On Sunday we closed with Jeremiah. In that passage was this verse Jeremiah 31:18 “You disciplined me like an unruly calf, and I have been disciplined.” Much discipline in the bible comes from periods of testings. I always think of King David and Job for starters. God allowed satan to test Job and he was severely tested but Job 1:22 “In all this, Job did not sin by charging God with wrongdoing.” During this period in his life Job 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!” Then in the end God blessed Job. Job 42:10 “After Job had prayed for his friends, the Lord restored his fortunes and gave him twice as much as he had before. 11 All his brothers and sisters and everyone who had known him before came and ate with him in his house. They comforted and consoled him over all the trouble the Lord had brought on him, and each one gave him a piece of silver and a gold ring.” David was anointed by Samuel as King but he went though much hardship before taking the throne as Saul spent most of his time trying to kill David. During this time David said, “Psalm 27:13 “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.” In the end God’s purpose was served. Job 23:10 “But he knows the way that I take; when he has tested me, I will come forth as gold.
When we serve the sovereign Lord we need to understand that we will be tested. It is easy to serve when all is going well and most people can do that but what happens when things do not go well. Will you remain faithful as Job and David did or do you turn away from God. Testing and discipline are part of the journey as a Christian. Deuteronomy 4:34 “Has any god ever tried to take for himself one nation out of another nation, by testings, by signs and wonders, by war, by a mighty hand and an outstretched arm, or by great and awesome deeds, like all the things the Lord your God did for you in Egypt before your very eyes?” 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. 3 He humbled you, causing you to hunger and then feeding you with manna, which neither you nor your ancestors had known, to teach you that man does not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord. 4 Your clothes did not wear out and your feet did not swell during these forty years. 5 Know then in your heart that as a man disciplines his son, so the Lord your God disciplines”
You may say what purpose does this testing serve? The first is to see whether you will continue to follow. God wants to look into your heart to see if you will obey. Hebrews chapter three gives us a warning about unbelief. Hebrews 3:8 do not harden your hearts as you did in the rebellion, during the time of testing in the wilderness.” Their hearts were ones that went astray. How many times do you see people who start strong and then turn away? Luke 8:11 “This is the meaning of the parable of the sower: 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.” This shows there will be a time of testing. I have to say the frightening part here is how easily some fall away from serving the sovereign Lord. They do so with very little testing.
The second is to develop perseverance. Hebrews 12:7 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.” 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.” James 5:10 “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.”
So endure hardship, trials and whatever testing may come but do not give up. Joshua 1:7 “Be strong and very courageous. Be careful to obey all the law my servant Moses gave you; do not turn from it to the right or to the left, that you may be successful wherever you go. 8 Keep this Book of the Law always on your lips; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful. 9 Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” Be like the Apostle Paul. Acts 20:19 I served the Lord with great humility and with tears and in the midst of severe testing by the plots of my Jewish opponents.”
Most importantly we know we can endure times of testing because God is doing it for our own good but we are not alone. Hebrews 2:18 “Because he himself suffered when he was tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted.” Hebrews 4:14 “Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has ascended into heaven, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess. 15 For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin. 16 Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.” If Jesus was tempted and tested, what makes us think we will not be? If you are being testing make sure you do not fall away. Ask yourself; Am I still trusting, believing? Am I angry with God? Do I take time to be in the word? Am I part of a group of worshippers or have I stopped meeting. Hebrews 10:23 “Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. 24 And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, 25 not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.” 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.”