Surrender my Pity Party?

The writer of Hebrews wrote a chapter that defined faith, he wrote that faith pleases God, and he wrote of many who have gone before us who lived by faith.

Then he used their examples of faith as the incentive to strip off everything that weighs us down and hinders the race God has called us to.

If they could do it, so can you!

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us. We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith. Because of the joy awaiting him, he endured the cross, disregarding its shame. Now he is seated in the place of honor beside God’s throne.” Hebrews 12:1-2

The dictionary defines Faith – Complete trust or confidence in someone or something. – Strong belief in God.

Hebrews 11 is filled with stories of those who lived out what they believed, who put their faith in God into action. They chose to be obedient to the call of God instead of allowing their flesh to hinder them and hold them back.

Their beliefs determined their direction.

Faith is what sets God’s people apart from those of the world. Those who love and trust God will hear the voice of God. They will be guided and empowered by the word of God and by the Holy Spirit to run the race God calls them to.

God’s calls us to things bigger than ourselves.

One thing these stories of faith have in common is a contradiction, a foolishness, that just doesn’t make sense. There is something in each story that causes  human understanding to ask, “How could they do that?”

But it is that very contradiction, that very question, that defines faith. 

Believing without seeing.

Doing without understanding.

That’s where the flesh and the spirit collide.  That is where trust in God and trust in man becomes a matter of the will. Which will you choose?

From the very beginning God has called His people to live by faith, to live bigger than themselves! Though time and culture are different, God and human nature haven’t changed. We can apply the principles and truths no matter how much time has passed. I believe God wants to use His stories of faith to challenge us, and to transform us more and more into the image of His Son. Stories of faith in the Bible show us that with God, nothing is impossible, and they give us the confidence to trust Him with our impossible situations.

By reading the stories of those who have gone before us we can be encouraged and allow their acts of obedience to be as a sword that cuts away the things of our flesh that keep us from loving, trusting, and obeying what God is calling us to accomplish for His kingdom, for His glory.

“For the word of God is alive and powerful. It is sharper than the sharpest two-edged sword, cutting between soul and spirit, between joint and marrow. It exposes our innermost thoughts and desires.” Hebrews 4:12

The call God has for us, the race He wants us to run, will draw out different thoughts, different questions, and perhaps different excuses, but bottom line, no matter what our flesh says, we are created to love God, trust Him, and to obey Him.

Our love for God, our trust in Him, and responding in obedience to His call determine whether or not we are willing to strip off the things that hinder our race. 

Our beliefs determine our direction…

Will we live a life of faith, a life bigger than ourselves?

Okay, I know you are wondering…this is the Pity Party part…

Just this week I faced a situation that tested my faith. The other morning I was singing a song about surrender. I asked God what He wanted me to surrender to Him. I didn’t really hear a response, so I left the question unanswered in my journal. Later that day I shared something with some friends that I really thought was profound and would be helpful for them. It went over like a lead balloon. They totally didn’t get it or appreciate it. I was hurt. When I came home and was in my room deciding whether or not to plan a pity party my eyes caught my unanswered question… “What do You want me to surrender?” I felt the Lord finally answered… “Your pity party.” “No, not this, I deserve to feel sorry for myself. It was a good word that should have been received. It would be very helpful.”

I hate to admit it, but I said “Okay,” there on my bed, I even wrote “Okay” in my journal, but I didn’t hold to it.

I tried.

That evening as I continued to replay the event and all the interactions of our time together I went right back into my pity party. That night and the following morning I continued my pity party. My hurt and my rejection were keeping my mind busy putting the blame on the others. The thing about pity parties is that they tend to invite more guests. I found myself looking back to other situations that were similar that I could bring into this party. Now it wasn’t just about the situation the day before, it included things that happened years ago!

Pity parties are a mental process meant to console a wounded self by…

reliving the memories of every word, every look that brought hurt and rejection,

these memories are carefully analyzed to justify blaming others for their wrongs, and by proclaiming judgements and accusations towards others,

and so proving the innocence of self,

and eventually convincing self to give up and to never let that happen again.  

