Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Peace with God: Is 51:21-23

"Therefore, please hear this, you afflicted, who are drunk, but not with wine: thus says your Lord, the LORD, even your God who contends for His people, behold, I have taken out of your hand the cup of reeling, the chalice of My anger; you will never drink it again. I will put it into the hand of your tormentors, who have said to you, 'Lie down that we may walk over you.' You have even made your back like the ground and like the street for those who walk over it." (Isaiah 51:21-23)
For every Christian, there come a point in their life where everything changes. One moment we are objects of God's wrath and the next moment we have become objects of His love. Paul reminds us that we "were by nature children of wrath, even as the rest. But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, made us alive together with Christ." (Ephesians 2:3-5) We were sinners, lost, and separated from God, but God has brought us near and reconciled us to the Father. "But now in Christ Jesus you who formerly were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ." (Ephesians 2:13) Now we have peace with God and His promise to us is that we will never drink of the cup of His anger again.

We have become members of God's household and now, instead of contending against us, God contends against those who contend against us. God is on our side and He is warring against the enemies of our souls. We no longer have need to fear God nor fear our enemy. God has received us and He has put our enemies on notice. What confidence this brings to our souls.

David Robison

Monday, June 27, 2005

I will not die in prison: Is 51:14

"The exile will soon be set free, and will not die in the dungeon, nor will his bread be lacking." (Isaiah 51:14)
This verse has been my confession of late. God is in the process of healing and restoring our lives. The Apostle John said that "The Son of God appeared for this purpose, to destroy the works of the devil." (1 John 3:8) The Greek word for "destroy" means to loosen. Jesus came to loosen the works for the enemy in our lives. The word picture is of a ball of string that is all knotted up. Jesus came to untie the knots and to loose the string. Knot by knot, Jesus is loosing us and setting us free.

As I consider this verse, I am aware that there are still areas of my life that need loosening. There are still areas where I am not completely free. I am still a work in progress. I am not perfect, but I'm also not the person I used to be. This scripture has encouraged me that, though there are still areas of my life that need redeeming, I am not to die in the prison. God is still working in my life. He is still saving and delivering me. Paul encourages us "that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus." (Philippians 1:6) My destiny is not to die in my wretchedness, but to be set free. I may still have a long way to go but, bless God, He's not done with me yet!

David Robison

Saturday, June 25, 2005

The fear of man: Is 51:12-13

"I, even I, am He who comforts you. Who are you that you are afraid of man who dies and of the son of man who is made like grass, that you have forgotten the LORD your Maker, who stretched out the heavens and laid the foundations of the earth, that you fear continually all day long because of the fury of the oppressor, as he makes ready to destroy? But where is the fury of the oppressor?" (Isaiah 51:12-13)
King Solomon said, "The fear of man brings a snare, but he who trusts in the LORD will be exalted." (Proverbs 29:25) The fear of man brings a snare. As Christians, we are to fear God and not man. Through Isaiah, God tells us that when we live in the fear of man it can lead us to forgetting God. We forget what God has said, we forget His plans and purpose for our lives, and we focus instead on what other people say and their plan and purpose for our life. The will of other people becomes more important to us than the will of God.

One such person in the Bible that forgot God due to his fear of man was King Saul. In one particular instance Saul was instructed by God through the prophet Samuel to make war with analog. Specifically, he was instructed to "go and strike analog and utterly destroy all that he has, and do not spare him; but put to death both man and woman, child and infant, ox and sheep, camel and donkey." (1 Samuel 15:3) But Saul and the people were unwilling to utterly destroy all that was Amalek's. "But Saul and the people spared Agag and the best of the sheep, the oxen, the fatlings, the lambs, and all that was good, and were not willing to destroy them utterly; but everything despised and worthless, that they utterly destroyed." (1 Samuel 15:9) God again sends the prophet Samuel to Saul, but this time to rebuke him for his disobedience. After some discussion, Saul realizes his sins, he confesses "I have sinned; I have indeed transgressed the command of the LORD and your words, because I feared the people and listened to their voice." (1 Samuel 15:24) Saul's fear of man caused him to listen to their voice rather than the voice of God. He forgot the words of the Lord and listened rather to the desire of the people. King Saul was one who was constantly being snared by the fear of man.

