Are You Going Through a Test?

“God left him to test him and to know everything that was in his heart” (2 Chronicles 32:31).

The passage above is about a time when God tested the Jewish king Hezekiah. There are times of testing that God sometimes initiates and sometimes allows. Not all that happens to us is God initiated though. Job’s test was satanically initiated but God allowed it for His glory and purposes (Job 1:9-12). Then there was the time when Abraham was tested to see how far he had come in his walk with God:

Some time later God tested Abraham. He said to him, “Abraham!” “Here I am,” he replied (Genesis 22:1).

Of course, God knows our hearts; the problem is our side, we often don’t know what’s in our own hearts. The heart is deceitful and desperately wicked, the Lord says (Jeremiah 17:9). The test of God is designed for us to see ourselves, how far short we fall from His standard—Jesus Christ. I see at least two purposes that God has in the test. If you are a Christian, God is at work in you to sanctify you (set you apart for Himself) and make you more like Jesus in your character. If you are not yet a Christian, you may be in a trial or a test that is designed or allowed by the Creator of the universe
to bring you to a place where you may realize your need of Him. God opposes the proud but shows favor to the humble (James 4:6). While a man or woman seeks to be right with God by His own accomplishments or goodness he will find that inner peace will elude him. But if a man recognizes his own spiritual bankruptcy before a holy God, he will find favor with God.

17My sacrifice, O God, is a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart you, God, will not despise (Psalm 51:17).

This is not for a particular people group such as just the Jewish people that it was written for, no, this is for all men and women everywhere. When you come to God with a heart of need—a broken, contrite (affected by guilt and remorse) heart, then the test or trial that you have gone through has done its work. Perhaps what you have gone through has been very dark, but God is working on you for an eternal benefit. This life that you live is not just for this earth. We are eternal creatures, created for much more than this world. There will come a time when you will see the eternal benefit of what you have gone through, as long as you repent, believe the gospel and put your trust in Him.

Have you ever read of the story of Joseph in the Book of Genesis? (Chapters 37-50). This young man of around seventeen years of age was thrust into a test, which he was unaware of, but through the difficulties that he went through, certain gifts arose in him that was greatly used for the salvation of his family in the midst of famine. Ahead of the famine, God planned to work in the heart of Joseph to train him through building his character that he might endure political office alongside Pharaoh, that, when the time was right, Joseph would bring deliverance to all his family. You may be in a test and are unaware of it! Character is formed in a test. With Joseph the dark time of testing and trial was preparing him for his promotion to being alongside the king of Egypt. If we come through the test with our character intact, we will be lifted up and trusted more. When you pass the character test, God knows that you will not compromise your faith in Him and can be used to a greater degree. Are you going through a trial at the moment? Is it a test of the Lord? If it is, don’t compromise! Hang on to Him in the midst of the darkness—light will come and you will hear Him one day say, “Well done, my good and faithful servant.” That means everything to the true child of God.

Keith Thomas

Why Did God Forsake Jesus?

45From noon until three in the afternoon darkness came over all the land. 46About three in the afternoon Jesus cried out in a loud voice, “Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani?” (which means “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”) (Matthew 27:45-46).

Have you ever wondered why His Father could forsake Jesus, the Son of the Almighty God? If you have ever had the opportunity to read through the Gospels, Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, one is struck by the majesty of the purest person to ever walk this planet. Even those that lived with Jesus, His disciples for three years, tell us that they had never seen this man commit any sin (1 Peter 2:22). Is it possible that there was a person that walked this earth and was sinless? The Bible records that there is not a man that has not sinned:

Indeed, there is no one on earth who is righteous, no one who does what is right and never sins (Ecclesiastes 7:20).

How could Jesus be different from you and I and not sin? This was the very reason that He was born of a virgin. The Holy Spirit had come on His mother Mary, and she conceived in a different way to the rest of us of the Homo sapiens race. Jesus was 100% God, but also 100% man. Adam, the one who first sinned, had passed on to all of us this default in our nature to be disobedient to our Creator, what the Bible calls sin. When Adam and Eve were in the Garden of Eden, they were told,

16And the LORD God commanded the man, “You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; 17but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat from it you will certainly die(Genesis 2:16-17).

