When we face challenges and trials in life, we sometimes forget the important lessons that we can learn from those experiences. God may allow us to go through great difficulties, but He wants us to learn some things from those difficulties. Join us as Robert explores with comforting idea.

ROBERT >> Do you have any silver in your house? Perhaps a silver tray or a piece of silver jewelry? Well, in the past there were silversmiths that made silver into such usable items. The silver had to be refined. It had to be made pure. And to do that, the silversmith would hold a piece of silver over the fire and let it heat up. And then he would put that silver in the middle of the fire where the flames were the hottest to burn away all the impurities, the dirt and the other things that should not be there. The Bible says in Malachi 3:3 that God is as a refiner of silver. It says, He will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver. What does that mean? What does that mean to me and to you? Stay tuned. We’ll be right back.

Singing>> Speaking the truth, speaking the truth, speaking the truth, speaking the truth in love.

ROBERT >> Sometimes in life it may seem to us that God is holding us in a hot spot like that silversmith who put the silver in the midst of the flames. We’re talking about those hot spots that sometimes God holds us in. Maybe we’re in sickness or in disease; perhaps it’s some injury that’s come to our family; perhaps it’s some kind of family problem or financial problem; maybe you’ve suffered a tragedy or the loss of a loved one.

Well, when a silversmith puts the silver in the hot spot, he never leaves. He sits in front of the fire. He watches the silver very carefully. He knows that if the silver’s left even a moment too long in the flames, it’ll be destroyed. God may allow things to come into our lives to help us to become all we can be, but he’ll never leave us too long and let us be destroyed.

1 Corinthians 10:13 promises that you’ll not be tempted above what you’re able. Yes, God is with us, and he’s always carefully watching no matter what’s going on in our lives.

This morning I want us to think about the benefit of such trial.

Why is it that God would hold us in such hot spots?

Well, let’s notice first of all from the book of James that it tests our faith, James 1:2-4. Let’s read it together. Here the Bible says,”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.”

You see, James tells us that, yes, we’re going to suffer trials; but if we meet our trials with genuine faith, we’ll develop the patience needed to mature spiritually. In fact, it’s only when our faith is tested that we can really grow and become strong. And so we can rejoice even in our trials because we know that God is able to use this to test our faith to produce that patience to make us into the kind of people that we need to be.

Do you remember when God tested Abraham’s faith in Genesis chapter 22, where God told Abraham to actually offer his own son, Isaac, upon the altar?

Abraham went up on the mount as God commanded him, he laid the wood on the altar, he laid his son on that altar, and he took a knife and was about to slay his son, but the angel of the Lord stopped him, and God said now I know that you believe.

Well, that story reminds us of the fact that we’re all tempted and we’re all tested. I can’t imagine a greater test of faith than that which Abraham received.

And I wonder, how is it that Abraham was able to go through that and to pass that test?

Well, Hebrews 11:17-19 explains what Abraham was thinking. Let’s look together there, Hebrews chapter 11, beginning in verse 17. “By faith
Abraham, when he was tested, offered up Isaac, and he who had received the promises offered up his only begotten son, of whom it was said, In Isaac your seed shall be called, concluding that God was able to raise him up, even from the dead, from which he also received him in a figurative sense.”

You see, Abraham was able to offer his son Isaac on that altar because of his great faith. In his faith he believed that God would raise his son from the dead and return him back to him. That’s great faith. Of course we know in the story God stopped him from sacrificing his son, and he provided a sacrifice for him, a ram that was caught in the thicket. Abraham took that ram and offered him upon the altar. In that lesson in Genesis 22 the Bible tells us that this teaches us that the Lord will provide. In fact, God was given that name there, the Lord will provide.

Indeed we see in that a picture of the gospel, how that Jesus Christ became our substitute. Just as the ram was substituted in the place of Isaac there on that altar, so Jesus Christ paid the price for our sins at Calvary. He became our substitute. God provided for our salvation at the cross of Christ. And we like Abraham must believe that God will provide. He thought that God would raise Isaac his son from the dead, but he only did so figuratively. He provided a sacrifice in his place. And just as Jesus died for our sins, he was raised from the dead so that we might have the assurance of eternal life.

Do we have the faith of Abraham?

Would we trust God enough to do what he asks of us?

God wants to know if you’ll keep faith even in the greatest test of life. Knowing that God will provide and knowing that God has promised us eternal life through Jesus Christ, we, too, can have the faith of Abraham and pass the test of life.

I want you to notice also that sometimes God puts us in these hot spots because it prepares our heart. And it prepares our heart so that we can be a comfort and a help to others.

Look with me in 2 Corinthians 1:3-4. Here, the apostle Paul wrote, Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort those who are in any trouble, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. You see, if we never know tribulation, we’ll never know God’s comfort. If we never know God’s comfort, we’ll never know how to comfort others.

How has God comforted you?

Knowing that he’s there with you?

