‘God’s refining fire, may it purge me now‘ (Mac Lynch)
When a tree grows, and has reached the size to be cut down, it is not perfect or ready to use.
When iron ore is dug out of the ground, it is not perfect, or ready to use.
Whenever we want to use the wood or iron ore, something first has to happen to it. The wood needs to be cut into pieces, and shaped, ready for specific purposes. The iron ore has to be heated, then separated for the impurities within, to make it ready to use.
And what are the processes that make these items ready to use?
The timber is refined by initially storing them to allow moisture to evaporate, then they are taken to a saw mill for conversion into planks, and then they are cut again to make the timber we see in shops.
The iron ore is removed from the ground, and then crushed. Following the crushing, it is heated to over 1500°C, and then the impurities are removed, making the remaining material ready to shape and use.
As we become a Christian, we do not become perfect immediately. We become more open to the leading of the Holy Spirit, we do not, not need the Spirit. We are by no means a finished article, we are ‘a work in progress‘.
As God created man and woman initially, (Genesis 1:26), they were perfect and lived in harmony with God and His creation (Genesis 2:15-16 NIV). The Psalmist David knew who created him, and how he was made, ‘For you created my inmost being, you knit me together in my mother’s womb‘ (Psalm 139:13 NIV), and we know how we were made, by God.
We are malleable, pliable, flexible and supple, which allows God to mould us into something better than what we are. We are clay in the hands of a master potter, who is God. ‘We are the clay, you are the potter; we are all the work of your hand‘ (Isaiah 64:8 NIV).
Darlene Zschech wrote a beautiful song called ‘The Potter’s Hand‘, and some of the lyrics say;
all of my days are held in Your hands
Crafted into Your perfect plan.
So when we think about how things go from their natural state, to the ‘ready to use by us‘ state, materials go through many changes. They start in a rather rough but flexible condition (timber can be shaped relatively easily, and even metals are flexible when heated) and following some refining and changing of their initial condition, they become what we are used to seeing.
Even through all of his sufferings, Job knew that he was being refined, and he never gave up on his faith, ‘Surely there is a mine for silver And a place where gold is refined. Iron is taken from the earth, And copper is smelted from ore‘ (Job 28:1-2)
The Psalmist David knew that he needed, and we need help to shape us into what God really wants us to be, ‘The LORD’S promises are pure, like silver refined in a furnace, purified seven times‘ (Psalm 12:6 NLT).
In Peter’s first letter to the scattered Church, he reminded the people there, that they should not be, ‘surprised at the fiery trials they were [you are] going through‘ (1 Peter 4:12 NLT).
Everyone needs to change, everyone needs to move forward in life. If water does not move, eventually it stagnates. If we do not move forward, then we do not grow as a Christian. If we do not move then we cannot change.
‘Take me, mould me, use me, fill me. I give my life to the Potter’s hand‘ (Darlene Zschech – Potter’s Hand). The master potter will use what happens in our life to shape what we will become. Gad has a plan for all of us (Jeremiah 29:11).
We have to trust God in all things, and, ‘be (being) confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in us [you] will complete it‘ (Philippians 1:4 NKJV).
So, in order to change, we need to be refined;
O Lord, feed the fire, Your refining fire.
Now as gold and silver must be tried, (Mac Lynch)
God wants all of his people to belong to the same global family, so he takes us in our brokenness, and shapes us; our lives are then given meaning. He refines us into something much, much better than what we were prior to this. We are made into something that can be used for His, and the Kingdom’s glory. We become a beacon of light, showing others the way to God and life eternal, for we know that Jesus said, ‘I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me‘ (John 14:6 NKJV).
God wants the best for us, and because of this, sent Jesus to die for us, (John 3:16) and because of this, ultimately, we should remember;
‘You, O God, have tested us; You have refined us as silver is refined‘ (Psalm 66:10 NKJV).
Purify my heart
Let me be as gold and precious silver
Purify my heart
Let me be as gold, pure gold
My heart’s one desire
Is to be holy
Set apart for You, Lord
I choose to be holy
Set apart for You, my Master
Ready to do Your will
Purify my heart
Cleanse me from within
And make me holy
Purify my heart
Cleanse me from my sin
Father, we thank you for your great love for us, that you sent Jesus to die for us. We thank you for having a plan for all of our lives, a plan that will be good for us, and help to build your kingdom, and bring glory to your name. Help us when we go through testing, to know that you are with us, and that when we come out the other side, we will be better stronger people, ready to be used by you.
Lord we pray for all people who do not have a proper home, whether due to personal circumstances, or due to natural disasters. Be with the people who come alongside of them during their trial. Help them to be compassionate and to help them see you through their actions.