Furnace of Affliction

Why do we go through trials and tribulations? What purpose do they serve? What should our response be to them when we are going through them? Should we try to escape them, to run away from them? Sometimes, if we can, the Lord may lead us to do that, such as he counseled his disciples that if they were persecuted in one place that they were to flee to another.

But, other times we are encouraged to not flee, but to stand strong in the Lord, and in his mighty power, and to put on the armor of God with which to fight off Satan’s evil attacks against us. In these times, we are encouraged that these trials are for our good, to purify us, to make us holy, and to mature us in our walks of faith, for we were destined for them.

“You have heard; look at all this.
And you, will you not declare it?
I proclaim to you new things from this time,
Even hidden things which you have not known.”
Isaiah 48:6 NASB

What have we heard? We have heard the prophecies of scripture regarding the last days and these final days before our Lord’s return. Some of those prophecies are in the Old Testament and some of them are in the New Testament. Matthew 24 comes to mind, as does the book of Revelation, in particular Revelation 13.

We read in these passages that we should expect to be persecuted for our faith in Jesus Christ, that we will be delivered over to tribulation, and that we will be hated by all nations, and that some of us will even be martyred for our faith and testimonies for Jesus Christ.

We also read that many false prophets and teachers will arise and will mislead and deceive many, and that lawlessness will increase, and that the hearts of many will grow cold. Many will fall away and will betray and hate one another. But, the one who endures in their faith in Jesus Christ to the end will be saved. And, the gospel of our salvation will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all the nations, and then the end will come.

We also read that a beast, which I believe is comprised of the wealthy and powerful of the world, who are forming a one-world government and a one-world religion, will arise and will conquer nations and peoples and will make war against the saints of God and will overcome them. Many will go into captivity, and many will be killed by the sword. This calls for much perseverance and faith on the part of the saints of God, Christ’s followers.

Where are we in this?

“Behold, I have refined you, but not as silver;
I have tested you in the furnace of affliction.
“For My own sake, for My own sake, I will act;
For how can My name be profaned?
And My glory I will not give to another.”
Isaiah 48:10-11 NASB

So, where are we presently in all of this? I believe we are there. Some of this has obviously been happening ever since Jesus was killed and then rose again from the dead and then ascended back to heaven and sent his Holy Spirit to indwell the lives of his followers. Throughout the past 2000 years, Christians have gone through what is described here, yet American Christians have known little of this type of severe persecution, though it is already here, to some degree, and it is going to get much worse.

But, much of what is prophesied in Matthew 24 and in Revelation 13 is here in spades in our day and time. This beast has risen and is still rising and is conquering nations, peoples and followers of Christ. The US government and their NATO allies work for this beast in conquering nations and in persecuting and killing Christ’s followers, his saints. We are being delivered over to tribulation, and we are being hated, and many are being imprisoned for their faith or are being killed for their testimonies for Jesus Christ.

There are tons of false teachers within the church spewing forth false doctrine and false gospels, giving people a false hope of salvation from sin. And, many hearts have grown cold. Even within the church lust addiction has soared to new heights, to the point of being an epidemic, even among pastors and elders. I believe this is a big part of why they have diluted the gospel to turn it into the broad road which leads to destruction in place of the narrow road which leads to eternal life with God, to excuse their sin.

So, if you are a follower of Christ who stands on the Word of God, the Word of Truth, and you don’t compromise with the world, and you are living a holy life committed to Christ and to obedience to his Word, even in America you may be going through persecution at the hands of those who have compromised with the world and who are living to gratify the cravings of their sinful flesh. And, you probably are being hated, rejected, and mistreated, even by church people, and even by pastors and elders who are given over to addictions and to gratifying their sinful cravings.

But, what is your response to all this? What is God doing in your life?

