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Sermon: “Standing Steadfast on the Word of God”February 12, 2023
Today our focus is on standing steadfast on the word of God. To stand steadfast means to “stand firmly in place, without wavering.” Now to be clear there are many people who are standing steadfast but not necessarily on the word of God. There are those who stand steadfast on their church’s doctrines and theology but that is not the same. You can stand steadfast all day long on other gospels but that will be in futile. Paul said 1 Corinthians 15:2 “By this gospel you are saved, if you hold firmly to the word I preached to you. Otherwise, you have believed in vain.” We also see that Hebrews 3:14 “We have come to share in Christ, if indeed we hold our original conviction firmly to the very end.” So, standing steadfast means you have totally surrendered your life to God, and you serve Him wholeheartedly and you will not turn from Him. Today we are going to be talking about testing because God wants to know how serious you are in your commitment. It is one thing to go to church on Sunday and say you are a Christian but another to totally submit to God’s ways and not our own. You will want to be tested because as Job said, Job 23:10 “he knows the way that I take; when he has tested me, I will come forth as gold. 11 My feet have closely followed his steps; I have kept to his way without turning aside. 12 I have not departed from the commands of his lips; I have treasured the words of his mouth more than my daily bread.” Testing produces the kind of person God wants to serve Him. In this day and age, the world is in chaos. Jesus said Matthew 24:12 “Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold, 13 but the one who stands firm to the end will be saved. 14 And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.”
The abomination that causes desolation has ravaged the church. Our only hope is to return to God’s word so that we will not be found wanting as King Belshazzar was in Daniel. Daniel 5:27 “You have been weighed on the scales and found wanting.” Peter tells us 2 Peter 3:11 “Since everything will be destroyed in this way, what kind of people ought you to be? You ought to live holy and godly lives 12 as you look forward to the day of God and speed its coming. That day will bring about the destruction of the heavens by fire, and the elements will melt in the heat. 13 But in keeping with his promise we are looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth, where righteousness dwells. 14 So then, dear friends, since you are looking forward to this, make every effort to be found spotless, blameless and at peace with him.” Proverbs 4:25 “Let your eyes look straight ahead; fix your gaze directly before you. 26 Give careful thought to the paths for your feet and be steadfast in all your ways. 27 Do not turn to the right or the left; keep your foot from evil.” Testing helps with this. Peter also gives us this hope. 1 Peter 5:6 “Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. 7 Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you. 8 Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. 9 Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that the family of believers throughout the world is undergoing the same kind of sufferings. 10 And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast. 11 To him be the power for ever and ever. Amen.” Isaiah 26:3 “You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in you.” Paul then tells us, Philippians 3:17 “Join together in following my example, and just as you have us as a model, keep your eyes on those who live as we do. 18 For, as I have often told you before and now tell you again even with tears, many live as enemies of the cross of Christ. 19 Their destiny is destruction, their god is their stomach, and their glory is in their shame. Their mind is set on earthly things. 20 But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, 21 who, by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body.” Philippians 4:1 “Therefore, my brothers and sisters, you whom I love and long for, my joy and crown, stand firm in the Lord in this way, dear friends!”
Standing steadfast means that you will not be moved, as you are firmly planted on God’s word. Planted on God’s word is the key. Matthew 7:24 “Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. 25 The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock.” That also means there are forces trying to knock you down, so when you are firmly planted on god’s word, you are prepared to resist against those forces. Psalm 62:1 “Truly my soul finds rest in God; my salvation comes from him. 2 Truly he is my rock and my salvation; he is my fortress, I will never be shaken / moved.” Following this verse is why we must stand steadfast. The psalmist goes on to say Psalm 62:3 “How long will you assault me? Would all of you throw me down— this leaning wall, this tottering fence? 4 Surely they intend to topple me from my lofty place; they take delight in lies. With their mouths they bless, but in their hearts they curse.” As we will talk about, God may be using these forces to test you so that you will come forth as gold. Since Jesus is our example, what happened to Him will also happen to His servants. Matthew 10:24 “The student is not above the teacher, nor a servant above his master. 25 It is enough for students to be like their teachers, and servants like their masters. If the head of the house has been called Beelzebul, how much more the members of his household!” Jesus said Mark 13:13 “Everyone will hate you because of me, but the one who stands firm to the end will be saved.” He also said Luke 6:22 “Blessed are you when people hate you, when they exclude you and insult you and reject your name as evil, because of the Son of Man. 26 Woe to you when everyone speaks well of you, for that is how their ancestors treated the false prophets.” Notice in both verses it was because of Jesus that you were hated.
Not only did the Jews constantly try to kill Him, His own family thought Jesus was nuts. Mark 3:21 “When his family heard about this, they went to take charge of him, for they said, “He is out of his mind.” In this same passage 22 the teachers of the law who came down from Jerusalem said, “He is possessed by Beelzebul! By the prince of demons he is driving out demons.” The teachers of the law thought he was possessed, as did His family. Jesus said Matthew 10:36 “a man’s enemies will be the members of his own household.’ 37 “Anyone who loves their father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; anyone who loves their son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. 38 Whoever does not take up their cross and follow me is not worthy of me. 39 Whoever finds their life will lose it, and whoever loses their life for my sake will find it.” Matthew 13:54 “Coming to his hometown, he began teaching the people in their synagogue, and they were amazed. “Where did this man get this wisdom and these miraculous powers?” they asked. 55 “Isn’t this the carpenter’s son? Isn’t his mother’s name Mary, and aren’t his brothers James, Joseph, Simon and Judas? 56 Aren’t all his sisters with us? Where then did this man get all these things?” 57 And they took offense at him. But Jesus said to them, “A prophet is not without honor except in his own town and in his own home.” Not having the support of family makes the Christian walk difficult but Jesus gave us this promise and hope. First Jesus changed family dynamics by saying. Matthew 12:50 “For whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother.” You become part of God’s family. But when it came to family, Jesus responded to Peter with this blessing. After Mark 10:28 “Peter spoke up, “We have left everything to follow you!” 29 “Truly I tell you,” Jesus replied, “no one who has left home or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or fields for me and the gospel 30 will fail to receive a hundred times as much in this present age: homes, brothers, sisters, mothers, children and fields—along with persecutions—and in the age to come eternal life. 31 But many who are first will be last, and the last first.” Family can also be used to test you.
