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Month: July, 2013

Separation by Trial and Testing.(Part 6)

Another word that comes up repeatedly in the study of separation by trial is: Bachan. Strong’s once again rides to the rescue of the illiterate; a primitive root; translated in the AV as try, prove, examine, tempt, trial and adds:

1) to examine, try, prove

1a) (Qal)

1a1) to examine, scrutinise

1a2) to test, prove, try (of gold, persons, the heart, man of God)

1b) (Niphal) to be tried, proved

1c) (Pual) to make a trial

1 Chronicles 29:17 I know also, my God, that thou triest the heart, and hast pleasure in uprightness. As for me, in the uprightness of mine heart I have willingly offered all these things: and now have I seen with joy thy people, which are present here, to offer willingly unto thee. The heart is the area that the Lord is interested in trying.

Job 7:18 And that thou shouldest visit him every morning, and try him every moment? Job was separated for special testing because of who he was and because God wanted to reveal himself to him. In Job’s case the trial was progressive, repeated and sustained. This is what it feels like when you are being tried; there is no respite, even when you lie down to sleep it feels as though you are being chased. Those who are closest to you in your days of trial turn out to be your tormentors rather than your comforters. The people around Job wanted to help; that is what they came for yet they caused as much pain as the trial. It is often a wise thing to shut up when around those who you see suffering. It may be that you will learn from their pain. I think that the sufferers are there as much for our sake as for theirs, to see our reaction and our response. The beggar at your door is there for food and to allow the Lord to see your heart respons to his request.

Job 23:10 But he knoweth the way that I take: when he hath tried me, I shall come forth as gold. Job had an insight, a revelation into the purpose that God had in trying him. It was not to punish but to bring him forth as gold, refined and pure. Job knew that his death was not the end, that there was an objective beyond the grave: Job 19:23-28 Oh that my words were now written! oh that they were printed in a book!  24 That they were graven with an iron pen and lead in the rock for ever! 25 For I know that my redeemer liveth, and that he shall stand at the latter day upon the earth: 26 And though after my skin worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh shall I see God:  27 Whom I shall see for myself, and mine eyes shall behold, and not another; though my reins be consumed within me.  This is a vital component to the armory of any serious believer to prevent the attack of the frightening enemy; self pity and purposelessness; the road is now but leads to eternity, remember not to get off the road now or you may jeopardize your eternal journey.

Job 34:36 My desire is that Job may be tried unto the end because of his answers for wicked men. Our job is not to try anybody else as our trial is deceitful and harsh.

Psalm 7:9 Oh let the wickedness of the wicked come to an end; but establish the just: for the righteous God trieth the hearts and reins. The righteous and the wicked are tested in heart and mind by a righteous and holy God.

Psalm 11:4-5 The LORD is in his holy temple, the LORD’S throne is in heaven: his eyes behold, his eyelids try, the children of men. 5 The LORD trieth the righteous: but the wicked and him that loveth violence his soul hateth. It as fascinating to see that trying is a response of God to righteousness. God tries the righteous but hates the wicked.

Psalm 17:3 Thou hast proved mine heart; thou hast visited me in the night; thou hast tried me, and shalt find nothing; I am purposed that my mouth shall not transgress. Those who are going though a trial will tell you that the nights are often the very worst because there is no escape from yourself into busyness.   

Psalm 26:2 Examine me, O LORD, and prove me; try my reins and my heart. This is the third time that this passage has come up: the three words: examined, prove and try are connected in this short and powerful scripture. When this line of scripture is read with understanding, David’s warrior spirit and his relentless pursuit of righteousness emerges.  

Psalm 81:7 Thou calledst in trouble, and I delivered thee; I answered thee in the secret place of thunder: I proved thee at the waters of Meribah. Selah.  This is not just a reference to the incident in the wilderness where thee people were thirsty and sinned. This is a pointer along with the reference to thunder to the times in our lives when strife and discord is with us. Meribah means strife and discord. It is easy to be a good little Christian when everything is going well. When strife and discord are in the heart then we realise that the test is on in our lives. Here the psalmist is told how God answered when he called and the intimation is that God will answer when we are in trouble and call. What happens when we are in trouble and call and there is no answer?

Psalm 139:23-24 Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts: 24 And see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.  Again a cry goes up from the heart to be discovered and to be examined by God. This is not the response of a worldly Christian; this is a deep cry from someone who wants to go on for God no matter what the price. This is a cry for truth. There is a deep desire to know God and to be known that will stop at nothing.

Proverbs 17:3 The fining pot is for silver, and the furnace for gold: but the LORD trieth the hearts. Again the word speaks to us in the language of the master craftsman bringing the metal to the point of destruction to bring forth gold and silver fit for the master’s use.

Jeremiah 6:27 I have set thee for a tower (an assayer, a tester of metals) and a fortress among my people, that thou mayest know and try their way. Today an assayer is still someone who tests metals by chemical, electrical or heating methods. The object is to find out by assaying the metal what can not be seen with the naked eye by a casual observer. In this case the prophet Jeremiah has been appointed as the refiner and tester of Israel’s metal. In your life the very person who is over you in the Lord, the person who is there to bring comfort and insight from the Lord, could be the person to refine you in the fire.

Jeremiah 11:20 But, O LORD of hosts, that judgest righteously, that triest the reins and the heart, let me see thy vengeance on them: for unto thee have I revealed my cause. Again God is the tester of the heart and the mind. There is a revelation to both God and man that takes place when trial has been undergone. It is interesting that the reins are mentioned as it is a chill in the kidney area that strikes when you realize that God has your number.

Jeremiah 12:3 But thou, O LORD, knowest me: thou hast seen me, and tried mine heart toward thee: pull them out like sheep for the slaughter, and prepare them for the day of slaughter.  

Jeremiah 17:10 I the LORD search the heart, I try the reins, even to give every man according to his ways, and according to the fruit of his doings. Here again we see that God is the tester of the heart and the mind to the purpose of rewarding man according to the fruit of his doings.

Jeremiah 20:12 But, O LORD of hosts, that triest the righteous, and seest the reins and the heart, let me see thy vengeance on them: for unto thee have I opened my cause. Jeremiah realizes that the righteous are tried, it is not punishment, it is God’s mercy, his grace towards those righteous in Christ that allows for trials leading to revelation.

Zechariah 13:9 And I will bring the third part through the fire, and will refine them as silver is refined, and will try them as gold is tried: they shall call on my name, and I will hear them: I will say, It is my people: and they shall say, The LORD is my God. We have come upon this scripture with one of the other words we looked at.

Proverbs 27:21-22

After looking at the scriptures I have no doubt that trials and testing are part of our lives as Christians; the real question is what we are to do when we are tried? My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into diverse temptations; knowing this that the trying of your faith worketh patience. But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing.

I can not see into the future, I do not know what plans my Master has for me. But I know His character is faultless. He is absolutely trustworthy. His plans for me are perfect.

 

If you make it down as far as this well done; I would be interested to hear what you think.

We are on the final run in to the end of all things; now is the time to be like the widows that Paul is talking to: in Timothy.  5 She who is a real widow, and is left all alone, has set her hope on God and continues in supplications and prayers night and day; 6 whereas she who is self-indulgent is dead even while she lives.

In answer to you query about embracing suffering and not running from it: (You didn’t know you had asked it did you) I would like you to look at Hebrews 11:35. Take your time and look at the second half of this verse. It is amazing and quite unexpected don’t you think? It opens up a whole chain of thinking that is well worth pursuing.

There is a strong link in scripture between those who suffer in this present age and the level of glory that they are raised to in the age to come.

Luke 16:25. This is a prime example.

Luke 6:24-26.

Job 21:13-14. And so James can say in James 1:2 Count it all joy, my brethren, when you meet various trials, 3 for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. 4 And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.

I am not preaching at you I am just answering your question (you didn’t know that you had asked one) and at the same time learning. You see it is an attitude of mind to the journey that you are on. Your attitude should be one of; good I am going through this trial and it is going to produce something.

3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! By his great mercy we have been born anew to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 4 and to an inheritance which is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, 5 who by God’s power are guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. 6 In this you rejoice, though now for a little while you may have to suffer various trials, 7 so that the genuineness of your faith, more precious than gold which though perishable is tested by fire, may redound to praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.

So you rejoice in your trial because it is producing something that is kept in heaven for you.

Read it again and then thank God for the testing and trial that you are experiencing. That is embracing suffering. Thanking God is the right attitude.

But it is also an attitude of mind: Therefore gird up your minds, be sober, set your hope fully upon the grace that is coming to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ. It is a tough attitude! It is an attitude that says I am off to war. They would hitch up or gird up their loins in order to run a race or to go to war.

The next thing that happens when you suffer is that you move into another realm in terms of compromise; when you are suffering who cares about the stupid things like going out and getting drunk and watching movies? 1 Since therefore Christ suffered in the flesh, arm yourselves with the same thought, for whoever has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin, 2 so as to live for the rest of the time in the flesh no longer by human passions but by the will of God. 3 Let the time that is past suffice for doing what the Gentiles like to do, living in licentiousness, passions, drunkenness, revels, carousing, and lawless idolatry.

Out of the suffering you reap a reward of soberness; I can see this in you already. But this soberness is there for a reason. The end of all things is at hand; therefore keep sane and sober for your prayers. Your prayer life is improved and you draw closer to the Lord. What a blessing. Thank God for your suffering. That is embracing suffering and not running away from it.

