Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Passing Through The Fire Part 2

Sometimes we need to go through the refiner’s fire to be tested and to strengthen our faith but the main reason that I want to focus on today is so that we will become more like Jesus every day. That should be our ultimate goal as a Christian: to be like Jesus.
Hebrews 12:5-10,14
"My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord . . . for the Lord disciplines him whom he loves, and chastises every son whom he receives . . . If you are left without discipline, in which all have participated, then you are illegitimate children . . . he disciplines us for our good that we may share his holiness. . . Pursue holiness without which no one will see the Lord."
That’s the crux of the matter right there: pursue holiness without which no one will see the Lord. We are made in God’s image but the similarities end there. We are born in sin and shapen in iniquity. God is holy. We have unholy desires, we have a stubborn will, we run after the lusts of the flesh. So how can we ever see the Lord? How will we ever enter Heaven? We allow the Lord to refine us, to shape us and mold us into who He wants us to be.  We allow Him to burn out the impurities that He sees in us, to scrub our souls clean.
28 And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. 29 For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. Romans 8:28-29

  We are impure by nature. We’re born impure. Yet we know that ‘blessed are the pure in heart for theirs is the kingdom of heaven’. God is holy and we are to be like Him, therefore God has to take us, imperfect, flawed, stubborn, willful, sinful.... you get the picture, and he has to bring us to a point where we will be conformed to His image. He is pure and holy and He needs a people who are. So how does He do it? How does He refine us and conform us and mould us? He does so by trials and, sometimes, He even gives us a test to prove that we have become more like Him.
For example: we know that God is not proud. He’s not prideful. He is not arrogant or boastful because His Word tells us what He thinks of the proud.
Proverbs 16:18
Pride comes before disaster, and arrogance before a fall. 
2 Kings 19:28
And because you rage against me and because your pride has reached my ears, I will put my hook in your nose, and my bit in your mouth. I will make you go back the same way you came.
When God sees an unpleasant quality, an ungodly quality in us, such as pride, He will remove it through trials. The opposite of proud is humble and if we are not humble before the Lord He will humble us so that we can be more like Him. 

Our life here on earth is much like the 40 yr journey the children of Israel had to make to get to the Promised Land. We are journeying towards a Promised Land too and on that journey God is preparing us to be a people fit to occupy the land.
In Deuteronomy chapter 8 we see the words the Lord spoke to the Israelites. Listen as I read them to you today and listen to what God is telling you through them:

Deuteronomy 8 

 You must carefully perform all of the commandments that I am commanding you right now so you can live and multiply and enter and take possession of the land that the Lord swore to your ancestors.Remember the long road on which the Lord your God led you during these forty years in the desert so he could humble you, testing you to find out what was in your heart: whether you would keep his commandments or not. He humbled you by making you hungry and then feeding you the manna that neither you nor your ancestors had ever experienced, so he could teach you that people don’t live on bread alone. No, they live based on whatever the Lord says.[a] During these forty years, your clothes didn’t wear out and your feet didn’t swell up. Know then in your heart that the Lord your God has been disciplining you just as a father disciplines his children. Keep the commandments of the Lord your God by walking in his ways and by fearing him, because the Lord your God is bringing you to a wonderful land, a land with streams of water, springs, and wells that gush up in the valleys and on the hills; a land of wheat and barley, vines, fig trees, and pomegranates; a land of olive oil and honey; a land where you will eat food without any shortage—you won’t lack a thing there—a land where stone is hard as iron and where you will mine copper from the hills. 10 You will eat, you will be satisfied, and you will bless the Lord your God in the wonderful land that he’s given you.
11 But watch yourself! Don’t forget the Lord your God by not keeping his commands or his case laws or his regulations that I am commanding you right now. 12 When you eat, get full, build nice houses, and settle down, 13 and when your herds and your flocks are growing large, your silver and gold are multiplying, and everything you have is thriving, 14 don’t become arrogant, forgetting the Lord your God:
16 the one who fed you manna in the wilderness, which your ancestors had never experienced, in order to humble and test you, but in order to do good to you in the end.
17 Don’t think to yourself, My own strength and abilities have produced all this prosperity for me.18 Remember the Lord your God! He’s the one who gives you the strength to be prosperous in order to establish the covenant he made with your ancestors—and that’s how things stand right now. 19 But if you do, in fact, forget the Lord your God and follow other gods, serving and bowing down to them, I swear to you right now that you will be completely destroyed. 20 Just like the nations that the Lord is destroying before you, that’s exactly how you will be destroyed—all because you didn’t obey the Lord your God’s voice.
I realize that is a rather lengthy passage but did you hear how God is speaking to us, this generation? So many times we wonder why things are hard for us; why we have to endure trials but these verses clearly show us it is because God is testing us to do good to us in the end. He is humbling us to rid us of the pride and other sins that will bring us down. He wants us to fully rely on Him for our every need. He doesn’t want us to be trusting in ourselves and becoming puffed up. He wants us to trust in Him and He will go to any lengths to accomplish it. 

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