The Lord tests hearts: Proverbs 17.3

“The crucible is for refining silver and the furnace is for gold, likewise the Lord tests hearts.”

Proverbs 17.3

What the Lord does in the life of his saints is similiar to the refining fire, to separate impurities in the heart from what is precious to him. The verse urges cooperation with this process.

How is the Lord testing my heart? What moments and situations is he using to purify my heart? How can I best cooperate with his testing?

#votd #Proverbs #trials

VOTD: 2 Peter 2.9

“So you see, the Lord knows how to rescue godly people from their trials, even while keeping the wicked under punishment until the day of final judgment.”

2 Peter 2.9 NLT

This verse is the conclusion to a brief history of God’s rescue of the godly. Start at verse 1.

What trials do you face in the midst of a carnal and rebellious world?

#salvation, #trials, #votd, #world

Remaining faithful through the “Bochim’s” of life

So it was, when the Angel of the Lord spoke these words to all the children of Israel, that the people lifted up their voices and wept. Then they called the name of that place Bochim; and they sacrificed there to the Lord.” (Judges 2:4-5)

The name Bochim (bo-keem’) means weeping, and in case you’ve never noticed, the children of Israel were well accustomed to shedding tears.

In the particular case mentioned above the children of Israel as a whole were on the verge of resting from war and enjoying the land that had been delivered into their hands. But this moment of great joy was preceded by a day of great pain. And for what reason? What were the words of the Lord’s Angel that had cut them so deeply? What was it that changed their shouts of triumph to shouts of grief? What led them to name a location as a reminder of their pain?

It was because they were told that their children would walk away from their God – from the God!

But despite the fact that their children would turn their sin hardened hearts away from the law and grace of God, give special note to what this generation of Israel did in the face of the dreadful news. They stayed near to the Lord with hearts wide open, refusing to sacrifice their faith for their family. In fact, they sacrificed to the God of Heaven and Earth – the God of their Hormah (devotion) and their Bochim (weeping). They remained faithful through this great time of weeping, this great “Bochim” moment of their life.

As I consider the lesson that this section of scripture contains I can’t help but think of the pain that still comes from watching a loved one walk away from God. It can be stifling. It can lead to a branding of certain days in our life as a “Bochim” that’s difficult to accept much less forget. But I believe whole-heartedly that the Lord understands. He knows the pain of loss! He acknowledges the difficulty that lies ahead. While living upon the Earth, the faithful will always face such hurtful faithlessness and we must be prepared for it.

As those who are closest to us make their own decisions concerning their relationship with God let us not forget that if we stay near to his side, if we remember the sacrifice that he offered for us, if we allow the Spirit of God to produce a faithfulness in our heart, soul, mind and strength that refuses to turn back, then God will take care of the tears that came from every “Bochim” moment in our life as we enjoy the privileges of the promised land.

Stay faithful to the Lord my brothers and sisters in Christ.

for the Lamb who is in the midst of the throne will shepherd them and lead them to living fountains of waters. And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.” (Revelation 7:17)

#faithfulness, #family, #parenting, #parenting-difficulties, #trials

OVERWHELMED

Hear my cry, O God; attend unto my prayer.  From the end of the earth will I cry unto thee, when my heart is overwhelmed: lead me to the rock that is higher than I.  For thou hast been a shelter for me, and a strong tower from the enemy.  I will abide in thy tabernacle forever: I will trust in the covert of thy wings.” Selah. (Psalm 61:14).  When my heart is overwhelmed. . .to be over-whelmed means, “to the mind covered or muffled up with sorrow.” [Wilson’s Old Testament Word Studies].  What do we do when our hearts are simply overwhelmed?  This psalm should give comfort to many a person who has struggled in finding words to express to God. The psalmist tells us how to deal with situations such as this.

First of all, we are instructed to pray.  The very thing that we may struggle with is what we are instructed to do. I am reminded of the statement made by the apostle Paul in Romans 8:26, “Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered.”   The psalmist asked God to “attend unto my prayer.”  Listen or give attention to my prayer.  We have that assurance from God’s word in many places.  John states, “And this is the confidence that we have in him, that, if we ask any thing according to his will, he heareth us:” (I John 5:14).  Don’t forget to pray!

