God's Fire: Refining Gold Week 4

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God’s Fire: Refining Gold Week 4

This past Thursday, a few of us from Faith enjoyed Sr. Citizens Day at Camp Pearl. There were plenty of donuts and coffee, and we ate a Thanksgiving meal.
We also got to hear from Pastor Chuck Lusk, a church planter and recently retired Afghanistan veteran.
He experienced multiple tours in multiple war zones, was twice injured in combat, lost buddies within feet of him, and had daily life and death struggles.
He shared about his most terrifying, life-altering encounter with an Afghani family on Christmas Eve.
The one thing that truly stuck with me, among many things, was when Don Barrett asked him if he would do it all over again. Knowing what he knows now, would he do it all over again. Would he enlist.
His answer… ABSOLUTELY!
He went on to say that we are the net result of all our past experiences.
Everything we have experienced in the past, and how we have responded to them, make us who we are today.
But you and I, as followers of Christ, have the edge.
God is working everything in our lives for our ultimate good.
The Apostle Paul knew that. He had a genuine confidence in God’s providence, whether things were easy or hard.
He said in Philippians 4:11, “Not that I speak from want; for I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am.”
The patriarch Joseph acquired similar confidence through his experiences in Egypt. He summarizes so well to his brothers his faith in God’s providence:
Joseph said to them, “Do not be afraid, for am I in God’s place? And as for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good in order to bring about this present result, to preserve many people alive. So therefore, do not be afraid; I will provide for you and your little ones.” So he comforted them and spoke kindly to them (Gen. 50:19–21).
You will never know all the benefits of the power of suffering until you realize that a sovereign God is providentially ordering everything for your good and His glory.
Once you come to accept that God is in control of all things, you will be that much better prepared to deal with whatever hardships and sufferings He may choose to send your way—
“We know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose” (Rom. 8:28).
We talked last week about our roots in Christ.
So, where are you?
How deep are your roots in Christ? Do you have roots at all? How much of God’s Word are you feeding on and how often?
This morning as we wind down this series on God’s Fire: Refining Gold, I have three things to share with you so you can come out the other end of your trials saying “ I shall come forth as gold.”
First thing is:

Know That Trials Are For Our Benefit

Here are ten great reasons for trials:

1. Trials Are Part of God’s Work

God never says, “Oops.”
God is in control of the trials. God is not on his throne wringing his hands as he waits for the outcome of events.
Even if I can’t see how, I can be confident that God is working for his glory. This helps me to stop worrying about how things are going to work out. My heart is peaceful when I remember that God promises to work for his glory and our eternal good. Pain is not without purpose.
Psalm 46:10 NKJV
10 Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!
Romans 8:28 NKJV
28 And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.

2. Trials Put God’s Power On Display

When God allows me to step into a trial, he may be getting ready to work for his glory. Historically, this is how God prefers to work. Remember Gideon? He started off with an army one-fifth the size of the Midianites—and then God made the odds even worse.
Judges 7:2 NKJV
2 And the Lord said to Gideon, “The people who are with you are too many for Me to give the Midianites into their hands, lest Israel claim glory for itself against Me, saying, ‘My own hand has saved me.’
God uses trials to show that he alone deserves the credit. Trials make it clear to the world that I am not in control. Everyone can see that I don’t have the ability or strength to overcome the problem.
Therefore, when God works he gets all the glory, not me.

3. Trials Prepare Me For Service (Even Little Trials)

Here is the bad news. When God works in a big way, it often involves one of his servants facing a big trial. So we need to be ready for big storms and trials. How can we be prepared? Little trials. I want God to trust me with his big tasks, but God doesn’t give us the big tasks without testing us in the little things. Every trial God sends, even our daily frustrations are meant to test us and grow us stronger.
If I want God to use me for big things, I must pass the little tests. If I don’t pass the little tests, why should I expect God to trust me with greater things?
Much like our physical body grows stronger through the trials of exercise, our soul grows stronger through the trials of life. Without trials our body and soul become weak. Seth Godin says, “Soldiers realize that it’s war that makes generals.”
Romans 5:3–5 NKJV
3 And not only that, but we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance; 4 and perseverance, character; and character, hope. 5 Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us.

