Victory In Fiery Trials
 

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Peter alerts Christians to not be surprised at fiery trials (1st Peter 4:12). Most of us react with "To be truthful I would like to avoid trials altogether and I'll even work hard to avoid fiery trials. I certainly don't want them suddenly dumped on me like a truck load of bricks."

In the scripture before and after this statement Peter tells us why these fiery trials are sure to come and how we can successfully deal with them. Here are some of the things he says:

God gives a spiritual gifts to every believer.

"As each one has received a gift..." Verse 10a.  "Gift refers to a special ability that God bestows on us which He will empower when we use it the way He wants.

God expects us to "employ it (this gift) in serving one another"  Verse 10b.  This means each believer is to use their spiritual ability to meet needs of other believers.  It is only when we faithfully do this that we are "good stewards" (managers) of the gracious gift God has given us.  Verse 10c.  Peter indicates our special ability may lie anywhere between giving a thirsty person a drink of cold water and being an impassioned, golden-tongued preacher.  Verse 11.  It is immediately following these truths that Peter alerts us not to be surprised by fiery trials.

It is regrettable that when believers become the object of a "fiery trial" that most of adopt the attitude and opinion of Job's friends.  We think inwardly and may say outwardly, "It's got to be because of some secret sin."  Peter informs us that is not the case, but because we have launched out in using our spiritual ability the way God intended.

It is also regrettable that many respond with the attitude, "Well then, I just won't use my spiritual ability to do what God wants me to do."  If that is our decision we have decided to live the rest of our life in disobedience to God.  We have also decided for a life that is purposeless, passionless, and spiritually fruitless.  We need to consider well the decision we make.

A FIERY TRIAL FOLLOWS LAUNCHING OUT IN FAITH

This is a pattern consistently seen in the word of God:
ABRAHAM -"the father of all those who believe." (Romans 4:11).  In obedience to God he forsook his kindred and his country to go to the land God commanded.  What was the first thing that happened?  "...there was a famine in the land..."  Genesis 12:10.

Abraham was promised a son by God who would have a descendant through Whom "all the families of the earth shall be blessed."  (Genesis 12:3).  And what did he experience?  He and his wife, Sarah, were unable to conceive a child for twenty-four years.  When Abraham and Sarah miraculously conceived a child at the respective ages of 99 and 89, they did have a son named Isaac.  When Isaac was barely a teenager God commanded Abraham" offer Isaac "as a burnt offering." (Genesis 22).  Abraham knew fiery trials.

MOSES - the deliverer and lawgiver of Israel.
At 40 years of age Moses felt Israel would understand that he was the one God had appointed to lead them out of Egypt.  They rejected him and he was forced to flee for his life and live in exile for 40 years.  (Acts 7:22-29).  Moses experienced fiery trials.

ELIJAH - Israel's greatest preaching prophet. 
Elijah obeyed God and rebuked King Ahab for leading Israel away from the true living God.  He predicted, "There won't be any rain or dew until I say so." (1st Kings 17:1)...and there wasn't.  God directed Elijah to hide beside a stream called Cherith.  The stream dried up.  (1st Kings 17:2-7).  God then told Elijah to seek out a non-Jewish widow north of Israel who would provide for him.  What did he find?  The widow only had a handful of flour and a few drops of cooking oil.  (1st Kings 17:9-12). When Elijah successfully called down fire from heaven there was an outward return to the true God, but the royal family made it their focus to put him to death.  (1st Kings 18:36-46; 19:1-3)  Elijah experienced fiery trials.

JESUS - GOD come in human flesh - (Luke 1:35)
Jesus officially began His ministry by presenting Himself to John the Baptist to be baptized.  Up to this point baptism was a rite that symbolized cleansing from sin as a result of repentance and faith...but Jesus had no sins to cleanse.  He gave a new meaning to baptism.  It would now picture how He would provide cleansing from sin through His death (going down into the water), and rising again (coming forth from the water).  "And immediately the Spirit impelled Him to go out into the wilderness...forty days being tempted by Satan..."  (Mark 1:12, 13)  Jesus experienced fiery trials
.

