Does God need to test us?

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One of the comments I often hear is, ‘God is testing me’ or ‘why is He testing me?’ If we believe that everything is a test, then we are most likely living in a state of anxiety and of inferiority. While we have feelings of anxiety and inferiority it is difficult to make significant progress in life.

Let us deal with the question, ‘Does God test us?’

God does not have to test us, as He already knows all our weaknesses[1]. God is described as omniscient – all knowing. Nothing is hidden from Him[2]. God is totally aware of where we will succumb to the pressures of life and he is not ‘caught out’ when we blow it.

There is no scripture in the New Covenant that says God tests us. The scriptures says that our faith will be tested[3]. What happens is that the random events of life overtake us and when that happens we are faced with the dilemma of whether to believe God or try and sort it out on our own or in our own way. It is actually the enemy of our souls who is testing us by throwing circumstances at us in order to make us doubt God. It is our enemy who wants us to doubt the promises. The test is: are we going to believe God or the lies of the enemy?

We are encouraged to check out (test) if the things we are doing are of value[4]. We should do this because if we don’t, we can put a lot of time into something that is a waste of effort and could cause us hardship. We are also asked to test everything[5] when it comes to prophecy and to hold on to that which is going to benefit us.

If we feel God is testing us we have a wrong theology; we are then trying to prove we are good enough to be accepted by God. We are already acceptable to God because of Jesus. What the testing of our faith reveals is those inherent weaknesses in all of us. When these weaknesses are revealed we need to call on the Holy Spirit who was sent to help us[6], because we can’t make it on our own.

In conclusion, our heavenly Father is not testing us, neither is he mad at us. He has sent his Holy Spirit to empower us[7]in a world that can simply overwhelm us.


[1] 2 Corinthians 12:9-10, Hebrews 4:15

[2] Hebrews 14:13

[3] James 1:3

[4] Galatians 6:4

[5] I Thessalonians 5:21

[6] Romans 8:26

[7] Ephesians 3:16

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Dealing with anger towards God

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It is amazing how many people have anger towards God because they have experienced a sense of injustice, a feeling that God is unfair. At the same time we may also feel we should not be angry with God or even, it is wrong to be angry with God. This may lead to feelings of guilt.

The questions to ask are: ‘What did God do wrong?’ and ‘Why am I angry towards God?’

Anger, as we have discussed previously[1], is an emotion that tells us that a right has been violated. To resolve our anger we need to establish what right has been violated and is this right valid? Our anger towards God often relates to our expectations not being met. We may read in the Bible the promises but find that when we pray they don’t materialise. Also, we may look at the misery, poverty, famines, disasters and crimes against humanity and feel angry towards God because it appears that He is not doing anything about it. These are valid reasons to be angry, and so they should be, but is it directed towards the right source?

We need to remember that there are evil forces at work in this world. It is due to mankind’s own blunders that these evil forces have tried to get the upper hand. When God created the world he also created man to take care of it. As mankind experienced and came to know good and evil, this right to govern earth was stolen from him. It was only 2000 years ago that the right of those evil forces to govern the earth, was finally broken. But those evil farces are still at work today deceiving and lying. One of the biggest lies is that the misery in this world is all God’s fault. If we believe the lie then we will experience anger towards God. If we are not fooled into believing the lie, then we will direct our fight in the right direction.[2]

‘What did God do wrong?’ The correct answer is that He has come to rescue us from the mess the world is in. Because we are in the mess and because we are feeling the injustice of the world, it does not mean He has lost control or He is doing nothing. God is ultimately in control and justice will be done. When we have come out of the mess on the other side, we will understand more clearly.

What we also need to remember is that God is with us in the mess but at the same time does not interfere with our choice or the choices of others. What we think and believe will ultimately influence the extent to which we can experience Him in our mess. Also our wrong attitudes, our pride, our stubbornness, our unforgiveness and our judgments will also prevent us receiving the help that we are seeking from Him.

The saddest part of being angry with God is that while we are angry, we are unable to approach the only one who is truly able to help us here. He is not stopping us approaching Him but it is our own attitude that gets in the way.

The true significance of life

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We are about to celebrate the most remarkable, one-off event in the whole of the history of mankind – the crucifixion and the resurrection of a man who lived over two thousand years ago – a man from the Jewish tribe of Judah called Yeshua (Jesus).

As I have been pondering this event I came to a conclusion that this event is what gives life meaning. Without this event ultimately life would be meaningless. Francis Chan said it this way;

“Our greatest fear should not be of failure but of succeeding at things in life that don’t really matter.”

We may be succeeding in life, and to the world it may look like we are flourishing, but without this event, our successes are meaningless.

