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When you find it – you KNOW!
This may explain a lot of what you are going through right now – and hopefully encourage you…
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The other day I said to someone “God does what is best – not what feels nice”…
But I was thinking later how that is only always true for someone who is actually following God.

It is easy to be inspired, or even challenged, by the words in the Bible, but if it stops there we are not following. The Bible says that is like looking at ourselves in the mirror, seeing our face is dirty, but not cleaning it and walking away
.

But for those who are
following Him (present tense) – His ways, seeking Him, doing what He says, worshipping Him along the way…there is an amazing promise: Everything will work for their (your) good!

What an amazing relief to be able to know that
everything that happens to us or around us is in God's perfect will for us!

It sounds pretty attractive doesn't it?! I once thought that too – I thought it meant that everything would be rosy / peachey / sweet. Others told me that it also meant I should 'forget the past' – ignore it and tried to apply that to everything that didn't feel nice. But that's not what it means – far from it.

The reality is, that things can get harder when following Jesus. Old habits, addictions, people, pleasures, crutches, they have to go. Activities we used to enjoy must be left behind and many times we will have to leave the crowd – or even go against it. Hardly a walk in the park and
not exactly fun at times!

The Bible actually promises hardship for those who follow Him
. Jesus Himself said that if we did not 'pickup our cross and follow Him' we are no worthy of being His , and 'that the world would hate us' among many others.

In life on this earth, trials are guaranteed no matter who you are, no matter your religion, background or country. And you will get through every single one – just like you have with every one until now. But if you are a Christian – born again – then there is a purpose to each and every one!

We are told that if these trials and troubles are not from doing the wrong thing
, they:
– Show that our faith is genuine
– Make us partners with Christ

– Give us joy
– Means the Spirit of God will rest on us
– Grow our endurance, on the path to perfection

– Are a time where we can be comforted by God and learn to comfort others

– Help us share in the death of Jesus so that His life can be seen in us
– Are a reminder that we won't be destroyed


There is many more descriptions in the Bible that reveal the true nature of these trials, however today we are going to look in a little more detail at just one:

1 Peter 1:7
These trials will show that your faith is genuine. It is being tested as fire tests and purifies gold—though your faith is far more precious than mere gold. So when your faith remains strong through many trials, it will bring you much praise and glory and honor on the day when Jesus Christ is revealed to the whole world.

Through trials our faith is being tested and purified. Like gold or silver.
Doesn't sound that attractive does it?! But it is actually an amazing offer – if you notice the reward. Imagine getting praise, glory and honour on the day that Jesus is shown to the world as the King of kings? Honoured by the Creator of the universe…entering eternity as a son / daughter of God!

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He wants to change you from a worthless looking hunk of rock, to precious silver! There is however a process to this amazing transformation. God wants to refine you – to transform you – into His likeness. According to that verse He wants to refine and purify, just like gold or silver!?

In His mercy God declared He wouldn't banish us like He did to the Israelites who were not allowed to enter the promised land for their disbelief;
He wouldn't destroy us with sulphur and fire like we deserve – but He would refine us instead! What an offer He made, a very long time ago:


Zechariah 13:8–9
Two-thirds of the people in the land
will be cut off and die,” says the Lord.
“But one-third will be left in the land.
I will bring that group through the fire
and make them pure.
I will refine them like silver
and purify them like gold.
They will call on my name,
and I will answer them.
I will say, ‘These are my people,’
and they will say, ‘The Lord is our God.’ ”

Imagine that – hearing God say that you are His!

There is so much in this passage, but first: Why was silver mentioned first?
One answer to this is that silver used to be more valuable than gold in Egypt.
But also, silver also has a more violent reaction to refining, possibly it reflects what we are like when we are being refined… We are the silver!

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In the refining process, the silver ore – like rock – is first dug out of the ground it was embedded in.
Someone goes looking for it, digging and often blasting the ground to loosen it. God came looking for you. He comes and digs you out of your surroundings.

