Saturday, August 28, 2010

Understanding God’s Processing In Us Through Trials

I want to give a quick synopsis of a recent message I gave as I believe it is timely for many people at the moment:

Joseph, Moses, and David all had important calls and purposes God had for their lives but all of them went through severe and extended trial, testing, and preparation, in being made ready for the blessing the Lord would eventually bring so as to handle it correctly once it came.

Imagine Joseph in prison wondering what had become of the dreams he had received and how on earth could this severe trial possibly have anything to do with those dreams. However, that trial was indeed part of the preparation for those dreams being fulfilled; God had indeed called him and would use him later in a very important way. Likewise with both Moses and David, trials did rule their lives for quite an extended period. David must have wondered what being pursued like a fugitive all over the countryside by Saul had to do with being anointed as the next king by the prophet Samuel. He, in fact, was having the Saul tried out of him however.

King Saul never had that preparation and in fact completely faltered when brought into a position of leadership; he thought his own human reasoning could take the place of being led by God’s Spirit, and it led him alright, right into disobedience and catastrophe. David learned to seek God through these severe trials and those lessons stayed with him later.

In the same way, God often takes us as his children through heavy trials but they have a purpose if we have ears to hear. He wants to teach us reliance on Him. The Apostle Paul learned to not rely on his own strength and instead learned to say, “When I am weak then I am strong, for God’s grace is sufficient for me.” Likewise God will extract out of our lives everything that keeps us from being centered on anything but the sheer grace of His glorious Son Jesus.

Jesus alone paid the whole price and all the glory goes to him. He will have no competing thoughts, idols, or strongholds that might lead us to think that our own works, or abilities, or accomplishments, have anything to do with the great blessing He brings. Christ and Christ alone is to be glorified. As Luther said: God creates out of nothing and until he makes us realize we are nothing He can do nothing with us. Oh, what do you know? Christianity actually has a cross in it (!) in spite of what some TV preacher guy may have told you about unbridled prosperity. The cross and trials are indeed part of the preparation process for us to handle the blessings and increase that He will eventually bring.

He wants to prepare long distance runners that persevere and hear His voice and follow His will and direction, those that are led by His Spirit and rely on His grace and love and power, and not human-centered individuals that look only to their own strength and resources and their own human reasoning and like Saul, falter when given a task to carry out by Him. And the only road that will get us to that place is through the cross.