Overcoming Fiery Trials.

By Leigh Fuller.

“But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us. We are troubled on every side, yet not distressed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; Persecuted, but not forsaken; cast down, but not destroyed; Always bearing about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our body. 1For we which live are always delivered unto death for Jesus sake, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our mortal flesh. So then death worketh in us, but life in you.

We having the same spirit of faith, according as it is written, I believed, and therefore have I spoken; we also believe, and therefore speak; Knowing that he which raised up the Lord Jesus shall raise up us also by Jesus, and shall present us with you.

For all things are for your sakes, that the abundant grace might through the thanksgiving of many redound to the glory of God.” 2 Corinthians 4: 7-15.

I must tell you at the start of this article that I am an Aussie. There was an Australian Prime Minister that said, “life was not meant to be easy”. That was OK for him with his million-dollar salary and chauffeur driven limo for life. A lot of you reading this could testify to the fact that life has not been kind to you and that is why you are where you are right now battered and bruised by the tormentor of this world, the Devil.

I too could look back a few years ago after a nasty divorce that cost me dearly both financially and emotionally. I was destitute and just a spiritual, mental and emotional wreck. I literally had only my clothes and a tent to live in when I was told to leave home. I could have given up; taken an easy way out of this world, but something within encouraged me to hang on, even if just by my fingernails.

Now I look back and see clearly that God had His hand on my life. Even while a small voice whispered, “Trust Me”, a louder voice said, “you’re a looser! It has happened again”. This was my second divorce. That voice continually harassed me with lines like “don’t trust anyone, they’ll only do it again.” There was a real tug of war going on in my head. It was war and the battle was in my mind.

I must say many times I wanted to give up and at the last moment I would hear that small voice again. “Trust in Me, lean on Me, I will never leave you nor forsake you.”

There is a story from World War 11 about a company of Allied Soldiers in the trenches in France. They had been under terrific sustained artillery attack for weeks. They were tired, hungry, cold and many wounded. They were low on ammunition, food, medical supplies and most of all, low on moral from the constant bombardment. On this morning the Captain called for the Sergeant to take a stock of their supplies. When he reported back the news was not good. He reported that there were only enough bullets for one hour of sustained fighting. He suggested that rather than loose more men that they should surrender. A vote among the soldiers was against that so they stood ready for the next wave of shellfire and mortar rounds to come in.

Soon it arrived, the machine guns blazed away and shells landed all around, the soldiers had no option but to stick their heads down and pray. Then a dead silence fell over the battlefield. Slowly the Captain stuck his head cautiously above the trench. He was amazed to see hundreds of Germans with their hands on their heads walking towards them with a white flag of surrender. When questioned the German officer said that that last withering fire was all that they had, they had run out of ammunition, and knowing that the Allies had plenty thought they might as well give up to save lives.

There is a Psalm that speaks to me. Psalm 3: 1-6.

“O Lord, how many are my foes! How many rise up against me! Many are saying of me, “ God will not deliver him”. But You are a shield around me, O Lord, my glorious One, who lifts up my head.

To the Lord I cry aloud, and He answers me from His Holy hill. I lay down and sleep; I awake again, because the Lord sustains me. I will not fear the tens of thousands drawn up against me on every side.”

How easy would it have for the psalmist to give up? When the odds were against him, but he depended on the Lord and that is what we must do also.

If there is one person in the Bible who stands out above the others as far as being persecuted for his faith it is the Apostle Paul. Let us review his trials.

“Are they ministers of Christ? (I speak as a fool) I am more; in labours more abundant, in stripes above measure, in prisons more frequent, in deaths oft.

