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22:1 Now it came to pass after these things that God tested Abraham, and
said to him, "Abraham!" And he said, "Here I am."
4:1 Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be
tempted (tested) by the devil.
years ago, the phone rang late at night after I had gone to bed. I woke
up and answered it, thinking that there must be an emergency. The call,
however, was to read a telegram to me telling me that I had passed the
C.P.A. Exam. Telegrams were sent to successful candidates in those years
and Western Union felt this telegram was too important to hold until
morning. I had passed what I thought was THE TEST!
we sign on to be Christians, most of us do not realize that we are
signing on to be tested as well. The Lord allows us to be tested to
prove to Satan and to the angels and to other people that we are real
and faithful. Satan tests us to see if he can trip us up. I wonder how
well we are doing with these tests?
was tested by God to prove His faithfulness. His was a test to see if He
would trust the Lord to keep His promises. Isaac was conceived according
to the promise of the Lord after both he and Sarah were too old to have
children. Abraham was supposed to have a lot of children through Isaac.
Now the Lord was telling Abraham to offer his Son Isaac on an altar.
This did not make sense. God demanded animal sacrifice, not human
sacrifice. Even though the natural mind would have said that God would
not ask for this sacrifice, Abraham obeyed with the expectation that God
was going to raise Isaac from the dead (Hebrews 11:19). Abraham has
always been an example of faith. He passed THE TEST.
tested Job but apparently God allowed it because he knew he could trust
Job with a trial. Satan thought Job worshiped God because God has
blessed him with wealth and with health and with a nice family. When all
those things were stripped from him, Job still remained faithful. His
wife failed THE TEST (Job 2:9, 10), but he passed.
Lord was tested at the beginning of His earthly ministry and again at
the end. The first test was in the wilderness and the last test was in
the Garden of Gethsemane. God did not allow Satan to test the Lord
because He thought He would fail. He tested Him to prove to Satan and to
us that He was the real deal. One of the tests in the wilderness was to
see if the Lord would be willing to take the kingdoms of this world
without going to the cross. All the Lord had to do was to sell Himself
to the Devil (Matthew 4:9). In His last test in the Garden, He was
"delivered from death" according to Hebrews 5:7. In the garden
the Lord had said that His soul was exceeding sorrowful, even unto death
(Matthew 26:38). I think Satan was trying to convince him to die and to
avoid the cross. But of course, the Lord passed THE TESTS.
are to "count it all joy" when we fall into various tests
(James 1:2). The tests will make us stronger according to James. The
genuineness of our faith will be clearly seen through tests according to
Peter (1 Peter 1:7). No one likes to be tested, but there is a real
sense of relief and accomplishment when the test is successfully passed.
I can attest to the fact that I was excited when I found out that I had
passed the C.P.A. Exam. But there is another exam I want to pass. Angels
are observing our faithfulness in worship (1 Corinthians 11:10). Men are
wondering if we really believe what we say we believe. Satan doesn't
understand why anyone would worship God without a self-serving interest.
Are we going to be among those that the Lord can trust with a test to
show that we will be faithful? We don't always go through trials because
we have done something wrong although that could be the case. Often we
go through trials because the Lord knows that we can be trusted to trust
Him, even when we don't understand why we are being tested.
something is happening in our lives that we do not understand and if we
have trusted the Lord to take care of us for eternity, will we be
faithful during the test? Can we have peace about the fact that God is
using us to advance His purposes? Will we pass THE TEST?
for the week of January 6, 2008
24:3 Now as He sat on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to Him
privately, saying, "Tell us, when will these things be? And what
will be the sign of Your coming, and of the end of the age?"
21:34 "But take heed to yourselves, lest your hearts be weighed
down with carousing, drunkenness, and cares of this life, and that Day
come on you unexpectedly.
of the truths that motivated the early church and kept it energetically
serving the Lord was the truth that the Lord was coming again. When the
Lord ascended to heaven, angels reinforced this truth. They said,
"This same Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will so
come in like manner as you saw Him go into heaven (Acts 1:11)."
