TESTS OF FAITH

“If you possess real faith, even in the smallest degree, expect faith’s conflict and trial. The existence of faith seems to necessarily imply the endurance of suffering—not because of an intrinsic defeat in faith, but in consequence of impurity of the heart in which that faith is lodged. The trials and temptations, therefore, with which God visits His people are designed as tests of faith” Octavius Winslow (ref#135, March 26th).

“You know that under pressure, your faith-life is forced into the open and shows its true colors. So don’t try to get out of anything prematurely. Let it do its work so you become mature and well-developed, not deficient in any way” (James 1:2-4 MSG).

GOD constrains us but that doesn’t mean the thing will be easy to do. We’ll have to be very sensitive to the situations He puts in our lives to bolster our faith enough that we will be willing to do the thing.

[A] person because of the conscious sense of his relation to God bears up under pain, suffering unjustly. [T]o this very thing were you called [namely, to patient endurance in the case of unjust punishment], because Christ also suffered on your behalf, leaving behind for you a model to imitate, in order that by close application you might follow in His footprints” (1Peter 2:19, 21 Wuest).

“[F]or a little while [I have been] grieved by various trials so that the tested genuineness of [my] faith may be found to result in praise and glory and honor” (1 Pet 1:6-7 ESV).

GRACE MUST BE TRIED

“If anyone is to be taken captive, to captivity he goes; if anyone is to be slain with the sword, with the sword he must be slain. Here is a call for the endurance and faith of the saints” (Rev:13:10 ESV).

The Trial of Faith

Jehovah has said, ‘tis left on record,

‘The righteous are one with Jesus the Lord;’

At all times he loves them; ‘twas for them he died;

Yet ofttimes he proves them, for grace must be tried.

When faint in the way, or lifeless and cold,

Or sunk in dismay, and none to uphold;

Yet firm to his promise thy God shall abide;

But grace, though the smallest, shall surely be tried.

[Temptations and sins in legions shall rise,

As spears in thy side or thorns in thy eyes;

And oft, to thy sorrow, his face he shall hide,

For God has determined his grace shall be tried.]

With him on the mount today thou shalt be,

Indulged by thy Lord his glory to see;

There he may caress thee, and call thee his bride,

Yet grace, though he bless thee, shall surely be tired.

[The tempest shall blow, the billows shall swell,

Thy soul, full of woe, shall pass as through hell;

And all this to prove thee, to stain thy cursed pride;

Yet still he will love thee; but grace must be tried.]

He’ll ne’er thee forsake, but surely perform

His word though he take his way in the storm;

Yea, oft in the clouds of dejection he’ll ride,

For he has determined his grace shall be tried.

As gold from the flame, he’ll bring thee at last,

To praise him for all through which thou hast past;

Then love everlasting thy griefs shall repay,

And God from thy eyes wipe all sorrows away” J. Kent (ref#224, song#297).

“Count if all joy when you meet trials of various kinds, for the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing” (James 1:2-4 ESV).

IN FAITH WE WAIT

“Faith listens neither to Presumption, nor to Despair, nor to Cowardice, nor to Hastiness, but it hears God say, ‘Stand still”; and immovable as a rock, it stands. ‘Stand still.’ Keep the posture of an upright man; ready for action, expecting further orders, cheerfully and patiently awaiting the directing voice. It will not be long before God will say to you, as distinctly as He told Moses to say it to the people of Israel, ‘Go forward’ (Exod. 14:15)” Charles Spurgeon (ref#34, July 24th AM).

In faith we wait. “For through the Spirit, by faith, we ourselves eagerly wait for the hope of righteousness” (Gal 5:5 ESV).

So, instead of following the commandments of the law we wait—by just waiting we obtain righteousness. If you have never waited for righteousness, waiting sounds too simple but it is the hardest thing anyone does.

While we wait GOD orchestrates affliction upon affliction into our lives. Challenges, temptations, everyday uncomfortable situations—He presses us as much as we can take and even more, to the point He may have to come and save us (1 Cor 10:13).

We must live on faith that what is happening to us is good. We understand that our glorious FATHER afflicts in love for He must put an end to our self who loves unrighteousness—who loves to tote self above everything.

