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The Patience Test | Tested

#storychanging

The Patience Test | Tested

Monday Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am being tempted by God,” for God cannot be tempted with evil, and he himself tempts no one. But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire.  James 1:13-14

Is it a test or a temptation? It’s easy to mistake” tempting” for “testing,” but they’re not the same. They’re actually at opposite ends of the trial spectrum and it’s critically important to know the difference. One is from God and one is from Satan. A temptation is an opportunity to do wrong; a test is an opportunity to do right. Satan designs temptations to draw us away from God’s plan. God designs tests to develop the character of Christ in us. Notice the difference in these examples:

Temptation— “I guess God is testing me,” grumbled Maude. “He keeps sending me these loser guys and I keep falling for ‘em. That last one took all my money and the one before gave me an STD. Why is God sending me these people?”

Test— “I think God is testing me,” sighed Claude. “Second layoff in six months and Lucy needs surgery. I could go to work for Shady Dan, but I know he’d ask me to do something wrong. I just can’t do that. We’ll have to trust God to meet our needs.”

Final Thought: Temptations from Satan create strongholds and disaster; tests from God create trust and obedience.  

Prayer: Lord, some of my struggles are self-inflicted, but some are tests from you to prove my character. May I never accuse you of tempting me to sin. You never do that. Help me accept difficulties as opportunities to grow. In Jesus’ name, amen.

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Tuesday Then Abraham waited patiently, and he received what God had promised.  Hebrews 6:15

“Remind me again what God said, Abe,” Sarah pestered. “It’s been nearly 24 years since He promised us—” Abraham frowned and waved her away. “I know,” he said. “I don’t understand it either, but I know what I heard, Sarah. Yahweh Himself told me we’re gonna have a baby…YOU’RE gonna have a baby. He wasn’t at all pleased with our attempts to make it happen on our own. You know, Ishmael and all. We have to keep trusting, honey. I’m gonna believe God’s word, no matter how long it takes.”

We all have to wait, but it’s HOW we wait that matters. Sometimes we get mad (Why is God doing this to me!). Sometimes we go ahead with our own idea (Well, if God’s not gonna answer my prayer, I’ll just do it myself). Sometimes we give up on God completely (God didn’t answer my prayer so I’m through with Him.) Abraham didn’t just wait, he waited PATIENTLY. When friends and relatives had given up, when the promised son didn’t arrive, Abraham kept trusting. God had given His word. That was enough. That has to be enough for us too because we also have His word. It does not promise everything we want; it promises everything God wants for us. So we can wait patiently, like Abraham did, trusting that God keeps His word

Final Thought: What is your response when you have to wait?    Angry        Frustrated        Irritated      Bored        Patient

Prayer: Father, I’m not very good at waiting. Your timing is usually much slower than I’d like. But that’s not a mistake. You intend it that way to teach me to trust you. Help me learn to wait on your timing with patience and trust. In Jesus’ name, amen.

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WednesdayHe was convinced that God is able to do whatever he promises… and God counted him righteous. Rom. 4:21

“Don’t leave, Beth!” cried Lila. “Sam’s coming with the bus to take us all to the beach for the weekend!” Four other friends nodded in agreement, but Beth grabbed her bag and sunglasses. “I know. I heard him, but he’s late. Maybe he forgot.” She started scrolling through her phone. “Maybe Sherry could…” Lila rolled her eyes. “Will you stop? You know Sam. If he says something, he does it. He’ll be here.” Beth shook her head, still scrolling. “I’m tired of waiting. I’m gonna start walking.” Lila cried, “You don’t even know which beach, Bethy! Don’t give up. Wait with us!” But Beth shook her head and started walking in the 100-degree heat. And that’s why Beth spent the weekend in the hospital while her friends were camping on the beach.