Of the Jews five times received I forty stripes save one. Thrice was I beaten with rods, once was I stoned, thrice I suffered shipwreck, a night and a day I have been in the deep;

In journeyings often, in perils of waters, in perils of robbers, in perils by mine own countrymen, in perils by the heathen, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils among false brethren;

In weariness and painfulness, in watchings often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness. Beside those things that are without, that which cometh upon me daily, the care of all the churches." 2 Cor.11: 23-28

How would you like to have been in the Apostle’s shoes? You know we think we have it tough at times and I do not wish to diminish any of your trials but they may be small when you see what Paul went through. When I showered tonight I looked and I did not see any marks on my back from the 99 lashes, or my feet cut and bruised from walking on the oyster shells from a shipwreck, or bruises from stones hurled against me or when was it that I was last spat upon. Yes some of us have been imprisoned; it is probable that what we did deserved it though. Prisons are full of people who say they are innocent.

The mind is the battlefield. This is where the war is fought and either won or lost. In the midst of our battle Satan’s negatives will always crowd out reason if we allow him to control the ground. We can never be defeated while the Holy Spirit controls our mind and it is girded with the truth.

I want us to look at two aspects of the verses back in 2 Cor. 4: 7-15. I want us to see the strategy that Paul employed to stay victorious in his days of peril and persecution. Now Paul can speak with authority and from personal experience as you can see. He can give us hope here that when we are cast down we can still have hope in Christ. We can be persecuted, harassed, hounded, maligned but still remain unconquered.

The two aspects I want to look at are the positive and the negative in the following verses. For every negative Paul gives a positive affirmation to conquer that negative. Paul gives a conquering thought to counteract the negative that the Devil could have us take hold of and turn to his advantage. We all can instantly recall the bad incidents in our lives but it is harder to recall the joyful because the Devil has conditioned our minds to dwell on the undesirable, painful episodes to keep us in bondage.

Look at the passage again with me. We are in 2 Cor. 4: 11. “But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us. We are troubled on every side, yet not distressed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; Persecuted, but not forsaken; cast down, but not destroyed;”

I see these negatives, verse 8, “troubled or hard pressed on every side” {surrounded} “perplexed or bewildered” why is this happening to me Lord? “Persecuted” or struck down." {100 lashes less one, you would be down too}. What negatives do you hold in your mind about today, yesterday, last week, last year.????? I have had to deal with a whole lot of negatives in my own life. Why two marriage failures, why one daughter will not speak to me? Why hasn’t my homosexual brother contacted me after I showed him in love that his lifestyle was taking him to Hell. All this, plus more in the last eight years. In all these situations I sought to do and behave in a Christian manner, but still the negatives would remain if I allow them to crowd out mind and cause turmoil. If I do, this shatters my peace and it will hinder my walk with Christ, and also may be a stumbling block to a new believer.

While these negatives remain they are fertile ground for the enemy. He will use them to build further strongholds of bitterness and resentment in your life. We need to deal with them before the Cross, lay down all the hurt, unforgiveness, bitterness, and resentment against others, so that we can heal. Unless we do this they become an anchor to our souls, and doorways for demons to suppress our spirit, and torment our mind. We need to have our whole being free to worship and praise our Lord.

Notice again in our passage that Paul cancels out each negative with a positive. “Hard pressed BUT not yet crushed”. There must always be a small part of our spirit not crushed that gives us a reason to struggle gamely on towards the goal? “Bewildered BUT not in despair.” Often we do not know the battles that are taking place in the Heavenlies over our very situation. Want a great novel to read on these battles? Get This Present Darkness and Piercing the Darkness by Frank Peretti. Remember the day is always darkest before the dawn.

Remember the scripture? “ALL things work for good for those who love the Lord and are called according to His purposes.” Rom. 8: 28

Paul goes on, “perplexed but not in despair”. Sometimes we do not understand. Why me Lord. But know this, that when we are Christians, everything that comes to us or at us, has passed over the Hand of the Lord. He has to approve of it and we should think, “OK Lord I don’t like what is happening but with your help I can get through it”.

Next Paul says, “Persecuted but not forsaken”. One of the most lovely promises in the Word is “Lo, I am with you always; I will never leave you nor forsake you.” And yet we cannot grasp this promise sometimes from the depths of despair, when we so need His help. We often wonder, “Where are You God?” when really the case is in reverse, where are we with God!!!!!