They were expecting the same Jesus who had died, who had been buried and
who had risen again to come and set up His Kingdom. In that passage,
they asked if the Kingdom was going to be restored to Israel and they
were told that they were not to going to be told WHEN the Lord would
come to set up His physical kingdom, but they were to be witnesses to
the truth WHILE they waited.
teachings of Paul have given us a clearer understanding of the return of
the Lord than these early disciples may have had. They expected the Lord
to come to set up His kingdom. We understand that the Lord will come to
"catch away" the church before He sets up His kingdom
according to 1 Thessalonian 4:13-18. This is not two comings of the Lord
but two events that occur when the Lord comes the second time. In the
Gospels, the Lord talks about His coming again, but it is often not
obvious that that He will come to rapture the Saints and then come to
set up His kingdom. But both events will occur when He comes again.
in the imminent (any moment) return of the Lord Jesus has always been
true of those who are fervent in the work of the Lord. In the 1800's,
when there were great revivals, one of the truths that was recovered was
the truth of the "rapture" or "catching away" of the
church. Those who believe that the Lord is coming will not want to be
ashamed at His coming (1 John 2:28). They will want to be
"pure" when He comes (1 John 3:3). They will want to be
watching and not sleeping (Romans 13:11) when He comes. His coming is
the "blessed hope" that motivates those who are saved (Titus
many of us have become like the unbelievers around us. They are
questioning the promise of His coming (2 Peter 3:4). We have become
earthly oriented instead of heavenly oriented. Our treasure is down here
and not up there. The Lord's coming has been preached so long without
the Lord coming that it seems like an academic doctrine rather than a
living reality. When the Lord comes, will we be among those who are so
weighed down with the cares and "fun" of this world that the
Lord's coming will be unexpected?
know that when we are expecting company at our house, things start to
get done. We pick up the house, we vacuum the floors and mop the
kitchen. We want to make a good impression. We then wait for the company
to arrive even if they are late. If we believe that the Lord is about to
return, I suspect we would be getting things in order so that we would
make a good impression on Him as well.
the promise of the any moment personal return of the Lord move our
hearts anymore? When I was unsaved and wars broke out in the middle
east, I expected the Lord to return momentarily, and it moved me because
I knew I was not ready. Now I am ready and when things happen in the
middle east that we didn't expect to happen until after the rapture, I
am not nearly as concerned. I know I need to be touched once again by
the reality of the Lord's promise to his disciples, "And if I go
and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto
myself; that where I am, there ye may be also (John 14:3)."
for the week of January 13, 2008
as He who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct,
because it is written, "Be holy, for I am holy."
Gospel changes people. It changes our minds. By our natures we think
that we are right and God is wrong which is why we must repent to
believe. It changes our destinies from hell to heaven. They is why we
must be saved. It changes our lives which is why we must be born from
above. It changes our names. We take the name of Christ and are called
Christians. It changes how God sees us. He sees us "in our sins and
in Adam" before we are saved, and He sees us "in Christ"
after we are saved (1 Corinthians 15:7, 22). The Gospel changes us from
sinners to saints. Saints are God's holy ones.
people are to be holy. In 1 Peter 1 holiness has to do with our conduct
and implies that we are to be clean and undefiled. Trusting in the blood
of Christ makes us holy ones and confession of sin keeps us holy in a
practical way (1 John 1:7). Saints or holy ones are the people that God
has set apart for Himself according to Ephesians 1:4. They are a unique
people in that they trust Him; they love Him; and they worship Him and
only Him. They are people separated from the world to serve the Lord
the Gospel is so radical, we who preach it should be offering the
unsaved world a difference. We cannot not be like the world to reach the
world. If we go to into the world to reach the world as we are commanded
to do, the world should not change us, we should be changing the world.
We should not be changing the people of the world to conform to a set of
religious rules set up by our religious institutions. Instead the Gospel
should change people from being concerned about what the world thinks
about them to being concerned about what the Lord thinks about them. It
should change them into people living for eternity rather than a people
who are living for the here and now.
Gospel today is often a socially acceptable Gospel. It offers us the
good life now, rather than offering people the joy of living for
eternity. It is based on what we think is right rather than on what God
says pleases Him. It is a life of self-indulgence rather than a life of
self-sacrifice. It is a not a life of faith but a life of reason where
we think we can understand an infinite God with a finite mind. It is
often a life of spiritual mysticism rather than a life of spiritual
realities. People say that they experience God without ever experiencing
the new birth. In short, it is a Gospel that requires "no
Gospel is radical to the unconverted. The clean religious world does not
understand why what they are doing should not be sufficient to save
them. The immoral world does not understand how God can make people with
appetites and then condemn them for not keeping those appetites under
control. The social world cannot understand that while we are all
created by God, we are not all God's children until we believe on the
name of Christ (John 1:12, Ephesians 2:3). The political world does not
understand that people are changed from the inside and regenerated when
they trust in Christ and that no legislative decree can accomplish that.
