April 1st

Faith Tests

3Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 4and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade--kept in heaven for you, 5who through faith are shielded by God's power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time. 6In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. 7These have come so that your faith--of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire--may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed.  1 Peter 1:3-7 NIV 

“Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, 3because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. 4Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” James 1:2-4 NIV 

Placing faith in Jesus Christ is the best decision anyone can ever make on earth.  Doing so brings us a new birth into a “living hope” and an inheritance in heaven that will not perish.  Our faith creates a type of shield through God’s power that protects us from the attacks the devil may launch against us (Ephesians 6:16).   

The true challenges of Christianity come when we put our faith into practice and strive to live in obedience to Jesus’ teachings.  When we do this, we can expect trials of various kinds.  This is how we share in the “sufferings of Christ.”  Paul wrote, “Now if we are children, then we are heirs – heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory” (Romans 8:17 NIV).  

James 1:2-4 (above) reveals that trials test the strength of our faith and successfully going through them develops perseverance.  Perseverance, in turn, has a certain "work" in us, producing maturity and completeness.    Like a "feedback loop" in a system, the maturity and completeness from perseverance will strengthen our character and faith in God.

Peter and James told their congregations to actually take joy in the various trials that they were going through.  Paul and Silas exemplified that attitude when they sang praise songs in prison in Acts 16:25.  It may sound crazy, but it makes sense when you think about the kind of glory that they would share in when they got to heaven.  

The world and the evil one bring the trials against us.  A few examples of trials are persecution, rejection, financial problems, marriage/family troubles, temptations and job problems. God may protect us from the trials, or he may permit them in order to test the genuineness of our faith.  The question is, when things get tough, whom will we rely on?  Hopefully the answer will be God and his promises.  This could seem harsh or cruel, however if we could see the eternal perspective and the reality of our heavenly reward, the trials would perhaps make more sense to us. 

God is always looking for faithful servants to whom he can entrust his kingdom work to on earth.  He wants to be sure those he appoints will be strong enough in their faith to complete his mission for them.  

Questions for further thought:

Prayer:

“Lord Jesus, thank you for enduring the trials and suffering of the cross on my behalf. Thank you for remaining faithful to the Father’s will and purchasing my salvation.  Thank you for the privilege of being called by your name.  Lord I realize that trials may come my way on earth.  Please strengthen me to endure such trials and remain faithful to you.  I pray that my perseverance will bring you praise, honor and glory to you.  Also, I pray that I will be made mature and complete, lacking nothing.  Please help me to always keep my heavenly inheritance in mind.  Thank you, Jesus! Amen.”