Hey don’t be surprised that you are suffering. Listen to this: 12 Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal which comes upon you to prove you, as though something strange were happening to you. 13 But rejoice in so far as you share Christ’s sufferings. When Christ went to the cross and in the garden he suffered every form of suffering that we experience today. We are sharing in that suffering in our fear, loneliness and shame. We think of it as unique and ours but it is part of the suffering of Christ.

You have the choice of running away or  Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that in due time he may exalt you. 7 Cast all your anxieties on him, for he cares about you. 8 Be sober, be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking some one to devour. 9 Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same experience of suffering is required of your brotherhood throughout the world.

I hope that this is an answer that speaks to you and is not just words.

Have you ever read Psalm 139 and related it to where you are today?

 

Another word that I looked at was:

6504 parad { paw-rad’}

 

a primitive root; TWOT – 1806; v

 

AV – separate 12, part 4, divided 3, scattered abroad 1, dispersed 1, joint 1, scattered 1, severed 1, stretched 1, sundered 1; 26

 

GK – 7233 { dr’P;

1) to separate, divide

1a) (Qal) to divide

1b) (Niphal)

1b1) to divide, separate

1b2) to be divided, be separated

1c) (Piel) to be separated

1d) (Pual) to be divided

1e) (Hiphil)

1e1) to divide, separate

1e2) to make a division, make a separation

1f) (Hithpael) to be divided, be separated, get separated

Abraham is separated from Lot and Jacob is separated from this brothers. Gen 13:9, 49:26.

Jacob separated the speckled sheep and goats from the rest. Gen 30:40.

Aaron had to separate himself and his sons from the rest of the people Lev 22.2.

The separation to a Nazarite vow. Num 6:2,3.

The separation of the Levites from the people and the separation of Moses ad Aaron from the people. Num 8:14, 16:1.

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Separation by Trial and Testing. (Part 4)

Another fascinating word that is associated with testing is: tsaraph Strong’s tells us that it is a primitive root; translated in the AV as try, founder, goldsmith, refine, refiner, melt, pure, purge away, casteth, finer and adds the following:

1) to smelt, refine, test

1a) (Qal)

1a1) to smelt, refine

1a2) to test

1a3) to test (and prove true)

1a4) smelter, refiner, goldsmith (participle)

1b) (Niphal) to be refined

1c) (Piel) to be a refiner

1c1) refiner (participle)

Judges 7:4 And the LORD said unto Gideon, The people are yet too many; bring them down unto the water, and I will try them for thee there: and it shall be, that of whom I say unto thee, This shall go with thee, the same shall go with thee; and of whomsoever I say unto thee, This shall not go with thee, the same shall not go. The base metal is smelted to separate the various component materials from the desired metal. The principle is that there is a remnant that God wishes to take out from the main body of believers for special service and these are separated by trial and testing.

Psalm 17:3 Thou hast proved mine heart; thou hast visited me in the night; thou hast tried me, and shalt find nothing; I am purposed that my mouth shall not transgress. David is confident that after God has tested and proved his heart that there will be no problem with what comes out of his mouth. David like Abraham was tried and separated for a task by God.

Psalm 26:2 Examine me, O LORD, and prove me; try my reins and my heart. Why would anyone ask God to examine them and to prove them in the way that the psalmist does? The only conclusion that I can come to is that there is a journey of self discovery that has to be made in all of us. Without testing and trial there can be no true assessment of who we really are. The simple truth is that it is easy for our heart and our mind to lie to us. Jeremiah 17:9 The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it? Only in the experiential world of trial by fire is the truth arrived at.

Psalm 66:10 For thou, O God, hast proved us: thou hast tried us, as silver is tried. The overwhelming language that comes from Strong’s for this word is that of the refining yard where metal is heated, dross scooped off and the metal cooled bashed and then reheated so as to repeat the process. The repetition of the smelting process refines the metal producing a pure product fit for use. Without the refining process the metal whether gold or silver will be substandard; filled with impurities that will tarnish, rust, pit and corrode.

Silver and gold is tried in the fire and only by being heated and cooled is the dross cooked off and the silver left in the crucible to be used by the craftsman of our lives. The principle is that there is a separation that can only be achieved through the fire of God being applied to our lives. The dross of our lives will not be driven off by any other means.

Proverbs 25:4 Take away the dross from the silver, and there shall come forth a vessel for the finer. God wants a useful vessel that he can use and fill with himself both here and in eternity.

Isaiah 1:25 And I will turn my hand upon thee, and purely purge away thy dross, and take away all thy tin:  God in his mercy allows the fire in our lives to purge away the dross. It is not to give us a hard time but to allow the beauty of the silver and the gold to come to the fore and shine as they were intended.

Isaiah 48:10 Behold, I have refined thee, but not with silver; I have chosen thee in the furnace of affliction.  Israel is chosen in the furnace of affliction from all the other peoples on earth but not for its own sake; God allows Israel to go through the fire so that the name of God is not polluted by them. Israel is the type of the believer’s heart.

Jeremiah 9:7 Therefore thus saith the LORD of hosts, Behold, I will melt them, and try them; for how shall I do for the daughter of my people? Again it is the Lord in his mercy that brings Israel to the meltdown point for her good.

Zechariah 13:9 And I will bring the third part through the fire, and will refine them as silver is refined, and will try them as gold is tried: they shall call on my name, and I will hear them: I will say, It is my people: and they shall say, The LORD is my God. There is something about the refiner’s fire that drives out the insincerity that is so prevalent in the church of God. Again in this passage there is the image of a reduction process leaving a remnant that is pure.

Malachi 3:3 And he shall sit as a refiner and purifier of silver: and he shall purify the sons of Levi, and purge them as gold and silver, that they may offer unto the LORD an offering in righteousness. Here again there is a separation that takes place this time between the Levites who are to serve the Lord in the temple and the rest of Israel. With the privilege of intimacy comes the responsibility and the separation by trial that purifies. What is fascinating is that God takes the Israelite from the nations of the world and then further refining takes place for the refined; the sons of Levi.

Luke 22:31 And the Lord said, Simon, Simon, behold, Satan hath desired to have you, that he may sift you as wheat: There is a separation to leadership that is sometimes not at all pleasant. Simon Peter was being chosen for special service and Jesus was allowing him to be tested. Again and again in our present time the leaders are separated and tried often using the trappings of the world: Sexual and financial temptation. The names of the fallen are not remembered long but the residue of their scummy lives clings to the name of God and the church. People reject Christ because we pollute the Name.

At the end of John 13 from around verse 31 we find Jesus telling the disciples that he is going to leave them to be glorified. Then he moves on to tell them that they are going to look for him and that they will not find him because, they can not follow him where he is going.

Then He gives them a new commandment to love one another. “By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” It is as if Peter has not even heard what Jesus has said.                                                                     Simon Peter then makes his famous boast; “I will lay down my life for you.” And of course Jesus gives him the fateful message, “Will you really lay down your life for me?” “I tell you the truth, before the cockcrows, you will disown me three times!” First verse of 15 “Do not let your hearts be troubled.”  “Trust in God trust also in me.”                                                                                          The thing that strikes me is the enormous compassion of our Lord Jesus. He realizes that Peter has not a clue what he is talking about when he promises to lay down his life for him. He looks past this and comforts Peter and the other disciples knowing that they will betray him. He gives them the assurance that he has not abandoned them in their betrayal.                                               My Lord Jesus Christ and yours looks at the Peter within Me and you and sees the heart of the matter: We say that we have laid down our lives to take up the life of Christ.                                                                                                The demonstration of our internal diseased state of heart is exposed by our actions under pressure, the betrayal, the denial of the Christ within by the reality of our lives. The lack of trust in the Lord through our taking the burdens of the world on ourselves and worrying and fretting about things that we can not change, things that he alone can alter. Do you think that the Lord was surprised that Peter betrays him: He knew before and he told Peter to expect it. It was Peter who had the shock of discovering what he actually was. In the same way it is not the Lord who has the revelation of what lies within my heart it is I that have the benefit of the realization.

The manifestation of the deceit is for our benefit.                                                                It allows us to see what the Lord knew all along.                                                                                       It allows us to come to Christ to repent.                                                                It allows us to move on from self-reliance to “Trust in God, Trust also in me.”                          

The same compassion that Peter experienced reaches out to me. Jesus says to me, “Here is the way, walk in it.” “Trust in God, trust also in me”                  

Thank you Lord that you know me better than I know myself.                              Thank you Lord for your enormous compassion in exposing my frailty before the cross.                                                                                                           Thank you Lord for the mercy that you demonstrate day by day.                          Lord we can only praise you for the way that your word speaks to us fresh and new every morning like manna in the desert.                                                      You raise up the bronze serpent in the desert of our hearts, saying look on it!                     

You alone bring healing from the plague in the camp.

 

Separation by Testing and trial. (Part 4)

In the New Testament the same principle of trials and tests applies. Peirazo is a Greek word translated as; tempt, try, tempter, prove, assay, examine, go about in the A V. Strong’s goes on to add:

1) to try whether a thing can be done

1a) to attempt, endeavour

2) to try, make trial of, test: for the purpose of ascertaining his quantity, or what he thinks, or how he will behave himself

2a) in a good sense

2b) in a bad sense, to test one maliciously, craftily to put to the proof his feelings or judgments

2c) to try or test one’s faith, virtue, character, by enticement to sin

2c1) to solicit to sin, to tempt

1c1a) of the temptations of the devil

2d) after the OT usage

2d1) of God: to inflict evils upon one in order to prove his character and the steadfastness of his faith

2d2) men are said to tempt God by exhibitions of distrust, as though they wished to try whether he is not justly distrusted

2d3) by impious or wicked conduct to test God’s justice and patience and to challenge him, as it were to give proof of his perfections.

