The Tests of Life

Many students take tests in school and life, and many people learn and get educated in the real world, but how many of them realize that there is a God testing them through tests that they have to go through in life? James 1 says, ”
2 My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, 3 knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. 4 But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.”

Sometimes in life we go through physical ailments, and different problems and we’re wondering why?  Why are we going through all these trials?  James, or in the original Hebrew, Yacov, says to count it all joy when you fall into trials.  You ask how can you experience joy when you fall into trials?  It is because the testing of your faith produces patience.  God is building up fruit in your life of patience.  Waiting for your physical healing, waiting for your financial breakthrough, waiting for everything to work out.

There is a reason for suffering.  Part of that is to partake of the sufferings of Christ.  When we have been fully tested, and we can confidently say that we trust in God, then God will be able to remove the disease, or we will have a lasting crown when we get to heaven.  God is a God of justice and a God of vengeance, and He wants our faith and trust in Him, and in Him alone, but in this society we have fallen away from trusting Him alone for everything.  We have man-made solutions for everything.  We know that God cannot work without man sometimes because He does not have hands and has to use people through His Holy Spirit, but sometimes we forget the power, might, majesty of the Holy God, that we don’t realize what He can do for us.

It seems like ever since I’ve been born again, it’s always been one thing or another.  One area of testing or another, and for me it was mostly physical.  When I wasn’t suffering physically, I was backsliding, and sometimes I had grace windows.  God has done so many things for me.  I am just amazed at how many times He has saved my life on the road when driving.  I’ve had so many near hits and collisions.  I just thank God for the miracles He has done in my life.  He is doing a refining work in our lives making us be prepared to meet Him, seeing that our faith never fails us.  Sometimes, familiarity comes in, when we have seen how many times God comes through, that we don’t take reverence of what He can do in our lives.  We begin to take it for granted.

I remember when I was first born again, there were these ferocious  dogs coming toward me, and some faith leaped out from my inner man saying, “IN the name of JESUS I COMMAND YOU TO LEAVE!!!”  I said it four times to those four dogs and they left.  They went cowering in the other direction.  Everytime after that for a while it worked and I didn’t see dogs like that and I had the faith and confidence to know I had a weapon.  But as time grew by I’d say even years, when I didn’t see dogs in my neighborhood or anything like that, and I faced other trials one even life threatening, that God had to rebuild my walk of faith.  This time it was a lot more difficult especially because I had to relearn how to walk again, and I was only 26 but it changed my walk.  God kept testing me on faith and bringing me from glory to glory.  When I was first born again, I was still pretty much a carnal Christian, but I slowly started to remove the carnality from my life with the help of the Holy Spirit.  I used to not have obedience and discipline not to read the Word of God everyday, and then I finished it once in 3 years and then I started to read it daily until I finished it again in six months.  Importance hear is not in time or how much I read, but in that I was dedicated to reading my Bible and soaking in the Word of God.  I have had times when the Word of God just came to my spirit, when I didn’t even recall reading that, but the Holy Spirit brought it to my remembrance.  We can get to a dangerous place, where the name of JESUS has lost it’s power for us, and when we get to that place it can keep things from happening.  The name of JESUS is very powerful.  Every name has to bow down to the name of JESUS.

In the Old Testament, like in books like Isaiah, and Jeremiah, the people of Israel were often tested and rebuked when they didn’t pass the test.  They would bow down to idols and let them take over their lives instead of serving the One and Only Living God.  They refused to believe.  So God poured out His wrath to them, and some of it is going to happen in the future because God is like a husband who loves His wife and He doesn’t want anything to happen to keep her away from Him.  He had given the people leniency time after time, telling them through prophets that these idols have no power, no authority.  With Elijah He even told Elijah to put these idols to the test.  Elijah tested the idol worshippers if they can cause the fire, and their gods could not do anything, but Elijah put God to the test, and God was able to produce the fire.  “And Elijah came to all the people, and said, ‘How long will you falter between two opinions? If the LORD is God, follow Him; but if Baal, follow him.'” 1 Kings 18:20

God is often testing us to see if we will truly follow Him, or follow after idols in life.  We may or may not have statues or images of carved things in our homes and lives, but God wants us to see if we will truly seek Him.  Many times I am sitting here looking at my laptop and sometimes even my television thinking, have these things become idols for me?  I still struggle with the issue of food from time to time and I have to come to realize that these are all areas that God is testing me.

