30 July 2014

The Refiners Fire

         In ancient times a man was visiting a goldsmith to collect some gold. He asked the silversmith the process on how gold was refined. He replied, “I must sit with my eye steadily fixed on the furnace, for if the time necessary for refining be exceeded in the slightest degree, the gold will be lost”. Amazed he asked, “But when do you know it is ready?” The silversmith replied, “When I can see my own image reflected in the gold.

Trials can have many different meanings and contexts, including storms, afflictions, hardships, tests, discipline, suffering, persecutions and alike. In many cultures, there is mixed opinion about life’s trials and their response to them. Ancient Greeks saw trials as a curse which was always negative. The Romans saw them to be avoided if at all possible which were to be detested.

However, early Christians saw trials in a different light. To them it was sent by God either directly or indirectly, to purify, prune, prepare and prove. They saw them as opportunities to purify their motives (1 Peter 1:6-7), prune for greater fruitfulness (John 15), prepare for the future (James 1:4) and to ultimately prove that they belonged to Christ by sharing in His sufferings (Romans 8:17).

Job 23:10 says, Yet he knows the way I take; when he has tested me, I will come out like gold. The trials and opposition are an indication of the amazing future ahead of you. Often, you will have a good indication of your future by what struggles and adversity you have had to overcome. It is very likely that the person who you are today is a result of trials you had to overcome personally.

Through our trials rough edges were smoothed and brittle areas scrubbed until we more closely resembled what we were meant to be. God allows us to go through hard times so that we may grow and become smooth and shiny. His goal is for us to become a reflection of Him that not only He can see, but also so others can see Him in us.

Zechariah 13:2-3  But who can endure the day when he comes? Who can stand when he appears? For he will be like a refiner's fire, like the soap-maker's lye. He will sit, testing and purifying the silver; he will purify the sons of Levi, refining them like gold and silver, so that they can bring offerings to the LORD uprightly.

This process is one of purification, refining and cleansing. It has to do with the removal of impurities which can hinder and make us stuck. Impurities of character flaws, attitudes and weaknesses are burned, which rise to the top and skimmed off by our Father. Later what is left our character and spirit reflecting the person of Jesus, pruned for greater fruitfulness.

Christ sees it needful to put His children into the refiner’s fire. His eye is steadily intent on the work of purifying, and His wisdom and love are both engaged in the best manner for them. Our trials do not come at random, for all the very hairs of your head are numbered.

James 1:2-4  Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, 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.

         The natural response when faced with a situation that is unpleasant is to want that situation removed. If there is something that is causing you pain, you naturally want that pain removed. However, the mature person sees that trials come into our lives to strengthen us.

Trials are for our good. We should not want them removed simply because they are unpleasant. We should bear them in faith and seek God’s wisdom to learn whatever God is trying to teach us during them.

The end destination of trials is ultimately to reach a state of complete spiritual maturity, measuring up to the person of Jesus. If you are experiencing a season of being broken right now, ask yourself: what is God teaching me? Is there anything in my life that shouldn’t be there? Are there character/heart issues that need to be developed?

If you said yes to any of these, the best thing you can do is surrender. Lay down your pride, discomfort, securities and everything that you dearly hold on to, and give it all to Him. The idea of surrender is that you are wrong and you have nothing to hold on to.....freedom!

The purpose of trials is to purify, prune, prepare and prove, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. One day you will see that the greatest setbacks became the greatest set ups you never thought possible.

Without God in our lives we would all fall back into our old ways and lifestyle sins. We lose touch with the good things of God and take everything for granted. It only after being through a fire that you fully appreciate the work God is doing in you and making you into a better person.

1 Peter 1:6-7 In this you greatly rejoice, even though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been distressed by various trials, so that the proof of your faith, being more precious than gold which is perishable, even though tested by fire, may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.