Mature Class Study, teacher Edith Tolbert

God chooses us in the furnace of affliction is so his name is not polluted. It’s vitally important that we are refined by the fire of affliction so we can shine brighter for the Lord.

Isaiah 48:10-11 Behold, I have refined thee, but not with silver; I have chosen thee in the furnace of affliction…even for mine own sake, will I do it: for how should my name be polluted? and I will not give my glory unto another.

God didn’t promise we won’t suffer the fire of affliction. Fire separates the dross and shows if we’re really serving God with all our heart or if we want to hold onto our own ways. The fire in the furnace is constant but there are different degrees of heat. The king said to heat the furnace seven times hotter when he had Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego thrown in. God knows how much heat is needed for what he wants to refine in us.

Romans 5:3-5 And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience; And patience, experience; and experience, hope: And hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us.

The tribulation of the fiery furnace works patience in us. Everyone needs patience. Patience is long-suffering, endurance, and being willing to put up with hardships. Each of us may be in God’s refining forge so we learn to have the patience that Jesus had and he can shine through us. The goldsmith keeps gold in the furnace as long as it needs more refining, until he can see his reflection in the gold. God keeps us in the furnace as long as we need it and so his image is shown to those around us. We need to be willing to go through tribulations and hard things. The furnace of affliction is to purge us and make us more like Christ, not to destroy us or out of revenge. The heavenly father didn’t reward us according to all our sins. His mercy was so great that he forgave us of everything. We didn’t deserve it but he gave it to us, like a father pities his children. We have pitied our children and had mercy on them in their situations. God does the same thing for us and refines us to learn patience. We only learn patience by tribulation.

Psalm 103:10-13 He hath not dealt with us after our sins; nor rewarded us according to our iniquities. For as the heaven is high above the earth, so great is his mercy toward them that fear him. As far as the east is from the west, so far hath he removed our transgressions from us. Like as a father pitieth his children, so the Lord pitieth them that fear him.

Some of us are born with more patience than others. Our personality is different and our demeanor is different. For some it’s a little harder to gain patience. Patience is not optional for the Christian. God wants us to learn patience. Patience means to endure discomfort without complain, slow to anger, long-suffering, forbearance, to maintain self-control; to accept or tolerate delay, trouble, or suffering without getting angry or upset. Patience is not the ability to wait but how you act while you’re waiting. Everyone has to wait at times. We’re all waiting for this pandemic to be over. How are we acting? God is testing our patience and wants us to know he has everything under control. Being able to wait calmly in the face of frustration helps us rely on God more and will add to our patience. Without patience and long-suffering, love comes to an end. God makes us wait to develop patience so we have the love of God.

Hebrews 10:35-36 Cast not away therefore your confidence, which hath great recompence of reward. For ye have need of patience, that, after ye have done the will of God, ye might receive the promise.

Patience is what makes love last. Patience is mostly a matter of the proper use of our will. We have to be humble and work at being patient – it’s our responsibility. It’s a choice to be thankful for the blessings. We have to ask for grace to help us grow and to ask God to help us continually work on patience so we can be the person he wants us to be.

Poem by Claudia Minden Weisz “And God Said No!”

I asked God to take away my pride, and God said “NO”. He said it was not for Him to take away, but for me to give up…I asked God to grant me patience, and God said “NO”. He said that patience is a by-product of tribulation, it isn’t granted, it’s earned. I asked God to give me happiness, and God said “NO”. He said He gives blessings, happiness is up to me. I asked God to spare me pain, and God said “NO”. He said suffering draws you apart from worldly cares and brings yo closer to me. I asked God to make my spirit grow, and He said “NO”. He said I must grow on my own, but He will prune me to make me fruitful. I asked God to help me love others as much as He loves me, And God said “Ah, finally you have the idea”!

The Bible doesn’t say to feel patient but it says act patiently. Our actions are voluntary so we choose how we’re going to act. Our feelings are influenced by our will but they are not controlled our feelings. The devil can give us any kind of feeling so we can’t go by our feelings but by faith in God. When impatient feelings come, we either resist and act patiently, or we act by impatience. Some teach that impatience comes from sin in the heart, so if a person acts impatient then they’re not sanctified. That isn’t true according to the Bible. Sanctification purifies, softens, and refines our whole nature but it does not perfect our natural qualities. Patience is a natural quality we’re born with. Some children are more patient than others when they’re born. We all have different temperaments so God gives tribulation to work on our patience. There is an impatience that’s removed in sanctification but there’s also a natural impatience that we’re born with. If sanctification did it all, we wouldn’t have to work out our own salvation. Sanctification cleanses the heart but there are many characteristics in our demeanor that we don’t even know we have until God shows us to refine and perfect them. Patience is a matter of temperament, of grace, and of working out. Grace supplies some patience but grace alone often isn’t enough. God doesn’t just drop patience on us but we have to work to control ourselves so we act like God wants us to, not how our feelings tell us. We have to recognize how we responded to impatient feelings in times past that didn’t glorify God and to work on that. When impatient feelings come again, we have ask God to help us to control ourselves to be more like him and have victory over acting impatient. The more we put our feelings into action, the more impatient we will be. There are three things God often uses that try our patience in the furnace of affliction: 1) physical circumstances of life (the refrigerator, washing machine or dryer stops working, the freezer stops and all the food is thawed, the car won’t start); 2) financial circumstances; 3) people. Each of us may be God’s refining tools for someone else and someone else may be God’s refining tool for us. We have to learn how to control the impatient feelings in our life so we can give glory to God. Impatience is sometimes rooted in selfishness – when we want our way and we’re not getting our way about something. We need to pray for God to give victory over that.

