Deuteronomy 8 : 1 - 4, "Every commandment which I command you today you must be careful to observe, that you may live and multiply, and go in and possess the land of which the LORD swore to your fathers. And you shall remember that the LORD your God led you all the way these forty years in the wilderness, to humble you and test you, to know what was in your heart, whether you would keep His commandments or not. So He humbled you, allowed you to hunger, and fed you with manna which you did not know nor did your fathers know, that He might make you know that man shall not live by bread alone; but man lives by every word that proceeds from the mouth of the LORD. NKJV
I have discovered that when believers are hit with serious trails, they are more open to taking a closer look at themselves. There's something about having something go wrong in a person's life that causes us to evaluate our past conduct. However, too many times this can open the door for the enemy to bring us under condemnation. If you find yourself leaning toward self-doubt, condemnation, and guilt when you're surrounded by "shark-infested waters," take notice of what Jesus did when He was tempted in the wilderness by the Devil. He answered Satan's thoughts with, "It Is Written."
Jesus knew His spiritual identity. Nevertheless, many times Christians will turn to other sources to find help and strength when responding to spiritual assaults from their adversary, the Devil. This brings us to the teaching for today. Just as Jesus turned to His heavenly Father to draw His identity and power, we must be WILLING as His disciples to follow His example while under an attack of Satan.
Having faith in Christ means that your confidence is in Him; your faith is no longer in yourself, or the ways of the world. So when trials come that challenge your faith and cause you to begin to doubt God's faithfulness or the authority of His Word, then we must, at that point, decide where we will turn. It will be determined in the trial, not on a pew in church, whether or not our faith is genuine.
Jesus was out in the wilderness and had fasted for forty days when He found Himself being tempted by the Devil in every point that we will be tempted as Christians. He was tempted in the areas of provision, protection, and power. These areas are covered in the Apostle John's epistle who wrote, "All that is in the world is the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life."
How we choose to react to trouble, heartache, and disappointment will determine if we have true faith in Christ. True Biblical faith will produce hope. Hope is needed for those moments and times when it may seem as though God has abandoned us. The writer of Hebrews describes or defines faith as being the substance of things hoped for and the evidence of things unseen. Therefore, if we have true faith and are born again, we will have a true hope in our hearts that God is faithful to His Word and us, even in a tragic or life-threatening situation.
Lest you get under momentary condemnation because you don't feel hope the very moment calamity hits your life, you must also remember that you and I are human. It's easy for us to become disoriented while being blind-sided by the Devil because we will be experiencing the raw emotions of our situation. The Lord not only understands this about us, but gives us time to heal and find our direction before He begins to push us in the direction of finding Him when the cloud of "dust and doubt" begins to settle.
The place that we must guard our hearts is when Satan tries to exploit our raw emotions to seek vengeance or go out on our own to find healing and comfort in the ways of the world. These would be classified as acts of the flesh responding to "a wrong." However, we must choose to remain submitted and committed to Christ. The Lord knows that our emotions will respond because He made us that way. We must process and judge what has occurred in our lives so that our hearts won't be overwhelmed. This is more of a process that it is a reaction of the will. Whew!
When God brought Israel out of Egypt, He didn't lead them directly into the land of promise. He was testing their obedience to see whether they had faith or unbelief in their hearts. It seemed that Israel as a nation walked with Moses and God until something "wrong" happened to them. You see, they repeatedly hardened their hearts against God and didn't choose to obey His Word whenever they came under a spiritual attack. Since they consistently chose for forty years to reject God and harden their hearts to the Holy Spirit, they had no hope that would carry them through the trials in the wilderness.
As a result, that generation all perished in the wilderness because they were filled with unbelief. We must be careful to guard our hearts from entertaining unbelief and departing from the living God when we find ourselves going through difficult situations in our walk. True faith will produce true hope, and hope will always bring us back to the Word of God as the final authority. Once we overcome the initial emotional process of hurt, loss, and disappointment, we will find renewed hope and strength. However, we must first decide in the fiery furnace to turn to the Lord as our eternal source for this temporal life.
God is faithful to His Word, and you will find that He will be faithful to you when you make a heart decision to trust and obey His Word always. God won't always come on the scene in our time. Nevertheless, He has given us the power of the Holy Spirit, and He gives us hope that doesn't make us ashamed. He won't let us hope in something that will never happen. Once He gives us hope, we can know that what we are hoping in, He will bring to pass. Abraham hoped even though everything in the natural screamed there is nothing to be hopeful about.
True hope will do just that in your life. Even so, you must make the decision to place your complete trust in the Lord. We all must make the decision to have hope, even after we have made the decision to have faith in Jesus. Why? Because we live in a world that is filled with tribulation that will challenge your faith.
Walking by faith and Not by Sight,
Pastor Asa Dockery