Friends
 
I can’t wait to see you this coming Sunday!  Summer has ended and fall is on its way.  I hope you are praying daily for the people of Texas and now the people in the Florida area too.  Please stay tuned to the weather because it might even affect us in the beginning of next week.
 
Life is one test after another.  I like to look at old homes that were built 100’s of years ago.  If you travel around our area of South and North Carolina you will find them.  In numerous towns throughout the southern states you can find big, beautiful old homes that were built in the 1700s and 1800s.  Thanks to historical committees and the hard work of their owners, many of these homes look virtually the same as they did over two hundred years ago.  By the way ‘The Historic Home Tour’ for our area is December 9th, please check it out at (http://fmhm.org) for more information.
 
The seasons come and go with the summer sun beating down on these homes year after year.  Wind, rain, snow and ice batter them winter after winter.  These homes have weathered repeated blizzards and hurricanes.  Yet, they have stood the test of time.
 
I find it fascinating that these old homes not only retain their value, but often surpass the value of newer homes.  It has been said that imitation is the highest form of flattery and in this region, when new homes are built, many are constructed to resemble the old ones.
 
As a follower of Jesus Christ, we will be tested by God as He develops our character, faith, obedience, love, integrity, and loyalty.  I love the verse in Jude 20, Living Bible
 
“But you, dear friends, must build up your lives ever more strongly upon the foundation of our holy faith, learning to pray in the power and strength of the Holy Spirit.”
 
Words like trials, temptations, refining, and testing occur more than 200 times in Scripture.  God tested Abraham by asking him to offer his son Isaac.  God tested Jacob when he had to work extra years to earn Rachel as his wife.
 
Adam and Eve failed their test in the Garden of Eden, and David failed a test from God on several occasions.  But the Bible also gives us many examples of people who passed great tests, such as Joseph, Ruth, Esther, and Daniel.
 
Character is both developed and revealed by tests, and all of life is a test.  You are always being tested.  God constantly watches your response to people, problems, success, conflict, illness, disappointment, and even the weather! He even watches the simplest actions such as when you open a door for others, when you pick up a piece of trash, or when you're polite toward a clerk or a waitress.
 
We don't know all the tests God will give you, but we can predict some of them, based on the Bible.  You will be tested by major changes, by delayed promises, by impossible problems, by unanswered prayers, undeserved criticism, and even senseless tragedies. In my own life, I have noticed that God tests my faith through problems, tests my hope by how I handle possessions, and tests my love through people.
 
A very important test is how you act when you can't feel God's presence in your life. Sometimes God intentionally draws back, and we don't sense His closeness.  A king named Hezekiah experienced this test. The Bible says, “God withdrew from Hezekiah in order to test him and to see what was really in his heart." (2 Chronicles 32:31 NLT)
 
Hezekiah had enjoyed a close fellowship with God, but at a crucial point in his life God left him alone to test his character, to reveal a weakness, and to prepare him for more responsibility.
 
Our life of following Christ is not without its seasons or its struggles.  Doubts, life circumstances and even crises of faith, batter us season after season. Yet, like an antique house, these seasons provide us with an opportunity to strengthen and build value to our lives as we, by faith, invite God’s partnership with us step-by-step along the way.  And, faith that stands the test of time is beautiful to behold. Believers should look to more “seasoned” Christ-followers as role models. In them, we see the value of long-term faith and we can seek to imitate their lives.
 
When you understand that life is a test, you realize that nothing is insignificant in your life.  Even the smallest incident has significance for your character development.  Every day is an important day, and every second is a growth opportunity to deepen your character, to demonstrate love, or to depend on God.
 
This is how we test ourselves:
 

  • Am I praying?  Am I praying with faith and trust?
  • Am I serving?  Am I serving with passion?
  • Am I believing?  Am I believing with confidence?
  • Am I asking for forgiveness?  Am I asking forgiveness with humility?
  • Am I worshipping?  Am I worshipping with the joy of a sinner forgiven?
  • Am I giving? Am I giving with gladness?
  • Am I reaching out?  Am I reaching out with love?

 
If you tested yourself, and you are not sure where you stand with the Lord, then come to Him afresh.  Be honest with God.  Confess your sin, trust in His amazing grace and then live for Him.  He desires to guide your life and to use you to change the world around you. Are you ready?
 
The good news is that God wants you to pass the tests of life, so He never allows them to be greater than the grace He gives you to handle them (1 Corinthians 10:13 NLT).
 
Today, remember that God is in the business of building your faith – a faith that will stand the test of time.  Invite Him to build your faith whatever experiences this day brings.
 
Make Every Day Count!
 
Barry
 
Please come Sunday and Pass the Test!