We need to understand the tremendous destructive power of the fear of man. We need to learn to identify it in our lives and then to take action to eradicate it from our life. The only antidote that I know of for the fear of man is to learn to trust in the Lord. "When I am afraid, I will put my trust in You. In God, whose word I praise,in God I have put my trust; I shall not be afraid. What can mere man do to me?" (Psalms 56:3-4) The remedy for fear is faith. As we grow in our faith and trust in Jesus, we will find that the fear of man has an ever decreasing hold on our lives.

David Robison

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Obtaining gladness and joy: Is 51:11

"So the ransomed of the LORD will return and come with joyful shouting to Zion, and everlasting joy will be on their heads. They will obtain gladness and joy, and sorrow and sighing will flee away." (Isaiah 51:11)
The Hebrew word for "obtain" means to "reach, obtain unto, overtake." The sentence could easily be translated, "They shall overtake gladness and joy." God has created for us a highway by which we may return to Him. On this highway, God has placed gladness and joy. As we walk along the highway, we will overtake gladness and joy. Gladness and joy are found as we return to the Lord and as we walk along the way.

I have know some people who have "sat down" in their walks with the Lord. Along the way they became hurt or offended, so they stopped walking and sat down, waiting for God to heal them. They long for times of gladness and joy and wonder why God has not yet granted such times. So they sit, and wait, and wonder when God will move. Its not that God has refused gladness and joy for them, He has already made provisions for them, its just that He has provided them a little ways up the road from where they are. As long as they sit and wait, they will never find the gladness and joy the desire and need. If they would rise up, return to the Lord, and move forward down the Highway of Holiness, then they would overtake what they so much desire.

There is a principal that God is trying to show us. "Therefore, strengthen the hands that are weak and the knees that are feeble, and make straight paths for your feet, so that the limb which is lame may not be put out of joint , but rather be healed."(Hebrews 12:12-13) There are so many people waiting for a healing from God before they will walk with God. Yet God has already provided the healing they need, its just ahead of them on the highway that leads to God. Paul counsels us to "make straight paths for your feet." The times when we don't feel like walking with God are the times we need to the most. When we feel like giving up and sitting down, we need to stand up and press on towards God. We need to live what is right and trust God to provide the things we need along the way. Joy and gladness are waiting for us, let us press forward on God's highway and overtake them!

David Robison

Monday, June 20, 2005

A new heavens and earth: Is 51:6

"Lift up your eyes to the sky, then look to the earth beneath; for the sky will vanish like smoke, and the earth will wear out like a garment and its inhabitants will die in like manner; but My salvation will be forever, and My righteousness will not wane." (Isaiah 51:6)
The Book of Revelation records the end of the present heavens and earth. "Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth passed away, and there is no longer any sea." (Revelation 21:1) There are a number of scriptures through out the Old and New Testament that describe the passing away of the present heavens and earth and God's creation of a new heavens and earth. These scriptures convince me that God is speaking of a literal destruction of this present creation. I do not believe that God is speaking figuratively but literally. One day God will destroy the present heavens and earth and those who are His will inherit a new heavens and earth created by God and without sin. "But according to His promise we are looking for new heavens and a new earth, in which righteousness dwells." (2 Peter 3:13) This is certainly something worth waiting for!

