Refined by Fire

I love fires–the bigger the better.  Ask some of the congregation I served from 1991-2004 in Thornloe as to why some of the young people called me “Pyro” Pastor.  Let’s just say, there are some huge advantages to living in the country when it comes to open flame!!!

Peter, one of Christ’s early “follower-leaders,” is writing to believers who are suffering, who have “had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials.” Under the prompting of God’s Spirit, he goes on to explain that “These have come to that your faith–of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire–may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honour when Jesus Christ is revealed.” (I Peter 1:7)

In fire, (depending of course on the size and source of the fuel that is burning)….some substances are completely consumed.  Through a candle or a piece of paper into a fire and in moments it disappears.   Metals become moulten at different temperatures.  Look at the melting point chart from  

24 Karat Gold melts at 1063 Celsius.  Now that’s hot!

Some individuals and families seem to spend a long time in the FURNACE as part of God’s plan.  The process of testing — ongoing, prolonged testing, proves the genuineness of faith.  

Not all ‘faith’ is genuine.  Consider the parable of the soils where only the good soil produced fruit.  Consider those who ‘packed it in’ on their walk with Christ and led him to ask ‘the Twelve’ – “Will you also go away?”  I’m grateful for Peter’s answer – “Lord, to whom shall be we go?  We BELIEVE and are SURE that you are THE CHRIST, the SON  of the LIVING GOD!”  

Today’s post is a reminder to keep praying for those in the furnace.  Those who have done “furnace time” in the past, or remain “in the furnace” in the present understand the desperate need for God’s sustaining grace.   Consider the struggles in the account of Job in the Old Testament and the tempting ‘comment’ by his wife when she suggested he “Curse God and die!”  Would that really be better?  Would venting built-up rage and rejecting faith bring peace?   The truth is…furnace time is FRAGILE time.   We are frail….we are limited in our understanding, we are thinking individuals who try to “make sense” of all that is happening.  Some times, the conclusions we draw are false.  Some times, the counsel of others is not helpful.

May this day be one of “praying without ceasing” for those who are in the furnace.  May we all prove the reality of the hymnwriters affirmation – “The flame shall not hurt thee, I only design–Thy dross to consume and Thy gold to refine!”  

“Refiner’s fire–Accomplish thy painful, purposeful work in our lives today!”

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