Many people hear God’s promises. They nod in agreement with God’s word. But life doesn’t go the way they thought it would, so they start walking. “I’ll just make this happen myself,” they say. And that’s why they end up broken and bruised, angry at

God for situations they created themselves. God was pleased with Abraham’s faith because it never wavered, even though he had to wait an impossible length of time for the promise to come true. And during that waiting time, Abraham grew in his relationship with God. He grew in obedience. In understanding. In faith. Through waiting, Abraham developed the character that would earn him the title “Father of Faith.” God can use us too, when we are convinced that He will do what He promised.

Final Thought: If you’re waiting on God’s promise, take heart. Your waiting is not in vain. Just ask Abraham.

Prayer: Father, you know this dream in my heart. I believe you put it there. Instead of trying to make it happen my way, I choose to wait in confidence that you will do what you promised. Help me wait patiently. In Jesus’ name, amen.

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Thursday God blesses those who patiently endure testing and temptation. Afterward they will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him.  James 1:12

“What’s with Miller?” Drew asked as he put away his tennis racket. “He hasn’t been on the golf course in a couple of months. I invite him to go to the games with us, but he always has some excuse.” Ward nodded and grabbed his jacket. “Yeah, he and Molly have been going through some rough times. He got laid off back in the summer and now Molly’s got cancer.” Drew let out a low whistle. “Man, you can’t tell. He’s always so cheerful, talking about that church of his. And Molly. Man, that’s too bad.” Ward laughed. “Yeah, funny thing, though. He keeps saying he’s got a reward coming. Wonder what he means?”

Miller has read this verse. As much as he may want to complain or give in to despair, he’s counting on that crown of life God promised. It’s a reward for everyone who loves the Lord and trusts that His way is best. Life can get pretty grim. Tragedy hits from out of the blue. Betrayals, shocks, losses: they can steal the strength from our hearts and the smiles from our faces. If this world’s rewards were all we had coming, who’d blame us for giving up when it got too hard? But this world is not the final chapter. It’s only Eternity’s training camp. God can’t wait to reward those who turn away from Satan’s temptations and endure His tests with patience. And the One who taught oysters to make pearls and hid diamonds in rocks knows how to give rewards. Unlike Satan’s glittery knock-offs that break in our hands, God’s rewards are the highest quality and they last forever.

Final Thought: Your resolve to keep obeying instead of giving up is not going unnoticed. God keeps very good records.

Prayer: Father, there’ve been times I would have given up if I could. It helps to remember that you see me. You take note of my heart’s determination to follow you. You know what I’m going through and you care. Keep me strong til I see you. Amen.

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Friday  Rest in the LORD and wait patiently for Him…  Psalm 37:7

“Radical extremists have been burning homes all day,” the email read. “We’re gathered in our house with some from our church, praying and resting in the Lord.” WHAT? Resting in the Lord while mobs destroy your town? How is that possible? Those missionaries had learned what we need to learn. When we’ve come to the end of all we can do, we release the situation to the Lord and rest in Him. When the scan shows a mass, when the layoffs start, when the doctor says, “I’m sorry, there is nothing more we can do,” our natural inclination is to freak out, get angry, or deny it. God gives a better option: Rest in Him.

Resting in the Lord is NOT denial. It’s not ignoring the facts. It’s a deliberate transfer of a potential crisis. “I don’t know what to do, Father!” we cry as we lift it up to Him. “So I let go and give it to you. I refuse fear. I reject anger. I choose to rest patiently in you and accept your outcome.” Sometimes we have to do that every five seconds, but we’re choosing God’s way instead of Satan’s way. Even when we don’t like or understand the outcome, we receive it from the Lord knowing one day we will see that   it was the best possible answer. It takes self-discipline to choose rest instead of panic. But it’s how we develop patience. And the next time crisis hits, we remember what to do. God sends little tests to grade our progress. The way we respond to the tests tells us whether we need more practice. When we start getting A’s, the reward is a peace that even Satan can’t rattle.

Final Thought:  The next time a crisis hits, determine to rest in the Lord and wait patiently for Him.

Prayer: Father, I still have a ways to go before my first response to crisis is patience. But I want to get there. I want to be so unflappable that I can even face death with perfect peace. Help me see crises as opportunities to grow. In Jesus’ name, amen.