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"The Refining of Your Faith"

Spiritual Storms

And the Lord said:

  • "If you had faith like a mustard seed, you would say to this mulberry tree, 'be uprooted and be planted in the sea'; it would obey you" (Lk.17:6).

We are living in a day when the spiritual storms around us are increasing and growing in intensity; this is not to be seen as something so strange and unusual so as to be outside God's sovereignty. 

Jesus, when teaching His disciples the commandments of His kingdom, speaks of two men who built their houses on different foundations. He didn't say "if" the storms come and beat against our house but "when" the storms come. 

These storms are to be anticipated as we make our choices while working out our own salvation, as well as when building a ministry. Jesus stated that the wise men who kept His kingdom commandments (Matt.5,6,7) weathered the storms successfully while those who didn't saw their lives and ministries fall. 

These commandments can be kept but require a deep work in the inner man of the Spirit, dealing with Adamic motives and instincts, for this to be accomplished. As the cross is thoroughly applied to our soul and Jesus' resurrection life is released in power, such a walk in the Lord is possible. 

God is even now creating such a people by working within those who allow it. It is certainly a miracle walk. And miracles are what Jesus is all about. Such a spiritual walk requires a faith that is tested and tried beforehand.

As long as we live in a world where sin and death reign, the Lord uses storms as an instrument to keep the plans and devices of men of sin underfoot.

We live in a world where these men are ever building kingdoms contrary to the Lord and His kingdom's purposes. The storms are controlled by God and are purposed to bring these kingdoms down so that the Lord and His kingdom's purposes might have preeminence.

They also work against and are meant to bring into subjectivity the man of sin that works in our own natures.

Such things as war, calamity, persecution, sin, sickness, defeat, and death are evil and will eventually be destroyed by the Lord. When storms that cause such things occur in our life, we are to pray for deliverance. 

  • "Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil"
    (Matt 6:13).

The God of Restoration

We need to understand that God is continually working something good in us during times of adversity. 

  • "For we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God and are called according to His purposes" (Rom.8:28).

Much of this good can not be seen clearly or appreciated on this side of heaven. But God will GIVE purpose to that which seems to have no purpose. The primary object of God's workmanship, especially as we approach the day of the Lord, is within our eternal spirits.

With this in mind, we should praise and trust Him in our trials even though it may seem we are suffering irreversible losses. 

  • "Come, let us return to the Lord. For He has torn us, but He will heal us. He has wounded us, but He will bandage us. He will revive us after two days, He will raise us up on the third day that we may live before Him" (Hos.6:1-2). 

Though we may suffer heartbreaking losses, God is a God of restoration. Although the storms rage with great might, the abounding power of His grace to deliver and heal will be mightier.

As our faith is refined while standing up to these storms, a marvelous miracle is being accomplished. He is intently refining the gold of His divine nature in us, so that which comes forth in our lives manifests His nature and character. 

Through such adversities we qualify as overcomers who will share His throne. The person striving to live for the Lord and do a work for Him is thus victimized by storms. It is only to the degree that our lives and ministries are rooted and established in harmony with Hikingdom'som purposes that we will stand. 

We must learn that the kingdom of God, which is both within us and amongst us, is His workmanship. It is during these times of His active workmanship that He molds us into the image of His dear Son. During such a molding of our life, there are times we must implicitly trust Him with child-like faith.

Enduring the Storm

The discipline we learn while enduring a storm is meant to train us to do His perfect will. 

  • "For it is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure" (Phil.2:13). 

All that is built on self-will and human imagination are predestined to fall. 

  • "Unless the Lord builds the house, they labor in vain who build it" (Ps.127:1). 

Our "house" that Jesus spoke of on the Sermon on the Mount speaks of our nobly built Christian character and ministry. Failures that cause our "house" to fall can be a heartbreaking experience.

We so much want to be successful and have the Lord's approval of our lives. We hope to be overcomers in life. But it is only the keeping of His kingdom commandments that creates a pathway for an overcoming life. 

This pathway is ordained of God, and it is His strength and wisdom that will enable us to walk on it successfully while in the midst of the storm. If we embrace His commandments and walk in them, we will be wise men indeed.

It takes a tested and tried faith founded on the person of the Lord Jesus Christ and His Word that makes such a walk possible. 

We are approaching the day of the Lord in which everything that can be shaken will be shaken so that which cannot be shaken might remain. Mighty storms are on the horizon, and it is time to seek the Lord that we may learn what we must do to endure. When storms do touch our lives, we often find them difficult to manage.

Should our Christian character and ministry seem to crumble when the storms rage, many react with bitterness and anger. "Why is the Lord allowing this to happen to me?" we ask. After all, when we stepped out in simple faith, shouldn't God have honored our faith? Shouldn't we be exempt from adversity? 

"Only sinners should experience adversity," we say. Bewildered and disillusioned, our spiritual hopes wane at best. God often allows a Christian to go through adversity to test and try their faith.

