Surviving Life’s Upheavals: How to Pass the Tests of Faith

The burdens of life, the trials and tests God allows in your life, and the heavy circumstances of the world around you will push you to the breaking point of your faith. Life is not fair. Listen! God is not as concerned for your happiness as He is for your good.

Jesus Christ is looking for wise men to follow His Word no matter the circumstance around them. In the long run, only absolute trust and obedience in His sayings will get man safely through the toughest storms. “Whoever hears these sayings of Mine, and does them…” seems to be a hard saying today in America. Many today will not follow Christ’s sayings unless they see and receive a personal benefit.

If they do not receive a warm fuzzy feeling in worship that encourages them, they quit going OR LEAVE THAT CHURCH AND FIND A NEW ONE THAT OFFERS THE GOOD FEELINGS. If they do not feel successful and gain recognition in other peoples’ eyes they quit. If people do not respond to them in the way they want, they quit. Plain old obedience is out of style. So troubled times become an overwhelming test for the American Church.

God will test people who claim to be Christians to expose three things about them. Jesus says that God will send storms in our lives forcing us to sit helplessly, forcing us to wait and trust Him. Being from Florida, we have hurricanes. When they come through our area there is nothing we can do to stop the storm. We are not in control of the situation and have to flee or fasten down everything and wait.

Matthew 7:24-27 (NKJ)

24    “Therefore whoever hears these sayings of Mine, and does them, I will liken him to a wise man who built his house on the rock:

25    “and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it did not fall, for it was founded on the rock.

26    “Now everyone who hears these sayings of Mine, and does not do them, will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand:

27    “and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it fell. And great was its fall.”

The Rain Tests My Covering [Am I Submitting to My Authorities and Enjoying Their Protection?]

Man is obsessed with being a god. He wants everybody to bow to him like God. The selfish heart of man wants people around him to serve him, pamper him, listen to him, recognize him, obey his wishes, give him his way, please him, follow him, and give him lots of attention. He wants to be the boss! Few want to be the servant as Christ has commanded.

Few want to serve and help their authorities. Few want to serve God and worry only about His concerns by serving their authorities. Few will pamper them, listen to their instructions, recognize their importance, obey their wishes, conform to their ways, please them, follow them, and give them lots of attention. Few will obey God without someone slapping them on the back and giving them notice. Few will worship God and serve Him without expecting a reward from men or God.

The portion of scripture that we started with is actually the ending of Christ’s sermon. He started in Matthew 5 with the kingdom message. It always starts with a hopeless impoverished man who is saddened by his sinful condition and repents and surrenders to whole-heartedly serve God. Filled with this new understanding he focuses on obedience to God by following Christ’s example of always serving and caring for others who show no thanks, always sharing Christ to those who won’t listen, and suffering under the persecution of these ungrateful rebels by worshipping God and rejoicing in the good fortune of being treated like Christ and other servants of God.

Now what happens when the rain of persecution is too much and the rejection gets to you? Do you turn in anger and bitterness because you expected God to treat you better? Or do you sit in your house and trust Him to get you through the storm? You wanted recognition and success. Instead you got failure or strong opposition! You did not want this storm.

You decide that your authority did not give you what you wanted! God has turned against you. You have been tested and found wanting. The storms came and the wind blew and the holes in your roof caused you discomfort and injury. What does this test prove?

First, it means you have not submitted to your human authorities. You are not enjoying their protection and provision. You would be safe through the storm if you had built your life on God’s principles of life [the Rock of His Word] and truly and honestly submitted to God’s provided authorities in your life. Now great is your fall. Now in bitterness you blame others for your problems. Now in unloving attitudes and words you attack others and disobey the clear teaching of scripture.

Maybe you quit going to church! You justify disobeying God’s commands by saying, “Who needs those hypocrites, anyway! I can’t stand church people!” “Give me my pets, they don’t hurt me!” Full of yourself not God’s love, you attack your Christian family, instead of rejoicing in troubles and persecution as God commands!