When this word is looked at through its use in scripture the same picture emerges.

Matthew 22:18 But Jesus perceived their wickedness, and said, Why tempt ye me, ye hypocrites? Our Lord Jesus was tried and tested. It is often a twisting of the truth that results in our trial. The devil quoted scripture to Jesus when he tested him: “Hath God said?”

John 6:6 And this he said to prove him: for he himself knew what he would do. The same God that proved the faith of men by trial is active in the New Testament. Here poor Philip is put to the test; he knew that Jesus was able to feed the multitude but could he live it? Philip was the one you remember who had had a revelation of who Jesus was and had led Nathaniel to the Christ.  

1 Corinthians 7:5 Defraud ye not one the other, except it be with consent for a time, that ye may give yourselves to fasting and prayer; and come together again, that Satan tempt you not for your incontinency. Here the word is used of the trial that is administered by Satan. As in many places in the bible Satan is the one used by God to administer the test. Have you considered my servant Job?

1 Corinthians 10:13 There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it. Thank God for this assurance. There are many days when I feel I have had enough and when I could easily take the initiative and end the trial that I remember that I am not in charge, God is the boss.              

2 Corinthians 13:5 Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith; prove your own selves.  Know ye not your own selves, how that Jesus Christ is in you, except ye be reprobates? It is not enough to assume that you are in the faith we as believers have to examine ourselves and test our faith in the light of circumstances and practice. The trial that we are experiencing is an aid to help us to know where we are; a lever to pry our deceptive heart from its rock.

Separation by trial and testing (Part 3)

Right the way through scripture there is a process that is taking place; separation through trial. In the future God is going to separate the sheep from the goats. The process never ends and is in operation in our lives now. This process of separation is not done randomly. There are tests and trials that are gone through in order to arrive at the point where separation takes place. There is a principal at work I call the T/O principal: God reveals truth ‘T’ and opposition ‘O’ stands against the truth in order to test it. God is in the business of both theoretical and empirical learning. The remnant that emerges is that which has gone through the fire of testing, the hay wood and stubble is burned up and the gold, silver and precious stones remain.

To assay something is to test, access, analyze and examine. Strong’s describes the Hebrew word: Nacah pronounced Naw-saw as a primitive root; in the AV translated as; prove, tempt, assay, adventure and try. He explains:

 

1) to test, try, prove, tempt, assay, put to the proof or test

1a) (Piel)

1a1) to test, try

1a2) to attempt, assay, try

1a3) to test, try, prove, tempt

Working logically through some of the places where this word occurs in scripture we will come to a clearer understanding of its deeper meaning. (in each case I have underlined the translation of the word ‘Nacah’)

Deuteronomy 4:34 Or hath God assayed to go and take him a nation from the midst of another nation, by temptations, by signs, and by wonders, and by war, and by a mighty hand, and by a stretched out arm, and by great terrors, according to all that the LORD your God did for you in Egypt before your eyes? Gods plan for us is that through trials and refining he might take a people for himself from those he has chosen.                                                                                                                        

Genesis 22:1 And it came to pass after these things, that God did tempt Abraham, and said unto him, Abraham: and he said, Behold, here I am. Here again we have God checking out what was in Abraham’s heart by means of a trial. God has often used the means of test or trial to allow him to separate the sheep from the goats. God is not punishing Abraham but is giving him an opportunity to learn: God had told Abraham a number of times that he was going to make a great nation of him through Isaac, now God was going to give Abraham a chance to use the truth that he had received; place his trust and faith in God and move from theoretical faith to empirical faith.                                                                                                  

Exodus 15:25 And he cried unto the LORD; and the LORD shewed him a tree, which when he had cast into the waters, the waters were made sweet: there he made for them a statute and an ordinance, and there he proved them, It is as if by allowing difficulties in life and then watching the reaction and the attitude to these that God gains insight into men’s hearts. It is cheap to speak of our faith in God when all is going as planned; when the food is on the table and there is coffee in the pot. It is quite another thing when the good times dry up. This is what happened to Israel a number of times when they left Egypt. This time it was water the most fundamental need in a desert journey. Perhaps you are in a desert and the water has dried up?                                                                           

Exodus 16:4 Then said the LORD unto Moses, Behold, I will rain bread from heaven for you; and the people shall go out and gather a certain rate every day, that I may prove them, whether they will walk in my law, or no. The trial need not be painful or challenging it can even be the provision of the necessities of life. The question is how we will handle the things that God exposes us to.                    

Exodus 20:20 And Moses said unto the people, Fear not: for God is come to prove you, and that his fear may be before your faces, that ye sin not. No sooner are they told not to collect manna on the Sabbath than there is the trial to see who got the message. Here then is another reason for God allowing the tests that take place: that the fear of God may be before us.

Deuteronomy 8:2 And thou shalt remember all the way which the LORD thy God led thee these forty years in the wilderness, to humble thee, and to prove thee, to know what was in thine heart, whether thou wouldest keep his commandments, or no. The reason that the testing takes place is to know what is in your heart. As with everything the action has its source in the heart.  

Deuteronomy 13:3 Thou shalt not hearken unto the words of that prophet, or that dreamer of dreams: for the LORD your God proveth you, to know whether ye love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul. God allows trials to come in the form of false prophets to know whether we Love the Lord God with all our hearts or whether we just want to hear pleasant words that humour us. The false prophet that lives inside of me, the dreamer of dreams stands in opposition to the truth of the word of God that I have seen.

Judges 2:22 That through them I may prove Israel, whether they will keep the way of the LORD to walk therein, as their fathers did keep it, or not. Another reason for trials is to see whether we will keep to the way that we know is right when circumstances are hard. In the good times it is easy to declare the wonderful goodness of God. However it is far from easy to maintain the same position in the fire of affliction. Again and again Israel is tested and the leaders are tried. The church the spiritual Israel is tried and the leaders are tried.

Judges 3:1 Now these are the nations which the LORD left, to prove Israel by them, even as many of Israel as had not known all the wars of Canaan; God actually left nations in the Promised Land in order to provide opportunity for Israel to know and to practice the art of warfare. Opposition and trials keep us sharp and honest. It is very easy to pretend to be an overcomer when there is nothing to overcome. Does he allow occupying nations in the land of our hearts for the same reason? Why if we are saved does God not just ‘beam me up Scotty’ why allow the trial of our faith?

1 Samuel 17:39 And David girded his sword upon his armour, and he assayed to go; for he had not proved it. And David said unto Saul, I cannot go with these; for I have not proved them. And David put them off him. Here we find the warrior David teaching us a lesson in the art of warfare: Don’t attempt to go to war with unproven armor. God in his mercy allows us to experience trials before we hit the major battles of life and death in order that we can hone our skills in warfare on the lions and the bears before we meet the Goliaths of our world. Grab the opportunity to practice with the weapons that God has given to you while you have the time. God in his power could have kept the lions and the bears from raiding Jessie’s flocks while David looked after them, but then what would have happened to Israel if David had not had the experience of dealing with the force of darkness? To add to this we must remember that God allows trials that are specifically for us, we should not try to press others into the armor that has proved ineffectual for us. The trial of this life is the preparation for the next.

1 Kings 10:1 And when the queen of Sheba heard of the fame of Solomon concerning the name of the LORD, she came to prove him with hard questions. If God has provided you with an exceptional gift as he had Solomon, you can expect to be proved.

2 Chronicles 32:31. Howbeit in the business of the ambassadors of the princes of Babylon, who sent unto him to enquire of the wonder that was done in the land, God left him, to try him, that he might know all that was in his heart.  God will never leave you or forsake you but he may withdraw from you for a while to see what you will do with the messengers of Babylon in your life.

Psalm 26:2 Examine me, O LORD, and prove me; try my reins and my heart. How many of us have prayed this prayer? How many of us realise what we have asked for? How many have the guts to ask God to try them, to examine them in the light of his truth? This is not a prayer to be taken lightly.

Daniel 1:12 Prove thy servants, I beseech thee, ten days; and let them give us pulse to eat, and water to drink.   Daniel like David realized that the small tests are vital to the success of the great trial. Eating pulse and water may not seem to have any bearing to being put into the furnace of trials but God knows better. Daniel was tested in the small matters of pulse and water before being allowed to demonstrate God’s faithfulness in the furnace and the lion’s den. David led and protected his sheep in the face of the wild animals before he was allowed to lead and protect Israel. It is often the insignificant trials that are just a bit boring that eventually prove to be the springboards to great trials in our lives. Where we slip up is in thinking that the trial is about the trial; it is for the glory of God that we are subjected to trials, not for our glory.

Ecclesiastes 2:1 I said in mine heart, Go to now, I will prove thee with mirth, therefore enjoy pleasure: and, behold, this also is vanity. We assume that the trial has always to be tough but this is not always the case. For many of us the greatest trial in our Christian lives is found in the retirement to plenty. To be rich and increased and to have need of nothing is more dangerous to our souls than to be on the rack and our knees.