4. Trials Sanctify Me

I don’t always handle trials well. Maybe that’s one reason God called me to be a pastor. To keep me humble.
When things don’t go as planned, traffic is endless, ministries struggle, paperwork abounds or health suffers; I realize just how impatient I am.
The trials don’t cause me to sin by being impatient, angry or complaining, they simply reveal what is inside.
If you cap a volcano the lava will blow out the side. If you try to cap your anger by not getting upset at your kids, it will probably blow out in another area like yelling at your dog or getting mad at other drivers.
Trials reveal weaknesses. They reveal our inner sin.
Only once I see my sin can I allow God to work inside of me.
The greatest battle is the one that is inside of me. Because of this, God’s trials have been his greatest instrument of growth in my life.
James 1:2–4 NKJV
2 My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, 3 knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. 4 But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.

5. Trials Make Me Depend On God

God uses trials to turn my dependence fully on him. He wants me to cling to him and find peace in him alone.
The greatest battle that is waged each day for the glory of God is not the one around me, it is the one in me. My sinful heart doesn’t want to relinquish control. Trials are God’s tool to break my dependence on self so that I will trust in him alone.
Trials and weaknesses keep me from embezzling God’s glory. They make it clear that God alone deserves the recognition and honor.
1 Corinthians 1:28–29 NKJV
28 and the base things of the world and the things which are despised God has chosen, and the things which are not, to bring to nothing the things that are, 29 that no flesh should glory in His presence.
1 Corinthians 1:31 NKJV
31 that, as it is written, “He who glories, let him glory in the Lord.”

6. Trials Show Others That God is Dependable

As I go through trials, others are watching. They are watching to see if I respond in faith. Having peace in the midst of comfort is normal. Having peace in the midst of trials is not.
Trials give me an opportunity to speak about the hope that I have. If I complain or have a bad attitude when facing trials, I forfeit my opportunity to speak of the greatness God! God entrusts us with trials so that we can be a light. Let’s not waste these opportunities.
1 Peter 3:14–15 NKJV
14 But even if you should suffer for righteousness’ sake, you are blessed. “And do not be afraid of their threats, nor be troubled.” 15 But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear;

7. Trials Show Us and Others That God is Infinitely Valuable

As I go through trials or loss with peace and joy, others are watching. They are watching to see if I respond in joy. When I have joy in the midst of loss, it shows the world that Jesus is better. Unfortunately, joy in the midst of loss is not my default setting. I think my default is complaining, self-pity and seeking sympathy. So, before I respond in joy God has to teach me that Jesus is better than anything this world has to offer. He teaches through trials and loss that He alone is my treasure and great reward. This doesn’t mean I laugh it off. Loss hurts, a lot. But my joy is in something that cannot be shaken. We can feel incredible loss and unshakable joy in God at the same time. Even if we lose everything, God is still enough. Through tears we can say with Job, “the Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord” (Job 1:21).
Psalm 73:25–26 NKJV
25 Whom have I in heaven but You? And there is none upon earth that I desire besides You. 26 My flesh and my heart fail; But God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.
Habakkuk 3:17–19 NKJV
17 Though the fig tree may not blossom, Nor fruit be on the vines; Though the labor of the olive may fail, And the fields yield no food; Though the flock may be cut off from the fold, And there be no herd in the stalls— 18 Yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will joy in the God of my salvation. 19 The Lord God is my strength; He will make my feet like deer’s feet, And He will make me walk on my high hills. To the Chief Musician. With my stringed instruments.

8. Trials Are An Opportunity For Reward

God entrusts me with trials as a gift. If I respond to the trials in faith and holiness, I can have joy in the fact that I am storing up rewards in heaven. If I respond to the trials with fear or complaining, I miss the opportunity for reward.
1 Peter 1:6–7 NKJV
6 In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while, if need be, you have been grieved by various trials, 7 that the genuineness of your faith, being much more precious than gold that perishes, though it is tested by fire, may be found to praise, honor, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ,

9. Trials May Be Spiritual Warfare

For some reason, we Westerners are often slow to consider spiritual warfare. When our life and ministry are carrying the gospel into the dark places of this world, we am entering Satan’s strongholds. He won’t go down without a fight. I don’t need to fear, because Satan is like a dog on God’s leash. He can only do what God allows (remember Job). God may allow Satan to harm me (or even kill me), but it always has a purpose and it is always for my eternal good.
When trials come, I must keep my eyes on God, but I need to be aware of Satan’s tactics “so that we would not be outwitted by Satan; for we are not ignorant of his designs” (2 Corinthians 2:11). Satan wants to discourage us so that we give up. He will attack our health, our family’s health, and will send a myriad of trials to take us out of the fight. Don’t let him. Keep your eyes on God. If you are getting bombarded with trials, take heart, it may be because Satan is not happy with your life and ministry!
Psalm 27:14 NKJV
14 Wait on the Lord; Be of good courage, And He shall strengthen your heart; Wait, I say, on the Lord!
1 John 4:4 NKJV
4 You are of God, little children, and have overcome them, because He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world.

