Fiery Trials are Not Strange

Some of the trials we face as the children of God can be likened to wheat being manually threshed or going through the potter’s kiln.

During threshing, grain is spread on the threshing floor and either beaten with sticks or walked on by a yoke of oxen. The chaff is then separated from the grain by a process called winnowing – where both chaff and grain are placed in a flat tray and then tossed up and down in the air. As they rise up in the air, the paper-weight chaff is blown away while the heavier grains fall back into the tray.

There are times we feel like we are just being tossed up and down – like grains being winnowed – with no end in sight and for no obvious reason. Other times we feel crushed like grains being trampled under a heavy team of oxen.

God says, fiery trials are not strange, for His children. So if you are suffering according to God’s will, keep on doing what is right and trust yourself to the God who made you, for he will never fail you (1 Pet 4:19 TLB). These trials will make you partners with Christ in his suffering, and afterwards you will have the wonderful joy of sharing his glory in that coming day when it will be displayed.

Further Reading
The Tea Cup

There was a couple who used to go England to shop in a beautiful antique store. This trip was to celebrate their 25th wedding anniversary. They both liked antiques and pottery, and especially teacups.

Spotting an exceptional cup, they asked, “May we see that? We’ve never seen a cup quite so beautiful.”

As the lady handed it to them, the teacup spoke.

“You don’t understand,” it said, “I have not always been a teacup. There was a time when I was just a lump of red clay. My master took me and rolled me pounded and patted me over and over and I yelled out, ‘Don’t do that. I don’t like it! Let me alone,’ but he only smiled, and gently said, ‘Not yet!’

“Then. WHAM! I was placed on a spinning wheel and suddenly I was spun around and around and around. ‘Stop it! I’m getting so dizzy! I’m going to be sick!’, I screamed. But the master only nodded and said, quietly, ‘Not yet.’ “He spun me and poked and prodded and bent me out of shape to suit himself and then….then he put me in the oven. I never felt such heat. I yelled and knocked and pounded at the door. ‘Help! Get me out of here!’ I could see him through the opening and I could read his lips as he shook his head from side to side, ‘Not yet.’

“When I thought I couldn’t bear it another minute, the door opened. He carefully took me out and put me on the shelf, and I began to cool. ‘Oh, that felt so good! Ah, this is much better,’ I thought. But, after I cooled he picked me up and he brushed and painted me all over. The fumes were horrible. I thought I would gag. ‘Oh, please; stop it, stop it!!’ I cried. He only shook his head and said. ‘Not yet!’

“Then suddenly he put me back in to the oven. Only it was not like the first one. This was twice as hot and I just knew I would suffocate. I begged. I pleaded. I screamed. I cried. I was convinced I would never make it. I was ready to give up.

“Just then the door opened and he took me out and again placed me on the shelf, where I cooled and waited and waited, wondering, What’s he going to do to me next? An hour later he handed me a mirror and said ‘Look at yourself.’ And I did.

“I said, ‘That’s not me; that couldn’t be me. It’s beautiful. I’m beautiful!’

“Quietly he spoke: ‘I want you to remember, then,’ he said, ‘I know it hurt to be rolled and pounded and patted, but had I just left you alone, you’d have dried up. I know it made you dizzy to spin around on the wheel, but if I had stopped, you would have crumbled. I know it hurt and it was hot and disagreeable in the oven, but if I hadn’t put you there, you would have cracked. I know the fumes were bad when I brushed and painted you all over, but if I hadn’t done that, you never would have hardened. You would not have had any color in your life. If I hadn’t put you back in that second oven, you wouldn’t have survived for long because the hardness would not have held. Now you are a finished product. Now you are what I had in mind when I first began with you.'”

God knows what He’s doing in each of us. He is the potter, and we are His clay. He will mold us and make us, and expose us to just enough pressures of just the right kinds that we may be made into a flawless piece of work to fulfill His good, pleasing and perfect will.