But Jesus, God in the flesh, was not subject to the law of sin and death that we inherited from Adam. This death that Adam was warned about was spiritual death, which is separation from God, and, of course, physical death too. After they ate the fruit Adam and Eve did not fall down dead, but something happened within their inner nature—that change brought about by their disobedience to God made them hide from Him when He came to enjoy their company (Genesis 3:8-10). Sin causes a barrier between God and us:

2But your iniquities have separated you from your God; 
your sins have hidden his face from you, so that he will not hear (Isaiah 59:2).

God has gone to extraordinary lengths to take this barrier of sin that separates Him from us. He came to this planet in the person of His Son being born of Mary in order to take upon Himself the payment of the debt of sin that we owed because, in His justice, God cannot weigh some in the scales and say you have done more good than another. The problem is deeper than that. None of us are good enough, all of us have sinned. There is not a person on Earth who is good enough to live with a Holy God. The wage that we receive for our life of sin is to be separated from God for eternity, what the Bible calls death. But God in His love for us chose to come to earth and pay our penalty of sin Himself:

God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them (2 Corinthians 2:19).

When Christ, our substitute for sin, hung on the cross, He was loaded down with your sin and mine, the just for the unjust to bring us to God, that was why He cried out, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” He took your debt of sin, the very thing that separates you from God, upon Himself. The sin bearer, the Lord Jesus Christ, took your sin upon Himself at the cross—the just punishment of your sin was paid for so that you don’t have to be punished for it, if you will receive the gift of God, the offer of a full pardon. That was why He could shout a victory shout right at the point of death, “It is finished!” The Greek words that are translated into English as “It is finished” literally mean, “Paid in full.” This is the Good News! Our sins have been paid for! To become a Christian is to receive the full pardon for your sin that was paid for by Christ. Will you give your life over to Him and believe the good news of your deliverance from the penalty of sin, and ask Him to come into your life? There’s no better day than today.

Keith Thomas

Who Killed Jesus the Messiah?

What a big question! Like an Agatha Christie murder mystery, there are a number of individuals that are to blame. Firstly, there was the Jewish ruling religious elite. They certainly had a hand in conspiring against Jesus because of jealousy. Jesus had upset the ruling religious leaders when He rebuked them for making the holy place a market for their unscrupulous money exchange and the ripping off of the poor by making them pay exorbitant prices for the sacrificial lambs. Certainly, they were the ones that sent the Temple guard to arrest Jesus on trumped up charges of blasphemy:

“Then the chief priests, the scribes, and the elders of the people assembled at the palace of the High Priest, who was called Caiphas, and plotted to take Jesus by trickery and kill Him” (Matthew 26:4).

What about the Roman procurator, Pilate? When the religious leaders had pronounced a guilty verdict on Jesus, even though their witnesses did not agree as to their testimony, they handed Christ over to Pilate, who not only had the power to crucify Jesus, but also did give Him up to the will of the Jewish elite class. He said to Jesus:

“Do you not know that I have power to crucify You and power to release You” (John 19:10).

“When Pilate saw that he could prevail nothing, but that rather a tumult was made, he took water, and washed his hands before the multitude, saying, I am innocent of the blood of this just person: see ye to it” (Matthew 27:24).

Then there was one of the twelve disciples, Judas, the traitor and thief. He also was guilty and culpable (deserving blame). As the group of disciples’ treasurer, Judas had been stealing money out of the moneybag. When a woman anointed Jesus with her very expensive ointment, Judas was unhappy at the act of devotion and saw the cost of the ointment as something that has slipped through his hand. When Jesus backed up the beautiful act that the woman had done, Judas didn’t like it and went and sold his master for thirty silver coins, the price paid for a slave (Exodus 21:32).

 “What are you willing to give me if I hand him over to you? So they counted out for him thirty silver coins. From then on Judas watched for an opportunity to hand him over (Matthew 26:15-16).

Who else could be blamed for the death of Jesus? What about those that every Christian is at war with—the unseen ruling evil spirits that are manipulating people on the planet for their own evil ends.

For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places (Ephesian 6:12).

Of course, when these unseen evil spirits used Judas, Pilate and the religious elite, they did not realize the end result of Christ being crucified, and the damage it would bring to Satan and his ruling evil angels and demons.

We declare God’s wisdom, a mystery that has been hidden and that God destined for our glory before time began. 8None of the rulers of this age understood it, for if they had, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory (1 Corinthians 2:7-8).

