[hr] A popular contemporary praise song contains the words, “Purify my heart, Let me be as gold … Refiner’s fire, My heart’s one desire, Is to be holy, Set apart for You Lord, I choose to be holy.” These sentiments, written by Brian Doerksen, reflect the Christian’s deep longing to be sanctified and to fulfill his Creator’s intentions for his life. The refinement process alluded to is used to remove impurities from precious metals – a task that requires intense heat (For comparison, water boils at 212 degrees Fahrenheit, but gold doesn’t melt until it reaches a temperature of 1,945 degrees!). As the gold liquefies in the smelting furnace, unwanted properties called slag rise to the surface. After cooling, the slag is chiseled away and the purified metal remains. Similarly, when a believer yields to God, the Master Refiner strips away those things that hinder sanctification so the beauty of His character can shine through with clarity.
The image of the smelter appears numerous times in Scripture. In the Old Testament, the prophet Malachi speaks of Israel’s need for personal and national repentance, stating that the Lord “will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver; He will purify the Levites and refine them like gold and silver (Malachi 3:3).” What will result? “Then (emphasis added) the Lord will have men who will bring offerings in righteousness.” God knows just what is necessary to rid our lives of undesirable traits and get us back on track. Unlike a wildfire that burns uncontrollably, destroying whatever is in its path, the cleansing flames of the Lord remove only the slag. His actions are skillfully wrought to draw His children closer to Himself.
A number of parallels can be found between Malachi’s generation and our own. Pagan influences abounded, and while God’s people were “going through the motions” of practicing their faith, their hearts and commitments were elsewhere. In this context, Malachi stepped forward to warn the Israelites about the consequences of their disobedience and to call them to renew their devotion to the Lord. The prophet understood that before the nation could experience revival, individual lives had to be transformed.
If we as Christians are to influence our nation, we too must begin with personal holiness. We cannot expect our society to embrace morality as mandated by God if the actions of His people don’t reflect His teachings. We must echo David’s supplication in Psalm 139:23-24: “Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me and lead me in the way everlasting.” What a wonderful example of humility and submission to the Lord! If we will seek His kingdom and righteousness with equal sincerity, we can be confident that He will direct us and reveal His truth in new and amazing ways.
We can also trust that Christ will equip us to spread His powerful message of hope to others as they see the difference faith makes in our lives. The majority of Americans recognize that serious problems are confronting our culture. In a survey conducted by the Barna Research Group, three out of four adults voiced serious concerns about our country’s moral condition. This and other findings have led George Barna to conclude that millions of people are experiencing “moral fatigue and confusion” and are “yearning for leaders who will rebuild our society on compassion, decency, authenticity, and character.” As these individuals look for answers and leadership that will provide help for their families, communities, and nation, many may realize for the first time their need of spiritual guidance. And we have the privilege of pointing them to the Source of all wisdom and power, their Heavenly Father. What an exciting moment in history to be involved in calling America to repentance and prayer! I believe God has established and blessed the National Day of Prayer for “such a time as this.”
With these things in mind, our theme for 2013, Pray for America (based on Matthew 12:21, “In His name the nations will put their hope”), conveys a powerful reminder to us, for He is our only hope. God stands ready to refine us as gold for His glory, and prayer provides the impetus for change! In the words of E.M. Bounds, “How vast are the possibilities of prayer! How wide its reach! It lays its hand on Almighty God and moves Him to do what He would not do if prayer was not offered.”
As we strive to further the cause of prayer, we are thankful for the many ways in which God has provided for our ministry and allowed us to expand our efforts. As we rejoice in what has been accomplished and look expectantly to the future, may I ask you to prayerfully consider partnering with us financially in this ministry to our nation? Your tax-deductible donation would be greatly appreciated at this crucial time. If you feel so led, you can make a donation online, or call (719) 559-9560.
Thank you for your devotion to prayer for this ministry and our great land – you are impacting eternity! May God’s grace and peace be yours in the busy months ahead.