What a waste to go through this life with all its hardship, its traumas, its difficulties only to find that in the end all our struggles were for nothing. On the flip side, we may not succeed in life, we may be defeated by the random events of this world, but by understand the far reaching implications of this time, our life will not be wasted. Is it not strange that the true meaning of life is so pivotal on such a single event?

The world may wish to trivialise the importance of this occasion and divert our attention. Easter, eggs and bunnies have nothing to do with this occasion. The word Easter is derived from Eostre, who was the Great Mother goddess of the Saxon people in Northern Europe and the Teutonic dawn goddess of fertility [1]. Let us be on our guard and not be diverted by the commercialism of the world from the true significance of the occasion.

For me it is a time to ponder once more on the huge amount of suffering Jesus had to endure and fully appreciate the moment; not that I have to become morbid and downcast. On the contrary, as I appreciate its significance I am more able to celebrate the experience with wonder, thankfulness and joy. It is a time for celebration that there is meaning to living life. For me it is a time of saying, ‘Wow! It is finished’; I no longer have to strive to try and make myself acceptable because of the new bargain between Jesus and our Father in heaven. Not only that but I also don’t have to face the difficulties of life without divine help. What a bargain!

To all my readers, I wish you great joy as we celebrate the significance of this event and of life together.

Living to please the Father’s heart,

Merril

God and our suffering

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There is noting in the Bible that tells us that God will prevent us experiencing pain and suffering. But there is a lot that tells us that He will be with us in our pain and suffering. God is not there to get us out of our mess so that we remain irresponsible and make the same mistakes again. What He wants is for us to grow and mature, become wise and responsible.

While we are in our mess, He is able to show us much about Himself, His character, His faithfulness and His love. Not only is He able to show us stuff about Himself, He is also able to show us stuff about ourselves, like bad attitudes, inappropriate behaviour and our unresolved hurts.

If we will not listen nor learn after He has shown us how to live, He will continue to allow us to experience the consequences of our actions. We cannot blame God if we choose not to listen nor learn from our experiences. This is what He calls His discipline (1). This discipline is not punishment but training towards maturity.

God wants us to become responsible and think through the consequence of our actions (2). If we don’t do this we cannot blame God for the consequences. God has given us an intelligent brain to think and intelligence enough to reason that we cannot out think Him. We need to learn that His plans are always better than our plans (3) even thought it might not be what we would like or that there may be some discomfort. We need to learn to call on Him, ask for His advice and commit our plans to him(4) before we do something. Most immature people do it the other way round: they plunge ahead with their plan and when it goes wrong, call on God to bail them out. He won’t bail us out (5) because if He does, we will never learn to rely and work with Him.

God wants us to be mature. If we are not He will teach us. If we don’t learn we will experience pain and suffering. But rest assured, He is with us in our mess even if it feels like He is not there (6).


1 Hebrews 12:7

2 Luke 14:28

3 Isaiah 55:9

4 Proverbs 3:5-6

5 Isaiah 50:11

6 Deuteronomy 31:6

God, where were you when things went wrong?

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In my previous blog we learnt that sickness is the result of how we live and it is our responsibility to live correctly. But, we may become confused when we pray to God to protect us and an accident happens. Or maybe we are asking for a successful medical operation and there are complications.

The question is: ‘God, why did you not prevent this?’

Most of us accept that God created the universe. He created the earth and he also created all the natural and scientific laws that govern the earth and our universe. Science is a wonderful thing. It tells us how stuff works, the deflection when two objects collide or the breaking strain of a material. When we know how and why, we can manage our lives appropriately. We know that if we place metal in salt water that corrosion will take place. We know that if we ingest chemicals that are poisonous we will get sick. We also know that if we fall badly we could break our bones. But we also know that if we reset the broken bones they will heal. These are the natural and scientific laws working as God intended them to.

I believe that God intended us to live in cooperation and in harmony with these laws. I don’t think that he intended that we should try to defy them. So when we get hurt defying scientific laws, we shouldn’t behave like petulant children, moaning or blaming Him for our own decisions. God wants us to be mature, act wisely and manage what he has given us to manage.

While Jesus was here on earth, he demonstrated that God is bigger than the natural and scientific laws of our time-space continuum. We know that Jesus healed the sick, changed substances, walked on water, multiplied food and moved through walls. What is even more amazing is that he said that we would also be able to do this stuff through the Holy Spirit (1). I believe there is a proviso. It will not happen while we remain immature, full of ego, pride or arrogance (2). We need to be wise, understand and live within the parameters of the scientific laws of universe while at the same time intervene through the direction of the Holy Spirit.

