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Psalm 86

Supplication for Help against Enemies

A Prayer of David.

Incline your ear, O Lord, and answer me,

for I am poor and needy.

Preserve my life, for I am devoted to you;

save your servant who trusts in you.

You are my God; be gracious to me, O Lord,

for to you do I cry all day long.

Gladden the soul of your servant,

for to you, O Lord, I lift up my soul.

For you, O Lord, are good and forgiving,

abounding in steadfast love to all who call on you.

Give ear, O Lord, to my prayer;

listen to my cry of supplication.

In the day of my trouble I call on you,

for you will answer me.

There is none like you among the gods, O Lord,

nor are there any works like yours.

All the nations you have made shall come

and bow down before you, O Lord,

and shall glorify your name.

For you are great and do wondrous things;

you alone are God.

Teach me your way, O Lord,

that I may walk in your truth;

give me an undivided heart to revere your name.

I give thanks to you, O Lord my God, with my whole heart,

and I will glorify your name forever.

For great is your steadfast love toward me;

you have delivered my soul from the depths of Sheol.

O God, the insolent rise up against me;

a band of ruffians seeks my life,

and they do not set you before them.

But you, O Lord, are a God merciful and gracious,

slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness.

Turn to me and be gracious to me;

give your strength to your servant;

save the child of your serving girl.

Show me a sign of your favor,

so that those who hate me may see it and be put to shame,

because you, Lord, have helped me and comforted me.

Revelation 2:8-11

The Message to Smyrna

“And to the angel of the church in Smyrna write: These are the words of the first and the last, who was dead and came to life:

“I know your affliction and your poverty, even though you are rich. I know the slander on the part of those who say that they are Jews and are not, but are a synagogue of Satan. Do not fear what you are about to suffer. Beware, the devil is about to throw some of you into prison so that you may be tested, and for ten days you will have affliction. Be faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life. Let anyone who has an ear listen to what the Spirit is saying to the churches. Whoever conquers will not be harmed by the second death.”

Most people like or hate taking tests based on the amount of confidence they have in the subject and, conversely, their anxiety level. As confidence drops, anxiety rises, and the body goes into fight or flight mode. You can’t fight a test, so thoughts of fear and failure arise, often becoming self-fulfilling prophecies. We believe we will fail so we act and think in ways that go along with failure… and then we fail. It is all a downhill slide.

Sometimes the tough times in life come at us as tests of our faith and endurance. That is important to remember because sometimes we get the idea that it is either punishment for something we have done wrong, or a sign that God simply quit caring for us. Both of these are mistakes because they lose sight of the grace of God completely. If we cannot see the grace of God, we are probably not looking at the big picture. God sees our suffering, and does not delight in it. He does, however, redeem it.

Why bother with tests? Isn’t there a better way God can find out what He needs to know? Actually I don’t believe the tests we go through have anything to do with what God needs to know. I think the tests are for our benefit not His. Take Smyrna for example. They were among the poorest and most persecuted of the Christian communities in Asia Minor during the first century. Yet when God looked upon them, He saw riches and conquerors. The tests word for then, so they could see their riches and their conquering faith themselves. We are not aware of who we are or what we have until we have been tested. In the end, I truly believe we will see that, from the big picture, it is all a gift.

How have you been tested this week?

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