Christine Caine - Forged By Fire - Part 2
Hey, everyone, I am so grateful that you have joined us today. You have picked a great week to join us because we are talking about how our faith is forged through the fire. I mean, we are living in a season on the earth where it just seems that there is relentless trauma, relentless pain, relentless suffering, just one thing happening after the other, whether it's economic or social or moral or political or financial or environmental. It's just like we're being hit from all sides. But I want to remind you today that you have a God that is on your side, a God that is building us in the midst of adversity, in the midst of trials, in the midst of suffering, you and I can remain steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord, our labor is not in vain.
You and I were picked for this moment in history. God placed us where he placed us for his purpose and for his glory. He sent us into a lost and a broken and a dark, pain-filled suffering, hurting world to be his soul and his light, to be ambassadors for him, to give people a sense of hope in a hopeless world and in a dark world, God has called us to represent him. So a lot of us have gone through times and especially the last few years, we've come through a pandemic. We've come through so much upheaval and suffering.
And Peter, I love this and I've been stuck in basically 1 and 2 Peter and Hebrews over these last few years because these books are just speaking to the day in which we live. Peter was writing to persecuted Christians. These Christians were undergoing a time of extreme persecution and extreme trials and extreme sufferings. And in the midst of that, Peter writes to them, he says in 1 Peter 1, "Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ: to those chosen, living as exiles dispersed abroad in Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, Bithynia, chosen according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through the sanctifying work of the spirit, to be obedient and to be sprinkled with the blood of Jesus Christ. May grace and peace be multiplied to you. Blessed be the God and father of our Lord Jesus Christ. Because of his great mercy he has given us a new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead".
Last week, we talked about how important it is to know that we, because of his great mercy, were given a new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, "And into an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you. You are being guarded by God's power through faith for a salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time. You rejoice in this, even though now for a short time, if necessary, you suffer grief in various trials so that the proven character of your faith, more valuable than gold, which though perishable, is refined by fire, may result in praise, glory, and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. Though you have not seen him, you love him: though not seeing him now, you believe in him, and you rejoice with inexpressible and glorious joy because you are receiving the goal of your faith, the salvation of your souls".
How powerful. When we remember the what and the where and the how of our faith, then we can better cope with not understanding why we have been born again into a living hope with an eternal inheritance. So, so much of what is going on, many of us do not understand. And when you try to reason and work out and kind of work out what is going on and why, why is the world like this? Why is there so much suffering? Why is there so much pain? Whew, it can really, really confuse you. But when you understand that we're born again into a living hope and we have an internal inheritance, you can better navigate the pain and suffering in the world because what do you do when you've been hit by a global pandemic, a financial trial, maybe a divorce, a betrayal, a job loss, a broken relationship, maybe a scary diagnosis from the doctor, maybe a child that's wayward or a dream that's been shattered, or you've had a heartbreaking disappointment, maybe the unexpected death of a loved one?
Legal challenges, potentially. What do you do when you've been falsely accused? What do you do when you face persecution at work or school? It's important to know like, okay, so what is the purpose of trials? In this text, Peter is reminding these persecuted Christians that trials only last for a little while, he says in verse six. In light of eternity, I know for us, they seem like they last for a long time. No one likes trials and they seem to always come in clusters, don't they? And then they seem to last forever, whether it's sickness or loss or grief or betrayal of catastrophes. Somehow when we're in the midst of it, we know life is not supposed to be like this. So what happens is, I think trials and suffering remind us that this world is not our ultimate home because we know it's not supposed to be like this. What trials could do is they can make us more expected about our eternal home. They tend to break our attachment to this world because what we see through trials is that this world, it cannot deliver hope. It just can't.
We hope in people and we hope in things or we hope in status, but here is the deal. We are all inevitably disappointed by people or things that don't deliver what only God can deliver. So what trials can do is they reveal our misplaced hopes because our ultimate hope must only be in Jesus. Jesus alone is the one that is faithful. Jesus alone is the one that is the same yesterday, today and forever. Jesus alone is this anchor for our soul, both firm and secure. Our hope is in Jesus, not in our circumstances. So what happens is when you're in a trial, you tend to rediscover your anchor in those trials. And I think many of us have done that over the last few years, that we have ascertained whether truly we have been anchored to Christ because when we're anchored to him, we don't drift even when the storm comes and we have had a lot of storms.