Wow, no wonder God asked me to surrender my pity party!

I wish I would have truly surrendered my pity party. It would have saved so much emotional stress and so many hurtful words.

I can’t go back and have a re-do. I can’t take back the words I spoke. But I did talk to God about it. I asked His forgiveness for my sin; for my self-righteousness, my self pity, my wrong thoughts and judgements, and my hurtful words. I told Him I was sorry for not obeying when He asked me to surrender my pity party.

But then I also asked God why the response of the others upset me so much. Why was this so hurtful to me? What was it that I needed to strip off?

He reminded me of 1 Corinthians 13. In those first verses, 1-3, Paul wrote about those who have great abilities and gifts that can be used to bring God much glory, but they can also lead to great pride. He showed me that I while I love to share God’s truth with others, I don’t always do it with the pure motivation of love. In some ways it was a hard word to receive. I want to think my motives are pure, that sharing the truth is loving others. Yet, I know deep down inside I do like to be right. I do want to be appreciated for knowing the truth. As I read the following verses it became very clear… “love is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged…love never gives up.” So, I’m pretty sure that love doesn’t have pity parties! If my motive was pure I would have been able to surrender my pity party, and trust that even though what I shared wasn’t received I could trust God with the results. Yes, I need to learn to love.

So, I asked God to forgive me for my pride. My pride that wanted others to receive and appreciate the truth I shared with them. The pride in me that wanted to have the right answers for others. The pride that responded in self pity when not appreciated.

Lord, show me how to love as You love. Show me how to lovingly share Your truth with others with a pure heart so they will see only You. And let me trust Your Holy Spirit to do the work within their hearts no matter what kind of response I receive.

I choose to strip off my pride and look to You, Jesus, so I can run this race unhindered and lovingly share Your truth with others.  

And, yes, please give me the grace to surrender any future pity parties! In Jesus name, Amen!

“Test”imony

The results from the SMAC test were confirmed by the blood test at my doctor’s visit. My doctor said I needed to go back on medication again, so I did as she prescribed. It was humbling to go back to friends and family and tell them I wasn’t healed. I wasn’t sure what to think, how to feel, so I just put healing back up on the shelf for another time.

That time came about two years later when once again I began to consider healing and I took it down off the shelf. I found myself thinking about my response to the phone call I received from the nurse. I realized I reacted in fear. I remembered that once again, just as when I was first diagnosed, I never even asked God about it. I didn’t “seek Him first.” I wondered what would have happened if I had asked God about it.

What if the “good” God intended for me from the harm of the Hashimoto’s was that I would become aware of my fears so I could confess them, and be free from them? 

What if the “good” God intended was so I would learn to seek Him first in everything? Trust Him always?

By reacting in fear of man’s report, and not taking it to God to see what He had to say, was I putting my trust in man rather than God?

When I didn’t seek God first, was I living life independent of Him? Was I making myself as god, trusting in myself instead of relying on Him?

I knew the Holy Spirit was convicting me…

Once I confessed those sins, a faith rose up within me even stronger to believe for healing. I researched auto immune system diseases again and was reminded there is no known cause why the immune system attacks the good things in our bodies, stress often brings compromise and inflammation, and I even read that love and security have been proved to bring healing!

This was the time God showed me the verse from Acts when Peter had a vision from God…

“…and saw heaven opened and an object like a great sheet bound at the four corners, descending to him and let down to the earth. In it were all kinds of four-footed animals of the earth, wild beasts, creeping things, and birds of the air. And a voice came to him, “Rise, Peter; kill and eat.” But Peter said, “Not so, Lord! For I have never eaten anything common or unclean.” And a voice spoke to him again the second time, “What God has cleansed you must not call common.” Acts 10:11-15

For so long I thought “I was no good” and had called what God had made good, “bad.” Was this a trial brought on by believing a lie?

Did believing the lie that “I was no good,” thinking wrong thoughts and speaking wrong words over myself bring…

compromise to my immune system, Hashimoto’s disease? Compromise in my spiritual life? 

