Summary: We tend to get what we expect out of life. According to our faith, it will be done to us. Here are four ways that God tests our faith.
The last few Sundays I have presented three sermons were part of a four-part sermon series based on the question – “Where is God and What’s He Doing in All these Troubles?
- Part One – “Where Is God in Our World”: We considered the question of Where is God in a Coronavirus World?
- Part Two – “In the Midst of Trust and Faith”: The pandemic we have today is a great
opportunity for us to show our faith and hope of Christian life.
- Part Three – “Calming the Storm”: How many disasters like COVID-19 have felt like a raging
storm? God’s word helps us to understand the storm and He is in the midst of the COVID-19.
Today we look at Part Four – “How God Tests Our Faith”. We tend to get what we expect out of life. According to our faith, it will be done to us. According to Vance Havner: “Faith will not always get for us what we want, but it will get what God wants us to have.”
The whole Law was given to Moses in 613 precepts. David, in Psalm 15 brings them all within the compass of eleven. Isaiah reduces them to six; Micah to three; and Isaiah, in a later passage, to two. But Habakkuk condenses them all into one: “The just will love by faith!” Top of Form
Bottom of Form
The Bible says in Matthew 9:29 “According to your faith it will be done unto you.”
For many Christians that’s one of their favorite BIBLER verses. What are you expecting God to do in your life? This is the law that God has established. It’s called the Law of Expectation.
The fact is, we tend to get what we expect out of life. We tend to see what we expect to see. We tend to hear what we expect to hear. We tend to feel the way we expect to feel. We inevitably accomplish what we expect what we’re going to accomplish – This is the law of faith. And God says you get to choose – – Because “According to your faith it will be done unto you.”
Another important verse on faith in the Bible is Hebrews 11:6. “Without faith it is impossible to please God.”
How many of you are parents? How many of you are pleased when your children trust you? God is the same way. God is our heavenly Father and God is pleased when we trust Him. That’s why the Bible says without faith it’s impossible to please God.
You can obey God – – You can do the right thing and still not be pleasing God because you’re not doing it in faith. So, it’s important to learn how to live expectantly as you learn to live by faith.
The Bible says in Romans 14, “Whatever is not of faith, is sin.” Because that’s true we need to talk about how do we grow in our faith.
In Luke 17:5 the apostle said to Jesus, “Lord increase our faith.” How do you do that? I’d like to have more faith. I know you’d like to have more faith. If that’s what pleases God then I want to have more of it.
The question is how? If faith is what makes my life rewarding and fulfilling and confident how does God build my faith?
Let me ask you this:
- do you take vitamins for it? No.
- Is there some kind of therapy you go through to have your faith built? No.
- Is there some seminar that’s going to build your faith? No, not really.
III. The Secret of Faith.
Here’s the secret – And it’s not really something you’re real excited about when you first hear it.
But the truth is – God builds your faith and my faith by testing it. He builds our faith by putting it to the test – by trying it. Faith is like a muscle and when it’s stretched and it’s pulled then it develops. When you test your muscles against weights then your muscles develop & they grow stronger And your faith develops as it is tested. You don’t develop your faith just setting on your blessed ass – urance in a church pew.
James 1:3 says this “The testing of your faith [circle this] develops perseverance [circle “develops perseverance”] so that you may be mature and complete.”
He says the purpose of these tests is that our faith – our perseverance will grow and will be mature and complete. Job says the same thing speaking from experience in Job 7:17-18 – “What is man that You make so much of him and that You give him so much attention and that You examine him every morning and test him every moment.” [Circle “test him.”]
Did you realize that God is testing you every moment of your life? The Purpose Driven Life book talks about how life is a test and it is temporary assignment and it’s a trust. These are the facts of life – Every moment of the day your faith is being tested. In fact, all this past week it was tested and all this next week your faith is going to be tested.
Every day you have faith building opportunities. The problem is most of us don’t recognize them when they’re there. We flunk the test because we don’t even realize it is a test and that God is trying to help us grow.
So if God wants me to live by faith – and if God builds my faith by testing it then the natural question is how does God do it?