Ecclesiastes 7:23 All this have I proved by wisdom: I said, I will be wise; but it was far from me. Head knowledge is great but we will find that it is very difficult to bridge the gap between what we know we should do and what we actually practice when the trial comes. Solomon knew it all but did not practice the truth and so fell. With Solomon it was the women in his life that led him astray, the pleasure of an harem was his downfall, they replaced the truth. We see this in many instances in the modern church.

Having looked at the occurrence of the word Nacah it is obvious to me that God has used testing in order to establish what is in the heart of man for the purpose of separating, on the basis of practical and empirical choices made. I can see no reason why he should change his ways when moving into New Covenant times, let’s take a look how God operates in the New Testament.

Separation by Trial and Testing (part 2)

In this time frame that we live in, bracketed on the one side by eternity past and on the other by eternity future, God is separating a people for himself. From those separated to him he is separating a remnant. There is a separation that takes place on the basis of faith.

 

As I sit and think of instances where separations occur come popping up: (once you have got the idea skip ahead, I don’t want to bore you)

Eve separated from within Adam.

Day from night.

Light from darkness.

Land from the seas.

Adam and Eve from the Garden of Eden. This was a separation by trial.

Noah from the other people by the flood. Again this was a test of Noah’s faith in trusting God to bring the flood .The trial was Noah building a boat for 150 years even though there had been no rain before. The separation resulted in a remnant.

Abraham from his father and the land of his birth. The trial was him trusting God to lead him even though he didn’t know where he was to go, removal from the comforts and solace of home.

Abraham from Lot. What happens is that we see God starting with the many; Abraham’s family. He then separates Abraham and Lot and removes them from the many resulting in a remnant. He then separates Abraham from the many again and brings about a second remnant resulting in more increase and blessing.

Abraham was tried in the case of offering Isaac on the altar and the result was separation. This separation was not only for Abraham but for Isaac and ultimately the Jewish nation and us by faith.

The people at the tower of Babel.

Isaac from Ishmael.

Rebecca from her family. An amazing trial to go off with a servant she had just met to a man she had never seen.

Jacob from Esau.

Jacob from Laban.

Joseph from his family. What a series of trials.

Moses from his mother and father.

Moses from the house of Pharaoh.

Moses from his father in law.

Israel and Moses from Egypt.

The separation of Israel from the nations by the giving of the law.

The separation of the priests and the Levites from the people.

Separation by circumcision. What a trial.

Separation of Moses from Aaron and Miriam.

Korah and Dathan separated and destroyed.

One of the words used here is Badal pronounced baw-dal (in case you ever have to separate in Hebrew). We are told by Strong’s that it is a primitive root word used in the AV the following number of times – separate 25, divide 8, difference 4, asunder 2, severed 2, sever out 1, separation 1, utterly 1

The division of the land.

The separation of Gideon’s men by trial. Again we see God starting with the many 30000 separating them by trial and thinning out to a remnant; 3000 again a trial and then ending up with a remnant of 300.

Sampson separated at birth and for life. The trial was whether he would keep to the rules that the angel stipulated to his mother.

Naomi separated from her people.

Ruth separated from her people.

Samuel separated from his family.

Saul separated from his family.

Saul separated from God and Samuel and the kingdom.

David separated from his brothers.

David separated from Saul and the kingdom. A separation by trial in that he was driven out into the wilderness and had to hide in caves and holes in the ground.

Separation of David from Absalom

Separation of David from the kingdom.

Separation of Israel from the land, taken off to Babylon.

 

We can go on all day with this list but let’s look at some of the principles behind the whole process of separation.

Sometimes the separation takes place resulting in the trial: Putting it another way the separation is the trial. Ruth is an example of this. She is separated from her native people and goes off to a foreign land. This is a trial. She is a widow a foreigner in a foreign land.

Sometimes the trial comes first resulting in the separation. Examples of this are those instances where obedience is require and the failure to obey results in separation; Adam and Eve being thrown out of the Garden of Eden is a good example. Another good example is the trial of Abraham sacrificing Isaac resulting in him being separated to God.

Separation by Trial and Testing. (part 1)

The Almighty.

Recently I looked at the first line of Ps. 91 He that dwelleth in the secret place of the most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty.

God does not make mistakes in anything that he does.

So then why am I, a follower after Jesus in the devastated mess that I am?

Why is my life falling apart at the seams?

Why does my life feel as though I am the enemy of God?

Why is this disease ravaging my body? I am literally wasting away!

Why is my future being spoiled?

Why are my finances being attacked on every side as if a robber has had free reign to lay waste to my goods?

I can not even escape in sleep, my mind is troubled and out of my control.

Why are the plans that I have formulated for the future of myself and my family ruined, devastated, and spoiled?

For me this is not just an academic debate. This is literally a case of life and death.  Because my life is in such turmoil I went to look at the word Almighty. It is after all under His shadow that I am to abide. What I found was startling.

The Almighty.

Strong’s’ Hebrew lexicon has the following to say about the Almighty.

Shadday  pronounced shad-dah’-ee

Translated in the AV as Almighty 48 times.

Strong’s tells us that the meaning of the word is:

1) almighty, most powerful

1a) Shaddai, the Almighty (of God) and that the word has the origin in Strong’s number 7703

When we go to 7703 which is the root in the Hebrew lexicon we find the following:

Shadad pronounced shaw-dad a primitive root;

In the AV it is translated as spoil 30 times, spoiler 11 times, waste 8 times, destroy 2 times and robbers 2 times. Strong’s goes further and gives us the meaning of the word in summary.

1) to deal violently with, despoil, devastate, ruin, destroy, spoil

1a) (Qual)

1a1) to violently destroy, devastate, despoil, assail

1a2) devastator, despoiler (participle) (subst)

1b) (Niphal) to be utterly ruined

1c) (Piel)

1c1) to assault

1c2) to devastate

1d) (Pual) to be devastated

1e) (Poel) to violently destroy

1f) (Hophal) to be devastated.

 

You like me probably don’t understand everything that is in the Strong’s Hebrew Lexicon. What I do understand is that my life’s circumstances are being described in detail.

This however is not the graphic picture of my life as I suppose in my self-centered selfishness; these are actually the attributes of THE ALMIGHTY.

God has many names in scripture. Each of the names of God allows us to see a facet of his nature, character and the ways that he operates in the world and in our lives. We see the provision of God in the name Jehovah Jirah. We see the righteousness of God in Jehovah Tsidqenuw. We see the peace of God in the name Jehovah Shalom.

But the attributes ascribed to The Almighty: Shadday, are surely not the attributes of a loving God? These are not the attributes of Jesus meek and mild? What happened to the ‘Loving Heavenly Father’ bit that I learned about at Sunday school?

The word Shadday has its root in the word Shadad which is translated in the Authorised version as:

spoil,

spoiler,

waste,

destroy,

robber.

I feel as though I have come into the sphere of the one described here: To deal violently with, despoil,

devastate,

ruin,

destroy,

spoil to violently destroy,

to assail,

to be utterly ruined,

to assault.

The only thing that saves me from the deepest pit of self pity and personal self justification is that I know My Lord.

I know that the God that I serve is a loving God who is so caring of his servants that he wants the very best for them.

Furthermore he would not let them fall into the hands of the enemy.

Nothing can pluck me from his hand.

Nothing can separate me from the love of God.

So then how do I manage to reconcile my very real life situation with the statements I have just made about His goodness and loving kindness?

My problem in looking at my life is that I do not look with the same eyes as God.

Isaiah 55:8-9 For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the LORD. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.

My thinking tends to be locked into the seen world, the world that we have around us.

The more that goes wrong in my little world the more I focus on the here and now.

The more I focus on the temporal, the more I think that this is the real world.

But parallel to this world are at least two other worlds that I can go into.

There is the whole world of the mind where I can tell myself that I am actually a great success and that I am just hallucinating that if I just think positive thoughts and prophesy to myself, I will come out of this thing. ‘I will pull myself up by my bootstraps.’ This is a real world and there is power in positive thinking. I am not one to scorn the power that can be harnessed by the effort of mind power. This is however a temporary solution and has nothing to do with the world to come.

There is yet another world that I can move into: The world as God sees it. This world is just as real as the other two but supersedes them both. Both the other worlds operate in a space time framework and can therefore not extend beyond time and space. The ‘real’ world as God sees it, includes our world but extends beyond the seen realm into eternity future and back into eternity past (if eternity has past and future). The world that is ‘real’ is God’s world and has the ability to operate in the world as we see it as well as in the world as we are unable to see it. Job 19:25-27 For I know that my redeemer liveth, and that he shall stand at the latter day upon the earth: 26 And though after my skin worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh shall I see God:  27 Whom I shall see for myself, and mine eyes shall behold, and not another; though my reins be consumed within me.  This incredible  statement from Job, says: ‘Yes, I realize that there is a physical death in all its gore. Right down to the worms and decaying flesh.’  This is the reality. But beyond this earthly reality is the eternal. The ‘real’ reality of eternity, permanence, and union with God. The God of all eternity is intimately concerned with me, the total me not just the here and now me. For this reason he is preparing me in the here and now, for the everlasting. My attitude is that of my sixteen year old son when told that school and studying are good for him; I too want to go out and play in the spiritual sun on the spiritual beach. God has my life time to prepare me for my entry into the eternal realm   

Suffering.

We as humans love to be in control, we love to have control, knowing what the outcome will be. In order to grow and change however, there is a need to abandon the ‘form’ that we have created, our security, our control; open to the creation of un-control.

