When Israel left Egypt, God was with them all the way. He parted the Red Sea, he drowned the Egyptian army, he gave them manna, quail and water. But the people tested God by saying, “Is the Lord among us or not?” (Exodus 19:9). Moses later reminded them of that day and wrote, “Do not test the Lord your God as you did at Massah” (Deuteronomy 6:16). Testing God is questioning whether he is with you or not.
Jesus was tempted by the devil to test God. Satan dared Jesus to throw himself down from the temple saying, “For it is written: ‘He will command his angels concerning you to guard you carefully; they will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone’ (Psalm 19:12)” (Luke 4:10-11). Jesus answered, “It says: Do not put the Lord your God to the test” (Luke 4:12). Jesus knew the Father was with him without testing him to prove it.
Is God with us on our journey? We were baptized into Christ, our sinful past was destroyed, and he’s promised to provide us with every spiritual blessing. Do we believe he is with us? God’s word says, “Without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him” (Hebrews 11:6). Don’t test God. Believe his promise. He is with you.
“The grace of our Lord Jesus be with you.” Who said that and to whom was it said?
Paul said that to the church in Rome. He was not just speaking platitudes, but was assuring them of their victory over Satan if they rejected false teachings and continued to obey God’s word. The entire text reads, “I urge you, brothers, to watch out for those who cause divisions and put obstacles in your way that are contrary to the teaching you have learned. Keep away from them. For such people are not serving our Lord Christ, but their own appetites. By smooth talk and flattery they deceive the minds of naive people. Everyone has heard about your obedience, so I am full of joy over you; but I want you to be wise about what is good, and innocent about what is evil. The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet. The grace of our Lord Jesus be with you” (Romans 16:17-20).
The grace of Jesus is not a mandate to accept any or all teachings proposed by men, as some see it. It is an encouragement to reject divisive teachings contrary to God’s revealed truth through Jesus and his inspired followers. Jesus wants us to, “watch out for false prophets” (Matthew 7:15). That was Jesus’ command and warning. When we obey that command, the grace of our Lord Jesus will be with us.
It is commonly believed that strength is good while weakness is bad. So we promote strength in everything. We seek to elect strong personalities; we want a strong economy, a strong military, a strong government to fix our problems. The stronger the better. But this maxim is not really true.
Strength can lead to pride, which leads to a downfall and failure, due to a lack of faith in God. The apostle Paul discovered this when he said, “There was given me a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness” (II Corinthians 12:7-9). Paul said this was to, “keep me from becoming conceited” (II Corinthians 12:7). God intentionally kept Paul in some way weak, which worked to keep him more faithful, which Paul understood to be a good thing. He said, “Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me” (II Corinthians 12:9).
Recall that Jesus began his first sermon saying, “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted. Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth” (Matthew 5:3-5). Jesus needs us to be humble in order to remold us. The truth is, “when I am weak, then I am strong” (II Corinthians 12:10).