For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ.
Now if any man build upon this foundation gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, stubble;
Every man's work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man's work of what sort it is.
If any man's work abide which he hath built thereupon, he shall receive a reward.
If any man's work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire.– 1.Cor. 3:11-15
Here you have it! Right, we read about “every man”… and “every” wouldn’t
be every if there would be the exception of you, right? Plain logic!
So good you stayed till here… let’s go on:
Oh, that I had in the desert a lodging place for travelers, so that I might leave my people and go away from them; for they are all adulterers, a crowd of unfaithful people.
They make ready their tongue like a bow, to shoot lies; it is not by truth that they triumph in the land. They go from one sin to another; they do not acknowledge me, declares the LORD.
Beware of your friends; do not trust your brothers. For every brother is a deceiver, and every friend a slanderer.
Friend deceives friend, and no-one speaks the truth. They have taught their tongues to lie; they weary themselves with sinning.
You live in the midst of deception; in their deceit they refuse to acknowledge me, declares the LORD.
Therefore this is what the LORD Almighty says: See, I will refine and test them, for what else can I do because of the sin of my people? – Jer. 9:2-7
See, I will send my messenger, who will prepare the way before me. Then suddenly the Lord you are seeking will come to his temple; the messenger of the covenant, whom you desire, will come, says the LORD Almighty.
But who can endure the day of his coming? Who can stand when he appears? For he will be like a refiner's fire or a launderer's soap.
He will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver; he will purify the Levites and refine them like gold and silver. Then the LORD will have men who will bring offerings in righteousness,
and the offerings of Judah and Jerusalem will be acceptable to the LORD, as in days gone by, as in former years.
So I will come near to you for judgment. I will be quick to testify against sorcerers, adulterers and perjurers, against those who defraud laborers of their wages, who oppress the widows and the fatherless, and deprive aliens of justice, but do not fear me, says the LORD Almighty. – Mal. 3:1-5
I can see you waving your hand now:
“Stop! That’s Old Testament! This God spoke to Israel… not to me! I’m born-again by God’s Spirit and I’m living under New Covenant conditions by the blood of Jesus Christ!”
Good point! But where do we read in the New Testament God would spare us sufferings here on earth just because we’re in a New Covenant?
Well, I have to say to you discipline and correction wasn’t for Israel and Judah alone – God is having the same intent with His people of the New Covenant:
In your struggle against sin, you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood.
And you have forgotten that word of encouragement that addresses you as sons: My son, do not make light of the Lord's discipline, and do not lose heart when he rebukes you,
because the Lord disciplines those he loves, and he punishes everyone he accepts as a son.
Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as sons. For what son is not disciplined by his father?
If you are not disciplined (and everyone undergoes discipline), then you are illegitimate children and not true sons.
Moreover, we have all had human fathers who disciplined us and we respected them for it. How much more should we submit to the Father of our spirits and live!
Our fathers disciplined us for a little while as they thought best; but God disciplines us for our good, that we may share in his holiness.
No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it. – Hebr. 12:4-11
Okay, all of us want to be sons of Almighty God, right? Yes,
all of us want to have the promises we read about in His word… but we’re so
focused on “our benefits” we totally loose sight on His plans and
intentions… what He has in mind with us.
We easily swallow every message promising us the fulfillment of our dreams… but neglect the conditions of our God.
No, my dear, it’s not just about the Levites of the Old Testament alone… it’s about the “Levites” of the New Covenant, too!
Everyone being born of the Spirit of God is a “Levite” of the New Covenant and so isn’t able to avoid God’s special love-treatment here.
Not having the painful process of God’s fire in our lives would just prove the terrible truth of not being “legitimate children and true sons” with the prospect of hearing Jesus saying one day: I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity. (Matth. 7:21-23)
Signs, wonders, casting out devils and prophetic words won’t help us here… but having the COA (Certificate of Authenticity) every true son and daughter of God has engraved into their very existence: The death of my old self in the fire of God’s refining work!
Jesus says in Matthew 7 that He looks just for “doing the will of the Father”… all the other works - so impressive for us – don’t impress Him.
So what is the will of the Father? This question is of utter importance as we have found out. We have to know what Jesus will look for in our lives when we will appear before His judgment seat one day! (2.Cor. 5:10)
God isn’t keeping us in the dark here - it is just one thing Jesus is looking for… just one ingredient our lives must have:
For this is the will of God, even your sanctification – 1.Thess. 4:3
Sanctification means to “become like God” sharing His holiness… and this
process of transformation involves something we normally avoid at any cost:
It is very important we know that “the disciple is not above his master” (Lu. 6:40).
It was pleasing “God, from whom and through whom everything exists, to make the author of our salvation perfect through suffering” (Hebr. 2:10) so why do we think His process of refinement and sanctification would be without suffering for us???
Where do we get this from? From God’s word?
So then, those who suffer according to God's will should commit themselves to their faithful Creator and continue to do good. – 1.Peter 4:19
read right! We suffer because God wants us to suffer!
No, it’s not the devil! You suffer because God’s love isn’t leaving you as you are, but is transforming you into something you have no idea about: His glory!
No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.
I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.
The creation waits in eager expectation for the sons of God to be revealed. –
And Paul had to suffer, too. No, I’m not speaking about the suffering of persecution he had to endure - I’m speaking about this special suffering serving his spiritual well-being he had to endure from God.
To keep me from becoming conceited because of these surpassingly great revelations, there was given me a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me.
Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me.
But he said to me, My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness. Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me. – 2.Cor. 12:7-9
Imagine! Paul, this mighty man of God suffering from a
messenger of satan! Don’t we read about Paul casting out demons? Don’t we
read about him healing the sick… raising the dead?
