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Summary: In spite of building our lives on Jesus Christ, there will be times we go through the fire. But we will be purified, coming out cleaner, brighter, and tested.

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Thank God for the Fire!

Community Thanksgiving Service, November 25, 1998

Vallonia, Indiana

Introduction:

As much as I enjoy contemporary worship, some of the old hymns are being forgotten. Others are reserved just for special seasons. Do "We gather together to ask the Lord’s blessing" in May? Certainly! Do "Good Christian men rejoice" in July? You bet!

Some songs are sung all year long. Songs like, "Have thine own way, Lord, Have thine own way! Thou art the potter, I am the clay. Mold me and make me after thy will; While I am waiting, yielded and still."

Inspired by the story of the potter’s house in Jeremiah chapter 18, this song celebrates the fact that God removes imperfections and helps us meet our potential. Yet one thought is left out of that song: The clay needs to be fired in order to be strong.

Proposition:

We need to thank God for the fire! (Malachi 3:1-5)

Background:

After the Israelites returned from captivity, their hearts were not in tune with worship; they thought their motions were acceptable to God. Malachi came to tell them they needed to go through the cleansing and renewal of a refiner’s fire.

1. Following Jesus is a process of sifting, saving, and burning (Matthew 3:11-12).

While Socrates refined the thinking of Athens, Jesus performs a more valuable service: He tests hearts over heads and character over opinions.

Niccodemus was one who was tested (John 3); convicted (John 7); and ultimately refined (John 19).

The purity and brightness of Jesus’ life continues to refine the lives of those who encounter Him.

Light either attracts (The people heard him gladly) or repels ("Go away from me Lord; I am a sinful man").

2. Fire destroys what is evil.

To save the body from gangrene, a festering limb must be cut off. War amputees and victims of severe cases of diabetes know this far too well.

A testing of fire will remove what endangers our faith. If there were no trials and difficulties, there would be no means of testing our faith; see 1 Peter 1:6-7.

Illustration: Another old hymn, not heard much these days, is "God Leads us Along." The chorus declares: "Some through the waters, some through the flood; Some through the fire, but all through the blood; Some through great sorrow, but God gives the song; In the night season and all the day long."

3. Fire purifies what is good.

Jesus knows what is inside us and what is worth saving. Are we laying up treasures for ourselves? See Matthew 6:19-21. Are we making an idol of someone or something? See Romans 1:21-25. Becoming spiritually arrogant? See Luke 18:9-14.

God may think it wise to separate us from the dross; the junk. Remember: the only thing we take out of this life is the gift of salvation through Jesus Christ.

Illustration: Andrea Crouch said it well when he wrote, "I’ve had many tears and sorrows, I’ve had questions for tomorrow, There’ve been times I didn’t know right from wrong; But is every situation God gave blessed consolation That my trials come to only make me strong."

Conclusion:

In spite of building our lives on Jesus Christ, there will be times we go through the fire. But we will be purified, coming out cleaner, brighter, and tested. We will "shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father" (Matthew 13:43). Brothers and sisters, thank God for the fire!


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