God’s Pop Quizzes and Your Struggling Answers

When the tests come, we can believe what is true or what is false.

God’s tests are most often pop quizzes. You don’t see them coming. If you knew you would be running late tomorrow morning, you’d prepare ahead of time. But that’s not a real test.

God's Pop Quizzes and Your Struggling Answers

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A real test hits your blindside. It tests the mettle of your theology, and often, it even seems to contradict it.

  • You have walked with God, but a family member suddenly gets terribly ill.
  • Your integrity on the job has been stellar, but someone else gets the promotion.
  • You have worked hard on a project, but the doors for its success stay closed.
  • You get an unexpected phone call with news that chills your soul.

In the end, the pop quizzes we experience usually boil down to one thing.

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Listening to Well-Timed Words of Warning

One other person struggled the night Jesus prayed in Gethsemane.

Dark shadows had fallen over Jerusalem. A lone figure knelt, weeping, agonizing in prayer, as eleven men slumbered nearby. While Jerusalem slept, the Lord Jesus endured anguish in the darkness of Gethsemane. But He did not suffer alone that night.

Listening to Well-Timed Warnings

(Photo: The Citadel served as the residence of Pilate and his wife. Courtesy of Pictorial Library of Bible Lands.)

On the other side of Jerusalem in the luxuriant palace of the governor—perhaps even during the hours of Jesus’s agony in the garden—another figure writhed in agony.

The content of her nightmare was about Jesus. It caused her to arrive at a firm conclusion.

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Why You Must Listen to God Rather than to People

Joash's life demands we cultivate our own resolve to follow the Lord.

We all need people to influence us. God made us that way. From the languages we speak to the character we develop—it all begins with those who surround us in our formative years.

Listen to God

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It starts with our environment, but it shouldn’t end there. It cannot.

When it does, it’s tragic. That was the case with King Joash.

But it doesn’t have to be that way with us.

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Jerusalem’s Water Gate—Where the Source of Truth Gushed

Why You Need to Wall Off Your Time with the Bible

The best way to make sure we respond positively to the opportunities God provides us is to prepare ahead of time for them. But how do we anticipate those moments? The Lord has shown us how.

Jerusalem’s Water Gate—Where the Source of Truth Gushed

(Photo: Scribe copying the Scriptures. Courtesy of the Pictorial Library of Bible Lands)

At the end of the exile, God moved the heart of the pagan King Artaxerxes to allow Ezra—a scribe and priest—to return to Jerusalem in 458 BC. Fourteen years before Nehemiah returned to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem, Ezra returned to rebuild the people. He did it by calling them to return to the Word of God.

Ezra shows us both how to prepare for the opportunities God provides and how to protect ourselves from what threatens them.

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Avoid High Places if You’re Looking for God

We need one thing more than anything in our spiritual climb.

We start strong. Determination and strength come easily. Finally, we reach the summit in our Christian lives—only to find life in high places often lets us down.

Avoid High Places if You’re Looking for God

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We followed the rules. We stayed in line. We walked the straight and narrow. So what happened?

The path we followed led to a false summit.

It happens when we forget this one thing.

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You Have a Spiritual Freedom You May Not Realize

Juneteenth offers an essential reminder to our spiritual lives

Freedom from anything begins by knowing you are free. Juneteenth is short for June 19th—a state holiday in Texas. It commemorates the day in 1865 that good news arrived: all slaves were free.

You Have a Spiritual Freedom You May Not Realize

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But the news wasn’t new at all. The slaves had been set free long before, but that freedom had been a secret for two and a half years.

  • When Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation, effective on New Years Day, 1863, the act freed all slaves.
  • But many southern masters kept the information a secret from their slaves.

Juneteenth teaches us something important about freedom: it’s useless unless you know it’s true and you live like it.

As a Christian, you have a spiritual freedom you may not even realize.

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3 Lessons I Learned the Day I Dipped Snuff

Why we should want God to give us what He wants to give us.

Riding in the in cab of my father’s truck one day, I noticed a round can on his dashboard. Having seen him stick the stuff in his mouth and spit, I asked if I could do it too.

3 Lessons I Learned from the Day I Dipped Snuff

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“Sure,” he said, “let me help you.” He cracked the can of Copenhagen, grabbed a generous plug, and pulled back my bottom lip. “There you go.”

I sat there with a “peench” between my check and gum, as Walt Garrison used to say. Of course, the plug was so huge I could barely close my mouth. It didn’t take long for the juices to start squirting in my mouth.

And down my throat.

I learned 3 lessons from that day.

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What to Do When God’s Will is the Other Way

Following God’s will is a wonderful thing. That is, when God leads us the same direction we’re already going. The hard part comes when the Lord changes our course.

What to Do When God’s Will is the Other Way

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When God leads in a direction that seems exactly the opposite of the way He should lead, we’ll get logical in a hurry.

  • We find statistics to explain why it won’t work.
  • We’ll even quote Scriptures to support our bents.

For example, in an attempt to discredit Jesus, the Pharisees claimed, “no prophet arises out of Galilee” (John 7:52). Oh really? The prophet Jonah came from Gath-hepher, located right beside Jesus’ hometown of Nazareth!

It’s easy to forget about this minor prophet who ran from God. It’s easy because we often do the same.

Here’s how to avoid that.

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How to Stop Looking for God in the Wrong Places

The world makes promises it can’t keep. It says the reason we’re unhappy is that we just haven’t found the right whatever yet. But if we keep looking, we’ll find it.

Looking for God in the Wrong Places

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The right spouse, the right hairdo, the right salary, the right entertainment system, the right church, the right pastor, the right Bible, the right seminar, ad infinitum . . . ad nauseam.

You don’t have to be without Jesus to fall into the trap. Even those of us who do believe in Jesus can chase those shadows.

We may not know we’re looking for God. But we are.

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Walk the Path of Wisdom without Falling Off

The connection between between the first steps we take in making a decision and its final outcome often seems unrelated. Walking the path of wisdom or the way of foolishness has domino effects far greater than we can imagine.

Walk the Path of Wisdom without Falling Off

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For us, a disciplined intake of Scripture certainly promises wisdom. But wisdom offers a course of action, not just a course of instruction.

The book of Proverbs reveals the outcome of the pathways we are walking. And it tells us how to stay on the path of wisdom.

Here’s how.

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