Blame your pastor for not meeting your needs and feeding you. “He is boring!” Blame the Christians for not calling you and proving they really love you! Blame God for not being fair! Quit! Now go and sin in anger! OR…

Let’s find your sin. The unrepentant sinner will blame others. Go back to Genesis and read how Adam blamed Eve, Eve the serpent, and both blamed God because He made Eve and the serpent. This is a hard heart, not a man “poor in spirit.” Now the choice comes, will you be like the first Adam or the second Adam [Jesus]?

Matthew 20:26-28 (NKJ)

26    “Yet it shall not be so among you; but whoever desires to become great among you, let him be your servant.

27    “And whoever desires to be first among you, let him be your slave–

28    “just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.”

Your roof will be strong and safe when you re-roof your spiritual house. Until you humbly and completely surrender to God and His human authorities you will not be protected in life’s storms. Jesus illustrates this for us as a twelve year old.

Luke 2:46-52 (NKJ)

46    Now so it was that after three days they found Him in the temple, sitting in the midst of the teachers, both listening to them and asking them questions.

47    And all who heard Him were astonished at His understanding and answers.

48    So when they saw Him, they were amazed; and His mother said to Him, “Son, why have You done this to us? Look, Your father and I have sought You anxiously.”

49    And He said to them, “Why did you seek Me? Did you not know that I must be about My Father’s business?”

50    But they did not understand the statement which He spoke to them.

51    Then He went down with them and came to Nazareth, and was subject to them, but His mother kept all these things in her heart.

52    And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men.

Jesus went to do God’s business, but his human authorities said it was not time. He did not rebel against them. Instead he fully submitted to them and waited in His life until God made it clear it was time to act. Because he subjected himself to his authorities God the Father blessed Him with wisdom and growth. This found favor in the Father’s eyes and people around Him everyday. If Jesus disobeyed His parents he would not have found favor in men’s eyes or the Father’s.

Also, his subjection was complete. He was known later as the carpenter, which means He came under his step father, Joseph, by working and learning his business. He waited on doing God’s business, by serving His stepfather as fully as possible. As he served Joseph, God’s protection and blessing were evident to all.

Would you like to be contradicted by your authorities like Jesus? He knew what God’s work was, but His human authorities let Him know it was not God’s time. Some would call this a storm of testing. It seemed His parents were trying to hold the Son of God back from God’s will. But, the truth is, human authority protected him from jumping the gun. Human authority provided character development as He learned to be a loyal servant of a master carpenter.

It is not just family authority that is important. Use the same servant mentality that a child is called to do and project it to your situation. Do you truly subject yourself to your boss at work? Find out by asking. Treat the boss like God himself. Fully subject yourself to his/her authority. Complete your projects with your best efforts, satisfy their will, not yours. Work as if your boss was actually Jesus.

Ephesians 6:5-8 (NKJ)

5    Bondservants, be obedient to those who are your masters according to the flesh, with fear and trembling,  in sincerity of heart, as to Christ;

6    not with eyeservice, as men-pleasers, but as bondservants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart,

7    with good will doing service, as to the Lord, and not to men,

8    knowing that whatever good anyone does, he will receive the same from the Lord, whether he is a slave or free.

Now examine your church responsibility.

Hebrews 10:23-25 (NKJ)

23    Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful.

24    And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works,

25    not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching.

Hebrews 13:7-8 (NKJ)

7    Remember those who rule over you, who have spoken the word of God to you, whose faith follow, considering the outcome of their conduct.

8    Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.

Hebrews 13:15-17 (NKJ)

15    Therefore by Him let us continually offer the sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of our lips, giving thanks to His name.

16    But do not forget to do good and to share, for with such sacrifices God is well pleased.

17    Obey those who rule over you, and be submissive, for they watch out for your souls, as those who must give account. Let them do so with joy and not with grief, for that would be unprofitable for you.