IV. Four Faith Tests.
I want to give you the four ways that God tests our faith so that you’ll be aware of them. Actually, there are more than these but I just want to cover the most common ways that God tests and builds our faith.
You’ll probably get tested on every one of them this week. Count on it – In fact – you’ll probably have all of them sometimes in a day. As I introduce them to you –
I want you to evaluate yourself on each of these tests of faith from one to ten. For example – How quickly do I praise God when things go wrong?
- If you say “never”, you rate yourself at the bottom – “1” or “0”.
- If you say “Sometimes I thank God, I praise God in the problem,”
you get a “5”.
- If you say, “I always do it. It’s my habit to continually rejoice
when I’m dealing with a difficulty because I know God
will help me.” You get a “10.”
A. God Tests Our Faith Through Difficulties.
God tests our faith through difficulties. That’s trials, problems, pressures, tough circumstances. All the stresses of life. 1 Peter 1:6-7 says, “For a little while you have had to suffer great and all kinds of trials. These have come so that your faith may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed.”
That’s a very powerful verse. The trials and the problems and the difficulties that come into your life come to test your faith and to prove your faith. Nothing ever happens by accident in the life of a follower of Jesus Christ. Everything is “Father filtered”. Please don’t misunderstand me – I’m not saying that God plans all the bad things that happens to you. He doesn’t have to because We live in a broken world. A lot of problems we bring on ourselves and things like that. A lot of problems other people bring on us and we’re innocent victims. If you’re a child of God – What I am saying is that nothing comes into your life without God’s permission. It couldn’t happen without God’s permission. There are no accidents in the Christian life. There are accidents in life – Of course there are. But God uses them and our disappointments are His appointments.
Sometimes God has to custom make a problem to teach you faith – to test you.
Jonah had a custom-made problem. It just swallowed him up and got his attention. Sometimes God creates problems that swallow you up. You say, “There’s nothing else to look at except the Lord.” And I’m sure that’s the way Jonah felt. In fact, in Jonah 2:7 the Bible says, “When I lost all, I once again turned my thoughts to God.”
God uses these kinds of things to test our faith. If life were easy then it wouldn’t require any faith. If you could feel God all the time then you’d just go by your feelings. Sometimes God removes His feelings – the feelings of His presence – just so you learn to trust Him in the difficulties.
Here’s a great verse when you’re going through tough times. Is. 48:10 “I have refined you though not as silver. I have tested you in the furnace of affliction.”
What is the furnace of affliction? You’ve been there. It’s when the heat’s on – When the heats on it’s a real test. How are you doing in the furnace of affliction? Are you feeling the heat right now? Have you felt it this past week? Are you under pressure? Is it getting a little hot under the collar?
The Bible frequently compares our problems and difficulties to a furnace – The furnace of a refiner’s fire who heats it up so high that the gold and silver melt and all the impurities are burned away.
I heard of an old silversmith who was once asked, “How do you know when the impurities are burned away in the silver?” He said, “When I can see my reflection in the silver.”
When God can see His reflection in you then He knows that the impurities in your life have been burned away. That’s a test.
So, what should I do when I’m going through difficulties? How should I respond? The Bible tells us when the problems come that God’s trying to test my faith – James 1:2-3 – “Consider it pure joy… whenever you face trials of many kinds because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance.”
He says when you’ve got a problem relax. In fact, he says – rejoice – Take it easy – Thank God – Praise God. Why? Because I know that God is with me. God has a plan for me. He has a purpose for my life and He’s going to help me through it. God’s purpose is greater than the pain or the problem or the difficulty I’m going through right now. This is the first lesson. If I want to learn to live by faith I must learn to rejoice continually.
James says “Consider it all joy when you go through problems.” Notice he doesn’t say be thankful for the problems. God doesn’t expect you to thank Him for bad things in your life. Like if you get cancer you don’t say “Thank You God, for this cancer” – Of course not. It says, “be thankful IN the problem.” I must learn to rejoice in the situation continually if I’m going to learn to live by faith.
The Bible says “Rejoice in the Lord always [That means all the time] And again I say rejoice,” because God uses difficulties. And He tests our faith and He builds it not in the easy times of life but in the difficult times.
