The Soil of Grace
I Peter 2:2, "As newborn babes desire the sincere milk of the Word, that ye may grow thereby: If so be ye have tasted that the Lord is gracious."
II Peter 3:18, "But grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To Him be glory both now and forever."
God transplants us in His soil of grace so that we might grow in that grace. God is creative and He has made us for a creative growth. Just as growth is a law in the physical realm, so it is a law in the spiritual realm. When we violate the law of spiritual growth, frustration and unfulfillment are prevalent. Growth is a law in God's Kingdom.
The Scriptures are clear concerning how God works so that His children will grow. John 15:2, "Every branch in Me that beareth not fruit He taketh away: and every branch that beareth fruit, He purgeth it, that it may bring forth more fruit."
Hebrews 12:6-7, "For whom the Lord loveth He chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom He receiveth. If ye endure chastening, God dealeth with you as with sons; for what son is he whom the father chasteneth not? But if ye be without chastisement, whereof all are partakers, then ye are bastards and not sons."
There are at least fifteen different kinds of trials or tests a believer may encounter in their Christian walk. This lesson will mention only a few. Growth and maturity will be the end results if the tests are passed. Some of the tests overlap. If a test is not passed, rest assured that it will be given again. God has designed a plan that will cause His children to grow into a mature Child of God. We will examine a few of the tests or tools that God uses to bring spiritual growth.
The Time Test
I Corinthians 1:29, "That no flesh should glory in His presence...."
Biblical Illustration: Gen. 12: 1-9, Abraham--God told Abraham that his heir would be one of his own children by his wife, Sarah. However, Abraham did not wait for God's time test to be completed. At the age of eighty-six he and Sarah decided to take matters into their own hands. Sarah had not conceived the promised child as yet. So, Sarah and Abraham agreed for Abraham to have a child with Sarah's handmaid, Hagar. Abraham was striving with fleshly activities to try to help God out. In God's timing, God proved to Abraham and Sarah that He was a God of miracles. He did not need their fleshly manipulations. When Abraham was one hundred and Sarah was ninety years old, God again gave them a promise of a son. In the end, God proved to be the miracle working God. Abraham learned to trust and lean on God's Word.
II. The Word
The following is a good example. I was talking to a friend this week. She was checked into the hospital with heart pain. Her recent physical checkup had not revealed any indication of a heart problem. This seemed to be a contradictory circumstance. However, while in the hospital, she was led to pray with a young nurse that desperately needed counseling and encouragement. She also led another soul to Jesus Christ. My friend's stay at the hospital was short. They sent her home with a good report. In the midst of her darkness she was put in contact with souls in need. A purpose in God's plan was fulfilled.
Philippians 3:3, "For we are the circumcision, which worship God in the spirit, and rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh."
Biblical Illustration: Gen 37:1-36, Joseph-- Joseph was seventeen years old when he received a Word from the Lord. Joseph had to wait for fourteen years for that given Word to come to pass. As we read the passage, we find that in the mean time circumstances stacked up against Joseph. His brothers sold him as a slave. He was put in prison even though he was innocent. However, in the end, Joseph was triumphant. He was made ruler over the land of Egypt and was able to be a blessing to the brothers that had sold him. He was able to be a great influence upon many people.
Psalms 105: 17-19, "He sent a man before them, even Joseph, who was sold for a servant: Whose feet they hurt with fetters: he was laid in iron: Until the time that his Word came: the Word of the Lord tried him.
All the years that God was trying Joseph, character, wisdom and humility were being developed in him. God will do the same with all of His children. He wants us to "grow in grace and in the knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ." He desires that we be a blessing to all we come in contact with. Our influence must be always positive and uplifting, ministering grace to the hearer.
Biblical Illustration: I Samuel 2:22, Samuel--Samuel was born into a corrupt situation. Eli, the priest, had grown physically and spiritually dull. The light in the tabernacle had almost been extinguished. Eli did not discipline his sons. They committed fornication with the women at the door of the tabernacle. Samuel was a young boy. Although he was a witness to this corruption, Samuel chose to remain pure. He passed God's character test.
Biblical Illustration: Numbers 22; Numbers 31:16, Balaam--Balaam was a prophet of God. God told Balaam that he was not to go to the land of Moab. Balaam was desiring to go to Moab because he thought King Balak would give him money. God finally allowed Balaam to go. God was going to put the test to him. He reminded Balaam that he was only to speak the words that God had given him to speak. An angel met Balaam on the way to Moab just for another lesson. Balaam should have turned his donkey around and headed home. No way! Balaam had some wrong motives. He saw dollars!! Although Balaam did not curse Israel, as King Balak desired for him to do, he presented a plan to King Balak that would endanger the Israelites. Because of this, Balaam was killed when the Israelites made war on the Moabites. If Balaam had gone home and repented of his selfish desire he would have kept his honor.
These are only a few of the tests that God may put a believer through to cause growth and maturity. When we receive Jesus as our Lord and Savior, we are not meant to stay on one level of salvation. Our Lord is preparing us for eternity. With this preparation comes many lessons to learn. According to God's Word we are told to "grow in grace." Our God is a God of progression. He is a creative God that has designed principles for progress and growth in Christian character and love. What a joy when we pass the tests!
--Lois M. Lobbs
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