Tuesday, February 20 , 2018, 3:31 pm | Fair 57º


Jim Langley: Answering Life’s Little Pop Quizzes

Perhaps you, too, dread hearing these words: “Everyone close your books. We’re going to have a pop quiz.”

I certainly did and was often ill-prepared to be tested on the subject being taught. My method of choice for studying was to cram all the material into my brain during the final days, late evening, and sometimes early morning before an exam.

Our instructors do have a good purpose in administering those pop quizzes. They hope we will properly study before each class and be prepared to learn in the classroom environment.

Forming good study habits can go a long way in learning, but it goes against the grain of our natural tendencies. Even outside the classroom we all still face many pop quizzes in life.

Let’s focus on some of life’s little pop quizzes.

Much like those classroom quizzes we are often confronted with frequent tests that have consequences for whatever action we take. You may feel those tests are random and perhaps coincidental, but I suggest there’s an Instructor Who oversees those little pop quizzes.

Throughout scripture we’re shown that God often tests His people for their well-being. In Psalm 26:1-3, King David talks to the Lord on this concept. He thoughtfully shares, “Vindicate me, O Lord, for I have led a blameless life; I have trusted in the Lord without wavering. Test me, O Lord, and try me, examine my heart and my mind; for your love is ever before me, and I walk continually in your truth.” (New International Version)

That’s quite a conversation with our Heavenly Father, which I suspect most of us would not feel worthy in presenting to the Lord of hosts.

King David was apparently aware that God had every right to test him whenever He wished. David declares in Psalm 139:23-24, “Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.” (NIV)

David longed to be tested in order to be more in the Father’s will.

In Jeremiah 23:11, we see God’s hand at work in His people as He instructs the prophet, “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” (NIV)

These words were sent to the priests and prophets in Babylon during their 70-year exile. You can certainly say this was more than a pop quiz, but it demonstrates how God orchestrates over the lives of His people.

As Christians, we can see Him at work daily, if we simply watch closely. It may be in our own lives or the lives of personal acquaintances.

Paul instructs Timothy in Timothy 3 regarding the qualifications of overseers and deacons. In verse 10 he tells Timothy, “They must first be tested; and then if there is nothing against them, let them serve as deacons.” (NIV)

Testing is important to our Lord and must be taken seriously.

So, as followers of Christ, when we are tested we need to take it with sober conviction. Our adversary, the Devil, will do everything he can to tempt us and cause us to fall. Satan wants us to stumble so we will be ineffective as ambassadors for Christ.

The temptations may come in our business life. It may come in our personal relationships. It may even come in our church life. We also need to be careful not to do anything that might cause a fellow believer to stumble.

Life is filled with pop quizzes and we’d be wise to remain in God’s Word, to remain in fellowship with those of like faith and to become accountable for our actions in all matters. I’ve found that accountability is a key to staying on course, and I've found much encouragement through the counsel and care of close Christian friends.

So, I suggest that you look at it this way. All those pop quizzes we face will help us in doing well in the final exam, which comes at the end of our earthly existence.

When we meet Christ face-to-face we’ll then find out how well we did on those little pop quizzes and get our final grade. Our salvation may be secure based upon Christ’s work on the cross, but frankly I’m looking forward to getting much better than just a passing grade.

Consider joining me on that Heavenly Honor Roll!

Passages to Ponder

» Proverbs 8:33-36

» Isaiah 50:4

» 1 Thessalonians 4:7-8

» 1 Timothy 6:3-6

» Galatians 6:1-6

» 1 Peter 5:8-9

— Jim Langley has been writing for more than 30 years while working as a life and health insurance agent in Santa Barbara. In recent years, his passion has turned to writing about his personal relationship with God, and his goal is to encourage others to draw near to Him as well. As a longtime member of CBMC of Santa Barbara (Christian Business Men’s Connection), he started writing Fourth Quarter Strategies columns in 2014, and he now reaches an international audience through the CBMC International devotional Monday Manna. Click here for previous columns. The opinions expressed are his own.

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