Thursday, April 16, 2015

The Wilderness

“The fining pot is for silver, and the furnace for gold: but the Lord trieth the hearts.” Proverbs 17:3

When things are easy and ‘smooth sailing’ in life, we tend to coast through.  Our supposed comfort fools us into thinking there is no need to focus on the purifying work of God in our lives, or removing that which stands in the way of a deeper relationship with Him. God uses our trials to refine our faith, show us His way of life, and desires that we walk with Him through our wilderness. If we genuinely turn our hearts back from mans way to God’s way, we will find meaning and purpose in even the deepest pain.

Seeking God will eventually lead to a life transformation. If we have clung to our own ways, which keep us in bondage, and we turn from them to study God’s word, and commit to removing from our lives that which God asks us to, His transforming peace changes our minds and hearts. Building a close relationship with God as we walk through our trials is not something unattainable. Making a point to spend time in God’s word daily: studying and yet reading it as a living word, a living instruction guide to His children. God’s word is living and active, and He sees the “humble and contrite heart” that seeks Him.  “The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit: a broken and a contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise.” Psalm 51:17

The humble and contrite heart, one that is repentant for seeking one’s own way and has turned his heart to Jesus, is willing to be transformed and changed by God, and willing to give up his own way and now turn to God’s way. A heart that is prideful and not aware of it’s own desperate need for God is not a heart ready to truly accept the changes God will bring. Sometimes we accept Jesus as savior of the world in head knowledge, yet the transforming work that we should accept being done in our lives is fought tooth and nail. Most of the time we do not want to give up old habits, ways of thinking and to simply be seen as different than most people. We are afraid to not be popular. Are we the same as we were before we accepted Christ and understood His sacrifice? Then we have not accepted the transforming work of God in our lives and applied ourselves with diligence and a humble, teachable heart.  “And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.” Romans 12:2

Joseph, being sold into slavery by his own brothers, then thrown into jail, walked through a wilderness of his own. Certainly as a human being he felt doubt, sorrow, and abandonment. Yet, his heart remained faithful and trusting in God. Even in jail, Joseph trusted God and did his best with even the smallest tasks given to him. “The Lord was with him, making everything run smoothly and successfully.” Genesis 39:23  Joseph’s faithfulness eventually led him to favor with Pharaoh, put in charge of the entire land of Egypt, even preventing famine in his land because of his wisdom and humble heart that listened to God. “For he is a man that is obviously filled with the spirit of God.” Genesis 41:38  Joseph’s heart for God, his willingness to not give in to bitterness, spite and depression, resulted in God’s blessing and peace as he walked through his own personal trials. “For he said, God has made me fruitful in this land of my suffering.” Genesis 41:52

Hannah, in deep anguish, walked in her wilderness of childlessness and pain. Determined not to lose hope for a child, “Hannah was in deep anguish, crying bitterly as she prayed to the Lord.” 1 Samuel 1:10  She took her pain to the Lord, instead of becoming angry and resentful or even hopeless. She turned not to her own way, but to God’s way. God heard her humble and contrite heart. “For I have been praying out of great anguish and sorrow.” 1 Samuel 1:16 God blessed Hannah with her son Samuel, and she took her gratitude to God. “My heart rejoices in the Lord! Oh how the Lord has blessed me! Now I have an answer for my enemies, as I delight in your deliverance.” 1 Samuel 2:1

When we turn our heart to God in our trials, our desperation's, our sorrows and brokenness, He is there.  We must have faith and trust in God’s character and not let bitterness, envy, or anger take root in our hearts. We can trust His work even in the deepest pain, that He is not abandoning us but refining us to grow closer to Him, and grow more like Jesus. God loves His children and wants what is best for them, not in material wealth but in soul health. God refines and purifies us to accomplish His purpose in us.

Prayer: “Lord, guide me through my heartache, pain and the testing of my faith through the fire. Refine me and guide me, show my heart how to only walk in your ways. Remove from my life bad habits, patterns of thought and obstacles to seeing you and walking with you. Amen.”

“In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials,  so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.” 1 Peter 1:6-7

“Behold, I have refined thee, but not with silver; I have chosen thee in the furnace of affliction.” Isaiah 48:10

“If I walk with the world, I can't walk with God.” D.L. Moody

“If we are full of pride and conceit and ambition and self-seeking and pleasure
and the world, there is no room for the Spirit of God, and I believe many a
man is praying to God to fill him when he is full already with something else.” D.L. Moody

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