James 1:2-4 “Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you might be mature and complete, not lacking anything.”
From the moment we accepted Christ as our Savior – our goal, and God’s plan for us, was to “grow in grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.” (II Peter 3:18) In order for that to happen, we can expect our faith to be tested.
Our faith has to be tested in order for us to know if we even HAVE any faith. I’m often ashamed and embarrassed after my faith has been tested and I discover how weak and shaky my faith really was. My faith seems to be the strongest when YOU are the one whose faith is being tested.
The poster child for the ultimate in faith testing has got to be Job. Job 1:8 – “The Lord said to Satan, ‘Have you considered my servant Job? There is no one like him; he is blameless and upright, a man who fear God and shuns evil.”
Satan response was, “Of course he is. He’s never been tested.” Job 1:11-12 “But stretch out your hand and strike everything he has, and he will surely curse you to your face.
The Lord said to Satan, ‘Very well, then, everything he has is in your hands, but on the man himself do not lay a finger.’ “
Satan may be behind the actual testing, but the Lord sets up the terms and conditions for the test. Nothing is done without His permission and approval. I’ve heard it said that the Lord will never give us more than we can handle. But I believe God’s grace will help us handle whatever we’ve been given.
Fortunately, it’s always an open book test. Regardless of how difficult it gets, we can always turn to the book, The Bible, to find the answers and solutions to whatever we may be facing. Now in Matthew 8, we’re going to be looking at a couple of times when the faith of the twelve disciples was being tested.
Matthew 8:23-24 “Then He (Jesus) got into the boat and His disciples followed Him. Without warning, a furious storm came on the lake, so that the waves swept over the boat.” We always seem to get blind-sided by a test. The test always comes “without warning;” a phone call, a shocking diagnosis, a sudden fall.
These twelve disciples haven’t been following Jesus very long. They’ve heard Him give the Sermon on the Mount. They’ve seen Him perform some incredible healings, but they haven’t even begun to scratch the surface of discovering who Jesus is or what He’s capable of doing.
Right now, they find themselves in a life-threatening situation that came up “without warning.” This is serious. This is frightening. They have every reason in the world to believe they’re all going to die. This is not a large commercial fishing boat these men were sitting in. These boats were only designed to hold about four or five at the most, in addition to the fish and all the gear. This boat is seriously overloaded.
(8:18) Jesus “gave orders to cross to the other side of the lake.” (8:23) Jesus “got into the boat and the disciples followed Him.” In other words, the Bible is telling us that, right now, the disciples are in the center of God’s Will and they’re acting in obedient faith. That’s why the Bible instructs us to “count it all joy when we face trials of many kinds.”
Our faith only gets tested when we’re in the center of God’s Will, acting in obedient faith. Job was “blameless and upright, a man who fears God and shuns evil,” (Job 1:8) when his faith was tested. If our faith is being tested, we must be doing something right. The Lord made it unmistakably clear to Satan who it was that was actually in charge when He said, “On the man himself do not lay a finger.”(Job 1:12)
Remember how excited we were when we first got saved. We thought all our troubles were over because we had just surrendered our lives to Christ. But soon we find out that we have cancer, or our spouse has cancer, or one of our children’s marriage is falling apart; we may lose our job, we might have to declare bankruptcy, even lose our house. But LOOK! JESUS IS IN THE BOAT! Jesus is here with us. We’re going to be OK.
Yes, I know Jesus is with me, but He doesn’t seem to be paying much attention to my situation right now. Things keep getting worse and He’s not answering my prayers. I cry out to Him but He’s not responding. It’s almost like He’s ignoring me. I don’t understand what’s going on right now.
The disciples made the same mistake most of us make when we’re facing a situation like that. Jesus is in the boat and we know that Jesus is with us. But we’re so worried about the storm, so consumed with what’s happening to us, that we’re focusing on the storm alone. We’re concentrating on the trial, instead of looking at Jesus. Satan pulls our attention away from Jesus and keeps us looking at how bad our situation keeps getting.
Matthew 8:25 – “The disciples went and woke Him, saying, ‘Lord, save us! We’re going to drown!’ “ You’re going to drown? Really? What makes you say that? How do you know that? Is that the only possible outcome? How do you know how things are ultimately going to turn out?
Satan’s the one who gets us to think that way. He’s a liar and the father of lies. The disciples were listening to Satan’s lies and they were believing Satan’s lies. They weren’t just believing Satan’s lies, they were repeating Satan’s lies.
The storm keeps raging in our minds. We take what we see, and we project it into the future. Satan works through our imaginations. He’s shows us a video of what he says we can expect in the future and he tells us how things are going to be. But Satan doesn’t determine our future. He doesn’t control the outcome. Jesus does.
Jesus is the only one who determines and controls how things are going to turn out for us and He has determined that, in ALL things, we will be more than conquerors. We will always have victory. Because HE has overcome, by grace through our faith in Him, we will overcome as well.
It looks like my words are up. We’ll be back to take another look at this next Tuesday, Lord willing. JUST A REMINDER, I am giving away the e-book of “Why Did He Bother?” FREE TODAY (3/17) ONLY. Think about it. Even Walmart can’t beat that price and you don’t even have to wait in line. If you already have the book, consider giving one (some) to a friend (friends) as a gift (gifts,)
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