The Bible does not tell you to go to church and sit and enjoy it if you want. If you decide it is boring and do something else you are sinning! You are to subject yourselves to the pastoral leaders and work as instructed. Also, you are to praise God with your mouths. This is not to make you feel good or spiritual. This is to give God the respect that is due Him. Worship is not for you. You are to love others, not demand they love you. You are to commit, support and help reach others as the Great Commission instructs. You are to exhort others to grow in the faith. Place God’s business above yours. Commit yourself to His business. You do this by going to the leaders of the church, volunteering and working under their supervision, following their instructions, giving weekly donations because you love God and He instructs you to sacrifice for His kingdom.

This is not a power or equality issue. We are all equal in America. We are all equal in God’s kingdom. But we are not all given the same responsibilities or roles. The President is not better than any citizen, but he has a higher responsibility. The leaders of the church must supervise and the rest must minister as servants under their directions. If you refuse to join a church, submit to the pastor, take on your financial responsibility and support the church expenses, and work hard to build the Kingdom of God you are disobeying God.

Therefore, the storms of life are God’s way of getting your attention and proving to you that you have holes in your roof. You will suffer lose unless you humble yourself and run to your authorities and submit! There is no excuse for rebellion to God’s clear command.

The Flood Tests My Foundation [What Am I Really Trusting in?]

1 Corinthians 3:10-11 (NKJ)

10    According to the grace of God which was given to me, as a wise master builder I have laid the foundation, and another builds on it. But let each one take heed how he builds on it.

11    For no other foundation can anyone lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ.

The world sends out a flood of distractions and alternatives for your time, focus, and direction. Most are good or okay things to do. Sports, hobbies, collections, entertainment, and games are good fun things to enjoy. But not when your house is on fire and you need to do something to save it or your family. It is not okay when you know your family needs you to earn money to pay bills and buy food. These things must be secondary in priority and time allotted. Time and focus are the real proof of what we love.

Floods overwhelm people with water, mud, etc. Water is needed and a very wonderful thing. Too much kills and destroys. Protection from a flood is simple when you build your house up on top of a high rock, instead of near the seashore or riverbed. The closer you plant your roots near the world’s distractions the more damage you receive. The more you distance yourself from the world’s ideas, music, influences, worldview, and friendships the stronger and safer you are in days of testing.

The second thing that God is testing you for during the storms is your false foundations. Not only must you submit to authority, you must trust God through authority. You must be driven and pulled away from all the false hopes and ideas supporting you that is not from Jesus Christ and based on His Word. Until you firmly believe in, trust in, and cling to Jesus Christ for all your life’s needs you are not safe in God’s protection. God’s ways, timing, perspective, and friendship demand total commitment to Him alone. His discipleship program is thorough and life changing.

Storms churn up the sea around us until we can see how weak human effort is in protecting ourselves. Tornadoes, earthquakes, and hurricanes really help people get a perspective on how weak government, parents, engineers, military forces, money, and any other resources are, in truly protecting us. Until you can really see and believe how big God is, you still do not really trust Him. That is illustrated in where you build your house, on the rock or on the sand.

Storms make you find the true place of shelter. Storms force you to flee to high ground. Storms make you remember how weak you are and actually make you find protection in order to survive. This is the place God would have you be all the time. Notice how David’s storms of survival from life and death scrapes with king Saul, Philistines, and other enemies forced him to find the true shelter.

Psalm 61:3-4 (NKJ)

3    For You have been a shelter for me, a strong tower from the enemy.

4    I will abide in Your tabernacle forever; I will trust in the shelter of Your wings. Selah

Psalm 143:9-12 (NKJ)

9    Deliver me, O LORD, from my enemies; in You I take shelter.

10    Teach me to do Your will, for You are my God; your Spirit is good. Lead me in the land of uprightness.

11    Revive me, O LORD, for Your name’s sake! For Your righteousness’ sake bring my soul out of trouble.

12    In Your mercy cut off my enemies, and destroy all those who afflict my soul; for I am Your servant.

Now let’s illustrate this principle. First look at Abraham. Remember that he was promised a son from his own blood that would be a blessing. His wife could not have children and they were past the age of children and God finally did a miracle. But God made them wait forever. He would not allow them the pleasure of a child until it was impossible. They had to know for sure that God, and only God gave them their son. This seemed to be a storm to them. They were pushed beyond their faith, and it seemed God was failing them.