He makes us righteous by reminding us that He has put our old way of life to death. We learn to run to CHRIST who is the One who saves us from the overwhelming affliction. Our goal is to learn to depend entirely on CHRIST, shunning self.

And, our waiting for righteous is a constant; we never arrive—we never graduate out of affliction on this earth for our old self, at any moment, can rise up threatening to rule us again plummeting us back into unrighteousness by convincing us we can be righteous by following rules.

“Consider the lilies, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass, which is alive in the field today, and tomorrow is thrown into the over, how much more will he clothe you, O you of little faith” (Luke 12:27-28 ESV).

GOING THROUGH AFFLICTION SPIRIT LED

“Without [God] all within me is terror and dismay, in him every accusation is charmed into joy and peace” The Valley of Vision (ref#76, p158).

“Suffering brings discouragements, because of our impatience. But if God brings us into the trial he will be with us in the trial, and at length brings us out, more refined. We shall lose nothing but dross (Zech 13:9). From our own strength we cannot bear the least trouble, but by the Spirit’s assistance we can bear the greatest. The Spirit will add his shoulders to help us to bear our infirmities. The Lord will give his hand to heave us up (Ps 37:24)” Richard Sibbes (ref#311, p54-55).

“If we do a thing in order to overcome depression, we deepen the depression; but if the Spirit of God makes us feel intuitively that we must do the thing, and we do it, the depression is gone” Oswald Chambers (ref#7, Feb 17th).

“You carry a hell around with you. Although you are regenerate, there is much of the old man in the new man. [O]ne reason why God has left original sin in us, so that it can be a thorn in our side to humble us. Under our silver wings of grace are black feet. Let the sense of this make us daily look up to heaven for help. Beg Christ’s blood to wash away the guilt of sin, and His Spirit to mortify the power of it. Beg further degrees of grace. [T]hough grace cannot make sin not to be, yet it makes it not to reign; though grace cannot expel sin it can repel it” Thomas Watson (ref#225, Aug 1st).

“”[T]he Spirit sanctifies the soul through the medium of God’s afflictive dispensations. They deepen the work of grace in the heart, awaken the soul from its spiritual drowsiness, empty it, humble it, and lay it low, and thus lead to prayer, to self-examination, and to the atoning blood once more. In this way, and by these means, the believer advances in holiness ‘through sanctification of the Spirit.’ [W]e are being made perfect through suffering. The heart has been emptied of its self-confidence. The affections that were seduced from God have returned to their rest; the ties that bound us to the vanities of a world, perishing in its very use, have become loosened; the engagements that absorbed our sympathies and secularized our minds have lost their fascination and their power; the beguiling and treacherous enjoyments that wove their spell around us have grown tasteless and insipid. And thus by all these blessed and hallowed results of our trial, the image of the earthly has become more entirely effaced and the image of the heavenly more deeply engraved and more distinctly legible” Octavius Winslow (ref#135, Dec 8th).

“All praise to the God and Father of our Master, Jesus the Messiah! Father of all mercy! God of all healing counsel! He comes alongside us when we go through hard times. We have plenty of hard times that come from following the Messiah, but no more so than the good times of his healing comfort—we get a full measure of that, too” (2 Cor 1:3-5 MSG).

COMFORT FOR THE CAST DOWN

“Give ear to my words, O LORD, consider my groaning. Give attention to the sound of my cry, my King and my God, for to you do I  pray. O LORD, in the morning you hear my voice; in the morning I prepare a sacrifice for you and watch” (Ps 5:1-3 ESV).

“How does God comfort those who are cast down? His methods are various. He adapts the comfort to the sorrow. He first writes the sentence of death on any comfort other than Himself. He suspended all human channels of comfort to prepare you for the fulfillment of His own exceeding great and precious promise: ‘I even I, am he that comforteth you’ (Isa 51;12). Be sure that it is God and not man who comforts you—that your consolation is divine, and not human. It may be the duty of your minister and privilege of your friend to speak a promise to your ear, and to spread out before you the riches of divine comfort in the Word; but it is the prerogative of the Holy Spirit alone to apply the promise and to give a heartfelt possession of those comforts. Let no one comfort you except God Himself” Octavius Winslow (ref#135, May 22nd).

“[T]he commandment is a lamp and the teaching a light, and the reproofs of discipline are the way of life” (Prov 6:23 ESV).

