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This is session three of walking in radical faith. And this is going to be a fun session as they all are. This is going to be eye opening. So just a real quick review. We’ve been talking about faith and walking in this thing we call radical faith. And the definition we came up last time with faith is that faith is acting on God’s word in such a way that failure is certain unless God intervenes, defies the natural course of events that’s going on in your life at that time and produces the abundance that you need. And this is why faith is is spelled risk, because it requires risk. If there’s no risk, there is no faith because by definition, faith is the assurance of things that you hope for, not the hope that God, that we say, I hope it doesn’t rain, but the hope that says God promised and therefore I’m hoping in that future fulfillment of the promise. So faith is the assurance of things hoped for and the conviction of things not seen. And so if you can see it, if you can see it right in front of you, it is not faith. That’s why faith always includes risk. And we went through some different examples last time and pulled out some really interesting truths. But we looked at Peter walking on the water. And here’s the interesting thing we find, and this is why I love his example so much, is you have the identical situation.


Every action is the identical action that he’s taking. The only thing is different is his faith. He either believes in his heart or he believes with his mind. As long as he believes with his heart on God’s Word, then a miracle occurs in his life. And as long as he believes in his mind with what his mind says, this is reality. He sinks. And as we go through life, however, we believe if we look on God’s Word and follow it to the exclusion of what we see in our natural eyes, then God will always perform according to His promises. We receive our promises by faith. Okay? Because these promises are heavenly truths, all right? And heavenly truths are always in conflict with our earthly reality. Or let me call it earthly circumstances. Always in conflict. Why? Our heavenly truths in conflict with earthly circumstances. Because the heavenly truths govern earthly reality. But we can only receive these heavenly truths through this thing called faith. And faith in a very simplistic concept is the conduit, the pipe, the connector that connects the heavenly truths that God gives us and brings them down into our earthly reality and overrides the circumstances that we happen to be going through at that time. And whatever you focus on is what you get. Did I share with you all in previous ones about how insurance companies looked at single car accidents and they found that a high proportion of them were hitting telephone poles? And if you think about it, a telephone pole is like every 30 or 40 yards, right? Actually, probably every 60 yards.


And then and you have this car and he hits these telephone poles and you wonder why, because statistically, they should miss him. So they called the people and did a survey among all these single car accident drivers and they were asking them what happened? And they said, well, I was watching and looking at the telephone pole, trying to avoid it. And what this shows you is whatever you look at is what you get. So this is you. If you look at heavenly truths, you will get heavenly truths. If you look at your earthly circumstances, you will get earthly circumstances. And this is why faith is risky, because you’re always having to ignore earthly circumstances. What your eyes tell you is true. I’m going to show you this in Scripture in just a little bit, but this is what we picked up with Peter walking on the water. The identical situation, depending on where he looked at God’s word or an earthly circumstances and where he looked is what he got. You can only look at heavenly truths with your heart. And you look at earthly circumstances with your eyes. That’s the only difference. Then we looked at Elijah and the widow. So this is the story where a widow’s husband died and she went to Elijah and said, Help me.


The creditors are going to come take my kids because my husband died with debts. So Elijah said. What do you have in the house? And this is another truth. We always find that with faith. God always takes a little bit that you have, right? You remember when the Father comes to Jesus with his epileptic son. The disciples couldn’t cast out the demon, and Jesus said, All things are possible to him, who believes? And the father said, I believe help my unbelief. He gave all he had. It was just a little bit. And the Lord took that and multiplied it into what was needed. We see that with Elijah and the widow. So all she had was a little jar of oil. So that’s all you need. Go get all of the jars around the village and bring them in. So she started pouring that little jar of oil. And as long as there was another jar to pour it in. God took the little that she had. And produce the abundance that she needed. And it kept flowing until she stopped acting in faith. Once there are no more jars to fill. The jar ran out of oil. Okay, so we see that as a second truth that God takes the little that you have and produces the abundance that you need. The third story we looked at was Gideon, and we see the same thing.


God brought in 32,000 Israel, Israel, farmers and peasants, right against 135,000 Midianites. But that was too many, so God whittled it down to 300. Now he took the little that Gideon had and produced the abundance that he needed. The other thing we see with Gideon is against all odds, Gideon obeyed the Lord. He was now marching against a 135,000 Midianites with 300 men, and he had no clue how God was going to get through this. Right. But God understood how scared He was and God gave him some encouragement. He said, Go down into the camp and listen to them. And they’re talking about a dream that they had. And the dream interpretation was, That’s nothing more than the Gideon. And he’s going to destroy us. Right? Okay. The sword of Gideon is going to destroy us. So Gideon goes down there, and I know what’s going on. Gideon’s heart is probably pounding out of his chest along with those 300 men and the dead of night. They see all these campfires everywhere, these 135,000 Midianites, and they don’t even have swords, probably because they’re peasants. They have a torch and a trumpet and they flame out. The torches break the jars and the torches flame up. They blow the trumpets and they yell for the Lord and for Gideon. And at that moment, because they acted by faith in two regards, they obeyed the Lord.


