Quick Links Quick Links

Lessons From The Fire: Being Refined

by Shane Comeaux

The title that I have chosen for my lesson today is “Lessons from the fire:  or, Being Refined.”    The fire I am referring to is when my house caught fire last summer.

According to Webster’s dictionary, the word “refined” means to be reduced to a pure state; to be free from imperfection; to improve.  In other words,  my subject today will be about how God is improving me by getting rid of my imperfections.

I have a friend named Carolina who told me one time that she is continually being refined.  In fact, that was her email name!   I didn’t understand  what she was talking about  until my house caught fire and burned.  Since then, I have felt like God is refining me, holding me to the fire until I can come out like pure gold.

Have you ever read First John 5?   This letter that John wrote ends with these important statements that begin  with  “We know.”  All of these verses state important truths that we can know today!

What does this passage have to do with being refined?  It has reassured me that after the times of my refining, the outcome will be worth it all.

We know that all through life, we’re going to have experiences that cause us grief and sometimes, there just isn’t any explanation.  We ask why, or why me?  but sometimes there just isn’t any answer.

When Job lost his children and his wealth, at first he was frustrated, but he never lost his faith in God.  He knew one day he’d get an answer.  In chapter 23 of his story, Job cries out in verse 3, “If only I knew where to find God!”  Then Job tells us in verse 10,  “but God  knows the way that I take, and when He is through testing me, or refining me,  I will come out like pure gold.”  When God is through with me, I’ll be like gold!  I keep trying to remember that so I can keep on going.

I heard a story once about a person who watched a silversmith at work.  He watched the smith stir the silver and asked him, “How do you know when it’s refined?”  The silversmith said, “When I can see my reflection in it.”    Did you get that?  He said, “When I can see MY REFLECTION in it!”

Do you understand what the story meant?  It was a story with a spiritual meaning.  God is the silversmith, and He holds us to the fire and stirs us until He can see His own reflection in us.  When we become more like Jesus, who is God the Son,  then we will be refined.  It’s an on-going process, and sometimes it hurts, but we should know that in the end, we will reflect the image of God.  We will be like Jesus, and we will be like pure gold.

Job 22:25 reads this way:  “Then the Almighty will be your gold, the choicest silver for you.  Surely then you will find delight in the Almighty.”

So, one day, when this life is over, I will have an explanation for everything that has happened to me.  Of course, after I see Jesus, I may not even be interested in knowing what that explanation is!

Although I wouldn’t want my house to burn again, there are some lessons I learned from that experience.

The first lesson that I’d like to tell you about is this:   I learned that God takes care of me.

It was quite a shock to pull up in the driveway and see my house on fire,  and I did panic at first.

After I learned that  no one was in the house, that reduced my panic.  I realized then that if my grandpa had brought us home half an hour earlier, my brother and I would have been in the house, alone, and might not have smelled the smoke in time to get out.  So, God took care of us that way.  I know He loves me.

The fourth chapter of First John is filled with expressions of God’s love for us. Verse 10 says “This is love; not that we loved God, but that He loved us.”

Another verse I like is found in Hebrews:13:5.  It’s a promise quoted from Deuteronomy  and reads this way:  “God has said, Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.”

OK, so we KNOW this, we know God cares for us, but sometimes, we don’t feel like it.  In Mark, chapter 4, Jesus led his disciples to the other side of the sea. When a storm came up, Jesus was asleep.  The disciples woke him and asked, “Don’t you care if we drown?”

So, sometimes I ask, “God, don’t you care about me?”  I’m a teenager, and every day at school I’m tempted to do or say things that I know are wrong.  I know the devil doesn’t cause all of our storms or trials.  Lots of times we make our own because of poor choices.  But when hard times come — those refining times — I need to remember and know that God does care and He takes good care of me.

 The second lesson I learned was that friends really do care.

Another verse to confirm that is from 1st John 4:12:  “If we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.”

