An important lesson we can learn in becoming a disciple is knowing how God molds, shapes, and trains us to be all He wants us to be. It is a clear revelation in the Scriptures that God allows and sometimes initiates testing times to reveal deficiencies in our character. Our Father is the Gardener and prunes the deadwood of fleshly habits in our lives so that new life and fruit may come forth (John 15:2). Not all mishaps in life are God's doing, however. The Lord often gets blamed for earthquakes, tornados, and other difficulties humankind faces. Some things are natural tragedies, while others happen to us as a result of personal choices and choices that each nation or culture makes. Then some situations are attacks of the enemy to keep us asleep and from becoming a threat to this evil world system. We cannot explain all things this side of heaven, but let's look at some of those things that God allows for our testing:
1Be careful to follow every command I am giving you today, so that you may live and increase and may enter and possess the land the LORD promised on oath to your ancestors. 2Remember how the LORD your God led you all the way in the wilderness these forty years, to humble and test you in order to know what was in your heart, whether or not you would keep his commands. 3He humbled you, causing you to hunger and then feeding you with manna, which neither you nor your ancestors had known, to teach you that man does not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of the LORD (Deuteronomy 8:1-3, Emphasis mine).
The first thing we see about this passage above is that God led the Israelites into the wilderness, a place of barrenness and dryness. Have you been going through a dry season in your life? Then maybe this meditation is for you. The testing (v. 2) was for the Israelites to realize that even though they had been set free from the bondage and slavery of Egypt, the ways of Egypt were still in their hearts. Slavery's effects still dominated them. It is similar for the believer in Christ; even though we have been released from Satan’s bondage of sin, our sinful habits can still rule over us. The Lord has to shake us spiritually to wake us up and see ourselves as God sees us, free from slavery to sin.
As believers in Christ, we are no longer bound to sin habitually with our lips and actions. In our thought life, the default of our nature is to sin until we come to not live on bread alone, but we need spiritual food, the Word of God, for our spiritual growth and vitality. God allows the test to awaken us to see our complete dependence on God, the Gardener of our lives. God allows difficulties to wake people up to question where they will spend eternity.
Jesus is the Vine we are to be spiritually connected to, we are the fruit-bearing branches, and the Father is the Gardener (John 15). The only way the people of God can produce the fruit of changed character is to have Christ’s life in us, flowing through us. The Church is not an organization but an organism, and believers are organically connected to Jesus the Vine's life source. Man does not live on bread alone but by every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord. How much do you value the truth of the Word of God at work in your life? Keith Thomas
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