David Robison

Sunday, June 19, 2005

Look to Abraham: Is 51:1-3

" 'Listen to me, you who pursue righteousness, who seek the LORD: look to the rock from which you were hewn and to the quarry from which you were dug. Look to Abraham your father and to Sarah who gave birth to you in pain; when he was but one I called him, then I blessed him and multiplied him.' Indeed, the LORD will comfort Zion; He will comfort all her waste places. And her wilderness He will make like Eden, and her desert like the garden of the LORD; joy and gladness will be found in her, thanksgiving and sound of a melody." (Isaiah 51:1-3)
This scripture was spoken to the literal and physical Israel, however this scripture also applies to all of us who believe. Paul wrote, "Therefore, be sure that it is those who are of faith who are sons of Abraham." (Galatians 3:7) And, regarding the promises God made to Abraham, Paul teaches us, "For this reason it is by faith, in order that it may be in accordance with grace, so that the promise will be guaranteed to all the descendants, not only to those who are of the Law, but also to those who are of the faith of Abraham, who is the father of us all." (Romans 4:16) So what can we learn by looking to Abraham? What does it mean that we were hewn from the quarry that was Abraham?
  1. We share Abraham's character and nature. Abraham was a man of faith and we share the same life of faith that our father Abraham had. Abraham is the father of all who believes, "and he received the sign of circumcision, a seal of the righteousness of the faith which he had while uncircumcised, so that he might be the father of all who believe without being circumcised, that righteousness might be credited to them, and the father of circumcision to those who not only are of the circumcision, but who also follow in the steps of the faith of our father Abraham which he had while uncircumcised." (Romans 4:11-12) Our father was a man of faith and we are also called to be men and women of faith. Abraham lived by faith and so should we. This is not to say that Abraham was always perfect in his faith, but by faith he grew in his walk and fellowship with God. His walk of faith was always growing. "For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, 'BUT THE RIGHTEOUS man SHALL LIVE BY FAITH.' " (Romans 1:17) We should strive to have the faith of Abraham, to believe God and to take Him at His word. Abraham did this and God counted it to him as righteousness.
  2. We share in the blessings and promises of Abraham. "For the promise to Abraham or to his descendants that he would be heir of the world was not through the Law, but through the righteousness of faith." (Romans 4:13) God made certain promises to Abraham and, as his descendents, we are heirs of those promises. Why? Not because we deserve them, not because we worked for them, but because we have the faith of our father Abraham. What were these promises and blessings? "Therefore, be sure that it is those who are of faith who are sons of Abraham. The Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, preached the gospel beforehand to Abraham, saying, 'ALL THE NATIONS WILL BE BLESSED IN YOU.' So then those who are of faith are blessed with Abraham, the believer." (Galatians 3:7-9) The promise to Abraham was that he would become the father of a nation that would have a righteousness that was not derived from the law but rather a righteousness that came by faith. We are the living fulfillment of this promise. This promise of forgiveness and righteousness by faith is ours. We inherited it not by law and not be being a physical descendent, but we inherited it by faith.
  3. We share Abraham's destiny. "All these died in faith, without receiving the promises, but having seen them and having welcomed them from a distance, and having confessed that they were strangers and exiles on the earth. For those who say such things make it clear that they are seeking a country of their own. But as it is, they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God; for He has prepared a city for them." (Hebrews 11:13-14,16) To Abraham's natural descendants God gave them a physical land, the land of Canaan, but for us, He has reserved something even greater, a heavenly country. God is preparing a place for us with Him. A place where we may always be with Him, in His presence. "In My Father's house are many dwelling places; if it were not so, I would have told you; for I go to prepare a place for you. If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself, that where I am, there you may be also." (John 14:2-3) Our home is not on this earth. We have an inheritance that is not of this creation. We are merely sojourners and strangers, like our father Abraham. Someday, Jesus will return to take us home with Him. In that moment, we will be changed, and we will enter into glory with the rest of the saints, with all those who were of faith, even Abraham.
David Robison

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Making your own light: Is 50:10-11

"Who is among you that fears the LORD, that obeys the voice of His servant, that walks in darkness and has no light? Let him trust in the name of the LORD and rely on his God. Behold, all you who kindle a fire, who encircle yourselves with firebrands, walk in the light of your fire and among the brands you have set ablaze. This you will have from My hand: You will lie down in torment." (Isaiah 50:10-11)
How do we respond when we don't know what to do? Even people who fear God and love His Son have times when they seem to "walk in darkness." There are times when our path is clear, we know what we are suppose to do and where we are suppose to go. It's as if we have in our heart a map that outlines God's purpose and destiny for our lives, God's path for us is clear and it's full of light. There are other times, however, when our path is shrouded in darkness. We cannot see where we are going and we are unsure of our next step. What do we do when, facing times of decision, we have no clear word from God? When things don't make sense and we cannot understand the events that are happening around us, what are we to do? These verses tells us that we are to trust in God.

When darkness envelopes our path the worst thing we can do is to walk by our own light. It is tempting to convince ourselves that we can figure it out on our own. "We're smart people, we can solve this problem, we can figure it out." Yet, without God's wisdom, we are destine for failure. This reminds me of the story of Abraham. Abraham had been promised a son, but as the years passed by, no son was forth coming. He had a promise, but he didn't know how to bring the promise about. So he and Sarah cooked up a plan. "So Sarai said to Abram, 'Now behold, the LORD has prevented me from bearing children. Please go in to my maid; perhaps I will obtain children through her.' And Abram listened to the voice of Sarai." (Genesis 16:2) It was a good plan, but it wasn't the Lord's plan. From this one act of impatience has come thousands of years of conflict and struggle in the middle east. When we cannot figure out what to do, we need to wait on the Lord and trust His to show us His plan is in His own time. We need to wait for His light instead of trying to make our own light.

