Why Not a Hospital?

January 29, 2020 at 11:08 am | Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment
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Question: If you say church is not supposed to be like a hospital, what about all the people who are hurting and come there to find acceptance and love, but instead only find judgment and hypocrisy? And keep it simple. Don’t write some long essay full of fancy words.

Answer: Okay, I’ll try. People who are really suffering SHOULD find kindness and love at their local Christian church. When people are mean to them, or treat them in ways that the Bible says is wrong, they shouldn’t do that. However, when that happens, the solution is not to stop going to church. The solution is to go to church with an attitude of honoring and obeying Christ, not depending on other people. You will always find people who don’t live up to your expectations, but you have never found anything in God Himself to cause you to go far from Him, or to walk away from Him. And, ultimately, anything that you are walking after in this life that is apart from God is vanity (emptiness, unfulfilling selfishness). See Jeremiah 2:5.

God is perfect. None of His people are. Even the best of people are only people at best. And even the worst of people cannot separate you from the love of God in Christ. When we stand before God one day, none of us will be able to blame someone else’s hypocrisy or bad behavior if we have disobeyed His direct commands to faithfully attend, and to serve in, a local assembly of Christians.

Suffering for Glory

November 21, 2018 at 2:19 pm | Posted in I Peter | 3 Comments
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If any man speak, let him speak as the oracles of God; if any man minister, let him do it as of the ability which God giveth: that God in all things may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom be praise and dominion for ever and ever. Amen.

I Peter 4:11 (emphasis added)

The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God: And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together. For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.

Romans 8:16-18

Would a lifetime of what we call “suffering” be worth it to see God’s glory? It’s not even close! Just a GLIMPSE would far outweigh all suffering.

Have ye suffered so many things in vain? if it be yet in vain.

Galatians 3:4

It is not vain to suffer for the Gospel. It is not vain to suffer for God’s glory.

But rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ’s sufferings; that, when his glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy.

I Peter 4:13

The elders which are among you I exhort, who am also an elder, and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, and also a partaker of the glory that shall be revealed:

I Peter 5:1

God is not so much in the replacement business as He is in the transformation business. We don’t get our suffering replaced with glory; our suffering is transformed into glory.

A bruised reed shall he not break, and smoking flax shall he not quench, till he send forth judgment unto victory.

Matthew 12:20

Christ can take the things that seem too broken to be useful, too painful to be joyous, too unpleasant to be productive, and and He can transform them into things too wonderful to be ignored. The discomfort of pregnancy, and the excruciating agony of labor and delivery are transformed into joy at the sight of a newborn baby.

Satan hates for God to be glorified in this world, and he hates the name of Christ. I don’t know that he hates the name of Baptist or Methodist or Presbyterian or any denomination, but if you tell somebody, “Jesus loves you. He wants you to repent of your sin, and He wants to save you,” that’s when Satan will cause somebody get offended.

Yet if any man suffer as a Christian, let him not be ashamed; but let him glorify God on this behalf.

I Peter 4:16 (emphasis added)

This is one of only three times the Word “Christian” is used in the Bible (Acts 11:26 and Acts 26:28 being the other two). The idea is that a Christian is a “little Christ” or someone “of the party of Christ.” It was first devised by pagans as a derogatory term, although true Christians would find it extremely complimentary. Over time the Devil has tried to dilute the meaning so that people think it means “somebody who goes to church” or “somebody who has a personal belief in a higher power” or “somebody with conservative political views” or “somebody who doesn’t curse or get drunk or behave promiscuously.”

There is a fiery trial coming. The trials today, for the most part, for Christians living in the comfort of 21st Century America, are just a little toasty – not raging infernos like what is coming. One day the fire will separate folks, and we’ll find out just how much people VALUE the name “Christian.” The thought of eternal fire might get folks a little motivated to “do right,” but even vipers flee from a fire (Acts 28:3).

For the time is come that judgment must begin at the house of God: and if it first begin at us, what shall the end be of them that obey not the gospel of God? And if the righteous scarcely be saved, where shall the ungodly and the sinner appear?