And in obeying the Lord. They were acting by faith, right? So they followed the Lord’s Word and the Lord routed the enemy and caused them to attack each other and kill each other. And then the rest of the Israelites came out and finished them off. So what we saw, what we see there is when we obeyed the Lord by faith, even in the midst of all these odds that our natural eyes tell us it’s impossible. But when we obey the heavenly truth, God said to do it. God said He’ll take care of us. Then that’s faith. And that’s when God provides. We see the same thing in our last example that we talked about, which is David and Goliath. What we find here is you have to know the will of God. If you want to walk by faith. For David. He understood God’s will. God’s will was. He wanted to free Israel from the Philistines. God had been preparing David all along. And so now Goliath comes out. David is all excited. This is his chance to rid Israel of this menace that’s scaring all the troops. David has no fear, and David takes the little that he has. He doesn’t even use a sword. He just takes a couple of five pebbles. And then it says that when Goliath started to come towards him, Goliath yelled out, Am I a dog that you come out to me like this? I’m going to kill you, you little, ruddy faced jerk.


And what does David say? David says, you know, you defied the God of Israel and the Hebrews and and how dare you and I am going to kill you and I’m going to kill all of your people. And God is going to give us a great deliverance here. And he’s real cocky in the whole way that he says it. And then as Goliath is coming down, David grabs his stone and he runs toward Goliath with his sling. He doesn’t even stand back in a defensive. He is taking the offense. Why? Because he knows what’s going to happen. I call it the title deed. The amplified Bible says that faith is the title deed of things we do not see. So the title deed is in essence. They were going out with a crumpled up title deed. If you think like the deed, the title to your car and he’s chasing into battle with one hand holding the title deed, the other hand with the sling and all it takes is a little rock. The little that David has to contribute. And God causes it to knock the Goliath down, knock him out. And then David comes over and gets the abundance that he needs. He takes Goliath’s sword, kills him, and then chops off his head. And all of the Philistines are now afraid.


Israel comes and attacks and God wins the day. And so what we see in all of these things is it’s always man acting before he can see, but he acts because God said to do it. And God performs. We see that pattern that we talked about this first time and all of these it it also requires risk. And what we’re going to talk about today is how do you strengthen your faith? How do you grow your faith to such a degree that you will be willing to step out at great risk with great confidence, knowing that the Lord is going to take care of you and your eyes can’t see how, but your heart understands the truth. How many of y’all would like to grow your faith to that level? Because it’s uncomfortable. So the title for this message is Tests of Faith. Okay. We’re going to talk about how does God teach us faith? And God teaches us faith through tests and trials and grievous experiences. Okay, So this is tests of faith. We’re going to turn to our main passage. James one I heard someone say it. James One, two, three, four. And I want to walk you through a couple of passages. I’ve got a lot of passages to go through tonight, and this is going to be a lot of fun in terms of being eye opening. So this is James. One, two, three, four. So it’s James.


One, two, three, four. Right. I’m going to read out of the new King James version. And it reads like this. My brethren. Count it all, Joy. When you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. But let endurance have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete lacking in nothing. So let’s analyze this real quickly because it’s real interesting. We’re just going to kind of break this apart and step by step. It says, count it all, Joy. When you fall into various trials, some translations say encounter. Some translations say face. The English word may change, but the Greek word is the same. But here’s the message. You don’t voluntarily go into these trials. You don’t coordinate it yourself, you fall into it. As a friend of mine said, you’re pushed into it. You’re walking down the street. There’s this great big hall. You’re trying to stay away from it and someone pushes you into the hall. It happens to you. It’s not something that you do on your own. That’s the first thing we see about these trials. It happens to you. The other thing we see, it says that count it all, Joy, when you fall into these trials. So are we to count it, Joy, when we get out of the trial and complete it? Or are we to count it all, Joy, when the trial begins. What does this say?


When you fall. Yeah.


Count it all, Joy. When it starts. Yeah. Now why so mean? This is God’s ways are always opposite of man’s. The greatest is the least. You want to be richest. You must be poor. You want to save your life. You must lose it. And this is one of those things. Count it all, Joy, when you begin a trial. Not once you finish the trial. And why is that? Well, count it all, Joy. When you fall into various trials, by the way, count it all. Joy means to be enthusiastically excited, right? Praise the Lord. Another trial has just started in my life. God’s God’s opportunity.


I’m not sure if I’d be that gleeful.


Yeah, it’s hard to be. But I’m going to show you another passage where you’re supposed to be and it makes it even greater emphasis on it. And so here’s what while it’s hard to be, this is what God says to be. He says, Be excited when you encounter these trials.


What he requires, he always provides.


