Rick Warren - How God Tests Your Faith
If you take out your message notes inside your program, you may not have realized that for the past four or five weeks I've had you in a series on building character. We didn't announce it, but that's where we were going. I started with a message called Making the Hard Changes In Me, that was the first message right after Easter. Making the hard changes in me, about character development. Then the next week, I had Jason, a friend teach on building or breaking the destructive patterns in your life. Breaking the destructive patterns in your life. The next week, George and Tondra Gregory talked about how God uses marriage to build your character and how God says that marriage is not simply to make you happy, it's to make you holy. And then last week, of course Kay taught us on learning to see your blind spots. What a message, huh? What a message.
I wanna continue in that theme this week by looking at how God uses tests in your life to grow your character and to strengthen your faith. Now Kay said this last week, it's one of the fundamental laws of spiritual growth and one of the values in our church is that God's number one goal in your life is to make you like Jesus. God's goal on earth is not to make you happy; God's goal on your life is to grow you up the spiritual maturity. Happiness comes from holiness. And in heaven you're gonna be happy for trillions and trillions of years. This is the growing stage. This is the development stage. Not everything works perfectly and not everything goes the way you want it to go because God is much more interested in your character than He is your comfort. So you shouldn't expect everything to go right in this life. It's not going to.
God wants to grow your character. He wants you to make you spiritually mature. Don't want you to be a spiritual baby all your life and He wants you to grow up. And our model of course is Jesus Christ, who was love, joy, peace, patience, gentleness, goodness, faithfulness, meekness, self-control; He was the fruit of the spirit; and He's our model for spiritual maturity. Now one of the ways, one of the ways that God grows you up is by testing you. When you work out in a gym you test your muscles by lifting weights and the more weight you can lift, the more test your muscle, the more it grows your muscle. And God builds your character the same way, through a series of tests. And those test test your faith, they test your character, they test your patience, they test all kinds of things in your life.
Now the good news behind that is that there is a purpose behind every problem in your life. Problems are not simply arbitrary. Problems are not simply by chance. The problems that come into your life are there to test your character, to grow your character, to grow your faith to help you become all that God wants you to be: the man God wants you to be, the woman God wants you to be. So every problem has a purpose and it's designed to help you grow. Now we know that from what the Bible says. They're at the top of your outline. James 1, it says this, whenever troubles come your way, whenever trouble comes your way, let it be an opportunity for joy. Huh? Oh, oh, I got another problem: I'm happy. Whenever trouble comes your way, let it be an opportunity for joy.
Now if we just stop there, that wouldn't make any sense. But then it gives you the reason for the joy. For when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, let it grow, for when it is fully developed you will be, read it with me, strong in character and ready for anything. I want you to be strong in character. I want you to be ready for anything that happens in life that you're able to handle. You are resilient, you are responsible, you are strong. You're a strong woman, you're a strong man because you have strength of character and you're ready for anything because your faith is tested. Now notice those two phrases. I want you to circle the phrase faith is tested and circle the phrase strong in character and draw a line between those two because they go together. The way you become strong in character is to have your faith tested.
And Kay talked about this and George and Tondra talked about this, and Jason talked about this, and I talked about it in the first message of series that God uses the conflicts and the problems and the pressures, and the trials, and the difficulties, and the disasters and the dangers, and the dead-ends, and the disappointments. He uses all of it to test your faith and to grow you strong in character. And if you intend to be the man or the woman God wants you to be, God will test your faith. Now what I'm gonna do today is just take you through six of the many test you're gonna go through. Fortunately, God wants you to pass the test. Okay, He wants you, so He gives you the answers in advance. Didn't you always like those open book tests? The answers are right there. You gotta go look it up. Well, the answers are all right here. This is the answer book for all the test of your life.
And God gives us many examples in the Bible to prepare us for the many different kinds of test. Every test you're gonna go through in life is already in this book. And if you study this book, then you're gonna see from the characters in this book how to pass each test. Now all we have time for today is to go through about five or six of these different tests and we're gonna use three different characters of the Bible: Noah, Abraham, and Moses. Three guys you've all heard of. And they went through test and you're gonna go through those exact same test. These six tests, I've been through them dozens of times in my life. You have too. You may not even realize it was a test, but you have been going through these tests over and over in your life.
