“He will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver; he will purify the Levites and refine them like gold and silver. Then the Lord will have men who will bring offerings in righteousness.”
Malachi 3: 3 (see also Isaiah 48: 10 and Proverbs 25: 4)
Ephesians 4: 4-7, 14-15
Have you ever been caught out in open water when a storm comes? It can be truly terrifying, especially if the clouds bring darkness and reduce visibility. You can lose sight of land and so a sense of direction; the reality of vulnerability is huge and you know that you are not in control. There is a sense of this in our Ephesians reading (vs. 14) as Paul warns the Church against false teaching, truths and deceitfulness. Once the Church takes her eyes of God and His truth she can be tossed to and fro like a ship on the ocean which is rudderless and captain-less. This is true for the Church as a whole and individual Christians.
There are indeed many falsehoods permeating Churches that would, can and do divert her from God’s course. Circumstances though can affect the Church in similar ways and, yes, I am obviously thinking about the pandemic and its impact. In all of these situations God calls us to see clearly and act wisely by fixing our eyes on Him. We are reminded in Ephesians that there is one Holy Spirit to guide, one hope in Jesus Christ, one faith to which we are called through baptism and one God who is Father of all (vs. 4-6). In these deep truths we see the Grace by which God has called us and endowed us for mission in His Church (vs. 7). In a storm a sailor needs to hold to the course directed by the Captain, follow the route on the chart shown by the compass and harness the power of the wind. As a Church and Christians we need to hold to God’s course, following the route of His Word (living and written) shown by the Spirit and allow Him to empowered us.
One further truth that can encourage us in these times of trial is the power of God’s refining work. He will use these difficulties to ‘burn off the dross’ of our lives so that we become more like Jesus (see above verses). In my conversations with folk, and in my own life, I have found that these circumstances present a clear challenge, “Do we really believe what we believe?” As our vulnerability displays our lack of control our true foundations in life are revealed. Are we trusting in our own western wealth or the riches of Jesus Christ, is the Church our true family or something just for Sundays, do we live for this world alone or are our hearts set on eternity with God? If we keep our eyes fixed on Jesus and hold our course we can know that God will refine us, grow us and bless us; believe what you believe with all your hearts, believe in the truth of Jesus Christ.
To Ponder: What challenges your belief in Jesus Christ? Where are the eyes of your heart and faith focused? Take your doubts and concerns to the Lord and His Word….ask the Holy Spirit to enlighten and guide.
Prayer: I believe in God, the Father almighty, creator of heaven and earth.
I believe in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord. He was conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit and born of the Virgin Mary. He suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died, and was buried. He descended to the dead. On the third day he rose again. He ascended into heaven, and is seated at the right hand of the Father. He will come again to judge the living and the dead. I believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy catholic Church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and the life everlasting. Amen.
Praise: Refiner’s Fire
Link - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9Y8zP34AhuU
One Faith one Lord
Link - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gVEyrHiSm6Y
In 2023, each week's blog is a follow-up reflection written by the preceding Sunday’s preacher to dig deeper into the sermon topic and explore engaging discussion questions.