Paul continues. “Struck down but not destroyed.” This is to me like a boxer up against a stronger opponent, often knocked to the canvas by heavy blows but still the enemy has not delivered the knock out punch.

I think this is how many of us are here at this time. Getting knocked down by the blows of life, but still you are hanging in there. Satan still hasn’t delivered the killer blow. You have had a referee step in to assist you here in this battle. You are in a neutral corner now being patched up. The Holy Spirit can bring His healing balm to your mind, if you choose to surrender to Him not to the enemy. Phil 4: 6-7 says,.

“Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. 7And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.”

Two things I want you to see if you are being hammered by the Devil. He doesn’t waste his time on those he already has and you must be an important enemy for him to go after you. Take this time here to recover spiritually as well as emotionally and physically under God’s protection. Peter says in 1 Peter 4: 12,

“ beloved do not think it strange concerning the fiery trials which is to try you, as though some strange thing is happening to you; but rejoice to the extent that you partake of Christ’s sufferings; that when His Glory is revealed, you may also be glad.”

What keeps you going when all within is screaming, “I give up!!!” Often it is that small spark of the Holy Spirit. Because God’s power is working in us we can suffer trials and persecution. We may be hard pressed on every side, but we need to see that we are not totally crushed while the Holy Spirit is within. Tremendous trials can produce uncommon grace.

A verse in a great Hymn says “Grace greater than our sin”. Then it says,

“When sin and despair like sea wave’s roll, threaten the soul with infinite loss. Grace that is greater, yes grace untold, points to the refuge, the mighty Cross.”

The marvelous grace of God can come upon us as we accept that He is with us. Just as He was with David in his despair..... Just as He was with Job in his affliction, just as He was with Paul in his persecutions. Yes He is with us!!!!!!!!

There are two ways to deal with these trials. One is to simply give in, get out before it gets too hot and you go under. This is unfortunately the way most choose. The easy way out. The pain is not worth it, it’s easy to stay the course while it is fair sailing, but when the storm clouds gather and the lightening strikes, most elect to bail out of the boat. Just like the disciples in the boat when the storm was nearly sinking them. Some of them were seasoned fishermen. Yet Jesus was asleep. They could not understand that Satan had whipped up this storm to test them out. Of course they failed, lost sight of the fact that the Creator of the elements was with them in the storm. So it is with us as children of God.

The other alternative is to recognize the trial for what it is. An opportunity to increase our faith and our dependence, and to choose to go through it with God’s help. Trials are often from the Lord to sometimes chastise us and bring us back into a living relationship with His Son who went through the cruelest trial on our behalf.

Heb 12: 2-4 says, “Looking to Jesus, the author of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the Cross, despising the shame, He sat down at the right hand of the Father. Consider Him who endured such hostility from sinners....... You have not yet resisted to bloodshed.”

Back to Paul in 2 Cor. 4. He says in verse 15 “ for ALL things are for your sakes, that grace having spread through many, may cause thanksgiving to abound to the Glory of God.”

Can we here accept that statement??? That all that has happened to us is an opportunity so that grace may take root in our lives so that we may bring glory to Christ?

Let’s read on. Verses 16-18.

“Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. 17For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.”

Really he is saying that the afflictions, the trials, the torment is on our side, working for us. SAY THAT AGAIN!!!! Yes trials should strengthen us.

Verse 17. Paul is saying our light affliction {he may say it’s light} ours is when compared to his, is but for a moment, it will pass, but the Glory of God’s approval is immeasurable, eternal, and weighed in our favor.

Imagine a set of scales. On the left are our fiery trials, afflictions, persecutions, and torments; this will always look out of balance because these are real in our life. We are weighed down until we grasp that God’s grace and God’s intervention can turn the scales in our favor. I take my stand on the scripture that says,

“Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls.” Matt 11: 29

We can by faith comprehend God stooping down and taking that heavy burden off our shoulders. OH what a difference is made when we surrender that troublesome weight to the Lord.

I like the Hymn, “Our burdens are lifted at Calvary”. That is where Satan and all his hordes of demons were defeated. We are often our own worst enemy; we do things in the flesh that gives the Devil a doorway to come at us with trials and then wonder why this is happening.