Yes. What he requires. He provides he gives you the ability through faith to count it all, Joy. But to count it all, Joy, it means you have to believe him. Abraham believed God and it was counted to him as righteousness. And what we’re going to find in just a moment is that what the trials are doing? It’s testing what you believe. If you truly understand, if you truly believe what the trials are doing is the testing of your faith. See? Look. Count it all, Joy. When you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith. The trials test your faith. It tests what you believe. It tests what you believe about God’s word. It tests what you believe about his heavenly truths that he’s teaching us in his word. Do we believe them at face value or do we minimize and reduce them down to man’s wisdom and say, well, it can’t be what it really means? It must be something else? But we’re to count it all, Joy. Why? Because it tests our faith. Think about this. If you want to. If you want to get strong muscularly, what do you do? You go down and exercise and you test your muscle strength and you put your muscles to the test. And the more you put your muscles to the test, the stronger they get. And here’s something also interesting. The more you do it, the more you hunger to do more of it. You call it the runner’s high.


You know, most people, if they’re if they’re runners, they’ll get out there and they’ll then start running any time, any weather because they just they just got to have it. It does something to you. Same thing with faith. As you test your faith, the more your faith is tested, the more you eagerly look forward to it being tested again. When you don’t want it tested, it’s when your faith is real small. Because what happens when you when you’re very weak physically, you don’t want to get down in the gym and start lifting weights or bench pressing because it’s uncomfortable. It’s a strain. It hurts. And then once you do it, your muscles are all sore for the next several days, right? But once you get into it and do it, then you look forward to it and you get stronger. So it’s only when you don’t have the faith. That you find it the most difficult. Once you do have faith, the more you have faith, the less difficult you find it. Not because it’s less painful, but because you can endure the pain and count it joy, because you know what’s going to come out. Women going through childbirth. Count it all, Joy, when those labor pains start. Right? Why? Because, you know, a child is on the way and the benefit outweighs the process. That’s basically what we’re seeing here in Scripture. The testing of your faith is your faith that’s being tested. And why are we counting it, Joy, that our faith is being tested? Because the testing of your faith produces endurance or steadfastness or patience.


It’s basically it gives you the ability to hold steady on God’s word. You see, Peter, when he was walking on the water, did not hold steady on God’s word. He did a little bit and then he got wobbly and then he gave up on the test. Mighty people of faith will hold steady. But when they hold steady, it’s because they’ve gone through lots of tests to that point and they’ve learned that God’s word always holds true. I guarantee you, if Peter had a chance to walk on the water multiple times more, he would have been steadier each successive time because he would have learned, okay, this really works. And then watch this. Knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance, but let endurance have its perfect work. What does that mean? Does that mean it’s a choice? Let me have that. Let the dog run out. In other words, this is saying let endurance have its perfect result. It means you can stop the test. But don’t stop it. You have the ability to stop the test and pull out depending on what type of test it is. Okay. You have the ability to cry, uncle, so to speak. God. It’s enough. Stop it. Please Stop it. And you can pull out. But that’s not what God wants and that’s not what you ultimately want. Because when you pull out, what you’ll find is if you don’t pass the test the first time, guess what happens? You get another test to test again.


And if you don’t pass it, if you pull out, you get tested again. It’s going through school. When you get tested in school, if you fail the grade, what happens? You start and do the whole grade again. If you fail it again, you do the whole grade. We want to pass these things the first time. It’s a lot less painful because the test will continue until you pass. Why? Because the Lord’s purpose is to strengthen you and strengthen your faith. Why is that? Because Jesus said, when the son of man comes, will he find good works on Earth? Is that what he said? No. When the son of man returns, will he find faith on Earth? And when the disciples were going into some of their greatest temptation and trials, Jesus said, I prayed for you. And what did he say? I pray that your faith would not fail. What is so important about faith? We talked about this last time. You have faith, hope and love. All three abide. This is first Corinthians 13. And the foundation of faith is love. It’s tied into God’s love. It’s tied into God. The fact that faith, hope and love both all three abide. That means they are eternal. They never cease. Give. Cease. Words of knowledge. Cease. But faith never does. And what this means is faith, Hope and love.


Faith is a part of God himself. And so when Jesus returns, will he find faith on earth? How is he going to find faith on Earth? By testing us. And giving us opportunity to strengthen our faith. Bit by bit so that we can be faithful with him. That our faith may not fail. So let endurance have its perfect work. Means you can stop it, but let it bring to maturity. That for which the Lord sent the test. We’re going to see that the Lord is sending these tests. And then the final part that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing now perfect and complete does not mean that you are sinless. It’s not a perfect sinless. As a friend of mine describes it, he said the Greek word on this means that you have a glass and you fill it full of water and now it’s complete in the purpose for which it was designed. So what this means is as we go through life, God is conforming us into the image of his son. Right? Romans eight Right. We’re predestined to be conformed to the image of of his son. How do we become conformed to the image of his son? By badgering us on the outside, disciplining ourselves to try to act like Jesus, or by changing our belief from the inside. And we become who he is from the inside out. This is a whole series that we did and we’ll pick back up. We’re kind of in an interim on our series of identity and identity.