Testing and discipline are two words most do not want to hear, especially when God is behind the testing and discipline, but they should not think this way. This is what poses a problem for many, as they are not sure if God is actually behind the testing and discipline. For many it is hard to make the transition from what they read in the bible to their own lives as they do not fully understand that the bible is the living word of God. For others, the reason is that many do not know their bibles. Most would prefer to go through this life on a course that they feel would be best suited for them, even though scripture tells us, Proverbs 14:12 “There is a way that appears to be right, but in the end it leads to death.” Deuteronomy 29:19 “When such a person hears the words of this oath and they invoke a blessing on themselves, thinking, “I will be safe, even though I persist in going my own way,” they will bring disaster on the watered land as well as the dry.” Then there are those who will refuse and turn from God. Testing and discipline from God leads us on the right path, away from death. Proverbs 3:5 “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; 6 in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.” Psalm 5:8 “Lead me, Lord, in your righteousness because of my enemies— make your way straight before me.” Jesus said, John 14:6 “Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” Most Christians spend most of their time focusing on their own ways and then giving God the glory for their own efforts.
Understanding that God does test and discipline for our own good is crucial for us walking on straight paths. Proverbs 2:12 “Wisdom will save you from the ways of wicked men, from men whose words are perverse, 13 who have left the straight paths to walk in dark ways, 14 who delight in doing wrong and rejoice in the perverseness of evil, 15 whose paths are crooked and who are devious in their ways. 16 Wisdom will save you also from the adulterous woman, from the wayward woman with her seductive words, 17 who has left the partner of her youth and ignored the covenant she made before God. 18 Surely her house leads down to death and her paths to the spirits of the dead. 19 None who go to her return or attain the paths of life.” When talking about false teachers, Peter said, 2 Peter 2:13 “They will be paid back with harm for the harm they have done. Their idea of pleasure is to carouse in broad daylight. They are blots and blemishes, reveling in their pleasures while they feast with you. 14 With eyes full of adultery, they never stop sinning; they seduce the unstable; they are experts in greed—an accursed brood! 15 They have left the straight way and wandered off to follow the way of Balaam son of Bezer, who loved the wages of wickedness.” Matthew 15:14 “Leave them; they are blind guides. If the blind lead the blind, both will fall into a pit.” You do not want to follow their ways.”
Today we are surrounded by enemies, so we need to know the right path to take. David said Psalm 27:11 “Teach me your way, Lord; lead me in a straight path because of my oppressors. 12 Do not turn me over to the desire of my foes, for false witnesses rise up against me, spouting malicious accusations. 13 I remain confident of this: I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. 14 Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord.” We need to listen for God’s direction, especially since He is in charge and knows the plans He has for us. Jeremiah 29:11 “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” If you want to be part of that plan, doesn’t it make sense to follow God. This is done by standing firm on God’s word. Take the time to read all of Psalm 119 because we are told how to live by God’s word. Here are a few verses. Psalm 119:1 “Blessed are those whose ways are blameless, who walk according to the law of the Lord. 9 How can a young person stay on the path of purity? By living according to your word. 10 I seek you with all my heart; do not let me stray from your commands. 11 I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you. 33 Teach me, Lord, the way of your decrees, that I may follow it to the end. 34 Give me understanding, so that I may keep your law and obey it with all my heart. 35 Direct me in the path of your commands, for there I find delight. 57 You are my portion, Lord; I have promised to obey your words. 89 Your word, Lord, is eternal; it stands firm in the heavens. 97 Oh, how I love your law! I meditate on it all day long. 98 Your commands are always with me and make me wiser than my enemies. 105 Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light on my path.” Also read Proverbs chapters 1-9.
Understanding that God’s word is a light for our path changes how we approach life. Psalm 23:1 “The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing. 2 He makes me lie down in green pastures,he leads me beside quiet waters, 3 he refreshes my soul. He guides me along the right paths for his name’s sake. 4 Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. 5 You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. 6 Surely your goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.” We understand how God works by His word. If we do not know how God works by His word, we then can be easily deceived by those offering a different way, a distorted word about who God is and how He works. Learning to trust God’s word means we spend time in it. Spending time with books about God’s word is not the same. The sole purpose of this writing is to turn you towards God’s word so that you can feed yourself. That way you will be able to distinguish which way is the right way.
When God, 1 Kings 3:5 “appeared to Solomon during the night in a dream, and God said, “Ask for whatever you want me to give you.” Solomon responded, 9 “So give your servant a discerning heart to govern your people and to distinguish between right and wrong. For who is able to govern this great people of yours?” Then 10 “The Lord was pleased that Solomon had asked for this. 11 So God said to him, “Since you have asked for this and not for long life or wealth for yourself, nor have asked for the death of your enemies but for discernment in administering justice, 12 I will do what you have asked. I will give you a wise and discerning heart, so that there will never have been anyone like you, nor will there ever be. 13 Moreover, I will give you what you have not asked for—both wealth and honor—so that in your lifetime you will have no equal among kings. 14 And if you walk in obedience to me and keep my decrees and commands as David your father did, I will give you a long life.” 15 Then Solomon awoke—and he realized it had been a dream.” So not only did God give Solomon wisdom, but God also gave Him all He would ever need. Jesus said Matthew 6:27 “Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life? 28 “And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. 29 Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. 30 If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? 31 So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. 33 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.”
