The Names of God
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"Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom which cannot be shaken, let us have grace, by which we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear. For our God is a consuming fire." Hebrews 12:28-29
“The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom...." Proverbs 9:10
"He will sit as a refiner and a purifier of silver; He will purify the sons of Levi... that they may offer to the Lord an offering in righteousness." Malachi 3:3
My King is preparing a people for Himself. By His shed blood and the work of the cross, He cleanses us from sin and frees us from its power. By the flame of His righteous love, He leads us onward toward the goal. And one day, we - His pure, spotless and radiant bride - will live with Him in His heavenly palace forever.
His holy fire may bring judgment to the wicked, but it builds humility, faith and purity in those who seek an ever-deeper relationship with Jesus. For He promises to bring His faithful remnant "through the fire" and to "refine them as silver is refined." Then, when finished, He "will say, ‘This is My people’; and each one will say, 'The Lord is my God.'" Zechariah 13:9-14:1 What a day that will be!
He often uses my circumstances (problems, failures, people in my life, ...) as fuel for that refining fire, but His flames never burn out of control. Since He made me, he knows well the intensity of the heat required to cleanse and purify; so He guards the temperature with wisdom and love, never allowing more heat than I can bear at any moment.
While He works, He watches me, sees past the present dross and delights in the pure gold that begins to shine through here and there. He is far from finished, but He foresees the beauty and radiance of all the person He will make me. So He continues to apply pressure and heat until this hard lump of alloy -- which often looks good enough to me -- is melted and broken.
With the passing of time, the hidden and imbedded dross rises to the surface where it becomes visible and reachable. Softened and surrendered, I yield all of myself to the Fire, giving Him both the gold and the impurities. He separates the two, skims off the dross, and begins to mold the rest to His (not my) perfect standard.
Imperfect as I am, I have learned to welcome His training. I long to be more sensitive to His will, more obedient in my daily walk and more willing to lay down my life for His sake. And all the more so, because He has shown me what happens when He leaves me to myself.
Years ago, after I trusted in Jesus Christ as my Savior, He sent me to a local Veterans' Hospital to bring His truth and love to lonely and needy patients. Some had been involved in the occult; others doubted or mocked Christianity. Often, when I would walk into one of the large wards, a few men would ask sincere questions while skeptics would gleefully shout the theological challenges they had planned in my absence.
God would give me loving responses and guide me to Biblical answers. What's more, He provided spiritual protection against an onslaught of profanities. I would "put on the Armor of God," and His fire seemed to burn off the impurities as soon they hit.
One day a chaplain told me about a therapy or encounter session recently started for both patients and staff. Seated in a circle, the patients would vent their anger and shout their opinions to one another. "It really freed me up," he said. "You ought to try it."
I did -- without asking God or my husband. Seated in the circle, I heard the same profanities that bombarded me daily on the wards. But something was different. I had entered a spiritual battle zone without my armor. Since He didn't send me, He allowed me to face the consequences of my disobedience.
Driving home, I kept hearing in my mind the same vulgar words that had been shouted by the members of the group. I felt contaminated and horrified. Though I confessed my sin and prayed for His cleansing, He allowed those words to torment me daily for three months. Then He suddenly caused them to disappear, but I had learned my lesson.
Now, as then, I want His fire. I long for the purity it produces. When the heat becomes painfully intense, I remember God's loving wisdom, His ultimate purpose, and His encouraging words through His disciple, Peter:
"In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while, if need be, you have been grieved by various trials, that the genuineness of your faith, being much more precious than gold that perishes, though it is tested by fire, may be found to praise, honor, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ, whom having not seen you love." 1 Peter 1:6-9
"But may the God of all grace, who called us to His eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after you have suffered a while, perfect, establish, strengthen, and settle you. To Him be the glory...." 1 Pet 5:10-11
One great day, the Consuming Fire will test what has been produced through my life. "...it will be revealed by fire; and the fire will test each one’s work...." May I be found ready to endure that final heat, and may He find in me eternal treasures of "gold, silver and precious stones." 1 Corinthians 3:12-13
Precious Lord, be a Consuming Fire in me. Burn off all ties to the old life; melt away selfishness, pride, impure thoughts and presumptuous sins. Remove all that hinders the beauty and brightness of Your wonderful life in and through me. Make me the friend and bride you can enjoy for all eternity. Thank You, my Beloved.
References: Exodus 24:17; Numbers 11:1, 16:35; Deuteronomy 4:24, 9:3; Psalm 50:3, 97:3; Isaiah 66:15; Daniel 7:9; 1 Corinthians 3:12-13; 2 Thessalonians 1:8; Hebrews 10:27; 1 Peter 1:7, 5:10; 2 Peter 3:10-13.
What it means to be a Christian
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