Second, remember what God has done for you.  The psalmist proclaimed, “thou hast been a shelter for me.”  Remember all the blessings you have enjoyed, both physical and spiritual.  When we look at what God has done for us, it should help us to face whatever is confronting us at the present time.

Third, we need to abide in the tabernacle. To do so is to be in the presence of God.  We need to stay close to God.  We need to walk closer to God each day of our lives.  Notice another statement found in Psalm 27:5For in the time of trouble he shall hide me in his pavilion: in the secret of his tabernacle shall he hide me; he shall set me up upon a rock.”

Finally, we need to trust God.  We may not understand why certain things happen, but we need faith that is strong enough to trust God.  (Psalm 62:8; Isaiah 26:3,4).

Pray. . . Remember. . . Abide. . . Trust.

Larry Cole – Montrose Church of Christ, Carthage, TN

#faithfulness, #god, #memory, #overwhelmed, #prayer, #trials, #tribulation, #trust

To those who persevere, well done!

Yet again there was war at Gath, where there was a man of great stature, who had six fingers on each hand and six toes on each foot, twenty-four in number; and he also was born to the giant.” (2 Samuel 21:20)

I sure could use an extra finger this morning, an extra thumb really. I cut the thumb on my right hand yesterday pretty good. My thumb is still there, but it’s not doing much!

Have you ever tried to type without using your thumb? Or use a mouse? It doesn’t come very naturally when you’re already used to having it there. There are so many “little” blessings that we can and do take for granted.

I have often felt great admiration for those who persevere through struggles that people with two functioning hands, arms, legs and feet rarely think twice about. I see the great things that they have accomplished in spite of their set-backs and I think about how hard for them it must have been to kick the word “quit” out of their vocabulary. Yet they did. And they’re striving because of it!

In a similar vein, I think about those who are striving to live a Christian life in less than favorable circumstances yet there they are, still hanging in there by God’s grace and perseverance. Every day is a new day in their eyes because this is the day that the Lord has made (Psalm 118:24). And although they carry burdens that I do not, they still manage to allow the yoke of Jesus to carry their burdens to Calvary where they stay (Matthew 11:28-30).

So to those of you who persevere in ways that make “ordinary life” look elementary, well done!

God will repay everyone based on their works. On the one hand, he will give eternal life to those who look for glory, honor, and immortality based on their patient good work.” (Romans 2:6-7 – CEB)

#overcoming-setbacks, #perseverance, #taking-blessings-for-granted, #trials, #works

A Necessary Evil

I cannot stand drama, especially in God’s church. It’s a pet peeve that I desire to see starved. Unfortunately some people thrive off of feeding it!  Anger, jealousies, backbiting, slothfulness and irresponsibility can plague a congregation to death and when concerned Christians see these things happen it can be troubling to say the least. I have wondered to myself several times, “Why does it have to happen?” When things seem to be going good then the bad gets going. But then I remember that troubles in the church are nothing new.

In the midst of the church at Corinth troubled waters were being stirred. Religious divisions were being started (1 Corinthians 1:10-12), brothers and sisters were abusing and being abused by one another (1 Corinthians 6:7,6; 11:20,21), some were living in open sin (1 Corinthians 5:1, 9-11), their gatherings had become chaotic and unruly (1 Corinthians 14:26, 33-35), some were even denying the resurrection (1 Corinthians 15:12) plus much more (1 Corinthians 3:1-3; 4:18; 8:7). Talk about trouble!!!

This craziness was no doubt causing some of the Christians there to wonder why it was all happening. So what was the answer? Paul basically gives it in 1 Corinthians 11:19 – “For there must also be factions [heresies, divisions] among you, that those who are approved may be recognized among you.”

The negative is that the church had to deal with some real problems. None of these things were enjoyable but Paul said that they must happen to prove a point.

