He Will Refine Us! An Advent Sermon
This sermon can be heard at https://youtu.be/Jmc2Pt_Be0M
He Will Do All the Good Things He Promised!
He Will Refine!
† I.H.S †
May the blessing of God’s grace, the mercy, love and peace you should know, become more and more real as we expect the glory of His coming!
How Can we return if we’ve never left?
In less than a month, many people will make resolutions. My gym will probably go from the four that were there yesterday morning to fifty or so. Diet companies will push their solutions to our weight problems, people will join 12 step programs, and perhaps a few more people will try church.
I was thinking about that, what if resolutions came out of our evaluation of our lives during advent. For that is one of the purposes, you know, to take a inventory of our lives, of our behaviors, thoughts and deeds of the last year.
How many times did we trust in our man-made gods rather than Jesus?
How many times did we let our covetous, our jealousy, greed and desire cause us to damage relationships with those we are called to love?
How many times were we unfaithful in our thoughts or words, or in those thoughts and words damage each other, or killing others reputation by talking about them behind their back?
Could we blindly say what the people in Malachi’s day said?
“How can we return to God, if we have never gone away from Him?”
Do we deny that we need God working in our lives, not just working to bless, but working to heal, to cleanse, to refine us into the image of His Son, prior to Jesus return?
If we say we are not sinners we are liars we confessed early. Do we mean it?
Or do we think everything is good and holy in our lives?
Do we tolerate injustice, do we practice it?
The prophet Malachi gives a few examples of things people do, while claiming they are God’s people,
5 “At that time I will put you on trial. I am eager to witness against all sorcerers and adulterers and liars. I will speak against those who cheat employees of their wages, who oppress widows and orphans, or who deprive the foreigners living among you of justice, for these people do not fear me,”
Do we do any of these things? Very few of us may admit to doing sorcery, but what about the other things on the list? Are we only counting actions? What about words or even our thoughts?
John the Baptist talked of this same attitude, when he called out the crowds for there sin,
Don’t just say to each other, ‘We’re safe, for we are descendants of Abraham.’ That means nothing, for I tell you, God can create children of Abraham from these very stones.
It doesn’t matter what we claim, whether we think we are God’s people because we are American, or because we vote the right way, or even because we go to church and have the right name on the church, and can say the right things when asked what we believe about the Trinity, or Communion, or how the end times will come to occur.
You see, everyone sins, that is a simple fact. The excuse given by the people of Malachi about not wandering off from God is either done in ignorance, or in denial.
Either way, if we say we haven’t sinned, the is nothing we should expect from God, nothing to give us hope. No wonder Malachi says,
The messenger of the covenant, (talking of the Messiah) whom you look for so eagerly, is surely coming,” says the Lord of Heaven’s Armies. 2 “But who will be able to endure it when he comes? Who will be able to stand and face him when he appears?
But if we do confess, if we do acknowledge our sin, there is hope, for we can expect that which God promises.
Our hope… His patience and promise!
Remember our theme, from last week,
14 “The day will come, says the Lord, when I will do for Israel and Judah all the good things I have promised them.
Hear again from this week,
“I am the Lord, and I do not change. That is why you descendants of Jacob are not already destroyed. 7 Ever since the days of your ancestors, you have scorned my decrees and failed to obey them. Now return to me, and I will return to you,”
God could, and some say He should destroy evil Especially this week, as our thoughts and prayers have surrounded people, friends and friends of friends, who have been effected by evil. Who have had to deal with grief in ways we say no one should. Not that any grievous situation is one we welcome.
But God is patient, Peter’s epistle tells us so that none perish, but that all come to the transformation that we call repentance.
For repentance is not just feeling sorry, or confessing the sins, it is a change, of heart, of mind.
A change that is the greatest part of the promise,
The promise today – refining!
For he will be like a blazing fire that refines metal, or like a strong soap that bleaches clothes. 3 He will sit like a refiner of silver, burning away the dross. He will purify the Levites, refining them like gold and silver, so that they may once again offer acceptable sacrifices to the Lord.
God will purify us, God will make us holy, God will transform us into the image of Christ. He will burn away that dross, and make us so clean that we can offer acceptable sacrifices to God. This idea of God refining us isn’t a simple one second change, but means He has to apply the heat in such a way that what is normal to us, is burnt away, purified away. Scrubbed us like in the old days, as lye soap was applied to clothes, and then they were scrubbed against a washboard.
That is how sin comes to the surface, like dirt, like impurities in metal.
It is what happens to us, what God has promised. Not just to punish us, but purify us. It is what He does to establish a holy and perfect relationship with us. To rid us of the things which stop us from returning to Him, the sin, the desire for that which is not good and right, the resentment which stops us from knowing His peace. Paul says he nails that sin to the cross, and it cannot be resurrected. It is dead. That is why we celebrate this refining, this necessary work of God in our lives.
He rids us of everything that would stop us from expecting good from God. Everything that would stop us from knowing He has come to us. Saved us to Himself, Set us apart to Himself.
Everything that would rob from us, the peace which passes all understanding, and guards our hearts and minds as we dwell in and with Jesus. AMEN!