If you remember what you believe determines what you do, what you do determines what you get. And what faith is, is what you believe. And so the perfect result, making us perfect and complete is to bring about the identity of who we are, the identity of God’s word, living in and through us, that His word is the basis on everything that we live our life on. That is the purpose of these trials. And to make us like him, not make us like him in terms of I like the Lord but make us like him in terms of in his image. Okay. Let’s turn to another passage first, Peter, one six and seven. So this is first. Peter one, six and seven. We’re going to look. Look at this. And this offers a little bit more information. But also repeats the same stuff. So starting with verse six. In this. You greatly rejoice, though, now for a little while if need be. You you have been grieved by various trials that the genuineness of your faith being much more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire, may be found to praise, honor and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ. What’s the first thing it says in this? You greatly rejoice, greatly rejoice. This isn’t just count it all, Joy. When you think of greatly rejoice, I think of something’s happening and something’s. Someone’s jumping up and down.


Oh my gosh. Oh my gosh. I’m excited about it. That is what Peter is telling us. The Lord through Peter is telling us greatly Rejoice. And watch this. In the midst of a grievous trial. May you greatly rejoice, though, now for a little while, if need be. You have been grieved by various trials. Been grieved. This is grievous. These are difficult things that you’re going through. Probably some of the most difficult things you’ve ever gone through as you continue through your life. And yet, in some mysterious, inexplicable way, the Lord is telling us we should jump up and down and greatly rejoice that we are going through these grievous trials. So these trials are grievous trials. They’re heavy. They’re not just little trials that Peter is talking about. And it says that we’re to greatly rejoice, though we have been grieved by various trials. And why? That the genuineness of our faith may be found. To praise, honor and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ. The genuineness of our faith. That means when we pass this trial of faith, it proves that our faith is genuine. If we do not pass it. Our faith wasn’t sufficient. Our faith was not genuine. And so what this is talking about that the genuineness of your faith will be tested. Do you really have faith? To go through these trials. And what is being tested by your faith is what the Lord has determined that you need to be tested on to make you perfect and complete.


Every test is uniquely designed for each of us individually. It’s not a blanket test that everyone goes through and they’re all just you know, some are going to learn different things out of it. The Lord specifically designs or and or allows these tests for specific purposes in our lives. And you’ll know if you’ve been tested and did not pass it because you keep seeing the same test coming up over and over again when you look backwards, any time you see a pattern. That pattern means there’s something going on. So take notice. Once you pass the test, then the test is over and then the Lord moves you to the next grade, which is a whole different type of test. But watch this. So you’re the tests are that the genuineness of your faith may be found, that your faith may be proved itself as genuine, may be found to praise honor and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ. This is at Christ’s coming. The revelation of Jesus Christ is at His return and and this is not us praising, honoring and glorifying Jesus. This is Jesus praising, honoring and glorifying us. In fact, in one of the parables, he talks about the faithful servant when the master comes home and he finds that these servants have stayed up and stayed awake because they wanted to welcome the master home. It says that the master will come in and see them at the table and wrap an apron around him and serve them.


That’s what we’re talking about here, that when the genuineness of our faith has been proven. That the Lord himself at His return will give us praise, honor and glory. That’s pretty powerful. That’s pretty mind blowing. So here’s the question Does God really test us? We’re going to go through a few verses real quickly. I’m not going to write them up. Psalm 11, four and five. And for the sake of time, I’m just going to read on through these. You can look them up quickly. But Psalm 11, four and five says, the Lord is in his holy temple. The Lord’s throne is in heaven. His eyes behold, his eyelids test the sons of men. That’s you and me. His eyelids test the sons of men. The Lord tests the righteous. He is testing us. And then we go back to Deuteronomy 815 and 16. Deuteronomy 815 and 16 says it this way. Talking God, who led you through that great and terrible wilderness in which were fiery serpents and scorpions and thirsty land where there was no water. Who brought water for you out of the flinty rock? Who fed you in the wilderness with manna, which your fathers did not know that he might humble you and that he might test you? You mean all of that stuff in the wilderness was a test? Yes. All that stuff that I’ve been going through is a test. Yes. Those people who’ve been suing me, those people who criticize me.


Yes. That car wreck I got into. Yes. Did God orchestrate all that? No. Some of it he might have. Some of it he didn’t. All those things that I make stupid decisions and things happen in my life. He allows it. It’s a test. It could have been your fault that you were there. But it’s a test. Nonetheless, We’re going to see that in just a moment. But here we see that the Lord is testing Israel. In Psalms, we saw that the Lord tests the righteous. First Thessalonians to be. Excuse me. First Thessalonians two four. The end of the verse. Even so, we speak not as pleasing men, but God who tests our hearts. And our heart is our spiritual heart. And what is he testing? What do we believe? Do we believe God like Abraham? Or do we doubt? Hebrews. 1117. Says by faith. Abraham, when he was tested, offered up Isaac. So what we see is whole pattern of God testing people and the people he tests are the righteous people, his people, those who love him. Is this eye opening? Yeah. Does God send evil spirits to test you? Where do you all think? Yeah. Watch this. We won’t turn there. The Holy Spirit led Jesus into the wilderness. To be what? Tested and tempted. By whom? Satan, Right? Yeah. Led his son straight in the wilderness to be tested by an evil spirit. So we see this testing all the time. And why does God test us? Because it is the best method.