Did compromise result in fear…

causing me to listen to man’s report and rely on man’s ways, not trusting God,

Did my lack of trust in God bring about…

independence of God, not seeking Him and therefore making myself as god?

With every test we have the opportunity to respond in two different ways.

We can listen to the voice of the enemy or we can listen to the truth of God.

Job could have listened to the voice of the enemy as he was counseled by his wife and his friends. He could have cursed God and died, or he could have lived under condemnation of sin, believing his sin caused his trial. Neither one would have brought him relief, neither would have allowed him to see God as he never had before, or would have restored him double all he had.

Jesus could have listened to the voice of the enemy and taken care of Himself and proved Himself, and forfeited His worship, but obviously, that would have jeopardized all He was, all He was intended to accomplish.

What are the consequences of listening to the voice of the enemy?

For me, in this test, listening to the lies of the enemy kept me believing I was no good and kept me living a life of compromise, physically and spiritually.

I believe it brought compromise to my immune system causing Hashimoto’s disease, and kept me in bondage to medication that had other affects on my body that weren’t for my good.

It kept me looking to man’s ways to treat something that had a spiritual root. I was trusting in medication to keep me healthy, when in fact living with a lie was harming me more that I could ever know.

Choosing to seek God, to listen to His voice of truth, and trusting in what He said changed everything!

Believing the truth that I have been made good and by changing my thoughts and my words about myself has been life-changing. It has opened my heart and mind to see myself as worthy, valuable to God. Living without compromise, I have a confidence I never had before, and with that confidence I am free to do what God has created me to do. There are things that He has for me that I am finding so rewarding, so satisfying!

Though I have experienced several types of healing I find there are no set answers. Each healing has left its mark on my life in a significant way that has caused me to see God in ways I’ve never seen Him before. This has been a long journey of testing my faith. If I had been instantly healed I wouldn’t have seen the fears, compromise, and independence I needed to confess and strip off. I realize not everyone agrees with the purposes of suffering. But when I consider that God works all things together for my good, I have to believe that He is using this strategy meant for my harm, this physical suffering that has spiritual roots, with the intent for my good.

I don’t believe God sent Hashimoto’s to me for God is the Giver of all good gifts. I believe it is the result of my wrong thinking from the deception of the enemy. And I believe it is the thing God is using to purify and refine me.

I know that God is for me. I believe His love for me is beyond my understanding. But I also have lived long enough to understand that God’s love doesn’t always look like love, feel like love. I’m learning that God’s love for me goes beyond my understanding, and way beyond my comfort. Because He is for me, because He loves me, God wants me to be who He created me to be to fulfill the destiny He has for me. If there are lies, fears, doubts… that are hindering me from running the race He wants me to run, keeping me compromised so that I can’t live fully the abundant life He has for me, He will strip them from me. God’s love for me is a jealous love that wants more than anything that I seek Him first and trust Him completely! I believe this is a test to do just that.

So, what the enemy meant for harm, God intends for good!

This is my “test”imony of the journey of faith I am on. It has been eight months since I once again stopped taking my medication. I haven’t had a blood test since. I have had fears surface that I have confessed along this journey. It is my heart’s desire that this journey of faith strips off all God intends and enables me to run the race God has set before me, keeping my eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of my faith!

 

If you want to further reach autoimmune system disorders one web sight I found that lined up with what God was showing me is…

What is happening spiritually when the body attacks itself? markdeJesus.com

 

 

Not My Will, but Your’s be Done.

God is Relentless!

God wants His children to have Radical Faith!

From the beginning to the end, the Bible is filled with stories of tested faith and the miracles that come from passing the tests.

“Faith shows the reality of what we hope for; it is the evidence of things we cannot see. Through their faith, the people in days of old earned a good reputation… And it is impossible to please God without faith.” Hebrews 11:1-2,6

Faith is believing for something we don’t yet see.

Faith earns a good reputation.

Faith pleases God.

“Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles of any kind come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing.” James 1:2-4

Trials are opportunities for Great Joy because they are the very things that will test your faith. In the testing of faith comes endurance, perfecting, completeness.