Each of those mentioned above are fully to blame and will be brought to judgment in the age to come, when Jesus returns to set up His kingdom. But also, we sinful human beings are to blame, each of us for our own sin. God had placed a penalty on the rebellion against Him there in the Garden of Eden (Genesis 2:17). Death would be a consequence of sin. That is not just physical death, but spiritual death, which is separation from God. This is why Jesus deliberately allowed Himself to be crucified. Ti deliver you from the penalty of sin, it was His life for your life. God came in the person of Christ to be the substitute for you and me and all those that would accept the terms of the New Covenant of God (Jeremiah 31:31). He would give new life to all who accept His death in payment for their sin. The evil unseen spirits did not realize that God would use His Son’s death as a means of deliverance for you and me from our sins:

18 For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God. He was put to death in the body but made alive in the Spirit (1 Peter 3:18).

What about you? Will you accept the free gift of salvation and eternal life that Christ offers you if you give up your life into His hands? Just simply tell Him, wherever you are right now, Lord Jesus, thank you for dying in my place for me and as me. I receive you into my life to cleanse me from all my sin. Forgive me for my sin, Lord Jesus, I want to live for you. Amen. If you sincerely meant that prayer, there is joy in heaven (Luke 15:10)

Keith Thomas

Obedience: The Key to His Presence

One of the things that we are told about the Holy Spirit is that He came as a dove and descended onto the Lord Jesus at His baptism by John the Baptist. John the apostle writes,

“I saw the Spirit come down from heaven as a dove and remain on him. I would not have known him, except that the one who sent me to baptize with water told me, “ the man on whom you see the Spirit come down and remain is he who will baptize with the Holy Spirit” (John 1:32-33).

Have you ever seen a dove fly down and sit on someone? I have never witnessed this myself, although I have seen pigeons land on someone, usually for food! When we lived in England, one of our favorite places to take people was a place called Trafalgar Square. This is the place where it seems all the pigeons in London gather! You may have seen photos of tourists feeding them. Four pigeons will sit on your arm and fight for a place on your head, too! All the time I have been there, though, I have never had a dove alight on me. Even though doves are of the same genus as pigeons, they are behaviorally very different. I have never heard of a dove alighting on a person, but here in the above passage of scripture, we see a picture of the Spirit descending like a dove upon the Lord Jesus and remaining. Doves are very timid and skittish. By that I mean that the slightest thing scares them off. Any sudden noises, any quick movement and they are gone. Once the Spirit comes to us when we become believers, He will remain upon the Christian for the rest of eternity. He will never leave us. But the presence of the Spirit on us can be easily grieved to the extent that we lose something of the intimacy with the Spirit when we disobey Him. That special presence of the Spirit, called by John the anointing (1 John 2:27), must be guarded as a sacred trust and nurtured by quick repentance and forsaking of any sin if we want intimacy with Christ and have the Spirit remain on us. The Spirit descended and remained upon Jesus, which means that He was at home as He rested upon the Lord.

R.T. Kendall explains it this way in his book entitled, The Sensitivity of the Spirit:

“That the Holy Spirit descended and remained on Jesus tells us as much about Jesus as it does about the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit was at home with Jesus. They were mutually adjusted to each other. Jesus carried no bitterness or hate, no grudges, panic or spirit of vindictiveness to drive away the gentle Spirit. Described by Matthew as “gentle and humble in heart,” Jesus did not quarrel or cry out (Matthew 11:29). Yet “a bruised reed he will not break” (Matt. 11:20). He never struck out to hurt another.

The apostle Paul admonished us, “And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption” (Ephesians 4:30). The Holy Spirit has feelings, and we can hurt His feelings when we grieve Him by the things we do. The Greek word translated “grieve” (lupeo) comes from lupee, which means “pain” or “sorrow.” It is the opposite of joy.

We know from the apostle Paul that the Holy Spirit can also be quenched. In Paul’s words, “Do not put out the Spirit’s fire” (1 Thessalonians 5:19). The words put out come from the Greek word sbennumi, which basically means, “to quench.” In the ancient Greek world it referred generally to extinguishing fire or burning objects. On the day of Pentecost, the Holy Spirit came to the people gathered in the Upper Room as what seemed to be “tongues of fire” (Acts 2:3). Paul’s warning not to quench the Spirit can only mean that the Spirit’s fire can be put out.”[1]

Listening to His voice and obedience to the Lord are the keys to walking and keeping in step with the Spirit as we walk through this world. Jesus made this clear in this passage to the disciples:

23Jesus replied, “Anyone who loves me will obey my teaching. My Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them. 24Anyone who does not love me will not obey my teaching. These words you hear are not my own; they belong to the Father who sent me (John 14:23-24).