Knowing that he has not left you, he’s not forsaken you, that he knows all about you, that he loves and he cares for you?

Do you find comfort in knowing that God hears and answers your prayers, or perhaps from his promise that he’ll work all things together for good for you?

Has God given you others to come and encourage and to help you in that hot spot of life, in those terrible times of trouble?

Knowing that he has something better for you, perhaps that’s what’s brought comfort to your heart in those difficult times. Knowing that he’s preparing a better place for you where there’s no suffering and pain or death anymore. Having been comforted by God, we want to comfort others. We want them to be comforted as we are comforted. And you know, having been comforted by God in our tribulation, in our difficult trials of life in those hot spots of life, we are better able to comfort others who have suffered as we have. We’ll know what to do and what to say and what not to do and what not to say because we’ve been through it, too. We know where to go to find comfort, we know how to help them to find it, too. And we know what God has done for us and what he can do for them. We’ve been through
it, and we can help others get through it, too. Yes, sometimes God holds us in those hot spots of trouble and tribulation so we can be comforted, so we can know his comfort in our life and our faith could grow and we could be drawn closer to him. And that way, we can help others to find comfort and help in their time of trouble, too. But you know, sometimes God puts us in those hot spots of life to humble us, to humble us, because sometimes we begin to think more of ourselves than we really ought to think. And we all need a reality check sometimes in life.

Look at 2 Corinthians 12:7-10, where the apostle Paul spoke of this same kind of experience in his own life. Imagine if you were an apostle and you had all the powers of God being given to you by the Holy Spirit to perform great miracles and wonders and signs. Imagine if you were the one to whom people looked for the revelation of God, for his inspired word.

The apostle Paul says here in 2 Corinthians chapter 12 beginning in verse 7, “And lest I should be exalted above measure by the abundance of the revelations, a thorn in the flesh was given to me, a messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I be exalted above measure. Concerning this thing I pleaded with the Lord three times that it might depart from me. And He said to me, My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness. Therefore most gladly I’ll rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ’s sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”

Yes, like the apostle Paul, sometimes we need a reality check. We’re not as great, we’re not as strong, we’re not as good as we think we are. We can’t do anything on our own. We all need help. And we need to be reminded of that, that we’re all desperately hopeless and lost without God. Trials open our eyes. Trials help us to see that, to keep reminding us when we forget, and they cause us to look beyond ourselves to God, who alone can provide the grace and the strength and the power that we need. But now those hot spots are also used by God to discipline us.

Let’s go to the scriptures once again, this time to the book of Hebrews, Hebrews 12:5-11. The Hebrew Christians were persecuted severely for their faith, as were the other Christians in the first century. Sometimes they were tortured and even put to death. But it’s here that the Hebrew writer gives us these words concerning the discipline of God.

Hebrews 12:5, “And you have forgotten the exhortation which speaks to you as to sons: My son, do not despise the chastening of the Lord, nor be discouraged when you are rebuked by Him; for whom the Lord loves He chastens, and scourges every son whom He receives. If you endure chastening, God deals with you as with sons; for what son is there whom a father does not chasten? But if you are without chastening, of which all have become partakers, then you are illegitimate and not sons. Furthermore, we’ve had human fathers who corrected us, and we paid them respect. Shall we not much more readily be in subjection to the Father of spirits and live? For they indeed for a few days chastened us as seemed best to them, but He for our profit, that we may be partakers of His holiness. Now no chastening seems to be joyful for the present, but painful; nevertheless, afterwards it yields the peaceable fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.”

You see, we know God loves us when he disciplines us. His discipline is meant to help us, to help us to stop those things we’re doing wrong, to encourage us to do those things we know that we need to be doing in our life. He only wants to bless our lives. So don’t let
his discipline and training discourage you. Let it move you to submit to him, to show him the respect that he deserves from you, to be better, to be more holy, more like him who loves us so.

There is a final point I want to make here. Going through the trials and tribulations of life, the difficulties and hard times, those hot spots of life, it gives us an eternal perspective. And this is so important as we walk on this earth.

I want you to notice several passages, first from the apostle Paul in 2 Corinthians chapter 4, beginning in verse 16. You’ll remember that this great servant of God was often persecuted for his faith. But as he considered his life, a life of persecution, a life of affliction and difficulty and trial, he saw it as just a moment.

Look what he says, 2 Corinthians chapter 4, beginning in verse 16. “Therefore we do not lose heart. Even though our outward man is perishing, yet the inward man is being renewed day by day. For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory, while we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal. For we know that if our earthly house, this tent, is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.”

Let me stop here for just a moment, because I want you to see how this difficult trial in Paul’s life he described as a light affliction for a moment was actually working for him an eternal weight of glory. You see, he knew that there was a great reward at the end of persecution, at the end of trial. You see, he was given a whole new perspective on life when he came to Christ and began to live for him. He began to concentrate not on the here and now, the temporary, the things that we see, but the eternal, the things that are unseen. He began to look up to God and to Christ and to heaven. He looked beyond this life to life eternal that God would give to him.

