Summary: God often puts us through various tests/trials to grow our faith in Him.
Spending Time In The Furnace
George Muller once said: “God likes to test the faith of His children in order to make them stronger so that they can eventually be winners! Yes, persecution, trials and tests, even sometimes suffering defeat, are spiritual food for our faith and helps us to grow into spiritual giants!”
Even God's own Son passed His test with flying colours and is our perfect example of obedience,…even in the most severe trials and tests!
This is what is said about Christ in Hebrews 5v8-9, “Even though Jesus was God's Son, He learned obedience from the things He suffered. In this way, God qualified Him as a perfect High Priest, and He became the source of eternal salvation for all those who obey Him.” (NLT).
“Should we expect anything less then?”
…and that’s what I want to talk about this morning,…spending time in the furnace of sufferings.
God says that we will go through trials and tests.
You know,…so often we forget that it’s tough to proclaim the Gospel,…- its tough extending the Kingdom of God,…- handle problems,…- heal the sick and free the sinner from bondages.
…and this is often very tiring.
…but if we just look at life in general,…It’s tough when the finances run out.
It’s tough when we have no job.
Its tough when we can’t send the kids to study further after school.
Its tough when the food on the table is running low.
Its tough when you have to deal with a life threatening illness all the time.
Its tough when a lifelong marriage breaks up.
That’s when life feels like it’s getting too much to handle sometimes.
That’s when we feel as if we’re in a race on foot against fast running horses.
“Ever felt like that?”
You just want to stop the world and get off.
…but that’s often part of the testing of our faith God says.
It’s often part of God’s way of building our character through hard times.
Here’s what God says about it in Romans 5v3-5, “We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation. And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us, because He has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with His love.” (NLT).
Look at the connection between our trials and tests and God’s love!
You know,…it only takes a short time on the educational ladder before a first grader realizes that testing is a normal part of life in school.
After three or four weeks,…they’re starting to get the hang of how life works in first grade.
A year or three later they have already experienced a full menu of tests: arithmetic, spelling, geography, etc.
As a result,…very young children are no longer surprised when they encounter a test or examination.
They have come to realize that tests are normal and expected as part of climbing the educational ladder.
…and for us its almost the same thing.
Our heavenly Father sees to it that every believer,…- whether they realize it or not,…- also has a ladder to climb,…but it is not the same ladder that we spoke of just now.
One of the primary ladders in the lives of believers is the character ladder.
In other words,…just as we ascended the educational ladder through various stages of schooling, designed to increase our knowledge,…God wants us to ascend His character ladder through various stages of learning,...so that we might be conformed to the image of His Son, Jesus Christ.
Here’s how its described for us in 2 Corinthians 3v18, “So all of us who have had that veil removed can see and reflect the glory of the Lord. And the Lord—who is the Spirit—makes us more and more like Him as we are changed into His glorious image.” (NLT).
…and so God has a goal for each of His children.
He wants us to be conformed to the image of Jesus Christ more and more!
The problem is that from our side,…it’s going to require massive changes!
It’s going to require that we go through the furnace.
Generally speaking,…the average five year old can't read,…can't write,…can't do maths, …can't understand quantum physics,…can't design computer software,…and can't understand our country's tax code.
…but the reason that we have children climbing the educational ladder over a long period of time,…is so that they might eventually be educated properly and can hold their own in society.
…and for us its very much the same as well.
Our heavenly Father wants us to emotionally and spiritually grow and develop to full maturity.
He does not desire for us to stay in the spiritual kindergarten.