Burton Coffman had this to say in his commentary about Paul’s statement:

A glimpse of the divine mind is in this. Christians who become upset and discouraged because of schisms, factions and other disorders in the church make a tragic mistake. As God used Satan in the Paradise of Eden to test the progenitors of the human race, he still tests the faith of all Christians. Church difficulties provide an opportunity for Christians to demonstrate that they are genuine followers of the Lord. God never intended that any man should move through life in a constant environment of encouragement and spiritual delight. There is a place in the experience of every Christian where “the rubber meets the road”; and his response to unfavorable, or even tragic, situations will determine whether or not he is “approved” of God. It should always be remembered that “many are called, but few are chosen.” – James Burton Coffman, Vol. VII, First and Second Corinthians, ACU Press, P.178 

Problems will come and go but whoever stays through them will shine. Problems in the church can separate the spiritually dedicated from the spiritually dead. Paul said the problems would show who was approved of God.

The word approved comes from the Greek word “dokimos” and it has some interesting roots. On a computer program I have, a great insight concerning this word is given:

In the ancient world there was no banking system as we know it today, and no paper money. All money was made from metal, heated until liquid, poured into moulds and allowed to cool. When the coins were cooled, it was necessary to smooth off the uneven edges. The coins were comparatively soft and of course many people shaved them closely. In one century, more than eighty laws were passed in Athens, to stop the practice of shaving down the coins then in circulation. But some moneychangers were men of integrity, who would accept no counterfeit money. They were men of honor who put only genuine full weighted money into circulation. Such men were called “dokimos” or “approved”.” – Donald Barnhouse, The Bible Collection Deluxe, ValuSoft

The evils that face the church from time to time definitely contain some negatives but spiritually they are necessary because approval is something that comes from being tried, and being tried only comes by trails.

Think about it, and don’t be so quick to give up when problems start to get you down. EA

My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience.” (James 1:2-3, NKJV)

#church, #corinth, #divisions, #problems, #tests, #trials, #trouble, #unity

Illustration: Adversity

A daughter complained to her father about her life and how things were so hard for her.  She did not know how she was going to make it and wanted to give up.  She was tired of fighting and struggling.  It seemed as one problem was solved, a new one arose.

Her father, a chef, took her to the kitchen.  He filled three pots with water and placed each on a high fire.  Soon the pots came to a boil.  In one, he placed carrots, in the second he placed eggs, and the last he placed ground coffee beans.  He let them sit and boil, without saying a word. Continue reading

#adversity, #illustrations, #perseverance, #suffering, #trials

Trade struggles, trials?

I don’t have to think about this for a second. The answer is no, I wouldn’t trade the struggles and trials I’ve had for a new set.

The reason why is the struggles and trials that have come my way have been much less trouble than the alternative had I continued living a life in rebellion against God. I don’t even want to think about the things I could have faced and didn’t because my obedience to the gospel secured my freedom from sin to serve the living God (Romans 6:17-18; 1 Thessalonians 1:9). His yoke really is easy and his burden really is light (Matthew 11:28-30).

There’s a song that says it better, “Onward I go rejoicing in his love, I’m in the gloryland way; Soon I shall see him in his home above, O, I’m in the gloryland way.”

Heaven is nearer and the way groweth clearer, for I’m in the gloryland way.

#trials, #trouble

One, yes; the rest I’ll keep

I have one long-term struggle and trial that I would gladly trade. The others, as bad as they are, I suppose I’d keep.

But what would I trade that one struggle for? Another might be worse. One assumes that this Thing that causes so much grief is the most horrible, consequential, shameful, dishonorable, costly of all. Any other struggle must therefore be lighter and more bearable. But would it? It’s probably typical that we think that our pain is the sharpest, our hurt the deepest. However intense the affliction, we have the assurance that our sufferings have a purpose, to refine our souls, and no temptation is greater than we can bear.

Some years ago an Insight blessed my heart and relieved my mind: my struggles do not define who I am; my identity is not wrapped up in my inner conflicts. That was, and is, a liberating thought.

