Written on 09/22/2015
Devotional edit by: Bryce Malone (@609turtle)
Psalm 66:10-12 “For you, O God, have tested us; you have tried us as silver is tried. You brought us into the net; you laid a crushing burden on our backs; you let men ride over our heads; yet you have brought us out to a place of abundance.”
The Christian life: Doctrine, practice and experience. Doctrine gives us knowledge of God, practice is vital or else things go in one ear and out the other. Through experience, the things we know from His word are brought to us directly by God. Experience is personal and unique, that’s why it is so important. Doctrine and practice are the revealed will of God while experience is revealed when we get the enjoyment (or suffering) of it. Experience can’t be taken from others, that is why we must know and apply the bible to our personal lives. God doesn’t deal with us in large groups; He has a specific plan for each of us. Philippians 3:12: Paul was called and given God’s blessing to do something that only he could do! It is a personal work for God, there are things others can do that you and I can’t! You never know the personal dealings God is putting someone through, THAT is why you should never judge someone. A smile could cover God’s workings going on within someone’s soul. Job chapter 7: So that he would choose strangling and death rather than his life (v15). God was asked “why do you treat me like a sea (v12), or a whale (v12)? Watching me day and night let me swallow my spittle without staring at me (v19). He knew God’s eye was on him, shouldn’t that make us all kind in everything we do? That should be the only reason needed! So why is experience needed and not just the bible? People who are believers will agree with any scripture you read, but in live daily situations it’s a whole different thing to practice the things we know to be right from the word of God.
We are God’s Warriors. Imagine soldiers at boot camp, they are taught shooting, fighting, march this way march that way etc. The real test begins when they come home and test the reality of everything they learned; that is the real war for them. It is the same for us! The earth is our battlefield, He places us in the situations He does so we can experience problems of working out his word through practice! There is a difference in believers. They all believe the bible to be right and true, but they don’t all practice it (or at least try to) in their experiences at work, school etc. Experience teaches us to put into play the things we know to be right and true. This takes obedience, but it also takes making mistakes.
Back to Psalm 66:10-12. He tests us, if you knew I was going to test you on everything you just read, you’d read more diligently! If we’re tested by God in these situations over and over, we have no choice but to improve. “Thou hast proved us”; in a real live situation we have theory, scripture and now we’re put on the battlefield to do what he says! “Thou hast tried us as silver is tried.” Silver is heated greatly (tested) until scum rises to the top and is removed. This process is repeated over and over, our experiences are to remove the “scum” of our hearts and minds, which is still in us! We are renewed daily through scripture, prayer and now, experience! “Thou broughtest us into the net.” If we aren’t tried like silver, we are put in a net. “Thou laid afflictions upon our loins.” He puts us in a situation of frustration or anxiety. You feel like you’re in quicksand, you feel paralyzed and stuck. “Thou hast caused men to ride over our heads.” He may use sinners to deal with us as His people, and it could be a painful experience. This is another reason the bible is so crucial, or else we may just think God is completely against us. “We went through fire and water.” Fire and water are both essential to our lives but dangerous elements. You may be drowning, or in a burning house just thinking when will this be over? “But thou broughtest us out into a place of abundance (a wealthy place).” All the trials of our lives are aimed to enrich our souls. Spiritual wealth, christian character, Godliness, spirituality and the wealth of prayer. What teaches us to pray like difficult experiences and problems in life? How many people pray only when they are put in the “fire?”
Now what kind of experiences are we talking about? Humbling experiences, discipline, being given over to our lusts for a time and, lastly, realizing and removing our issues through God’s personal handling of our souls. One way to becoming spiritual is being submitted to God, being under his “rod.” Humbling experiences: He may need to humble us at times, many a time in situations where we appear to others in our worst light! There is always a moment of strengthening at the end of it but being see like this allows you to care less and less about men’s opinion of you. Only God’s opinion of you should matter to you! 1 Corinthians 4:3-4: “3 I care very little if I am judged by you or by any human court; indeed, I do not even judge myself. 4 My conscience is clear, but that does not make me innocent. It is the Lord who judges me.” This “humbling” will take you beyond the fear of man’s judgement. Experiences of discipline: These are the use of God’s “rod” to correct us and make us smarter in our hearts, minds and consciences for sins we have committed. When you’re at the park, you can tell the difference between a kid who has been corrected at home vs one who hasn’t been properly corrected. This is the same with us as God’s children! You meet Christians with none of this, and they aren’t his children! Hebrews 12:6: “Because the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and he chastens everyone he accepts as his son.” Discipline produces Christian character and makes us kind to one another. Being given to our lusts for a time: He may give us over to the things we want and think we need so we might learn (painfully, normally) how foolish we are to disobey His word. Psalm 106:15: “So he gave them what they asked for, but sent a wasting disease among them.” If we desire something we too strongly that we shouldn’t have, he may just give it to us! Revelation 10:10 says: “I took the little scroll from the angel’s hand and ate it. It tasted as sweet as honey in my mouth, but when I had eaten it, my stomach turned sour.” Psalm 81:12 says “So I gave them over to their stubborn hearts, to follow their own devices.” These help us learn and warn us. We learn not to play with fire and it leads us to be content and happy that Christ’s plan for us is the only way to true happiness. Our own Issues: God digs up our issues, our mistakes, our hearts. He does this at specific times and for certain amounts of time, or else we wouldn’t be able to constantly bear it! To make progress as Christians we must have self-knowledge, which is a painful knowledge because we all have an impression of ourselves that there is nobody like us anywhere on earth. God shows us what is truly in us through painful experiences. Example: A tractor makes furrows in soil, the man driving knows exactly what he’s doing but we see the birds following the tractor, why? The ground is full of worms! Our hearts are the equivalent to a can of worms! As God digs in us, through experience, he shows us what is in our hearts. In Isaiah 6:5: “I am undone; because I am a man of unclean lips.” The Apostle Paul says: “O wretched man that I am! Who shall deliver me from the body of this death (Romans 7:24)?” We all have too much self-love, God deals with us in all these ways because it gives us Christian character without which we’d become proud and full of ourselves. Take all these experiences in with kindness, patience (of God and ourselves) and gratitude so that God is pleased to put us through them. Then, we may finally represent the image of Christ and be more in his likeness as each experience passes.