Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Life Changing Heat

We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they are good for us – they help us learn to endure. And endurance develops strength of character in us, and character strengthens our confident expectation of salvation. And this expectation will not disappoint us. For we know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love. (Romans 5:3-5 NLT)

Microwave popcorn is one of my favorite snacks. I like the movie butter flavor, the more buttery the better. Can you imagine for a second eating it straight from the bag? No, I don’t mean instead of from a bowl, I mean before heating it in the microwave. Nasty, isn’t it? It made a wonderful children’s sermon to illustrate the change in our lives that Jesus makes, but the illustration stuck with me for another reason- the reference to the change after it was heated.

Transformation in the Christian heart brought on by the heat of life’s trials is life changing. David knew that the children of God would always face trials. “The righteous face many troubles, but the Lord rescues them from each and everyone one.” (Ps 34:19 NLT) And in Psalm 40:11-12, David was drowning in them: “Lord, don’t hold back your tender mercies from me. My only hope is in your unfailing love and faithfulness. For troubles surround me – too many to count! They pile up so high I can’t see my way out. They are more numerous than the hairs on my head. I have lost all my courage.” (NLT) Have you been there? Me, too; and I expect I will go there again and again.

New Christians sometimes mistakenly believe their lives will be without trouble. The blinded unbeliever is no challenge to Satan (2 Cor 4:3-4 NLT), but the effective witness and testimony of the child of God, in Satan’s opinion, must be diminished, if not stopped altogether. But he who began the good work in us will see it through to the end (Philippians 1:6), and the heat will be turned up at times in our lives. We’ll never look forward to the heat, but, thank God, we are assured we will not be consumed by it. (Isaiah 43:2-3)

Perhaps I’m crazy to see popcorn as a symbol of a Christian life surviving the fiery trials, but I see God in just about everything at some point or another – even dryer lint. But that’s a post for another day.

Heavenly Father, thank You for Your promise to see Your children through every trial. Help us endure them as a testimony to Your faithfulness. Amen.

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