We have such narrow, defined, shallow and restricting idols that we erect; the creation of our minds. We map out the perfect life; born into, career success, comfortable retirement and a pain free, quick death. By assuming that our plan, ‘construct’ our ‘created form’ that is better than the one we are experiencing, we open ourselves to judgemental feelings, disappointment and dissatisfaction.

We assume that Almighty God is there to prop up and polish our idol like a Genie that emerges from his lamp to fulfil our wishes. When this idol is touched, shaken, perhaps destroyed we regard it as shocking, an affront. We are frightened when the careful balance that we have created is shaken.  We are shocked at the destruction. From the chaos of our disturbed life, we may for the first time see God in and through the circumstances we are kicking against. When we have the ‘security of life’ touched and shaken, this for many of us is a new life being birthed. Benoni.

Suffering and death.

Acts 21:13 Then Paul answered, What mean ye to weep and to break mine heart? for I am ready not to be bound only, but also to die at Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus. Once we have taken on the name of Jesus our life is no longer ours to command. We have entered into the realm of the King of Kings where he has the right to command our lives and to do as he wishes with us. We died in Christ Jesus and now we are his. There is a tendency in modern western Christianity to imagine that we will be protected from every form of suffering and pain if we only follow Christ. This is a concept that is foreign to scripture and the experience of the apostles and the early Christians.  

Suffering.

Intro.  

  • What is suffering?

  • Different views on suffering.

  • Who suffers?

  • Why is there suffering.

  • Sharing suffering.

  • Attitude to suffering.

Suffering.

What is suffering? Suffering can be described as pain in any form.

The theologies of suffering:

  • Modern name it and claim it. This is the view that says that all suffering was dealt with at the cross and that if you are suffering it is not necessary, you should claim your victory in Jesus name and move on. If you are still suffering then it may be because of the sin in your life that prevents the Lord breaking the shackles. However there may be another reason for the suffering.

  • Bad Choices, if you have aids and are suffering with it you made the wrong choices.

  • Demonic attack. This view is that there are demonic forces that are at work and that are causing the suffering, that a God that is all loving and all powerful God full of goodness would never allow suffering in one of his children. There is another view:  

  • Allowed by God. This view is not popular and is contentious in the church as it exposes the possibility that suffering might be God’s plan for our lives.

Who suffers?                                                                               Everyone suffers in some form or another. It is my argument that in the scales of God; every life is weighed and tested. God is just; measuring out both pleasure and pain even if he has to move us into the eternal realm to balance the scales. Suffering can not be avoided, it can be delayed but not evaded.

 

Why?

The purpose of suffering.

Knowing the nature of the Lord as I do there can be only one reason for God allowing suffering: For good.

 

To test the metal. What are you made of? Suffering allows you to find out what the Lord knows: Are you made of lead, hay, wood and stubble? Are you formed of gold, silver and precious stones? What is the mental, physical, spiritual, moral, makeup of the metal that you are made of? Can you stand the heat of the refiner’s fire? The fire of suffering will expose the truth.

 

To boil off the dross. All of us if we are honest will admit that there is a mixture of metals in us. Like a refiner, God is interested in the gold and silver, the lead, zinc and other rubbish has to be burned off at a high temperature.

 

To expose the cracks. God in his mercy leans a weight of suffering on the wall of our life which allows the cracks to be exposed so that we can come to knowledge of what we have papered over. We all have cracks in our lives but we never do anything about them because in the good times they don’t affect much. They are just papered over and we move on. Now with suffering the wall that was so fine and stable begins to shift and quake and the weakness and cracks appear for all to see. This is good as the truth will set us free.

 

To destroy our confidence in the flesh. We all have a confidence and put our trust in the flesh. This confidence is destroyed in suffering or at least severely tested in suffering. It is hard to trust a body that is failing. It is hard to trust a mind that is unstable, deceiving you.

 

To find out what we actually believe. We all have our beliefs; suffering exposes what you believe and what you think you believe. There is a ‘little god syndrome’ that we all suffer from: we worship the little god within and then say that we belong to the Lord Jesus Christ. All the while we build up the kingdom within we profess to be building His kingdom. When our kingdom starts to come crashing down we are forced to either prop it up or to tear it down, but either way we find out what we believe.

 

To allow us to make choices. In the good times you don’t have to make decisions. We naturally resist making difficult choices. Suffering allows us the opportunity to make the choices we would otherwise avoid.

 

To force us to make choices. God is more interested that we come to knowledge of the truth than whether we are comfortable prosperous and successful. Suffering forces us into the position where hard decisions have to be made. We would prefer to procrastinate and defer but God wants your answer.

 

To bring reality to our hearts. We are frot. (for those who don’t understand) we are very frot. Suffering lets you know and have the opportunity to do something about it.

 

To force us into the rebellion that is there. Rebellion that is lurking under the crust that we call self control, suffering forces it to the surface like lava breaking through a hard crust of old ice. Family love and hate, friendships, brotherhoods and marriages are forced into the rebellions that are there. Sometimes as Christians we doodle along going through the motions singing the hymns and doing the liturgy until the pain and suffering arrives and then the rebellion surfaces. This rebellion is against God and is not a bad thing as it gives time to deal with what stinks.

 

To allow us to grow. Ask any mature Christian when they grew the fastest. There is something that suffering does in a believer that allows them to touch God at a level that they never could before. The experience of suffering takes the compliant believer to another level.

 

It separates us to God. Suffering separates us from those closest to us. It is as if no one can understand the pain, no one can penetrate the pipe that we are slipping away in. In true suffering there is only one person that is with you; the Lord. The amazing thing is that often we don’t even know that He is there and may even push Him away in our pain.

 

To force us to our knees. There is a time for talking to God when suffering comes even if it is in rebellion. Christians are quite happy to light the candles and pray but a sustained period of suffering brings complacent ‘bless me and them’ prayers to an end and opens the door for time of crying out on our knees.

 

To open the hardness of our hearts to allows God to pour his water into the parched desert of our lives. As the land of our lives dries out the cracks appear and spread, cutting deep, some like gullies spread across what we imagined were perfect fields. The Lord knew that it was a surface job, deep down there was hard dry, fallow, crusty ground that had a desperate need for the water of God to make it soft. Suffering breaks up the surface, a pick into fallow ground.

 

To force us to our knees. To destroy our independence and formulaic prayers. There is something very humbling that happens when our best efforts fail, when we have done everything humanly possible and we are exactly where we were or even worse, we have gone backwards. Where do you go when there is no hope? Who do we turn to when no human being can help?

 

To allow us to empathise. It is easy to feel sorry for someone else: Someone who has lost a child, or has landed in a painful hospital bed. But the person who has lost a child or lain in pain in the lonely night feels along with others in a way that they never could have imagined before.

 

To take our eyes off ourselves. Although suffering often creates a pity party in people this is not the purpose. Suffering is not to be bathed and wallowed in; it is a gift of God to remove us from our comfort zone and to allow our eyes to rest on him and others outside of ourselves. Take the time to look for those who are suffering once god has opened your eyes through suffering.

 

To give us a focus outside of this world. When our hope in this world is destroyed you are forced to focus elsewhere.

 

To force us to acknowledge that we are heading for eternity. Here I am not talking about a toothache or a nail that has been whopped by a hammer. When the soul is in anguish and the night is black, when strangling is preferable to life, when despair is wrapped around you like a cloying shroud then eternity becomes reality. Then eternity is not a concept but alive.

 

To give us a sense of God’s time. So many of us are locked into the here and the now, we don’t mind ‘a bit of suffering’ as long as it is quick and we can see the benefit. God allows us to experience suffering at his pace and time to remind us that he is the master of time.

 

To give us time.

God realises that many of us are busy; too busy to have hours, days weeks, months and years needed to be quiet, still and in a place where He can penetrate our self absorbed hamster wheel, brains. Suffering often takes people out of the main stream into the backwaters where there is nothing else but Him. We might find it terrifying but this is where choices can be made; choices to rebel or to acknowledge his lordship. God wants us to be in a position where we can make a choice, he does not want uninformed clones manipulated by clever oratory. Many including Moses spent time withdrawn from the main stream wandering in the desert to prepare them for life. you need time to prepare for eternity.

 

To harden us. So many Christians are soft and flabby, we are soft in the views that we hold and flabby in the way that we express them. Seedlings that have never been out into the full sun have to be hardened off before being planted out. If these seedlings are sent straight from greenhouse pampering to the full sun they shrivel and die. We need hardening.

 

To muscle us up. When you have to fight and wrestle you start to muscle up. Suffering is not about lying on your back and letting something happen to you. Suffering is a motivation to move from the place that you are to where you need to be, an opportunity to wrestle with God and the demons that you have inside you. God would rather that you walk into eternity with a dislocated hip than have you deluded.

 

To show us that God is good even when things are bad. The common belief is that we serve a namby-pamby God that is always gentle and mild, catering and pandering to our wants and needs. The belief is that when something comes across our path that is not nice then the ‘god’  that we have created in our imagination has let us down or that he is no longer in control.

 

To bring a sense of reality to our theology. For many the theology is something that they have been taught but that is not rooted in the reality of their lives. Suffering brings you into personal contact with the theology that you hold. Much of our scripture reading is without understanding. This understanding is enhanced when suffering is experienced. Try reading Ps. 46 or Ps. 23. Or the book of Job when your innermost being is in travail and they light up and speak to you. Don’t take this lightly as it is vital to your growth in the Lord. Much of scripture makes no sense until a period of suffering makes them clearer. It is almost as though the suffering acts as a lens that brings the word of God into focus for us.