To strengthen our faith. If there were a better method. God would have used a better method. Does that make sense? He tests us because it’s the best way out there and he tests us, as I mentioned individually, for where we need to be strengthened in our faith. We watch someone else going through a test and we go, Well, why don’t you just do this? Because that’s the way we would do it, because it’s not a problem for us. But then we get tested and that guy says, Well, why don’t you do that? It was a problem for me. It’s not a problem for him. Each test is uniquely designed. They are to make us perfect in how the Lord has designed us. You all remember the session we did just before this? It’s called Zealous for good Works. God has designed these good works that He created before the foundation of the world that we should walk in these works and do them well. The only way we can do these good works is by faith. Because the opposite of faith is flesh. And flesh accomplishes nothing eternally. The only eternal impact we will ever have is the eternal impact that’s done by faith through the Spirit. And so the more faith, the stronger our faith, the bigger our faith. I’ll use that term, the belief in faith, the greater the eternal impact that will have. And so here’s a good question to ask yourself.


Are you okay with God using trials in your life to make you like him? Because that’s really what’s happening. Are you okay with how God has chosen? To do it with you and with me. And if you say yes, we’re going to talk about complaining at the end of this, it’s okay, then don’t complain. Right. But if you hunger for the Lord, if you hunger to grow, to be conformed more into his image. Then you have to accept the path that he is designed to best get us there. And that is through these trials. I want to now walk you through real quickly. Um, Lessons from the wilderness. Okay, This is real interesting. If you look at the wilderness, So Israel comes out of Egypt. They go into the wilderness, and they were ready in a year and a half, 18 months, thereabouts, to go into the promised land. They were ready. And there was one final test. You remember that final test? Spots. Send 12 spies into the land and check it out. That was the final test. Did they pass the test or did they fail? They failed so bad that God said, okay, you just don’t get any of it. And because they failed the test, what happened? 38 more years in the wilderness for a total of 40. They could have avoided all of that extra anguish had they simply believed God’s word. Had they simply believed his heavenly truths and look backwards and said, hey, God defeated, you know, did all these plagues and miracles in Egypt.


He’d split the sea, he’d destroyed all of Egyptians army. He can do the same thing over here. What happened? Rather than looking backwards at what God had consistently done in their lives. They decided because faith is a choice. You get to choose what you look at. They decided to ignore everything that happened and only look what their natural eyes at what they wanted to believe. And what they believed is what they got. So we’re going to read just one small excerpt. Not that part, but a different part that happens in the wilderness. This is going to come from Exodus 17 and we’re going to read verses one through six. Exodus 17 one through six. I’m going to read this in the NLT version. It’s a looser translation, but it reads easier. Starting with verse one at the Lord’s Command, the whole community of Israel left the wilderness of sin. That’s the wilderness of Sinai, basically Mount Sinai, and moved from place to place. Eventually they camped at Rephidim, but there was no water there for the people to drink. So once more the people complained to Moses. We see this pattern. Give us water to drink, they demanded quiet. Moses said, Why are you complaining against me? And why are you testing the Lord? But tormented by thirst, they continued to argue with Moses. Why did you bring us out of Egypt? Are you trying to kill us, our children and our livestock with thirst? Then Moses cried out to the Lord.


What should I do with these people? They are ready to stone me. The Lord said to Moses. Walk out in front of the people. Take your staff. The one you use when you struck the Nile or the water of the Nile, and call some the elders of Israel to join you. I will stand before you on the rock at Mount Sinai. Mount Sinai or Mount Horeb Just so it rings a bell with people. Strike, the rock and water will come gushing out. Then the people will be able to drink. So Moses struck the rock as he was told, and water gushed out as the elders looked on. So here’s something we find all throughout, especially in the stories of the exodus with Israel, is it’s a huge allegory of our life of in Christ. It’s a the big picture is the allegory of salvation in slavery. One man frees him. You go through water baptism. You go through wilderness as the Lord teaches you about him and teaches you to believe him, which is faith. Tests of faith. Then you go into the Promised land. And that’s our story of slave to sin. Being set free, living our life here continue to grow in faith. When the son of man returns, will he find faith on earth? And then we go on into heaven, into the new Kingdom. But it’s also the same process in all of our micro trials that we go through.


We go through a trial, we go to a little tribulation. We start to grow in faith, and then we get the promised result over and over and over again. And that’s what we see here. This wilderness time is a time of testing. It’s a time of grievous testing. They were at the point of death. That’s pretty grievous. And so whether you’re in a test, a trial or the wilderness, it’s all the same thing. And it’s all doing the same thing. It’s testing your faith. It’s a time of testing. What do we really believe and what we’re believing? If you remember our first session. Faith comes from hearing and hearing by the Word of Christ. The Rhema of Christ. That word that means it’s spoken for you. To you. It’s a command or it’s a promise, right? It’s very specific. And that’s what the faith is being tested. Do we really believe that word the Lord has given us? So there are four lessons that we can pull from this. The four Lessons of the Wilderness. And by the way, this passage in the wilderness shows us two things. In terms of kind of what’s going on. The first one is how God does it and what we can expect when he does it with us. So these are the four lessons of the wilderness. The first one is the Lord is the one who leads us there. It’s the Lord who leads us there.