Our lives and ministries must be built on faith, it is true, but underlying that faith must lay an endurable foundation. Only faith that has been perfected and refined qualifies to be a firm foundation on which to build our "houses." 

Only faith founded on His eternal purposes, rather than on carnal motives, will stand. God is merciful in His dealings with us, but He is bringing forth a perfected church that will manifest His nature, character, and glory.

He is going to have a bride without spot, wrinkle, or any other imperfection. Thus, those in the Church that fall short will experience His dealings and corrections. 

It is much better for us to ask the Lord to search and try our lives now, so we are prepared beforehand to endure the storms that are coming in these latter days. The life and experience of Peter, for example, gives us an understanding of the difference between mature tried faith and immature presumption. 

Peter in this parable is like the immature born again, baptized in the Spirit Christian trying to step out into the supernatural power of God to sustain his Christian walk. It showed how Peter learned he needed a special kind of faith to succeed in that kind of walk. 

After the "feeding of the five thousand" in Matthew chapter fourteen, Jesus sent the multitudes away and made the disciples get into the boat and go ahead of Him to the other side of the Sea of Galilee. They all got into "Jesus' boat." 

All the disciples were saved, called, and anxious to obey the Lord and to be part of His ministry. They all wanted to follow Him and launched out into the deep, fully determined to finish their "Christian journey" successfully to the other side.

They were very much like you and me, who have come to the Lord, want to be part of His exciting ministry, and hope to finish our walk in the Lord successfully till He comes. 

We have heard about storms and what they can do, but we hope and trust the Lord that we won't have to encounter any. As they journeyed, a great storm did arise, and the wind and the waves became contrary. This storm was so violent that they feared for their lives and were in desperate need of help. 

Doing the Impossible

Then suddenly, Jesus approached the boat in a display of supernatural heavenly glory by walking on the water. This display of power frightened them. The Lord revealed Himself as a God who can do the impossible once again.

As was the case with the disciples, many of us have decided to obey the Lord. We got saved and entered into "Jesus' boat." In our Christian journey, we have had many experiences.

Those who have had a Pentecostal experience have come to know the Lord in a supernatural dimension. We have come to believe that God does miraculous things today as He did in the early years of the Church. 

Our level of faith in Him has been raised as He reveals Himself as a present reality who is able to intervene in our lives in a supernatural way. People baptized in His Holy Spirit and introduced to spiritual gifts, though initially skeptical and frightened, have been assured it was from God. 

  • "Take courage, it is I, do not be afraid" (Matt.14:27).

An encounter with the Holy Spirit in power is such an awakening that it deeply stirs the emotions of many. Peter was such a Christian. 

Peter was different in ways the others were not; seeing his Lord walking towards him on the water stirred his impetuous Spirit to action. The Lord showed Himself as a present supernatural reality, and Peter begged to walk with Him in this experience. 

  • "Lord, if it is You, command me to come to You on the water" (Matt.14:28). 

The Lord allowed his impetuous heart to have its way, and He said, "Come." Peter was asking if he could walk with the Lord in this supernatural realm, and was this decision, this direction, this faith walk was in His will and was it possible?

He was asking the Lord, "Lord, if you will honor my steps of faith into circumstances that are bigger than me, and are in fact impossible, except you uphold me, then say 'yes' Lord." The Lord did say "yes," and Peter got out of the boat and walked on the water towards Jesus. Peter did indeed do the impossible. 

Peter succeeded in his faith walk and was able to go as far as his impetuous heart could take him. Peter succeeded till…… Peter succeeded till he came to his senses. 

  • "But seeing the wind, he became afraid, and, beginning to sink, he cried out 'Lord, save me'" (Matt.14:30). 

Peter's impetuous faith transcended reason for a short time, and after that time, he found himself in a position of mortal danger.

The reality of what he was doing became evident to his carnal mind as the wind, and the waves tossed him about and spoke to his senses, "Peter, you dummy, you can't do this. Are you crazy? Who do you think you are anyway?" He thus began to sink. 

The buffeting of his circumstances became too much for him, and his faith was overwhelmed by fear. Though outwardly it appeared his faith only was at fault, a deeper look reveals he was yet insecure in his love for Jesus.

Faith works by love, and it is only perfect love that casts out fear. Nevertheless, the faith and love he did have was greater than what those in the boat had and was worthy of praise. 

The power of God can operate in our lives only to the degree we believe it can. The circumstances in which Peter found himself now needed an intervention of the Lord for Peter's life to be saved. 

  • "And it shall come to pass, that whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be delivered" (Jo.2:32).

Praise God for His faithfulness. Despite Peter's doubts, the Lord was pleased with Peter and was quick to save. 

  • "And immediately Jesus stretched out His hand and took hold of him…" (Matt.14:31). 

