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Hi, my name is Wayne Johnston, and today on this podcast, I want to talk about the BIG Test.
Anyone who has ever had to do a final exam in high school, college, university or tech school, knows how much fun they can be.
Sick to your stomach.
Tired from cramming and OD’ing on Red Bull or coffee.
But what if you were told you didn’t have to take your big final exam, and they just decided you were good enough that they were going to give you your diploma without it.
Now I know personally of people who would say, ‘Wow’, I dodged a bullet and say thank you, and they would never look back.
Me, maybe you, would always second guess yourself, and wonder if you really made it, if you are really well bona fide.
Testing by God, may not be fun either, but it is never to destroy us, it is to prove us, even to ourselves, that we are well bona fide for the job.
But where do temptation and testing intersect or do they? When does testing cross the line and become a temptation?
After reading and studying testing versus temptation in the Bible, it is clear they come from two different places for two different purposes.
Testing from God brings fulfillment, a destiny. It equips us and approves us, and approves us with others. It brings us a positive, disciplined life.
Temptation is never from God.
I want to quote from James 1:13:
13 Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am tempted by God”; for God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does He Himself tempt anyone. (James 1:13 NKJV)
Temptation always has the same end game. It is to push us towards evil, failure, and sin.
The reason that James says that God can’t be tempted by evil is that there is no evil in His nature.
So when God works in our lives, it is always to redeem us, to make us better. God can’t be tempted, so He does not tempt anyone.
Satan is the opposite. With him, it is always to rob, lie and destroy.
Long after I got my degree in theology, I went to technical school and did a welding program. That is when I got a clearer picture of the difference between temptation and testing.
Sometimes it may all feel the same, but they are different.
When you study welding, you soon learn that there are two basic types of testing, destructive and non-destructive.
The destructive testing involves practicing a weld and then doing a test that destroys the piece you are working on to see how well the weld is holding. They cut it, bend it and mangle it, to prove it was a good weld and then when the test is over, they just throw the piece into the scrap bin.
But there are also non-destructive weld tests that are done so that when someone welds an important structure, they have ways of testing the weld to make sure it will stand the pressure without damaging the weld.
Now I said all that because I want to focus on one person right now, the life of Joseph.
Joseph was someone in scripture who understood all about being tested and proved and about being tempted as well.
I want to quote from Psalm 105:16-19:
Moreover He called for a famine in the land;
He destroyed all the provision of bread.
17 He sent a man before them—
Joseph—who was sold as a slave.
18 They hurt his feet with fetters,
He was laid in irons.
19 Until the time that his word came to pass,
The word of the Lord tested him. (Psalm 105:16-19 NKJV)
An interesting verse from Psalms about the life of Joseph.
I want to focus mainly on verse 19:
Until the time that his word came to pass,
The word of the Lord tested him.
What word? This is talking about Joseph’s dreams.
In Genesis 37, we read that these dreams revealed that not only would Joseph’s brothers bow down to him, but the whole world.
Great dreams and visions mean a great work of God in a person’s character. Great gifting and talents may come easy for some, but character development takes much work.
Each time Joseph got more rejected and pushed down, his response was always the same, look to God and serve on.
Joseph was rejected by most of his family, but years later, his brothers would bow before him, not knowing who he really was.
This is where Joseph has his ultimate test and passes. He could have given into temptation and done anything he wanted to his brothers.
But when his brothers finally stand before him in fear, Joseph wasn’t about revenge. He was about preserving life, not taking it.
And Joseph’s response was, he couldn’t hold back his weeping.
In Genesis 45:5, we read what I consider to be Joseph’s diploma:
“For God sent me before you, to preserve life.“
And Joseph goes on to share with his brothers, don’t be afraid, I am not here to punish you. I am not here about revenge. I am long past that, I am here because God sent me before you.
God tested me. God put me in this place, and I am here to preserve life.
Joseph saws God’s thumbprint all over his testing and trials, and he understood his place in God.
The true character of Joseph is shown in this scene where his brothers bow before him, and he literally has to leave the room temporarily because he can’t stop weeping.
The weeping revealed Joseph’s heart.
I want to finish this podcast by focusing on the heart and not the head.
I have known too many brothers and sisters with amazing gifting, talents and callings from God, but they seemed to have failed their final exams.
Rejected or hurt, betrayed by others. Somehow in churches, pastors got offended and walked away from God’s call on their lives and sometimes from God Himself as well.
They could not see God’s character test in their rejection, and now they are the rejectors.
Joseph wept for his brothers. He saw God’s thumbprint all over his circumstances and he knew he was to preserve life, not take it.
God give us a heart like Joseph’s and not one of anger, pride, and offense.