There is one other way in which many make their own light. It happens when we find a discrepancy between what the Word of God says and what our experience tells us. The Word of God says that, "by His scourging we are healed." (Isaiah 53:5) Yet we don't see anyone being healed around us, so we invent doctrine to try and explain away what the Word of God says so that we can harmonize it with our experience. We conclude that healing must have been for then and not for now, that's why no one is getting healed today. We see the early Christians being baptized in the Holy Spirit in the book of Acts and we see the dynamic expressions of the Holy Spirit through them. Yet we ourselves have never experienced anything like it in our own lives, so we invent a doctrine that not only allocates the Baptism in the Holy Spirit to the first century church but also condemns those who claim to have received it today. In these, and in many other ways, we are living our lives by our own light, by doctrines invented in our own minds, and not by the light of the Word of God. Walking by the Word of God takes faith, especially when it doesn't make sense. But God has given us His promise, "Those who hopefully wait for Me will not be put to shame." (Isaiah 49:23)

David Robison

Eternal Perspectives

This is a very encouraging article posted by a friend and fellow blogger. I thought my readers might like to check it out.
David Robison

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

A prophecy of the Savior: Is 50:5-6

"The Lord GOD has opened My ear; and I was not disobedient nor did I turn back. I gave My back to those who strike Me, and My cheeks to those who pluck out the beard; I did not cover My face from humiliation and spitting." (Isaiah 50:5-6)
Jesus fulfilled this scripture.
"Then he released Barabbas for them; but after having Jesus scourged, he handed Him over to be crucified. They stripped Him and put a scarlet robe on Him. And after twisting together a crown of thorns, they put it on His head, and a reed in His right hand; and they knelt down before Him and mocked Him, saying, 'Hail, King of the Jews!' They spat on Him, and took the reed and began to beat Him on the head." (Matthew 27:26,28-30)

David Robison

Monday, June 13, 2005

When God calls, is anyone listening? Is 50:1-2

"Where is the certificate of divorce by which I have sent your mother away? Or to whom of My creditors did I sell you? Behold, you were sold for your iniquities, and for your transgressions your mother was sent away. Why was there no man when I came? When I called, why was there none to answer? Is My hand so short that it cannot ransom? Or have I no power to deliver?" (Isaiah 50:1-2)
Israel's sins had separated her from God. Because of her unfaithfulness, God divorced her and sent her away. Worse then her sins was that there was no one to intercede for her, no one to plead her case. God came looking for someone to intercede, someone to stand in the gap, but He found none. In then end, because there was no one to intercede, God Himself would have to come to intercede and to save His people.

Several years ago, I was visiting some Christian friends. As I spent the day with them, it became apparent that there were issues in their lives that were causing them trouble. That night, as I lay in bed, I began to recount their issues, which seemed evident to me, but seemed hidden to them. It was so clear to me what they needed to do, so why couldn't they see it? As I considered their faults, Jesus spoke to me. He challenged me that, if I really loved them, I would pray for them instead of judging them. God wanted to move on their behalf, but when He came to see if I was listening, He found me judging not praying. God came looking for an intercessor, but found a judge instead.

Who do we know who need help from God? Who are those we know who are stuck some situation or are facing difficult issues in their lives? God is always ready to move in their lives but perhaps He is waiting to find someone who will intercede for them. We may not be the answer to someone's prayer, but we can pray the prayer that God will answer on their behalf. Let us become our brother's intercessor and leave the judging to God.

David Robison

Saturday, June 11, 2005

Overcrowded with God's blessings: Is 49:19-21

"For your waste and desolate places and your destroyed land -- surely now you will be too cramped for the inhabitants, and those who swallowed you will be far away. The children of whom you were bereaved will yet say in your ears, 'The place is too cramped for me; make room for me that I may live here.' Then you will say in your heart, 'Who has begotten these for me, since I have been bereaved of my children and am barren, an exile and a wanderer? And who has reared these? Behold, I was left alone; from where did these come?' " (Isaiah 49:19-21)
God is speaking of a blessing that He would soon bring upon His people Israel. A blessing that they could not comprehend nor contain. God is about to bless Israel with an ingathering of souls that their land will not be able to hold. When God blesses, He does not bless with an adequate amount but in abundance. God's blessings are in abundance, more than enough, beyond what we need. Here are some things to conceder from this scripture.

