Testing and trials

Sunday service, Erlo Stegen, 02 Jul 2017

(David Kid and others shared before the service how that yesterday they were in Inanda and experienced something unique. The family and whole community came together to give thanks to God for what He had done for a young man amongst them. His parents had chased the son from home because of his evil ways, going around using drugs and being completely unruly. He had stolen from his parents’ home to support his drug habit. But he had come to the mission and received help and returned humbly and apologized on his knees to his dad for the bad son he had been! For six hours people from the community shared their joy for what God had done through the Lord Jesus in this young man’s life. The father of the boy spoke and so to say jumped for joy. And that is what God is doing in young men’s lives all the time. Are we part of it or looking on from the sideline?)

2Chron 32:31, “But when envoys were sent by the rulers of Babylon to ask him about the miraculous sign that had occurred in the land, God left him to test him and to know everything that was in his heart.”

God wanted to see what was in the heart of Hezekiah. The rulers of Babylon sent their envoys to him, to come and see and hear for themselves what God was busy doing in the land. But when they came, God left Hezekiah.
Previously when the king of Assyria came to besiege Jerusalem, Hezekiah went to the prophet Isaiah, and God sent His angel to kill 185,000 from the Assyrian army, and delivered Jerusalem (2Kings 19).
His second test was that of his illness. After he had witnessed God’s miraculous intervention in saving him from the Assyrians he became ill. God sent the prophet Isaiah to him to say that he had to prepare his house for he will die. But he turned his face to the wall and pleaded with God. God saw his tears and heard his prayer and added 15 years to his life (Isaiah 38; 2Kings 20).
Now this was the third test of Hezekiah that we’ve read about. This was the test of his success and being able to testify to God’s victory in destroying his enemies. Why did God leave Hezekiah at this time? We read that Hezekiah did not return the good that God had done for him (2Chron 32:25). For his heart was proud.

That happens when we take God’s blessings and everything that He gives us and places it above God. Then God forsakes such a person. If we use our time as we want to use it, according to our own choice we will suffer. God is too holy and pure to have fellowship with such a heart.

The visit of these Babylonian ambassadors was God’s way to test him and see how he will thank God for everything He had done for Israel. But Hezekiah didn’t use that opportunity aright, to testify to the power of God, and of the grace of God, and the mercy of God. He would have brought great honour to God’s name. But instead he took the honour upon himself and became uplifted and haughty and puffed up. He honoured himself instead of God. We read in the psalms, “test me and know my heart o God, and know my anxious thoughts, and see if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting” (Ps 139:23-24).

If he had thanked God and glorified His name, he would have been blessed. But when God saw how he uplifted himself, God left him to reveal what was in his heart. God tests us as well to reveal what is in our hearts.

When God tests us and tries us, it is to purify us, that our faith may be strengthened. When some are tried, they lose all strength. But when you’ve confessed that sin and are tempted again, it is because God wants to see what is in your heart. He wants to strengthen your faith. Some when they are tempted again after they’ve repented, give up and think that it is useless to repent. That is foolish. God wants to strengthen your faith. Thank God that He is teaching you to overcome satan.

Testing and trials also come our way that we may humble ourselves and not uplift ourselves.

When you are blessed satan will attack you more viciously than before. That ought not to finish our strength but give us more strength. It humbles us lest we are proud.

Paul writes how that God gave him a thorn in the flesh lest he uplifted himself.
2Cor 12:7, “… because of these surpassingly great revelations. Therefore, in order to keep me from becoming conceited, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me.”

Another reason God tests us is because He wants to see what we love. When God tested Abraham to offer up Isaac it wasn’t just to strengthen his faith, but also to see if he loves God more than his son. God said to Israel, what is it that God requires but that you fear God, walk in His ways, and love and serve Him with all your heart (Deut 10:12).

He wants us to thank Him for His blessings. That we thank and serve Him more than the things of this world. That we thank Him for His abundant blessings, including His Word.

The character and worth of a soldier is never known in times of peace. 2Cor 12:10, “that is why for Christ’s sake I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”

Lastly God tests and tries us so that we may also help others that are tried. Jesus said to Peter, “Simon, Simon, Satan has asked to sift each of you like wheat. But I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith will not fail. And when you have turned back, strengthen your brothers.” (Luke 22:31-32).

In order to overcome in the test, see to it that your faith is built on God. Then God can keep you and will keep you till the end.

Pray that when God uses you, that in the very depths of your heart you will only have gratitude to God. Give all the honour only to God. That people may not see you but God and praise Him. That God may be pleased with what He sees in your heart.

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