Glimpses of Hope in the Furnace of Affliction
Every one of us is going to experience trials, tribulations, sufferings, troubles, discouragements, disappointments, heartaches, sickness, and disease. This comes with life. No amount of money, faith, prayers, or confessions will prevents us from the hard knocks of life. This is the result of the fall of man. We can blame Adam and Eve. Of course, if we were in their place we would have done the same thing. Do you believe that, or do you think that you would have responded differently?
If we think we would have responded differently than Adam and Eve, then we are guaranteed to experience some trials. One of the purposes for trials is to cast down the haughty attitude of man.
So each of us are going to go through what we call the furnace of affliction. It is the fire of the Holy Spirit. The fire actually operates in two modes. The fire either destroys or refines. And the fire either comes because of our foolish sinful decisions, or because the Lord is molding and shaping us into His image. As a believer, in the light of eternity, it really does not matter what caused us to go through the furnace. Ultimately we become a reflection of Jesus Christ. However, it is much easier to experience the cleansing fire of the Holy Spirit instead of the consuming fire of the Holy Spirit.
Furnace of Consuming Fire or the Fire of Judgment
As Christians, we can make a choice as to what type of furnace we go through. When we willfully choose sin, or bound up in sinful habits, we will experience the furnace of consuming fire or the fire of judgment. We will experience depression, loss of relationships–we will smell like smoke and we will be singed; maybe even more than singed. We may encounter third degree burns.
What is interesting about this furnace is that our sinful actions cause the fire to burn. When we repent from the deeds of darkness, there is no longer fuel for the fire. Take heed, the fire of judgment must continue until the sin is destroyed. For the wicked who do not repent, they are destroyed by the fire.
An example of the Furnace of the Consuming Fire-my anger. Consequences-divorce, loss of opportunities to minister, depression for years, destruction in others lives including my son. The Good News is that God has chosen to allow me to be married again (in spite of me thinking that I should not be married again), I am effectively ministering again, I no longer have depression for several years, my son is making healthy choices overall in his life.
Glimpses of Hope
For the unrepentant sinner, there at times is no hope of being delivered from the fire. However, for those who know Jesus, the Lord will continuously give us glimpses of hope even in the midst of the Consuming Fire. So even in the hardest of tribulations that are our own fault, he gives us hope. He brings people, circumstances, Himself to let us know that we will make it through the fire. Maybe some of things we hope for do not come to pass, but the hope was enough to get us through the fire.
My glimpses of hope-Pastor Dave, Pastor Eric, anger management, counseling, medication.
Victory in the End for Christians
The good news for Christians is that even though we may be burned and have scars on this earth, the Lord promises us a reward in the end for surviving through the fire. And sometimes, He even removes the scars here on earth. (Restores a marriage, heals a body that has been abused by drugs, gives less jail time, gives us favor before man).
One of our goals as a Christian should be to offer glimpses of hope to those who are going through the furnace of affliction fueled by the fire of judgment.
How many know that it is the glimpse of hope that causes a person to want to be set free. It is the glimpses of hope that gives us the strength to go through the fire.
1 Thes. 5:11
“Therefore encourage one another, and build up one
another, just as you also are doing.”
“Brethren, even if a man is caught in any trespass, you who are spiritual, restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness; each one looking to yourself, lest you too be tempted.”
“My brethren, if any among you strays from the truth, and one turns him back,  let him know that he who turns a sinner from the error of his way will save his soul from death, and will cover a multitude of sins.”
Hope-not just to Christians, but to the lost. How do I know we are to do this even if a sinner is in the fire? Because Jesus is our example. How many of us were living in sin as unbelievers and God intervened in our life. He showed us mercy when we deserved no mercy. When we give hope to the lost, it may be the very catalyst that brings change in their life. Too many times Christians what to heap condemnation and guilt on sinners.
The Refiners Furnace
When we are going through the refiners furnace, it may be hot, it may not be fun, we may wonder if we are going to survive through the fire, but we will not be burned. We will not even smell like smoke.
“He answered and said, "Look! I see four men loosed and walking about in the midst of the fire without harm, and the appearance of the fourth is like a son of the gods!"  Then Nebuchadnezzar came near to the door of the furnace of blazing fire; he responded and said, "Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego, come out, you servants of the Most High God, and come here!" Then Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego came out of the midst of the fire.  And the satraps, the prefects, the governors and the king's high officials gathered around and saw in regard to these men that the fire had no effect on the bodies of these men nor was the hair of their head singed, nor were their trousers damaged, nor had the smell of fire even come upon them.” Hallelujah!
When we are going through the Refiners Fire, it is not because we have sinned. It is because the Lord is either molding us more into His image, or because He is using us to show off His glory. What a blessing–to actually go through suffering so that we can reflect the character of God.
We should not run from the fire, but embrace it. It actually is also a consuming fire, but instead of destroying and devastating us, it consumes the dross; and instead of scars, we look more like Jesus in His glory.
Story of Silversmith
3:3 "He will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver."
A lady went to watch a silversmith, to get understanding on this verse. The silversmith held a piece of silver over the fire and let it heat up. He explained that in refining silver, one needed to hold the silver in the middle of the fire where the flames were hottest as to burn away all the impurities. The woman thought about God holding us in such a hot spot - then she thought again about the verse, that he ‘sits as a refiner and purifier of silver’.
She asked the silver smith if it was true that he had to sit there in front of the fire the whole time the silver was being refined. The man answered that yes, he not only had to sit there holding the silver, but he had to keep his eyes on the silver the entire time it was in the fire. If the silver was left even a moment too long in the flames, it would be destroyed.
The woman was silent for a moment. Then she asked the silver smith, how do you know when the silver is fully refined? He smiled at her and answered, "Oh, that's easy --when I see my image in it."
If today you are feeling the heat of the fire, remember that God has His eye on you.
“Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials,  knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance.  And let endurance have its perfect result, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.” Perfect and complete, lacking in nothing-sounds like Jesus to me.
So many times when a Christian sees another Christian suffering or going through a trial they assume that the person must have sin or not serving God. One of the New Testament Bible characters who suffered the most was Apostle Paul. Tell him he was not serving God. Or tell him he should have believed in the prosperity message and then he would not have all the troubles he had.
You chose what fire you go through. Do you want to go through the Fire of Judgment or the Refiners Fire? The choice is yours.
More importantly what furnace of affliction are you in right now? We want to give you hope.
Three categories of people:
If you do not have a saving relationship with Jesus Christ, then the hope we give you is that you can be set free from the sin you are in. You can be delivered from the fire of judgment. And we believe out of the grace and mercy of God, you can come out with less scars that humanely possible. My God is a miracle working, healing, awesome God who saves, delivers, and heals.
Backslidden or in bondage
Are you ready to repent and let God take the sin out of your life? Are you willing to receive the gift of faith to believe He can deliver you? Maybe you do not have hope right now. We ask God to give you a glimpse of hope. To give you a double dose of hope that flows through your veins, your whole body.
For those going through the Refiners Fire, we want to remind you that only the dross will be burned not you. You are not going to have any scars after this furnace of affliction. Instead, when others look at you, they will see a glimpse of Jesus. Hallelujah! Join in with me, Lord send the fire! I am a willing vessel to allow you to mold and shape me. I trust you that I will not smell like smoke. Instead I will smell like the aroma of Jesus.