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REFINEMENT

Proverbs 17:3 – The refining pot is for silver and the furnace for gold, but the Lord tests hearts.

The natural man looks more for what he can get from a relationship than what he can give. Before sin dominated in the garden, Adam and Eve had their eyes on the glory of God and saw each other through the purity God had breathed into Adam’s nostrils. Disobedience to God’s word through listening to the voice of the tempter brought a choice outside of God’s plan and destiny for humankind. It plunged Adam and Eve and their posterity into a need for the “refiner’s fire.”

God deals with His creation in two ways, individually and corporately. In the garden the Lord began with Adam, then Eve, and finally the Serpent. He then drove all three from the garden. The Serpent is brought low and eventually judged by the seed of the woman. Adam and Eve, and their descendants, entered into the refiner’s fire through the individual judgments God placed on the man and the woman.

The cross of Christ became the place of God’s judgment in dealing with mankind’s sin. When we embrace the cross personally and by faith receive what Christ has done for us, we are raised up into the newness of His life and we begin a journey of experiencing the refiner’s fire in the exchange of our life for His.

The primary way the Lord has chosen to refine us is through relationships. Nobody can refine themself. The main reason for this is that it is most difficult to recognize the areas in one’s own life which needs refining. It takes external pressure. Marriage is the primary relationship the Lord uses in the refining process. Next are children that demand attention and cause us to refocus our time, energy, and resources. If we are not blessed with children, the Lord has no shortage of pressures to use in the refining process.

I cannot help believing that the refining process is what John the Baptist was prophesying when he said,“ As for me, I baptize you with water for repentance, but He who is coming after me is mightier than I, and I am not fit to remove His sandals; He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire” (Matthew 3:11-12). The fire is the fire of “refinement.” Even our Lord was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. Jesus knew the fire before He experienced the glory.

Refinement is not a popular message. God’s promise of blessing receives much more popularity, but the only way to true blessing is through the fire. Refinement may not sound encouraging, but it will bring the greater weight of glory if we will embrace God’s purpose and His ways.

Father, I confess that Your ways are not my ways. By faith, I receive Your way of the refiner’s fire. I ask to be baptized with the Holy Spirit and fire. Refine me Lord for Your glory.

FREEDOM THAT BRINGS TRUE LIBERTY

Luke 22:32 – I have prayed for you, that your faith may not fail; and you, when once you have turned again, strengthen your brothers.

Peter thought he was ready to fully serve the Lord. After Jesus gave Peter His counsel, Peter replied “Lord, with You I am ready to go both to prison and to death!” From Peter’s viewpoint, he had given his all to the Lord. Remember, it was Peter who had the confession, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God” (Matthew 16:16). He was seen as a principal leader among the twelve. Peter thought the work in him was finished.

Jesus responds to Peter’s commitment to go to prison and die for Jesus, telling Peter in verse 34, within the next 24 hours you’re going to deny Me three times. I am sure that sent Peter into a tailspin. It is a good thing Jesus had prayed for Peter’s faith not to fail. Peter was about to receive the greatest test of his life. Without the prayer of Jesus, there is no telling what would have happened to Peter.

True freedom is found in the Lord Jesus Christ as our High Priest. “For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin. Therefore let us draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need” (Hebrews 4:15-16). As with Peter, our freedom begins in the knowledge that Jesus is praying for us so that our faith will not fail.

True freedom is found in conversion. I do not mean gaining information about Jesus and saying we believe in Him. True conversion is turning from depending on our natural life as our source to depending on the Holy Spirit as our source of life and knowledge. Peter was still trying to figure things out on his own. He thought he had surrendered all to Jesus, but he had not yet undergone the death process. Death to self is required in order to know true conversion. It is a process we learn and not a one-time experience we have. Note what Jesus said to Peter – “when once you have turned again” (verse 32). It is the again part that is difficult. Peter, like us, vacillated between his natural life and the new life the Spirit was generating in him.

After conversion we begin to turn our attention to others. An evidence of “self” being crucified is our willingness to give up our life to serve others in their need. Jesus knew Peter was not ready for the task he was destined to accomplish. The Lord pointed the way forward as He said “when you are converted” (KJV). Jesus has a purpose for each one of us, but there is a process we must go through. Many get hung up in the process. Some get burned out trying to “strengthen” others before they are fully converted themselves.