 

Sharing in the suffering of Christ.

Acts 9:16 and I will show him what he will have to suffer for my name.”

 

To allow others to share in suffering. Suffering allows others to share in our pain which is a privilege. Some in the body of Christ embrace and share in suffering and are enriched and grow as a result.

 

Suffering separates. Families, partners, friends that can not take the pace split, and this is a blessing and good. It is painful, suffering heaped on suffering but the truth is better than living a lie. Suffering also separates some for God.

 

To teach the angels. We are continually surrounded by the angelic host who are instructed in the nature of God by watching the church and its reaction to God’s instruction. (Ephesians 3:10)

 

Suffering births an attitude which manifests.

  

Preparation for suffering. Before we get into a place of suffering make the choices that will carry you through.  

  • What do you expect? Are you in a place of self delusion? Do you imagine that you will never experience the trial of your faith?

  • I am worthy of more. Do you imagine that you are worthy of a better deal because you are a believer? Are you living in the delusion of self entitlement?

  • Are you a victim? Many people consider themselves to be victims of a plot to ruin their lives. You are not a victim but privileged, chosen, selected by God for the privilege of being instructed by suffering as was Job and Jonah: Rebellious perhaps but not abandoned or forgotten.

  • Ask for suffering to be given to you? (Heb 11:35b) We all read of the heroes of the faith and see how their lives were interwoven with suffering: Noah, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Sarah, Joseph, Moses, Gideon, Samson, David hunted by Saul, the apostles and the prophets as well as the martyrs and we think that suffering is strange. Should we not be asking for our lives to be enriched and deepened by suffering? The world is so mundane and ordered without the spice of suffering. Perhaps you don’t have to ask; shit happens.                                                                   

You have a purpose and a plan is being worked out in your life, you are a chosen vessel that is having the precious life of Christ poured into it. At the moment it may look senseless it may feel painful but it is God’s way. Enjoy it; it will not last forever but your life will.                                                      

 

You can endure and overcome if there is a reason for the suffering and a hope for the future.  But it goes further than an enduring. There are two classes of praise: Pleasure praise and pain praise. It is easy to praise when everything is going your way, the higher form of praise; praise out from the furnace of affliction. Commit yourself to offering the higher form of praise on a daily basis not because you feel like it but because it is right.

 

Conclusion.

Suffering is for good; the vulnerability caused by suffering cuts across the cock sure, brassiness of the world. Suffering acts as a crowbar levering open hearts that would otherwise remain closed. If suffering is viewed as a valuable tool rather than a curse then it can be used.

Final words

Why I praise God in and for my suffering.

  • Because I choose to.

  • Because he loves me.

  • Because he is good.

  • Because this is His best for me, there is no better plan.

 

This is my resolve: to praise Him to the end and to rejoice in the life that he has given me. Whatever it takes no matter what it costs I want what Christ has in store for me.

The link will take you deeper into seperation by trial and testing.

Reaction to Born Again.

I was not surprised at the reaction to the Imagination piece: Paul experienced the same reaction in Chapter 6 of Romans. You see it is too good to be true. If viewed from the human perspective Grace is stupid. It is washing a pig next to a smelly pig-sty, expecting the pig to stay clean by the power of his own restraint. Who would do that? More than that it is impossible! The thought that there would be provision made for the pig’s natural inclination to go back to the filth: Beyond our thinking.

The problem is that we have lost the wonder that Nicodemus felt when Jesus told him he must be born again. We are so used to the term ‘Born again’ that it is used mockingly, disparagingly of any hair brained Christian. The term ‘born again’ has become so hackneyed and loaded with ‘Christian speak’ baggage that we don’t know what it means.

Imagine someone coming to you one night and saying ‘You must become a vacuum flask’. You would think ‘this guy is a space cadet’; but then you have seen the power of God operating through him and you know he is from God so you think ‘what is this guy asking me?’ The framework that you operate under, the glasses that you see the world through, does not have you as a vacuum flask. So you spiritualise it as most Christians do today.

‘You mean I must try harder, have a tummy tuck and a face lift?’

‘No I want you to become a real hard metal and glass vacuum flask.’

‘But Lord I can’t do that. Its not possible, nobody can go back into his mother’s womb and be born again.’ Jesus says to him ‘verily, verily I say unto you unless you become a vacuum flask you can not enter into the kingdom of God.’

Now you are in the shit. What do you say to that?

‘Lord how can these things be?’

Then the guy says ‘You are a leader and you don’t even understand how to become a vacuum flask?’ ‘How are you going to understand heavenly things when I explain them to you if you don’t even understand how to be a vacuum flask?

You see we have turned the Born again story into the boot on the beach. There’s a ‘born again’ throw it for the dog to chase.

We think that God died to give us a lipo treatment and a rhinoplasty to make us more likeable. Every time we sin we can go for confession, I mean a nip and tuck, or a laser peel to the local priest and then we will be an acceptable wife again.

We have lost the wonder of what God through Jesus Christ has done for those who truly believe. The fact that you and I are New Creations not remade, from scrap melted down, escapes us we can not grasp creation; something from nothing, something that does not have raw material.

So when I read that, it is ridiculous that God would do this for me; that he would trust me not to go on sinning but still make provision for the eventuality, so that I am spotless, perfect in Christ makes me say yes! What a wonderful, inventive, awesome, mighty God we serve.

You have to ask why anyone would choose to carry on with the old practices of running to a priest for forgiveness when God has made a better way. Why would anyone choose the second best when God has perfected the process? It just staggers me! The only way I can explain it is to say it must be an insecurity that is cosseted by the familiar visible versus the fear of the invisible.

 

Imagine!

Imagine.

Imagine that Christ had died once, for all. What would that mean?

Imagine: We could reckon ourselves dead to sin. Sin would no more have a hold on our lives.

Imagine that Christ had died and that he knew that our nature was to sin and that he made provision for that in giving us a new nature; that would be amazing wouldn’t it?

Imagine that God knew that sin would still be present in us and that he took that into account and said that as we sinned grace would increase to cover that sin.

Imagine that; it would be like instant healing, no more running to mommy for a band aid: Sin, instantly covered by the wonder of grace; that would be amazing. But that would be impossible because that would mean that you would be free of guilt. I mean, it stands to reason, if sin is forgiven and covered by God’s grace before it appeared you would never have to fear being hit by a bus after seeing the Vickers’s knickers.

The implication of this is mind boggling; it would mean the end of the sacrificial system. The Jews would no longer have to bring their sacrifices to the temple on a daily basis, (I wonder why that stopped so suddenly 2000 years ago) the end of priests in churches, no need for more endless sacrificing of Christ on altars.

Imagine no more guilt; no more singing ‘Father I have sinned’.

Imagine no more running to confession. No more thinking of you as a filthy, decrepit, black hearted, sinner.

Imagine: When your heart condemns you, knowing that God is greater than your heart?

Imagine: You would have discovered the mystery of godliness. You would be a new creature, almost as if you had God Almighty dwelling within you; almost like being in Christ. But that could not be; for that to happen you would have to be a new creation, having passed from death to life, from the kingdom of darkness into the kingdom of light without having paid for your sin on the cross of guilt and shame.

Imagine: Your sin forgiven; past, present and future when you gave yourself to Christ; that would be like saying that there was nothing left for you to do; no more purgatory or sacrifice for sin, just a sacrifice of praise.

Imagine: Redeemed from the devil’s slave market by the blood of Christ.

Imagine: No more sin in your life ever again: you would be ‘the forgiven’, unreproveable, unblameable and perfect in Christ; There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus.

Imagine being absolutely sure of your salvation, never scared of the knock on the door in the night season when your faith is low.

Imagine knowing that even when you slip and fall there is an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled that will not fade away because it is kept for you in heaven because you are not kept by your own power but by the power of God Almighty. Imagine!

Imagine being able to come to the Father in perfect confidence knowing that you are (present tense) justified in Christ. You and I know that it could not be, but indulge a grey beard for a minute and imagine: Therefore if any man be in Christ he is a new creature: Old things are passed away; behold all things are become new.

Imagine how boastful we would be in Christ, we might even say that we are the righteousness of God in Christ.

Imagine. No more religion, just Christianity.

 

God is good.God is all-powerful.I am his child.He

God is good.

God is all-powerful.

I am his child.

He loves me and even died for me.

Why does he not heal me?

Why does God allow my sickness to persist?

Surely, He would heal me?

These questions have been asked many times with many tears by many Christians.

 

As a Christian, I have this to say: God the Creator is capable of healing anyone, even me.

As a Christian, I fall under his care. I am fenced in and no one can touch me without the say-so of my Heavenly Father. I am under His protection. If someone or something is attacking me, it is because He has allowed it.

 

Now, my responsibility is to praise Him for his headship, for his sovereign will, for his wisdom. I do not run about looking for a way out. He does not want me to cling to life as though it were something to be lusted after. He wants me to cling to him.

 

God is in charge. He is supreme and He is able to speak the universes into being and maintain them. He is quite capable of knowing what is best for me

 

Why would my Protector and Friend allow something like Motor Neuron Disease M.N.D to invade my body? Is this God whom I serve a vindictive, cruel, terrifying God?

