“Awake, O sword, against my shepherd!”…declares the LORD Almighty. “Strike the shepherd, and the sheep will be scattered. … In the whole land,” declares the LORD, “two-thirds will be struck down and perish; yet one-third will be left in it. This third I will put into the fire; I will refine them like silver and test them like gold. They will call on my name and I will answer them; I will say, ‘They are my people,’ and they will say, ‘The Lord is our God’” (Zechariah 13:7-9).
Refining sounds like such a positive procedure. I’ve never worked on an oil rig or witnessed an oil refinery in action, but I can guess some of the basics of that process. Crude oil in its naturally existing form is unusable. The dirt and impurities have to be removed before it can be turned into a product pure enough for us to use.
Refining takes on a different vibe if I’m the one who needs to be refined. It’s pretty easy to acknowledge that I’m not the kind of person God intended me to be. And my problems aren’t merely superficial. I have to admit the impurity of the desires in my heart. I’ve picked up spiritually contaminated habits from the sinful world around me. I know I am not pure.
That doesn’t mean I would look forward to a painful process of extracting all sorts of impurities from my soul. I can laugh when the disciples ran away in fear as Jesus was arrested the night before his crucifixion. But I have to acknowledge I don’t always react in faith to what I see are threats to me and my faith. I expect my good behavior will bring about more blessings from God’s hand. I would hope to see Christianity making the world a better place.
Our refined Shepherd
Actually, it’s when the sword strikes and the Good Shepherd is struck, that’s when God’s refinery really kicks into gear. God used the arrest of Jesus and his death on the cross to refine my definition of what is good and positive. God brought about ultimate victory for all souls through the betrayal and death of Jesus.
The refining my heart needs now is to see God’s victory even when my life doesn’t go my way. God wants all of his sheep to be purified from a dependence on the temporary glory of earthly living. Throughout the painful procedure of spiritual refining, God wants me to know I am still his child. When my life is filled with pain and surrounded by the impurities of sin, God invites me to trust confidently that he is still my God.
Here we have a firm foundation, here the refuge of the lost; Christ’s the rock of our salvation, his the name of which we boast. Lamb of God, for sinners wounded, sacrifice to cancel guilt-none shall ever be confounded who on him their hope have built. Amen.
(Christian Worship: A Lutheran Hymnal: 327)
Source: Daily Devotions are brought to you by WELS and www.WhatAboutJesus.com. This devotion was selected from the Daily Devotion archive. http://wels2.blob.core.windows.net/daily-devotions/20170708dev.mp3
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