Father, I humble myself before You. Keep me from arrogance which causes me to think I can serve You out of my own strength. I am weak, but You are strong! Help me to live a lifestyle of conversion, walking in faith, being changed daily, and strengthening others in their journey.

DETERMINATION

1 Corinthians 2:1 – I determined to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified.

One who is determined has their mind made up. They have decided or resolved to do a certain thing. They are resolute and unwavering in their decision. Paul’s determination came from something beyond him. It came from the power of the cross of Christ through the Holy Spirit.

Watchman Nee wrote in his book, “The Latent Power of the Soul” that God put tremendous ability in man’s soul beyond what we normally use. The problem is that “soul power” belongs to the old nature and not the new. Determination for the believer must be associated with the cross of Christ and not some natural reasoning from our old nature.

A sign the Holy Spirit is at work in us is in the destroying our confidence in the flesh (Philippians 3:3). In Philippians 3:4, Paul goes on to say that more than anybody, he could put his confidence in his flesh. He chose not to because he recognized he died with Christ and now his source of life came from the resurrection power of the Lord. If we try to cling to natural virtues while God desires to bring forth the life of His Son in us, we find ourselves fighting against God. The virtue of Christ is in the “Fruit of the Spirit” alone.

Our determination should be rooted in the freedom of Christ which brings true liberty in our life experience. The biblical order that leads to a determination to follow the Lord is found in repentance, forgiveness, conversion, and a life of trust in God.

Individuality, independence, and natural reasoning are all a part of self-preservation. True freedom comes when I let go of hurts, bitterness, resentment, and unforgiveness. This includes anything which relates to “self-preservation.” Only the wisdom of God through the cross of Christ can supply the power for our human condition.

Now is a great time to embrace Christ’s cross. For some, it may be the first time. For others, it could be a renewal of a commitment made years ago. Allow the Lord to conquer more of the natural man to include your plans, efforts, and reasoning. Ask Him to release a greater degree of His Life through the Holy Spirit in your planning, your work, and, your thought process. Be determined to know less of what you know and to know more of Jesus and Him crucified. Only through this kind of determination can we know the demonstration of His power and His life released through us.

Father, let the mind of Christ be in me. I want to embrace Christ more and more. Please conquer every area of the natural man. Cause me to become as determined as Paul became in knowing Christ and His cross each day of my life.

THE LAW OF THE SPIRIT OF LIFE

Isaiah 11:1-2 – A shoot will spring from the stem of Jesse, and a branch from his roots will bear fruit. The Spirit of the Lord will rest upon Him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and strength, the spirit of knowledge and the fear of the Lord.

Jesse was King David’s father. God promised David that the Messiah would come from his generational line. The promise of the Father was that the Spirit of the Lord would rest on David’s promised son. Many of the common folks of Jesus’ day recognized Him as the “Son of David” (Matthew 21:9).

Isaiah identifies six manifestations of the Spirit that would be seen operating in the life of David’s greatest Son, the Lord Jesus Christ. The spirit of wisdom is mentioned first, followed by understanding, counsel, might, knowledge, and the fear of the Lord.

The spirit of wisdom is the discerning of consequences of wrong actions from an eternal perspective. Jesus knew the hearts of all men, which is to say, He knew their motives. He was able to respond in wisdom to all their trick questions and wrong motivations.

The spirit of understanding is the ability to bring into light why and how people behave as they do. It is the ability to identify wrong behavioral patterns and to establish healthy ones.

The spirit of counsel is the knowing of God’s purpose and will in the life of an individual. It is to know how to reverse the effects of sin through understanding the counsel of God.

The spirit of might is the demonstration of God’s power over the addictions sin produces. It is the power to bring deliverance and healing from sin’s results.

The spirit of knowledge is having an eternal perspective that produces purpose and a fulfillment of divine destiny.

The spirit of the fear of the Lord is an awareness of God’s presence and brings the healing to a seared conscience. The spirit of the fear of the Lord calls out hypocrisy and identifies a “seared conscience” (1Timothy 4:1-2). The fear of the Lord keeps one away from evil (Proverbs 16:6).

