1. Slides 1 & 2 – Introduction: Heb. 12:5-13 (NIV)
    1. Slide 3 Last week we looked at the reality of testing in our lives. We saw that testing is a natural part of making sure that something or someone is ready.  Just as we test things like airplanes, food, swing-sets, etc. to make sure they are safe and prepared for use, so the Lord tests us and allows us to be tested at various times in our lives.  We saw that even the Lord Jesus was tested before he began His ministry.
    2. We also saw that Testing is normal and proper
      1. It does not mean that something is wrong.
      2. Sometimes we think that if I am not having fun anymore or its hard or that suffering and disappointment have come, that I have done something wrong or that “something is wrong”. This is not necessarily true.
  • Heb. 12:5-7 – endure hardship as discipline, God is treating you as sons & daughters.
  1. Coaching
    1. Tom Landry – “Leadership is getting someone to do what they don’t want to do, to achieve what they want to achieve.”
    2. Modify it: Coaching involves making people do that which they don’t want to do so that they can become who they have always wanted to be.
  2. Slide 4 A word about Abraham
    1. Maybe you have struggled with God’s request of Abraham…
    2. Probably a worshipper of the moon god
  • Abraham does not know the character and ways of God like we do. He just knows that one of the gods is speaking to him and he is following.
  1. God’s character is not known – Love, grace, mercy, forgiveness, justice, etc.
    1. God’s love
      1. God never tells anyone in Genesis that He loves them.
      2. Love first used of God in Gen 24 when Abraham’s servant Eliezer goes to find Isaac a wife.
      3. Once Jacob thanks God for His steadfast love. And Once Joseph is said to be a recipient of God’s love while he was in prison.
    2. God’s compassion/mercy/faithfulness/kindness
      1. Mercy, compassion and kindness are almost unknown– 2x – Lot being dragged out of Sodom, Jacob sends a wish blessing for God’s mercy with his sons when they return to Egypt with Benjamin
      2. Favor – Many times
      3. Faithfulness – 1x mentioned by Eliezar about God’s faithfulness in finding a wife for Isaac and 1x in a prayer from Jacob about God’s blessings to him.
      4. Forgiveness – 0x
    3. The request is appropriate as a test under his cultural circumstances when God is beginning to reveal who He is and what He is like and that He is different from the other gods
    4. What does Abraham know?
      1. God has made him a promise of descendants and land which will come through Isaac
      2. God has performed an elaborate covenant ceremony to demonstrate that He is faithful.
      3. God is asking for human sacrifice, which would have been normal in his day
  • What does Abraham learn?
    1. God does not delight in human sacrifice
    2. Redemption – Although we all deserve to die, God provides a means to eliminate human sacrifice through substitution
    3. Abraham enacts a prophetic picture of what God will ultimately fulfil by sending Jesus as the only sacrifice, and the only human sacrifice, that can atone for sin.
    4. Abraham is on a learning journey to discover who God is and what He is like. The learning may seem awkward and inappropriate to us, but, in a sense, this experience was something God used to teach that He doesn’t want human sacrifice.
    5. Abraham’s learning, benefits us all.
  1. Slide 5 The three tests from last week, integrity, obedience and faithfulness are all foundational tests to give us a firm foundation so that we don’t experience a “pancake collapse”.
  1. Additional Tests
    1. Slide 6 Motivation Test
      1. Biblical Illustrations
        1. Job 1:9-11 – Satan replied, “Would Job worship you if he got nothing out of it? You have always protected him and his family and everything he owns. You bless everything he does, and you have given him enough cattle to fill the whole country. But now suppose you take away everything he has—he will curse you to your face!”
      2. Slide 7 Explanation
        1. This test comes to someone who is doing the right thing to examine why they are doing it.
        2. This often involves a negative experience while doing something we know God has asked us to do, or that is an act of service to someone else.
        3. Our motivation for ministry needs to be love for God and people, rather than recognition or promotion.
          1. Shepherd or hireling. John 10:11-14
          2. Bruce Clewett analogy… God takes the fun away, Jesus was motivated by compassion, the disciples were not.
        4. Are there strings attached? Expectations that you are entitled to, something from God or others?  Or have I given up the right to my time and am I joyfully involved?