So when life seems hard, and you are being pounded and patted and pushed almost beyond endurance; when your world seems to be spinning out of control; when you feel like you are in a fiery furnace of trials; when life seems to “stink”, try this:

Brew a cup of your favorite tea in your prettiest tea cup, sit down, and have a little talk with the Potter.

–author unknown

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Lovers of Pleasure

… in the last days it is going to be very difficult to be a Christian. For people will…prefer good times to worshiping God (2 Tim 3:1-5 TLB).

How much time have you spend with God this week? How many hours have you spent this week on work, the daily rat race, catching up on your favourite TV shows and series?

People who are lovers of pleasure more than lovers of God are those who spend not more than a few minutes of rushed prayers (and that’s if they spoke to God at all today) but spend much more time on easily available distractions – a busy work schedule, social media, gisting with friends, reading etc.

Getting the balance is crucial, as Jesus told Martha, “Martha, Martha, thou art careful and troubled about many things: But one thing is needful: and Mary hath chosen that good part, which shall not be taken away from her.” (Luke 10:41-42).

The way to the riches of God’s presence is to spend quality time at His feet.

God is still waiting for you. Go spend time with Him….right now is good.

Bible Reading:
A man who loves pleasure becomes poor; wine and luxury are not the way to riches! (Prov 21:17 TLB).

Friendship with God is reserved for those who reverence him. With them alone he shares the secrets of his promises (Psa 25:14 MSG).

Excess Baggage

There’s only so much you can carry while on the move – some things will soon be dropped as the journey continues.

In this walk of faith, christians are described as long-distance runners and there’s only so much you can carry while on the move. To stay in the race excess weight must be stripped off (Heb 12:2).

There’s a lot of baggage that we must drop in order to complete the race set before us – the cares and anxieties of the world, the pleasure and delight and false glamour and deceitfulness of riches, the distractions of the age and the craving and passionate desire for other things.

These unnecessary weights will deceive you into putting down the only that’s important – the cross which you are called to carry daily.

We are asked to, strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. One way to do this is to give up whatever makes you less devoted to God.

We brought nothing into this world and it is certain that we can take nothing out. Travel light. Don’t be encumbered and distracted with amassing things you can’t take with you, when you leave this earth. Shed the excess weight. Drop the excess baggage.

Further Reading Heb 12:2; 2 Tim 2:4; Col 3:2; Psa 86:11

What’s Your Isaac?

What do you wish God would never ask you to give up?

What are you holding on to that God is asking you to release? What’s occupying the throne of your heart?

Abraham did not withhold Isaac his son from God when God asked him to give Isaac to God. Because Abraham was ready to sacrifice his son, God said, now I know that you fear and revere God, since you have not held back from Me or begrudged giving Me your son, your only son.

Moses preferred to share the oppression [suffer the hardships] and bear the shame of the people of God rather than to have the fleeting enjoyment of a sinful life.

Daniel gave up security, political power to honour God. Just like the three Hebrew boys he was prepared to lose his life in honor of God (see Daniel 3 & 6).

Jesus says, “Remember what happened to Lot’s wife! If you grasp and cling to life on your terms, you’ll lose it, but if you let that life go, you’ll get life on God’s terms” (Luke 17:32-33 MSG).

Let nothing hold you back from surrendering all to God. Surrender all – your life, your every thing to God.

Mind Your Language

What’s your native tongue? Lies, like the devil?

How would people describe the way you talk? Murmuring, griping, complaining? Snide, catty, caustic comments?

Is your tongue a weapon that you unleash? Or is it a channel of blessing?

I was talking about complaining about an issue when a friend said, “What else is new?” Right then I knew it was time to stop complaining and start giving thanks (Ps 34:1).

Even a fool is considered wise when he keeps his mouth shut (Prov 17:28).

Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers.And grieve not the holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption. Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice (Eph 4:29-31).