10. Trials May Be For Discipline

Start with the heart. Even though this is listed last, I always start with examining my heart.
God often uses trials or sicknesses to get our attention and reveal sin. As a loving Father, he wants to restore us to fellowship with him.
Hebrews 12:5–6 NKJV
5 And you have forgotten the exhortation which speaks to you as to sons: “My son, do not despise the chastening of the Lord, Nor be discouraged when you are rebuked by Him; 6 For whom the Lord loves He chastens, And scourges every son whom He receives.”
Psalm 139:23–24 NKJV
23 Search me, O God, and know my heart; Try me, and know my anxieties; 24 And see if there is any wicked way in me, And lead me in the way everlasting.
Every minute of ordeal that you endure with the strength of Christ builds eternal rewards of glory that will be cast to the feet of Jesus for saving us.
1 Peter 4:12–13 NKJV
12 Beloved, do not think it strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened to you; 13 but rejoice to the extent that you partake of Christ’s sufferings, that when His glory is revealed, you may also be glad with exceeding joy.
Now ask yourself, truly how big is your small trial in the full scope of eternity? How horrible is your tribulation? How tough is your circumstance? Are you letting God cultivate you by obeying His will and trusting in what He has waiting for you? Do you trust Him to walk you through and do you reach out to take the hand of Jesus Christ that is extended to bring you out?
James 1:2–6 NKJV
2 My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, 3 knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. 4 But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing. 5 If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him. 6 But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for he who doubts is like a wave of the sea driven and tossed by the wind.
Once you come to accept that God is in control of all things, you will be that much better prepared to deal with whatever hardships and sufferings He may choose to send your way—
Know that Trials are for Our Benefit.

Rejoice in the Refining

1 Peter 1:6–9 NKJV
6 In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while, if need be, you have been grieved by various trials, 7 that the genuineness of your faith, being much more precious than gold that perishes, though it is tested by fire, may be found to praise, honor, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ, 8 whom having not seen you love. Though now you do not see Him, yet believing, you rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory, 9 receiving the end of your faith—the salvation of your souls.
When gold is refined it is melted down by fire so that all the impurities are removed. God does the same with us, removing our impurities so that at the end of the process we are polished pure and beautiful for the purpose of God’s great glory. We are made gold.
We all have our ups and downs, but when you do not worry and let God have full control over the situation, the problem is rectified through the providence of God. He works it all out. According to His will.
God does allow us to struggle at times – why? Because it turns our focus towards Him.
If you are struggling, hurting, or needing guidance – PRAY; Talk to God. He already knows what you need; He is just waiting for you to ask for it.
He will do things in His time, according to His will and not ours.
Know that Trials are for Our Benefit.
Rejoice in the Refining. And...

Endure it For the Glory of God

All things are done for the glory of God by true believers. Take heart, have comfort and joy when you are being refined during a trial or an ordeal. No matter how hard it is, stay faithful. It means that you are a child of God and truly loved by Him.
John 16:33 NKJV
33 These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.”
When you cry out to God in earnest prayer asking, “God what do I do. Lord why am I going through this, please answer me Lord.” When God answers and tells you to trust Him, or even in divine silence be content with that. He will give you the answer at His appointed time and it will all make sense to you then.
2 Corinthians 4:16–18 NKJV
16 Therefore we do not lose heart. Even though our outward man is perishing, yet the inward man is being renewed day by day. 17 For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory, 18 while we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal.
Message LifePoint: Remember that every moment and event in your life is meaningful, even if it seems insignificant. If we did not have trials and tribulations, then we would learn nothing. We would not become stronger. Muscles were made by God to be exercised. So is our faith. It is all working for glory in eternity. Our mission is obedience to God’s will, both in our destiny and in the smallest details in life. It all matters!
God's does not always give us the answers to all the questions that come in this life, but in the end, He always delivers His own. In Heaven, all these events in your life will be answered fully. Have faith in Christ with every breath and every sorrow, with every tear and every shout of joy.
Have faith in all things because all things are from God and return to Him for His glory. We must keep Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior first in our lives. Then He will show us the way out of any struggle that we encounter no matter the severity of that trial.
He is the only Way…hear the promise of our Lord in Revelation 3:21: “To him who overcomes I will grant to sit with Me on My throne, as I also overcame and sat down with My Father on His throne.”
Keep your eyes on Jesus while in the Refiner’s fire. Understand He is making you better, and you will overcome and shine like the purest silver or gold; you will shine like the clearest diamond. Stand firm in love because your reward is coming soon.
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