  • Examples
    1. Barbed Wire helping someone move
    2. Gerhard’s tires
  1. Application
  2. God not only wants us in the right ministry, he wants us there for the right reasons and with the right motivation.
  1. Slide 8 Authority Test
    1. Biblical Illustrations
      1. David and Saul – 1 Sam. 24: 6-7 “and he said to his men, “May the LORD keep me from doing any harm to my master, whom the LORD chose as king! I must not harm him in the least, because he is the king chosen by the LORD!”  So David convinced his men that they should not attack Saul. Saul got up, left the cave, and started away.”
  1. Slide 9 Explanation
    1. We must learn to submit to authority if we’re going to learn how to carry authority.
    2. This test often comes when we have a disagreement with our leader in some area.
      1. Can we submit to authority and serve with a whole heart even if we think our leaders are wrong?
      2. Some leadership lessons are learned when we are under good authority, others when we are under bad authority and others when we are not sure.
    3. Submitting to authority with a right attitude is apparently the way we develop a healthy understanding of authority and how it is to be used.
      1. Through submission I learn to develop a healthy respect for the office of leadership.
      2. I also learn to have compassion for those under my authority.
      3. Through humility I learn servant leadership.
        1. Joseph
      4. If we don’t learn authority well, we may pass on bad leadership to others under our leadership when it is our turn.
  • Examples
    1. Disagreement about vision
    2. Feeling overlooked by the leader
      1. Over the past 10 years in YWAM
      2. Can either lead to “I’ll show them”, or to humility and a breaking that produces a sweetness in leadership.
    3. Feeling mistreated by the leader
    4. Returning to King’s Mansion and being put in charge of the kitchen
      1. Fortunate if we didn’t burn the microwave popcorn
      2. Food for 50, no budget. 😊

    5. Application
      1. God wants leaders that have compassion for people and who will lead them wisely. He also wants his leaders to have a proper understanding of and respect for their followers.
    6. Ultimately, all leadership flows from God. God is looking for those who can submit themselves to His authority and the authority that He establishes, so that He can entrust responsibility and authority to them.
  1. Slide 10 Warfare Test
    1. Biblical Illustrations
      1. Judges 3:1-2 – So then, the LORD left some nations in the land to test the Israelites who had not been through the wars in Canaan. He did this only in order to teach each generation of Israelites about war, especially those who had never been in battle before.
  1. Slide 11 Explanation
    1. The warfare test comes when we are in the will of God and facing spiritual opposition. Will we cohabitate with the enemy or will be press into the Lord and seek to drive him back.
    2. God is not calling us to fatalistic Christianity. Not que sera, sera, but pressing in through prayer to fight for victory.
    3. 2 Cor. 12:7-10So to keep me from becoming conceited because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, a thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to harass me, to keep me from becoming conceited. Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. 10 For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.
  • Examples – Lessons God wants us to learn
    1. Discernment – what is the source of this opposition? Spiritual? Natural?
    2. The use of “spiritual weapons” such as prayer, praise, thanksgiving, spiritual gifts and acting in the opposite spirit.
    3. Brent’s story about using praise to break through to something God wanted to do.
  1. Application
    1. We must learn to persevere and continue doing the will of God even in the face of opposition.
    2. We must also learn to develop discernment and the use of spiritual weapons.
  1. Slide 12 Test of Time
    1. Biblical Illustrations
      1. John 15:16 – You did not choose me, but I chose you to go and bear fruit-fruit that will last.
      2. Gal 6:9 – Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.
    2. Slide 13 Explanation
      1. The test of time lies in looking back over a longer period of time, to determine whether or not the ministry/work is in fact bearing long-term fruit.
      2. Another application of this test lies in faithful perseverance over many years to see a vision come to pass. Abraham, Moses, David, Joseph
      3. Ministry/work that doesn’t just flourish for a few days weeks or months, but survives the ups and downs of life over a period of years, demonstrating fruit that is lasting.
