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“And I will bring the third part through the fire, Refine them as silver is refined, And test them as gold is tested. They will call on My name, And I will answer them; I will say, ‘They are My people,’ And they will say, ‘The LORD is my God.’”  Zechariah 13:8-9 

     I don’t know if Johnny was singing about what I will be blogging about, but it seemed to be a good place to start.  This song came out when I was a kid and all I could think about when I heard it was… I don’t want to fall into that fire!  Who does?  Who really wants to be tested in the Lord’s fire!  Yikes! 

     I have been thinking about “the times of testing” that comes from the Lord the past few weeks.  I wrote about the anatomy of these tests back on September 9,14 and 15. (That is a hint to go back and read them)  Tests are important vehicles the Lord uses to reveal to us exactly where we stand and how well His teaching has impacted our lives.  In the past few days I have pondered how these times of testing can be categorized or grouped into clusters of like kinds.  I am going to spend a few days examining some of the major tests the Lord uses in our lives to move us closer to the image of Christ. 

      Some of the testings I endured in my early walk with the Lord concerned my new nature versus my old nature.  Back in those days I thought every spiritual hiccup was the devil trying to trip me up.  It has always amazed me that when believers don’t understand the spiritual workings of a matter they automatically conclude… it’s the devil!  God is faithful with us all.  He was faithful with me as well.  Anyway, my thought processes are  a lot clearer and keener now.  I can see how His hand was working to secure my new nature. 

      Unfortunately, many believers never grow past dying to their old self.  Again, God is faithful and is still teaching and testing them many years later.  I could say the Lord is still growing and pruning them, looking for fruit. 

      As I wrap-up this first area of testing concerning our old and new natures, I feel the need to add one caveat.  In every area of testing some move slowly and others move quickly.  I used to be envious of those who quickly moved through areas I struggled.  Let me remind you of a lesson I had to learn the hard way.  We are not in a competition with each other.  No bonus points are given for those who arrive early.  In fact, if you spend too much time examining what your neighbor is doing, it will cause you to bumble, stumble and fall!  Just plan to finish the race with your heart on fire for the Lord.  This is enough.  If  you feel stuck at any particular junction of testing, look to Him who is the Author and Finisher of your faith.  In Him is everything you need to finish your course and bring glory to the Father.