I Peter 4:17-18

Fiery trials bring heat, but also light. They are good places for self-examination, and for asking, “What is causing my suffering?” Suffering for Christ is cause for rejoicing because it brings glory to God.

Suffering, Sin, and Sobriety

October 19, 2018 at 3:15 pm | Posted in I Peter | 4 Comments
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Forasmuch then as Christ hath suffered for us in the flesh, arm yourselves likewise with the same mind: for he that hath suffered in the flesh hath ceased from sin;

I Peter 4:1

Christ did not cease from His own sin, because He had no sin, but the principle that suffering in the flesh can bring about a cessation from sin helps us prepare for not giving in to sin when suffering comes, and it prepares us to arm ourselves against the temptation to sin that often accompanies suffering.

Suffering is not always caused by a specific sin in a direct one-to-one relationship, but, even when we see suffering as the result of sin, the Devil still often manages to trick us by using our suffering as a temptation TO sin. We need to recall Christ’s resistance against temptation when He suffered for sin that wasn’t even His own.

That he no longer should live the rest of his time in the flesh to the lusts of men, but to the will of God.

I Peter 4:2

The will of God is perfect. Therefore, it should bring contentment, if not outright enjoyment or ecstatic pleasure. However, we’re often so anxious to get more without giving up what we already have. What would make me think God would entrust me with more spiritual blessings if I haven’t even obeyed Him in my use of the ones He’s already entrusted to me? If God has commanded me to do something, it OUGHT to be done, and if it OUGHT to be done, it CAN be done, through the power and grace of God.

For the time past of our life may suffice us to have wrought the will of the Gentiles, when we walked in lasciviousness, lusts, excess of wine, revellings, banquetings, and abominable idolatries:

I Peter 4:3

When we look back at our pre-conversion days, we must not make the excuse of “just” being trapped in sin. We were not Christians on the inside, just waiting for Christ to cut the strings on the package so we could burst free. No, let’s be honest. We enjoyed sin. We wanted sin more than we wanted holiness, and, in some cases, even salvation. Now, don’t let the Devil beat you up over this and give you a false reason to be defeated. We were slaves to sin, but we weren’t totally miserable in every sense, or we wouldn’t have been so good at it. When we remember this, we won’t get so exasperated with people who meet our attempts to share the Gospel with a reply of, “Come on, join the party.”

Wherein they think it strange that ye run not with them to the same excess of riot, speaking evil of you:

I Peter 4:4

Light is strong, but light is not always popular. A child lost in the woods, cold, scared, and hungry, rejoices to see a light and runs to it. But the barroom crowd hates the light, and they’ll likely throw a beer bottle at you for shining it in their face.

Who shall give account to him that is ready to judge the quick and the dead.

I Peter 4:5

Lost people are heading toward a judgment date with the most terrible Judge of all; they don’t need us to judge them.

For for this cause was the gospel preached also to them that are dead, that they might be judged according to men in the flesh, but live according to God in the spirit.

I Peter 4:6

That’s not talking about folks who are physically dead. If they died without receiving Christ, we can’t pray enough, pay enough, or light enough candles to bring them to eternal life. It’s talking about the spiritually dead judging the living – people lost in sin causing suffering for living saints now, and not even being able to see that they will one day be judged themselves. This type of suffering, though, conforms us to the image of Christ, teaching us to be longsuffering, patient, slow to anger.

But the end of all things is at hand: be ye therefore sober, and watch unto prayer.

I Peter 4:7

If you are a Christian experiencing suffering, financial problems, or the temptation to sin right now, and it is causing you, in panic, to turn to whichever religious charlatan is offering you a quick-fix scheme, chill out. You don’t have to run around your house “pleading the blood,” doing incantations and spells around every window sill and door frame to ward off the attack of the Devil. Be sober. Gird up the loins of your mind. Get your eyes fixed on God’s glory. Stay right on the line of the Word and His will. Watch and pray. Be vigilant and militant and harsh about sin in your life. The Devil can’t beat you up unless you fall asleep on your watch.