B. God Tests Our Faith Through Difficulties.
Here’s the 2nd test of faith – God tests our faith through demands. He asks us to do things that are seemingly impossible.
There are, in just the New Testament – 1,050 commands for believers to obey. Of all these commands, some of them seem unreasonable. Some of them seem inconvenient. Some of them seem downright impossible.
So, what do you do when you have an impossible command that feels like a demand?
They are there and you realize they are there to test our faith. When you have a command and it seems like I can’t do that – the issue at that moment is – Who am I going to believe? Who is it I’m going to trust? Am I going to believe what God says to do or am I going to believe what I think is right to do?
All of the promises – all of the commands are there to test us. Some of them may seem simple at first but when you look at them that is demanding. A command like “Don’t worry about anything.” Anybody struggle with that one? That can be a tough one. Or a command like “Do good to your enemies.” Or “Forgive other people.” Or “Be thankful in everything.” How about, “Love your neighbor as yourself”?
Every time God gives us a command in the Bible it is a demand that is placed on our life and it’s a test. Like “Confess your faults to one another.” That’s a test.
The test is am I going to trust what God says to do – what He says is right – Or am I going to trust my own opinion – what I think is right in my own eyes? There are literally hundreds of examples in the Bible
of people that God said, “Do this” and they trusted Him because they had faith regardless if it made sense or not.
Often God asks us to do the impossible. Why? He wants to grow our faith. For example:
- A guy by the name of Abraham – seventy-five years old and about to hang it up and God said I want to take you out somewhere to make a difference in this world. I want you to go somewhere where you’ve never been, you don’t even know where you’re going. Abraham says, “Where exactly am I going?” God says, “I’ll tell you.” “How am I going to get there?” “I’ll show you.” “How will I know when I get there?” “When you get there I’ll tell you that you’ve gotten there.” So, the Bible says in Hebrews 11:8 “By faith Abraham obeyed and went.”
- A guy by the name of Noah. God comes to Noah one day and says, “Noah, I’ve got a demand. I want you to build an ark because it’s going to rain.” Remember Noah lived in the middle of a desert and it had never rained. Water came up from the ground, a mist. It had never rained. And God says, “Noah, I want you to build an ark.” The Bible says, “By faith Noah built an ark.”
Faith is often a risk and When it’s a risk it means you can’t understand it all in advance. Why would God do that? He’s not just interested in making us comfortable – helping us to see all the directions and points on the map. He’s wanting to test and grow our faith. God tests our faith through difficulties and through demands.
What’s the lesson with this one? If you want to learn to live by faith you must learn to not only rejoice continually but to learn to obey immediately. When God says it – do it. Whether I understand it or not – whether it makes sense or not – do it.
How are you doing on that one — one to ten. Evaluate. Circle one. How quickly do you do what God tells you to do? That’s the question.
- Do you do it just when it’s convenient? Give yourself a “1”.
- Do you struggle with it maybe a while? Maybe quite a while and then do it? Give yourself a “5”. Too often I get a “5”.
- Or maybe you’re learning more and more to do it instantly, to do it unquestioningly. Then give yourself a “10”.
C. God Tests Our Faith with Dollars.
Here is a third way God tests our faith. God tests our faith with dollars – I’m talking about money.
Did you know that money is one of the greatest tests of faith in your life?
Few people understand how God uses our material possessions as a test of character and a test of faith. For many people finances are the greatest of all. They have no idea that God is actually testing them when they get into debt – When they’re going through problems. When they’re asked to give.
All of these things have to do with faith – Luke 16:11 Jesus says this, “If you haven’t been trustworthy in handling worldly wealth, [That’s dollars, that’s money] who will trust you with true riches?”
What is Jesus talking about here? He’s giving a truth that’s taught all through scripture that there is a definite, direct relationship between how I handle my money and the spiritual depth in my life. There is a direct connection. In fact, Jesus says if I’m not faithful in handling material wealth He will not trust me with spiritual wealth. If I’m not faithful with my possessions He will not trust me with spiritual power. Money is a test and I can check out my checkbook to find out how I’m doing.
