"Behold, I have refined thee, but not with silver; I have chosen thee in the furnace of affliction."
Many times we all feel like we are being put under much pressure and stress in life for no reason, but God always has a purpose for everything He does. Here he uses the example of a silver smith melting down ore to clean out the impurities and to shape it the way he wants. God watches us with full attention as he refines us even as a silver smith maintains steady attention on the piece of metal he is working with at the time. But in the text, it talks about God choosing to melt us in the furnace but not exactly like silver.
There are a few differences between how God refines and what a silver smith does. 1) When God refines His people, it is an invisible process. 2) Dr. Bilkes pointed out that when a silver smith works with silver, he starts with a chunk of ore which contains some silver in it, but we are different in the sense that we don't have anything good in us to start out with, God has to totally transform us into what he wants us to be. 3) When God refines His people, he doesn't use a literal furnace, but the furnace of affliction. God will put you in a furnace of affliction as often as He needs until He has us the way He wants us to be.
What We Lose while in the Furnace of Affliction:
1) that feeling of having it altogether - of being secure, strong, safe, in control
2) something of our hardness and independence
3) those impurities and sins - many times we see sins that we never knew existed
"Afflictions don't bring the dross, but reveal the dross"
We have to be careful in our approach to those around us who may be experiencing their own affliction. What may seem like a minor affliction to us, can be a major affliction to someone else. Also, we have to be careful not to compare, saying that we have been through way more, etc.
What We Gain while in the Furnace of Affliction:
1) greater self knowledge -
2) greater views of the Lord and of His grace - Often we feel that God is not there while we are going through affliction, but just like the concentration of a silver smith, God has more concentration on each person going through affliction than any other time.
"I have chosen thee in the furnace of affliction" - God has chosen His people from everlasting, but while they are in the furnace, he focuses more attention on them. One day in the furnace teaches you way more than you could ever learn outside of the furnace. The furnace is the "workshop of election".
3) greater conformity to Christ - if you are in the furnace right now, you have a companion....Jesus Christ.
Have we ever melted before the Lord?
Must God conform to you or will you conform to Him?
You can listen to the whole sermon HERE on Sermon Audio.
African proverb - "A calm sea does not make a skilled sailor"