I remember when the pandemic first hit, I told our team and we would meet in what I call the upper zoom room on zoom and we had 19 offices, 16 countries, everyone's meeting. And I read to them right from the first day of the pandemic from Zechariah 1:12 where it says, "Return to your stronghold, o, prisoners of hope. Today I declare that I will restore to you double". And I remember saying to all of our team that we can't choose whether we're prisoners. Right now, we're all down in a lockdown. Every country in the world, right at the beginning of the pandemic, we are in a lockdown. I said, so we are prisoners of sorts, but we can make a decision in this season what kind of prisoners we're going to be and what kind of prisoners we are not going to be. We are a hope-filled people because we are a resurrection people. That's not blind optimism.
I want you to hear me. Because sometimes people look and go, "Well, Christine, your hope-filled, man, that's just blind optimism". It's not just wishful thinking. What it is is hope-filled faith in a resurrected Savior. When you are full of faith that Jesus Christ has defeated hell, he has defeated death, he is coming again, there will be a New Heaven, there will be a new earth. Out of that resurrection hope, you can hope in the most hopeless times. You can endure the most difficult times. You can grieve not as one who has no hope, but one that has eternal hope. It doesn't make natural sense. That's the power of a supernatural gospel. What happens is we keep an eternal perspective so that we can endure a temporal process. And that's why during these times of trials and suffering, when we set our mind on things above, Colossians 3:2 says, you have to have a mind set on something that is above. If your mind is just set on your social media account, your mind is just set on the latest news report, you will lose your mind in this world.
Can I just tell you that? You will lose your mind. The news is so negative. It is so fear-based. People are full of fear and doubt and negativity. People's confession is just full of negativity. There is so much gossip, there is so much lying. There is so much slander, there is so much offense, there is so much anger, there is so much bitterness, there is so much unforgiveness. You have got to choose to elevate your thinking above all of the banter down here and set your mind on things above. Your mindset in a trial determines the I want you to catch that. Your mindset, the mindset that you keep, where you set your mind in the midst of a trial, determines the impact of the trial. Your perspective can change even when your circumstances don't change. If you understood the power of that and you would understand that most of life has got to do with our perspective because many things and many of the same things happen to different people, but how the different people view those same things determines how they navigate those circumstances. In light of eternity, this is just a little while.
Peter writes now, just for a little while. It seems like it's going to last forever, but this is just a little while. I'm here to remind someone right now, friend, don't bail, don't jump ship. Don't end it. It's just a little while. It's just a little while because we have a living hope. I remember when we went to Poland right in January, 2022. So it was the NATO forces when we were there in January, the war had not broken out where Russia attacked Ukraine. What happened was we were there, NATO forces were moving in, Russia was getting ready to invade Ukraine and we had about 20 people that we had to move and get out of our Kiev office with their children and move them into Warsaw.
It was so amazing to me to listen to those conversations and to hear hope-filled and faith-filled they were. Here they were on the verge of being evacuated out of Kiev, moving into Warsaw, but they had their mind set on things above, and it was profound. It was a profound lesson in faith to me. In fact, our Kiev director, our country director of the Ukraine, on one of our upper zoom room staff meetings, she was the one that prayed. I just had tears streaming down my face as she was thanking God that he would choose them to be available to be on the border to help identify potential victims of human trafficking and those most vulnerable and those most at risk.
The fact is what the last few years have revealed is where our faith is at. It's not like God's in heaven freaking out going, "I never knew"! He's the teacher that gave the test who already knew what the result was. The fact was he was showing us this is where your faith really was, because did your faith plummet when your candidate didn't win? Did you fear death in its finality because ultimately, a pandemic spread across the earth that could have been the end, but the fact is, if it's not the pandemic, it's going to be something else because we're all going to die. Did we just actually discover that we're scared of death and we don't believe that death has lost its sting as much as we thought we had believed that? Perhaps because somebody might have voted a different way or thinks a different way about an issue than you do and you haven't even talked to that person for the last two years.
Have you discovered that maybe during your testing under fire that we thought we loved our people, or we thought we loved our neighbors, we loved ourselves or we thought that we would be able to be faithful friends and discovered, you know what? We're not. Discovered that we actually gossiped or slandered or lied? That we actually had no problem just calling people out. That we actually had no problem just ghosting people and we weren't faithful? Is that what the trials maybe have revealed in your life?
The Bible says in Acts 17:26, "That God chooses the times, the seasons, the places in which we should live," the exact places we should live. God made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth having determined allotted periods and the boundaries of their dwelling place, which means God knew that we would be on this earth during a global pandemic. God knew we would be on this earth during the revelation of all the racial injustice, the natural disasters, the political upheaval, the economic instability, the pain, the loss, the confusion, the grief, all the stuff that we've gone through. God knew. And we were born on purpose for this hour on the earth.
