Last sermon we began our look at the Master Potter; His vision for our lives; His design for us both inside and out. We saw how he searches for the clay, how He pulverizes it and adds living water to it. We ferment in living water until we are no longer separate but joined with His Spirit and His Word. He places us on the wheel and he begins to shape his vision from deep within and finally to the outside. We have taken shape and he takes his wire and cuts us from the wheel. We are about to enter a new stage in our development but it is all part of the same master plan even if we are unable to see beyond the stage we are currently in the midst of.
We were anxious to be off the shelf just a short time ago but now we are actually relieved to be going back. That bottom trimming was not one of our favorite experiences. Now time passes, after the first day you wonder if the Lord will be back again but a week a month a season passes and there you are just sitting there doing nothing. You start to wonder if He has forgotten about you. gLord Ifve been sitting here quite a while now. Am I going to sit here foreverh. gCfmon Lord isnft it time I be put to useh gI know I need to try harder but I thought you had a vision for me. When am I going to be put to use. You cry out and you pray but he is nowhere. Has He gone on vacation?h gIs this my final designh You just donft feel Him. You feel you are out in a wilderness. There is nothing but myself. You no longer see that there are many other vessels in the same situation but your only concern is His apparent absence from your life.
Then he comes, smiles and says. gCan you not see you have been promoted?h gDo you still consider yourself better then my son Jesus, myself incarnate? Just as the Holy Spirit lead my son into the wilderness to be tested and strengthened; you too are lead into the wilderness.h How can you be like Jesus unless you are willing to walk in His footsteps? He had his time in the wilderness and so must you. Will you continue to love me in the wilderness, Will you continue to cry out for me or will you get angry with me? Will you get angry if I lead someone else out of the wilderness before I lead you? Can you trust me even in this season when you need to dry out? You keep praying and praying until you become so dry you fall on your knees no tears left to shed and cry out for the Lordfs living water. gI know you are all I need if all else dries up, if relationships, jobs dry up, I know all I need is You.
It is here that wisdom is revealed, the deep streams in the desert that feed life are now shown to you. gI called you out into the desert so you could truly find meh I brought you here so that you could recognize my voice without distraction, so that you could attune yourself to me. I am testing you but I have never left you.
When you are on the shelf you are still very fragile. You are given some wisdom but you donft have the deep wisdom yet. It is that time after baptism when the church often feels its job with you is done. It feels it doesnft need to do anything extra. We have a class before baptism but not after when in fact it is the post baptism period that is much more important. But this is rare in many churches, you are just thrown in with the crowd surrounded by other vessels on the shelf, yes you are often shelved even though you can barely walk. This has to change, these people need guiding as much or even more. They have not been strengthened yet and the drying out can be a painful process. The strengthening will come later and it comes by fire. It is this baptism of fire that sets the vision sets God shape for you in place.
But the day will come when you are on the shelf and you are content because you know the potter is there. You know that he will have the raven feed you if you are hungry. That God will never leave you. This is a point of faith where the Lord shows Himself and asks gNow is the time to leave the shelf, the wilderness. Are you ready? Your heart leaps and you shout Yes Yes.h
And so the Lord picks you up off the shelf. He gathers all the vessels that have dried out and also cried to the Lord. He gathers you and brings you into another room, a much smaller room. All these dried out vessels are overjoyed they have been promoted again. They are excited that God has gathered them for a great reason. The next thing you know though is that God and the angels are going around the room closing all the doors and windows. You wonder whatfs happening. Its getting dark but you were expecting light; you were expecting excitement after all that time on the shelf. But slowly you feel that it is not so bad at least you are with others and you are all in the same boat.
