God doesn't test us with evil, but He does test us. Within the test we find an opportunity for growth according to your faith.
In James 1:2 we are told to; "...count it all joy when you fall into various tests/trials/temptations, knowing that the trying of your faith exercises consistency."
Notice he said to count it joy, which is a fruit of the spirit, meaning he isn't talking about 'be happy', which is an emotion. To count a trial/test/temptation as joy, you have to be in the fruit of the spirit of Galatians 5:22-23. We are to take our struggles to the Lord, and handle it spiritually, not a religious happiness and putting on our best Sunday morning church face.
Note:The reason I wrote 'fruit of the spirit' and not 'fruit of the Spirit', is because of the context. There are no capitals nor punctuation in Greek, so we only know by context if he is talking about the fruit of the Holy Spirit or the fruit of the born again human spirit. Because the context is the war between the works of the human flesh and the human spirit, it is clear the fruit of the spirit is the human spirit. We might also say the Holy Spirit IS love, joy, peace and so on. Fruit is therefore offspring of its parent tree. So the fruit of the human spirit is appropriate.
And to make sure everyone understands, James said in v13:"Now let no man say when he is tested/tried/tempted that God the Father is doing it to him. For God is not tested/tried/tempted with evil, and neither does He test/tempt/try anyone with evil."
How does He test us? The sacrifice of Isaac.
In Genesis 22:1 it says:"And after these things, God did tempt Abraham." A better translation would be, 'God did prove Abraham'. In other words, the Lord was going to put Abraham into a situation that would prove Abraham's faith and integrity, prove what was in his heart, as well as show his commitment to the covenant they two had made.
We might say that it certainly looks evil to ask Abraham to offer Isaac as a human sacrifice, but the other side is that God was proving what was in Abraham's heart. Even Abraham realized the outcome before it started, telling his son in v8 that 'God will provide a lamb (Lamb)', when in fact the Lord provided a ram for the sacrifice.
Abraham knew what was going on. He knew in covenant each covenant head, the ones who make the covenant, must give their most precious possession to the other. He also knew the Lord had appeared to him and told him his son Isaac would have children, which had not happened yet. So he knew either God would provide a sacrifice or his son would be raised from the dead, because Isaac was named by God as the one to father the nations. Hebrews 11:17-19 speaks of these things.
It was because his heart was proven that he from earth loosed his son of promise, that the Father God from heaven was loosed to offer His son of promise as the final sacrifice. "Because you have done this, not withholding your son your only son, that in blessing I will bless you, and in multiplying I will multiply you..."
Settled then, God does test us to prove what is in our hearts.
Psalm 7:9 talks of Him testing 'the reins of our heart', and Hebrews 4:12-13 reveal the Lord Jesus is the Living Sword of the Word who critiques our soul and spirit, thoughts and intentions of the heart.
He allows situations that give us the choice to accept or reject the challenge to grow. But the challenge to grow doesn't present itself with a big neon sign saying, "If you choose this path you will grow in the Lord!!! Choose me! Choose me!"
The opportunity comes with fear on one side and faith on the other. The key is having a revelation first, that the Father will provide if we make the right decision.
Pharaoh and Moses
There are at least 17 verses in Exodus telling us Pharaoh hardened his heart, and a couple that say God hardened it. How did God harden Pharaoh's heart? By giving him the opportunity repeatedly, to do the right thing. He kept sending Moses back to him.
Amy Grant's 1991 song; How Can We See That Far includes the lyrics:"The same sun that melts the wax can harden clay". The Lord kept sending Moses back to Pharaoh, who had the choice the whole time whether to cooperate or not. He chose poorly.
In John 6:1-13, feeding 5,000; the miracle of the loaves.
John 6:5 says:"He said to Philip, where shall we buy bread, that these may eat? This He said to Philip to test him, for He knew what He would do."
Any question coming from the lips of Jesus has to be a legitimate question. The miraculous provision later revealed had to have been there right then when Jesus asked Philip the question. The provision was hidden in the question and response.
If Philip had answered in line with the miraculous. In order to have faith, Philip had to have seen some things that would make Jesus consider that maybe, just maybe, Philip would look past the circumstances to faith.
What had Philip seen? He saw these things leading up to that question:
Jesus discerning (honesty) of his friend Nathaniel. John 1:45-46. He heard Jesus tell Nathaniel he would see angels ministering to Jesus. The turning of water into wine in Cana. The cleansing of the temple and ensuing teaching and discussion. Learned what Jesus told Nicodemus in John 3, including v16. Baptized people in John 3:22-36, heard Jesus teach. Saw the woman at the well and 2 days in Samaria where Jesus had told her about her whole life and the whole village believed.
He was there when the Nobleman's son was healed in 4:46-54. He was there when the lame man was healed at the pool of Bethesda in 5:1-15. He heard all of chapter 5 with Jesus teaching about His Father. In 6:1-2 he saw multitudes healed.
So with all that, the question:'Where are we going to buy bread for all these people to eat?', doesn't seem so out of place. Jesus we are told, was testing Philip.
Let us ask ourselves:Have we seen enough miracles in our lives over the months or years, to be able to make the choice for faith? Have you like Philip heard enough teaching, observed enough of His miracles, witnessed His faithfulness enough in your life up to today, when He asks your heart, "How are you going to handle this bill?" or "How will you handle this news", how will you answer? According to your faith be it unto you.
And that's where we'll pick it up next week. Until then, blessings,
www.cwowi.org and email me at email@example.com