Saturday, January 5, 2013

The Refining Process

“Dear friends, don’t be surprised at the fiery trials you are going through, as if something strange were happening to you.  Instead, be very glad – for these trials make you partners with Christ in his suffering, so that you will have the wonderful joy of seeing his glory when it is revealed to all the world.  (1 Peter 4:12-13 NLT)
            What kind of fabric would you choose if you wanted the most comfortable, durable, long-lasting garment?  Would it be worsted wool – tough and warm in winter, but hot and heavy in the summer?  Or would it be the softer cotton that tends to wrinkle and requires ironing.  Or you might try other fabrics such as Rayon and Dacron.  Would it surprise you to learn that the most sought after fabric for durability and comfort throughout the Old and New Testament times was linen?  According to Strong’s Exhaustive Bible Concordance linen is mentioned more than 85 times in the O.T. and almost 20 times in the N.T.
            When God gave Moses the material list for constructing the tent of meeting it included “blue, purple, scarlet materials, fine linen, goat hair, ram’s skins dyed red, porpoise skins, acacia wood, etc.”  (Exodus 25:4-7) 
            When Joseph was promoted to Prime Minister of Egypt, “Pharaoh took off his signet ring from his hand, and clothed him in garments of fine linen and put the gold necklace around his neck.”  (Genesis 41:42)
  Linen fabrics may be beautiful, but a brutal process is required to produce them.  David Jeremiah in his August edition of Turning Points explains this painful process as “rippling, retting, breaking, scutching, heckling, spinning, weaving, and finishing.”  (P. 9-10)   In order for the fibers of the flax plant to achieve their fine linen quality, they must endure a painful process of transformation.
            The same holds true in the Christian life.  The events and circumstances, as harsh and painful as they might be, are necessary in our transformation process of conforming to the image of Christ.  (Romans 8:28-29)
            Our refining process is no different than what our Savior endured at the hands of sinful men.  Hebrews 5:8 says, “Even though Jesus was God’s Son, he learned obedience from the things he suffered.”  (NLT)
            The garment that the master weaver is making out of our lives is one that will last for eternity.  

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