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By Carl Stevens

“Tests help us to see where we are, what we have learned, and what’s in our heart.”

Fire is one of the most powerful forces in the universe. Fire can destroy your house and all your possessions in less than an hour, and it can reduce an entire forest to a pile of ash and charred wood. It's also a terrifying weapon, with nearly unlimited destructive power. Fire kills more people every year than any other force of nature. The Bible actually says that, just like God used water to destroy the ancient world and the ungodly with a flood in the time of Noah, the present heavens and earth have been reserved for a day of judgement with fire. The current heavens and earth will be completely destroyed with fire. (2 Peter 3:7-10) God will create a new heaven and a new earth. (Rev 21:1, Isa 65:17)

Even though fire can be such a destructive force at the same time it is extraordinarily helpful. It gave humans the first form of portable light and heat. It also gave us the ability to cook food, forge metal tools, form pottery, harden bricks and drive power plants. There are few things that have done as much harm to humanity as fire, and few things that have done as much good. So fire can be a blessing and a curse. It depends on how it is used.

Fire is used in the refining process of precious metals such as gold, silver and platinum. These metals are placed in a crucible or furnace and heated to extremely high temperatures until they become liquid and all the impurities are brought to the surface. Everything that does not belong is then removed from the metal to make it pure. That is the same thing that God does in our spiritual lives. The Bible says that God is a consuming fire. (Heb 12:29) When we surrender our lives to Him the refining process begins. God's mission is to purify us from sin and conform us into the image of His Son. (Romans 8:29) Have you ever felt like everything in your life was at a boiling point bringing you to a place of stress and constant pressure? Like nothing seems to be going right for you and it causes anger, frustration, self-doubt and loneliness to be magnified and come bubbling to the surface. Old ways of thinking and speaking that you thought were long gone can start to come out again. If so, you are not alone. But this is what trials and tests are designed to do. God uses pressure to bring out the impurities inside of us. If the impurities are not brought to the surface then they can't be dealt with. They have to be brought out so that they can be identified in order to be changed. (Prov 17:3) says "Fire tests the purity of silver and gold, but the Lord tests the heart." Tests help us to see where we are, what we have learned and what’s in our heart. You can't get to the next grade in school without taking tests. You can't get to the next level in a video game without beating the boss on level one. We have to learn to beat that devil on the level that we are on so that we can continue to grow and move forward in God. Trials, testing and even suffering are mandatory. Everyone of God's people are required to go through this testing. (1 Peter 4:12-13) says it like this. "Dear friends, don't be surprised at the fiery trials you are going through, as if something strange were happening to you. Instead, be very glad - for these trials make you partners with Christ in his suffering, so that you will have the wonderful joy of seeing his glory when it is revealed to all the world." Even though this suffering is mandatory it is not without reward or purpose. What we suffer now is nothing compared to the glory he will reveal to us later. (Romans 8:18) Another thing to remember is that there will always be trials and tests in our life as long as we live on this earth. It does not matter if you have been a Christian for 1 year or 50 years troubles will continue to come. I think half the battle is being spiritually and mentally prepared for the fight. As long as we walk these battles out with God we are overcomers. I have been working in the automotive industry for 8 years now as a salesman. The brand I have worked with most is Ford. In order to be able to sell Ford's product to consumers you have to carry Ford's certification. This requires taking a lot of tests to keep certified. When you first start you literally have to take tests 8 hours a day for almost two weeks. Now after you get certified there are only a couple of new tests every month. But there are always new tests. Its harder when your new because you are hit with all these tests all at once that you are not accustomed to taking. Being new in our walk with God can be similar. Sometimes we expect everything to start going great for us when we give our lives to God. But much of the time all hell starts to break loose. I've heard so many new believers including myself say," Man, I didn't have this much trouble in the world when I wasn't serving God." The truth is when you say yes to Jesus you become marked by God and a marked target of the enemy. God allows these struggles to purify and certify you for the Kingdom. There is a scripture that I love in Ecclesiastes that I preached about at my brother's funeral several years ago. It says, "Sorrow is better than laughter, for sadness has a refining influence on us.' I want all of you that are struggling with sadness and loneliness in this season of life to know that God has a purpose in it. You are not forgotten. You are precious metals to the Lord like gold, silver and platinum. You are being purified with fire. God will someday use fire to destroy the present heavens and earth so that he may create new ones. He is using fire by trials now to create something new in you.

"So be truly glad. There is wonderful joy ahead, even though you must endure many trials for a little while. These trials will show that your faith is genuine. It is being tested as fire tests and purifies gold - though your faith is far more precious than mere gold. So when your faith remains strong through many trials, it will bring you much praise and glory and honor on the day when Jesus Christ is revealed to the whole world. (1 Peter 1:6-7)

Remember that there is purpose in every struggle and there is no hurt that is wasted with God. Keep pushing and know that we are standing with you all. Much love and many prayers, Carl


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