Now good news, as I said, God wants you to pass the test. Now let's start with this first guy, Noah. The Bible tells us that when God created the earth it was perfect: there were no problems, no sorrows, no sin, no sadness, no suffering, no tears, no trials, no temptation; it was just a perfect place, it was Eden. But man messed it up. And the longer man went along we started having pollution, we started having problems, we had conflict, we had wars, we have injustice, we have racism, we have all of these problems in life. We have sexual abuse. God didn't start any of these things. Man started murder, man started jealousy, man started cheating and dishonesty and adultery, and all these other things. The world got worse and worse and worse. Until the Bible says, God was so aggrieved that He had even made the earth because it was going in the wrong direction. And He said, I'm just gonna start over.
And when He looked down on the earth, the Bible says that earth was so evil He could only find one guy. Only find one righteous guy in the entire planet and the guy's name was Noah. And the Bible tells us that Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord. I'm grateful for Noah because if it weren't for him, none of us would be here. By the way racism and race, really there's only one race: it's the human race because we all came from Noah. Every one of us here came from Noah. And after the flood, his sons spread out all around the world and started different cultures and things like that, but we're all from Noah; all of our blood bleeds red. None of you bleed green blood, okay? We may look different on the outside, but inside we're really all the same 'cause we all came from this one guy, Noah, who obviously came from Adam. Now I want you to watch this first clip and then we'll talk about the first test. Watch this.
Now imagine if you are this guy, Noah, or you're his wife or you're one of his kids, and you know the world's a pretty evil place and God comes to your dad or your husband and says, I'm gonna start over, I'm gonna wipe out everything, I'm gonna flood the earth and I want you to build a big boat, we're gonna call it an ark; and I'm gonna bring all the animals to you and you're gonna put your families and all these animals on the ark and we're just gonna start over you. Would you believe that? Would you think, am I hearing right, what? What are you talking about?
Now this is the very first test, write this down. You're gonna go through a kind of test like this in your life many, many times and it is a new task, a new task or a new dream. God's gonna come to you and say, here's what I want you to do, or, here's what I'm asking you to do, or here's what I'm telling you to do, and it could be so big that it just seems impossible. It's an impossible dream or it's an impossible task. I call this the what test. Because when God comes to you and talks to you, and says, here's what I want you to do, you go, what? Moi, me, no way. You got the wrong guy. I think that person lives down the street. What? That's the what test in life. When ask you to do something that's so new or so difficult you don't even imagine yourself doing it.
And here's what the Bible says, in Hebrews 11, and all the verses today are out of Hebrews 11. It was by faith that Noah built an ark to save his family from the flood. And he obeyed God, who warned him about something that, notice this, had never happened before. The Bible tells us that up to this time it had never rained on earth, that's why they had never seen a rainbow. It never rained. The Bible tells us that a mist came up from the ground at night kinda like dew, a condensation, it was some kind of condensation that happened in the earth that watered all of the animals, I mean all of the vegetables and all the plants.
This is why before the flood people lived a whole lot longer. The atmosphere have changed. People lived 200, 300, 400 years, I think God did that intentionally so they'd have lots of kids to populate the earth. But after the flood, their age starts going down and that people aren't living as long. Something changed in the environment, in the firmament, in the climate in that environment. But notice it says there, it had never happened before. When you have this first test, it's gonna be when God comes to you and says, I want you to do this, now it may not be building ark, but it's something, number one, you've never done before and, number two, it seems impossible.
That's the what test. What? Are you kiddin' me? You're gonna go through the what test. You've never done it before or it seems impossible. Now what is faith? This is a test, write this down. Faith is facing the future without knowing what. Faith is facing the future without knowing what. Noah built an ark by faith. In Hebrews 11:1 it says, faith is being sure of what we hope for and being certain of what we do not see. Faith is facing the future without knowing what's gonna happen. And you've got this big task, this new task, it's impossible, you've never done it before. You're gonna have that test many, many times in life. God will ask you to do something you've never done before.
