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Psalm 78
. . . we will tell the next generation the praiseworthy deeds of the LORD, his power, and the wonders he has done. .
so the next generation would know them . . . and they in turn would tell their children.
Then they would put their trust in God and would not forget his deeds but would keep his commands.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Into the Fire

In April the three oldest Edwards Academy kids took a standardized test over the course of a week. I administered the test for a group of kids from several homeschooling families with the help of my mother and mother-in-law and a few more homeschooling moms. Each day I opened our testing time with a devotional. Here's a re-working of what I presented on Tuesday, the second day of testing.

Yesterday we talked about the only test that really counts, the test that God has given us. How did we do on that test? We all failed it, didn’t we? We’re all sinners. But Christ died for our sins. If we believe in Him, we can be saved. We can pass the test because of Christ.

Today I’d like to read from Psalm 66, beginning with verses eight and nine:
8 Bless our God, O peoples;

 let the sound of his praise be heard,

9 who has kept our soul among the living

 and has not let our feet slip.
We praise God together. He kept our soul among the living. He keeps us alive. He has not let our feet slip. God is taking care of us, isn’t He? Let's keep reading.
10 For you, O God, have tested us;

you have tried us as silver is tried.

Silver is found in the earth. Miners find it looking like rough and ugly rocks. In order to be transformed into a beautiful necklace the silver ore must be purified and separated. There are other metals in a rough lump of silver ore. Assayers put the silver ore through a process to separate the silver from the other metals.

A crucible is a pot or container to hold the metal. Old-fashioned crucibles look a bit like flower-pots. But the crucible is placed into a super-hot furnace. The heat melts the silver down. The dross, or impurities that are in the silver, rises to the top and the assayer scrapes the dross off of the molten silver. The molten silver can be poured into a mold by the silversmith and formed into beautiful jewelry.*

Look at this picture of a crucible placed into a furnace. Would you like to be placed into a furnace like this? Can you imagine that God would do that to you? Do you think that your parents would do that to you?

If they love you as God loves you, they would. Maybe they already have. What hard things are you facing right now? This week of testing? Moving to a new city? Is it hard to play with neighbor kids who watch T.V. shows that your parents don’t allow? 

Why don’t your parents just fix these hard things that you are facing? Why do you think they don’t just make it easier for you? Probably they could.

God is the same way with His children. He doesn’t make things easier for us. In fact, Psalm 66 tells us that He places us in the crucible to be refined in the fire. He puts hard things in our life.
 11 You brought us into the net;
you laid a crushing burden on our backs;

12 you let men ride over our heads;

we went through fire and through water;

These verses tell us that God gives us hard burdens. He puts us in situations where things are unfair. He gives us leaders that are mean and unjust. He gives us neighbors or friends that have more things than we do. He sends us through fire and water and lets others get ahead of us. Why does He do these things? Because He is sanctifying us.

Sanctification is a big word that simply means that God is making His children more like Jesus. After we believe in Jesus, God uses the hard things in life to refine us, to get rid of the sinful attitudes and selfish thinking. Becoming more like Jesus is called sanctification.

But we should not be discouraged by hard things. The rest of Psalm 66:12 says this:
yet you have brought us out to a place of abundance.

God has abundance in store for us. We will experience His blessing as we obey Him. We’ll change inside. We’ll find His love growing in us. We’ll look forward to the ultimate day in which we will see Jesus face to face.

A week of testing might be like the crucible for you. You feel the heat. It is uncomfortable. It hurts. But if your eyes are on Him you will finish the week more like Jesus.

I've posted before about how hardship is a tool God uses to make us more like Him. Also, in a post called "Saying No to Webkinz" I thought through the difficulty of putting my children in a place of hardship socially because we don't buy a popular toy. 

*This summary of the process is intended to make a point spiritually. I’m not a chemist, assayer, or silversmith and I’m sure this is painfully over-simplified.
All Scriptures ESV.

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