THE SECRET PLACE
Jesus is not a place you go – but a person you know
THE NAIL, THE FILE AND THE FIRE
There are many different interpretations that attempt to explain the mysteries of life concerning reason and destiny. Many of these scholarly opinions are available to the truth seekers like fruit on a tree, with as many arguments as there are flavors. Sadly, most of the population does not even care to search for the “deep” answers, leaving only a small band of “diggers” to examine and sift knowledge like those who pan for gold. It’s true; our views of God are confirmed with the artifacts and historical record of Biblical information, but however we arrange our concept of the Almighty, most of our convictions come from our faith. For example, predestination is one of the most difficult views concerning the meaning of life. Some like to believe “happy thoughts” that Jesus rescued all humans from eternal death and that we’ll all be one big family one day. Some people are convinced that only the chosen will go to heaven while everyone else will be lost. Yet others hold dear to the legalistic interpretation that believes life is like a math test and each person must score a certain grade to “earn” eternal life. Nevertheless, we must remember that whatever our views about the divine order of the universe – God is sovereign. This means that man cannot take credit for how wonderful he thinks he is. God is the creator, the sculptor, and the purifier and He alone decides what he will keep and how He will use it.
The carpenter wears a nail pouch and fills it with instruments (nails) that have the purpose of ‘assisting” with construction. The carpenter has the desire, vision, blueprints and materials for the project and will use the nails to help accomplish his plans. Since God is the carpenter and the project is His kingdom then we can see that some have been called to be nails. He chooses and uses the nails according to his good pleasure and the nails do not have any say in the matter. He uses them in different places, discarding those that cannot be used, bending them then pulling them out and so on. The point is that he uses them where and when he wants with some not being used at all. If the nails were NOT delivered to the site along with the lumber they would never have a purpose in all eternity without the builder empowering them to their destiny. When the structure is complete do the nails get any glory? Are they ever mentioned in the end as taking any credit with the builder? Does anyone ever say, it is the nails that are holding the vision and structure together? Each nail had a destiny but not all of them accomplished it. Many allowed their freewill to stop them from being used. Some wanted to be a kitchen knife, a fishhook or a police badge. Let it be said, after our life is over and we lay everything at His feet, our reward will be our obedience.
The one, who works with metal uses a file made of hard, sharpened steel. There are course files and fine files but all were made to grind away softer metal until the desired shape appears. This is an act of labor on the part of the skilled artisan, and excruciating agony to the sacrifice being grinded. If God is the sculptor and each of his children is an individual chunk of metal then we can see life through the perspective of His eyes and in a more humbling position, I might say. It is the creator that chooses his pieces of metal to shape and He knows exactly what he is trying to do and what the finished product will be. He grinds as much or as little as he wants on each piece as the metal cannot reject his ideas and has no power to resist his intervention. The metal is at the mercy of the one who holds the tools and is never recognized as playing a part in the creation process. This is another example of the fact that if God does not change you, you cannot change yourself. The lump of clay will sit on the table forever until the potter decides to create. Modern secular psychology teaches that we can shape ourselves without God but it is a humanist lie. We may paint and change our exterior but Jesus is the only power that can transform the spirit. This is the “image” of divine sovereignty.
The furnace is a place of destruction and yet at the same, a chamber that can bring “beauty for ashes.” Just as new plant life eventually emerges from the devastation of a raging forest fire; the heat of the furnace eliminates the old and enables the new to present itself better than before. God’s most awesome instrument of teaching and shaping his elect is the Refiners fire. It is the place of tears and humility, a journey of pain and suffering that produces spiritual purification and strength. The fires of God bring maturity to all three parts of man, the body, mind and spirit, as a complete metamorphosis of our being. Like a blacksmith God can heat the steel to a cherry red glow then pound it with a heavy hammer until it becomes a manifestation of his vision. On the other hand, he can melt the “precious” metal until it becomes liquid then scrape off the filth and corruption that has been imbedded deep within. It is in the understanding of fire and heat that one can see a glimpse of God’s intense love and how determined He is about his plans for us. His character and nature are filled with mercy but they work together with His white-hot Word of holiness and truth. His furnace is to bring us closer to him and should be considered an act of grace for the ones found worthy to serve him. The ore and raw materials are just rocks and mineral compounds that are useless in their present form waiting for the transformation process. People who think this life is only for their own pleasure and enjoyment will not be included in the next life with God. Steel must be tempered in order to be strong and durable, and this requires much more than a religious experience. Once again the metal has no control about going into the fire, how long to stay or any input as to why. Those who are selected to endure this trial of agony will never receive glory for shaping itself. Every knee will bow down to the Lord of the fiery furnace and the King of all creation. Those who are not selected in this life to be consumed and transformed will face an eternal fire of another kind in a smoldering dump of rejection and shame. This is the divine reality of divine sovereignty.
No one ever chose to be born but was created by God who holds the keys to life and death. Who is man, (in his fragile mortal shell with no supernatural power) to believe that he can make his own decisions? Is it not God (who is in total control) that “allows” us to draw each breath? God did not create life with such meticulous detail then just hand it all over to creatures that are carnally minded without consequences. If we could see what was going to happen we could prepare and thus change our dimension – but since we are limited in our ability to see beyond the present, it is unrealistic to determine that chunks of metal or lumps of clay could “navigate” the world in the right direction completely on our own.
Salvation is good news, but what most people are not taught is what it really means. Being redeemed with Jesus blood is the greatest gift that has ever been given and is the ultimate blessing of love and compassion in the universe. The “imposter version” presents an illusion of comfort and ease that causes many to become derailed with pride. Deeply knowing God is to perceive spiritual reality and discerning the difference between a life of comfort and luxury – and divine truth. This includes seeing ourselves the way God sees us and becoming a “living” sacrifice as we surrender our will on HIS alter. Amen.