Then is then crushed to little bits – pulverised. It hurts!

This crumbled mess is then mixed with charcoal (something that has already died and been burnt) or lead – a poisonous, worthless and heavy metal. As the silver is heated, it releases oxygen, but it would re-absorb the oxygen as it cools if it were not for an agent.

Something has to be added just to help the purification of the silver… In our own lives, God puts us with others – at times people who have been refined – at others it is with toxic people – He uses it all! It is easy to react to the very things that God has put there to help – the process hurts!

Now the mixture is placed in a crucible and heated with intense heat for a long time – until it starts to melt.
An intense fire, with two people holding bellows used to be used. They would have to continually pump to provide enough air to the fire.

Much care must be taken – if the fire gets too hot, the silver will catch fire and be consumed. Knowledge of the metal and a careful, patient eye are needed to ensure this doesn't happen. God knows what you can handle. He is watching carefully. He cares! He has a purpose – He will 'heat you up' just the right amount…but it hurts!

The oxygen in the ore (silver oxide) reacts and spits as it comes out. The oxygen mixes with the lead to form lead oxide and starts to come to the surface. It's the dross. Some of it combines with the carbon in the charcoal to form carbon monoxide. It's poisonous waste – released to be discarded.

The smelter then scrapes off the dross, trying not to loose any of the silver.
This process is repeated until the smelter could see that the silver was pure. How could he tell? He would look into the silver and when He could see himself – it was ready.

How amazing – when God can see Himself in you!

Once the silver is purified, it goes to the Silversmith, who then heats, beats and bends the silver into the required shape. Lastly, the item is polished to look beautiful and is ready for use.

Quite a long process – but one that produces incredible beauty!!

It's incredible that God is the refiner, but maybe even more so that He is the fire too. Incredible and scary – if you are not His!

Malachi 3:1–4
“Look! I am sending my messenger, and he will prepare the way before me. Then the Lord you are seeking will suddenly come to his Temple. The messenger of the covenant, whom you look for so eagerly, is surely coming,” says the Lord of Heaven’s Armies.
“But who will be able to endure it when he comes? Who will be able to stand and face him when he appears? For he will be like a blazing fire that refines metal, or like a strong soap that bleaches clothes. He will sit like a refiner of silver, burning away the dross. He will purify the Levites, refining them like gold and silver, so that they may once again offer acceptable sacrifices to the Lord. Then once more the Lord will accept the offerings brought to him by the people of Judah and Jerusalem, as he did in the past.

We are the silver – to be refined – we are the priests to offer acceptable worship
– all because of what Jesus did on the cross to pay our debt!


A WARNING: When things get painful and hard, it is tempting to turn your face away from God and follow idols. Self, work, pleasure, title, family, prestige, wealth – all idols of the heart, remove you from the process in the most profound way: You cease to be the silver, but you still get the heat!
In Ezekiel it says you become the dross – you still get the heat, the trials – but then you are thrown away and are worthless.
You will still suffer, trials, tribulation and more – but they will end in death and be brought on by the consequences of your actions – choosing yourself over God…don’t do that choose life!

May
we be the ones seen by Isaiah:

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Isaiah 48:10–11
I have refined you, but not as silver is refined.
Rather, I have refined you in the furnace of suffering.
I will rescue you for my sake—
yes, for my own sake!
I will not let my reputation be tarnished,
and I will not share my glory with idols!


Conclusion:
The pain of refinement last but a lifetime, the pleasure of being His lasts forever.


PRAYER:
Lord, thankYou for Your mercy and the incredible gift of Your Son. May we put all of our trust in Him and turn from our sinful deeds. May we submit to the yoke of Your discipline and refinement – running to You not away. May we be Your people, always thankful for the amazing love and grace You have displayed – now and forever.


NOTES:
Feel free to request the full article with scripture references…