For Your Profit

Thus says the Lord, your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel,

“I am the Lord your God, who teaches you to profit,
Who leads you in the way you should go.
“If only you had paid attention to My commandments!
Then your well-being would have been like a river,
And your righteousness like the waves of the sea.
“Your descendants would have been like the sand,
And your offspring like its grains;
Their name would never be cut off or destroyed from My presence.”
Isaiah 48:17-19 NASB

This “furnace of affliction” has come upon the whole world. The world has come under the control of this beast, who is still rising, and who is still conquering peoples, nations and Christians, and America is beginning to get a taste of that, too. But, more severe times are in order for us, for we, as a nation, will not escape this. God is allowing all of this to happen, as was prophesied in scripture, though, to fulfill his purpose, which is to turn hearts to him, or back to him, and to purify his saints, to make them ready for his return.

But, involved in the fulfilling of that purpose is the spreading of the gospel throughout the whole world. So, when we, as Christ’s followers, are put through the fire of trials, it moves us to call on God in our suffering, and to humble ourselves before him, and it moves us to obedience to him and to his Word. And, it also moves us to want to share with others the hope, healing, forgiveness, comfort, strength and encouragement we have found in Christ, our Lord. Our trials have a way of motivating us to follow our Lord and to want to stand against evil and lies, and to desire the truth.

In my life, I know this has been true, and as a result of the trials and hardships I have been through, I am much more convinced of the need to get the truth of the gospel out to as many as possible before the end comes.

So, the Lord has been having me write out what he teaches me each day through His Word and to post it on the internet in various places so that the gospel truly is going throughout the world to many nations. And, I know I am not alone in this work, but that many followers of Christ have been led to do the same, to get the gospel out to the ends of the earth. I have no control, though, over where it ends up going or how many receive it. My job is just to obey my Lord in getting it out there, and he takes it from there.

I am assured, though, that lives are being impacted for Jesus Christ, and that as a result of what God has called me, and others to do, in sharing the gospel on the internet, that it is bearing fruit in people’s lives, and that it is bearing much spiritual offspring, which comes from the Lord, not me; not from us, for we are just the messengers. Only God can produce the fruit.

I know, though, for myself, and I am assuming this is true of others, as well, that if it had not been for the “furnace of affliction” the Lord has taken me through, and is still taking me through, that I would not be doing what I am doing today, and I would not be spreading the hope and assurance of deliverance from sin, and I probably would not be as passionate as I am about getting out the message that Jesus died to set us FREE from slavery (addiction) to sin, not just to forgive our sins and to promise us heaven.

So, affliction has been for my good, to teach me God’s ways and his truth, so that I might walk in them, but also that I may share with others how they can also walk in the ways of the Lord and be free from bondage to sin.

I Will Uphold You
An Original Work / November 4, 2011

Based off of Isaiah 41:8-20; Ephesians 6:10-18

You are My servant; I’ve chosen you.
I’ve not rejected you; I’ve been true.
Do not be fearful; I am with you.
Don’t be alarmed, for I am your God.
I will give you strength, and will help you.
I will uphold you with My right hand.

All who’re against you will be disgraced.
Those who oppose you, they will perish.
Enemies you search, but will not find.
They war against you; nothing will be.
I am your Lord God, who takes your hand;
Says, “Do not fear, for I will help you.”

The poor and needy, water they need.
Their tongues are thirsty; no drop to drink.
I will give answer; not forsake them.
I will make rivers flow from within.
My living water I will outpour
On those who seek Me; and Me adore.

Jesus provided the sacrifice;
For our sins blood bought; He paid the price,
So we’re forgiven all of our sins,
When we invite Him to come within.
He cleanses us from our impure hearts.
His life within us gives a new start.

Thursday, February 1, 2018, 8:02 a.m. – Thank you, Jesus, for these words of encouragement today to my heart. I pray it will bless the hearts of many others today who are in that “furnace of affliction,” to know that You have a purpose for this in their lives, and it is for their good, and it is for the spreading of your gospel, that many people will turn their hearts to Christ.

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