Introduction: Whether you know it or know, God sometimes test our faith. Matthew 9:29 says, “According to your faith it will be done unto you." What are you expecting God to do in your life? God has established a law. That law is called the Law of Expectation. The fact is, we tend to get what we expect out of life. We tend to see what we expect to see. We tend to hear what we expect to hear. We tend to feel the way we expect to feel. We inevitably accomplish what we expect we are going to accomplish. This is the law of faith. God allows humans to “choose,” because "According to your faith it will be done unto you." Another important verse on faith in the Bible is Hebrews 11:6: "Without faith it is impossible to please God." Since Hebrews 11:6 Is Very True, We Need To Discuss Ways Of Growing Our Faith. - How do we grow our faith? In Luke 17:5 the apostle said to Jesus, "Lord increase our faith." How do you do that? Here’s the secret. And it’s not really something you’re real excited about when you first hear it. But the truth is this: God builds your faith and my faith by testing it. Faith is like a muscle, and when it’s stretched and pulled, it is then developed. When you test your muscles against weights, your muscles develop. Your faith develops as it is tested. Every Day, We Have Faith Building Opportunities. The problem is that most of us don’t recognize them when they’re there. We flunk the test because we don’t even realize it is a test and that God is trying to help us grow. So if God wants me to live by faith and if God builds my faith by testing it, then the natural question is: “How does God do it?”
So that we will be aware of them, tonight we will discuss four ways that God tests our faith. Actually, there are more than these, but I just want to cover the most common. These are the four most common ways that God tests and builds our faith. You will probably get tested from all four of them, shortly after studying this lesson. Count on it. In fact, you will probably be presented with some of these tests before you go to bed tonight. Why? It’s because the devil will be nervous that you are knowledgeable of life’s tests, and will be afraid that you will pass the tests!
#1 - God Tests Our Faith Through Difficulties. – Difficulties are the trials, tribulations, problems, pressures, and tough circumstances we face in life. The trials and the problems and the difficulties that come into your life come to test your faith and to prove your faith. Nothing ever happens by accident in the life of a follower of Jesus Christ. Everything is Father filtered. Please don’t misunderstand me. I’m not saying that God plans all the bad things that happens to you. He doesn’t have to. We live in a broken world. There are a lot of problems we bring on ourselves. And, there are a lot of problems other people bring on us, and we’re innocent victims. What I am saying is that nothing happens without God’s permission.
Sometimes God allows our afflictions to be almost like a furnace. What is the furnace of affliction? This is when difficulties are so heated that it seems they are about to take us out! Think about the furnace of a refiner’s fire. The refiner heats the furnace so high that the gold and silver melt, and all the impurities are burned away. An old silversmith was once asked, "How do you know when the impurities are burned away in the silver?" He said, "When I can see my reflection in the silver." When God can see His reflection in you, then He knows that the impurities in your life have been burned away! Wow!
#2 - God Tests Our Faith Through Demands. – Sometimes God asks us to do things that are seemingly impossible. What do you do when you have an impossible command that feels like a demand? When you have a command and it seems like you can’t do that, the issue at that moment is this: “Who are you going to believe? Who is it you are going to trust? Are you going to believe what God says to do or are you going to believe what you think is right to do?” All of the promises, and all of the commands are there to test us. Some of them may seem simple at first, but when you look at them closer, they may seem demanding.
You may get a command like, "Don’t worry about anything." Everyone struggles with that one? That can be a tough one. Or a command like, "Do good to your enemies." Or "Forgive other people." Or "Be thankful in everything." Every time God gives us a command in the Bible it is a demand that is placed on our lives and it’s a test. Like "Confess your faults to one another." That’s a test. The question is: “Am I going to trust what God says to do,” because what He says is right. Or am I going to trust my own opinion, of what I think is right in my own eyes? Do you remember what God said to Abraham? He was seventy-five years old. He was about to hang it up, and God said. “I want to take you out somewhere to make a difference in this world. I want you to go somewhere where you’ve never been.” Abraham said, "Where exactly am I going?" God said, "I’ll tell you." Abraham: "How am I going to get there?" God said, “I’ll show you.” Abraham responded, "How will I know when I get there?" Then God said, “When you get there I’ll tell you that you’ve gotten there.”
How would you do with a command like that? We might say, "God, could I Google that first? I’d like to check it out. I’d like to get on MapQuest and get a point by point direction. Then, I’m ready to follow Your directions."