It was the Lord who led Jesus into his time of temptation. It’s the Lord who led Israel against the Red Sea. So that the army could come against them and they would get afraid to test their faith. It was the Lord that led them through the Red Sea. It was the Lord that look at this. Exodus 17 one at the Lord’s Command. Right at the Lord’s Command. He led the people into a place of testing and trials. It says that at the Lord’s Command, the whole community of Israel left the wilderness of sin and watch this and moved from place to place just kind of bounced around. We don’t accidentally fall into it. The Lord is leading us into it. Versus Exodus 17 one. Now, this is not to be confused with those times that we sin or act foolishly and we encounter consequences. Okay. Those are still trials that we should still rejoice in because our faith is going to be tested. But the Lord did not lead us into sin. The Lord did not lead us into making bad choices, but He allowed us into those circumstances to test what we were going to do. By the way. Sin is a failure of faith. When you sin, it’s because you don’t really believe what God said. That it’s better not to sin. Right? We choose to sin because we think momentarily I really want it. So all of these are little trials of faith that the Lord allows us to engage in, but some of them, the Lord leads us directly into.


For the Israelites. God led them to a place of testing on purpose. Okay, That’s lesson number one. The Lord leads us there. The second lesson that we can pull out of this is that the wilderness is a time of deprivation. It’s a time of deprivation. Big, fancy word means a lot of lack. It’s a time where you have nothing of what you feel you really need to survive. We see this in verses one and three. At the end of verse one, it says there was no water there for the people to drink. We move into verse three, but tormented by thirst, they continue to argue with Moses, tormented by thirst. That’s not just a little bit thirsty. That’s really, really, really thirsty. The wilderness was a time of deprivation. Not only everything that their eyes saw was deprivation, but everything that they actually experienced in earthly reality. And so if we look at our earthly reality with our natural lives, we’ll always believe what we see. This is the whole issue about faith. You believe what you see. The question is, what do you choose to look at? Do you choose to look at God’s word and believe what you see in his word? Or do you choose to look at your circumstances and believe what you see with your circumstances? It is a choice. But here’s something interesting. When you’re in the wilderness. What you see is always a lie. When you’re in the wilderness where God is testing your faith.


What you see.


With your natural eyes is always a lie, because it’s always contrary to what God’s Word said. Because what God’s Word says is a heavenly truth, right? It’s a heavenly truth. And the only reason it’s a trial is because that heavenly truth is different than your earthly circumstance. Does this make sense? And therefore, when your eyes look at your earthly circumstances, they’re going to lie to you because they tell you that your circumstance is the truth and not God’s word. So when you were in the wilderness, the test that God designed for you to perfect you in that part of where he wants you to grow, when you look in your natural eyes at those circumstances, your eyes are lying to you.


And this is the test. What do you believe? Do you believe what your eyes tell you or do you believe what my word tells you? Choose this day whom you serve. Choose this day whom you believe. If you believe my word, you will get my heavenly truth that alters your reality. If you believe your circumstances, you will get consequences of those circumstances. And that is one of the big keys that’s going on with the lessons in the wilderness. It’s a time of deprivation that your eyes will always lie to you in accordance with what Jesus is doing, in his word for the Israelites. Their reality was they had no water. But watch this. God. Let them remain in their test. Until one thing. What was that? What’s that one thing? They acted by faith through Moses. Moses represented them act by faith. The length of time that you’re in your test. I remember I was going through a wilderness time myself. This is about a year or so ago, and I was asking the Lord. He told me I was going to go through it and I said, How long is the wilderness going to last for me? He said, It’s not measured in chronological time. It’s measured by faith. Because the wilderness is a test of faith. Lesson number three, God is always with us. God is always with us in the test. Sometimes you have a very grievous test and you start complaining to God, Where are you? I’ve been needing you and you haven’t been there. And yet God is always there.


He was there in the wilderness. Without any water. Anyone know where? In the he was in the rock. The rock that followed them was Jesus. Yeah. But watch this. So this is verses five and six. Exodus 17, verse five and six. God says, Call some of the elders of Israel to join you. I will stand before you on the rock at Mount Sinai or some translations. Mount Horeb. So that says that God was already there. The rock was there in their sight. Because they were circling right there in the rock. Okay. It was a wilderness of sin. The wilderness. The valley of Mount Sinai. So it’s all right there. That’s where God was. He was there all the time. Look, real quickly to first Corinthians ten for I want to show this to you. First Corinthians ten four because this talks about this time. God never leaves you in the test. He is always there. The question is, are you looking for him with your heart or are you looking for him with your natural eyes? So first Corinthians ten four says. And all of them drank the same spiritual water. For they drank from the spiritual rock that traveled with them. And that rock was Christ. He was traveling with him the whole time. He had all the water, all the resources, all the provision they needed the whole time. It was a test of what did they believe? Did they believe God or do they believe their eyes? Which did they choose to believe? That’s really what the Lord was trying to say.