Job persevered through his trouble and saw God in ways he never had before, received double of all he owned, and lived a long, full life.

Abraham passed his test of faith and earned a good reputation…

“Abraham never wavered in believing God’s promise. In fact, his faith grew stronger, and in this he brought glory to God. He was fully convinced that God is able to do whatever he promises. And because of Abraham’s faith, God counted him as righteous.” Romans 4:20-22

Tests of faith reveal what we really believe.  

God is Relentless!

The “good” God intends from trials is refining and purification that leads to Radical Faith!!

He not only wants us to have knowledge of who He is, He wants us to know Him intimately.

He not only wants us to learn the truths of God, He wants us to live the truths of God. 

The testing of faith exposes those things that need to be removed from our hearts so that we can fully know God, so that we can fully live in His truth.

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us rid ourselves of every burden and sin that clings to us and persevere in running the race that lies before us while keeping our eyes fixed on Jesus, the leader and perfecter of faith. For the sake of the joy that lay before him he endured the cross, despising its shame, and has taken his seat at the right of the throne of God.” Hebrews 12:1-2

God wants us to be free of everything that clings to us and weighs us down while running the race He has laid out for us. There is a specific race we have been created for and it requires a stripping away of all we have in us that will hinder our run. It requires that we keep our eyes fixed on Jesus because He is the One who called us to our race and He is the One who will enable us to finish it.

We can trust Jesus because He ran His race to the finish. Jesus had the most intense test of faith; one more difficult than any one of us will ever face. As He cried out to His Heavenly Father in the Garden of Gethsemane He asked that God would change the race that was ahead of Him. The race that had been determined before the beginning of time. The race that led to the cross. It was a race that just thinking about caused Jesus to sweat drops of blood. Those prayers, those three times of intense battles between His flesh and His spirit to the One who called Him His dearly loved Son, always ended in, “Not My will, but Yours be done.”

Our physical and our spiritual cannot be separated.

This battle that Jesus experienced in the Garden of Gethsemane is the same battle between flesh and spirit that we face when our faith is tested. It is the same battle that causes us to plead with God, over and over, to take away the test that lies in front of us.

What was it that caused Jesus to go from asking for the race to be changed, to saying, “Not My will, but Yours be done”?

“For the sake of the joy that lay before him he endured the cross,”

Joy!

The same word James told us to consider when facing our troubles.

I can’t think of a greater joy than that of death giving way to resurrected life!!!

But this is exactly what happens through the trials we face, through the testing of our faith.

Those things that are alive within us…

Fear

Shame

Pride

Idolatry

Greed

Self-focus

Anxiety

Offense

Bitterness

Unforgiveness

Jealousy

Comparing

Disappointment

Loss

These things may have been passed to us generationally, they may have become habits of our sin nature, they may have come through the influences of those around us. These are the things that steal, kill, and destroy the abundant life God intends for us. These are the things that hide undetected in our hearts. They have become such a part of us. They have determined our thinking, our beliefs, and have defined us, but they are the very things that cling to us and hinder us from fully running the race that God has created us for.

These are the things that the testing of our faith reveals to us. The trial meant for our harm, comes to us through the loving hands of God who works everything together for our good.

The “good” God intends is that the trial will reveal something specific that He wants us to strip off.

The only way we can strip off the things that weigh us down is if we say as Jesus said, “Not my will, but Your’s be done.”

We need to be willing to see what it is that God wants put to death, to see what is clinging to us, what is weighing us down.

God is for us, He is relentless, and He knows we can’t see these things ourselves. He is faithful to work all things together, even the trials that come into our lives, to cause us to become desperate and cry out to Him for help, for understanding.

We won’t always like what He shows us.

It might require us to;

have a change of heart

forgive the impossible

love the unloveable

let go of something or someone we have held very dear

humble ourselves…

no matter what, it will require we die to self.

“Not my will, but Your’s be done.”

Whatever God shows us we mustn’t try to justify ourselves. We mustn’t give excuses. We mustn’t use logic or human reasoning to explain it away.

We must see it as God sees it and we must put it to death by confessing our sin, and by asking God’s forgiveness.