All the way back in the New Testament Paul wrote this in 2 Corinthians 8:7-8 “…Excel in the grace of giving. I’m not commanding you but I want to test the sincerity of your love…”
The lesson is if I want to grow in faith I not only have to rejoice continually, I have to obey immediately and I must give generously. That’s the third way that God tests our faith.
You can do your own evaluation on this one.
D. God Tests Our Faith Through Difficulties.
Here’s the fourth test of faith. God tests our faith through delays. If every prayer were immediately answered – if your every need were automatically met – if every problem were instantly solved you wouldn’t need faith and your faith wouldn’t need to be stretched – But it is not that way. We have to wait on things – It is human nature that we hate to wait. And I detest having to wait.
Do you do this? You’re driving up to a red light and there are two cars there one in each lane. As you’re driving up you’re figuring out, which one is going to get off faster. I’m going to get behind that one now. Do you do that? We hate to wait. We hate waiting in lines. We hate traffic. We hate everything about waiting. Doctor’s offices.
Yet a large percent of your life is spent waiting. I was doing my devotions last week and discovered the encyclopedia of how long things take. A lot of waiting is the little trivial things. So, if you want some trivia for the day here is some definite trivia.
- It takes six seconds to fold a terry cloth towel.
Think of how much of your life you spend folding terrycloth towels.
- It takes ten seconds for a slinky to tumble down a flight of stairs.
- It takes ten minutes for a snowflake to form.
- It takes one hour and forty-seven minutes to watch the movie Ishtar.
Wasted minutes in your life.
- It takes thirteen hours for weekly food preparation for the average American family.
- It takes twenty-four hours for plaque to colonize on your teeth.
Aren’t you glad to know that?
- It takes eighty hours and forty-two minutes to complete the household tasks
in a family who have children under twelve. No wonder you’re so tired.
- It takes one week for bacon to lose its freshness in a refrigerator at thirty-two degrees. Not in my house – bacon doesn’t last a week.
This is profound life changing stuff – Wouldn’t you agree? These are the kinds of waiting things – the trivia of life – the irritations of life – – Yes – God can grow us through those irritating times of waiting no doubt about it. But the times He really grows us through waiting is the times they’re life tests. Waiting for something you never wanted to wait for.
A good example of this again is the people of Israel in the Old Testament as they’re on their way from Egypt to the Promised Land. could have made it in two or three weeks – But it ended up taking them forty years. Why? Because God was more interested in developing their faith than in getting them there the fastest way.
Isaiah 64:4 “God acts on behalf of those who wait for Him.” It pays to be patient. Just remember this: while you are waiting God is working behind the scenes – in your heart and other people’s hearts.
How are you doing on this one?
- “I don’t wait at all. I give up.” Or if after the first few minutes or the first few months you find yourself giving up then give yourself a “0” or “1” on this one.
- If you’re one of those people, you wait on God but you grumble and complain the whole time then you get a “2”. That’s all you get for the grumbling and complaining.
- But if you’re learning to keep on believing. You find yourself living expectantly in waiting on God, give yourself a “10”.
Before we end, I want to look again at the verse at the beginning. Do you really want God to increase your faith? The apostle said in Luke 17:5 “Lord increase our faith.”
Are you willing to pray that very dangerous prayer: “God, increase my faith.” If you are then let’s get practical about it. Which of these four areas that we talked about do you need to specifically pray for God to increase your faith? Many of you may need to pray, “God, I need You to increase my faith even through the difficulties of life, the struggles of life.” Maybe that’s the area God is working to increase your faith right now. Maybe God’s testing your faith right now through demands. Maybe God’s testing your faith through dollars.
Maybe you’re facing the test of a delay. God’s encouragement to you again and again in the Bible is,
Don’t give up. Look up to God. And realize that He is with you.
As you and I wait on Him He not only increases our faith but He works out His plan. So pray: Lord, help me to wait patiently. As we end, I’d like to give you the chance to personally have a few minutes with God and talk to Him. (A Moment of Silence)
If you pray a prayer of faith – God will be smiling on you. Because the Bible says He is pleased whenever we trust Him. Without faith it is impossible to please God but by faith we please the heart of God. So today He’s smiling on you.