#struggles, #temptations, #trials

A mother is the truest friend we have, w…

A mother is the truest friend we have, when trials heavy and sudden, fall upon us; when adversity takes the place of prosperity; when friends who rejoice with us in our sunshine desert us; when trouble thickens around us, still will she cling to us, and endeavor by her kind precepts and counsels to dissipate the clouds of darkness, and cause peace to return to our hearts.

Washington Irving

#adversity, #cling, #counsel, #desert, #friend, #mother, #peace, #precepts, #prosperity, #sunshine, #trials, #trouble

I live with my 88 yr old aunt and help h…

I live with my 88 yr old aunt and help her in many areas. Last summer, she fell and fractured her hip–spent 100 days in rehab and came home the middle of October. In a related note, my job with security company, the place where I was stationed , the company lost contract. So, I was not working when she came home. I believe the fact that I was able to give full-time to helping her was beneficial . I took off for medical leave to take care of her– I believe that trial, helping her more and more, has helped me grow as a person– to care enough to put your love into practice– to have to do most of things around house. Also, the Lord had blessed that we had some extra funds saved up, so we were/are able to make ends meet.

I’m back to work–though not at 40 hrs–keep both of us in prayers. She is able with a walker to get around the house and do a lot of things by herself. Sorry for the rambling answer

#spiritual-growth, #trials

Trials That Make One Stronger

It would be hard for me to single out one specific trial that has made me stronger, because all of them have. From trials of grief, trials as a result of my own creation, to physical trials. This is why Proverbs 3:5-6 “Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.” means a lot to me. I am also mindful of Ph 4:6-7 “do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” and also Ph 4:4 “Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice.”

#trials

Daily Nudge: trials — and news

“What trial has made you strong?” asks the Daily Nudge this fine Tuesday morning, notwithstanding Laura’s groans at the light of dawn. The store running out of coffee does not qualify as a trial, by the way.

The question, obviously, echoes such passages as James 1:12: “God blesses those who patiently endure testing and temptation. Afterward they will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him” (NLT).

I hope I’ve not asked this before. After a while, we see the bottom of the barrel and start scraping.

For some unfathomable reason, I can’t access the BNc site and I’ve not heard from Barbara Ann since yesterday. She’s been doing a lot of traveling before her trip to Costa Rica. Can anybody tell me if brother Jim Bill McInteer’s obituary has made it online yet? http://brotherhoodnews.com

I’ve heard several brothers give testimony to his wonderful character and to his firmness in face of doctrinal failure. May his legacy remain!

#news, #trials

The God of ALL Comfort

2 Cor 1:3-5Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction so that we will be able to comfort those who are in any affliction with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.

This is one of the verses that help us to understand how God comforts us and how by going through trials in our lives we are later able to help other in their trials. Our Heavenly Father is the God of ALL comfort, not just some comfort. He is the “Father of mercies,” who pours out His love on us. One verse says that He lavishes His love on us. We sometimes wonder why God allows trials in our lives. We wonder why He allows our loved ones to not get better and eventually pass way. It is so that we can have that experience and so that we can comfort someone later. When we say to one who has lost a loved one or is going through trials, “I know how you feel,” we, sometimes do not know. But If we say it in love, the person understand. But if we have experienced the same, we can be a person of encouragement like Barnabas in the book of Acts who was known as the “son of encouragement.” So, let’s thank our Heavenly Father that He loves us so much and is always a God of all comfort.

#comfort, #encouragement, #trials

Life has a way of shaking us, even those…

Life has a way of shaking us, even those who are rooted and grounded in the good news of Jesus. Sometimes the hardest trials are those that constantly remain and seem to have no end in sight. My recent request of God is that he grants my brother, James, who has faced one test after another, strength from his Spirit – that Christ may continue to dwell in his heart, a better understanding of Christ’s love, and that he would be filled with all the fullness of God, which leads to spiritual maturity. Not only do I ask this of God for my brother alone, but also for all members of Christ’s body. Amen!

#prayer, #trials