Sunday, July 19, 2020

Sunday Praise & Worship Message - Testing Yourself

In the early days of the pandemic, a great emphasis was placed on having tests available to determine whether or not a person was infected. If a person tested positive, that individual was isolated and treated. Those who were in contact with that individual were immediately contacted and asked to get a test. As testing capabilities improved, health authorities could quickly implement policies to stem the tide of further infections and “flatten the curve”.

Testing, whether it is for a medical condition or to determine academic performance, is a vital way to determine the current state of an individual. When it comes to our spiritual lives, testing our faith is equally as important, because it helps us determine whether or not we are truly living in faith or just pretending. It is so easy for us to pretend that we have faith or follow the teachings of false prophets. Even the most devoted Christians can be lured away from the true faith and follow the sweet words of false prophets who claim to speak God’s word. 

Paul, in his second letter to the church at Corinth, warned those there to be on guard and to resist the temptation to follow those who misrepresent God. He reminds the church that even Satan masquerades as an angel of light to tempt and deceive people.

In chapter eleven, Paul writes, “These people are false apostles. They are deceitful workers who disguise themselves as apostles of Christ. But I am not surprised! Even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. So it is no wonder that his servants also disguise themselves as servants of righteousness. In the end they will get the punishment their wicked deeds deserve.

With all that is going on in the world today, it is so very easy to be deceived and to fall off the path of righteous. There will always be false prophets who claim to be servants of God. They will say and do things that may seem to be in the name of God, but, in the end, they only serve themselves. They use God as a way of luring you into a false sense of security only to fleece the flock and leave you with nothing. The worst part is that you may become cynical. Your heart becomes hardened once again.

These false prophets do not care for you in the least bit. You are a means to an end and nothing more than a gullible rube or mark ripe for fleecing. They count on the fact that you do not test what they are saying. They merely say a few words that sound sweet to the ear. Those false prophets rely on the fact that you are willing to accept whatever they say as gospel. The words they say are not the true Gospel. 

In order to avoid following these charlatans, we must always be on guard. It is not enough to just listen to the words that they preach. We must also read the scriptures they use and weigh their message against the entire text. Many charlatans use the Bible as a tool to fool you into believing that they speak only truth. 

In chapter thirteen in that same letter to the Corinthians, Paul writes, “Examine yourselves to see if your faith is genuine. Test yourselves. Surely you know that Jesus Christ is among you; if not, you have failed the test of genuine faith.

Testing begins and ends with us. We need to constantly examine ourselves to ensure that we are truly living a life of Christian service and have a Christ-like attitude each and every day. If we are truly living that life, then Christ Jesus dwells within us and we are truly acting as the children of the Most High God. If our faith is not genuine, then we are not living in accordance to God’s will and are living for something else.

Even if we find ourselves on a different path, we can still return to the Father. That road back to Him starts with humbling ourselves and asking forgiveness. No one is perfect, but we need to realize that testing ourselves and the words of others helps us grow in our faith and strengthens our ability to resist temptation.

In chapter three of the Book of Lamentations, the author writes, “Instead, let us test and examine our ways. Let us turn back to the Lord. Let us lift our hearts and hands to God in heaven and say, ‘We have sinned and rebelled, and you have not forgiven us.’”

If you find that you have made a wrong turn, don’t go any farther down that path. It only leads to disappointment and the ultimate destination is destruction. After you test and examine your ways, you can turn back to God by admitting your transgression and asking for forgiveness. That is the first step in your journey back to God.

Once we have taken the first steps back, we continue to grow in wisdom and we hear the true voice of God in the scripture. God will always, if you ask Him, provide you with wisdom in abundance. That wisdom leads you to discernment. Discernment allows you to hear God’s word and message to you clearly. Once we have wisdom and discernment firmly in place, it will be more and more difficult to fall prey to the enticing words of Satan and sin.

Let’s return to the medical example. When we receive a vaccine injection, our immune system develops the defenses to fight off an illness. Our bodies develop antibodies to wage a relentless battle against all sorts of illnesses that beset us daily. Our spiritual lives are no different. Wisdom and discernment are the vaccines that we need in our spiritual lives to guard against spiritual illness and corruption.

By testing and examining ourselves, we ensure that our faith is intact and that we are truly living in accordance with the teachings of Christ Jesus and the will of God. If we discover that things are not as they seem and we have made a detour, we can stop and turn back to God by lifting “our hearts and hands to God in heaven and say, ‘We have sinned and rebelled, and you have not forgiven us’”. When we do these things, we know that we can stand firm in God’s grace daily.

The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit.

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