Faith is often a risk! When it’s a risk, it means you can’t understand it all in advance. Why would God do that? He’s not just interested in making us comfortable, or to help us to see all the directions and points on the map. He’s wanting to test and grow our faith! #3 - God Tests Our Faith With Dollars. – Yes, I’m talking about money. Did you know that money is one of the greatest tests of faith in your life? Few people understand how God uses our material possessions as a test of character, and a test of faith. For many people finances are the greatest tests of all. When you are going through problems, and you are asked to give, it deals with faith. In Luke 16:11 Jesus said this, "If you haven’t been trustworthy in handling worldly wealth, [That’s dollars. That’s money] who will trust you with true riches?" What is Jesus talking about here? He’s giving a truth that’s taught all through scripture, that there is a definite, direct relationship between how we handle our money, and the spiritual depth in our lives. There is a direct connection. In fact, Jesus says if we are not faithful in handling material wealth, He will not trust us with spiritual wealth. If we are not faithful with our possessions, He will not trust us with spiritual power. Money is a test!
What you do with your money really does determine how much God can bless your life. You may have never thought about it, but money has a real impact on your life. This is taught all throughout scripture. I have learned this truth, after walking over thirty years with the Lord, that God determines how much He can bless your life, by how faithful you are with what He’s put in my hands. Every time I write out a check for my tithes, (or swipe my debit card) ten percent of my income (knowing that I could be using that money to pay bills, and for other things), is a test of faith.
When it comes to giving money, do you put your money where your mouth is? Most people who get upset with giving are the people who don’t give. Givers don’t get upset about giving! Giving not only tests our faith… It not only tests our love… It tests the integrity of our hearts!
It’s interesting that in giving, God not only tests our faith, but the Bible says in Malachi that giving tests God. Malachi 3, God says, "’Test Me in this,’ says the Lord. ’Bring all your tithes into the storehouse [that’s the place you worship – your local church] and test Me in this. See if I will not provide for you, throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out a blessing that you won’t even be able to handle.’" In other words, it’s almost like God is saying, “I’m going to play a game with you. You give to Me and I give to you, and we’ll see who wins.” Giving not only tests us, but it actually tests God! I dare you to test God. I dare you to put Him to the test to see that He will keep His promises!
#4 - God Tests Our Faith Through Delays. - If every prayer were immediately answered; if your every need were automatically met; and if every problem were instantly solved, you wouldn’t need faith, and your faith wouldn’t need to be stretched. But it is not that way. We have to wait on things. It is human nature that we hate to wait.
We hate waiting in lines. We hate waiting for the person in front of us to drive off when the light turns green. We hate waiting for the popcorn to finish popping. We hate waiting in the doctor’s office. Yet a large percent of our lives is spent waiting. If you and I can’t learn how God wants to stretch and grow our faith during times of waiting, we miss out on much of the faith lessons that God wants to teach in our lives. Do you ever find yourself in situations – (I’ll bet we all have) -- where you feel like you’re in a hurry and you get the definite idea that God is not in a hurry? It happens all the time. Why does that happen? It is because God is more interested in growing our faith than anything else. We start asking the ’when’ questions while we’re waiting. “When is my marriage going to get better? When is it going to turn around?” Or if you’re single, “When am I going to find that right person and get married?” Or, “How long is it going to take until I get well?” Or, “When are we going to have a baby?” Or, “When am I going to find just the right job?” Or, When will be ever get on top of things? For me, I would have to say that it’s in the area of waiting that God has worked to develop my faith more than any other area. He’s tested me again and again in this area of waiting, and God used it to develop my faith.
Some of you are waiting on something right now. Maybe you’ve been waiting a long time. While you’re waiting, God is there. Just remember this: While you are waiting, God is working. You’re not waiting alone. While you are waiting in faith, God is working. God is doing things behind the scenes in your heart, and other people’s hearts, that you cannot even see.
Conclusion - Do you really want God to increase your faith? Luke 17:5 says, "Lord increase our faith." Are you willing to pray that very dangerous prayer "God, increase my faith." If you are, then let’s get practical about it. Which of these four areas that we talked about tonight do you need to specifically pray for God to increase your faith? The questions again are these. “Do you want to live by faith? Are you willing to pray?” I want to encourage you to pray that dangerous prayer, “Lord, increase my faith” It’s dangerous because the way God increases our faith is by testing our faith. He does it through all these ways we’ve talked about tonight, and many others. But if you’re willing to pray that prayer, with courage, just say it to God right now. "Lord, increase my faith."