Further reading:

Eph 5:3-4;Eph 4:29;Col 3:8;Matt 5:37

Why Did Jesus Die?

The sacrifice of Jesus on the cross is not one of many options to the Father… it’s the only way.

Why go through a gruesome death if He’s just one of many options? Why allow men, He created, revile and mock Him? Why humble Himself even unto death?

Jesus is not a liar. Every word He says is pure (Prov 30:5). He said I am the way…no man comes to the Father except through Me (John 14:6; Acts 4:12).

I am amazed that you are turning away so soon from God who, in his love and mercy, invited you to share the eternal life he gives through Christ; you are already following a different “way to heaven,” which really doesn’t go to heaven at all. For there is no other way than the one we showed you; you are being fooled by those who twist and change the truth concerning Christ (Gal 1:6-7)

I know very well how foolish it sounds to those who are lost, when they hear that Jesus died to save them. But we who are saved recognize this message as the very power of God (1 Cor 1:18 LB)

For I am not ashamed of this Good News about Christ. It is God’s powerful method of bringing all who believe it to heaven. This message was preached first to the Jews alone, but now everyone is invited to come to God in this same way (Rom 1:16 LB)

You yourselves are a case study of what he does. At one time you all had your backs turned to God, thinking rebellious thoughts of him, giving him trouble every chance you got. But now, by giving himself completely at the Cross, actually dying for you, Christ brought you over to God’s side and put your lives together, whole and holy in his presence…There is no other Message—just this one. (Col 1:21-23 MSG).

You were dead in sins, and your sinful desires were not yet cut away. Then he gave you a share in the very life of Christ, for he forgave all your sins, and blotted out the charges proved against you, the list of his commandments which you had not obeyed. He took this list of sins and destroyed it by nailing it to Christ’s cross. In this way God took away Satan’s power to accuse you of sin, and God openly displayed to the whole world Christ’s triumph at the cross where your sins were all taken away (Col 2:13-15 LB)

By his deathNow all of us, whether Jews or Gentiles, may come to God the Father with the Holy Spirit’s help because of what Christ has done for us (Eph 2:15,16,18 LB)

It was through what his Son did that God cleared a path for everything to come to him—all things in heaven and on earth—for Christ’s death on the cross has made peace with God for all by his blood. This includes you who were once so far away from God. You were his enemies and hated him and were separated from him by your evil thoughts and actions, yet now he has brought you back as his friends. He has done this through the death on the cross of his own human body, and now as a result Christ has brought you into the very presence of God, and you are standing there before him with nothing left against you—nothing left that he could even chide you for; the only condition is that you fully believe the Truth, standing in it steadfast and firm, strong in the Lord, convinced of the Good News that Jesus died for you, and never shifting from trusting him to save you. This is the wonderful news that came to each of you and is now spreading all over the world. And I, Paul, have the joy of telling it to others (Col 1:20-23 LB)

What makes us think that we can escape if we are indifferent to this great salvation announced by the Lord Jesus himself and passed on to us by those who heard him speak? (Heb 2:3 LB)

For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord (Rom 6:23)

Could it be any clearer? Our old way of life was nailed to the cross with Christ, a decisive end to that sin-miserable life—no longer at sin’s every beck and call! What we believe is this: If we get included in Christ’s sin-conquering death, we also get included in his life-saving resurrection (Rom 6:6- MSG)

He died under God’s judgment against our sins so that he could rescue us from constant falling into sin and make us his very own people, with cleansed hearts and real enthusiasm for doing kind things for others (Titus 2:14)

So also Christ died only once as an offering for the sins of many people; and he will come again, but not to deal again with our sins. This time he will come bringing salvation to all those who are eagerly and patiently waiting for him (Heb 9:28 LB)

Further Reading

1 Thes 5: 9-10;Gal 3:13;Rom 6:7,18;Col 2:13-15;1 Pet 1:18-19