Church growth does not always need a plan. The growth that Israel was about to experience was not the result of a cleverly devised plan. Israel did not have a five year plan for growth. They did not devise multiple programs to entice people to come in. Their main focus was not growth but rather reconciliation with God. They set their hearts on returning to God, on following Him, and on obeying Him. They did not seek growth but, as the walked with God, God added to their numbers. Jesus likens the Kingdom of God to a farmer, "The kingdom of God is like a man who casts seed upon the soil; and he goes to bed at night and gets up by day, and the seed sprouts and grows -- how, he himself does not know. The soil produces crops by itself; first the blade, then the head, then the mature grain in the head. But when the crop permits, he immediately puts in the sickle, because the harvest has come." (Mark 4:26-29) Growth happens even when we do not know how. Perhaps we should spend less time worrying about growth and more time pursuing God.

Bareness can be the birthplace of fruitfulness. I have know churches and Christians who at one time had fruitful ministries but, due to various reasons, ended up in a place of bareness. Israel's bareness was the result of God's punishment for her sins. She had forsaken God and her punishment was exile from the promised land of God. She was barren but God was bigger than her bareness. Our sins may lead us to a barren place but, by the grace of God, we need not stay there. God never intends bareness to be a destination, only, if need be, a place we journey through on our way to greater things in God. Conceder Peter, he failed Jesus and denied Him even after affirming his loyalty and his readiness to die with Him. Peter's heart and spirit were broken at the realization that he had denied his friend and savior. Peter no longer considered himself one of the disciples. This is why angles said, "But go, tell His disciples and Peter , 'He is going ahead of you to Galilee; there you will see Him, just as He told you.' "(Mark 16:7) The angles included Peter separately because he no longer counted himself among the disciples. However, from his place of bareness, God raised him up and used him to preach the first sermon in His new church, the result of which was the harvest of about 3000 souls. Bareness need not mark our end, but may be the place from which God grants us fruitfulness.

No one is too lost for the Lord. "Even the captives of the mighty man will be taken away, and the prey of the tyrant will be rescued; for I will contend with the one who contends with you, and I will save your sons." (Isaiah 49:25) Satan has done a great job enslaving mankind. People are enslaved by many different vices. They are captive to addictions, to ungodly beliefs, and to their own lusts, desires, and ambitions. All men are sinners, but for some, their sins are more evident. This can lead us to judge some as "easier" to save and others as "beyond all hope." God is jealous for His people. He will contend for them. He will fight to deliver them from their captors. No matter what the entanglement, God is able to deliver. No one is beyond the power of God to save and to restore. We must never presume to know who God will save and who will be lost. We cannot know that which is only known by the knowledge and wisdom of God. We must always be willing to share the gospel with everyone God brings our way, even if they seem hopeless to us. After all, if God can save us, He can save anyone.

David Robison

Thursday, June 09, 2005

I will not forget you: Is 49:14-16

"But Zion said, 'The LORD has forsaken me, and the Lord has forgotten me.' Can a woman forget her nursing child and have no compassion on the son of her womb? Even these may forget, but I will not forget you. Behold, I have inscribed you on the palms of My hands; your walls are continually before Me." (Isaiah 49:14-16)
I've often marveled at the fact that, after Jesus rose from the grave, He still bore the wounds in His side and in His hands. When the power of God came to raise Jesus from the dead, it restored Him completely to His former glory, except for the wounds He received in his hands and side during His crucifixion. Why was He healed except for these scars? It wasn't until I read this scripture that I understood, "Behold, I have inscribed you on the palms of My hands." For the rest of eternity, Jesus will bear on His palms the inscription of those He loved and those for whom He died to save.

I am sadened when I think of how easy it is for me to forget God. How I can go all day long, oblivious to God's presence, and not spend any time thinking on Him or talking to Him. Speaking of His people, God remarks, "Can a virgin forget her ornaments, or a bride her attire? Yet My people have forgotten Me days without number." (Jeremiah 2:32) Yet, while we often forget God, He never forgets us! God may be far from our minds, but we are never far from the mind of God, we are forever in His thoughts.

God is always with us, He is forever on our side. Paul wrote to Timothy to encourage him, "If we are faithless, He remains faithful, for He cannot deny Himself." (2 Timothy 2:13) Even when we are faithless towards God, God remains faithful towards us. What great comfort it is to know that our heavenly Father is always watching over us, that He always has our best interests in mind, and we are in His thoughs always, even till eternity. "For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the LORD, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope." (Jeremiah 29:11)

David Robison

On the road

I want to apologies to my regular readers for not keeping up my regular publishing schedule. I like to post at least 3 times a week, however, I have been traveling a lot for work and haven't had the chance to post. Hopefully, my travel is done for a while and I can get back to publishing. Thanks again for visiting my blog. I hope it is a blessing for you. God bless.

