Thursday, January 8, 2015

Refined and Changed In the Potter's Hands


("In the Potter's Hands" By: Steve Abbott)

"But now, O LORD, thou art our father; we are the clay, and thou our potter; and we all are the work of thy hand." Isaiah 64:8 (KJV)


It is a wonderful thing that as a child of God, we are not permanently stuck as we are. God molds us, shapes us and grows us---if we turn to Him with our whole heart, listen and obey. It is a miracle of God that the world does not understand--- God can and does change people to reflect more and more of Christ's image. We cannot change ourselves on our own, but our Master Potter is capable of taking a lump of clay and changing it into something new. Jesus came to wash us of our sins, to make us new creations inside. Yet, how many of us are letting that work be done in our lives, and understand what dedication of heart that will take? To be changed and renewed means we daily must walk with the Holy Spirit, and we must have open ears to listen.

"The fining pot is for silver, and the furnace for gold: but the LORD trieth the hearts." Proverbs 17:3 

God sees deep into our hearts, He knows us and nothing is hidden from Him. He created us and loves us. As a loving Father, He will guide us, teach us, and mold us. After accepting Christ as our Savior, we now have a new master of our hearts---Jesus. If we continue on as we did before we became Christians, and are not changed in the core of who we are, then the message of Jesus' love and sacrifice has not been fully taken to heart. God did not send His son so we would remain the same, He sent Jesus so we would be redeemed, changed into His likeness, and called His own. This is not easy, as God will try our hearts, and He will stretch us with His refining fire.  

"I will bring that group through the fire and make them pure. I will refine them like silver and purify them like gold. They will call on my name, and I will answer them. I will say, 'These are my people,' and they will say, 'The LORD is our God.'" Zechariah 13:9
 The melting point of pure silver is 1761 degrees Fahrenheit; the melting point of pure gold is 1945 degrees Fahrenheit. God tells us He will take us through the fire to refine us like silver and purify us like gold. He knows these metals require very hot temperatures to be mold-able and God knows our human hearts are hard, they are stubborn to change. Yet, loving us as He does, He guides us through that fire to be changed. The gold or silversmith never leaves his crucible once it is on the fire, and God will never leave us or forsake us. To be changed by God is not easy and it requires letting go of control and many things we thought about life. The easier path is to stay the same, not be open to change, and 'coast' through life. In the end though, this path leads to our own demise as we did not live fully as God intended for us. Rather than living as one who is wise, a life was lived as one who was taken with their own foolishness. The other path, being taken through God's refinement process leads to peace.

"We went through fire and through water; but You brought us out to rich fulfillment." Psalm 66:12

After the clay is shaped and worked on the potters wheel, the final product is something perfect, usable and designed by the potter. God promises us after being led, guided and changed by Him that we will be brought to a place of rich fulfillment. God's riches are the ones to chase after in this life. They lead to eternal life, to peace and being refined by a God who loves us. In the end, there is a richness to this that we would not have known had we not let ourselves walk through the fire. 

“For everyone will be seasoned with fire, and every sacrifice will be seasoned with salt.  Salt is good, but if the salt loses its flavor, how will you season it? Have salt in yourselves, and have peace with one another.” Mark 9:49-50

There is much said about the beginning of the Christian walk, that we are washed of our sins, that God loves us unconditionally. These are foundational truths to learn, yet God speaks many times in the Bible about His people being refined and tested, and this is a vital part of the Christian life. While God's grace is freely given to us, it does not free us from faithful obedience. If we are still stuck in old patterns, ways of worldly thinking, habits and attitudes that are wrong, if our whole worldview and life is not shaken and changed by Christ---we have not gone through the fire, and perhaps we must acknowledge to ourselves that we have not truly made Jesus the King of our life. Other things may be in His place. When we accept Christ's sacrifice for us as our Savior, we also accept Him as Lord of our life.

"Or do you despise the riches of His goodness, forbearance, and longsuffering, not knowing that the goodness of God leads you to repentance?" Romans 2:4

Job, having been put through the fire of trials, faithfully trusted God. He recognized that all of this was for a purpose and he did not give up even in the greatest weakness. He knew this furnace of affliction would be for his good. 

"But He knows the way that I take; when He has tested me, I shall come forth as gold." Job 23:10

Like Job, through trials, tears, and afflictions, we can trust God and the work He is doing to refine us. It is all for our good, as God is loving and faithful. He will never go against who He says He is. God cannot lie. As we faithfully serve Him, He wants us to listen, to change us and mold our hard hearts into something pure and new. We can have confidence knowing that in God's hands we can change, because with God, all things can be made new. With God, there is never hopelessness over who we are, and as Corrie Ten Boom says "there is no pit so deep, that God's love is not deeper still." With God, there is always hope for change, and always hope to be made new and brought to life by Christ.

"...that the genuineness of your faith, being much more precious than gold that perishes, though it is tested by fire, may be found to praise, honor, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ..." 1 Peter 1:7

"For our God is a consuming fire." Hebrews 12:29


 “Our vision is so limited we can hardly imagine a love that does not show itself in protection from suffering. The love of God is of a different nature altogether. It does not hate tragedy. It never denies reality. It stands in the very teeth of suffering. The love of God did not protect His own Son. The cross was the proof of His love – that He gave that Son, that He let Him go to Calvary’s cross, though “legions of angels” might have rescued Him. He will not necessarily protect us - not from anything it takes to make us like His Son. A lot of hammering and chiseling and purifying by fire will have to go into the process.” -Elisabeth Elliot

"This time he blows the fire hotter than it was before, and each time he puts the gold into the crucible, the heat of the fire is increased; "it could not bear it so hot at first, but it can bear it now; what would have destroyed it then helps it now." "How do you know when the gold is purified?" we asked him, and he answered, "When I can see my face in it [the liquid gold in the crucible] then it is pure.”  -Amy Carmichael, Gold Cord


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