Colossians 3:12-15 Put on therefore…holy and beloved, bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, longsuffering; Forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel against any: even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye. And above all these things put on charity, which is the bond of perfectness. And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to the which also ye are called in one body; and be ye thankful.

God is asking us to put on bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness, meekness, and longsuffering. If we don’t have these on, we’re not going to be patient. In the morning when we have devotions, we need to pray the Lord will help us put on these things, to help us to be clothed with humility, long suffering, mercy, and kindness. To be forbearing means putting up with each other. Everyone has things about them that irritate or bother someone but they don’t even know. We need to remember we have things that bother others too. Love covers a multitude of sins so if we have the love of God, he wants us to willingly put up with things. Jesus showed patience in all the things he went through by his attitude on the cross. He said, Father, forgive them. They don’t know what they’re doing. He wasn’t speaking against them and didn’t have a bad attitude but was completely patient in how he treated them and had complete forgiveness. If we have patience, there will be forgiveness for the wrongs someone has done to us. We can’t be lazy about practicing what God has asked. We have to work at being patient so we show the patience of Christ in controlling our mouth – not saying everything comes into our brain.

Hebrews 6:12 That ye be not slothful, but followers of them who through faith and patience inherit the promises.

Moses was a man of patience. He was highly educated, inventive, and general over Pharaoh’s army. When the Ethiopians came to war against Egypt, there were two ways to go to Ethiopia. The short route was through a desert that had poisonous snakes. Moses collected Ibis birds that killed the snakes so the army could go through the desert.

Acts 7:20-28…Moses was born…nourished up in his father’s house three months: And when he was cast out, Pharaoh’s daughter took…and nourished him for her own son. And Moses was learned in all the wisdom of the Egyptians, and was mighty in words and in deeds. And Moses was learned in all the wisdom of the Egyptians…And when he was full forty years old, it came into his heart to visit his brethren the children of Israel. And seeing one …suffer wrong, he… avenged him…and smote the Egyptian: For he supposed his brethren would have understood how that God by his hand would deliver them: but they understood not. And the next day…as they strove, and would have set them at one again, saying, Sirs, ye are brethren; why do ye wrong one to another? But he that did his neighbour wrong thrust him away, saying, Who made thee a ruler and a judge over us? Wilt thou kill me, as thou diddest the Egyptian yesterday?

Moses felt like God had called him to deliver the children of Israel. Moses was proud and arrogant and didn’t ask God’s direction. He had his own ways and thought he could do whatever he wanted. There were many things and attitudes in him that needed to be perfected. He was 40 years old in Midian, got married, had two sons and was a shepherd. He led the sheep out every day in the desert and wilderness area wherever he could find food for them. He learned things that would help him in those 40 years. He was humbled so the pride and arrogance were gone. He didn’t have the abundance that he had in the palace. He learned patience and how to wait on God. He still knew God had called him but that it had to be in God’s time when he would go lead the children of Israel. He waited another 40 years.  God showed him how to live in the wilderness and desert so he could lead the Israelites through the wilderness.

Acts 7:29-30 Then fled Moses…and was a stranger in the land of Madian, where he begat two sons. And when forty years were expired, there appeared to him in the wilderness…an angel of the Lord in a flame of fire in a bush.

Moses made a choice to suffer with the people of God, rather than to enjoy the pleasures of Egypt.

Hebrews 11:24 By faith Moses, when he was come to years, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter;

Every time the children of Israel complained, Moses was on his face before the Lord praying. He didn’t do that when he was in Egypt but now he had learned patience, long suffering, and where to go when problems arose.

Numbers 11:1-2 And when the people complained, it displeased the Lord: and the Lord heard it; and his anger was kindled; and the fire of the Lord burnt among them, and consumed them that were in the uttermost parts of the camp. And the people cried unto Moses; and when Moses prayed unto the Lord, the fire was quenched.

When Miriam and Aaron complained about Moses, it says he was very meek above all men of the earth. He was meek, humble, gentle, and kind. He had to be patient to be meek. He learned that in the 40 years he was tending sheep.

Numbers 12:3 (Now the man Moses was very meek, above all the men which were upon the face of the earth.)

When the Israelites complained again and God was going to destroy them, Moses prayed and pleaded for mercy.

Numbers 14:17-20…I beseech thee…thou hast spoken, saying, The Lord is longsuffering, and of great mercy, forgiving iniquity and transgression, and by no means clearing the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children …Pardon, I beseech thee, the iniquity of this people according unto the greatness of thy mercy, and as thou hast forgiven this people, from Egypt even until now. And the Lord said, I have pardoned according to thy word:

God is faithful to help us in the furnace of affliction so we learn things and are refined to get all the dross out. To grow in patience, we have to make ourselves wait. Many times we don’t want to wait or we want it our way. If we don’t wait it will cause us to be more impatient. Be mindful of things that make you impatient and are triggers. When impatience starts coming to you ask God to help you practice patience and overcome impatience. God wants to get the glory out of our life. If we’re impatient, we will not have peace of mind. Patience is the only thing that will help us to be calm and have peace of mind.