Faith in the Testing of Time

(Genesis 22; Job 1:8-9; I Peter 1: 7)

Blessed is the man who is patient under trial and stands up under temptation, for when he has stood the test and been approved, he will receive the crown of life which God has promised to those who love Him (James 1:12).

“For when he has stood the test and been approved” there will be a crown waiting for him, the crown of life which has been promised by God Himself to those who love Him,  shown in action of obedience and endurance. The crown of life is the crown that will be given to those who endure trials and martyrdom for their faith. “Be faithful unto death, and I will give you the crown of life” (Rev. 2:10).

In his testing of faith, the Patriarch Abraham answered the Lord’s calling by saying, Here I am!  This is such a gesture of submission it cannot be ignored. Abraham had a friend’s relationship with God. His walk of faith confirmed it, and the fact that God Himself so expressed in Genesis 18:19: For I have known him [as My own], so that he may teach and command his children and the sons of his house after him to keep the way of the Lord and to do what is just and righteous, so that the Lord may bring Abraham what He has promised him. Abraham did not know about the test of faith he was about to go through at God’s calling his name. “Here I am”   he answered. The Lord then commanded  him saying, Take your son, your only son, whom you loveand go to the region of Moriah; and offer him there as a burnt offering upon one of the mountains of which I will tell you ( Gen. 22:2).

Obedience

                                                            (Matt.28:7-10)

Then go quickly and tell His disciples, He has risen from the dead, and behold, He is going before you to Galilee; there you will see Him. Behold, I have told you (vs. 7). As they went to tell, behold Jesus met them and said, Hail, and they went up to Him and clasped His feet and worship Him. Jesus said, do not be afraid, go and tell my brethren to go into Galilee (v.9).

After YAHSHUA’S resurrection, Mary and the other Mary continued to look for Him among the dead. In the process, they witnessed supernatural events beyond their imagination at the time they arrived at the place where the Lord’s body had been buried. First, there was an earthquake, followed by an angel of the Lord descending from heaven to roll the boulder back and those keeping guard were frightened and agitated and trembled and became like dead men (Matt. 28:1-4). At that sight, the angel told them, YAHSHUA is not here; He has risen, as He said. Come, see the place where He lay; go quickly and tell His disciples, He has risen from the dead, and behold, He is going before you to Galilee; there you will see Him (Matt. 28:5-7). Leaving the place joylessly, they went to tell the disciples. Their excitement overtook them; they could not wait to share the greatest miracle they ever witnessed.  To make their day even more exciting, while on their way, behold, the Lord YAHSHUA met them saying, Greeting! They went up to Him, clasped His feet and worshiped Him (Matt. 28: 8-9). Echoing the message from the angel, He said to them, Do not be alarmed and afraid; go and tell My brethren to go into Galilee, and there they will see Me (Vs.10). The angel emphatically expressed the command to them by saying, Behold, I have told you. That means, attention, look! His command was for them to go quickly and tell the disciples that the Lord YAHSHUA had risen from the dead.

Temptation at the Point of Our Need

YAHSHUA, at the starting of His ministry, fasted for a period of forty days and forty nights. He chose the Judean wilderness where He would be by Himself and away from it all. The Judean desert is located east of Jerusalem, and descends to the Dead Sea. It seems to be a place of contrast and beauty. YAHSHUA’S choice to spend alone with His heavenly Father was perfect in location and quietness. Forty days sounds like a long time for someone to go without food. But YAHSHUA’S purpose was always to do the will of His Father. Eating was not in His agenda, as when He met the Samaritan woman in the heat of the day and the disciples called His attention to eat. He answered them saying, I have food to eat of which you know nothing and have no idea… My food is to do the will of Him Who sent Me and to accomplish and completely finish His work (John 4:32,34).

How To Be An Overcomer

(I Peter 5: 10; James 4:7; Psalm 92)

The suffering of the believer is not something that happens by accident, neither it is to be regarded as in vain. But it requires a personal search of the heart to be allied in the right position with God, so to understand the perfect will of God in that situation. The sufferings of the believer in YAHSHUA caused by persecution are without a question, the most honorable way of suffering. He so confirmed by saying, Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven! Blessed are you when people revile you and persecute you and say all kinds of evil things against you falsely on My account. Be glad and supremely joyful for your reward is great, for in this same way people persecuted the prophets who were before you (Matthew 5: 10-12).

The Matter of Taking Offenses

After John had been in prison a while, he sent a message in the form of a question: Are You the One Who is to come, or shall we [continue to] look for another (Luke 7: 20b) One to come-the Messiah. John seemed to have lost focus and seemed to have forgotten the experience he had at the time when he baptized YAHSHUA and God had revealed and confirmed to him by showing him the Spirit in the form of a dove out of heaven descending and resting on Him, as  he  had said, I did not know Him nor recognize Him, but He Who sent me to baptize in water said to me, Upon Him Whom you shall see the Spirit descend and remain, that One is He Who baptizes with the Holy Spirit. I have seen and my testimony is that this is the Son of God! John looked at YAHSHUA and declared, Look! There is the Lamb of God, Who takes away the sin of the world! (John 1: 29-36) But while in prison, things became obscure to John without outside reports from his disciples of what was happening. YAHSHUA, meanwhile, was healing many of sicknesses and destressing bodily plagues and evil spirits, and to many who were blind He gave sight (Luke 7:21). Seemly, John became offended in YAHSHUA when doubt entered his mind concerning YAHSHUA’S role as the Messiah. As a precursor of Christ, He needed to have evidences that demanded his beliefs that YAHSHUA was the One Who was to come.  That was important to him as a prophet, who had introduced YAHSHUA as the One. YAHSHUA promptly sent John an answer that confirmed once again, Whom He was –the Son of God! He sent the message to John saying, Go and tell John what you have seen and heard: the blind receive their sight, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, the dead hear, the dead are raised up, and the poor have the good news; blessed is he who takes no offense in Me and who is not hurt or resentful or annoyed or repelled or made to stumble (Luke 7: 21-23).