A key link to testing is obedience, if you are obedient with a little God will give you more.  If you are faithful with just a little God will give you more.  You’ll notice that you’ll be tested more severely in your weak areas, which are the areas where there is more potential for faith.  Some of my weak areas would be with food and discipline with what I eat, so for that sometimes I end up with things coming upon strictly from what I ate.  One time I ate from Jack in the Box, and I’m not saying anything bad about Jack in the Box, but when I had clear instructions from the Lord not to eat those things and all I had is 1/4 a burger and 1/2 a taco, but then I felt the punishment for disobedient because I learned that I have to treat the body like it is the temple of the Holy Spirit, and sometimes I have to take verses like “Do not worry about what to eat”, and “Whether you eat or drink, do everything for the glory of God”, in second place to God’s clear instruction to my spirit.  In that case the best verse would be “The Spirit is willing but the flesh is weak”.   This is a weakness, but I have also learned that if you “Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness all will be added unto you”.

Often it’s all about the waiting.  God’s timing is perfect.  When you are trusting in God’s timing then things work out in your favor.  He’s never late and if you learn to just trust in Him and wait upon Him.  The problem with the Jews was when they were studying the Scriptures when Jesus came, they read about that God’s Servant was supposed to come in a certain way, but they didn’t read the parts that followed that if they wait upon Him, then they will see Him coming.  That’s probably why Jesus hasn’t come yet because He is testing man’s patience to see how long and how far they can trust Him.  Will they be willing to wait until the eleventh hour for Him to come to the rescue or will they want Him to come immediately?  The Bible does mention the hastening of His coming.

Wouldn’t it be nice after all these testings to see that you have made it to the end without anything wavering that you have completed your destiny and your purpose, that you have obeyed the will of God?  There is a secular expression that says, “Whatever doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.”  God has plans not to harm you, but to give you a future and a hope and for this reason He is letting you go through the testings of life so that your patience may be perfected.  So the more patient you become the less you will be tested.  That process shapes actually the whole fruit of the Spirit, so that a person grows through spiritual maturity and more and more into the likeness of God knowing that the Holy Spirit given by Jesus Christ abides in the person.  The more you have been tested and the more you have overcome and not by your own power but by the Spirit of God abiding in you, the more righteous a crown you will receive in the eternal life.  So let us be conquerors in Christ knowing that He has given us victory over the evil and we will be able to stand in the last knowing that we have done the will and purpose of the Mighty God.

Being a Good Driver

What kind of driver are you?  Are you one that passes all the slow cars on the road?  Are you the one that goes past the speed limit?  Have you ever gotten a ticket?  Would you wait behind a bus that is making frequent stops?  Would you wait behind a car that is going 10 miles per hour?

It makes you wonder if you really ponder it in your heart that there is something seriously lacking in today’s American drivers and that is patience.  For those that don’t normally read my blog I would like to point out a virtue that is patience and how as Christians we should strive to develop this character more and more as we walk in the LORD.  Just because you have a Jesus bumper sticker doesn’t make you exempt from developing the fruit of the Spirit of patience in your life.  Ideally all fruits of the Spirit should be developed and grow, but I find that most often this is the one that people including myself struggle with the most.

In this age of modern technology where everything you ever wanted to know is at a click of a button, and we have a microwave, and text messaging, it’s an amazement that some of us have any patience, and we definitely don’t experience the kind of patience that the people did in Jesus time.  Even then people were not patient enough to wait for Jesus to come back and be king.  They wanted Him to be king right then and there and rescue them from governing rulers.

Getting back to driving, I often wonder what type of driver would Jesus be.  Would He let all the people go before Him?  Would He be swerving from lane to lane to avoid slow cars?  Would he rudely and obnoxiously honk at someone that was going too slow?  Some people say that He wouldn’t drive at all, but then He did ride a donkey.  Would He stick out as an exceptional driver or would He fit in with everybody else?  We see in the movie Bruce Almighty where Jim Carrey “Parts the Red Sea” of drivers after he gets his “powers”, but I really don’t see Jesus doing it that way.