Later God tested Solomon and he failed so badly that the kingdom was never the same after the kingdom his father David had established. He was given directions as a king. In Deuteronomy we see Deuteronomy 17:16 “The king, moreover, must not acquire great numbers of horses for himself or make the people return to Egypt to get more of them, for the Lord has told you, “You are not to go back that way again.” 17 He must not take many wives, or his heart will be led astray. He must not accumulate large amounts of silver and gold. 18 When he takes the throne of his kingdom, he is to write for himself on a scroll a copy of this law, taken from that of the Levitical priests. 19 It is to be with him, and he is to read it all the days of his life so that he may learn to revere the Lord his God and follow carefully all the words of this law and these decrees 20 and not consider himself better than his fellow Israelites and turn from the law to the right or to the left. Then he and his descendants will reign a long time over his kingdom in Israel.” Solomon did not listen. 1 Kings 10:26 “Solomon accumulated chariots and horses; he had fourteen hundred chariots and twelve thousand horses, which he kept in the chariot cities and also with him in Jerusalem. 27 The king made silver as common in Jerusalem as stones, and cedar as plentiful as sycamore-fig trees in the foothills. 28 Solomon’s horses were imported from Egypt and from Kue—the royal merchants purchased them from Kue at the current price. 29 They imported a chariot from Egypt for six hundred shekels of silver, and a horse for a hundred and fifty.” 1 Kings 11:1 “King Solomon, however, loved many foreign women besides Pharaoh’s daughter—Moabites, Ammonites, Edomites, Sidonians and Hittites. 2 They were from nations about which the Lord had told the Israelites, “You must not intermarry with them, because they will surely turn your hearts after their gods.” Nevertheless, Solomon held fast to them in love. 3 He had seven hundred wives of royal birth and three hundred concubines, and his wives led him astray. 4 As Solomon grew old, his wives turned his heart after other gods, and his heart was not fully devoted to the Lord his God, as the heart of David his father had been. 5 He followed Ashtoreth the goddess of the Sidonians, and Molek the detestable god of the Ammonites. 6 So Solomon did evil in the eyes of the Lord; he did not follow the Lord completely, as David his father had done.”
Then 1 Kings 11:9 “The Lord became angry with Solomon because his heart had turned away from the Lord, the God of Israel, who had appeared to him twice. 10 Although he had forbidden Solomon to follow other gods, Solomon did not keep the Lord’s command. 11 So the Lord said to Solomon, “Since this is your attitude and you have not kept my covenant and my decrees, which I commanded you, I will most certainly tear the kingdom away from you and give it to one of your subordinates. 12 Nevertheless, for the sake of David your father, I will not do it during your lifetime. I will tear it out of the hand of your son. 13 Yet I will not tear the whole kingdom from him, but will give him one tribe for the sake of David my servant and for the sake of Jerusalem, which I have chosen.” As we saw in Deuteronomy “when he takes the throne of his kingdom, he is to write for himself on a scroll a copy of this law, taken from that of the Levitical priests. 19 It is to be with him, and he is to read it all the days of his life so that he may learn to revere the Lord his God and follow carefully all the words of this law and these decrees,” yet Solomon did not listen to the word of God and went His own way, costing the kingdom greatly.
We then saw an adversary named Jeroboam who rebelled against Solomon and rose up to take the kingdom. 1 Kings 11:28 “Now Jeroboam was a man of standing, and when Solomon saw how well the young man did his work, he put him in charge of the whole labor force of the tribes of Joseph.” Then the prophet Abijah approached Jeroboam and told him God would take the tribes of Israel away from Solomon and give them to him but there was a stipulation.1 Kings 11:34 “‘But I will not take the whole kingdom out of Solomon’s hand; I have made him ruler all the days of his life for the sake of David my servant, whom I chose and who obeyed my commands and decrees. 35 I will take the kingdom from his son’s hands and give you ten tribes. 36 I will give one tribe (Judah and Benjamin were together) to his son so that David my servant may always have a lamp before me in Jerusalem, the city where I chose to put my Name. 37 However, as for you, I will take you, and you will rule over all that your heart desires; you will be king over Israel. 38 If you do whatever I command you and walk in obedience to me and do what is right in my eyes by obeying my decrees and commands, as David my servant did, I will be with you. I will build you a dynasty as enduring as the one I built for David and will give Israel to you. 39 I will humble David’s descendants because of this, but not forever.’” What an amazing promise, yet Jeroboam did not listen. 1 Kings 13:33 “Jeroboam did not change his evil ways, but once more appointed priests for the high places from all sorts of people. Anyone who wanted to become a priest he consecrated for the high places. 34 This was the sin of the house of Jeroboam that led to its downfall and to its destruction from the face of the earth.” Later we saw King Baasha and others compared to Jeroboam 1 Kings 15:34 “He did evil in the eyes of the Lord, following the ways of Jeroboam and committing the same sin Jeroboam had caused Israel to commit.” Like Solomon, Jeroboam did not follow God’s word. They failed the test. Following God’s word is how we are to live. As Moses said Deuteronomy 32:47 “They are not just idle words for you—they are your life. By them you will live long in the land you are crossing the Jordan to possess.” Jesus, the word of life (1 John 1:1 “That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked at and our hands have touched—this we proclaim concerning the Word of life. 2 The life appeared; we have seen it and testify to it, and we proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and has appeared to us. 3 We proclaim to you what we have seen and heard, so that you also may have fellowship with us. And our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son, Jesus Christ. 4 We write this to make our joy complete.) said John 6:63 “The Spirit gives life; the flesh counts for nothing. The words I have spoken to you—they are full of the Spirit and life.” John 1:14 “The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.” John 17:17 “Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth. If we are going to pass the test, we must stand steadfastly on the truth of God’s word.”
As we saw with both Solomon and Jeroboam and there are many others in scripture, they did not stand firm on God’s word. They did not obey the commands of God even though they were told, Deuteronomy 4:1 “Now, Israel, hear the decrees and laws I am about to teach you. Follow them so that you may live and may go in and take possession of the land the Lord, the God of your ancestors, is giving you. 2 Do not add to what I command you and do not subtract from it, but keep the commands of the Lord your God that I give you.” We are also told the same in Revelation 22:18 “I warn everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this scroll: If anyone adds anything to them, God will add to that person the plagues described in this scroll. 19 And if anyone takes words away from this scroll of prophecy, God will take away from that person any share in the tree of life and in the Holy City, which are described in this scroll.” Moses continues Deuteronomy 4:5 “See, I have taught you decrees and laws as the Lord my God commanded me, so that you may follow them in the land you are entering to take possession of it. 6 Observe them carefully, for this will show your wisdom and understanding to the nations, who will hear about all these decrees and say, “Surely this great nation is a wise and understanding people.” 7 What other nation is so great as to have their gods near them the way the Lord our God is near us whenever we pray to him? 8 And what other nation is so great as to have such righteous decrees and laws as this body of laws I am setting before you today? 9 Only be careful, and watch yourselves closely so that you do not forget the things your eyes have seen or let them fade from your heart as long as you live. Teach them to your children and to their children after them. 10 Remember the day you stood before the Lord your God at Horeb, when he said to me, “Assemble the people before me to hear my words so that they may learn to revere me as long as they live in the land and may teach them to their children. 39 Acknowledge and take to heart this day that the Lord is God in heaven above and on the earth below. There is no other. 40 Keep his decrees and commands, which I am giving you today, so that it may go well with you and your children after you and that you may live long in the land the Lord your God gives you for all time.” Jesus said John 14:15 “If you love me keep my commands. 23 Jesus replied, “Anyone who loves me will obey my teaching. My Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them. 24 Anyone who does not love me will not obey my teaching.”