So really, what has been revealed is the strength of our faith muscle. All of these things happening around us, God's like, "Oh no, no, I'm forging your faith under trial". Because trials do not make your faith genuine. Trials prove if your faith is real. That is what has happened over the last few years. Trials prove whether we really believe what we've said we believed and revealed where we've actually not believed what we've said we've believed. God already knows if it is true. This is where we actually discover whether we believe it.
So it's not just for our knowing, I want but it's for our growing. So the last couple of years have been a test. We've been in intensive exams so we can grow into the image of Christ and be stronger so that he can make us holy. Faith is forged in the furnace of trials and a faith that has not been tested is a faith that cannot be trusted. Peter writes, "Our faith is more precious than gold". Faith is the currency of heaven. Gold is the standard on earth. So the enemy is after our faith because it is so precious. We are a people of faith.
I just want to remind you today, Hebrews 11:1 says, "Faith is the assurance of what we hope for, the certainty of what we do not see". Galatians 2:20 says, "The life I live in the body I live by faith in the sum of God". Hebrew 11:6 says, "Without faith, it is impossible to please God". Romans 1:17 says, "The just will live by faith". And faith is predicated on trust, not understanding. People think it's crazy to have faith in our rational, empirical, pluralistic, secular culture. Our job is to hand the baton of faith from one generation to the next. They can have everything, but without faith, they will have nothing. They won't learn faith if they are never in a situation where they need faith.
And so, we have to understand that often a familiarity with Jesus breeds a laziness in our faith. And I wonder whether our faith and whether we have taken our faith for granted and what has been revealed in this season is that we need to contend for faith. For gold to be revealed, it has to go through the fire. My friend owns a Jewelry business and I called to find out about gold and gold is purified by fire because impurities are invisible from the outside. The goldsmith has got to hold the gold over the hottest part of the fire, liquefying it so hidden imperfections rise to the surface and the refiner skims the dross until the surface is clear and they can see their own reflection in the purified liquid. The hotter the fire, the more impurities are burnt off, the more precious the gold becomes.
And so it is with our faith. The refining fire of trials, they purify our hearts, they make us stronger, they make us more like Jesus. You really don't know what is in you until the heat is turned up. We have all found out what's in us in this season. The trials reveal the issues that are already in the heart. It's like God turns up the heat on our faith and the impurities of our life, our weaknesses and our flaws and our immaturities all and they become visible so that God in his grace, in his mercy and his love can remove them. Our goldsmith is the Creator of the universe and he loves us. There's a purifying fire and there's a raising to the ground fire.
Please hear me. God is not an arsonist. God loves us so much that he wants us to come as we are, but he loves us so much and too much to let us stay as we are. So it's in trials that our faith grows, that we get stronger, that we learn how to endure longer. We don't have to freak out, pass out or tap out when we face trials. We're in the fire because he is refining us. He is building our endurance and we need it for the days that are ahead. We all need endurance training. During the pandemic, I started hiking a whole lot of mountains and I couldn't just start at the highest mountain. I had to build that muscle, I had to build my endurance and I went from one mountain to the next mountain, to the next mountain, to the next mountain so I could hike at altitude so that my muscles could be developed.
And that's how it works in our relationship with God. That's how we build spiritual endurance. It's how we strengthen our muscles. God takes us and we go through one trial, to another trial, to another trial. It feels like the pressure comes up, it feels like the heat gets turned up, hotter and hotter and hotter, but God is building strength in us. God is building endurance in us. We are becoming like Jesus who endured to the end. There is nothing that you and I have been through that Jesus did not go through. Jesus was betrayed. Jesus was lied about. Jesus' friends left him. Jesus was by himself when he wanted his friends to be with him in the garden. He continued to endure beyond betrayal, beyond being forsaken, beyond being left.
Even when he didn't understand and he's like, "Father, Father, why have you forsaken me"? Even when he was in Gethsemane and his friends fell asleep, he continued to endure. He continued to endure. He continued to endure because of you and because of me. And the same spirit that raised Jesus Christ from the dead lives on the inside of you and lives on the inside of me. Therefore, you and I can do all things through Christ Jesus who strengthens us. We can endure in the midst of trials, in the midst of suffering, in the midst of pain. We are able to endure because of the Spirit of God that's on the inside of us. This is not a time to tap out. This is a time to lean into Jesus and you will have your faith forged in the fire.