When Abraham was about 110 years old, God gave him the greatest test of his life in Genesis 22. Don’t we ever get to retire from spiritual tests? Answer: Not until death. Some of the greatest spiritual tests will come in old age—sometimes associated with old age! God tells Israel in Isaiah 48:10 that He has refined and tested them in the furnace of affliction—for God’s glory. We may get to retire from a career, but we don’t get to retire from spiritual tests. Recognizing this is the first step to glorifying God in spiritual tests.

When Abraham was about 110 years old, God gave him the greatest test of his life in Genesis 22. Don’t we ever get to retire from spiritual tests? Answer: Not until death. Some of the greatest spiritual tests will come in old age—sometimes associated with old age! God tells Israel in Isaiah 48:10 that He has refined and tested them in the furnace of affliction—for God’s glory. We may get to retire from a career, but we don’t get to retire from spiritual tests. Recognizing this is the first step to glorifying God in spiritual tests.

We can get along without prayer, says Oswald Chambers (My Utmost for His Highest, August 28), because prayer doesn’t nourish our lives so much as it nourishes the life of Jesus inside us. This is probably why for so much of my life I have really struggled with praying. I have been interested in nourishing my life—doing anything that makes my life better. Prayer doesn’t always do that. I am learning to be more interested in nourishing God’s life within me. The best thing in my life is God. That is what I should nourish!

Oswald Chambers pointed out something in Matthew 6:6 to which I had paid no attention. I had focused on “praying in secret,” but the Biblical emphasis is on “praying to your Father who is in secret place.” God knows what is really in the most secret and deepest parts of my heart and soul. It is from there He wants me to pray. Getting in my room and closing the door only helps me shut out the noise around me to find the things in my life that really matter so that I can pray real prayers.

Job has a nugget of gold for us tucked away in Job 12:11. He says the ear tests words as the tongue or palate tastes food. Last week I was on my annual road trip with friends to the Global Leadership Summit in Chicago. We enjoy great food and engaging conversations on the trip. We wouldn’t return to place where the food disappointed us. As hosts, we want the food we serve to taste good. Yet we often don’t put as much thought into the words we serve other people. Will my words sound good in their ears?

Recently I have been the recipient several times of encouraging words. People went out of their way to thank me for some action I took, to let me know what something I did meant to them, or simply to affirm me. I was struck by how much those encouraging words nourished me and how much I learned from them. It is a reminder of just how much all of us need encouragement. Proverbs 16:21 and 25 tell us that gracious words promote instruction and are healing to the bones. May our words be gracious.

Priscilla’s garden has produced zucchini and it is about ready to give us cucumbers, peas, and bell peppers. The tomatoes are still a longer wait. I was about ready to pick the peppers due to their size, but then Priscilla reminded me that they are not all green bell pepper plants—we have red, orange, and yellow plants also. These all appear to be green because they won’t turn color until they are more mature. Likewise, we need to let God bring our fruit to full maturity and to full color instead of picking it too early.