The Refining Process
Where are You, Lord?
What are You doing?
Why haven't I received my promise yet?
Why do others have it so easy?
Why are you letting others walk in my blessing and not me?
If you've been walking with the Lord for some time, waiting on His promise to materialize, you've most likely asked any number of these questions. And there's a good chance you've felt confused, frustrated, or even discouraged during this waiting period. But I have good news. God has a great purpose for you in this season, which is why it's important to stay the course and not give up!
Between God's promise and it's fulfillment, there is a process, often a time of refining. During this season, God prepares you to not only obtain the promise, but to retain it as well.
"He will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver; he will purify . . . and refine them like gold and silver." Malachi 3:3
Please note, the refining process is not a punishment. It's a time of maturing, a time of growing more deeply rooted in His rich soil as areas that are not beneficial are pruned to bear much fruit. In this pruning and refining process, the Lord actually delivers us from the very things that hold us back, all the while strengthening our spiritual muscles and character.
Even if you feel you're walking in a season of holiness, you will still go through a season of God's refinement because He desires to shine His glory in and through our lives. He wants pure vessels that He can pour His anointing into for His great purposes.
During this [refining] season, God prepares you to not only obtain the promise, but to retain it as well.
Isaiah 48:10 shares how God refines us: "I have refined you, but not as silver is refined. Rather, I have refined you in the furnace of suffering."
As the fire is turned up, we may become very uncomfortable. We may want to rush the process or try to avoid it altogether, but this will only prolong it. Instead, we must keep our eyes fixed on God's sovereignty, knowing He's a good, good Father who wants what's best for us and not what's only good.
Out of our weaknesses or woundedness, ungodly responses, attitudes, or behaviors become more visible... especially as we see the dross in our lives rise to the surface so our Master Silversmith can skim them off. These impurities can appear as unforgiveness, anger, fear, bitterness, or sinful desires that are not pleasing to God. For some of us, the dross represents skewed views of God, misplaced dependency, fear of man, fear of failure, pride, complacency, or compromise. But in our humbled, surrendered, brokenness, as we allow the dross to be removed, we are no longer rigid but pliable, able to best be formed into a mighty weapon of God that is pure, indestructible, and worth far more than the finest gold or silver.
And where there have been trials, persecution, and hardship, we will know the strength and power of God like never before. Forged by fire, we emerge with greater depths of intimacy with the Lord, keys of wisdom and revelation for what God is doing and is going to do, and with a foundation deeply rooted in Him so when He places the weight of our calling on us, we will be able to sustain it.
We must keep our eyes fixed on God's sovereignty, knowing He's a good, good Father who wants what's best for us and not what's only good.
Let's Talk About It
1. Read the following story:
The Refiner's Fire - There was a group of women doing a Bible study on the book of Malachi. As they were studying chapter three, they came across verse three which says, "He will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver." This verse puzzled the women, and they wondered what this statement meant about the character and nature of God.
One of the women offered to find out about the process of refining silver and get back to the group at their next Bible study. That week the woman called up a silversmith and made an appointment to watch him at work. She didn't mention anything about the reason for her interest in silver beyond her curiosity about the process of refining silver. As she watched the silversmith, he 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 so 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 (Malachi 3:3). She asked the silversmith 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 also keep his eyes on the silver the entire time it was in the fire. For 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 silversmith, "How do you now when the silver is fully refined?" He smiled and answered, "Oh, that's the easy part- when I see my image reflected in it."
In what areas of your life can the Lord and others see His image reflected? In what areas does His refining process need to remove the dross that hinders you from being all He has called you to be?
2. Consider Isaiah 48:10 which says,"See, I have refined you, though not as silver; I have tested you in the furnace of affliction."
Has your understanding of how God refines you changed? If you are currently in a refining process, what "dross" has risen to the top that needs to be removed? What was your reaction to the "dross" that was revealed?
3. Read Proverbs 25:4 (AMP) which says, "Take away the dross from the silver, And there comes out [the pure metal for] a vessel for the silversmith [to shape]."
How do you see God shaping you as His vessel, and for what purposes specifically? What hindrance needs to be removed in order to walk in that purpose?
4. As you submit to this refining process, what is the next step the Lord is asking you to take?
5. What promise does God give in Isaiah 43:2 which says, “When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; And through the rivers, they will not overwhelm you. When you walk through fire, you will not be scorched, Nor will the flame burn you."
How does this strengthen you in the process?
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