The Just Suffering for the Unjust

September 26, 2018 at 9:45 am | Posted in I Peter | 5 Comments
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For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the Spirit:

I Peter 3:18

The “Spirit” here is capitalized in the King James Version, and several other, though not all, translations. The capitalization leads the reader to believe that the Spirit being referenced is the Holy Spirit, the third Person of the Trinity, but could Christ have had a “spirit” other than the Holy Spirit? Matthew 26:41, Romans 1:3-4, Luke 23:46, and James 2:26 would seem to indicate that Jesus, in His full humanity, did have a spirit, although I still believe that I Peter 3:18 is talking about the Holy Spirit.

The term “quickened” means “made alive,” although “resurrection” normally refers to a physical body.

By which also he went and preached unto the spirits in prison;

I Peter 3:19

There has been much conjecture and dispute over the identity of these “spirits in prison.” I do not believe that they are lost sinners in hell. “Spirits” might mean some type of beings, but “souls” would be the way to refer to human beings.

Which sometime were disobedient, when once the longsuffering of God waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was a preparing, wherein few, that is, eight souls were saved by water.

I Peter 3:20

“Preached” in 3:19 is thought to be “proclamation” rather than “convincing” or “exhorting” as in “preaching the Gospel,” so it is possible that the spirits are fallen angels, perhaps the demons who influenced the “sons of God” into mating with the “daughters of men” in Genesis 6. Christ would not have “preached” salvation to lost sinners or to fallen angels, and the Bible does not say that Christ went to the place of everlasting torment we call hell, although many people mistakenly derive that idea from:

He seeing this before spake of the resurrection of Christ, that his soul was not left in hell, neither his flesh did see corruption.

Acts 2:31

This verse is actually quoting David in Psalm 16:10, speaking of sheol, the realm of the dead.

Some commentators believe that Christ went to preach to the Old Testament saints in the afterlife (“Abraham’s Bosom”) between His death on the Cross and His Resurrection, but this is not likely. Most Scripture supports absence from the body as being present with the Lord for believers.

Unbelievers are separated from God after death, and their damnation is finally determined at that point, although they have not yet been finally judged and cast into the lake of fire.

To understand I Peter 3:20 it is crucial to look at the context.

For it is better, if the will of God be so, that ye suffer for well doing, than for evil doing. For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the Spirit:

I Peter 3:17-18

The theme is “suffering.”

Thou hast ascended on high, thou hast led captivity captive: thou hast received gifts for men; yea, for the rebellious also, that the LORD God might dwell among them.

Psalm 68:18

This verse is quoted in the New Testament also:

Wherefore he saith, When he ascended up on high, he led captivity captive, and gave gifts unto men.

Ephesians 4:8

Christ made a public display of defeating Satan – a “triumph” is what the people in ancient Rome would have called it – but this public display is what we call the Crucifixion and the Ascension. It is not something that occurred during the the time when Jesus was in the grave – or wherever His Spirit was before His body was resurrected. I Peter 3:19 does say He went and preached unto the spirits in prison, but I think that is talking about His Spirit preaching through the obedience of Noah in the days of Noah. That is why Noah is brought up next.

Which sometime were disobedient, when once the longsuffering of God waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was a preparing, wherein few, that is, eight souls were saved by water.

I Peter 3:20

Elsewhere, the Holy Spirit had Peter call Noah a preacher of righteousness.

For if God spared not the angels that sinned, but cast them down to hell, and delivered them into chains of darkness, to be reserved unto judgment; And spared not the old world, but saved Noah the eighth person, a preacher of righteousness, bringing in the flood upon the world of the ungodly;

II Peter 2:4-5

The Holy Spirit – Christ’s Spirit – preached through the actions of Noah, preaching condemnation, but also righteousness, through Noah’s obedience.