No!

At the start, I stated his goodness. This leaves only one alternative, that He has allowed this phenomenon for my good. He has allowed this challenge to cross my path to test my faith. He has allowed a dread-disease to assault my body to see where my eyes are fixed. He has allowed M.N.D. to grow me and to expand my faith. Ultimately, M.N.D. will work for my eternal good.

It is so easy to become a victim.

Victims are powerless pawns that have no choice.

The victim is at the mercy of the forces lined up against him.

Victims are pitiable.

There is a difference between being chosen and being a victim.

 

My ascribing the onset of a disease to the devil is giving him the status of ‘decider of my future‘. No demon, principality or power has ‘that’ license, freedom or authority. My life falls under the headship and authority of Almighty God. Satan is a servant to God. He cannot move a finger without God allowing him to do so. No! God has allowed this disease.

 

Recently a woman said to me: But surely you as a Christian have the right to three score years and ten? You have the right to healing in Jesus’ name! I had to explain that I have given up all my rights when I came to Jesus.

I no longer have the right to my life.

I gave the rights of my life to my Lord.

I no longer have the power to direct my life.

To be honest I never had the power to direct the course of my life. In coming to Christ and acknowledging that my life is not my own; that I want Him to run my life, I have lost the control and gained eternal life.

 

But surely, I should cry out. God please take this cup away from me?

I have called out to God in my agony of mind. I called out, for this sentence to be changed. What I got was a scripture that flashed into my mind: “and he gave them their request; but sent leanness into their soul”.

And I cried out again – and I got another scripture – about Israel calling for a king like the other nations and rejecting God. And God allows them to have their way and reject His headship. Saul is crowned. Samuel has his nose put out of joint but God says, ’don’t get upset it is not you they are rejecting it is me’. It was obvious that God would allow me to choose something that was out of his will and not in my best interests. He has given me freewill.

 

 I called to the Lord again and got a scripture: “The righteous is taken away from the evil to come”. (Not that I feel righteous.)

At this time I talked to a friend during our daily prayer session. He told me about Hezekiah: How he had cried out to God to heal him of his terminal disease. God granted his request. During the extra fifteen years that he was given to live, Manasseh was born. Manasseh was the most wicked king ever to appear in the bible. The extra years that Hezekiah had also resulted in the kingdom being removed from Hezekiah’s family line. Hezekiah would have done better to have let God make the decision as to when he was to die. If Hezekiah had left his life in God’s hands he would not have blotted his copybook. These scriptures got me thinking.

When I look at my life I am not a learned man of God. I am a man of unexceptional physical, mental and spiritual stature. Yet I have the impression that God has allowed me to live for just a time as this, so that I can praise Him in my affliction, so that I can honour Him, so that I can give thanks for all things.

 

It seems crazy to praise God for what is killing me. It runs contrary to everything that is in me. It cuts across the survival instinct that is rooted deep within me.

 

The only way that I can praise God in all things is to move by faith into another mind:

My mind is fixed in the here and now. My mind is not capable of comprehending the eternal things of God.

This praise cuts across the rational to the impossible, illogical, the praise that only lines up with the crucifixion in logic, something that splits the logic of man wide open in its running against the tide of human nature.   

The mind of Christ looks beyond the seen to the unseen.

Beyond the temporary little now, to the vast expanse of eternity.

With the eyes of faith I along with Job and countless other Christians through the ages say.

”Oh, that my words were written!

Oh, that they were printed in a book!

that they were graven with an iron pen and lead in the rock forever!

For I know that my Redeemer liveth,

and that He shall stand at the latter day upon the earth:

And though after my skin, worms destroy this body,

yet in my flesh shall I see God: 

Whom I shall see for myself, and mine eyes shall behold and not another;

though my reins be consumed within me. 

 

This incredible statement from Job, says: ‘Yes, I realise that there is a physical death in all its gore. Right down to the worms and decaying flesh.’  This is the reality.

But beyond this earthly reality is the eternal. The real reality of eternity, permanence, and union with God. The God of all eternity 

 

I will praise God, but why?

I am praising God because he is;

because he exists;

because God is God.

This sounds like a circular argument, but God to me is ever lasting, all-powerful, ever present, irresistible, awesome, the most powerful person in the universe; not to be compared with any one or any thing. The fact that God exists demands my praise!

 

Recently I looked at the first line of Ps. 91

He that dwelleth in the secret place of the most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty.

What I found was that the word “Almighty” has its root in the Hebrew (Shadday).  This word that has been translated in the Bible as:

To deal violently with,

despoil,

devastate,

ruin,

destroy,

spoil,

to violently destroy,

to assail,

to be utterly ruined,

to assault.

To our great dismay we might come face to face with the ‘Almighty’ side of God.

The God that is more interested in our eternal destiny than our temporary comfort.  The ‘Almighty’ that does not listen to us or obey us and our commands that we shout in Jesus name.

The ‘Almighty’ that does not respond to our genie’s lamp being furiously being polished.

The ‘Almighty’ that is deaf to our pleadings.

The ‘Almighty’ that knows that we would sacrifice our eternity for a good time.

The ‘Almighty’ that Job came into contact with:

 

Job 6:4 For the arrows of the Almighty are within me, the poison whereof drinketh up my spirit: the terrors of God do set themselves in array against me.

Job 5:17  Behold, happy is the man whom God correcteth: therefore despise not thou the chastening of the Almighty.

 

MY challenge is not to try to second guess God but to look at my life from God’s eternal perspective and praise and glorify him.

I praise God for his headship. Headship includes the characteristics of oversight, taking the lead, of ruling, planning, controlling, and being the boss of all.                     

I praise God for his headship and authority in my life.

Lordship can be rebelled against.

Authority can be rejected.

Jesus Christ is Lord and Master not me.

Either He is Lord or I am.

If He is not Lord of my life then He is God only in name.

Strange as it may seem the God who created me can be refused for a while. But in time to come every knee will bow and every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord. And that includes Hitler, Stalin, you and me. When we meet we will not reluctantly acknowledge his headship. No, we will know him as Lord. Now, I know him in part, dimly, as Lord, and so I praise Him.

 

I can not see into the future, I do not know what plans my Master has for me. But I know His character is faultless.                                                                                    He is absolutely trustworthy.                                                                                               His plans for me are conceived in perfect love.

I know that His plans are the best.

I can not improve on his masterwork.

He loves me more than I love myself.

How awesome to know that my present and future are in the hands of Almighty God. What an incredible thought, what an incredible reality!

For this privilege I praise God!

I bring my sin-stained life, my mixed up, polluted mind, my diseased thinking, my useless weak diseased body and I hand them over to Him. He gives me a new mind: The mind of Christ. He exchanges my sin stained life for absolute purity in Christ. What a deal! I get a clean washed heart, a blemish free conscience. He takes my diseased useless body and gives me an eternal body, painless, perfect, never to decay again.

For this unspeakable gift I praise You my God and my Lord!

 

Why would I want to take the hands of “The Master of the Universes: Almighty God” off my life and decide my own future? The only reason would be for the short term, to gratify my flesh, to gratify my earthly nature.

No! I will rather look into the eternal future, with the eyes of faith and praise God; for his judgments in my life are sweet.

If he wants to heal me for his glory, great.

If not, then I will glorify him with my death. The choice is His. I will say along with Job: “Though He slay me, yet will I trust in Him”.

The delight is in ‘Him’ not in the choices that he makes for my life.

 

Eternity is for everyone but where is it to be spent?                           

Everyone who has the capacity to reason will admit that they will die someday. But few realize that this world is also going to die. God tells us in his word, that this whole universe is going to be rolled up like a scroll and put away. In another place he describes how the universe will be folded up like a garment and put away for another occasion. A new heaven and earth are going to manifest.

 

Another thing that people do not realize is that life is forever for every human. Christians think that eternal life is only for them. Jesus Christ went to the cross for everyone. Eternity is for everyone!

 

But where are we to spend eternity?

 

What appears to be darkness at first becomes lighter, when scripture is read.

One passage that got me thinking was;

Heb 11:35 “and others were tortured, not accepting deliverance; that they might obtain a better resurrection.”

This was strange; here were people being tortured and refusing to be released because they believed that if they stayed in prison and kept being tortured they would gain a better resurrection: But better than what?

Another passage that fascinates me is the one where Paul is explaining; “but some will say, How are the dead raised up? And with what body do they come?’  He goes on to say that ‘what’ is sown does not come to life unless it dies. And that ‘what’ you sow in the ground as seed, is not what comes up as a crop. But he does say that if you sowed wheat you can expect wheat to come up not millet. Paul then goes on to tell us that there are different types of glory that the resurrected body appears as: ‘There is one glory of the sun and another glory of the moon and another glory of the stars: for one star differeth from another star in glory.”

What all this tells me is that in eternity future, there is going to be differences in the glory to which we will be raised. Some will shine like suns others like moons and others like stars still others like ‘other’ stars.

 

Knowing that not everyone’s resurrection glory is going to be identical gives me insight to the scripture that speaks of the faithful servant that works wisely with his master’s money. The master tells him that he will rule and reign with him over ten cities because he has been faithful with little, in Luke 19:17.And the scripture that speaks to me about the seed that goes into the ground that brings forth 30 fold 60 fold and 100 fold (Mark 4:20) It also gives me an insight into the parable of the talents. The fact that not everyone is going to have exactly the same amount at the end, and in fact some will have nothing, and what they had will be given to those who did best with what they had been given. As if they had passed through the fire, only those who had invested in the gold, silver and precious stones had anything to show. The hay wood and stubble of life had been consumed by the trial by fire. 

