Back to school! A fresh start, new notebooks and pens, some new clothes, shoes, and a change in the weather make this a favorite time of the year for me. Since my kids start back waaaay before Labor Day, we're well into it now, and they've all even had tests. Tests are and never were my favorite. As much as I loved school, it took me a long time--really until college--to learn how to be a good student, and how to study for tests.
After a message at church a few weeks ago about Joseph (the one with the pretty coat) the idea of tests and testing has been on my mind. After he as appointed a big wig in Egypt and he saved Egypt from a famine, his brothers came to see him, not knowing he was him. Following so far? It says in Genesis (a great story, starting at chapter 37) that Joseph tested his brothers. And at church, our pastor suggested that Joseph's character can be seen as a God role, and the brothers would be us in the story. I thought, "hmmm. God tests us? Does it say He does that?" I've heard about Job, where God allowed Satan to test him, but I never considered God being the tester.
I did a search of the word "test" in the whole Bible. (Careful there, the search brought up any word with test in it, so there's some rules about testicles in Leviticus. Learning something everyday! blech.) God is indeed a tester. He tested Abraham, He tested the Israelites in the desert, He tested the men who wanted to go into battle with Gideon, He tested Hezekiah, to see what was really in his heart. That's all in the Old Testament, you say? True, but God is unchanging.
In the New Testament, we can read that there will be a sorting or separating of wheat from chaff. That sounds like some testing will be involved. (Luke 3:17) How about this little passage from Paul: "Anyone who builds on that foundation may use a variety of materials—gold, silver, jewels, wood, hay, or straw. But on the judgment day, fire will reveal what kind of work each builder has done. The fire will show if a person’s work has any value. If the work survives, that builder will receive a reward. But if the work is burned up, the builder will suffer great loss. The builder will be saved, but like someone barely escaping through a wall of flames." (I Corinthians 3:12-15 NLT) And James tells us, "Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing." (James 1:2-4 NLT)
When Jesus came to earth and lived as a human, He had a fully human experience, and was also tested. He spent 40 days in the desert and was tempted by Satan. (Luke 4: 1-13) Being late in the game at figuring out how to test well in school, I want to get these tests of my heart right. I believe Jesus showed us by example how to take and pass the tests. Every time Satan spoke to Jesus, His reply began, "The Scriptures say..."
I must know the Word, I must remember the Word, I must say the Word, and repeat the promises that I know are true, because they're in the Word.