Which sometime were disobedient, when once the longsuffering of God waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was a preparing, wherein few, that is, eight souls were saved by water. The like figure whereunto even baptism doth also now save us (not the putting away of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God,) by the resurrection of Jesus Christ:

I Peter 3:20-21

The same waters that condemned the world saved Noah, which is pictured in New Testament baptism. The same grave that tried to condemn Christ – and made it look like a victory for Satan – turned around and brought about Christ’s ultimate victory, as He used it to “preach” (“proclaim”) His authority and power over EVERYTHING having to do with sin: death, hell, the grave, principalities, powers, this world’s authorities, flesh, fallen angels, Satan.

Remember, we’re talking about suffering: the just suffering for the unjust. Christ could have beaten all His enemies without suffering, but He wanted to save the unjust: you and me.

The Hope of Glory

March 30, 2018 at 10:19 am | Posted in I Peter | 8 Comments
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The Book of I Peter was written by the Holy Spirit, using the Apostle Peter as His human instrument. Peter’s first name was Simon. “Peter” meant “rock” or “stone.” The two leading Apostles of the early church were: Paul, who was assigned by the Lord to minister primarily to the Gentiles; and Peter, who was assigned to minister primarily to the Jewish people.

The Lord Jesus, during His earthly ministry, had given these to commands to Peter:

1. Strengthen the flock.

And the Lord said, Simon, Simon, behold, Satan hath desired to have you, that he may sift you as wheat: But I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not: and when thou art converted, strengthen thy brethren.

Luke 22:31-32

2. Care for the flock.

So when they had dined, Jesus saith to Simon Peter, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me more than these? He saith unto him, Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love thee. He saith unto him, Feed my lambs.

John 21:15

Many Bible scholars believe that the letter we know as I Peter was written from Rome, so Peter probably did minister there, but he was not the first to minister there, and he did not establish the first Christian church there, and he was not the first pope.

Yea, so have I strived to preach the gospel, not where Christ was named, lest I should build upon another man’s foundation:

Romans 15:20

Paul did not minister evangelistically where other Apostles had gone, and we know that Paul accomplished the Lord’s goal for him to take the Gospel to Rome.

I Peter is believed to have been written in or around 63 A.D. It was written to believers who were undergoing severe persecution and suffering. The Holy Spirit’s word of encouragement for those who were suffering was that their suffering would lead to glory.

Wherein ye greatly rejoice, though now for a season, if need be, ye are in heaviness through manifold temptations: That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ:

I Peter 1:6-7

The suffering of the believers would be terrible, but we must also keep in mind the superior sufferings of Christ.

Searching what, or what manner of time the Spirit of Christ which was in them did signify, when it testified beforehand the sufferings of Christ, and the glory that should follow.

I Peter 1:11

We might say that Paul was the Apostle of faith, and John was the Apostle of love. If so, we would say that Peter was the Apostle of hope. Hopelessness is a condition produced by an unhinged mind – a mind that has come loose at some point between the beginning and the end.

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to his abundant mercy hath begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,

I Peter 1:3

Wherefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and hope to the end for the grace that is to be brought unto you at the revelation of Jesus Christ;

I Peter 1:13

Your physical birth did not come with a guarantee of glory, but if you have been “born” spiritually (born again), you were born for glory.

Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever. For all flesh is as grass, and all the glory of man as the flower of grass. The grass withereth, and the flower thereof falleth away: But the word of the Lord endureth for ever. And this is the word which by the gospel is preached unto you.

I Peter 1:23-25

Because of God’s promise at our birth (our spiritual birth), He guards us until that glory is fulfilled – until it “comes into bloom.”

To an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you, Who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.

I Peter 1:4-5

While we are being guarded, and watched over, we are not to be idle, and God is certainly not idle in our lives. He is working to prepare us for glory. What is the number one way to prepare something for glory? To pamper and coddle it? To leave it to its own devices? No. Trials, temptations, tests, even suffering, purify us and prepare us for glory.

That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ:

I Peter 1:7

Does all this mean we have to wait to experience glory? Not necessarily. We must have the gift of faith to receive the gift of salvation that secures our home in Heaven, but, until then, we are striving to grow in faith – to see something of what Heaven will be like begin to come into our lives now.