He Performs What He Planned for My Life

(Job 23:14)

The words of Job spoken thousands of years ago still resonate strongly in our ears today when we read them. He desired that his words were written; that they were inscribed in a book; that with an iron pen and lead they were graven in the rock forever (Job 19: 23-24). Yes, God heard the prayer of His righteous servant, Job and years later, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, Job’s words were inscribed in a book that has lasted thousands of years. They have encouraged many in their valleys and strengthened their faith because they came from a man in his suffering and not in his days of prosperity. He said, He performs [that He has] planned for me, and of many such matters He is mindful (Job 23:14). Job could see beyond all God’s faithfulness in completing in him His purpose for what He created him. He knew that God was aware and mindful of all his sufferings. We are blessed to have these words written in order to know without a doubt that God is aware and mindful of everything that happens to us, too. When God created a life, He created with a purpose. The destiny of every one is written in His book. David said, Your eyes saw my unformed substance, and in Your book all the days [of my life] were written before ever they took shape, when as yet there was none of them (Psalm 139:16). Every human life is precious to Him; He was involved in every detail of creating us. He formed our inward parts; He knit us together in our mother’s womb… (Psalm 139:14a). After all, He gave us life. Not one single life created – born or unborn is a waste.

Facing the Giants

(Deut. 9:1-6; I Samuel 17: 45-50)

To take possession of the Promised Land, Israel had to destroy the giants of the land. The Lord warned them that they were great and tall, they were the sons of Anakim, of whom they had heard, Who can stand before the sons of Anak (Deut. 9:2).  When Moses sent spies from every tribe to spy the land they came with a frightening report: There we saw the Nephilim [or giants], the sons of Anak, who come from the giants; and we were in our own sight as grasshoppers, and so we were in their sight (Num. 13:33).    In the days of Joshua, he cut off the Anakim from the hill country; from Hebron, from Debir, from Anab, and from all the hill country of Judah and the hill country of Israel. Joshua destroyed them utterly with their cities. None of the Anakim were left in the land of the Israelites; only in Gaza, Gath and Ashdod did some remain (Josh. 11:21-22).

In the days of David, the Philistines came to fight with Israel with their giant, Goliath of Gath. This giant stood almost ten feet tall. His heavy armor was even more impressive and intimidating. Israel’s army was dismayed and very afraid of him. Israel came to battle in their strength; all they saw was the giant before them. They forgot what God had done in the past, but there was someone who had the faith and the courage to face this giant. The mountain Israel perceived to be was just a mole hill to David. In fact all he needed was a stone and a sling and bam, the giant was done and gone!

All Is Well

In II Kings chapter four the Bible registers the story of a Shunammite woman. No name was given, just the place where she lived. Shunem was located in the tribe of Issachar, to the north of Jezreel and north of Mount Gilboa. The Bible views the Shunammite as wealthy, influential and respected, a woman with kind heart, and compassionate. We see that in her good deeds toward the Prophet Elisha. As she watched him often passing by, she perceived him to be a man of God. Her perception led her to provide Elisha a furnished chamber to rest while in his journey. She not only had good perception, but she was also an initiator of action. She was willing to receive the Prophet Elisha in her house because he was “a man of God.” Her good deed toward Elisha was for love of God. Although they were wealthy and had everything they wanted, they did not have children.  Children in those days were not inconvenience, but considered a blessing from God. They were not aborted, but they were given their place on earth to fulfill God’s plan for them. Elisha was most grateful to her and wanted to reward her. Knowing this detail, he promised her a child. Knowing her husband to be old, she pleaded the prophet with these words: “No, my lord, you man of God, do not lie to your handmaid.” Nevertheless the Shunammite woman conceived and bore a son at that season the following year, as Elisha said to her.  A true Abrahamic miracle!

In the Wilderness of Temptation

No nation has ever experienced the physical wilderness as the nation of Israel. Theirs were the trials, the thirst, the hunger for meat, for the onions and other things Egypt offered. To them were given forty years wandering through the desert for the purpose of being formed as a nation under God Himself. Many died; a large number of them; they did not make it through the wilderness to their destination, because they fell to temptation, while their hearts became hardened as they were tested. The signs and wonders they witnessed when God provided for their needs did not serve as a guide to exercise faith in Him. So their journey became a wilderness of temptation in every aspect: physical, emotional and spiritual. That constituted an open door to fail in every time a need arrived. Without waiting for God to provide for their needs, as He promised He was going to, they murmured and complained, even when manna- food from heaven was given them.  They longed the world’s food instead. In Psalm 95 the Psalmist remembers those days with a warning: Harden not your hearts as at Meribah and Massah in the day of temptation in the wilderness, when your fathers tried My patience and tested Me proved Me and saw His work. Forty years long was I grieved and was disgusted with that generation, and I said, It is a people that do err in their hearts, and they do not approve, acknowledge or regard My ways. Therefore I swore in My wrath that they would not enter My rest (95: 8-11), and again in Hebrews 3: 7-11.