Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Passing Through The Fire Part 1

Malachi 2:17-3:6

17 You have made the Lord tired with your words.
You say, “How have we made him tired?”
    When you say....“Where is the God of justice?”

Who can endure the day of his coming?
        Who can withstand his appearance?
He is like the refiner’s fire or the launderer’s soap.
He will sit as a refiner and a purifier of silver.
        He will purify the Levites
            and refine them like gold and silver.
            They will belong to the Lord,
                presenting a righteous offering.
I am the Lord, and I do not change;
        and you, children of Jacob, have not perished.

I have read these verses many times and I keep going back to the words “for he will be like a refiner’s fire or a launderer’s soap”. Notice that it does not say that He is like a forest fire or like an incinerator’s fire. It says that he is like a refiner's fire. A forest fire destroys indiscriminately everything in its path. An incinerator consumes completely. But verse 6 says, "I the LORD do not change; therefore you, O sons of Jacob, are not consumed -- you are not destroyed." It also says He is like a launderer’s soap. Soap is used to scrub out the dirt in our clothes and off our bodies. God wants to scrub out the dirt in our lives and He uses His fire to purge us of our impurities.

So why do we have to go through the refiner’s fire? Why do we have trials? Why can’t we just give our hearts to Jesus, live a happy Christian life, die and go to Heaven? Why?
       1 Peter 1:6-7 "Now for a little while you may have to suffer various trials, so that the genuineness of your faith, more precious than gold, which though perishable is tested by fire, may redound to praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.
So we see by this verse that we may have to suffer various trials so that our faith may bring glory and honor to Christ. How do you hold up under various trials? Does your faith pass the test? The refiner’s fire? Why does our faith even need to be tested in the first place? After all the Word says we only need a little bit of faith to see great things accomplished, so why does it need to be tested. We’ve got some, that should be enough, shouldn’t it?
James 1:2-4
"Count it all joy, my brethren when you meet various trials, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. "
When was the last time you were joyful that you were facing a trial? Probably not lately, but the Word is clear that we are to count it all joy because the testing of our faith produces steadfastness. I think of steadfastness as someone who is unmoveable. Someone who you know you can count on to always be the same. God wants us to have that steadfastness, stubbornness, if you will, in our faith. He doesn’t want our faith to be on shaky ground. He wants to know that we will always remain true to Him no matter what. He wants to know that when the whole world around us is falling apart that we won’t. We will be steadfast because we are well grounded and have passed the tests of faith.
     We pastor on Cape Sable Island, Nova Scotia. It’s a small island connected to the mainland by a man made causeway. Being surrounded by water we get to experience God's creation in all its fury from time to time. Whenever there is a hurricane coming towards us we all love to watch the waves. God sends big beautiful waves our way.
     Once the kids  and I went to the Stoney Island beach. The water, which is usually bone chilling, was warm and refreshing and the waves were huge. I stood near the shore in water that wasn't up to my knees and the waves knocked me down and tossed me around. It was hard to get my balance. I swallowed a ton of water, had my hat knocked off and my clothes just about torn off me. I had a hard time to get up
  When life is tossing us around and beating us up we can have the assurance that God sees us and knows what we are going through. If we put our trust in Him, we can soar above the storm. He will bring us through. It may sound cliche but it is so true. 
Almost ten years ago, I went through a horrible personal storm and I can testify that God was with me through the whole ordeal. There were times that I thought I would be overcome by the situation. I didn't know if I would make it but I did because God was with me. Because of having to go through that storm, I now have a stronger faith. I know God's power. I know that I am never going to be strong enough to go through these storms alone. I know that if I rely fully on God's strength, He is more than able to bring me through. 
     The God of all creation, the One who created the sun, moon and stars and Who knitted me together in my mother's womb, will sustain me. The One who spoke to a storm, on the Sea of Galiee, and commanded it to be still, can speak to my storms and do the same. 
     When I tried to stand up in the waves at the beach on my own, I couldn't anymore than I can go through life's trials alone. We have to rely on God and know that He, alone, will bring us through what we are facing.

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