I know that God is intimately involved with each of us and interested in what we are doing. He will not intervene while our unwise actions will bring us to maturity, despite how painful that experience might be. We will never learn to aim carefully while hitting a nail with a hammer if we are immune to the pain of hitting our thumb. This is how we learn. This is how we mature. This is how we gain wisdom. All for the purpose of us one day being beneficiaries of the kingdom (3).

So, where was God when things went wrong?’ I believe He is there and making sure that things do not get so out of hand that something more than we can endure will happen to us (4).


1 John 14:12-16

2 I Corinthians 14:20, Colossians 4:12, Hebrews 5:14

3 Matthew 25:34, James 2:5

4 I Corinthians 10:30

 

Why does God allow sickness?

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We all know that poor diet, lack of exercise and a poor life style will have an impact upon our bodies. We are also aware that worry, stress and bad thinking patterns will also have a detrimental effect upon our health. If we can choose a healthy lifestyle physically, emotionally, mentally and spiritually our bodies will for the most part remain healthy. All of these are to some degree a matter of our own choice.

God said to Adam and Eve (1) that when they have an understanding of what is right and wrong, then this knowledge will cause them to die (2 ) prematurely. So what caused them to die before their allotted time?

Physiologically we know that the hypothalamus regulates the endocrine system of the body. So if a lion were to spring out at us, we will experience fear. This fear triggers the hypothalamus to send out messages to the correct glands to produce adrenalin for the body to spring into action and escape. But when fear is triggered by psychological reactions (something unreal) the body cannot use the adrenalin because there is nothing physically we can run from. This begins to take its toll on the body and causes the body to break down.

Likewise, we have an understanding of what is right and wrong, and when we begin to live in fear, guilt, shame, disgust, mistrust, bitterness etc., these emotions trigger the hypothalamus causing an imbalance that affects various parts of the body. These parts of the body then start to break down, become less resistant to germs and we experience sickness. Pastor Henry Wright has done some excellent work on the psychosomatic roots of diseases, all stemming from negative thoughts and beliefs (3). Unfortunately we all live in a world that is full of stress and fear.

God in his wisdom has given us guidelines on how to live, how to think and how to behave. He has chosen not to control our thinking. He has given us the freedom to choose. The choice is ours and if we could do it his way, our bodies would be less likely to become sick and secondly, when we do become ill we will have the ability to recover quickly.

When we are sick we quickly realise that something is wrong. We will then set out to correct it by firstly going to the doctor. Often only the symptoms are address. Medication may help to manage the sickness but what is needed is that the underlying reasons should also be addressed.

Sickness is the result of how we live; it is not God’s fault. It is our mismanagement of that which we have been given to look after. It is the result of living in a broken world.


1 Genesis 2:17

2 From the Hebrew word ‘mûth’ meaning ‘to cause to die before its time’

3 “A More Excellent Way” by Pastor Henry Wright

 

God and sickness

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The topic of God and sickness causes much consternation. This is one of the biggest quandaries for believers; especially those who have seen God miraculously heal someone. The question then is, ‘why are not all believers who have faith, healed?’ We know that the Apostle Paul experienced people being healed but yet why did not God heal his eyes? Is God unfair or just whimsical? Is there something we can do about it or should we just tolerate our pain or condition until we die?

The first question to ask is, ‘what is God’s heart regarding sickness?’ and then to get a bigger understanding why we get sick.

Let me answer the first part: ‘what is God’s heart regarding sickness?’

It is vitally important that we know that God wants us to be healthy. He does not want us to be sick. How can we live life to the full or abundantly (1) when we are sick? How can we be the head and not the tail (2) if we are sick? Healing is the children’s bread (3); in other words, healing and deliverance is what God’s children should be ‘eating as a staple diet’.

The most disappointing proclamation I hear is of a person, who has been sick for a while and not experienced healing, say, ‘God wants me to be sick so that I can be a witness for Him in my sickness.’ That is the biggest lie we can ever believe. Such a statement is the result of trying to fit the experience into our doctrine. Doctrine is bigger than our experiences. God wants us well; he does not want us sick.

The result of such a false doctrine is that we give up looking for healing. We settle for second best and in fact, we have lost our faith in God’s ability to heal. The starting point of getting healed is that we must believe that God wants us well irrespective of what we are experiencing. We must also believe God has the power to heal.

The next step is we need to understand why we have become sick and what we need to do to allow God to bring healing into our time-space continuum.

I will talk more about that in my next blog.


1 John 10:10

2 Deuteronomy 28:13,44

3 Mark 7:25-27

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