Thursday, October 28, 2010

The Refiner's Fire

I love the picture of God as the refiner. The Father sends the Holy Spirit, the flame (Acts 2), to perfect his saints in holiness. Our Lord knows the value of the refiner's fire. And when we learn how it's done we discover even more how much he loves us.
It is with the most precious metal that the refiner takes the most pains. God's children are most precious to him, he sent his Son to die for them. The refiner subjects the metal to the hottest of fires, because such fires melt the metal, and only the molten mass releases its alloy or takes perfectly its new form in the mold. He never leaves his crucible, but sits down and tends the fire ever so carefully. At the perfect time and heat the dross floats to the top and he skims it off. He then can look into the purified metal and see himself, and puts out the fire.
I found this poem that I want to share from my Streams in the Desert devotional about the One who shall sit as a refiner and purifier of silver (Mal. 3:3).
He sat by a fire of seven-fold heat,
As He watched by the precious ore,
And closer He bent with a searching gaze
as He heated it more and more.
He knew He had ore that could stand the test,
and He wanted the finest gold
To mould as a crown for the King to wear,
Set with gems with a price untold.
So He laid our gold in the burning fire,
Tho' we fain would have said Him 'Nay,'
And He watched the dross that we had not seen,
And it melted and passed away.
And the gold grew brighter and yet more bright,
But our eyes were so dim with tears,
We saw but the fire--not the Master's hand,
And questioned with anxious fears.
Yet our gold shone out with a richer glow,
As it mirrored a Form above,
That bent o're the fire, tho' unseen by us,
With a look of ineffable love.
Can we think that it pleases His loving heart
To cause us a moment's pain?
Ah, no! but He saw through the present cross
The bliss of eternal gain.
So He waited there with a watchful eye,
With a love that is strong and sure,
And His gold did not suffer a bit more heat,
Than was needed to make it pure.
O dear Jesus,
My life is in your hands. I know it hurts sometimes, but I do desire to be purified. I need not fear, for you have redeemed me. You have summoned me by name. I am Yours. When I pass through the waters, You will be with me; and when I pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over me. When I walk through your refining fire, I will not be burned; the flames will not set me ablaze. For You are the Lord, my God, the Holy One of Israel, My Savior (Isaiah 43:1-3). You want the best for me. I praise you Lord, for your ways are mysterious and wonderful. I love you with all of my heart, soul, mind, and strength. In your precious name I pray. Amen.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Listening Prayer

A "Listening Prayer" caught my eye in the journal I'm using. It's by A. W. Tozer, one of my favorite theologians. He said to . . .

Retire from the world each day to some private spot . . .

Stay in the secret place till the surrounding noises begin

to fade out of your heart and a sense of God's presence envelopes you . . .

Listen for the inward Voice till you learn

to recognize it . . . Learn to pray inwardly every moment.

What does it take to retire from the world each day to a private spot? For me, it took disciplined Bible Study to get me started. Now that I'm hooked on listening for the inward Voice, even though it's a fight some times, it's hard for me to go a day without retreating into God's presence.

Thinking about the wonderful, countless benefits of disciplined study makes me wonder why discipline gets such a bad rap. Is it because we don't like being forced? Or are we just lazy? It's a little of both, don't you think? On top of being stubborn and like sloths, we humans can conjure up more excuses as to why we don't have time for God than a pine tree has needles.

But if we do take the time to listen for His still small voice, the Holy Spirit will step in and teach us how to recognize God's voice and pray inwardly every moment. He promises to guide us into all truth and will bring glory to Jesus by taking what is Jesus' and make it known to us (John 16:12-15). In that private place there are unthinkable treasures to be found. Won't you join me as I fight off all of the excuses and distractions and carve out some time for listening prayer today?
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