For the Israelites. God led them to himself. And he always leads us back to him during the Wilderness Times. If we will simply pursue the Lord, he will always lead us back to himself, because that’s the kind of the whole purpose of this test. And then when we when we find him, that’s when he provides. But we have to search them out. We have to search out his word. And then the fourth one is the Lord provides when we act by faith, Lord provides when and you can underline when we act by faith. And if he provides when we act by faith, that means. It’s not before he didn’t just bring water out of the rock, just willy nilly. He told Moses specifically, Go strike the rock. Watch this. Verse six. Strike the rock and water will come gushing out. Then the people will be able to drink. So Moses struck the rock as he was told. And water gushed out. Moses obeyed the. Acted by faith on God’s word, obeyed and God provided. So even when we feel like we’re about to perish. God still only provides when we act by faith. The other thing that we get out of this is that the test stops when we act by faith because a measurement of the test, how long you’re going through that wilderness is not by chronological time. It’s all by faith. When you pass the test, the test stops. If you don’t pass, it keeps going. And then God’s going to repeat it and repeat it.


No water, no food, no meat, no water. He keeps repeating these tests throughout, throughout the wilderness until they got it. So let’s talk about complaining. Before I shift to complain, let me share one more thing about God’s provision. Notice that he provides abundance, not just minimal. There is about 2 million people of the Israelites there, plus their cattle, their herds and everything else, and water gushed out and fed them and nourished them for months and for years. Right. So it’s not just a little bit. It’s all that you need. And then some. It’s a life of abundance when you act and walk by faith. We’re going to talk about the last thing complaining. If you complain, you fail the test. Right. The first step in failing it is to complain about what’s going on. Because when we complain, what we’re doing is we’re complaining against what God has sent for our benefit. We’re complaining against what God has allowed us to go through to build up our faith that we can become more like him, conform to the image of his son. That’s a good thing. And when you complain, you’re saying, God, I don’t want. You to train me? That’s essentially what we’re saying. So we need to be careful. Complain means to be dissatisfied with something. The Lord is giving you something very, very good. And you complain. And that’s not good. What is the Lord’s view about complaining? The Lord considers it sin. Let me show you two passages when you complain against him. It’s a very serious sin.


Numbers 14. We’re going to look at numbers 14 verse 29 and 35. Keep in mind. The Israelites were a training ground for all of us. He sent them through the wilderness, did all these things to show his standard of excellence, his standard of holiness, his standard of what he expects from us. The whole thing of the wilderness is how he does it and what he expects from us. We find in our lives today, there’s a lot more grace than he gave to the Israelites back then. With that said, let me show you what happened with the Israelites back then when they complained. It’s real interesting. If you read through Exodus and through numbers, you’ll see this pattern. This is now numbers 14, starting with verse 29 and we’ll do 29 and 35. So 29 says, The carcasses of you who have complained against me shall fall in this wilderness. All of you who were numbered, according to the entire number from 20 years old and above. So, he says, those that complained against me, you’re going to die. Your carcasses will be in the wilderness. Look over at verse 35. Look over at verse 35. I, the Lord, have spoken this. I will surely do so to all this evil generation who are gathered together against me and this wilderness. They shall be consumed and there they shall die. It was really interesting to kind of refresh myself on all of this. Before I taught this lesson, I went back through all of Exodus and all of numbers where you see the movement, not the laws and stuff, but the movement of the people of Israel.


And it was constant complain, complain, complain, complain, complain. And every time they complain, God struck him down, struck him down, struck him down. Struck him down. Struck him down. You can say, Well, that sounds like a ruthless God. I can’t address that because I’m not him. I do know that God is holy. He loves us and we are not to complain. I just want to kind of underscore you see this pattern and he considers complaining a serious sin. Look at this. In first Corinthians ten, it it says the same thing. First Corinthians ten verses ten and 11. So this is Paul writing. First Corinthians 1010. Nor complain as some of them also complained and were destroyed by the destroyer. Now, all these things, all these things happen to them as examples, talking about examples for us. And they were written for our admonition upon whom the ends of the ages have come. So Paul is saying when. You go through these things, don’t complain. Don’t complain to God. We have a tendency of getting upset and then we complain. Maybe that person that attacked us, why did they do that? And then if we’re still in that trial because we haven’t passed it by faith, you know, the next person we complain to, God, why are you doing this to me? No, that’s bad. God didn’t do it to you. He allowed it for your good result. Count it all, Joy. Leap greatly. Rejoice when you encounter these trials. Yes.


Were they perhaps more complaining behind his back? In a very. Subversive, take away evil way or the more direct to his face.


More honestly kind of boast both. If you go through and read, you’ll find that they complained to Moses and they complained about God and they kind of. Moses was the person they complained to because he represented God for them. And the other times they just complain outright to God.


It’s like, you know, you were saying faith is trust. So complain is lack of trust. Yeah, it.