Sarah felt the floods of doubt. She felt the pressure of being blamed for not giving Abraham a son. They squirmed and cheated to have kids from handmaids. They used all human logic, cultural practices and laws to fulfill the promise themselves. But, they needed only to trust and wait on the Rock of their salvation.

Sarah’s storms were even forced upon her from her husband. In his fear, Abraham lied and deceived kings so that they would not kill him and steal his wife. But think of the destruction of God’s promise with these men getting involved with her. This storm was too big for Abraham. But Sarah trusted God during this overwhelming test, in spite of her authority [husband] and did not rebel against his will. She had to cry out to God and trust Him.

Genesis 12:13-15 (NKJ)

13    “Please say you are my sister, that it may be well with me for your sake, and that I may live because of you.”

14    So it was, when Abram came into Egypt, that the Egyptians saw the woman, that she was very beautiful.

15    The princes of Pharaoh also saw her and commended her to Pharaoh. And the woman was taken to Pharaoh’s house.

1 Peter 3:1-6 (NKJ)

1    Wives, likewise, be submissive to your own husbands, that even if some do not obey the word, they, without a word, may be won by the conduct of their wives,

2    when they observe your chaste conduct accompanied by fear.

3    Do not let your adornment be merely outward– arranging the hair, wearing gold, or putting on fine apparel–

4    rather let it be the hidden person of the heart, with the incorruptible beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is very precious in the sight of God.

5    For in this manner, in former times, the holy women who trusted in God also adorned themselves, being submissive to their own husbands,

6    as Sarah obeyed Abraham, calling him lord, whose daughters you are if you do good and are not afraid with any terror.

Genesis 22:11-12 (NKJ)

11    But the Angel of the LORD called to him from heaven and said, “Abraham, Abraham!” And he said, “Here I am.”

12    And He said, “Do not lay your hand on the lad, or do anything to him; for now I know that you fear God, since you have not withheld your son, your only son, from Me.”

Abraham finally believed and in his old age was still forced into a spiritual storm. He was told to do a murder of his own son and burn him to God on an altar. This flood of testing was beyond reason! Religious talk is cheap. This life wrenching experience finished Abraham’s foundation development training. God knows the heart and what actually is trusted in. When he gave up his son, he proved that he did not hope in his son for the future promise, but God. He laid all his future in God’s hand, he then had the right foundation.

Do you really have the right foundation? Well God will let you know. Most of us need storms to force us to completely build our lives on His solid ground. We flee into His hand.

The Wind Tests the Value of What I’m Doing With My Time and Life [What Am I Building?]

1 Corinthians 3:11-19 (NKJ)

11    For no other foundation can anyone lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ.

12    Now if anyone builds on this foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw,

13    each one’s work will become clear; for the Day will declare it, because it will be revealed by fire; and the fire will test each one’s work, of what sort it is.

14    If anyone’s work which he has built on it endures, he will receive a reward.

15    If anyone’s work is burned, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire.

16    Do you not know that you are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you?

17    If anyone defiles the temple of God, God will destroy him. For the temple of God is holy, which temple you are.

18    Let no one deceive himself. If anyone among you seems to be wise in this age, let him become a fool that he may become wise.

19    For the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God. For it is written, “He catches the wise in their own craftiness”;

Final judgment will be rough on those who lived their lives doing the wrong things. Building your own wealth and kingdom leads to great loss at the Judgment Day. In fact God demands that holiness building is top priority. Defilement is so alarming to God that He gives severe warning to stay away from ungodliness. So let’s look at one example and examine what we spend our time and life doing?