Whom having not seen, ye love; in whom, though now ye see him not, yet believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory:

I Peter 1:8

As we begin to think about all this glory, we get excited, and we might tend to get “carried away,” which is a common expression we use for someone who we perceive to be overexcited, but the expression, “carried away,” should also remind us that Satan is like a roaring lion who is looking for the opportunity to “carry away” sheep who disobey their shepherd, and who wander away from his protection.

The Other Ten Commandments

November 12, 2012 at 1:35 pm | Posted in Selected Psalms | 4 Comments
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Psalm 105 was probably written after the remnant of the Jewish people returned from Babylonian exile. They needed an encouraging reminder of what God had done for the Jewish people in the past. Many people are familiar with “the” 10 Commandments – from Exodus 20 – although most Christians aren’t as familiar with them as we should be. Here in the first five verses of Psalm 105, though, are what I like to think of as “the other 10 commandments.”

O give thanks unto the LORD (1); call upon his name (2): make known his deeds among the people (3). Sing unto him, sing psalms unto him (4): talk ye of all his wondrous works (5). Glory ye in his holy name (6): let the heart of them rejoice that seek the LORD (7). Seek the LORD, and his strength (8): seek his face evermore (9). Remember his marvellous works that he hath done; his wonders, and the judgments of his mouth (10);

Psalm 105:1-5 (parenthetical numbers added)

1. Give thanks to the Lord.
2. Call upon His name.
3. Make His deeds known among the people.
4. Sing unto Him.
5. Talk of all His wondrous works.
6. Glory in His holy name.
7. Let your heart rejoice as you seek Him.
8. Seek the Lord and His strength.
9. Seek His face evermore.
10. Remember the marvelous works that He has done, and His wonders, and the judgments of His mouth.

How many of these commandments are you keeping?

O ye seed of Abraham his servant, ye children of Jacob his chosen.

Psalm 105:6

In verse 6 God begins to go into the history of His people. We are reminded that Abraham did not choose God – rather that God chose Abraham. “Covenant” is the name of the agreement which God enters into with people whom He chooses.

Saying, Unto thee will I give the land of Canaan, the lot of your inheritance:

Psalm 105:11

People love to boast about their free will, but God’s will overrides our will.

He sent a man before them, even Joseph, who was sold for a servant:

Psalm 105:17

Israel also came into Egypt; and Jacob sojourned in the land of Ham. And he increased his people greatly; and made them stronger than their enemies.

Psalm 105:23-24

God wanted Joseph in Egypt to prepare a place for God’s people in the time of famine. Ultimately, Joseph accomplished God’s mission, but what happened in between? Joseph suffered. In God’s economy suffering almost always precedes glory.

-God parted the Red Sea – which was glorious. But what came before that? Suffering in Egypt.
-God led His people into the Promised Land – which was glorious. But what came before that? Suffering in the wilderness.
-David was anointed King when he was a boy – which was glorious. But what did he go through before he actually assumed the throne? Suffering.

If you are suffering right now, take heart. God may be preparing you for glory.

But the God of all grace, who hath called us unto his eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after that ye have suffered a while, make you perfect, stablish, strengthen, settle you.

I Peter 5:10

Suffering is the preparation for glory, but suffering is also the climate of fruitfulness. The pains you are experiencing in your life today might be labor pains. No reasonable mother says, “Oh no! I did all that suffering for nine months, and all that suffering for nine hours – and all I got was a baby!” The typical response of a brand new mother – even a worn-out, sweat-drenched, tear-soaked, hoarse-from-screaming mother – is overwhelming joy the instant she sees the fruit of all that labor: her newborn baby.

https://i2.wp.com/www.cdc.gov/groupbstrep/images/mom-newborn.jpg

Or maybe your suffering is not as intense. Maybe you feel alone or trapped or depressed. Take heart, God may have you buried in the dark like a seed. A seed dies a type of death and experiences a type of destruction before it springs up into life and light and fruitfulness.

http://poetrydispatch.files.wordpress.com/2009/03/seed2.jpg?w=510&h=408

When they were but a few men in number; yea, very few, and strangers in it.