This is how we strip off the things that cling to us and weigh us down. This is how our endurance grows, how we are perfected and made complete.

On the other side of that trial we are free from our sin and we experience the Abundant Life and the Great Joy that comes from the testing of our faith!!! 

Once we have a taste of the joy and freedom God intends for us and the increased faith that comes from a test, we have a “test”imony, and it is that testimony that will encourage others in their faith and it will be a reminder for us the next time a test comes along, to consider it an opportunity for Great Joy!!

So, yes, I have a “test”imony from the refining God had yet to do in my heart through the test of my faith concerning Hashimoto’s disease….coming next week.

 

PICTURES: PASSION PLAY 2012

Jesus: Jamie Gillem

 

Jesus’ Example

Sometimes life is interrupted by unannounced tests of faith.

Job’s life was interrupted…

Abraham’s life was interrupted…

With the advantage of reading their stories in their entirety we can see that it was worth the interruption. They learned much about God on the other side of the test. Their faith was refined and strengthened. Their testimonies continue to encourage those going through tests of faith today.

The Bible is filled with stories of tested faith. Even Jesus experienced a testing of faith.

“After his baptism, as Jesus came up out of the water, the heavens were opened and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and settling on him. And a voice from heaven said, “This is my dearly loved Son, who brings me great joy.” Matthew 3:16-17

“Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted there by the devil.” Matthew 4:1

This verse is similar to the verses in Job where God and Satan both have agendas for mankind:

God desires that tests cause us to draw near to Him, to listen to His voice of truth, and respond in faith, so that we experience His power and love in ways we never have before.

Satan wants to test us so that he can steal, kill, and destroy us. He means for tests to turn us away from God, to leave us feeling alone and unloved so that we believe his lies, and give up on God.

What Satan means for harm, God intends for good.

Spirit led…

Devil tempted…

“If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become loaves of bread.” Matthew 4:3

Look at the first thing the devil said to Jesus…

“If you are the Son of God.”

Satan twists God’s words to cause doubt of who God says you are…

Are You really His dearly loved Son?

If so, why are You alone and hungry?

You have the power, why don’t You take care of Yourself?

Spirit led…

Devil tempted…

Jesus didn’t fall for the deception. He knew the truth of who He was.

Jesus didn’t allow the devil’s words to bring self-pity. He didn’t focus on His loneliness or hunger.

Though He had the power, Jesus didn’t take things into His own hands and provide for Himself.

Instead He quoted God’s truth…

“But Jesus told him, “No! The Scriptures say, ‘People do not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.’” Matthew 4:4

Jesus used God’s word to speak truth into the deception, the temptation,

Truth dispels lies.

The devil enticed the desires of Jesus’ flesh; His hunger, His weariness, His power. Satan had a solution that would solve his physical needs. If only Jesus would take his advice He would feel better. But Jesus’ response spoke to the need beyond the physical; He spoke of the sustaining life found in God’s word. As important as bread is, it’s the words from God’s mouth that give real, satisfying life.

“Then the devil took him to the holy city, Jerusalem, to the highest point of the Temple, and said, “If you are the Son of God, jump off! For the Scriptures say, ‘He will order his angels to protect you. And they will hold you up with their hands so you won’t even hurt your foot on a stone.’” Matthew 4:5-6

This time Satan tried using God’s words, those words of truth, of life. But though they were God’s words they were spoken from Satan’s mouth; the father of lies, the deceiver; words meant for harm.

Jesus came to earth to do His Father’s will; to demonstrate God’s power and love. Jesus could have jumped off the highest point of the Temple and proved Himself to all, but it wasn’t according to His Father’s will, and it wasn’t the way God wanted Him to demonstrate His power.

“Jesus responded, “The Scriptures also say, ‘You must not test the Lord your God.’” Matthew 4:7

When Satan speaks God’s word it is taken out of context, is twisted, and it comes from the motive to counterfeit, confuse, to harm.

Jesus knew His purpose here on earth. He knew He was here to do His Father’s will and He wasn’t going to listen to the voice that tempted him to presume on God. He didn’t assume He could do what Satan told him to do and God would take care of Him.

