Monday, October 4, 2010

THE SACRIFICE OF THANKSGIVING

One of the most important verses in all of Scripture is found in Peter’s first epistle. The apostle speaks of the necessity of having our faith tested: “That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ” (1 Peter 1:7).

In this same passage, Peter tells us what we can expect to face in such tests of faith: “…though now for a season…ye are in heaviness through manifold temptations” (v. 6).

The Greek word used for temptation here means “proving, examining, testing with difficulties and adversities.” Peter is saying, “If you are a follower of Jesus Christ, then you are going to go through many heavy trials and temptations. You will be tested severely!”

This passage suggests God is saying, “Your faith is precious to me—more precious than all the wealth of this world, which will one day perish. And in these last days—when the enemy sends all manner of evil against you—I want you to be able to stand strong with an unshakeable faith.”

He says further, “I will keep you and bless you through every dark day! Your part is to simply have faith in me. You will be kept by my power, through faith!”

“[You], who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time” (v. 5).

Peter tells us: “The Lord knoweth how to deliver the godly out of temptations…” (2 Peter 2:9). The Greek word here that is used for temptation means “putting to proof adversities.”

Paul writes: “There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it” (1 Corinthians 10:13).

Clearly, God does not want to keep us in our trials. Why would he be interested in keeping us in the midst of temptation and affliction? He doesn’t get any glory from testing his children—but from the results of our testings!

There is only one way to escape our trials—and that is by passing the test. Think about it: When you were in school, how did you finally escape? You passed the final exam. And if you didn’t pass, you were sent back to class.

That was the case with ancient Israel, when God brought them to the Red Sea. God was testing his people, trying them, proving them. He brought them to the very brink of destruction—surrounding them by mountains on two sides, a sea on another, and an approaching enemy on the other.

Yet the Lord put Israel in that circumstance expecting a certain reaction. He wanted his people to acknowledge their helplessness. He wanted to hear them say, “We remember how God delivered us from the plagues. We remember how he brought us out of the furnace of affliction where we made bricks without straw and had no rest. God delivered us then—and he will do it again! Let us rejoice in his faithfulness. He is God—and he has given us promises he will keep. He will protect us from every enemy who comes against us.”