Psalm 105:12

God took Jacob and his family of only about 70, and in Egypt they suffered – but they became a great nation.

He brought them forth also with silver and gold: and there was not one feeble person among their tribes.

Psalm 105:37

They worked as slaves without pay, but God made sure they ultimately received their wages. If you feel like you are slaving away in life without pay, take heart! If you belong to God, you may not get paid for your labor now, but God will reward you later!

LONGsuffering in Marriage

March 16, 2012 at 11:53 am | Posted in Biblical Marriage, I Corinthians | 10 Comments
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And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing. Charity suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up,

I Corinthians 13:3-4 (emphasis added)

Christian love in marriage must be a love that suffers long. Suffering means:

1. Taking offense with a resolve to absorb it without getting even for it.
2. Taking offense without it affecting your own inward peace.

Suffering includes:

1. Inward self-control
2. Outward testimony of peace within the marriage union

I Corinthians 13:4 not only says that true Christian love suffers – it says that it suffers long. Suffering long means:

1. Putting up with deep and frequent offenses
2. Putting up with offenses for a long time without defending ourselves

Longsuffering demonstrates God’s love to the world.

And the LORD passed by before him, and proclaimed, The LORD, The LORD God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abundant in goodness and truth,

Exodus 34:6

Or despisest thou the riches of his goodness and forbearance and longsuffering; not knowing that the goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance?

Romans 2:4

Forbearance and longsuffering are extremely hard for fallen sinners to practice, because the “common sense” view is that forbearance and longsuffering only lead to more offenses. But, according to the Bible, when God is at work, forbearance and longsuffering actually lead to repentance – a change for the better!

Howbeit for this cause I obtained mercy, that in me first Jesus Christ might shew forth all longsuffering, for a pattern to them which should hereafter believe on him to life everlasting.

I Timothy 1:16

Christian marriage should show a pattern of God’s love toward the world.

Longsuffering produces gratitude, reminding us how much God puts up with from us. It also reminds us to be humble.

With all lowliness and meekness, with longsuffering, forbearing one another in love;

Ephesians 4:2

Furthermore, it helps us to see God’s hand in trials and circumstances.

And when king David came to Bahurim, behold, thence came out a man of the family of the house of Saul, whose name was Shimei, the son of Gera: he came forth, and cursed still as he came. And he cast stones at David, and at all the servants of king David: and all the people and all the mighty men were on his right hand and on his left. And thus said Shimei when he cursed, Come out, come out, thou bloody man, and thou man of Belial: The LORD hath returned upon thee all the blood of the house of Saul, in whose stead thou hast reigned; and the LORD hath delivered the kingdom into the hand of Absalom thy son: and, behold, thou art taken in thy mischief, because thou art a bloody man. Then said Abishai the son of Zeruiah unto the king, Why should this dead dog curse my lord the king? let me go over, I pray thee, and take off his head. And the king said, What have I to do with you, ye sons of Zeruiah? so let him curse, because the LORD hath said unto him, Curse David. Who shall then say, Wherefore hast thou done so? And David said to Abishai, and to all his servants, Behold, my son, which came forth of my bowels, seeketh my life: how much more now may this Benjamite do it? let him alone, and let him curse; for the LORD hath bidden him. It may be that the LORD will look on mine affliction, and that the LORD will requite me good for his cursing this day. And as David and his men went by the way, Shimei went along on the hill’s side over against him, and cursed as he went, and threw stones at him, and cast dust.

II Samuel 16:5-13

We don’t like suffering, much less longsuffering, but longsuffering is a Godly habit. It is vital (paradoxical, but vital) to get into the true depths and richness of marital love.

Turning Up the Heat – Part 1

March 19, 2010 at 9:30 am | Posted in Bible Studies | 13 Comments
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Lord, let us hear from You. Thank You for Your patience, for Your love, for Your saving grace. One of the benefits of our salvation is having ears to hear. Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God. In the precious name of Christ I pray. Amen.