David Robison

Sunday, June 05, 2005

Righteousness is right: Is 48:17-19

"Thus says the LORD, your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel, 'I am the LORD your God, who teaches you to profit, who leads you in the way you should go. If only you had paid attention to My commandments! Then your well-being would have been like a river, and your righteousness like the waves of the sea. Your descendants would have been like the sand, and your offspring like its grains; their name would never be cut off or destroyed from My presence.' " (Isaiah 48:17-19)
God commands us for our own benefit. God's standard of righteousness is not arbitrary. God did not haphazardly come up with His laws and commandments. God commands us to live righteously because that's the way He created us to live. When we live God's way, when we live according to his laws, we are living the way we were created to live.

When the spies that Moses sent into the promised land returned, ten of them gave a bad report of the land. Among other things, they said, "The land through which we have gone, in spying it out, is a land that devours its inhabitants." (Numbers 13:32) While they may not have known it, in this saying the spies were correct. We cannot live in the Kingdom of God by our own way. If we try to, it will chew us up and spit us out. We must live in the Kingdom of God according to God's way. The blessings of the Kingdom can only be had when we live in it according to God's way. Solomon said, "Good understanding produces favor, but the way of the treacherous is hard." (Proverbs 13:15) It is hard to live contrary to God's design for our life. When we depart from God's ways, we only find pain and heart ache. Paul said, "For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men who suppress the truth in unrighteousness." (Romans 1:18) When we live a life of sin, we are living a lie. We are living contrary to the nature to which God created us. God created us for righteousness, all other lifestyles hide the truth of who we were created to be and for whom we were created.

Promises await for those who are willing to yield to God's ways, to find the pathway of righteousness, and to live their lives according to its way. "But the path of the righteous is like the light of dawn, that shines brighter and brighter until the full day." (Proverbs 4:18)

David Robison

Friday, June 03, 2005

The furnace of affliction: Is 48:9-11

"For the sake of My name I delay My wrath, and for My praise I restrain it for you, in order not to cut you off. Behold, I have refined you, but not as silver; I have tested you in the furnace of affliction. For My own sake, for My own sake, I will act; for how can My name be profaned? And My glory I will not give to another." (Isaiah 48:9-11)
Everyone who has ever attended school is familiar with taking tests. Teachers administer tests to determine what their students have learned and to identify areas of their education that need further improvement. These tests are diagnostic in nature, they serve to identify what the student knows. Similarly, medical tests are given to identify physical problems within a patient, even problems that may not be immediately evident from just look at them. However, the "testing" of gold if a bit different. The testing of gold has less to do with judging the quality of gold and more to do with the process of purifying gold. The process of testing gold (and silver) involves heating it in a furnace until it melts. Any impurities (known as dross) in the gold will either be burned off or will float to the top. The impurities are then skimmed off leaving behind pure gold.

God is committed to the process of purification in our lives, a process known as sanctification. God calls us "just as you are" but He doesn't want us to stay "just as you are." "For God has not called us for the purpose of impurity, but in sanctification." (1 Thessalonian 4:7) This process of sanctification is often not without cost. Often, God will use the furnace of affliction to accomplish our sanctification and to purify our hearts, minds, and souls. Some things in our lives are easily dealt with, but others must be driven our. Some of our impurities are obvious to all while others are hidden and unknown even to ourselves.

When the children of Israel were preparing to enter the promise land, God warned them to be diligent to rid their new land of the enemies of God. To that end, He tells them "I will send hornets ahead of you so that they will drive out the Hivites, the Canaanites, and the Hittites before you." (Exodus 23:28) There have been times when I have felt like my life was full of hornets. My life seemed to be full of difficulty and pain. Everywhere I turned there seemed to be trouble, and I seemed to be facing issues in my life at every corner, issues that I thought I had already overcome. Was it the work of the devil in my life? No, it was the merciful hand of God exposing and driving out the sins that lay hidden inside. God is so committed to my sanctification that, if need be, He is willing to send the hornets to expose them. The furnace of affliction is not the punishment of a mean God, but rather the merciful purifying hand of our heavenly Father. Thank God that He doesn't leave us to our selves and our sins!

David Robison