Number two, here's the second test: a major change. A major change. First, a new task; the second is a major change. And I call this the where test. Where are we goin, Lord? Where are we goin' with this one? And you have a major change upset in your life. A good example of this kind of test is the guy named Abraham. And the Bible tells us in Hebrews 11:8-10, it was by faith that Abraham obeyed when God called him to leave home, see, this is a big change, to leave home and go to another land, he's gonna make a major move, that God would give him as his inheritance. And he went, notice, without knowing where, circle the where, this is the where test, without knowing where he was going.
Now Abraham is a guy who lived in a city called Ur, which is Ur of the Chaldees over in the Iraq, Iran area, Ur of the Chaldees. How would you like to live in Ur? Where are you from? Ur. Oh, sorry, I had gas. Where are you from? Ur. You burped again. Ur, okay. Abraham lived in a big city called Ur and God says, I've picked you out and I'm gonna make you a great nation but I'm not gonna make you a great nation here in the Iraq area. I'm gonna move you over to the Palestine area, to the Israel area and I want you to get ready to move.
Now this is an especially difficult move, major change for Abraham. Why? First, he's 75 years old. When he's ready for social security, God says, get ready for social insecurity. When he's ready to hang it up and slow down and play golf, God says, take it down, put it on, get ready for the adventure of your life. At age 75, that's not really when you're getting ready to start your greatest adventure in life, okay? But this is a major change at age 75. He's ready to retire; God says, I'm ready to inspire. You're gettin' ready to move into your greatest victory in life after age 75. Now Abraham had a lot to move, 'cause the Bible tells us he was a very wealthy guy.
So he had years of accumulation. He had a lot of cattle, he had a lot of sheep, he had a lot of goats, he had a lot of family, he had a lot of people working for him, lots of people, employees. And God says, I'm gonna move you to a new country. And Abraham says, where are we goin'? He says, I'll let you know. He said, how will I know when I get there? He said, I'll let you know. He said, what direction? He said, just head that way. And how long is it gonna take? I'll let you know. Would you move? If God said, I'm not gonna tell you where you goin', how long it's gonna take, where you gonna end up, what it's gonna be like; just trust me.
This is the second test of life, a major change, the test of life is the where test. Imagine, how long is it gonna take? I'll let you know. It's totally on faith. Abraham, by faith, obeyed God to leave home and go to another land. Would you do that? You're gonna be tested by God when He's gonna say, I want you to go that direction. You go, where? To head that way. What's at the end? I'll let you know. This is a test. Some of you are in the where test of life right now, some of you are in that first test. Okay, what? But some of you in the where test. And the where test is God saying, I'm gonna move you and you don't know where yet. That is a test of your character, to test your faith.
Now write this down, faith is following God's leading without knowing where. Faith is following God's leading without knowing where. Sometime God might say, I want you to quit your job. What's the new job? I'll let you know. I want you to sell your house. Where are we gonna move? I'll let you know. That is the second test of life, the where, that builds your character: the what and the where, the new task and the major change. Faith is following God's leading without knowing where. So Abraham does this and he packs up all of his wealth, and all of his cattle, and camels, and sheep, and goats, and employees, and family, and grandkids and everything and he heads off that direction having no idea where he's going. He eventually gets to Canaan. But still when he gets to land he doesn't get to settle down, in fact he has to live in tents the rest of his life and that leads me to the third test.
Write this down, the third test you're gonna have in life is a delayed promise. You can count on this one, folks. God has over 7,000 promises in the Bible for you. He is not guaranteed to fulfill every one of them instantly. I've told you this before, God is not a vending machine where you put in the prayer and pull the promise button and you get everything instantly. If you did, it wouldn't require any faith. If every prayer of yours was instantly answered, you'd think God was your genie. Your wish is my command. God is not your genie. God doesn't work for you. You work for God. God is not your genie. He has made all these promises, but He has all of eternity to fulfill them.