So, teacher help yourself, we might think being confused not understanding the logic behind those words.
How can a loving God say such words to His suffering servant? Paul gave all for Jesus, even willing to die for Him with joy… so why is God allowing “a messenger of satan” to torment him?
God uses our sufferings for His glory!
He despises the way of this world and is confounding the ways of natural man. All we so look for – He despises! (1.Cor. 1:18-31)
What we never would have chosen – He chooses for His glory!
Well, we have to face one highly unpleasant answer:
Suffering is God’s antidote against the venom of our old nature!
Let’s make a little excursion:
We have read that without sanctification and holiness no one would ever be able to see God. (Hebr. 12:14)
To see God isn’t possible for normal man… to see Him as He is means our immediate death (Ex. 33:20). So if sanctification enables us to see God sanctification must “imply” our death! In 2.Cor 3:18 we read that we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord.
Here we read of being “changed from glory to glory” just beholding the glory of the Lord.
This changing from glory to glory is the same process we have heard about as the will of God: Our sanctification. And it is the same we’ve read in Hebrews 12. There it is worded “sharing in His holiness”… meaning being holy as He is holy.
This all happens by drawing close to a Holy God! Our God is a consuming fire burning away everything not pleasing Him. (Deut. 4:24 / Hebr. 12:29)
Have you ever got too close to a fire? Have you ever got burnt?
This is painful, isn’t it? So let’s bury the thought God will give us some “anesthesia” when we drawing close to Him, will feel our “chaff, hey and stubble” being burned away.
Drawing close to God and beholding His glory still goes along with our death… and this process of dying goes along with pain. We will feel it… and it means suffering!
We have learned that suffering is God’s tool of choice to transform us into His image. So allow me to ask you a very important question now:
What shall be our response towards Him now? Would we trust His love for us in such ruthless and relentless way, not searching for our own benefit anymore… just embracing our sufferings from His loving hand?
Do we live in the reality of the word of God saying:
“I know You know best! I know everything has to serve for my very best just Your infallible word says it so! (Ro. 8:28) Thank you, Father, for your love towards me shown in all I have to suffer here on earth! May I pass away and Your Glory be shown through me alone! I trust You, Father, with all I am… and I praise You! Let all I am - in what circumstance ever – bring glory to Your name!”
The disciples learned to even rejoice in the midst of sufferings… and we get encouraged to follow their example:
Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you (trying the “fabric” of our spiritual man), as though some strange thing happened unto you:
But rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ's sufferings; that, when his glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy. – 1.Pe. 4:12-13
know what I’m writing here is absolutely against human nature… but there is
a deep relief hidden in this new attitude towards suffering.
Embracing suffering from the loving hand of God opens the door of being filled with His peace.
The situation and circumstance won’t change at all… but instead of being additionally tormented by doubt, fear, excruciating questions we have the opportunity to have His peace!
And this precious gemstone of God I wish for all of you!
In the very moment we start activating our faith in the infallible word of God, willfully trusting Him more than our own understanding - and feelings of course – we open a heavenly gate being closed as long as we try to fight suffering: We receive peace – His peace!
A peace this world doesn’t know – and a peace it can’t take away!
Peace I leave with you, My peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid. – Jo. 14:27
our suffering being still there isn’t able to rob this peace from us… as
long as we keep our eyes on Him.
(And in case you have looked on the “waves”, suddenly finding yourself sinking… just quickly return to Him! He won’t let you sink… will pull you up again… and encourage you to resist thoughts of doubt questioning His loving intent in future)
Believe me or not… there is even more than just this precious peace of God: There is even joy!
Rejoicing in suffering? Perhaps you think I’m overdoing it now but I have to tell you from my own experience: It’s true!
It’s not this loud and noisy joy and laughter… but this radiant, still and strong joy transcending all your being, shining through your eyes, radiating from your face.
You are at perfect peace… and the joy of the Lord is your strength!
Like Paul you will boast in your weaknesses… and the glory of God will be seen through you.
And like him you will rejoice in your sufferings. (Col. 1:24)
Many dream about the “revelation of the sons of God” we’ve read about in Romans 8. There are various theories/prophecies about what they will do… and what mighty performance they will give to the world.
Whenever I read about this I smile and shake my head thinking: “Oh, yes, I know! This is what natural man is dreaming about: Power, signs and wonders, invincibility and supernatural victory!”
Don’t be fooled here, my dear, the brand every revealed son and daughter of God is burned with will be: Suffering!
Suffering of such extent, they have lost their basis of humanity. They won’t just have endured suffering as something inevitable… but, fully knowing what it means, even asking God for doing His work of transformation on them.
They’re consumed by such a burning love towards their Master they joyfully endure every pain… just… just that He might be glorified alone.
No, they won’t show off impressive performances after human liking… rather the world will overlook them. But if you’ll take time and watch them a little closer you’ll find heaven displayed in their very lives.
The presence of God will be upon them wherever they go.
They will be weak… utterly weak… so weak I can’t find words to describe. On the other side they will be invincible just they won’t live for themselves anymore - all-consumed by God alone.
Because they no longer live God is the source they will live from. Fighting them… means fighting God himself… and we all know the end of this one :-)!
They have died to themselves completely… and all remaining is Christ living through their weak human forms.
The “blessings” of this world will all pass away – you can’t keep them anyway. The day will come you’ll have to let them go… but the blessings suffering worked out in you will be yours for eternity! Do you see how suffering is the best your loving Father can give to you?
In His Service