 

But what determines what we end up with at the end? Faith is what makes the difference! Any fool can have faith in God when things are going our way. When everything is going my way it is easy to say “What a Mighty, Wonderful, God we serve.”

When things are not what you want: When you are in prison and being tortured and you are offered release from this trapped pain. You have to have ‘faith’ to say ‘No’! ‘There is better a resurrection that I want.’

‘There is a future that is not seen that I want.’

‘There is a hope that the world can not see; that the world says is our imagination that I desire, more than the present world.’

To me the world to come is real.

More concrete, than the twin towers!

This reality I praise God for!

 

Paul saw this reality. 2 Cor 4:16 for which cause we faint not; but though our outward man perish, our inward man is renewed day by day. For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory:

While we look not at the things, which are seen, but at the things that are not seen: for the things that are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal.

Ch. 5:1 For we know that if our earthly house of this tabernacle were dissolved, we have a building of God, an house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.  

 

God has given every one of us the gift of free will. We have choice. We are not just dumb instinctive creatures.

 

We can follow our own will or we can have God’s will for our lives.

 

I can say “God is the Lord” with my mouth but deny this in my life.

We have the choice to reject his will for our lives. This does not mean that we have lost our salvation. It merely means that we have chosen to operate outside of the will of God and as a consequence sacrificed the joy of serving Him.

I know that I am not a victim of chance, luck or some random demonic attack. This allows me to dwell on the purpose for my illness. I consider myself chosen by God the maker and maintainer of the universe. I have been chosen firstly to proclaim His name to the world by my life and my attitude to the things that happen in my life.  I have been given the rare opportunity to manifest the name of Jesus in the circle that I live in.

Each of us has opportunities to display Gods treasure within us. As Paul puts it in

2 Corinthians 2:7 But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us.

The temptation is always to steal the glory that belongs to God. But when the world can see the earthen vessel of our bodies broken, powerless and full of holes with the treasure of Christ Jesus within still being poured out to a dying world; then they will say that this is not from the clay jar this is of God.

I believe that I will be called one day to testify to the goodness of God in the presence of other M.N.D. patients. In every age and in every generation God raises up those who are to testify to his goodness and wonder in every situation. 

 

At this time I can complain to God and man: “This is a terrible thing that has happened!” ”I am worthy of more, worthy of better, worthy of what is my right!”

Then as it dawns on me that God is not changing his mind I can ‘perform‘: I can run from doctor to healer, prayer meeting to miracle campaign. Or become a stoic ‘tough‘, ‘so be it’ type. I can also start to ‘murmur’ in a clear voice. All of these actions stem from a spirit of rebellion against God’s headship.

“Out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks.”

My fleshly mind has been trained by the world to look after ‘number one’. Anything that I don’t like or that hurts me or that is not of my choosing is ‘bad or evil‘.           

On the other hand the ‘good’ things of this world we all know. But the distinction between good and bad begins to become less clear in our carnal minds when we look at children.

Children are forced to practice their music. They ‘will’ go to school, even though they know, that playing down by the river in the mud is far more fun. Children are pricked with needles by doctors to give them their jabs of tetanus even though they are terrified. We know better. We have a long-term view. We know that it is necessary to do homework every day rather than once a week. You would never be able to convince the ten-year-olds that you were right though.

 

The perspective that I view my M.N.D. in is this: I have a Loving Heavenly Father who has a long-term view. His view is eternal. His plan is for you and me to be together with him in eternity future. He has a particular and individual place that is waiting for me. God is working to a master plan.

My life, a tapestry that is being embroidered, there is a plan, a pattern that is clearly laid out. There are always two sides to a tapestry. Viewed from God’s perspective everything is clear orderly and perfect as far as it has progressed. Viewed from the other side, where the tapestry is being worked into the fabric of my life, my flesh, it is painful.

The flashing, piercing of the needle, tugging of the thread, the knotting, all of these confuse and hurt.

“Can’t the fabric of my life just be left plain?”

Now, a thread of gold has to be introduced, a larger needle has to be used. “Enough!”

This richly embroidered garment is a life’s work; it can not be rushed.

Gold silver and precious stones all have to be placed with precision.

A large opening is needed for a gemstone to be fastened into place, “enough this is senseless, painful” but the very fabric of my life has to be forced apart to introduce the gem.

But it is not senseless: The Master is at work,

He is creating a garment for me that will be like no other in all eternity. 

Like Joseph’s coat of many colours this garment will be instantly recognized, read like a book. “Epistles written in our hearts known and read of all men.” Some of the people will be walking around with big holes in their garments. Holes caused when they withdrew their eternal embroidery from the master’s hands at the very point that he wanted to insert a jewel.

“Holes that could have contained gems“. 

 

 There is a praise that I can offer that is a freewill offering that is above cause and effect that has its root in God’s love for us.

It is a praise that is unconditional.             

Praise that is beyond circumstance.                                                                                A form of praise that the world can not understand.                                                  Praise that exists because God is.                                                                                    Praise that I am offering and will offer. But there is also the praise to God that I offer from a grateful heart for allowing me a glance at the other side of my tapestry. There is a praise that I offer when I don’t understand.

Recently I studied praise. Hebrew has many words that we in English translate as praise. One of these words is ZAMAR.  Strong’s concordance says that it is:

A primary root word.

Striking with the fingers.

Properly to touch the strings or parts of a musical instrument.

To play it.

To make music.

Accompanied by voice.

To celebrate in song and music.

 

Besides the obvious interpretation of the musician playing on his instrument in praise to God, the Lord spoke to me this morning about the instrument of praise that I am.

Jesus has a musical song of praise that he is glorifying the Father with. We are the instruments that he is using. On some of us he is playing the base line, that repetitive low slow repeated beat of life. He does not vary the notes greatly. Almost like the notes that a double bass would produce in the orchestra. Others of us produce the melodious sounds, the sweet sounds of the every day life. Still others of us are having our strings wound up tight. In order to produce the high sounds that cut in above the rest of the orchestra. The musician, Jesus has to pull that thin string in our hearts to near breaking point. That string has to be so very tight in order to oscillate at just the right pitch to produce the sound that is pleasing to the Fathers ear.

The lead violin can not be ignored when it comes in on its own with a high haunting proclamation. The sound is either sweet or it is not. (I remember the sound of my sister Heather starting to play the violin when she was at Music College.) The sound can not be disguised.  It either jars the ear producing pain or it pleases the ear and produces music.

God demands praise!

He will be praised!

If we do not praise him the very stones will get up and shout out praise to You My King and MY God!

Imagine the disgrace of Jesus saying to me ‘Mark, sorry boy your praise was absent, we had to get the stones in. They recognize the majesty of God the Father. 

I want to praise him.

I want to praise him with my all.

I want to praise you My Lord, when it is easy to reach the notes, when it feels as though the spine of my little violin will snap with the relentless pressure, the ‘E’ string having been tensioned up and up and up, to the point when there is no more to give.

I want to praise you Lord when the drum beat of life is so slow that it seems as though all I wait for is to die, die, die, die, die, Die, die, die,. Die, Die, DIE.

You will have music.

A song of praise.

A song of sweet praise to the Father.

I am still learning to be an instrument.

I want to produce the vibration of a willing heart. A heart that responds to the loving fingers of My Jesus stroking and caressing a sound from the deepest recesses of my soul.

God you don’t want shallow praise. You want more than Laodicean lukewarm ness. You demand whole hearted,

single minded, 

love blind,

dedicated praise that shouts out the goodness of God.

You my Lord Jesus love the sound of a willing heart that is an instrument of praise to the father.

A heart that is yielded.

A heart that is snug in the security of knowledge that nothing is too much.

Even when the strings are struck with force.

Even when the strings rattle against the casing.

Even when my heart is moved within me and races at the thought of what the future holds.

Even when I fear the next note that will strike.

The time is so short and there is so much praise to give to the God that holds me in the palm of his hand, but even this praise is not mine to give.

Jesus is drawing it out of me, slowly.

I am his gift to the Father.

Sweet Jesus hold me!

Please!

I want more than anything to produce the sound that the Father will delight in ….until the very end.

 

There is another work that God is performing. This is a work of refining that has to be done that I can not do for myself. God is so gracious; he realises that my desire is to be in the bride of Christ. He also knows that I, just as silver and gold are not pure when they are mined, and in the ore, so my highest ideals and desires are impure. I might have the right ideas, but my motive is often impure. Just as a silversmith would heat up a piece of silver ore after crushing it out of the rock; just so God allows his refiner to go to work on my life. “The heart is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked: who can know it? I the Lord search the heart….” “I have set thee for a tower and a fortress among my people that thou mayest know and try their way.” “For thou O God hast proved us: thou hast tried us as silver is tried.” “I have made you a tester of metals and my people the ore, that you may observe and test their ways.”

Gold goes through a similar refining process. “that the trial of your faith, being much more precious then of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing, of Jesus Christ“: Just so, we are privileged to be allowed to be refined and tested. Gold is heated repeatedly to white hot to allow the dross to come to the surface. A lot of dross is coming to the surface in my life at the moment. ‘When he has tried me, I shall come forth as gold.’

 

Love Mark.