      4. The key to the test of time is perseverance and faithfulness to stay the course God has shown you.
        1. The temptation is to quit and give up too soon.
  • Examples
    1. Pastor Jon – The secret to ministry is learning how to plod.
      1. What you are doing may not be the flashiest thing, but can you plod? Can you stay the course?  Be faithful to take the next step?
  1. Application
    1. God is concerned with developing perseverance into his leaders
    2. God is concerned that we use right methods for ministry and not take short cuts. God’s ministry with God’s methods to achieve God’s results.
  1. Slide 14 The Trial by Fire
    1. Biblical Illustrations
      1. 1 Pet. 1:6-7 – In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, 7 so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.
      2. 1 Pet. 4:12-14 – Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. 13 But rejoice insofar as you share Christ’s sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed. 14 If you are insulted for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you.
    2. Slide 15 Explanation
      1. The trial by fire relates to difficulties we experience in life that test our commitment to Christ, including persecution. It tests the genuineness of our faith, by determining whether we will stay faithful to the Lord in the face of persecution, unanswered prayer, or even a longing for the things of this world.
  • Example:
    1. The parable of the sower and the soils – Matt 13:3-23
    2. How do you respond when answers to prayer are delayed, or life is hard or you experience opposition to your faith or you think that doing things the world’s way will lead to greater success?
    3. Can we stay faithful to Jesus under such circumstances?
  1. Application
    1. From time to time God allows us to go through things that will test whether our faith is genuine and how deep it is. This brings revelation to ourselves about the true condition of our hearts so that we can grow.
    2. When we pass these tests it brings glory to God before both the seen and unseen realms.
  • Slide 16 Conclusion
    1. Are you in a season where you are being tested? Or are feeling shaken? Can you identify one (or more) of these 8 areas that seems to be what is going on?  Do you feel God challenging you to respond in some way?
      1. Confess a sin? Put a relationship right? Deal with some area of a lack of integrity? Maybe it is an area of obedience you are struggling with? How about your motivation?  Are you doing what you are doing for the right reason?  Are you struggling with authority?  Maybe it is spiritual warfare and you need to fight with spiritual weapons. Maybe your perseverance is being tested or your faith in God and commitment to Jesus in general.
      2. Where are you being tested?
  • How does God want you to respond?
  1. Is there a trusted person you can share with and call alongside to help
  2. Slides 17 & 18 – Heb 12:4-13 – In this all-out match against sin, others have suffered far worse than you, to say nothing of what Jesus went through—all that bloodshed! So don’t feel sorry for yourselves. Or have you forgotten how good parents treat children, and that God regards you as his children? My dear child, don’t shrug off God’s discipline, but don’t be crushed by it either.  It’s the child he loves that he disciplines; the child he embraces, he also corrects.  God is educating you; that’s why you must never drop out. He’s treating you as dear children. This trouble you’re in isn’t punishment; it’s training, the normal experience of children. Only irresponsible parents leave children to fend for themselves. Would you prefer an irresponsible God? We respect our own parents for training and not spoiling us, so why not embrace God’s training so we can truly live? While we were children, our parents did what seemed best to them. But God is doing what is best for us, training us to live God’s holy best. At the time, discipline isn’t much fun. It always feels like it’s going against the grain. Later, of course, it pays off handsomely, for it’s the well-trained who find themselves mature in their relationship with God.  So don’t sit around on your hands! No more dragging your feet! Clear the path for long-distance runners so no one will trip and fall, so no one will step in a hole and sprain an ankle. Help each other out. And run for it!
  3. Slide 19 – Application – What do we do with all of this?
    1. Be aware that tests will come and will come regularly.
    2. Identify the tests you are in the middle of right now
      1. Where are you being tested (Motivation, Authority, Warfare, Test of Time, Trial by Fire)?
      2. How are you responding?
        1. Are you allowing the trial to drive you to God and help you grow?
        2. Or are you complaining and becoming bitter?
  • What do you sense God is asking you to do? To stand firm on? To not give in? To step out in faith? To go back and correct or make right?
  1. What will you concretely do?
  2. Let’s take time to pray and ask God for His grace and help in these areas. Let’s take time to pray and ask God for His grace and help in these areas.