We must make the effort to not only know Christ’s teaching, but to also walk in obedience to what we learn of Him. The Lord says that this is the proof that you are a Christian; that you obey what Jesus taught. He is looking for God lovers. Those that are in a love relationship with Jesus Christ are those that obey His teaching, not only when men’s eyes are on you, but when nobody’s eyes are on you, God’s alone. The more you are obedient to a heart level, the more of the Spirit you will have. To walk in step with the Spirit is to live in such a way that you are agreeing with the Holy Spirit at every step. When you get out of step with the Holy Spirit, be quick to change and to repent so that you can quickly get back in step with Him and walk in His ways. If you keep yourself in step with the Word of God and the Spirit of God, the presence of God will be on you and with you. And this will be apparent to those around you.

Keith Thomas

[1] R.T. Kendall, The Sensitivity of the Spirit, Published by Charisma House, page 26.

The Holy Spirit Reveals Truth

pentecost“If you love me, keep my commands. 16And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever— 17the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you (John 14:15-17). 

One of the first things we should notice about the Helper, the Holy Spirit, is that He is called another Advocate (John 14:16). This word another means another of the same kind. He is like Christ—in fact, He is called the Spirit of Christ (Romans 8:9, 1 Peter 1:11). More than that, He is called the Spirit of Truth (Verse 7). If you are a Christian–having repented of sin and received the free gift of salvation–then the Bible says that ALL of God’s people have the Holy Spirit:

9 You, however, are not in the realm of the flesh but are in the realm of the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God lives in you. And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, they do not belong to Christ (Romans 8:9).

As Jesus was saying the words at the top of the page, the Holy Spirit had been living with them, but Jesus tells them that He shall be in them. This speaks of what would happen on the Day of Pentecost when the Holy Spirit would come upon all the believers and empower them, baptizing them into the spiritual Body of Christ (1 Corinthians 12:12-13). On that day, He would reside in them, not just be with them. This thought that the Spirit had been with living them could be:

1) A reference to the presence of Christ living with them as they went from place to place with Him, especially since it was written of Jesus that He had the Spirit without measure (John 3:34).

2) The reference to the Spirit being with them could also be talking about the time He sent them out in ministry and He had given them authority and power to lay hands on the sick and cast out demons (Matthew 10:8, Luke 9:1-2). Their ministry of doing the works of Jesus was a result of the Spirit being with them, but as yet He was not indwelling them. The Spirit could only come into them as their hearts were purified by the finished work of Christ on the cross and their faith in that accomplished work (Acts 15:9).

Jesus then tells the disciples that when the paraklētos (The Holy Spirit, the divine Helper) comes within them, as He did on the Day of Pentecost, from that point on the Holy Spirit would teach them and remind them of all things that Christ had taught them.

26But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you (John 14:26).

27As for you, the anointing you received from him remains in you, and you do not need anyone to teach you. But as his anointing teaches you about all things and as that anointing is real, not counterfeit—just as it has taught you, remain in him (1 John 2:27).

Does that mean that we no longer need Bible teachers? What do you think? If we don’t need teachers, what does it mean?

My personal belief when it comes to these two passages about the Holy Spirit teaching us all things is that the Spirit will give us awareness within as to what is right and wrong. There is a “know-so” within the core of our being. Paul the apostle wrote that the Spirit witnesses with our spirit that we are children of God (Romans 8:16). There is an “amen,” that resounds within when a person is confronted with the truth of God’s Word. A person may come to Christ with little knowledge as to who Jesus is, like a little child, but the Spirit will reveal truth as opposed to the lies of the enemy, even if a person does not have a copy of the Bible. Of course, we still need teachers, Paul told the Ephesian church that the teachers of the scriptures was one of the five-fold ministry gifts of God to the church (Ephesians 4:11), but each of us are also to be meditating on the Word of God as much as we are able, and the Spirit will give us insight into what is read. The presence of the Spirit (the anointing) in one’s life will reveal more and more of the things of Christ, if one is open to learn and grow in Christ.

Keith Thomas

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