Suddenly you hear a sound and see a light and you all shout gHere we go!!!h But you realize that the light is fire. The baptism of fire. gWhat exactly did this meanh Nobody could ever really explain it to you. Itfs supposed to be awesome. They say youfll know it when it comes. Could this be it? It doesnft look all that awesome in fact it kind looks troubling as you now notice the fire above you and below you. All of a sudden you realize that you are in a kiln. The fire starts small but as it is stoked and more fuel is put on the fire leaps@and the room begins to combust. The fire begins to move and dance all around you in a red tint. This is the red fire. The fire bets hotter and hotter. Have you ever thought God has brought you all this way just to kill you off? Then you would be right. God has custom designed your death. As he burns of what is left of you in the fire. It getting hotter and hotter moving into the orange fire and you feel parts of yourself dying away, your self confidence, self efficiency, self righteousness, you may find that suddenly you are treated differently, some relationships and strongholds burn away. This is the baptism of fire. It will kill you because you must die to be reborn. In the midst of this you cry out gLord stop the fire, If you loved me you would turn off the heat.h gStop the pain Lordh And the Lord opens the spy hole, he sees you but he knows you need a little more so the fire continues to get hotter. You move from the orange fire to the yellow fire. All of a sudden you begin to understand things you never did before like spiritual warfare, you see the full expanse of the war going on for the souls of man for the souls of your family and friends. And unless you are fired by the fire of God how can you get there how can you survive. How can you be ready?
When you were just sitting on the shelf you were still weak, you see that now. You felt solid but God knew you would easily be broken. You must be fired by Godfs holy fire and now there is no turning back. The fire has changed you, transformed you, and broken down things only fire can break down. It has converted you on a microscopic level cell by cell you are no longer what you were. We may think of this time as hell but it is not because it is lovefs fire.
Now it gets hotter and hotter and you cry out to God to turn off the kiln. Now God looks inside and sees the temperature has become just perfect. He knew the temperature and the exact duration you would have to be fired. Now he turns off the kiln but you keep crying because it is still hot. You think God must hate you for some reason because He wonft turn off the heat. But it is off. Why is it still so hot? Why wouldnft He take you out of the fire right away? You want to be cooled off and cooled off NOW. But if God were to open the kiln door too quickly and allow a cool breeze to come in you would crack basically you would again run the very probable risk of exploding. Do you want to try it? Fill a cup with boiling water once twice three times until the cup is really hot then put some really cold water in the cup and immediately the cup will crack. Maybe you think you are in the fire still but the fire has been turned off or even worse you may only been reliving the fire inn your mind.
God is gradually cooling you down. Finally the door is opened and the Lord comes in and takes you out. This isnft the last time you and the fire will meet. Now you are stronger but youfre not finished. You are simply bisque ware.@If water is put into the pot in the morning it will leak out by evening. If grain is put in, the insect could still find their way in. Yes it is going to take another trip through the fire to seal you; to seal the armour of God on you. I know right now that is the last thing you want to do or even think about but it an important part of you journey to fulfill the vision God has for you. Believe me if you could see what you will become you would be anxious to go forward. But that is what faith is. Always trusting that God knows how to bring out in you the vision he has.
The year of grace 1654.@Monday, 23 November, feast of St. Clement,@pope and martyr and others in the martyrology.@The eve of Saint Chrysogonus martyr and others.@From about half-past ten in the evening until about half-past midnight.
The God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, the God of Jacob.
Not of the philosophers and intellectuals.
Certitude, certitude, feeling, joy, peace.
The God of Jesus Christ.
My God and your God [in Latin, accusative case].
Your God will be my God.
Forgetfulness of the world and of everything except God.
One finds oneself only by way of the directions taught in the gospel.
The grandeur of the human soul.
Oh just Father, the world has not known you, but I have known you.
Joy, joy,,, joy, tears of joy.
I have separated myself from him.
They have abandoned me, the fountain of living water [in Latin].
My God, will you leave me?
May I not be separated from him eternally.
This is eternal life, that they know you the one true God and J.C. whom you have sent.
I have separated myself from him. I have run away from him, renounced him, crucified him.
May I never be separated from him.
One preserves oneself only by way of the lessons taught in the gospel.
Renunciation total and sweet.
Total submission to Jesus Christ and to my director.
Eternally in bliss, in exchange for a day of hard training in this world.May I never forget your words [in Latin].