Although Peter's faith walk failed the test of the storm, the Lord intervened to save his life. Peter must have lost something of himself by his failure and perhaps frightened and disappointed his brethren in the boat who loved him and hoped for his success.

Nevertheless, Peter was saved, restored to a place of safety, and learned a lesson that would prepare him for a future walk and work of service to the Lord. 

Jesus, who asked, "O you of little faith, why did you doubt?" knew why Peter doubted. He doubted because his faith was immature and untried. It was a carnal faith that tried to walk in heavenly realities for which it was unprepared.

It was a faith that needed refining and perfecting in Peter's Spirit, rooted and established in his human soul in such a manner that his sense-knowledge was submitted to His Spirit within. 

Faith that will enable us to function with the Lord in supernatural realities must be more substantive than mere mental assent, emotionalism, or positive confession. Such faith must be of the substance of the Spirit that would be an attribute characterized as "virtue" in Scripture.

Virtue is a quality of the Spirit and His divine nature that is metaphorically spoken of as "gold" throughout Scripture. 

Job understood this through revelation while agonizing over the reasons for his fiery trials of afflictions. After rejecting the reasons his dubious "friends" had given him for his ordeal, he came to understand that God wanted to produce in him a faith of eternal value. 

  • "But He knows the way I take; when He has tried me, I shall come forth as gold" (Job.23:10).

This kind of faith, this gold, is a free gift from God to every believer. The trial will cost you everything else you have. Peter, with maturity, learned this lesson to exhort in his first epistle to rejoice in trials.

  • "…that the proof (genuineness) of your faith, being more precious than gold which is perishable, even though tested by fire (trials ), may be found to result in praise…" (1Pet.1:7). 

It is only this type of faith, this gold, which is the faith of Jesus dwelling in us, thus tried and functioning mightier than the doubts of our Adamic soul, that will enable us to walk with the Lord in the heavenlies in the days ahead.

If your faith is yet untried, He advises you to buy from Him gold refined by fire, that you may be rich. (Rev.3:18) Between Peter's dip in the sea and the writing of his first epistle, an event occurred in the heavenlies that only Jesus could reveal. 

  • "Simon, Simon, behold, Satan has demanded permission to sift you like wheat..." 

An astonished Peter must have thought to himself, "Surely Lord, you are not going to let him?" 

Jesus continued... 

  • "… but I have prayed for you, that your faith may not fail…" (Lk.22:3132). 

As was the case with Job, Peter endured the refiner's fire, exposing his carnality to the Lord and to himself when he denied the Lord three times. When the refiner's fire was complete, with all failure being exposed, Peter came to the end of his failures. At this point, the Lord had a work for him. 

  • "And you, when once you have turned again(restored from his failures), strengthen your brethren" (Lk.22:32).

God doesn't allow storms of trials into our lives to see if we succeed. He already knows if we will and tests us to show us where we fail so that we may be humbled and learn what we can or cannot do apart from His grace.

The Lord was pleased with Peter's impetuous faith but had to allow it to fail that He may make it perfect for the work of the ministry.

The Substance of Things Hoped For

There are those of us in the Body of Christ whose lives and ministries have become subject to trials, with failure evident to all. Failure should not be held against us either by ourselves or others in the Church.

We are living in an hour of increasing pressure and divine shakings. The word of the Lord for those who fail is "Mercy." It is time to let Him pick us up and dust us off. 

Then we need to trust in the sufficiency of His grace to forgive and restore, learn the lesson, and press on to know the Lord. In the days ahead, only He and what is founded on His eternal kingdom will stand.

All that is of the flesh will fail; this is His doing. We need to encourage and minister to ourselves and our brethren during times of failure so that His strength can be made perfect in our weakness. 

Those of us who have stepped out with any faith endeavor and find ourselves sinking into the deep dark waters of adverse circumstances need to call upon the name of the Lord and trust Him to restore us to a place of safety. Our expectations may not be realized.

Dreams, visions, and endeavors we have undertaken with the permission of the Lord may not always succeed; this is not the Lord's failure but our own because we, like Peter, are human with vulnerabilities and limitations. 

As we turn to the Lord, He will deliver us, continue to refine us completely, and enable us to take on future endeavors that are in His perfect will, totally victoriously.

Only with a tested, tried, and refined faith will we have the foundation necessary to consistently keep His kingdom commandments in the midst of the storm. 

Such "houses" will steadfastly endure. Great blessings will be showered on such a life that will overflow into the lives of many others. Such a walk and testimony will bring great increase and glory to our heavenly Father. 

If we suffer with Him, we will also obtain the maturity to reign with Him. Through such dealings, our hearts are made secure in His faith, hope, and love.

Those who allow the refiner's fire to do its work to completion will truly discover the secret of being able to walk on the waters with the Lord again.

Those who truly believe with a heart full of divine love will even be able to still the spiritual storms that come our way that their brethren may not perish. 

  • "Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen" (Heb.11:1).

Brian McGrath 

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