And he shall sit as a refiner and purifier of silver: and he shall purify the sons of Levi, and purge them as gold and silver, that they may offer unto the LORD an offering in righteousness.

Malachi 3:3

This verse says He shall sit, and the “He” is the Lord Jesus. It is partially a reference to a time when He shall come to defeat the Antichrist, and shall establish His kingdom on Earth for 1000 years. Not all theologians believe in this, but many of those who do call it the Millennial Reign. But Malachi 3:3 also speaks of the work of Christ in the lives of believers today.

If you have been born again – if you have been saved – if your name is written in the Lamb’s Book of Life – if you have trusted Christ as your Savior – then this verse applies to you. I want us to notice 3 things about this verse:

1. The position of the Refiner
2. The purpose of the refining
3. The product of the refining

The Position of the Refiner

When we look at the position of the refiner, we are a little concerned: “And he shall sit as a refiner and purifier of silver…” Sitting is a position that we usually equate with laziness or a lack of concern.

[Let me pause here for a brief tangent on the topic of “sitting.” If you are a Christian boy or man – especially a teen-aged boy or young man – do not let yourself be caught sitting while someone else is working in front of you. A lady who is carrying something heavy should never have to excuse herself to get by you because you are loitering in her way. As someone who has been frustrated in the past by the failure of unbiblical church “youth groups,” I have seen this happen numerous times. If you are in a position of leadership in church youth ministry, or, more to the point, if you are a Christian parent or elder, please stress to teen-aged boys and overgrown “youth group” males that they are to be:

Not slothful in business; fervent in spirit; serving the Lord;

Romans 12:11

The desire of the slothful killeth him; for his hands refuse to labour.

Proverbs 21:25

Slothful is the Bible word for lazy. A Christian should be diligent, not lazy.]

Okay, back to the point: We see the that the Refiner in Malachi 3:3 is sitting – sitting before a hot cauldron or pot of molten silver. In this illustration, you and I, as Christians, are the silver. And we are in the heat, but the Refiner is just sitting. We are tempted to ask, “What do you mean He’s sitting? I’m in the fire! Things are really getting hot for me! I’m having troubles – troubles at work, trials at home, suffering in my body! Why is He just sitting? Doesn’t He care?”

The temptation to think this way comes from a misunderstanding about the nature of God. God is not a nervous parent, up at 2:30 a.m., pacing the floor, wringing His hands, waiting for the phone to ring, and muttering, “Why won’t My son call me if he’s in trouble? Why won’t My daughter come home – I don’t know where she is?” Nor is He snoring soundly while His children are getting into all sorts of trouble beyond the realm of His consciousness. No, the Refiner of silver sits because He’s in it for the long-haul.

I work in an office, and when I have some very important paperwork to attend to, I sit down and pay attention. The Refiner must pay close attention. He will not let the refining fire He’s attending cool down too much or get too hot. Our Lord sits as a Refiner because He is determined to do a thorough and complete job.

Another reason the Refiner is sitting is because He is the King, and is in total control. He’s sovereign. When an earthly king receives his subjects, he sits and they stand. They are nervous and stressed. They want their requests granted, but they are uncertain. The king is sure. He is calm and regal. He knows he has the power. If he declares it to be, it is so. Our Lord Jesus, the Master Refiner, is sitting because He paid a high a price for us, and He wants us to be pure. He’s not sitting because he doesn’t care – He’s sitting because he does care.

I believe it was Charles Spurgeon who used the analogy of an infant with a dirty face. This child is crying because his mother is vigorously scrubbing his face clean. The child is greatly agitated, but the mother is smiling, calm, and humming a merry tune. The mother has the peaceful and purposeful assurance that a clean face is the best thing for her child at that moment. How often we cry to the Lord to be relieved of our sufferings! We do not realize that the relief we are crying for would not be good for us. Our Lord loves us too much to let us stay defiled. He paid too high a price for His silver and gold to let it remain full of impurities.

That is the position of the Refiner: sitting. Next time, we will delve a little more into the the purpose of the refining.


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