The only way to make it in this world we live in is to stand firm on God’s word as it will be your daily bread. John 6:35 “Then Jesus declared, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.” Psalm 1:1 “Blessed is the one who does not walk in step with the wicked or stand in the way that sinners take or sit in the company of mockers, 2 but whose delight is in the law of the Lord, and who meditates on his law day and night. 3 That person is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither— whatever they do prospers. 4 Not so the wicked! They are like chaff that the wind blows away. 5 Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the assembly of the righteous. 6 For the Lord watches over the way of the righteous, but the way of the wicked leads to destruction.” When we follow God’s word wholeheartedly, standing steadfast on God’s word, we will understand the testing and discipline of God and we won’t be so shocked when it happens. Many turn from God at this point. Luke 8:13 “Those on the rocky ground are the ones who receive the word with joy when they hear it, but they have no root. They believe for a while, but in the time of testing they fall away.”
Testing is an integral part of our journey. Israel was told Deuteronomy 8:1 “Be careful to follow every command I am giving you today, so that you may live and increase and may enter and possess the land the Lord promised on oath to your ancestors. 2 Remember how the Lord your God led you all the way in the wilderness these forty years, to humble and test you in order to know what was in your heart, whether or not you would keep his commands.” Hebrews 3:7 “So, as the Holy Spirit says: “Today, if you hear his voice, 8 do not harden your hearts as you did in the rebellion, during the time of testing in the wilderness, 9 where your ancestors tested and tried me, though for forty years they saw what I did. 10 That is why I was angry with that generation; I said, ‘Their hearts are always going astray, and they have not known my ways.’ 11 So I declared on oath in my anger, ‘They shall never enter my rest.’ 12 See to it, brothers and sisters, that none of you has a sinful, unbelieving heart that turns away from the living God. 13 But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called “Today,” so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness. 14 We have come to share in Christ, if indeed we hold our original conviction firmly to the very end. 15 As has just been said: “Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts as you did in the rebellion.” 16 Who were they who heard and rebelled? Were they not all those Moses led out of Egypt? 17 And with whom was he angry for forty years? Was it not with those who sinned, whose bodies perished in the wilderness? 18 And to whom did God swear that they would never enter his rest if not to those who disobeyed? 19 So we see that they were not able to enter, because of their unbelief.”
As we saw earlier, the parable of the sower tells us to stand firm on God’s word Luke 8:11 “This is the meaning of the parable: The seed is the word of God. 12 Those along the path are the ones who hear, and then the devil comes and takes away the word from their hearts, so that they may not believe and be saved. 13 Those on the rocky ground are the ones who receive the word with joy when they hear it, but they have no root. They believe for a while, but in the time of testing they fall away. 14 The seed that fell among thorns stands for those who hear, but as they go on their way they are choked by life’s worries, riches and pleasures, and they do not mature. 15 But the seed on good soil stands for those with a noble and good heart, who hear the word, retain it, and by persevering produce a crop.” As the parable shows us, many will fail the test. The book of Job shows us that God will allow satan to wreak havoc. Jesus makes it clear that Matthew 7:14 “small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.” Luke 13:23 “Someone asked him, “Lord, are only a few people going to be saved?” He said to them, 24 “Make every effort to enter through the narrow door, because many, I tell you, will try to enter and will not be able to. 25 Once the owner of the house gets up and closes the door, you will stand outside knocking and pleading, ‘Sir, open the door for us.’ “But he will answer, ‘I don’t know you or where you come from.’ 26 “Then you will say, ‘We ate and drank with you, and you taught in our streets.’ 27 “But he will reply, ‘I don’t know you or where you come from. Away from me, all you evildoers!’” Knowing this should make you desire to stand on the truth of God’s word even more and embrace whatever testing God has for you.
We are also told Proverbs 3:11 “My son, do not despise the Lord’s discipline, and do not resent his rebuke, 12 because the Lord disciplines those he loves, as a father the son he delights in. 7 Do not be wise in your own eyes; fear the Lord and shun evil.” God doesn’t test and discipline you because He hates you. To persevere in times of testing, and all the time, Hebrews tells us to keep our eyes on Jesus (His word). Hebrews 12:1 “Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, 2 fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. 3 Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.” Hebrews goes on to say 4 “In your struggle against sin, you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood. 5 And have you completely forgotten this word of encouragement that addresses you as a father addresses his son? It says, “My son, do not make light of the Lord’s discipline, and do not lose heart when he rebukes you, 6 because the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and he chastens everyone he accepts as his son.” 7 Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as his children. For what children are not disciplined by their father? 8 If you are not disciplined—and everyone undergoes discipline—then you are not legitimate, not true sons and daughters at all. 9 Moreover, we have all had human fathers who disciplined us and we respected them for it. How much more should we submit to the Father of spirits and live! 10 They disciplined us for a little while as they thought best; but God disciplines us for our good, in order that we may share in his holiness. 11 No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it. 12 Therefore, strengthen your feeble arms and weak knees. 13 “Make level paths for your feet,” so that the lame may not be disabled, but rather healed.” Testing and discipline make us humble before God.
