Friday, 26 November 2010

Testing Times

“Consider it a sheer gift, friends, when tests and challenges come at you from all sides. You know that under pressure, your faith-life is forced into the open and shows its true colours. So don't try to get out of anything prematurely. Let it do its work so you become mature and well-developed, not deficient in any way.”

James 1:2-4 (The Message)

Someone once said that “if you don’t have a test you won’t have a testimony.” Going through tests is part of life as a Christian, and rather than complain when testing comes, we are supposed to somehow enjoy the experience. How is that possible? Well it’s all to do with perspective. It’s important to understand that God allows us to go through tests so that our faith will be perfected, and we will become mature as believers, trusting him in every situation. (Ps 26:1-3) The Bible talks of us being refined like gold and silver as we go through the fiery tests. When you realise that God wants to do something in you by allowing some things into your life, all of a sudden the test becomes more bearable.

What kind of testing do we go through? Well as you read through scripture you see that tests seem to fall into two main categories. Firstly there is the testing that comes from opposition. Paul the apostle described this kind of opposition as a “thorn in the flesh;” A demonic adversary that made his life difficult. Paul recognised that the opposition he faced was spiritual in origin even though it was usually manifested through people. (2 Cor 12:7, Eph 6:12)

The second type of testing we go through is simply the test of obedience to God’s word. Will we hold onto his promises when things don’t appear to be happening as quickly as we think, and rely on them rather than our own wisdom and efforts? (Jud 2:4-23) Too many times we give up before our breakthrough comes, and miss out on the great things he has planned. It is faith that pleases God (Hebrews 11:6) and that is the area he wants to work on.

Understanding that God is interested in our maturity as believers and that he will not let us be tested beyond what we can bear, will help us to go through the trials of life with a level of peace and joy that the world simply cannot understand.

Sunday, 21 November 2010

No Fear Here

Every time you switch on your television or pick up a newspaper, you are bombarded with stories that are written to stimulate fear and worry. People in the world are continually frightened of crime, the recession and rumours of imminent disaster. Fear has a paralysing effect. It stops people moving forward with their lives. It causes them to lose sleep, and will affect their health if left unchecked.

I heard someone once define fear as “False Evidence Appearing Real.” In other words the fear of something is often much worse than the thing itself as people magnify the problem out of all proportion. Fear sells newspapers and even gets people elected to high office. But fear is not the way that God’s people should live.

The Bible says “For God has not given us a spirit of fearfulness, but one of power, love, and sound judgment.” (2 Timothy 1:7 HCSB) That means that we do not have to live in fear, because fear is not from God. We have “sound judgement”, or a “sound mind.” We can see situations through God’s eyes and in the light of His promises and not fear. If you are in fear then confess this truth over your own life three times a day. Take God’s word like medicine to your soul. Remember that He IS your provider. He IS your healer. He IS your strong tower. Refuse to live in fear instead give your worries and your fears to him and start enjoying your life.