The world in general does not understand why a good God allows suffering
and some religious leaders are even questioning the value of peaching
the cross because to them it makes God seem cruel.
we who have trusted in the blood of Christ to save us for eternity are
to be holy or set apart for God. Our thinking, our lives and our
messages should mark us as as different from the unsaved social,
religious and political world. When we speak for God our messages should
change people into holy people. Eternal destinies depend on us being
faithful to the message that the Gospel changes people.
for the week of January 20, 2008
You do not desire sacrifice, or else I would give it; You do not delight
in burnt offering.
sacrifices of God are a broken spirit, A broken and a contrite
heart-These, O God, You will not despise.
we break things, we usually figure that they are unusable. God finds His
delight in using broken things. He used a broken alabaster box of
ointment (Mark 14:3). He uses a loaf of broken bread to symbolize His
body given for us ( 1 Corinthians 11:24). He used the lad's five loaves
of bread to feed multitudes (Mark 6:41), but He didn't use these things
until they were broken. And He can use us, but not until we have been
we get the impression that our strength comes through our tears. That is
really not true, our strength is in our joy (Nehemiah 8:10). But usually
sorrow or brokenness precedes joy. It did in the case of Nehemiah's
revival. In the New Testament, the Lord told His disciples that He would
turn their sorrow into joy (John 16:20). There was sorrow at the
crucifixion but joy at the resurrection. There is sorrow when a woman
begins labor, but there is joy when the baby is born. Likewise there is
sorrow when we are convicted of sin before we are saved and there is joy
when we find deliverance in Christ. When we face our sin as David did,
and we say "I have sinned (1 Samuel 15:24)", that is when the
heart is contrite and is prepared to find joy in the promise that
"if we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our
sins (1 John 1:9)." That truth gave us joy when we came to Christ
to trust Him the first time and it gives us joy when need our fellowship
restored because of sin in our lives. But the tears do not give
strength, they prepare our hearts for the joy which is our strength.
of us are broken and contrite about the sins of others. We are concerned
about the sins of the nation. We are concerned about sin in our church
gatherings. We are concerned about the sins of our friends and family.
But the broken and contrite heart that God does not despise is a heart
that is broken because of our own sin. Both Daniel and Isaiah considered
the sin of the nation to be their sin. They did not see themselves as
righteous in an unrighteous nation. In Daniel 9:8, Daniel prays, "O
Lord, to us belongs shame of face, to our kings, our princes, and our
fathers, because we have sinned against You." In Isaiah 6:5 Isaiah
says, "Woe is me, for I am undone! Because I am a man of unclean
lips, And I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; For my eyes
have seen the King, The LORD of hosts." Up until he gets his vision
of the Lord, Isaiah pronounces woe on everybody else. He is contrite
about the sin of others, but in Isaiah 6, he is contrite about his own
sin. It took a vision of the Lord in heaven for him to realize that he
was part of the problem. Once he realized he was part of the problem, an
angel used live coals from off of the altar to cleanse him. Then he was
commissioned to go and became part of the solution.
of the reasons that John wrote his first epistle was that our joy might
be "full" or complete (1 John 1:4). But to accomplish his
purpose he had to write about our sin nature, about the need to confess
our sins and about the need to cease from sin. He also needed to remind
the Christians that he wrote so that they might know that they have
eternal life (1 John 5:13). So knowing what Christ has done for us and
properly understanding and dealing with the sin in us gives us
"full joy". When we get that kind of joy on one can take it
from us (John 16:22).
not sorrow gives us strength. If our hearts are broken because of our
own sin rather than because of the sin of others, we are at the place
where we can again appreciate the great love that we enjoy in Christ.
That should bring us full joy. And since the joy of the Lord is our
strength (Nehemiah 8:10), maybe we could be the beginning of a great
for the week of January 27, 2008