I just want to say, that we have to deal with these trials; we often have to go back to the beginning when we allowed the Devil ground in our life. If the sin has not been dealt with before the Cross, we will never be free to overcome by the Blood of Christ. Make a list while this article is still fresh in your mind.Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal any area that is displeasing to Him. The enemy of our souls would like us to put that off until another day, but NO do it straight away.

You will most likely see a pattern emerge that trials are often the result of bad choices; we did not consult the Lord or we rushed in where angels fear to tread. For too long we focus on past hurts, broken relationships, or bad friends that lead us astray from the Lord.

Healing and deliverance are obtainable! Christ is our Rescuer, our Rock, our Fortress in times of trouble. He is always seeking for the lost sheep, to bind up their wounds. He is the Potter wanting to remake you and mold you into a life that is beautiful, harmonious and fruitful for His Kingdom.

The Word also talks about the refining fire of God. In medieval days, the goldsmiths would place the raw gold into the furnace and continue to apply more heat until they could look at the reflection of their face in the molten gold. So does the Lord often put us in the flames to remove impurities from our lives. He wants the dross of the past to be burnt out so that our lives will reflect the image of His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ to others we meet.

These trials are when the Lord puts us into the furnace for refining purposes. He chastises us because He loves us and wants what is best for us.

“My son, despise not thou the chastening of the Lord, nor faint when thou art rebuked of him: For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth.” Heb 12: 5-6.

However we think we always know what is best for us! It is often not what God has planned for us. The Lord often allows Satan to afflict us also, as he did to Job, but Satan has to obey the Lord also and can only do what he is allowed to do. Remember he is the accuser of the brethren.

“Know that while Satan is persecuting, God is purging. (Dan 11:35) Most of the stains on your graces get there while you feast on peace and prosperity, and they never recover their whiteness as well as when they have come from under Satan’s scourging. He sends discouragement, or grief, or despair, to swallow up the saint (as the whale swallowed Jonah). But God uses the tribulation instead to sand and polish your faith, so that in the end it is finer and more precious than ever.” From The Christian’s Complete Armour, Vol 1, Page 161

Has the Refiners fire touched you recently? Is the Image of Christ aglow in your life, as it was in Paul’s? Is Jesus Christ reflected in our attitudes? our deeds? And our relationships with those around us? There is no better time to reflect on your life than right now. Seek His Face while yet He may be found. Do not allow another day pass until you have had a date with the Lord for that spiritual checkup.

Tip the scales to the positive side; allow the Holy Spirit to search you and know your heart; let Him help you with the hurts and pain. Let Him deal with the trials; come to Him with a contrite and broken heart and allow Him to heal and restore you to a position where others will see the grace and love of Christ in you. Be sensitive to others, be humble, and forgiving where necessary.

What is the Lord’s desire for us? To be whole, body, soul and spirit. 1 Thess 5: 23. That way if fiery trials come no matter how big they seem, we will be able to say as did Paul, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Finally there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord will give to me that day.” 2 Tim 4: 7.

Has the Holy Spirit been speaking to you as you read this article? Why the trials? Has He spoken to someone that does not even know that they are saved through the Blood of the Lamb? This may be your moment; this could be the first day that your name can be written into the Book of Life in Christ. The promise is there in the Word. “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us of our sins, and the Blood of Christ cleanses us from ALL unrighteousness.” 1 John 1: 9. And “call on the name of the Lord and you will be saved.” Praise the Lord.

Heavenly Father as we take this time to bow before your Throne of Mercy and grace, I ask Father that if any here need comfort, any need healing, any need deliverance, touch them Lord Jesus, reveal Your Presence to them in a real way, lift their burdens, bind up their wounds, wash away their sin when they confess. Restore them Father, touch each of them with Your healing hand and bless them who confess Your name before men for you say that if they do not confess Christ to others, He will not confess you before the Father in that time when we depart this mortal world and enter immortality. May our names be found in the Lamb’s Book of Life.