Is God Testing You?

anvil-fire

See, I have refined you, though not as silver; I have tested you in the furnace of affliction (Isaiah 48:10).

10For you, O God, tested us; you refined us like silver. 11You brought us into prison and laid burdens on our backs. 12You let men ride over our heads; we went through fire and water, but you brought us to a place of abundance (Psalm 66:10-12).

Sometimes our lives are full of burdens and it seems as if God is nowhere. In fact, it seems as if He is letting men ride over our heads and lay burdens on our backs. Why would God allow these things to go on in the lives of His children? I am presuming that you are a child of God through faith in Jesus Christ. If not, then maybe today is your day to place your trust in His finished work in full payment of the debt of sin you owe. If you are a Christian, God views our testing as a refining of our character. Just as a metal sword made for combat was put through the fire, refined and hammered on the anvil, in the same way God allows for trials and difficulties to come to our lives so that we may grow spiritually through them. We do not know God’s plans and purposes for our lives. Our life experiences would make more sense if we could only look into the future and know what we are being made into. Often we don’t see God’s plan until twenty years later when we are enjoying the fruits that come from the trial. What are the fruits of trials? I would say that it is a greater presence of the Spirit on your life and a maturing of our character—these are the things that please God. Of course, this can result in other blessings in our lives and in the lives of others too. God has a purpose and a plan for each one of us. How do I know that? The mother of the two disciples, James and John, asked that they would be able to sit in the best positions in the Kingdom of God, on the right hand and on the left hand side of Jesus. Jesus replied saying that those places are for those who will endure the cup of suffering in the same way as Jesus would and did. He said to James and John:

“You will indeed drink from my cup, but to sit at my right or left is not for me to grant. These places belong to those for whom they have been prepared by my Father” (Matthew 20:23).

What can we infer from this passage and several others? God knows what He is doing. John and James wanted the seats of honor on either side of Jesus, but were they ready to take the same cup of suffering that Jesus was to take? To be great in the sight of God is to be a servant of all, and to put self on the altar in order to serve even through times of suffering. The way up is the way down. Christ must become greater, and we must become less important. God has seen ahead of time those who, in their heart of hearts want to go all the way with Him. In the preparation of His people, God prepares ahead of time opportunities for His servants to be exercised in their servant hood. He has seen the end from the beginning. He has a picture of the finished product of your life that He is making you to become. You are a product of the choices and responses to different trials that God has prepared in advance for you. When the cup of suffering is handed to you, will you choose to take the way of suffering or will you opt for the easy way out of the trial and compromise your faith?

For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do (Ephesians 2:10).

What does this scripture say? First, it says that God Himself is working on you—you are His workmanship. Secondly, it says that you were created to do certain works that God Himself, outside of time, before the creation of the world, prepared in advance for you to do. Will you allow Him to shape and mold you to be the person you were created to be? Lay your life down before Him today and sincerely ask Him to have His way in your life—you will never regret that decision!

Keith Thomas

Paul the Apostle’s 3 Things Before the Rapture

1Concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our being gathered to him, we ask you, brothers and sisters, 2not to become easily unsettled or alarmed by the teaching allegedly from us—whether by a prophecy or by word of mouth or by letter—asserting that the day of the Lord has already come. 3Don’t let anyone deceive you in any way, for that day will not come until the rebellion occurs and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the man doomed to destruction. 4He will oppose and will exalt himself over everything that is called God or is worshiped, so that he sets himself up in God’s temple, proclaiming himself to be God (2 Thessalonians 2:1-4).

It seems that Paul has received a letter back from the Thessalonian church after his first letter that was in part about the rapture, for he starts out this chapter with the word “concerning.” The Thessalonians had received some communication from some people trying to deceive them into believing that the day of the Lord, and with it, the Rapture, has already happened (Verse 2). They were being told that the persecution they had been enduring (2 Thessalonians 1:4) is the persecution associated with the end time coming of the Lord. It’s interesting that Paul uses the same Greek word, thlipsis, translated in Matthew 24:21 with the word tribulation (King James Version) or distress (New International Version) to describe the persecution that the Thessalonians were enduring at the time Paul was writing. He replies to this false thinking in order to ease their fears that they had missed being caught up (raptured) to the great gathering together with the Lord in the air. It is clear that Paul believes that the Day of the Lord will happen just after the church is caught up to the Lord, as shown in the context of verse 1 and 2. He calls the coming of the Lord and our being gathered to Him as “the day of the Lord” (2 Thessalonians 2:2). He reassures them that they have not missed the rapture by telling them that there are three things that will happen before that day (The Day of the Lord) comes (Verse 3). Continue reading

Is the Great Tribulation the Wrath of God?

