Sent:  February 25, 2002

Subject:  Put Away the Chairs!

Good Morning Ethan & Emily:

In our last morning study, we reviewed six reasons why God allows trials to come into our lives, and in that study we focused on how trials can equip us for service.  This morning I would like to share a few comments about the third item on the list “…God allows trials in order to purify our lives.”

In 1 Peter 1, we find these words:  “…trials are only to test your faith, to show that it is strong and pure.  It is being tested as fire tests and purifies gold—and your faith is far more precious to God than mere gold.”  (V.7 NLT)

And what does a strong faith do?  In the second half of this passage, Peter tells us that our strong and vibrant faith brings much “praise, glory, and honor” to our Lord Jesus Christ.

Goes does not want to see us suffer, but it is a truth of life that character is defined and refined during difficult times.  And it is interesting that God uses the refining of gold and silver to define and illustrate this character refining process.

In Malachi 3: 1-4 the prophet in talking about the Lord describes Him as a “…blazing fire that refines metal…He will sit and judge like a refiner of silver, watching closely as the dross is burned away.  He will purify the Levites, refining them like gold or silver, so that they may once again offer acceptable sacrifices to the Lord.”

When gold or silver is dug out of the ground it is hard and has many impurities in it.  To separate out all the dirt and rock from the precious metals, one must subject the ore to high temperatures so that it melts.  In a similar manner, God “melts” us down to separate out all the pride, sin, and self-confidence that devalues our worth and effectiveness for God.

In a message to St. Mark’s Lutheran church in Citrus Heights, CA, on 12/10/04, the pastor summarized this as follows:  “This is what Jesus does.  He makes us over.  He melts us down and re-forms us into a totally different shape than we were when we started.  He does this through the trials we suffer.”

And then relating a story I have heard on several occasions, he gave more detail on this refining process:  “A ladies’ Bible class was once studying this chapter (Malachi 3:1-4).  When they got to the third verse, ‘He will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver,’ they wondered what this refining process was like.  So one of the ladies offered to make a trip to the local silversmith to ask how silver was refined.  She went and talked to the silversmith, and he explained the process of how he melted down the silver ore and extracted the pure silver.  When he got done explaining it, she said, ‘But do you sit when you’re refining?’

“This phrase just didn’t seem to make sense:  ‘He will sit as a refiner.'”  She must have been thinking: The Lord can’t just sit when He’s refining somebody.  He has to be more active than that.  But the silversmith said, “Oh, yes, I have to sit with eyes steadily fixed on the furnace, because if I let the refining go on for too long—even for just a few seconds—the silver is spoiled.” 

Instantly the lady saw the beauty and comfort of the expression, “He will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver.”  God knows that it’s necessary to put His children into the furnace.  His eyes are always intent on His work of purifying.  All His faculties—His wisdom and His love—are at work on us.  Our trials do not come at random, and He will not let us be tested beyond what we can endure.  Before the lady left, she had one final question:  “When do you know the process is complete?”  The silversmith replied, “Why, that’s quite simple.  When I can see my own image in the silver, the refining process is finished.”

And, thus, God “refines” us until His image is reflected in our lives!  Wow…what a truth!

Gold is hard and corrosive when it comes out of the ground, but after the refining process is soft and pliable…and becomes a precious substance “worth it’s weight in gold”!  Thus, with trials we become pliable in God’s hands as He shapes us into an object of beauty and priceless value in His kingdom…so valuable He gave His Son to make this all possible!

Not all trials are to purify us…often they are for other reasons.  But my prayer is that our lives will reflect the image of our Savior moment by moment and day by day.

Let’s resolve to keep our lives clean and pure so that we give no reason for our Lord to have to “reach for a chair.”  This is one time; we would prefer the Lord to keep standing!!

Have a great day…
I love you,