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Friday, May 13, 2016

Testing. Testing.

"Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal among you, which comes upon you for your testing, as though some strange thing were happening to you;" 1 Peter 4:12

When I was younger in the Lord, I used to wonder why God would test us. Doesn't He know everything we're going to do before we do it? What's the point of Him testing us?

The Old Testament stories are examples to us of spiritual warfare and Godly principles. 1 Corinthians 15:46 says, " However, the spiritual is not first, but the natural; then the spiritual." Many of the things that happened in the Old Testament have spiritual lessons that God wants us to understand.

I'm always amazed when I read that the first time Moses comes to the Children of Israel and tells them that God is going to set them free from slavery, they tell him they don't want to go! But God showed me this at a time I was praying for spiritual freedom for a group of people so that I would understand that often times we are happier staying in bondage because it's familiar than getting set free and going into an unknown territory!

I've heard that it would take about a month for God's people to cross the wilderness and get to the Promised Land. However, we all know that they 'wandered' in the wilderness for forty years! The number 'forty' in scripture represents cleansing and preparation. By the time they entered the Promised Land, every one of the first generation had died. 

Do you understand that God was not punishing them? He was cleansing out the slave mentality and disobedience. The generation that had grown up in bondage and would rather stay in Egypt instead of getting set free would never be able to cross into the Promised Land. Either that, or they would have fallen into another type of bondage. God had to cleanse them of this for them to be successful.

They had a mind-set and had made a decision to stay in that mind-set. 

Those that survived the 40 years had been cleansed of bondage and had chosen to trust God. The testing had cleansed them.

I think it's important to understand that we create the need for our own tests. God has a plan for each of us..."For I know the plans I have for you; plans for good and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope." Jeremiah 29:11  We can either submit ourselves to these plans of God or continue to walk in the wilderness.

I think about the story of Joseph often. God had big plans for Joseph but nobody had more ups and downs that he did! He was sold into slavery and then when he finally gets out of it and has humbled himself and -does nothing wrong!- he is accused falsely and put back into prison!

I have wondered about that a lot. If Joseph had been more humble and not told his brothers about his dream of them bowing down to him, would God have permitted him to be sold into slavery? Why did God allow him to be falsely accused and thrown into prison?  There must have been something God wanted Joseph to learn in prison. It must have been important that Joseph be innocent and still be imprisoned.

When I encounter adversity, the first thing I do is go to God and ask Him for His perspective. I want to see the adversity through God's eyes.  What is God wanting to cleanse from my life? Do you understand that none of us is without sin and that even the best of us needs to be stripped of 'self' to attain Christ?

The thing I have learned to do is ask myself; What would Jesus do? Because the goal of all of this is to transform us to the image of Christ. No one was more falsely accused and betrayed and mistreated than Jesus Himself.  And through all of it, He never defended Himself. He always defended His Father and the Truth of the Word, but never Himself. 

And He asked God to forgive those that mistreated Him.

So, when I encounter less than ideal circumstances in my life, I look at it as a test, and ask, "What would Jesus do?" I want to pass the test. I want to move forward. I want to be transformed into the image of Christ. 

It does us no good to demand our 'right to be right.' Love does not insist on its own way. Love does not keep a record of wrong doing. 1 Cor 13. We need to keep submitting ourselves, our every thought and hurt to God, knowing that He loves more deeply that we can ever understand and keep moving forward.

love and blessings~