God was really smart, He came down at the appropriate time when He knew He wouldn’t have to deal with issues associated with modern technology and the development of radical scientific exploration.  He had a hard enough time trying to convince the Pharisees that His way was the right way and to this day some people in Israel still don’t see the light, but I believe the time is coming when they will see, but can you imagine Jesus trying to debate with the scientific community.  If they crucified Him now, they would probably take Him off the Cross and autopsy His brain.  I don’t know maybe not, but it is pretty thought provoking if you consider it.

One thing we know for sure, Jesus would not be a drunk driver or be driving under the influence.  He would not cause accidents and He would be very careful not to hurt anybody.  This is my opinion, but I am guessing that Jesus would obey all the rules according to the driving handbook you receive before you get your license.  He might even stop his car in the middle of the road to help an elderly woman cross the street, but He would probably do it in a way as to not aggravate the other drivers.

But that brings us to examine ourselves.  Do we take time to slow down?  What’s the rush?  Where are we so in a hurry to be headed to that we can’t take time to slow down?  Granted we shouldn’t all be slowing down to 10 mph, but if someone is in front of you and they are going slow, then would you consider not honking at them and let them just go at their pace? Here’s a stretch of faith, drive behind them the whole way just having patience and faith that you are doing God’s will by making it there on time.  Someone once said that you can tell that someone is a Christian just by the way that they drive.

Part of the problem is that there is no customization of the horn.  If there is then people can’t usually tell.  When someone honks at you, you can’t tell if they are honking because they think you are going to slow, or that you have something wrong with your brake lights or turn signals, or because your trunk is open.  Common sense tells you that they are honking at you because they think you are going too slow.  Honks were made to catch your attention and to let you know that someone is coming your way or you need to watch out for something and not because you are going too slow.  Just because you are going 30mph in a 35mph zone doesn’t give the person the right behind you to honk at you.

I used to think that the easiest people to forgive were other drivers, but if that were truly the case then there wouldn’t be so many cases of road rage.  People get so angry when they are driving.  They want everything to go their way and when it doesn’t they go around shooting and getting really angry and tailgaiting people.  We need to CALM down as drivers.  It is not the end of the world if things don’t go your way.  If you are in such a rush leave 30 minutes earlier and unless an unavoidable traffic jam comes your way you’ll probably make it on time.

This society is all about “me, me, me, what can I get,  what can someone do for me?”  Do we really take time to appreciate that we even have a car and that we don’t have to walk miles and miles like people in villages do across the world?  Having a car is a privilege and we shouldn’t abuse it.  We are supposed to be defensive drivers, but we wouldn’t have to be if everyone is not only obeying, but “going the extra mile” no pun intended, to show courtesy, respectful, patience, and calmness.  What I do is I pray before I drive, and that can’t guarantee that I won’t ever get into an accident when I am on the road, but what I do is I pray for a spirit of calmness, patience, and peace over the other drivers.  I would say it is by God’s grace alone that we are able to make it home or wherever we’re going safe and alive, because we know that His hedges of protection are around us, even for people that are not Christians.  Do you know that if everyone obeyed this principle, then the Auto insurance premiums would not only be less, but we wouldn’t need things like Medical Payments, PIP, Collision, Bodily Injury? We would probably only need things in which we don’t have any control over.  If people were obeying the Ten Commandments, then we wouldn’t even need theft as an Auto Insurance coverage, so we could negate that on our insurance coverage.  But because we live in  a world of darkness where people are just stiff-necked and stubborn people, we have to put up with higher costs to living.  There is a blessing of living by the principles of the Holy Spirit and of God, but unless we know Jesus and His nature as God and His Spirit as a person it becomes very hard to maintain this integrity of living standards.  If you already obey these things as a driver and are not a Christian, I am sure that there are other areas of your life that need improvement, and the principles of the Bible are sound ways of living so I encourage you to take a look at yourself and see where you are lacking.

I guess for myself I need to work on the area of boldness when driving, but that’s a personal issue with me and I have improved a lot since I started.