Some of the promises that God has made you are not even gonna be filled here in this lifetime; they're gonna be fulfilled in eternity. He's got all of heaven and eternity to fulfill them. But the delayed promise is what I call the when test. First, you're goin', what, Lord, what? Then you're goin', where, Lord, where? And then this one you're goin', when, Lord, when? When are you gonna answer my prayer? When are you gonna hear me? When are things gonna change in my marriage? When am I gonna get married? When am I gonna graduate? When am I gonna have a baby? When am I gonna get that promotion? It's the when question of life, that's the third test. You're gonna go through the when test many, many times in life. Hebrews 11:8 to 10 says this, even after Abraham reached the land God had promised him, he lived there by faith, for he was like a foreigner, living in a tent. He couldn't even settle down. He's living in a tent, moving around the country God had said, I'm giving you. And by the way He says, so did Isaac and Jacob, that's his son and his grandson.
So for three generations, they're kinda like nomads even though God said, I'm giving you this country called Israel. You're not gonna get it in this timetable. Living in a tent so did Isaac and Jacob, to whom God gave the same promise. Abraham did this because he was confidently looking forward to a city whose eternal foundations, a city designed and built by God. Now in that verse I want you to circle the word, it's in caps promise. Circle the word promise. It's used twice and this is a very important word. It was promised to him the same promise. God wants us to base our lives on promises, not explanations.
If you ever understand that, you're gonna take a giant leap in your character and a giant leap in your faith. Go wants you to build your life on His promises, not His explanations. God doesn't owe you an explanation for anything in your life. God is God and you're not. And God is not gonna explain why everything happens and when it happens and how it happens and the reasons and all for God doesn't owe you an explanation for everything. He wants you to trust His promises, not wait for explanations. Now God had promised him this land of Israel but after he gets there there's this delay in transfer of ownership.
And I'm sure Abraham is constantly goin', when, Lord, when? You gave me this promise, when are you gonna fulfill it? Is it time yet, is it time yet, time yet? He lives in tents for three generations, that's a long wait. He's unable to settle down. The Bible calls him a stranger in his own country. You may be in this test right now, the when test, where you've been waiting for an answer and it doesn't seem like there's any end in sight, you go, when, when, Lord? When are you gonna take care of this problem? When are you gonna take care of this issue? When are you gonna take care of this relationship? When are you gonna take care of my finances? When are you gonna take care of my health? When are you gonna take care of my future? And you're just going, when, Lord, when? Not what, not where, but when? I want you to write this down. Faith is waiting for God's timing without knowing when. Waiting for God's timing without knowing when.
Now here's the fourth test. These are many, many test but I'm just covering a few this weekend. Number four is an unsolvable problem. Now you've all had this one. And this is what I call the how test. You get a problem and you go, how in the world we gonna solve this one? This is a test. Now God told Abraham that not only was He gonna move him to a new country and give him this land and he would be the father of great nation, He told him that he was going to have kids that would have more kids, would have more kids, more kids and they would populate it; that He was not just giving him land, He was gonna him as his heritage a great nation. They were all gonna come from Abraham.
Now remember, he's 75 years old when God tells him this promise. He moves to the land of Canaan, which is gonna be called Israel, and while he's there he keeps waitin' for his wife to get pregnant. And by age 99, he still doesn't have a son. This is what you might call an unsolvable problem. Now it is physically impossible for him, Abraham and his wife, Sarah, to have a problem. It's physically impossible. How in the world are we gonna have a baby? I'm 99, okay? Sarah's a little bit younger, but Abraham's 99 years old. The Bible says Abraham looked at his body and said, no way Jose. Sarah looked at Abraham's body and said, yeah, double no way with you and me, okay? This isn't gonna happen. And the Bible says when God said, you're gonna have a baby, and Abraham's 99 years old, it says, Abraham laughed and it said, Sarah laughed.
And so when they actually did get pregnant and had this baby, they named him Isaac, which means laughter. Because Isaac was God's joke to the world. Abraham's now 100 years old and he's the father of his first child. Now God had changed his name from Abram to Abraham, which means father of great nation. How do you like goin' into a restaurant and say, sir, what's your name? Father of great nation. How many kids you got? None. How old are you? 100. It's kind of embarrassing. God gave him the name way in advance. But they laughed and laughed. God had the last laugh. We know that Sarah, when God told her she was pregnant, that she didn't believe it because she laughed. And the truth is any woman whose 75 told she's pregnant and believe it would not laugh; she'd cry. Sarah did not cry; she laughed. What a joke.