If you look down in 2 Corinthians chapter 5, you’ll notice in verse 7 where he says, “For we walk by faith and not by sight.”

Yes, this perspective on life is what will get us through our trials and our difficulties, because it helps us to see that it’s going to be worth it all in the end.

I love what Paul said in Philippians 1:21 when he said, “For me to live is Christ and to die is gain.”

You see, in Paul’s mind, life was all about Jesus Christ. And he knew that on the other side of death was a great reward that would make it worth it all.

And indeed, Christ is our life, as Paul said in Colossians 3:4. Everything ought to revolve around Christ because as he went on to say in that verse, one day when he appears, we’ll appear with him in glory. Yes, it’s easy for us to get too wrapped up in the here and now and lose focus of the eternal. If you do that, you may give up, because this life is full of discouragements and difficulties and disappointments. And I don’t know about you, but I would have given up on the Lord a long time ago if it were not for the eternal reward that God has promised us. If I thought that this is all there is and had nothing to look forward to, I’d just throw in the towel. But there is a God, there is a heaven, there is a better day to come. And if you really believe, that’s where your heart will be, and that’s where you’ll want to go, and Jesus is who you’ll want to see.

So how does the silversmith know when the silver is purified?

Well, if you had a silver tray and you could look into that tray today, look into that tray where the silver had been purified, where the silver had been polished,
what would you see?

It would act as a mirror. You would see yourself. And you know, that’s how the silversmith knows the silver is purified. It’s when he can see his image in it.

God wants us to see his image in us. That is, God wants to see his image in us growing and developing and conforming to the image of his son, as the Bible says in 2 Corinthians 3:18, “beholding as in a mirror the image of Christ, and being transformed into that image from glory to glory, from one degree to another.”

“To be conformed to the image of his son,” Romans 8:29.

Have Christ formed in you, Colossians 3:10. When we feel like we’re in a hot spot, we can remember that God is using it to make us more like Jesus. And he’ll never leave us or abandon us. He’s making us into something far more precious than silver. I wonder if there are some listening today who do not know what Christ can do for them, but perhaps now you understand that God is able to purify your heart, to purify your life, to give you a new life, an abundant life, a full life, life eternal through Jesus Christ. If you’ll give yourself to him today, truly believing on him, making that decision to turn away from sin, to live for God, being immersed in the waters of baptism, you can be united with Christ. Your sins are cleansed by the blood of Jesus, and you’re raised up out of that water a new creation.

2 Corinthians 5:17 tells us, “If any man is in Christ, he’s a new creation; old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.”

I hope today that if you’re not a Christian, you’ll make that decision to come to Christ and that you’ll let us know here at The Truth In Love how we can help you towards heaven today.

SINGING>> On Zion’s glorious summit stood
a numerous host redeemed by blood.
They hymned their king in strains divine.
I heard the song and strove to join.
I heard the song and strove to join.
While everlasting ages roll, eternal love shall feast their soul,
and scenes of bliss forever new rise in succession to their view,
rise in succession to their view.
Holy, holy, holy Lord.
God of hosts on high adored.
Who like me thy praise should sing,
oh Almighty king?
Holy, holy, holy Lord.
God of hosts on high adored.
Holy, holy, holy.

SINGING>> I know that my redeemer lives and ever prays for me.
I know eternal life he gives
from sin and sorrow free.
I know, I know that my redeemer lives.
I know, I know eternal life he gives.
I know, I know that my redeemer lives.
I know that over yonder stands
a place prepared for me,
a home, a house not made with hands,
most wonderful to see.
I know, I know that my redeemer lives.
I know, I know eternal life he gives.
I know, I know that my redeemer lives.

ROBERT >> Thank you so much for watching our program today. We’d love to hear from you. So let me encourage you to contact us with your questions, comments, or requests at TTIL, P.O. Box 865, Hurst, Texas, 76053.

You may e-mail us at requests@ttil.tv, or call our toll-free number, 800-819-2966.

And also, please visit our web site at www.ttil.tv.

All our materials and services are absolutely free of charge.

We just want to do what we can to help us all towards heaven.

So let us know how we can help you,

and please join us next time right here on The Truth In Love.
>> Sing to me of heaven, sing that song of peace. From the toils that bind me it will bring release. Burdens will be lifted that are pressing so. Showers of great blessing o’er my heart will flow. Sing to me of heaven, let me fondly dream of its golden glory, of its pearly gleam. Sing to me when shadows of the evening fall. Sing to me of heaven, sing the sweetest song of all. Sing to me of heaven tenderly and low till the shadows o’er me rise and swiftly go. When my heart is weary, when the day is long, sing to me of heaven, sing that old sweet song. Sing to me of heaven, let me fondly dream of its golden glory, of its pearly gleam. Sing to me when shadows of the evening fall. Sing to me of heaven, sing the sweetest song of all.

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