty. I’m not sure why he was up on that wall or what caused him to fall. What we do know is that when an egg has a sudden stop against the ground, it creates quite a mess. Shell gets sent in every direction and in every size. It’s an impossible task for anyone to pick up all the pieces and put them together again so we don’t try. Something that’s just as impossible is to try to fix the brokenness in our own life, but we try to do it all the time. We think that if people see the cracks in our shell or that our life is in pieces, they’ll reject us, so we try to fix our brokenness.

The truth is that we are all broken. Some of us are more broken than others. Some of us are better at hiding it. Some of us look at the mess and give up, but every one of us find some type of coping mechanism to appease either guilt we feel or the hurt left over from our brokenness. We all have that inner desire to be made whole. We’re afraid that our brokenness or way of coping with it will be exposed, so we cover it up and try to make everything look like it’s perfect. It’s impossible for you and I to heal our own brokenness and to make ourselves whole.

The good news is that God is able to pick up the pieces of your life and put them back together into a beautiful mosaic work of art. You see, your brokenness is what makes you human and in need of God. It’s what makes you approachable by others in their brokenness. In Psalm 25:21 David cried out to God regarding his own brokenness, “Use all your skill to put me together; I wait to see your finished product” (MSG). When God puts us back together, he leaves the cracks and the lines to do away with the facade that we’re perfect. Don’t try to cover them up, for through your brokenness others will find their wholeness.

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Preparation And Conditioning

In high school I had a coach that was tough. He would spend an hour and a half of a two hour practice conditioning our team. We would run laps outside and sprints inside. When we would beg for water, he’d say, “You can’t stop a game to get water.” After we would practice our plays for about 30 minutes, we’d finish practice with more running. Before you left, you had to make 100 free throws. He would tell us, “We may not be the best team on the floor, but we will be the best conditioned team.” I can tell you he was right. We ran the other teams out of the gym because they would get tired. When we held the state championship trophy, it was all worth it.

God, like that coach, is always looking ahead in our lives, seeing what we can’t see. He knows what it will take to condition us now so that we will endure the things that are coming. Preparing and conditioning are never easy, nor are they fun, but they build in us the endurance to push through where others fail. They get us in shape spiritually for the spiritual battles that we will face. At times during conditioning we can feel like giving up or want to start questioning why we aren’t spending more time practicing the things God is going to use us for. I’ve learned that if the enemy succeeds in destroying our witness, he can keep us from giving the message. We must be able to endure the pressure first.

I love the way The Passion Translation words Psalm 23:4. It says, “Lord, even when your path takes me through the valley of deepest darkness, fear will never conquer me, for you already have!” God’s path rarely goes where we think it should. Many times it goes into dark places of testing and conditioning because God wants to build your trust in Him before the enemy attacks. What you learn in the valley will sustain you in the battle. Preparation and conditioning are necessary to make you more than a conqueror. The greater God’s plan is for your life, the greater your preparation and conditioning will be.

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