“Divinely loved ones [divinely love by God], stop thinking that the smelting process which is [operating] among you and which has come to you for the purpose of testing [you], is a thing alien to you, but insofar as you share in common with the sufferings of Christ, be rejoicing, in order that also at the time of the unveiling of His glory, you may rejoice exultingly. In view of the fact that you have cast in your teeth, as it were, revilings because of the Name of Christ, spiritually prosperous [are you], because the Spirit of the Glory, even the Spirit of God, is resting with refreshing power upon you” (1 Pet 4:12-14 Wuest).

Overwhelming affliction

Insurmountable problems

Revel in them, revel

Revel, I say, revel.

For surely they will end

Then surely I will say,

“It was not by my own hand (Jud 7:2)”

But the LORD that helped me stand.

STRENGTH FOR EACH DAY

“But even the hairs of your head are all numbered” (Matt 10:30 ESV).

“[R]emember Psalm 139: ‘Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there were none of them’ (v16). [E]very single day of your life was written into God’s book before you lived the very first of them. He carefully authored the content of every one of those days with his own hand. This is where rest and courage are to be found when discouragement shakes the resolve of your heart” Paul David Tripp (ref#190, July 1st).

“[Y]ou lifted me out of the depths. I called to you for help and you healed me” (Ps 30:1-2 NIV).

As Thy Days, So Shall Thy Strength Be

“Afflicted saint, to Christ draw near,

Thy Saviour’s gracious promise hear;

His faithful word declares to thee,

That as thy days, thy strength shall be.

Let not thy heart despond, and say,

‘How shall I stand the trying day?’

He has engaged, by firm decree,

That as thy days, thy strength shall be.

Thy faith is weak, thy foes are strong;

And if the conflict should be long,

Thy Lord will make the tempter flee;

For as thy days, thy strength shall be.

Should persecution rage and flame,

Still trust in thy Redeemer’s name;

In fiery trials thou shalt see,

That as thy days, thy strength shall be.

When called to bear the weighty cross,

Or sore affliction, pain, or loss,

Or deep distress, or poverty,

Still, as thy days, thy strength shall be”  J. Fawcett (ref#224, song #328).

OVERWHELMED WITH GRIEF

Safety in God

“When, overwhelmed with grief,

My heart within me dies,

Helpless and far from all relief,

To heaven I lift my eyes.

O lead me to the Rock

That’s high above my head.

And make the covert of thy wings

My shelter and my shade!

Within thy presence, Lord,

For ever I’d abide;

Thou art the Tower of my defense,

The Refuge where I hide.          Isaac Watts (ref#224, song #140).

“Turn every loss of creature-good into an occasion for greater nearness to Christ. The dearest and liveliest creature is only a cistern of inferior and limited good. If it contains any sweetness, the Lord put it there. If, instead of leading you to, it draws you from the Fountain, the Lord will, in unerring wisdom, tender mercy, and faithful love, break it so that you can learn that, while no creature can substitute for Him, He Himself can substitute for all creatures. Thus His friendship, His love, and His presence are frequently the sweetest and most fully enjoyed when He has taken everything else away. Jesus loves you far too much to allow another, however dear, to eclipse and rival Him” Octavius Winslow (ref#135, March 21st).

“The LORD is good, a stronghold in the day of trouble; he knows those who take refuge in him” (Nahum 1:7 ESV).

“When you pass through the waters, [He] will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you. For [He is] the LORD your God” (Isa 43:2-3 ESV).

GOD’S COMFORT IN AFFLICTION

“No test or temptation that comes your way is beyond the course of what others have had to face. All you need to remember is that God will never let you down; he’ll never let you be pushed past your limit; he’ll always be there to help you come through it” (1 Cor 10:13 MSG).

“Tried soul, go to this unfailing spring of comfort. God speaks to you in it. It is the unsealing of the heart of Jesus; it is the still small voice of the Spirit. It speaks to you. It bids you ‘cast thy burden upon the LORD, and he shall sustain thee’ (Ps 55:22). Call on Him in the day of trouble, and He will answer you (Ps 86:7). It assures you that, amid all your confusing cares, ‘He careth for you’ (1 Pet 5:7). It promises you that, for your difficult path, your ‘shoes shall be iron and brass; and as thy days, so shall thy strength be’ (Deut 33:25)” Octavius Winslow (ref#135, Dec 13th).