Is. It’s a lack of trust. Think about this. If you did not know what was going on, you just went through something tough. And this is kind of the point of all of this. Okay? We go into these trials and we don’t understand what’s going on. And so we have a tendency to complain because we have no knowledge of what’s happening. We are. Unconsciously incompetent with what’s going on. Once you start to get a glimpse of what God is doing in your life, then it’s a lot easier to accept it. I went to a massage therapist and he was working on me and he said, okay, here’s the magic words. Say stop. If it gets too painful, write this one. Feel good massage. This was a, you know, let’s get everything stretched out and and full mobility because I knew what the benefit was. I endured a lot. In fact, he was even surprised. He said I was brutal on you. And you only said stop one and a half times. Yeah, one and a half times. Because, you know, in in everything I say, Now move your arms and it’s going to hurt. And I, you know, with all this pain. Why? Because I knew the end result. However, if he was simply poking me, I’d just come up and he starts poking me and doing all this stuff. I would complain. Does that make sense? If I don’t know what it’s for, I complain. And so as we go through these trials in life, understand. The scriptures. Don’t say count it all, Joy. When you encounter certain trials that the Lord is testing you on. Peter doesn’t say you greatly rejoice in the midst of easy trials. Know when they’re grievous. Grievous is difficult. Some of the toughest things you’ve ever had to go through in your life. What are they? They are trials that test your faith.


God. Keep in mind that God is always as absolutely good. If you just kept that in your mind, you wouldn’t complain. Right.


And now and this is the point that I’m trying to get to. Once you understand that it’s the Lord either directing or allowing those trials to occur. Then we can rejoice in it. You cannot rejoice, as Margaret mentioned. You cannot rejoice except for the Lord giving you the ability to rejoice. It comes from him. It’s not from us. But. You can rejoice because it’s God’s direction to rejoice. Therefore, we act by faith and rejoice, which is a command of the Lord. Rejoice greatly. Rejoice when you encounter these trials.


Because it’s always for your benefit.


Because it’s always testing your faith, proving that your faith will be genuine, that you may receive praise, honor and glory from the Lord Jesus when He returns.


Can also be for the benefit of those around you like. I sometimes when I see someone going through trials and they’re really grievous, but they’re rejoicing. It’s like it increases my faith. Yes. So want to be like that?


Like that. So in community, you know, the whole idea about community is taking other believers and raising them up. And part of raising them up is they see how you live. I remember years back, I was involved with this business group. It was about 18 men. It’s called Vistage. We would meet once a month and have speakers and I never gave my testimony, but I’ve always been kind of a radical believer in Christ. And there was a guy that was involved for about a year and a half and then he left. And he came back to a party several years later and he said, Beatty, I want to thank you because you led me to Christ. I said, Really? I don’t recall ever telling you about Jesus. He said, You never did. But I thought I was a Christian until I saw how you lived your life. And I realized I was not a believer. And that’s when I became a Christian. And so that’s the whole idea of community. You can encourage others through your own walk of faith and your own walk of faith in the midst of trials. It’s very encouraging. What’s the big takeaway with all of this? The big takeaway is recognizing that as God who leads us or allows us to go through these trials in the first place. Those trials are for our good, our benefit to grow and strengthen and prove our faith genuine. That we receive praise, glory and honor from Jesus himself. We have the parables of the miners and the talents where Jesus says, well done, good and faithful servant.


Regardless of the trials you went through, you you pushed through them and you accomplish all that. I asked you to do all those good works that you are to be zealous to do. You can only accomplish them through faith and you’ll only have the faith to accomplish them through trials. God tells us when he puts us in a position of testing, it’s always a time when reality is contrary to his truth. And the reality says, we’re going to perish. We’re going to perish financially, we’re going to perish in our health. We’re going to perish in our family, whatever. There’s always a time of perishing something. And God’s truth says, Believe on me, trust me. And that’s what he wants us. He wants us to believe on his word, focus on his word, and then act by faith on his word. Choosing to look at his word and not look at the circumstance. That’s why faith is a choice. We’re always choosing where we look. And when you act by faith, that’s when the test ends. But not before I share this story, I think last time. But I want to share it again and just kind of add one more part to it. About 20 years ago this January, we were going with reduced pay for six months. Our business was suffering financially, never making a profit, losing money a lot of times, and I was worn out. And I was talking to the Lord and I was not complaining, but I was petitioning. I was pleading, Lord, when are you going to let up? And he said, I says, Do you really believe my word? As a test of what you believe.


Do you really believe that I can take care of you? I said yes. He said, Then if you really believed my word, how would you be acting differently than you’re acting right now? And I said, Well, I’d be at full pay and I put all my employees back at full pay. He said, Then why don’t you do it and trust me? So I did. That’s the only thing that changed. And for the next 6 or 8 months or longer, we were making profit. I mean, literally, just. Just like that went from underwater to above water. That was the only thing is the reverse of Peter. He went from above water with faith and underwater. Without it. I was going through there without faith and then popped up on water with it. And that’s the test ending. As soon as I acted by faith, the test was over. So it all goes back to God’s words or heavenly truths. We’re operating in earthly circumstances. We look at our reality and we believe our reality is truth. If we simply believe on God’s word and act on it, we believe it and we prove our belief by acting, James says, You say you have faith. I’ll show you my faith with my works. If we act on his word, then his word changes our reality. And now we have his promises. That’s the test of faith. That’s how it works. Once you pass one test, that test is over and then you go to something bigger.