Skip down to verse 19:  “We love because he first loved us.  If anyone says ‘I love God’ but hates his brother, he is a liar.” and verse 21 ends with “Whoever loves God must also love his brother.”

Solomon tells us in Proverbs 18:24 that “there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.”

Again in Ecclesiastes 4:12 Solomon wrote that “though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves.  A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.”

So for years, we’ve known that we can’t live our lives alone.  We need each other and Jesus said we should serve each other.

Well, when we arrived on the scene of my burning house, our neighbors had already called the fire department, and they had pulled our hose out and were spraying water on the house’s roof.  They did all this and didn’t expect us to pay them.  They did it because it was the right thing to do.  They’re our friends!  I really do appreciate my neighbors.

In the New Testament, Paul wrote to the church at Galatia, in 6:9 and 10: “Let’s not grow weary in doing good, for at the proper time we’ll reap a harvest if we don’t give up.  Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of God.”

We all know the story of the Good Samaritan that Jesus told in Luke 10.  So now, as God continues to refine me, I can ask myself, who can I be a good neighbor to?  Who can I help today?  Even at school and at home, if I’m looking, I can find someone who needs a cheery hello, or some other help.

From my neighbors, I learned that if I call myself a Christian, I should care about my friends and everyone else I meet every day.  I should care about their souls.  Isn’t part of being a Christian the fact that we care where people are going to spend eternity?

A third lesson that I learned from my burning house was that I should go to God first with my problems.

I have a great Dad, and when I have a problem, it’s good to know that I can go to him for advice.  Sometimes he has a good answer, but sometimes he doesn’t have a clue what I’m worrying about.

I love to read the Psalms.  My grandmother is always asking if I’m a daily Bible reader and she frowns when I say no, so I used to read a short Psalm at night so I could tell her yes, I had read my Bible!   I really liked the 23rd Psalm, and I had read it until I could almost quote it from memory, so I didn’t even have to open my Bible some nights.

But even though I read those Psalms and recited them, I didn’t always understand what David had meant when he wrote them.  Sometimes he was praising God, like in the 23rd, but sometimes he sounded disappointed with God.

One day, shortly after that fire had torched my house, I read Psalm 18:6. David was saying “In my distress, I called to the Lord.”    I realized then that instead of just going to my Dad or a friend with my problems, I should first go to God and ask Him for help.   It’s good to have people like my Dad, my grandparents, and some school teachers who give good advice.  But I have to remember to talk to God first. Pray, and then listen to what God is saying to my heart.  Read His word, and listen to what it says.

I really enjoy reading the books that the apostle John wrote.  In His gospel, chapter 15 and verse 7, he quotes Jesus as promising this:  “If you remain in me,” which means to stay joined to Jesus and let His teachings become a part of me. Jesus says, “If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be given you.  This is to my Father’s glory.”

Someone said that “Prayer is the bridge between panic and peace.”  That’s a good thought to remember when things get dangerous or scary.  I’m working on trying to remember to pray first, and to remember that God always hears our prayers and responds to them in His own time and in His own way.

The last lesson I want to mention that I learned from my burning house is that I  should be ready every day for surprises.

I found out that night after the fire that  my Dad had paid for good fire insurance on the house, so it paid for an apartment where we stayed  while the house was being  repaired.  It was another way of God taking care of us by giving my father the wisdom to plan ahead in case of disaster.

In Luke 10 Jesus told about the good Samaritan, but in chapter 12, he told another parable about the good manager who served others while he waited for the owner to return.  Serving others is part of being a Christian.

Since I’m a believer, a disciple of Jesus, I believe that Jesus was talking to me when he gave the Great Commission in Matthew 28:19.  He said to go and tell others about Jesus.

So, when  I’ve planned something and I get interrupted, I try to remember that it might be God pointing me to help someone.  It might end up being a nice surprise!

A few years ago, in Sunday school, we studied about the armor of God given to us in Ephesians 6.  We read  what each piece of armor was, then were told  what it represented and how it helped us.   In verse 13, we read “Take the helmet of salvation.”  We learned that the helmet of salvation was the assurance that we are saved.  First John 5, verse 13 tells us we “can know that we have eternal life.”  We can KNOW it now!