Remember, we do not lay out the course of the race, God does, so keep your eyes on the word of God and be prepared to be disciplined, tested and persevere. The result will be God’s blessing on your life and you will receive eternal life. When God tests and disciplines, He is forming us into someone He can use. He is looking into your heart. How can God use someone who does not obey His word or even know His word? Paul said 1 Thessalonians 2:1 “You know, brothers and sisters, that our visit to you was not without results. 2 We had previously suffered and been treated outrageously in Philippi, as you know, but with the help of our God we dared to tell you his gospel in the face of strong opposition. 3 For the appeal we make does not spring from error or impure motives, nor are we trying to trick you. 4 On the contrary, we speak as those approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel. We are not trying to please people but God, who tests our hearts. 5 You know we never used flattery, nor did we put on a mask to cover up greed—God is our witness. 6 We were not looking for praise from people, not from you or anyone else, even though as apostles of Christ we could have asserted our authority. 7 Instead, we were like young children among you.” Here we see testing that approves disciples to be God servants. Earlier in Deuteronomy 8, we saw to “test you in order to know what was in your heart, whether or not you would keep his commands.” Peter gives us this encouragement. 1 Peter 4:12 “Dear friends, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal that has come on you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. 13 But rejoice inasmuch as you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed. 14 If you are insulted because of the name of Christ, you are blessed, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you. 15 If you suffer, it should not be as a murderer or thief or any other kind of criminal, or even as a meddler. 16 However, if you suffer as a Christian, do not be ashamed, but praise God that you bear that name. 17 For it is time for judgment to begin with God’s household; and if it begins with us, what will the outcome be for those who do not obey the gospel of God? 18 And, “If it is hard for the righteous to be saved, what will become of the ungodly and the sinner?” 19 So then, those who suffer according to God’s will should commit themselves to their faithful Creator and continue to do good.”
If Jesus was tested, then we most definitely will be tested. If satan had the arrogance to go after Jesus, he will surely go after you and I. We are told Luke 4:1 “Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, left the Jordan and was led by the Spirit into the wilderness, 2 where for forty days he was tempted by the devil. He ate nothing during those days, and at the end of them he was hungry.” Here we see that the Holy Spirit led Jesus here. Then we see satan attempt to tempt Jesus. It is here that Jesus shows how to stand steadfast on His word. He responds to satan “it is written” and “It is said.” This is why we set our eyes on Jesus as many have failed to stand steadfast against satan’s temptation. We were given warnings in the Old Testament for a reason. 1 Corinthians 10:6 “Now these things occurred as examples to keep us from setting our hearts on evil things as they did. 11 These things happened to them as examples and were written down as warnings for us, on whom the culmination of the ages has come. 12 So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don’t fall! 13 No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.” 2 Peter 3:17 “Therefore, dear friends, since you have been forewarned, be on your guard so that you may not be carried away by the error of the lawless and fall from your secure position.” If we are to persevere, we must stand firm on God’s word, no matter what. We do this by trusting God’s word and believing God will fulfil His promises to those who seek Him.
Testing comes in different forms for different people and obviously according to God’s plan. Job said, Job 42:2 “I know that you can do all things; no purpose of yours can be thwarted.” When talking about the enemy, Isaiah 14:24 “The Lord Almighty has sworn, “Surely, as I have planned, so it will be, and as I have purposed, so it will happen. 27 For the Lord Almighty has purposed, and who can thwart him? His hand is stretched out, and who can turn it back?” King Nebuchadnezzar finally submitted and said, Daniel 4:35 “He does as he pleases with the powers of heaven and the peoples of the earth. No one can hold back his hand or say to him: “What have you done?” The first step is to admit that God is Sovereign as King Nebuchadnezzar did. This is an integral part of your journey. How long will it take you to totally surrender? Daniel told king Nebuchadnezzar, Daniel 4:32 “Seven times will pass by for you until you acknowledge that the Most High is sovereign over all kingdoms on earth and gives them to anyone he wishes.” Daniel 4:34 “At the end of that time, I, Nebuchadnezzar, raised my eyes toward heaven, and my sanity was restored. Then I praised the Most High; I honored and glorified him who lives forever. His dominion is an eternal dominion; his kingdom endures from generation to generation.” God then restored Nebuchadnezzar but his son as we saw earlier was found wanting and was destroyed.
It is important to test the spirits. 1 John 4:1 “Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world.” For this you will need to have discernment which comes by being grounded in God’s word. Joshua was an amazing man of God, but he messed up this time because he did not test the spirits. Joshua 9:3 “When the people of Gibeon heard what Joshua had done to Jericho and Ai, 4 they resorted to a ruse: They went as a delegation whose donkeys were loaded with worn-out sacks and old wineskins, cracked and mended. 5 They put worn and patched sandals on their feet and wore old clothes. All the bread of their food supply was dry and moldy. 6 Then they went to Joshua in the camp at Gilgal and said to him and the Israelites, “We have come from a distant country; make a treaty with us. 14 The Israelites sampled their provisions but did not inquire of the Lord.” The ruse would not have worked if they had approached God first. You may have noticed with Solomon that God appeared to him in his dream. It only takes a second online to see that many are into deciphering their dreams. They will have a dream book to tell them what their dream means. If you are into this, my advice would be to burn it, get rid of anything like it. We can dream some very vivid dreams as I am sure we all have, but they don’t always mean anything, and we have to be very careful with them. A vision or dream from God has to be discerned and tested through scripture. We were told Joel 2:28 “And afterward, I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your old men will dream dreams, your young men will see visions.” We need to know if those dreams and visions are from God but in our day the church is desolate, meaning God has turned His face from us. When God turns His face from us, that means His Spirit is not poured out and there will be limited dreams and visions. Today is more like when Samuel was young. 1 Samuel 3:1 “The boy Samuel ministered before the Lord under Eli. In those days the word of the Lord was rare; there were not many visions.” This is why today it is so important to test the spirits to see if this is of God. We also need to remember that 2 Corinthians 11:13 “For such people are false apostles, deceitful workers, masquerading as apostles of Christ. 14 And no wonder, for satan himself masquerades as an angel of light. 15 It is not surprising, then, if his servants also masquerade as servants of righteousness. Their end will be what their actions deserve.” Testing the spirits is a daily practice we should be doing all the time to make sure we are not deceived. Jesus warned us Matthew 24:4 “Watch out that no one deceives you.”