9When he opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of those who had been slain because of the word of God and the testimony they had maintained. 10They called out in a loud voice, “How long, Sovereign Lord, holy and true, until you judge the inhabitants of the earth and avenge our blood?” 11Then each of them was given a white robe, and they were told to wait a little longer, until the full number of their fellow servants, their brothers and sisters, were killed just as they had been (Revelation 6:9-11).

In Matthew chapter 24, Jesus was asked as to what would be the sign of His coming and of the end of the age (v.3). Verses 4 through 31 are an outline of the major events that will happen at the time of the end. These verses describe events almost exactly the same as the outline that the Lord gives us in Revelation 6-7 in the opening of the Seals. After chapter 7, the Lord gets into specific details. We are not told that these events all happen in the seven-year period that starts with a peace treaty in the Middle East (Daniel 9:27) over the land of Israel, but it is an assumption on most Bible teachers part. Jesus calls the first three and a half years after that peace covenant is signed “the beginning of birth pains” (Matthew 24:8). As each seal is opened in the Book of Revelation chapter six, a corresponding event happens on the earth that makes the situation on earth so much worse, similar to a woman’s birth pains getting worse as the time for the birth gets near. Continue reading

What is the Great Tribulation?

15“So when you see standing in the holy place ‘the abomination that causes desolation,’ spoken of through the prophet Daniel—let the reader understand— 16then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains. 17Let no one on the housetop go down to take anything out of the house. 18Let no one in the field go back to get their cloak. 19How dreadful it will be in those days for pregnant women and nursing mothers! 20Pray that your flight will not take place in winter or on the Sabbath. 21For then there will be great distress, unequaled from the beginning of the world until now—and never to be equaled again (Matthew 24:15-21).

Many of you have heard of the time that is called the “great tribulation”(KJV), translated as “great distress” in the New International Version of the Bible. Jesus in the passage above warned us about this time. He said that an event He called the “Abomination of Desolation” would precipitate this time of great distress in Israel, and the rest of the world too. So the first big question for us to consider is, what is meant by the term ‘great distress or great tribulation? What will happen at that time? Continue reading

What Limits Has Man Put On You?

2The next Sabbath he began teaching in the synagogue, and many who heard him were astonished. They asked, “Where did he get all his wisdom and the power to perform such miracles? 3He’s just the carpenter, the son of Mary and brother of James, Joseph, Judas, and Simon. And his sisters live right here among us.” They were deeply offended and refused to believe in him (Mark 6:2-3 NLT).

Have you ever felt that someone has put a limit on you as to what they think you can do? You, as well as I, have heard things like “he’ll never amount to much” or words such as “she has always been like that and always will be.”

We must be careful with our words.  Words have great power to create and build up, but also have power to destroy.  I always remember how hurt I was at the tender age of 11 to be referred to as the ugliest kid in a school of over a thousand kids.  It took me a long time to break out of that self-image of being ugly.  What words have you had spoken over you that still limit you today?  The people in the Jewish house of worship were offended at Jesus because he was just a carpenter.  He hasn’t got the right stock, he’s never been to Bible school or seminary, he’s just a carpenter, he’s only good for woodwork, and he has no place in ministry!  People can place limits on us with their words.  We should no longer look at those that have given their lives to Christ in the same way as we once did.  There is awesome potential that has been given to you, by the Spirit of God, if you are a Christian.  Let the lid that has held you down be taken off! Paul, in his second letter to the Corinthian Church told them toregard no one from a worldly point of view” (2 Corinthians 5:16).  What did he mean? I believe he is talking about taking off the limits that we place on one another. Trust that God is well able to make you into the person He has called you to be and trust God that He is able to do that for others too!

Prayer: Lord, I may not be everything you want me to be yet, but please help me to break free from every box that has limited me in my growth to be like Christ.  Let the lid be taken off.

Keith Thomas