“Next the devil took him to the peak of a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory.  “I will give it all to you,” he said, “if you will kneel down and worship me.” Matthew 4:8-9

This time Satan offered Jesus all the kingdoms of the world that God had given to him. God cast Satan out of heaven and made him ruler over all the earth. Satan didn’t know the future. He didn’t know all Jesus was going to accomplish here on earth, but he certainly wanted to thwart any plan God had for Him. Satan’s  desire to be worshipped was what got him thrown out of heaven, and this was the motive of his temptation of Jesus, and he continues to offer power to those who will bow down to worship him today.

“Get out of here, Satan,” Jesus told him. “For the Scriptures say, ‘You must worship the Lord your God
and serve only him.’” Matthew 4:10

Jesus quoted the Greatest Commandment. It is the Greatest because when we obey this verse completely everything else in life will work together for our good.

Jesus gave us the example that we are to recognize whose voice is speaking. We are to know the difference between truth and lies.

Only by studying the truth will we recognize a lie.

Because there are times when deception makes more sense than truth. 

Deception will use human logic…

Deception will use fleshly reason…

Jesus said that His sheep know His voice. Our Good Shepherd is for us, and because His thoughts and His way are not like ours, because they are so much higher than ours, we need to spend time with our Good Shepherd so we become familiar with His voice. We must learn to trust His voice above ours…above our limited logic, our human reasoning. We must lay aside our own understanding and trust in His ways, no matter what.

When the voice of the tempter comes we must learn to perceive the lies, the deception. We must recognize the twisting of scripture, the counterfeit, confusion, and wrong motives.

Satan’s temptations seem logical to your flesh…

Satan’s words make sense to your human reasoning…

“Tell these stones to become bread.”

I’m starved! I’m alone! I’m weary!

Does God see me out here, does He care about me, does He love me?

I have the power! I can take care of myself!

What voice did I hear on the phone that day when the nurse called about my blood test results? It was a voice that told me what was true… my numbers were way too high and I needed to call my doctor right away.

My response?

I gave into fear.

I didn’t quiet my heart and pray. I didn’t seek first the Kingdom of God. I didn’t take time to listen to the voice of my Good Shepherd.

In fear I relied on logic…

Wow, that is a huge number! I need to call my doctor right away and get back on medication.

In fear I reasoned…

Even though I feel fine, even though I believed I was healed, I guess I was wrong.

Relying on logic and reason, and reacting in fear I immediately called my doctor and scheduled an appointment.

“Then the devil went away, and angels came and took care of Jesus.” Matthew 4:11

Jesus didn’t respond with logic, reason, or in fear. His words of truth sent the enemy away.

And in the absence of the tempter, of logic, reason, and fear, God sent His ministering angels to take care of Jesus’ physical needs.

So, in hindsight, I wish I had responded differently when I received that phone call.

But, it was part of my faith being refined and strengthened.

Because, what the enemy means for harm, God intends for good!

 

Faith Tested

When I heard what the results of the blood test I didn’t know it at the time, but my faith was about to be tested…

“These trials will show that your faith is genuine. It is being tested as fire tests and purifies gold—though your faith is far more precious than mere gold. So when your faith remains strong through many trials, it will bring you much praise and glory and honor on the day when Jesus Christ is revealed to the whole world.” 1 Peter 1:7

Faith is tested to be refined and strengthened.

The refining and strengthening of faith is meant to bring glory and honor to God.

Job’s faith was tested…

Job was a blameless man, a man of integrity who feared God and stayed away from evil.

One day God asked Satan if he had noticed the integrity of Job. Satan responded that it was no wonder that Job feared God because God put a wall of protection around him and caused him to prosper greatly.

Satan was convinced that if Job lost everything he would no longer fear God. God gave Satan permission to test Job.

When Job lost everything he didn’t curse God, but trusted and worshipped Him.

Now when Satan went back to talk to God, God reminded him that Job still feared Him. Satan said that possessions were one thing, but if his health was affected he would surely curse God.