Joseph dreamed dreams and those dreams came to fruition as every event from the time he had them, his brothers selling him to Egypt and his imprisonment, were all part of God’s plan. As Joseph shared those dreams, his family hated him for it, enough to want him dead, but God had a huge plan for Joseph which in the end would save His family. Even though Genesis 37:8 “His brothers said to him, “Do you intend to reign over us? Will you actually rule us?” And they hated him all the more because of his dream and what he had said. 9 Then he had another dream, and he told it to his brothers. “Listen,” he said, “I had another dream, and this time the sun and moon and eleven stars were bowing down to me. 10 When he told his father as well as his brothers, his father rebuked him and said, “What is this dream you had? Will your mother and I and your brothers actually come and bow down to the ground before you?” 11 His brothers were jealous of him, but his father kept the matter in mind. Then his brothers tried to kill him.” In the end they did bow down to him and his family was saved, but Joseph said Genesis 50:20 “You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives. 21 So then, don’t be afraid. I will provide for you and your children. And he reassured them and spoke kindly to them.” Along the way Joseph was tested severely, with slavery, accused of rape, put in prison but then God’s plan unfolded almost beyond belief. Pharoah himself also had dreams from God that no one could interpret except for Joseph, which were also part of God’s plan. Genesis 41:39 “Then Pharaoh said to Joseph, “Since God has made all this known to you, there is no one so discerning and wise as you. 40 You shall be in charge of my palace, and all my people are to submit to your orders. Only with respect to the throne will I be greater than you.” 41 So Pharaoh said to Joseph, “I hereby put you in charge of the whole land of Egypt.” 42 Then Pharaoh took his signet ring from his finger and put it on Joseph’s finger. He dressed him in robes of fine linen and put a gold chain around his neck. 43 He had him ride in a chariot as his second-in-command, and people shouted before him, “Make way!” Thus he put him in charge of the whole land of Egypt.” Psalm 105:17 “He (God) sent a man before them—Joseph, sold as a slave. 18 They bruised his feet with shackles, his neck was put in irons, 19 till what he foretold came to pass, till the word of the Lord proved him true.” For the most part dreams are just dreams and yes, they can be very real, but are they from God? Be sure before you put any weight on them but for sure stay away from those dream books.
There is also a warning about this and includes false prophets which again is why we test the spirits. Deuteronomy 13:1 “If a prophet, or one who foretells by dreams, appears among you and announces to you a sign or wonder, 2 and if the sign or wonder spoken of takes place, and the prophet says, “Let us follow other gods” (gods you have not known) “and let us worship them,” 3 you must not listen to the words of that prophet or dreamer. The Lord your God is testing you to find out whether you love him with all your heart and with all your soul. 4 It is the Lord your God you must follow, and him you must revere. Keep his commands and obey him; serve him and hold fast to him. 5 That prophet or dreamer must be put to death for inciting rebellion against the Lord your God, who brought you out of Egypt and redeemed you from the land of slavery. That prophet or dreamer tried to turn you from the way the Lord your God commanded you to follow. You must purge the evil from among you.” Now obviously we don’t kill people in our day, but we must have nothing to do with them. Jeremiah said when talking about lying prophets, Jeremiah 23:13 “Among the prophets of Samaria I saw this repulsive thing: They prophesied by Baal and led my people Israel astray. 14 And among the prophets of Jerusalem I have seen something horrible: They commit adultery and live a lie. They strengthen the hands of evildoers, so that not one of them turns from their wickedness. They are all like Sodom to me; the people of Jerusalem are like Gomorrah. 16 This is what the Lord Almighty says: “Do not listen to what the prophets are prophesying to you; they fill you with false hopes. They speak visions from their own minds, not from the mouth of the Lord. 20 In days to come you will understand it clearly. 21 I did not send these prophets, yet they have run with their message. 25 “I have heard what the prophets say who prophesy lies in my name. They say, ‘I had a dream! I had a dream!’ 26 How long will this continue in the hearts of these lying prophets, who prophesy the delusions of their own minds? 27 They think the dreams they tell one another will make my people forget my name, just as their ancestors forgot my name through Baal worship. 28 Let the prophet who has a dream recount the dream, but let the one who has my word speak it faithfully. For what has straw to do with grain?” declares the Lord. 29 “Is not my word like fire,” declares the Lord, “and like a hammer that breaks a rock in pieces?” Those speaking from the delusions of their own minds is happening everywhere in the church and people are still being led astray because someone said thus sayeth the Lord.
Here is an example of why it is so important to test the spirits. Here is an account about Micaiah, the prophet. 1 Kings 22:4 “Jehoshaphat replied to the king of Israel, “I am as you are, my people as your people, my horses as your horses.” 5 But Jehoshaphat also said to the king of Israel, “First seek the counsel of the Lord. 6 So the king of Israel brought together the prophets—about four hundred men—and asked them, “Shall I go to war against Ramoth Gilead, or shall I refrain?” “Go,” they answered, “for the Lord will give it into the king’s hand.” 7 But Jehoshaphat asked, “Is there no longer a prophet of the Lord here whom we can inquire of?” (He knew the difference) 8 The king of Israel answered Jehoshaphat, “There is still one prophet through whom we can inquire of the Lord, but I hate him because he never prophesies anything good about me, but always bad. He is Micaiah son of Imlah.” One guy even had props. 1 Kings 22:11 “Now Zedekiah son of Kenaanah had made iron horns and he declared, “This is what the Lord says: ‘With these you will gore the Arameans until they are destroyed.’” All the prophets were saying the same thing except what they were saying was not from God. When Micaiah came, he was told “Look, the other prophets without exception are predicting success for the king. Let your word agree with theirs, and speak favorably.” So he did. 15 “Attack and be victorious,” he answered, “for the Lord will give it into the king’s hand. 16 The king said to him, “How many times must I make you swear to tell me nothing but the truth in the name of the Lord?” 17 Then Micaiah answered, “I saw all Israel scattered on the hills like sheep without a shepherd, and the Lord said, ‘These people have no master. Let each one go home in peace.’” Just because everyone is saying the same thing does not mean it is from God.
