Monday, May 13, 2013

Products Of The Refiner's Fire

Proverbs 17:3; 27:21. The crucible is for silver, and the furnace is for gold, and the Lord tests hearts. … The crucible is for silver, and the furnace is for gold, and a man is tested by his praise.

Sarah starts today’s devotional with, “Thank Me in the midst of the crucible.”  Webster defines a crucible as (1) a vessel of a very refractory material (as porcelain) used for melting and calcining a substance that requires a high degree of heat, (2) a severe test, or (3) a place or situation in which concentrated forces interact to cause or influence change or development. As it is with definitions, you have to frequently look up other words in order to understand the original word. For me it was the word “calcining,” which is what is accomplished when the high heat is applied and volatile material is driven off (burnt, evaporated, etc…).

Pressure and Heat…. I don’t think most of us like this. And having things burnt off sounds even less appealing. Isn’t it any wonder that people, in general, resist change or desire to take the status quo path. After all, it’s the one we’ve grown comfortable with. But the reality is in this world we will have troubles or difficult times, and God uses these difficulties to grow us as He shapes the final outcome perfectly.

This time last year was one of our biggest “crucible” weeks, starting with Sunday, climaxing on Thursday, confirmed on Friday, and followed through with on the next Sunday. The temperature (circumstances and pressures) had been increasing over a couple of months as our church was facing severe restructuring and staff reductions. There had been several points during this season that gave rise to questioning God’s leading for us, but we had no clear answer. But then came Mother’s Day last year and a sermon on eclipse seasons when it seems that we don’t hear or receive direction from God though we know He is still very present and working. Robin and I had been asking His leading, but we had no answer. After the service I drove home without the radio on and pretty much told God that I wanted to hear from Him, that I needed to know what He wanted.

Well, the week that followed was full of His answering. He spoke through some meetings that raised questions. He spoke through my preparation to teach that week’s class on Spiritual Gifts, and even looking at how my service, though productive, really wasn’t in line with how He had gifted me. He spoke through a favorite radio pastor, David Jeremiah, who was speaking on recognizing open doors. And it culminated in opening a new devotional for the first time (Jesus Calling) through which he spoke loud and clear. As Robin and I talked and prayed we knew God had given us an answer, one that had we not been in this particular crucible we most likely would not have made.

The next day we heard the other half of Dr. Jeremiah’s message, which was that once you go through the door things generally don’t get easier. This was not new to us. The reality is that they often don’t get easier because there is also an evil one who does not want us to trust and follow our God, and who will try all he can to throw up opposition. But the big truth is that regardless of the opposition, our God is bigger and what He started He will bring to pass. Our responsibility is to walk in dependence and trust, taking the steps that He sets before us and staying tuned to His leading and even His shaping us in that direction.

Our God is gracious, merciful, and compassionate and He will take care of His.

Today in “Jesus Calling” by Sarah Young (5/13)

Thank Me in the midst of the crucible. When things seem all wrong, look for growth opportunities. Especially, look for areas where you need to let go, leaving your cares in My able hands. Do you trust Me to orchestrate your life events as I choose, or are you still trying to make things go according to your will? If you keep trying to carry out your intentions while I am leading you in another direction, you deify your desires.

Be on the lookout for what I am doing in your life. Worship Me by living close to Me, thanking Me in all circumstances.

Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he made that you up in due time. Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you. 1 Peter 5:6-7

Give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. 1 Thessalonians 5:18

No comments: