I was reading in Exodus chapter 29 how God told the people of Israel to ordain Aaron and his sons to the priesthood. The way the Israelites were to do this was to dress Aaron and his sons in their priestly clothes and to sacrifice a young bull and two rams. Most of the chapter is pretty graphic about slaughter, blood, etc. But, what caught my attention was that in verse 18 and again in verse 25 God stated that the burnt offering was “a pleasing aroma, an offering made to the Lord by fire.”
Earlier this month, I attended the women’s retreat at our church and the title of the retreat was Refined By Fire! While reading Exodus chapter 29, I began to think about what this chapter and the retreat title was saying to me. When we think about the refining process of something, we think about something that is taken from its original shape, literally destroyed and melted by the intense heat of the fire and then when it cools the object is completely purified. The object is then seen in its purest form, all of the impurities have been burned away. I believe that is what chapter 29 is saying. When all of the impurities are being burned away and the object is transforming into its purest form, the burning process is a pleasing aroma, an offering made to the Lord by fire.
So now, I’m thinking what do these two totally different things (burning a sacrifice to the Lord and the refining process have in common) and how can they be applied to our lives?
Every day, you and I go through trials of all kinds. Some trials are very serious and we think that we will never get through them and some trials are basically an annoyance. But, when we go through these trials (large or small) we go through them for a reason! I truly believe God does not give us trials to go through for His own amusement! The trials we go through are to purify us and as we are being refined in the process, that painful sacrifice that we are making is a pleasing aroma to the Lord.
Another reason we are refined by fire and go through these trials is to increase our faith in God, not only for us but for our brothers and sisters in Christ that have been praying for us! As we go through the fiery trials we are saying “Lord I am depending on You and Your strength alone, to get me through this!” We are submitting our selves to God and we are sacrificing our will to the Lord. When we are obedient to God that is a pleasing aroma to Him! When we finally come through the fire, our faith in God is stronger and then we can be used by God for His purposes!
Don’t look at your struggles as something personal, something that only you can handle….but look at all of your struggles (great and small) as a sacrifice…as your personal sacrifice to the Lord. There are three things that could happen to you in these trials:
1. You could lose your reputation and everything that you own (but really it all belongs to God anyway – Psalm 50:12).
2. You could lose your life. But, if you are a Christian Philippians 1:21 tells us that to die is gain because you will be going to spend eternity with Jesus.
3. You could lay down your pride. Then through obedient sacrifice give everything to God and come out of the fire….stronger, purer. (Exodus 29:18, 25).
Casting Crowns says it best in their song Praise You In This Storm
I’ll praise You in this storm
And I will lift my hands
For You are who You are
No matter where I am
Every tear I’ve cried
You hold in Your hand
You never left my side
And though my heart is torn
I will praise You in this storm
As the thunder rolls
I barely hear You whisper through the rain
“I’m with you”
And as Your mercy falls
I raise my hands and praise the God who gives
And takes away
“Life is a series of problems and the reason for this is that God is more interested in your character than in your comfort. God is more interested in making your life holy than He is in making your life happy. We were made by God and for God, and until you figure that out, life isn’t going to make sense.” Rick Warren
CindyCasting Crowns CD: Lifesong (2005) http://themangolds.wordpress.com/2008/09/30/pastor-rick-warren-insight-since-his-wifes-cancer-diagnosis/ @copyright 2011 LVC Ministries, Inc