Another example is Job. God gave satan permission to destroy everything Job had, except satan was not allowed to kill him. Now Job did not know this, but it was God who offered him over to satan. Job 1:7 “The Lord said to satan, “Where have you come from?” satan answered the Lord, “From roaming throughout the earth, going back and forth on it.” 8 Then the Lord said to satan, “Have you considered my servant Job? There is no one on earth like him; he is blameless and upright, a man who fears God and shuns evil.” After everything was taken from him, he still said Job 1:20 ““Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked I will depart. The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away; may the name of the Lord be praised.” 22 In all this, Job did not sin by charging God with wrongdoing.” Then his own body was almost destroyed and he still said, Job 2:10 “Shall we accept good from God, and not trouble? In all this, Job did not sin in what he said.” satan’s plan was to get Job to curse God. His wife and friends were all used, but in the end, Job remained faithful and stood steadfast. Job said Job 27:5 “I will never admit you are in the right; till I die, I will not deny my integrity. 6 I will maintain my innocence and never let go of it; my conscience will not reproach me as long as I live.” God finally blessed Job’s perseverance. Job 42:7 “After the Lord had said these things to Job, he said to Eliphaz the Temanite, “I am angry with you and your two friends, because you have not spoken the truth about me, as my servant Job has.” Even though Job was tested severely, he remained steadfast and would not bend. Then God Job 42:10 “restored his fortunes and gave him twice as much as he had before.
Now Job had no idea that God had allowed satan to do this, but Job remained steadfast. He said Job 19:25 “I know that my redeemer lives, and that in the end he will stand on the earth. 26 And after my skin has been destroyed, yet in my flesh I will see God; 27 I myself will see him with my own eyes— I, and not another. How my heart yearns within me!” This account is so important for us to understand. Job may not have known, but because of Job, we know and can discern what testing looks like and how severe it can be. Having said that, we must be standing on God’s word and not waver just as Job never wavered. We do not stand firm on the word of others, doctrines and theology of the church, but on God’s word. Because of Job, we can read James and be strengthened in our journey. James 5:7 Be patient, then, brothers and sisters, until the Lord’s coming. See how the farmer waits for the land to yield its valuable crop, patiently waiting for the autumn and spring rains. 8 You too, be patient and stand firm, because the Lord’s coming is near. 9 Don’t grumble against one another, brothers and sisters, or you will be judged. The Judge is standing at the door! 10 Brothers and sisters, as an example of patience in the face of suffering, take the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord. 11 As you know, we count as blessed those who have persevered. You have heard of Job’s perseverance and have seen what the Lord finally brought about. The Lord is full of compassion and mercy.” Our Lenten journey will be about preparing to meet our God. James also tells us, James 1:2 “Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, 3 because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. 4 Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. 5 If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you. 6 But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. 7 That person should not expect to receive anything from the Lord. 8 Such a person is double-minded and unstable in all they do.” If you are standing firm on God’s word and facing all kinds of opposition, test the spirits and make sure you are following God’s word and then let nothing move you. 1 Corinthians 15:58 “Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.”
When you stand steadfast on God’s word, you believe that God will fulfill the very word you are standing on. We have this hope because of Abraham. God gave him a promise and that promise was dependant on his son Isaac. Genesis 17:3 “God said to him, 4 “As for me, this is my covenant with you: You will be the father of many nations. 5 No longer will you be called Abram; your name will be Abraham, for I have made you a father of many nations. 6 I will make you very fruitful; I will make nations of you, and kings will come from you. 7 I will establish my covenant as an everlasting covenant between me and you and your descendants after you for the generations to come, to be your God and the God of your descendants after you. 8 The whole land of Canaan, where you now reside as a foreigner, I will give as an everlasting possession to you and your descendants after you; and I will be their God.” 15 God also said to Abraham, “As for Sarai your wife, you are no longer to call her Sarai; her name will be Sarah. 16 I will bless her and will surely give you a son by her. I will bless her so that she will be the mother of nations; kings of peoples will come from her.” Here we see his lack of faith. 17 Abraham fell facedown; he laughed and said to himself, “Will a son be born to a man a hundred years old? Will Sarah bear a child at the age of ninety? 18 And Abraham said to God, “If only Ishmael might live under your blessing! 19 Then God said, “Yes, but your wife Sarah will bear you a son, and you will call him Isaac. I will establish my covenant with him as an everlasting covenant for his descendants after him. 20 And as for Ishmael, I have heard you: I will surely bless him; I will make him fruitful and will greatly increase his numbers. He will be the father of twelve rulers, and I will make him into a great nation. 21 But my covenant I will establish with Isaac, whom Sarah will bear to you by this time next year.” 22 When he had finished speaking with Abraham, God went up from him.” At this point, Abraham’s lack of faith still effects the world today but then God tested him and he became a man of righteousness. Genesis 21:1 “Now the Lord was gracious to Sarah as he had said, and the Lord did for Sarah what he had promised. 2 Sarah became pregnant and bore a son to Abraham in his old age, at the very time God had promised him. 3 Abraham gave the name Isaac to the son Sarah bore him.”
Then the test came. Genesis 22:1 “Some time later God tested Abraham. He said to him, “Abraham!” “Here I am,” he replied. 2 Then God said, “Take your son, your only son, whom you love—Isaac—and go to the region of Moriah. Sacrifice him there as a burnt offering on a mountain I will show you.” Abraham obeyed and was willing to sacrifice the promise God had given to him. He got to the point of sacrificing Isaac, actually the knife was about to come down and 11 the angel of the Lord called out to him from heaven, “Abraham! Abraham!” “Here I am,” he replied. 12 “Do not lay a hand on the boy,” he said. “Do not do anything to him. Now I know that you fear God, because you have not withheld from me your son, your only son. 15 The angel of the Lord called to Abraham from heaven a second time 16 and said, “I swear by myself, declares the Lord, that because you have done this and have not withheld your son, your only son, 17 I will surely bless you and make your descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and as the sand on the seashore. Your descendants will take possession of the cities of their enemies, 18 and through your offspring all nations on earth will be blessed, because you have obeyed me.” Paul tells us in Romans 4:18 “Against all hope, Abraham in hope believed and so became the father of many nations, just as it had been said to him, “So shall your offspring be.” 19 Without weakening in his faith, he faced the fact that his body was as good as dead—since he was about a hundred years old—and that Sarah’s womb was also dead. 20 Yet he did not waver through unbelief regarding the promise of God, but was strengthened in his faith and gave glory to God, 21 being fully persuaded that God had power to do what he had promised. 22 This is why “it was credited to him as righteousness.” Do you believe that God has the power to do as He says He will do?
