1 Peter 1:7
My deepest desire as a Christian is to develop a valid and pure "Christ-like Character" within my heart, my soul and my daily walk with Him. I absolutely and genuinely long to become more and more like Jesus each and every day, however the pathway to a pure child like faith is not always an easy path!
As a jeweler would tell you, precious metals such as silver and gold must be proven pure in a fiery furnace so that the dross, the bits and pieces of refuse and impurities will be removed.
When it feels like we are constantly being tested with hard times and suffering, we need to remember that we don't go by what we feel!! We choose to walk in faith, knowing God is right by our side to bring us out of the testing.
And, I'm learning that not all of our trials are just for the "Testing of Our Faith," some of our struggles take us straight into "God's Training Camp," as He alone readies us for the "New Heaven and Earth" that He has promised in His word and that He is creating even now!!
God's Word states: And, I saw a new heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away; and there was no more sea. Revelation 21:1
It stands to reason that while God does "Test Our Faith" He is also preparing us for that NEW Heaven and Earth! So some of our sufferings could have us in "God's Training Camp!"
And, just as there are "trials of testing" where the jeweler removes the dross, so it is with God as He works to remove the contaminants and pollutants that we've acquired from the filth that is in this present world we live in.
God loves and yearns for the same cleansing and refining to be done in our lives, and in our day-by-day walk with Him! Plainly, this is a process and not an overnight perfection!
God indeed is our refiner and you can be sure that He will deliver those who are faithful to Him! His Word states: For thou, O God, has proved us: thou has tried us, as silver is tried. Psalm 66:10
Many of us can say that we've been through countless sorrows and suffering. Could it be that our "proven faith" has now taken us into "God's Training Camp" for that new heaven and that new earth??
What will that new heaven and earth require from us?? And, will we be vessels that are completely ready to do a new work for God??
Then an herald cried aloud, to you it is commanded, O people, nations, and languages, that at what time ye hear the sound of the cornet, flute, harp, sackbut, psaltery, dulcimer, and all kinds of music, ye fall down and worship the golden image that Nebuchadnezzar the king hath set up: and whoso falleth not down and worshippeth shall the same hour be cast into the midst of a burning fiery furnace. Daniel 3:4-6
Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego walked into that furnace with a pure and proven faith, when they refused to bow down to Nebuchadnezzar's Golden Image!
We read further: And, these three men, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, fell down bound into the midst of the burning fiery furnace. Then Nebuchadnezzar the King was astonished, and rose up in haste and spake, and said unto his counsellors, "Did not we cast three bound into the midst of the fire?" They answered and said unto the king, "True O King". He answered and said, "Lo, I see four men loose, walking in the midst of the fire and they have no hurt; and the form of the fourth is like the Son of God." Then Nebuchadnezzar came near to the mouth of the burning fiery furnace, and spake, and said, "Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, ye servants of the most high God, come forth, and come hither." Then Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego came forth of the midst of the fire. Daniel 3:23-26
Were these three men absolutely sure they would not be burned, but would walk out of the furnace, not even smelling of fire?? I don't know the answer to that question, instead it tells me their faith was proven pure, and when we walk with God anything is possible with Him!!
And, I know that they were not alone in this fiery furnace, this "training camp" where they walked and talked with Jesus, the Son of God as told and witnessed by King Nebuchadnezzar himself!!
God's Word goes on: And the princes, governors, captains and the king's counsellors, being gathered together, saw these men, upon whose bodies the fire had NO POWER, nor was an hair of their head singed, neither were their coats changed, nor the smell of fire had passed on them. Then Nebuchadnezzar spake, and said, "Blessed be the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, who hath sent his angel and delivered his servants that trusted in him, and have changed the king's word, and yielded their bodies, that they might not serve nor worship any god, except their own God. Daniel 3:27-28
The "Training Camp" of a fiery furnace showed God's limitless power and love for those who trust in Him!! Surely, no man would enter a fiery furnace without such a "pure and proven living faith"!!
Therefore, I make a decree, That every people, nation and language which speak any thing amiss against the God of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, shall be cut in pieces, and their houses shall be made a dunghill: because there is no other God that can deliver after this sort. Then the king promoted Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, in the province of Babylon.
A promotion came in this... "God's Training Camp" for Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego! They were now at work for the King in the province of Babylon.
God has to BREAK us, in order to MAKE us into what He wants us to be. In the trials we are tested and when we are proven true and faithful, we are ready for God's training camp of vision and perfect grace!
As a jeweler tests his precious metals, so does God test and train our hearts!!
When the dross is removed from the silver and gold metals the jeweler can then begin to make a work of art. And, when God takes away our impurities, He makes a new vessel that is ready to serve Him and willing to go or do whatever He may ask of us!
Whether you think you're in the Testing Camp or Training Camp, trust God to bring you through it all!! He will walk with you, just as He walked with Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego and you will come forth as Gold... a living vessel ready to be used by Him!