Leviticus 10:8-11 (NKJ)

8    Then the LORD spoke to Aaron, saying:

9    “Do not drink wine or intoxicating drink, you, nor your sons with you, when you go into the tabernacle of meeting, lest you die. It shall be a statute forever throughout your generations,

10    “that you may distinguish between holy and unholy, and between unclean and clean,

11    “and that you may teach the children of Israel all the statutes which the LORD has spoken to them by the hand of Moses.”

The first instance in the Bible where God instructs religious workers to understand the difference between holiness and defilement is centered around booze. Before Christianity it was not commanded to abstain from booze, except where the people went into the place of worship. But as you just read, the drinking of alcoholic beverages was considered defilement by God and not allowed in His tabernacle.

Ezekiel 22:26 (NKJ)

“Her priests have violated My law and profaned My holy things; they have not distinguished between the holy and unholy, nor have they made known the difference between the unclean and the clean; and they have hidden their eyes from My Sabbaths, so that I am profaned among them.

Again when related to worship, God demanded people to do things differently than everyday life. So this Old Testament passage further sheds light on how God views what is holy and what is unholy. Breaking His law is profane, which means defiling and therefore is the way to become unholy. Not just profane language, but disobedience to all God’s Law. Now the Old Testament is a shadow of the truth fulfilled today in Messiah Jesus. Did you notice in Corinthians Paul changes the concept and says we Christians are God’s temple. Suddenly we are confronted with a different mind set then the Old Testament saints.

In the old days they could not drink while in the temple, today we cannot drink at all because we are the temple. God wants his temple always holy and clean. Follow the reasoning. In the Old Testament, a Nazarite vow was an extended vow of holiness and yes they were commanded not to drink at all for the one year. Do you build your house on the rock of God’s instruction? Reading through the Old Testament reveals lots of unusual sounding rules and laws God ordered Israel to do. The nations around them did not do these things. The experts and wise men of the world saw nothing valuable in these things. All alone, Israel followed these instructions. At least for while they obeyed. This made them holy!

Uniquely different than everybody else, building their lives on God’s ways and desires made Israel holy. This is the concept of building your life with gold, silver, and precious stones.  Burying yourself under God’s kingdom building is the long lasting investment symbolized here. When you use your time and effort building the church and expanding God’s kingdom you are building on the foundation of scriptural instruction. This is different than most people live, even if they go to church. When you spend your life on pleasure and making money you are building a house of wood and straw and on the sand. In fact, what is really alarming is when you practice “your faith” the way you want instead of obedience to God’s Word. The Storms of Testing will blow it away. And then on the Judgment Day you will have nothing to lie at the feet of Jesus. Your whole eternity will be without eternal consequence. Now if you are selfish you will say, “Who cares, as long as I make it into heaven!”

But, you have one huge problem. Who says you are going to heaven? Remember these words, “Now everyone who hears these sayings of Mine, and does not do them, will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand: and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it fell. And great was its fall.”  Do you wonder how great of a fall it will be? Be careful that you are not flirting with disaster.

Matthew 7:19-23 (NKJ)

19    Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.

20    “Therefore by their fruits you will know them.

21    Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven.

22    “Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’

23    “And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’

Only the ones who obey and do the will of the Father will enter Heaven, the others will be turned into hell. It says here, many will be turned away because they felt they had the right to practice their Christianity the way they liked and enjoyed.

The only promise Christ gives us here is heaven when we follow the instructions He gives. This means building our houses on the rock, not the sand. This translates into submitting to our earthly authorities as God has instructed in His Word, trusting God to direct and protect us through His earthly authorities. Then obey them and work hard pleasing them and pleasing God.

It means we must commit ourselves to our authorities in all areas: family, government, business, and church; by putting God’s will first in our lives and loving Him with all our hearts. It means that we abandon all other advice from the world and only trust God’s Word. It means we focus our eyes and lives on God’s will, not doing our will anymore.


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