If God has given you a promise, then hold on, stand steadfast on God’s word and do not give up. God will provide just as he did with Joseph, Job and Abraham. So do not be surprised when you are going through trials and are being tested. The good news is that if you submit to God, His plan will unfold in your life just as He said it would. If you refuse to wait on God’s plan to unfold, those trials will increase and in the end, you will not see eternal life, if you do not obey. Psalm 106:13 “But they soon forgot what he had done and did not wait for his plan to unfold. 14 In the desert they gave in to their craving; in the wilderness they put God to the test. 15 So he gave them what they asked for, but sent a wasting disease among them.” We do not have to be those who do not wait for God’s plan to unfold. Hebrews 10:32 “Remember those earlier days after you had received the light, when you endured in a great conflict full of suffering. 33 Sometimes you were publicly exposed to insult and persecution; at other times you stood side by side with those who were so treated. 34 You suffered along with those in prison and joyfully accepted the confiscation of your property, because you knew that you yourselves had better and lasting possessions. 35 So do not throw away your confidence; it will be richly rewarded. 36 You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised. 37 For, “In just a little while, he who is coming will come and will not delay.” 38 And, “But my righteous one will live by faith. And I take no pleasure in the one who shrinks back.” 39 But we do not belong to those who shrink back and are destroyed, but to those who have faith and are saved.” Do not shrink back!
I wanted to include a couple of examples that will show why it is so important to test the spirits and have discernment. When King Hezekiah was attacked, the enemy tried to trick them into believing that what the enemy offered was what God offered. 2 Kings 18:31 “Do not listen to Hezekiah. This is what the king of Assyria says: Make peace with me and come out to me. Then each of you will eat fruit from your own vine and fig tree and drink water from your own cistern, 32 until I come and take you to a land like your own—a land of grain and new wine, a land of bread and vineyards, a land of olive trees and honey. Choose life and not death! 36 But the people remained silent and said nothing in reply, because the king had commanded, “Do not answer him.” Earlier we talked about Jeroboam who was evil. 1 Kings 13:1 “At the time God sent a prophet to him. By the word of the Lord a man of God came from Judah to Bethel, as Jeroboam was standing by the altar to make an offering. 2 By the word of the Lord he cried out against the altar: “Altar, altar! This is what the Lord says: ‘A son named Josiah will be born to the house of David. On you he will sacrifice the priests of the high places who make offerings here, and human bones will be burned on you.’” 3 That same day the man of God gave a sign: “This is the sign the Lord has declared: The altar will be split apart and the ashes on it will be poured out.” That would eventually come to be as seen in 2 Kings 22:1 “Josiah was eight years old when he became king, and he reigned in Jerusalem thirty-one years. His mother’s name was Jedidah daughter of Adaiah; she was from Bozkath. 2 He did what was right in the eyes of the Lord and followed completely the ways of his father David, not turning aside to the right or to the left.”
Although this was amazing, the important part to learn here is that this prophet was tested by God, but failed the test. 1 Kings 13:7 “The king said to the man of God, “Come home with me for a meal, and I will give you a gift.” 8 But the man of God answered the king, “Even if you were to give me half your possessions, I would not go with you, nor would I eat bread or drink water here. 9 For I was commanded by the word of the Lord: ‘You must not eat bread or drink water or return by the way you came.’” 10 So he took another road and did not return by the way he had come to Bethel.” So the prophet did the right thing and obeyed, at least for now. An old prophet then went after the young prophet. He found him sitting under an oak tree and asked, “Are you the man of God who came from Judah?” “I am,” he replied. 15 So the prophet said to him, “Come home with me and eat.” 16 The man of God said, “I cannot turn back and go with you, nor can I eat bread or drink water with you in this place. 17 I have been told by the word of the Lord: ‘You must not eat bread or drink water there or return by the way you came.’” 18 The old prophet answered, “I too am a prophet, as you are. And an angel said to me by the word of the Lord: ‘Bring him back with you to your house so that he may eat bread and drink water.’” (But he was lying to him.) 19 So the man of God returned with him and ate and drank in his house.” The young man of God disobeyed God and did what he was not supposed to do. 20 While they were sitting at the table, the word of the Lord came to the old prophet who had brought him back. 21 He cried out to the man of God who had come from Judah, “This is what the Lord says: ‘You have defied the word of the Lord and have not kept the command the Lord your God gave you. 22 You came back and ate bread and drank water in the place where he told you not to eat or drink. Therefore your body will not be buried in the tomb of your ancestors.’” He then died. Paul said Galatians 1:6 “I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting the one who called you to live in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel— 7 which is really no gospel at all. Evidently some people are throwing you into confusion and are trying to pervert the gospel of Christ. 8 But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach a gospel other than the one we preached to you, let them be under God’s curse! 9 As we have already said, so now I say again: If anybody is preaching to you a gospel other than what you accepted, let them be under God’s curse!” This is a vivid example of how important it is to obey God’s word.
Last week we saw the example that God used when describing the lack of obedience the people had toward Him. We talked about the family that had vowed not to drink. This was a vow that was made because of their ancestor. God even tested them. Jeremiah 35:1 “This is the word that came to Jeremiah from the Lord during the reign of Jehoiakim son of Josiah king of Judah: 2 “Go to the Rekabite family and invite them to come to one of the side rooms of the house of the Lord and give them wine to drink.” 3 So I went to get Jaazaniah son of Jeremiah, the son of Habazziniah, and his brothers and all his sons—the whole family of the Rekabites. 4 I brought them into the house of the Lord, into the room of the sons of Hanan son of Igdaliah the man of God. It was next to the room of the officials, which was over that of Maaseiah son of Shallum the doorkeeper. 5 Then I set bowls full of wine and some cups before the Rekabites and said to them, “Drink some wine.” 6 But they replied, “We do not drink wine, because our forefather Jehonadab son of Rekab gave us this command: ‘Neither you nor your descendants must ever drink wine.” God would bless them. God was making a point that these men were faithful to a man, while Israel was not faithful to their God.
Stand firm on God’s word and be steadfast. Let nothing move you. You will be tested however God decides to test you. God’s testing will turn you into someone He can use and He will bless you when you pass the test. Will you pass the test and serve Him wholeheartedly or will you fail the test and be angry with God and turn away from Him? 1 Corinthians 16:13 “Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be courageous; be strong.” Luke 21:19 “Stand firm, and you will win life.” Next week we will be starting our Lenten Journey. Our theme is “Prepare to Meet Your God.” Are you prepared?