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EXAMINE ME, O LORD, AND TRY ME

A SERMON ORIGINALLY DELIVERED AT THE HIGH HILL UNITED METHODIST CHURCH
AND
THE FEDERATED CHURCH OF ATHENS

11 OCTOBER 1992

By Frank L. Hoffman, Pastor

SCRIPTURAL REFERENCES:

2 Samuel 24:10-14
Psalm 26:1-7
Micah 6:8
Luke 17:11-19
2 Timothy 2:8-15
1 Peter 1:6-9

Are you confident enough in your walk with God that you would be willing to say as David said, "Examine me, O Lord, and try me"?

I pray that each of us is willing to do just this, and mean it really mean it.

But I sense that some of you are unprepared to do so.

So, today I would like to have us look at a few passages in Scripture that will give us all a little more confidence, and remove some of the doubt and fear.

Let's begin by looking at more of what David wrote in Psalm 26, beginning at verse 1:

1. Vindicate me, O Lord, for I have walked in my integrity;
And I have trusted in the Lord without wavering.

Now, we know that David sinned many times, just as we all do; but even in his sin or, better, in his repentance, he always trusted in the Lord.

Keep your finger here and flip back to 2 Samuel 24:10-14 to see how David applied this to his life:

10. Now David's heart troubled him after he had numbered the people. So David said to the Lord, "I have sinned greatly in what I have done. But now, O Lord, please take away the iniquity of Thy servant, for I have acted very foolishly."

11. When David arose in the morning, the word of the Lord came to the prophet Gad, David's seer, saying,

12. "Go and speak to David, 'Thus the Lord says, "I am offering you three things; choose for yourself one of them, which I may do to you." ' "

13. So Gad came to David and told him, and said to him, "Shall seven years of famine come to you in your land? Or will you flee three months before your foes while they pursue you? Or shall there be three days' pestilence in your land? Now consider and see what answer I shall return to Him who sent me."

That's some choice to pick from, isn't it?

Both David and Israel are to be punished for his sin, and he is the one to choose the punishment.

Note his answer:

14. Then David said to Gad, "I am in great distress. Let us now fall into the hand of the Lord for His mercies are great, but do not let me fall into the hand of man."

Do you believe David put his trust in the right place?

Yes; so do I.

With this in mind, let's return to Psalm 26:2.

2. Examine me, O Lord, and try me;
Test my mind and my heart.

3. For Thy lovingkindness is before my eyes,
And I have walked in Thy truth.

David sinned, but he still knew the truth.

And I believe he sincerely tried to do the right thing.

4. I do not sit with deceitful men,
Nor will I go with pretenders.

5. I hate the assembly of evildoers,
And I will not sit with the wicked.

This was the true intent of David's heart; but when in the face of trials and tribulations the testing of God he, at times, found himself doing what he didn't want to do.

But he always learned from his mistakes.

6. I shall wash my hands in innocence,
And I will go about Thine altar, O Lord,

7. That I may proclaim with the voice of thanksgiving,
And declare all Thy wonders.

Here is the key to walking with the Lord, and passing the examination.

If we continually speak of the wonders of the Lord and praise the things He does, we will be less likely to fall into the traps set before us, for we will know that they deviate away from Him.

And remember that we are tested in our schools to see if we understand the subject, and in our workplaces to see if we can perform as we say we can.

Testing is part of our everyday life.

Listen to how Peter expresses this same thought in 1 Peter 1:6-9.

6. In this you greatly rejoice, even though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been distressed by various trials,

7. that the proof of your faith, being more precious than gold which is perishable, even though tested by fire, may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ;

8. and though you have not seen Him, you love Him, and though you do not see Him now, but believe in Him, you greatly rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory,

9. obtaining as the outcome of your faith the salvation of your souls.

Do you see the purpose of our trials?

I pray we all do!

For it is only through our trials and tribulations that we are strengthened enough to grow into mature Christians.

It's like growing flowers from seed in your home during the late winter or early spring, and then taking them outside when the weather is warm.