You know, I gotta tell you this story. Fred Craddock is a famous preacher, he's now in heaven, back in the south, he overheard a conversation one time in a restaurant between a 75-year-old waitress and an older man. And the older man said to the waitress, Anna, can I walk you home tonight? And she said, no. He said, well, why not? She said, because I then would become great with child. He goes, Anna, you're too old. You're too old. Well she said, well, Sarah had a child at 75. He goes, how is that possible? He said, she believed in the man upstairs. He said, well, if I were a woman, I wouldn't believe in the man upstairs. But sometimes God does what I call an unsolvable problem, this is the how test.
Hebrews 11:11 and 12 says this, it was by faith that Sarah together with Abraham was able to have a child, this is an unsolvable problem, even though they were too old and Sarah was barren. Abraham believed that God would keep His promise. And so a whole nation came from this one man, Abraham, who was too old to have any children, but a nation with so many people that, like the stars of the sky and the sand on the seashore, there's no way to count them. God had the last laugh. Here's the fourth thing I want you to learn, write it down. Faith is expecting a miracle without knowing how. That's what faith is. I'm teaching you today what it means to have faith. Faith is facing the future without knowing what, following God's leading without knowin' where, waiting for God's timing without knowin' when, expecting a miracle without knowing how. That is the test of your character, that is the test of your faith.
Let's go on to the fifth test. The fifth test is also in Abraham's life and it is a senseless loss. A senseless loss. When you have a loss in your life that makes no sense at all it seems irrational, it seems illogical, it doesn't make sense. And this of course was the ultimate test, the ultimate test in Abraham's life. And I wanna tell you, friends, it will be yours too. This will be the ultimate test in your life. A senseless loss. A lot of what happens in life, friends, it just doesn't make sense. And when we look for an explanation, we're not gonna find one. A lot in life just doesn't make sense. You spend your whole life thinking that if I get an explanation, then I'll feel better about this loss. You won't. If my wife were to drop dead tonight, and I knew why, I knew the explanation, it wouldn't make it any less painful. Explanations never comport. What you need when you're in pain, what you need when you've had a major loss is you need the presence of God, not explanation of God. Explanation will not make it any less painful, so stop looking for the why. What you need is simply God's presence in your life. A lot of what happens in life doesn't make sense.
Now God, after Abraham had this miracle baby at 100 named Isaac, Isaac is now a young man and God says one day, I want you to sacrifice your son to me. Now this seems so unheard of. It seems so brutal, it seems so bloody, it seems so nonsensical. Why would God ask me to sacrifice the very son that He gave me through a miracle? This is a test. God knows what He's doin'. He's testing Abraham's faith. God is not a cruel God, God is not a capricious God, God is not a mean God. Abraham knew that. And so he's going to obey knowing that God's gonna do something about it, because I know God is not that kind of God. But this is the ultimate test. Isaac represented everything God had given Abraham. If his son dies, there's no future nation.
Now our response to this when we look at everything else, this is unfair. Have you ever said that in life? It's not fair. Well, let me tell you somethin', folks, life is not fair. Who is said it was fair? This is not heaven; this is earth. Life is not fair on earth because it's filled with sin and sorrow and suffering and evil and your choice, and you do things that aren't fair and everybody else does too. God can make life very fair: just take away our freedom of choice. But God asked him, Isaac, to sacrifice his own son and our response is shock. How in the world could God even ask Abraham to do this?
In verses 17 and 18 of Hebrews 11 it says this, it was by faith that Abraham offered Isaac as a sacrifice when God was testing him. Abraham, who had received God's promise, was ready to sacrifice his only son even though God had promised him, Isaac is the son through which your descendants will be counted. This is one of the most gripping stories in the Scripture. Abraham is trusting the goodness of God saying, God's gonna figure out a way. Watch this on the screen.