In my Sunday school class that day, the teacher said that every morning when we get up, we should  put on our helmet of salvation first thing,  and say to ourselves, “Today, I am saved.  I am a child of God.  Nothing Satan throws at me will affect my salvation.  If Jesus comes for me today, I’m ready.”

I didn’t think much about that at the time, but now I know that it’s very important that I pray each morning, thanking God for that helmet and for His plan of salvation.  His plan is simple.  Even I can understand it!  And you can, too!

And here it is:  First, I confessed in public that I do believe that Jesus is the Son of God and that I needed Him as my Savior.  As Savior, He took my place to pay for my sins which I had committed.  He paid the debt I owed.

Second, I obeyed Him in baptism for the forgiveness of my sins, and finally, I am trying to follow Him every day until He comes back for me.

How do I know this is God’s plan of salvation?

Look in the second chapter of Acts, where Peter tells the Jews and others in Jerusalem that they were sinners.  When they heard him, they asked what they should do to be saved.  Remember, in Matthew 16:19, Jesus had given Peter the “keys to the kingdom of Heaven.”  Well, here are those keys in Acts 2: 38:  “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.”

That’s how you get into Heaven.  It’s the choice everyone has to make for himself.  God doesn’t send anyone to Hell.  He wants us in Heaven, but if we choose not to obey and follow Him, then we choose Hell.

I’ve heard that some people think they’re too bad for Jesus to forgive them. First Timothy 1:15 tells me this:  “Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance:  Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners.”

Romans 5:8 and 9 tells us, “God demonstrates his own love for us this way: while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.  Since we’ve been justified by his blood, we’ll be saved from God’s wrath through Jesus!”

and Second Peter 3:9 reads this way:  “The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some are.  He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.”

That “everyone” includes you and me and everyone else!

So, to review, here are the lessons I learned from my burning house:

First, God takes care of me.  And if you’re a Christian, He takes care of you.

Second, Christians love each other and care for each other.

Third, God knows our problems and hears our prayers, so we should go to Him each time we have a problem before we go to anyone else.

Fourth and last, Christians should be ready!  Every day, be ready for Jesus to return , but also, be ready for interruptions that may really be  opportunities to tell someone about Jesus.

So, I’m still being refined.  Every day, there are trials of various kinds that come my way.  Teenagers have many temptations.  There are days when everything seems to go wrong and days when I don’t feel like doing anything, especially doing what is right!

But you know what?  How I choose to respond to those trials and temptations will either make me more like Jesus or less like Jesus.  The refining keeps taking place.  Sometimes it hurts and sometimes it burns.  I know that we all experience it. But listen, I have peace knowing that in the end, I’ll be in Heaven with Jesus.    And you can have that same peace, if you’re a child of God and a member of His family.

Because we’re  baptized believers, we have the peace of God.   We know that even if times are tough for us now, one day, we will come through it like pure gold.  God is still working on us.  He’s refining us.  So, we don’t have to worry or spend time in stress.  We have the peace that God gives us.

If you are not a believer yet, there is no way you can have this peace.  The refiner’s fire will be a pain and give you no hope.   To have that peace that God gives, you need to confess before others that you believe that Jesus really is the Son of God, and that He is also God, the Son.  Then you need to obey Him, and you begin that by being baptized.  Afterwards, you need to begin each day following where God guides you.  The best way to know where He is leading you is by reading His Word, the Bible, and listening to Him even while you are praying to Him.

All of us in the family of God are still being refined in various ways.  None of us is perfect yet.  We would love for you to join us, if you are not a believer yet.

 

Shane Comeaux is the 16-year-old grandson of Douglas and Joyce Broyles and he brought this message at the Welsh Church of Christ, Welsh, Louisiana, where he is a member.

 




Leave a Reply

The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.

John 10:10