Furnace People Understand Suffering

converter_furnace“I have refined you, but not as silver is refined.   Rather, I have refined you in the furnace of suffering.

Isaiah 48:10

“Once we have come through the ‘furnace of humiliation,’ desperately, fearfully clinging to Christ for all He is worth, then we are fully equipped to march into somebody else’s furnace.”

‘Blessed with Bipolar”

Becoming a real and an authentic person starts with some basic responses that we’ve made in the presence of Jesus. Amazingly, this simple faith becomes the sole prerequisite granting us the right to enter in the promises of the Lord. If you have those promises you may enter in. However without faith in those promises you won’t find anything real or true. You cannot handle the Kingdom of God unless you’re walking out a brokenness and humility.

Furnace people will often recognize those without any real and tangible connection with God’s work. There are furnace promises, but they, without truly understanding them will walk around in a deception. Often ‘they get religion.’ These are those who land on “the rocky soil.” They become ‘quasi-disciples’ will do and say things that they really don’t really understand.

But furnace people have the connection to that which is honest and true. They rarely enter into anything false or manipulative.  Their own hearts are transformed by the fire, and only then are qualified to minister God’s grace. Only furnace people can enter in. You will know them by their scars.

The Church has a tremendous need for those who have withstood the furnace of humiliation. After we endure its ugliness, and its great evil, we’ll discover that we’re in an altogether different place than when we first started. The Church is waiting for those who went in and then come out on the other side.

I was thinking today about Joseph, and his ordeal, as found in the Book of Genesis chapters 37-50.  He was a rare kind of person. Perhaps, one in a billion. You may emulate but never attain his faith. His confidence in the Lord was true and unassailable.

ironworker (1)Furnace people have the ability to function gracefully at this particular stage.

Furnace people are sovereignly brought to a place where they can minister the grace of God into desperate situations. We must convince ourselves, that furnace people have a gift.  They have been through the worst.  They may be battered and bruised.  But they still stand.  We must look to these who are the gracious agents of a loving God.

Our brothers and sisters have carried the Word with wisdom and grace. They come to us, through the fire. Will we recognize them when they come?

My hope is that you would personally grasp what God has worked in you. That really is your true directive.  The things good or bad, that have happened to you are part of how you’ll understand grace. He awaits for you to respond.  Will you come to Him, through the grace you find in the flames? The most gracious people you’ll ever meet are those who endured God’s furnace.

 “He will sit like a refiner of silver, burning away the dross. He will purify the Levites, refining them like gold and silver, so that they may once again offer acceptable sacrifices to the Lord.”

Malachi 3:3

aabryscript

 

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The Colorful Church

The Church of Many Colors

10 “His intent was that now, through the church, the manifold wisdom of God should be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly realms, 11 according to his eternal purpose that he accomplished in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

Ephesians 3:10-11, NIV

3 “Now Israel loved Joseph more than all his children, because he was the son of his old age. Also he made him a tunic of many colors.

Genesis 37:3, NKJV

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“The complaint that church is boring is never made by people in awe.” 

R.C. Sproul

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This word “manifold” is very curious and quite engaging. In the Old Testament this particular word is used to describe Joseph’s coat of many colors. I can only imagine that it was striped like a rainbow, or maybe even tied-dyed. Whatever it was, Joseph was quite distinctive as he wore his colorful coat.

Joseph’s coat

Paul in Ephesians 3, intentionally borrows this word to explain “the manifold wisdom of God.” Paul’s use of this dramatic imagery of Joseph’s coat to describe God’s wonderful wisdom that has saturated the Church. There is something variegated in this wisdom (balance, comprehension, understanding) that infuses His Church.

We are people of color. There is wisdom given to each believer. This defines us, and portrays us. God’s own wisdom, defined quite incredibly in our hearts and spirits, describes our coloration and hue.

Some are merciful, and others are bold. Some are very gentle, and others are “prophetic” and sharp. A few are wise, and others can endure much. But our personal coloring should never threaten another. Those who see only blue– should never be shaken when another sees yellow.

Our fleshly attitudes would militate against this understanding. We seem to insist that everyone be green, or yellow even. But this isn’t how God through the Holy Spirit comes to our spirits. We should receive each brother and sister, in the wisdom that God has chosen, to flow and grow. It seems we are each a “prism” that reflects a certain light.

We can see the “gifts of the Holy Spirit” in 1 Corinthians 12:4-11. They are distributed (but definitely never ‘dumped.’) They come out in many ways through many different personalities and backgrounds. But it seems we are slowly learning that each believer has a definite place and purpose.

I suppose that pride confines us into something that is restrictive. We definitely prefer ideas and proclivities we can control (or maybe label.)  Perhaps, it is we that need to be adjusted. We should see the broadness of God’s grace, and how each one is touched and shaped.

The Church is God’s unique reservoir of wisdom and grace for the world. We gleam with the certain light of His presence and goodness. Each believer, radiates an aspect of grace from the heart of God.

We are indeed the “Church of Many Colors.”

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aabryscript

A Case of Exceptional Goodness

“He wouldn’t do it. He said to his master’s wife, “Look, with me here, my master doesn’t give a second thought to anything that goes on here—he’s put me in charge of everything he owns. He treats me as an equal. The only thing he hasn’t turned over to me is you. You’re his wife, after all! How could I violate his trust and sin against God?”

 “She pestered him day after day after day, but he stood his ground. He refused to go to bed with her.”

Genesis 39:9-10, MSG

Joseph is a blazing star in the Old Testament.  Everything he does is remarkable. He carries this exceptionalism into all that he does, or directs.  He realizes the blessing he has been given.  He can easily describe his status– and he is quite aware of the deep presence that overshadows his life.  He will not pretend that any of this has come about as a result of his personal giftedness or goodness.

Joseph refuses to negotiate, for he knows who he is, exactly.  First, he is not Potiphar. He cannot make it seem otherwise.  The amazing things that have come upon Potiphar’s life, belong to him, and him alone.  Joseph has a sure understanding of this fact, and he does not try to blur the issues, no matter how “sweet and cute” the possibilities. He just says “no!”

When we look to Joseph, we find that he has retreated into a special place of protection.  For a man, there is a deep attraction for sexual conquest and pleasure. Joseph has processed this, way before us. And he is not enticed by this lie.  (And my friend, it is a lie.)

Joseph is a wonder.  He is full of grace and a certain goodness.  From him, we can fully understand a heart that is set apart by an exceptional sweetness. Joseph has a certain kindness and goodness.  He responds to all that is evil, with a greatness, and a complete awareness of what is right.

In our scriptural selection, we see clearly the effort that the wife of Potiphar’s wife made to seduce Joseph.  However, her lust will not direct his life.  He will not give in to his deep desires.  He simply refuses to enter into the seduction issues of an out-of-control passion.  He won’t be controlled by lust.

When we look directly at Joseph, we see a man who has chosen a deep path of faithfulness. He has separated himself from a difficult darkness.  He now is a real and definite example for us who must endure a deep testing of our own.  The darkness we face is especially crafty and exceptionally black.  We can only really trust in His promise to cover and sustain us. And to learn to say no!

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