The plants are weak and the leaves are tender; and if just left them in the direct sunlight and wind, they might die.

They have never before been tested by the wind, so that their stems would grow stronger and thicker; and their leaves have not been tested by the sun, so that they would become thicker.

Now, not all trials from God are based on bad situations, but on the good results at the end.

Note what we are told in Luke 17:11-19

11. And it came about while He [Jesus] was on the way to Jerusalem, that He was passing between Samaria and Galilee.

12. And as He entered a certain village, ten leprous men who stood at a distance met Him;

13. and they raised their voices, saying, "Jesus, Master, have mercy on us!"

When we have problems, do we cry out to the Lord, as these men are doing?

We should, for the Lord will hear us.

But with our cry also comes a responsibility.

14. And when He saw them, He said to them, "Go and show yourselves to the priests." And it came about that as they were going, they were cleansed.

15. Now one of them, when he saw that he had been healed, turned back, glorifying God with a loud voice,

16. and he fell on his face at His [Jesus'] feet, giving thanks to Him. And he was a Samaritan.

This is not an unusual situation then or now; for we, who profess to know the Lord, so often are the ones to forget about the gifts of God, and about setting the example of love and compassion.

It is so often the unbeliever who does the acknowledging, and who sets the example.

When this happens, we fail the test, as did the nine others who were healed.

17. And Jesus answered and said, "Were there not ten cleansed? But the nine where are they?

18. "Was no one found who turned back to give glory to God, except this foreigner?"

19. And He said to him, "Rise, and go your way; your faith has made you well."

This is the main reason that I believe it's so hard to tell a church member from a non-churchgoer, for they act the same and have the same problems.

For we equally fail the tests of God.

We may be in a "higher grade" than the rest of the world, because we have learned more about the ways of God in church and Bible study; but that only says that we have more responsibility.

The Lord our God is a loving and compassionate God, and He only tests us on what we have been taught and what we should know; just as our youth are tested at all grade levels in school, and they pass or fail equally at all levels, as they apply themselves.

Our testing is to prove us and strengthen us, so that we would obtain eternal life.

Listen to the words of Paul to Timothy in 2 Timothy 2:8-15

8. Remember Jesus Christ, risen from the dead, descendant of David, according to my gospel,

9. for which I suffer hardship even to imprisonment as a criminal; but the word of God is not imprisoned.

10. For this reason I endure all things for the sake of those who are chosen, that they also may obtain the salvation which is in Christ Jesus and with it eternal glory.

Let us here examine ourselves.

Doesn't it appear from the lifestyles of most Christians those who are not in prison that the word of God is imprisoned within them?

11. It is a trustworthy statement:
For if we died with Him, we shall also live with Him;

12. If we endure, we shall also reign with Him;
If we deny Him, he also will deny us;

13. If we are faithless, He remains faithful; for He cannot deny Himself.

It's not difficult to pass the test; we just have to want to study and practice and live the life set before us lovingly, compassionately, and peacefully, and we will pass automatically.

Each and every one of us knows what God wants us to do; it's just as Micah reminded the Israelites (Micah 6:8)

8. He has told you, O man, what is good;
And what does the Lord require of you
But to do justice, to love kindness,
And to walk humbly with your God?

And I strongly believe that this way of living must be applied to the whole of creation: to every other human being, to every other animal, and to the world in which we all live, without exception...

Then Paul commands Timothy, as a pastor, to do certain things to set the peoples' direction; but what he says should apply to each and every one of us as well:

14. Remind them of these things, and solemnly charge them in the presence of God not to wrangle about words, which is useless, and leads to the ruin of the hearers.

We ruin non-believers and believers alike, because we do so many cruel things, and fight so much among ourselves.

15. Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, handling accurately the word of truth.

Examine me, O Lord, and try me.

Say it!

Examine me, O Lord, and try me.

Mean it!

Live it!

Be that encouraging force in your own life, and for others, and we will make this a better world to live in.

Amen.

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