God gave him permission to touch Job’s health, but didn’t allow Satan to kill Job.

Even when stricken with boils over his entire body, Job continued to trust God.

Job’s friends thought they knew why this happened to Job. They tried to convince him it was because of his sin and that he needed to repent.

After they all took turns trying to convince Job they knew the reasons that he was going through all this loss and pain, Job cried out to God to hear what He had to say. God began to challenge Job, and for several chapters gave example after example of His creative power and might.

God’s answers left Job with this response…

“I know that you can do anything, and no one can stop you. You asked, ‘Who is this that questions my wisdom with such ignorance?’ It is I—and I was talking about things I knew nothing about, things far too wonderful for me. You said, ‘Listen and I will speak! I have some questions for you, and you must answer them.’ I had only heard about you before, but now I have seen you with my own eyes. I take back everything I said, and I sit in dust and ashes to show my repentance.” Job 42:2-6

God used what the enemy meant for harm against Job; what was meant to cause him to curse God and die, to get Job’s attention and to show Job His mighty power. When Job heard all God had to say he realized he thought he knew God, but now he had seen Him in ways he had never seen Him before. Job was left sitting in dust and ashes, repenting for his doubt and unbelief.

His repentance was the refining of his faith.

The new revelation of God was the strengthening of his faith.

Though the loss of Job’s children and of all he owned brought much pain and suffering to Job, it wasn’t so much about the external things, or even his health.

God’s purpose for tests is to expose the lies in our hearts and to reveal the truth of who He is.

Going into a test we can say that we have heard of God, but if we trust God and choose to fear Him through the test we will come out the other side having seen God!

Abraham’s faith was tested…

One day God asked Abraham to sacrifice the very fulfillment of His promise; the son that Abraham waited twenty-five years for. The son born from his and Sarah’s “dead” bodies. Now, God was asking him to put to death the very life He promised and brought forth.

Foolishness?

Faith?

“For Abraham is the father of all who believe. That is what the Scriptures mean when God told him, “I have made you the father of many nations.” This happened because Abraham believed in the God who brings the dead back to life and who creates new things out of nothing.” Romans 4:16-17

Abraham’s faith enabled him to get up early the next day and take his son on a three day journey to mount Moriah.

Abraham’s faith enabled him to climb the mountain with his son, the wood, the fire, and the knife, for the sacrifice.

Abraham’s faith enabled him to answer his son’s question as to where the sacrifice was… “God will provide.”

Abrahams’s faith enabled him to tie his son to the altar, and to raise his hand with the knife over his son’s body.

Foolishness?

Faith?

It didn’t make sense.

It didn’t line up with the promises God already gave him.

What do we do when God tells us to do something that doesn’t make sense?

What do we do with a word from God that seems contradictory to the very promise He gave?

Tests are how our faith is refined. When we hear a word from the Lord and choose to obey; by stepping out in faith when it looks foolish and goes against everything that makes sense…

That’s where we are stripped of ourselves.

Tests strip us of our feelings and emotions that keep us focused on ourselves.

The flesh of our own understanding dies.

Tests kill off our trust in our own thoughts and past experiences that keep us in doubt and unbelief.

Our faith goes beyond the natural realm and relies on the supernatural.

Tests give us the opportunity to believe for what we don’t yet see, and to call forth what doesn’t yet exist.

This is the test of refining that God wants us to pass so that we are in position for our faith to be strengthened.

When Abraham stood with his hand raised, holding the knife above his son’s body, his faith was proved. Abraham passed the test of refining. He didn’t allow his feelings and emotions to keep him focused on his own desires for his son. He didn’t allow his own understanding to cause doubt and unbelief. He looked past the natural realm and believed for the impossible. This refining gave him the faith to be willing to kill the very life God miraculously brought to him, the fulfillment of a twenty-five year promise.

When God saw Abraham’s refined faith, God provided another life, another sacrifice, to replace the one used as a test.

When we pass the test of refined faith we position ourselves for the miraculous.

When our refined faith is proved we experience the miraculous and our faith is made even stronger.