As I said, this will be the most gut-wrenching test in your life. When God says the dream I've given you, do you love the dream more than Me or do you love Me more than the dream? Do you trust Me? If you love the dream more than you love God, you've made the dream an idol. Now God is a good God and we know there are many layers to this story. The fact God had already, a thousand years before Abraham had been born and before He asked Abraham, He already knew what He's gonna do: He was gonna provide a lamb as a symbol, as a metaphor, as an illustration of the fact that in a few thousand years He was gonna provide the lamb of God, His own son, and He would sacrifice, God would sacrifice His son for you. God is a God of love. He is not a God of anger or retribution. To those who love Him and put their trust in Him, He says, I will provide the lamb. But you will be tested in your life. Do you love the dream, do you love the promise more than you love the promiser and the dream giver? Abraham passed the test. How in the world was he able to obey God in faith? Well, the Bible tells us how.
Hebrews 11:19. Abraham reasoned, that word there literally means he calculated, it's an accounting term, he reasoned, he calculated, he figured in his mind that God could raise the dead. If God can give me a miracle son at age 100, he can raise him back to life. And figuratively speaking, he did receive Isaac back from death. Abraham thought, well, if this goes through, I know God can raise him back to life, that's the kind of God I serve. I want you to write this down. This is the fifth test. Faith is trusting God's purpose without knowing why. Faith is trusting God's purpose without knowing why. If you can explain everything in your life, you are not living by faith. There are some things in your life that just aren't explainable and you have to live by faith. Now I could do a series on the test of God and go for a year, but let me just give you one more. This is test number six and it's a tough one too.
The sixth test is prolonged pain. Prolonged pain. And this is the how long test. It could be a chronic pain in your life. That could be a chronic physical pain, it could be of chronic emotional pain, it could be of chronic spiritual pain, it could be of chronic relational pain, it could be of chronic financial pain it is extended suffering. It's suffering that doesn't go away. You just happen to live with it maybe, maybe your entire life. This is a test. It is the how long test. How long, Lord? And so many of the prophets in the Bible talk about this and ask, how long, Lord, You gonna let this keep goin'? A good example of this is Moses. Moses had incredible persistence. He put up with enormous pain in his life. His life is divided into three passages: 40 years in Pharaoh's court learnin' to be a somebody, 40 years in the backside of a desert learnin' to be a nobody and then 40 years leading a million griping babies across a desert. He put up with enormous criticism, enormous conflict, enormous misunderstanding, enormous pain and he has every right to say, how long, Lord?
Hebrews 11:24 to 26, Moses gave up everything that we try to spend their lives achieving: fame, fortune, pleasure, possessions, position. He was the son of Pharaoh's daughter, that means he's a grandson of the most powerful man in the world at that time. He's living in the lap of luxury. He gave it all up to go lead a bunch of slaves across the desert. He gave up the very things we spend our lives trying to get: status, sex, salary, passion, possession, position, the American dream; he gave it all up. The Bible says in verse 24 to 26, by faith Moses, when he had grown up, that's a mark of maturity. Remember, God wants you to grow up spiritually. He didn't make this decision as a baby. When he was a baby, his parents made the decision. But when he'd grown up, he refused to be known as the son of Pharaoh's daughter.
He knew his identity. He chose to be mistreated along with the people of God rather than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a short time with the people who weren't the people of God. He regarded disgrace for the sake of Christ as of greater value than the treasures of Egypt, because he was looking ahead to his reward. Our culture says, base all your decisions on your feelings and live for the now. If it feels good, do it. If it doesn't feel good, don't do it. And most people today make their decision on, oh, this feels good so it must be right. Not everything that feels good is right and not everything that feels wrong is bad. You can't go by your feelings. Your feelings lie to you all the time, tell you things are better than they are or they're worse than they are. Your feelings lie. You're manipulated by your moods.
The truth is I don't always feel like being nice to people. Everybody thinks I'm a nice person. I'm not always a nice person. I don't always feel like being nice to people any more than you do. Sometimes I feel grumpy, cranky. Sometimes I just wanna go home and get in bed. I don't always feel like teaching you. In fact, bye. So what? If I only preach the times that I feel like preaching or taught you the times I feel like, well, it'd be a lot less, I'll just say that. You don't always feel like doin' the right thing. You know what, I'm gonna let you in a little secret. I don't always feel like helping my wife. And when my kids were at home I didn't always feel like helping my kids with their homework. I hated homework! I didn't like it. I didn't want my kids to do it, I didn't want my grandkids to do it. So if you're a teacher, stop all homework! Just teasing. But I really didn't like it. But did I help 'em, yeah. I don't always like to read my Bible, but I know it helps.