Father, I ask for these manifestations of Your presence to be operating in my life as it was in the life of Your Son, whom You call “the Son of David.”

MEEKNESS IS STRENGTH UNDER CONTROL

We have discovered in previous devotions how the Lord is helping us “Work out our own salvation with fear and trembling.” God is working in us for His good pleasure. He tells us, “Do all things without murmuring and disputing,” because He is working a divine emptying process in our lives to bring about biblical humility.

The Holy Spirit is not at work to make us weak and spineless, He is at work to reveal Christ in us through meekness and boldness. Society has emasculated manhood. God is not bringing us to weakness, but to be strong through gentleness!

Meekness is not weakness! Meekness is yielded strength under control. I think of the great stallion that has been broken and bridled. He still has the same strength and force, but he can be ridden and his power guided.

In meekness, Jesus was willing to empty Himself and do what the Father had appointed. Jesus chose to empty Himself and be guided only by the Holy Spirit throughout His entire human life. Jesus said, “Father, I will go through this shame and all the failure.” He was willing to die, not in a hospital taking pain medicine, but on the cross in great suffering. It was cruel and humiliating. He took all the shame and all the humiliation for us. He was humiliated so we could succeed. I too must choose to empty myself and be filled with His meekness which will result in strength.

“Meekness is an inwrought grace of the soul, and the exercises of it are first and chiefly towards God. It is that temper of spirit in which we accept His dealings with us as good, and therefore without disputing or resisting; it is closely linked with the word humility. It is only the humble heart which is also the meek, and which, as such, does not fight against God and more or less struggle and contend with Him. This meekness, however, being first of all a meekness before God, is also such in the face of men, even of evil men, out of a sense that these, with the insults and injuries which they may inflict, are permitted and employed by Him for the chastening and purifying of His elect” (Notes on Galatians, by Hogg and Vine pp. 294 from Vine’s Expository Dictionary of Biblical Words).

Why not say to the Lord, “Go ahead, Jesus, finish what you started in me.” Whatever our age might be, simply yield to the Lord and allow His strength to work in you mightily. The Lord is meek, but He is strong. Paul learned to walk in the meekness and strength of Christ. It is possible to know both Christ’s gentleness and His great strength as we yield to Him in the Holy Spirit. Ask the Father today to give you both meekness and boldness as you live out your salvation.

SEVEN-FOLD EMPTYING PROCESS

Philippians 2:5-7 – Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself.

We must be emptied in order to be filled. Philippians 2 reveals seven areas of Christ Jesus’ attitude about being emptied and allowing His Father to lift Him up through the exaltation of the resurrection. Through the resurrection, Christ is drawing men to Himself. “If I am lifted up from the earth, I will draw all men to Myself” (John 12:32). Jesus said this to indicate the kind of death by which He was to die, death on the cross. It is in dying, life is found.

7a – Don’t exalt yourself
7b – Choose to be a servant
8 – Humble yourself through obedience, even to death of self
9 – Let God exalt and lift you up
9 – Let God give you a name that others honor
12 – Obey God in your private life
14 – Be content and don’t murmur or argue
The Lord is bringing about a divine emptying process in our life. He has called us to fully enter into Christ’s life and have His attitude in everything. The Lord Jesus Christ had one desire and that was to fully honor His Father, drawing all the attention to Him. What is our desire? Philippians chapter 2 reveals the example the Lord set for every believer. We are to follow His attitude. “I only want to be exalted in Christ and exalted by Christ.” If you are exalted by anything else, it only draws attention back to you. The world is filled with self-exaltation and honors its own.

Paul leads us from humility to exaltation and an understanding that it is God at work in us for His good pleasure (Philippians 2:12). This process starts in us when we confess Jesus as Lord. From that day, we are to serve God’s good pleasure. Christ’s attitude in us will continue all of our life as we choose Jesus’ Lordship in every choice we make.

Father, I choose for You to have Your good pleasure in me. My life is no longer my own, but it belongs to You. Establish in me the attitude of Christ, an attitude of humility and allowing Your Holy Spirit to be the One to exalt me for Your glory and praise.