Thursday, April 18, 2013

Proverbs 17:3 No stink!

The crucible for silver, and the furnace for gold,

    but the Lord tests the heart. (Proverbs 17:3 NIV 1984)

There are so many references in the Bible to the fact that God WILL test our hearts! Consider this promise of Jesus that we don’t normally like to claim:

“I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33 ESV)

Having just guaranteed that we will face many trials, Jesus tells us we should “have peace” and we should “take heart.” He did not tell us that we would have trials in order to scare us, but to give us peace - because He has overcome the world! He has given us the final victory!

God uses trials of fire to test and refine us, just like silver or gold. The goal of God is not to crush us, but to perfect us.

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. (James 1:2-4 ESV)

In her study on the book of Daniel (Chapter 3), Beth Moore talks about three scenarios when the people of God face a fiery trial: you can be delivered from the fire, in which case your faith is built up; you can be delivered through the fire, having our faith refined; or you can be delivered by the fire straight into the arms of Jesus, in which case our faith is perfected. Paul said, “For me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.” (Philippians 1:21 ESV)

The worst case scenario is going home to be with the LORD! What is there to fear then? Are you in the midst of a “fiery trial?” Take heart, because God is always with you in the fire! He will use it to either strengthen your faith or perfect it! Watch for His presence, believe that He is with you, and know that His purpose is to refine you.

One of the amazing things which Beth Moore notes in her study is verse 27 of Daniel 3, which tells us that when Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego came through the fire “their robes were not scorched, and there was no smell of fire on them.” How exciting is that?? The heat was turned up to full blast, but when they came out they did not stink! Instead, I’m sure they were a sweet-smelling fragrance to God! Wow!

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