I don't always feel like praying. I find that when I least feel like praying that's when I need it the most. When I don't feel like prayin'. Faith is being persistent. Faith is refusing to give up. Faith is keeping on no matter how tired you are. Write this down, faith is continuing to persist without knowing how long. Faith is continuing to persist without knowing how long. This is the how long test of life. Now how do you develop persistence? How do you develop endurance? How do you keep on doin' the right thing year after year after year when you don't always feel like doin' the right thing? You don't always feel like staying married. How do you keep on doin' the right thing when you don't feel like it? You don't always feel like gettin' up and goin' to work. How do you have that persistence? How do you handle prolonged pain? By doin' what Moses did and that is hearing from God; getting close to God, listening to God, hearing to God, staying connected to God. Watching this last clip.
Moses had a burning bush. You don't need a burning bush because He wrote it all down and it's in here. Everything God wants to say to you is right here. You don't have to go have some mystical experience. People say, why didn't God just right it in the sky? He's not going to. He wrote it in a book. Stop looking for a vision; start looking for a verse. Stop looking for a sign in the sky; start looking for a Scripture in the Word. It's all here. It's all here. And it will give you the ability to pass the how long test when you're going through prolonged pain; continuing to persist without knowing how long. Hebrews 11:27, last verse, by faith he, that's Moses, left Egypt, not fearing the king's anger; he persevered, how did he persevere, because he saw Him who is invisible. You keep your eyes on God. If you keep your eyes on your pain, you're going downhill. If you keep your eyes on the pain reliever, on the Savior, on the God who loves you, you're gonna go through it.
Now I got a lot more to say about this but we're out of time. Which of these tests are you facing right now? An impossible task, and you're goin', what, Lord, what? Are you considering a major change and you're goin', where, Lord, where? Are you facing a delayed promise, a delayed answer, when, Lord, when? Are you facing an unsolved problem: how, Lord, how, how are You gonna do this? Are you facing a senseless loss that you're grieving over: why, Lord, why? Are you struggling with prolonged pain: how long, Lord? There's nothin' wrong with asking God what, when, and where, and why, and how and how long as long as you understand you're not gonna get the answer. The real issue is what are you gonna do when you don't get an answer? Even Jesus on the cross said, my God, my God, why?
So it's okay for you to ask why, but He didn't get an answer and you won't either. The key is will you trust God without knowing how, or when, or why, or how long or where? I don't have time to go in this, but there's a pattern seen in all three of these men. I wrote it down in your outline. I won't teach you on it. First, God gives you an opportunity, He gives you promise, then there's an obstacle or an opponent that holds you back, then there's an ordeal and this waiting or testing period. You're gonna go through that over and over and over hundreds of times in your life. So let me summarize what it means to live by faith. It's facing the future without knowin' what. Faith is following God's leading without knowin' where. Faith is waiting on God's timing without knowing when. Faith is expecting a miracle without knowing how. Faith is trusting God's purpose without knowin' why. Faith is continuing to persist without knowin' how long. This is a test.
Let's bow our heads. With our heads bowed, with human tests, the key is knowing all the answers. But with God's test, the key is not knowing all the answers. With God's test, the key is trusting God to know the answer. Pray this prayer in your heart. Follow me as I say this prayer. "Dear God..." say it in your mind.
Dear God, I wanna be a man or a woman of faith, I wanna be a man or a woman of character that you can use in a mighty way. So dear Jesus Christ, help me face the future in faith without knowing what. Jesus, help me follow Your leading without knowing where; help me wait for Your timing without knowing when; help me to expect a miracle without knowin' how; help me to trust Your plan and purpose without knowing why; and help me to continue to persist and endure without knowing how long.
If you've never opened your life to Christ, say:
Jesus Christ, come into my life right now, be my manager of my life, the Lord of my life, be the Savior of my life. I need You. In Your name I pray, Amen.