These examples are representative of scores of people who had similar experiences recorded in the Biblical record.

FIERY TRIALS STRENGTHENS OUR FAITH
The purpose of military boot camp is to strengthen soldiers so they can be victorious over the enemy...and the tougher the anticipated enemy, the more rigorous the boot camp.  The purpose of fiery trials is to strengthen our faith so we can be victorious over our spiritual enemies.  "For whatever is born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world - our faith."  1st John 5:4.

FIERY TRIALS DEVELOP PATIENCE
James informs us, "My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience.  But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing."  James 1:2-4.

James is telling us something by revelation that we would never figure out by our reasoning:  A dynamic force is fired up when our faith is tested that produces a patience which matures us in every aspect of our character.

FIERY TRIALS EQUIP US TO COMFORT OTHERS
This is the first spiritual truth that the Apostle Paul announces to the Christians at Corinth in 2nd Corinthians.  "Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ...who comforts us in all our afflictions so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted of God."  2nd Corinthians 1:3, 4.

The great majority of Bible preachers can relate how they were overwhelmed in the early days of their ministries by those who came to them with broken hearts and crushing burdens.  Most of them can also relate that after they had passed through similar fiery trials, they were equipped to both empathize with and comfort those who came to them.

FIERY TRIALS PREPARE US TO SERVE OTHERS
Joseph was second only to Job in the number and intensity of fiery trials in all of the Old Testament.  He was hated by his brothers.  They sold him into slavery in spite of his pleading with them in tears.  He was bought by Potiphar at a slave market in Egypt.  He was tempted by Potiphar's wife to be immoral and when he refused, she maliciously lied about him.  He languished  and suffered in an Egyptian prison for nearly thirteen years.  "They afflicted his feet with fetters; He himself was laid in irons".  Psalm 105:18.  Yet, in one day he was lifted out of prison and became the physical savior of Egypt and many other nations through seven years of terrible famine.

David went through similar experiences before becoming the greatest king Israel ever had.

In the early days of my ministry a greatly used preacher told me that if I studied the lives of great preachers I would find that God exalted and used them to the extent He had first allowed them to be broken.  I have studied enough to be convinced that he was right.

FIERY TRIALS PURIFY OUR FAITH
As the patriarch Job was going through fiery trials his faith enabled him to rise above his pain, his broken heart, and his unanswered questions.  He said, "...when He has tried me, I shall come forth as gold."  Job 23:10.

We see a large lump of gold ore freshly mined.  It is placed over the fire and the mass of gold seems to get smaller as the dross of inferior metals rises to the top.  Is the gold worth less because it appears smaller?  No, it is worth more because it is purer.  Whatever faith we have is precious.  Yet, most of us are aware that our fleshly nature usually provides abundant dross to mix with our faith.  Fiery trials purge away the dross.  (See 1st Peter 1:6, 7).

FIERY TRIALS CONQUERED BY FAITH ARE AMPLY REWARDED
When we are the object of a fiery trial James reminds us to consider the last chapter of Job's life (James 5:11).  That last chapter is recorded in Job 42.  We find that as great as Job's losses were God abundantly blessed him.  He had twice as much in the end as he had in the beginning.  Some one may comment, "But Job had seven sons and three daughters that were killed in a disaster and God only gave him seven sons and three daughters in the end."  The answer is that Job really didn't lose the first ten.  They were very much alive and waiting for him in paradise.
We take note that Job was healed to the point he lived another 140 years.  His daughters were the most beautiful in all the land.  It is also apparent that Job was a more humble man and his confidence was much more in God than it was in himself.

Job abides as an example to all generations that it is profitable to persevere in faith through fiery trials.  If God honors us in this life for persevering in our faith through fiery trials just think about what He's going to do in eternity.

Copyright 2002 Thomas E Berry
All Scripture quoted from NKJV unless otherwise noted

 


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