Summary: Refining Fire...
Christians are told to love and forgive one another, not try to tear each other down. Those are devices of Satan and church we cannot let him get a foothold in here. I am going to quote Chuck Colson who once told his congregation (and this should hold true for any pastor), “I’m not here to make you happy, I am here to make you holy.” That is why I am here. If I do not preach to you holiness through God’s Word in deed and word and truth then I would fail you as a preacher of the Gospel.
Turek said, “People are not on a relentless pursuit of the truth, open to following the evidence where it leads. They’re on a happiness quest, not a truth quest…because they think doing whatever they want will make them happy. So it’s a heart issue, not a head issue.” If you are seeking God in all things; in word and deed and truth then you will find happiness through the truth in Jesus Christ. Either you let God hold you in the furnace to refine you or you wrestle yourself free, wanting what you want and what you think you need and fall into that unquenchable fire to be burnt to a crisp. We all need God’s refining fire in our lives; let me ask, who has suffered more than our Savior? Hebrews 4:15-16: “For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin. 16 Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.”
In Matthew chapter 4 when Jesus is tempted in the wilderness by Satan, Jesus quotes three texts from Deuteronomy, all of them commandments that Israel failed to obey but that Jesus is determined to and does obey fully. God knows everything that you have went through, everything that you are going through and everything that you will go through and He is sovereign in of all of it. James 1:12: “Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love Him.” Our problem is that instead of seeking to learn and grow spiritually in the midst of the trial, we try to bypass or find a way around Christ the Refiner standing before us. We fail to grasp what it says in Romans 5:3-5: “…but we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance; 4 and perseverance, character; and character, hope. 5 Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us.”
Like the Hebrews in Exodus who would not submit to the will of God, they kept wandering in the wilderness over and over again. Even when we think that we have found a way around the Refiner’s fire, after wasting so much time in our life wandering, the Refiner is still there before us, waiting. The fire that we have been running from is still waiting to purify us. Do you want to keep going through the same agonizing tests and tribulations again and again and again or will you seek God’s grace and mercy to bring you through them? Will you let Christ carry you through the fire or would you prefer to walk in it alone? 1 Corinthians 10:13: “No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and He will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation He will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.” Only God can take us through. We do not have to understand the why or realize the outcome. We have to understand and fully trust that God knows what He is doing and only His Holy Spirit can guide us.
Proverbs 3:5-6: “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight.” Romans 12:12: “Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer.” We have to ask God for help in prayer. James 4:10: “Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and He will lift you up.” That is how He will answer us. This is done so that we will be inclined to give God the credit and thanks that He deserves for our coming out of a trial. Listen, If we did not do it in this way we would not give credit where credit is due because that is the nature of our flesh. Human beings have horrible short term memories when it comes to God helping them in tough situations. “Oh God I promise if you get me out of this and Oh God if you get me out that.” Then He does help us and we suddenly forget our promises to Him. Trust, humility, patience and constancy in prayer have to be in the beginning, during, and after the storm. Philippians 4:6-7: “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; 7 and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. We only survive, strengthen and thrive because the Holy Spirit gets us through. Jesus carries us through.