“If [you are] journeying to the heavenly kingdom, [your] path lies through much tribulation. [I]f [your] sufferings abound, much more so do [your] consolations” Octavius Winslow (ref#135, Jan 28th).

“Our soul waits for the LORD; he is our help and our shield. For our heart is glad in him, because we trust in his holy name” (Ps 33:20-21 ESV).

“[T]he more we are afflicted with adversity, the surer we are made of our fellowship with Christ” John Calvin (ref#113, p458).

IN GRIEF, JESUS PITIES

“For all whom the Lord has chosen and received into the society of his saints, ought to prepare themselves for a life that is hard, difficult, laborious, and full of countless griefs. It is the will of their heavenly Father to try them in this manner that he may test them. He began with Christ his firstborn son and he pursues this manner with all his children” John Calvin (ref#313, p45).

“Christ is exceedingly ready to pity us. His arms are open to receive us. He delights to receive distressed souls who come to Him and to protect them. He would gather them as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings; it is a work that He exceedingly rejoices in because He delights in act of love, and pity, and mercy” Jonathan Edwards (ref#229, p106).

“And you that are mourning over those that have been lately taken from you, Jesus pities you. Jesus wept, he sympathizes with your tears. He will dry them and give you consolation. ‘He was moved with compassion.’” Charles Spurgeon.

“Christ, ‘is inclined from his own heart and affections to give us help and relief and he is inwardly moved during our sufferings and trials with a sense and fellow-feeling of them.’” (John Owen) If you are in Christ, you have a Friend who, in your sorrow, will never lob down a pep talk from heaven. He cannot bear to hold himself at a distance. Nothing can hold him back. His heart is too bound up with yours” Dane Ortlund (ref#382, p49-50).

“Grief never ends, but it changes. It is a passage, not a place to stay. Grief is not a sign of weakness, nor a lack of faith, it is the price of love” Darcie Sims.

“Oh, what glory is brought to Jesus by a life of faith! Who can fully measure it? Taking to Him the corruption as it is discovered, the guilt as it rises, the grief as it is felt, the cross as it is experienced, the wound as it is received—indeed, simply following the example of John’s disciples, who, when their master was slain, took up his headless body, buried it, and then went and poured their grief in Jesus’ ear and laid their deep sorrow on His heart” Octavius Winslow (ref#135, July 14th).

“It is lawful to wish we were well; it is natural to groan, being burdened; but still [God] must and will take his own course with us; and, however dissatisfied with ourselves, we ought still to be thankful that he has begun his work in us, and to believe that he will also make an end. Therefore while we mourn, we should likewise rejoice; we should encourage ourselves to expect all that he has promised; and we should limit our expectations by his promises” John Newton (ref#322, p180).

“Honestly facing your lack of sovereignty over your own life produces either anxiety or relief. In all of those moments when life is out of your control, it is not out of his control” Paul David Tripp (ref#190, Mar 13th).

UNCOMFORTABLE GRACE

“There will always be mystery in your life. God will always surprise you with what he brings your way. You will always be confronted with the unplanned and the unexpected” Paul David Tripp (ref#190, Feb 18th).

“God has chosen to let you live in this fallen world because he plans to employ the difficulties of it to continue and complete his work in you. [W]e cry out for God’s grace and we get it—but not the grace that we’re looking for. We want the grace of relief or release. We get those in little pieces, but largely they are yet to come. What we all really need right now is the grace of transformation, the theology of uncomfortable grace” Paul Daivd Tripp (ref#190, March 8th).

“It must be our desire, therefore, if we want to be disciples of Christ, to fill our minds with such a great reverence for God and with such an unrestrained obedience that we may triumph over all contrary inclinations, and submit to his plan” John Calvin (ref#313, p63).

“May the Master take you by the hand and lead you along the path of God’s love and Christ’s endurance” (2 Thes 3:4-5 MSG).

“Whatever be the kind of tribulation with which we are afflicted, we may be trained to despise the present, and thereby stimulated to aspire to the further life” John Calvin (ref#113, p464).

“Before I was afflicted I went astray but now I keep your word” (Ps 119:67 ESV). “I have sworn an oath and confirmed it, to keep your righteous rules” (Ps 119:106 ESV).