Forged in Fire

Forged in Fire

Happy Mother’s Day!!!

Here at New Hope, we have been blessed with so many amazing mothers of all kinds; biological, adoptive, and spiritual!  Today, we honor you! 

We acknowledge that the role of a mother doesn’t end at the age of 18; it’s a life-long commitment.  Our heart also goes out to you moms for whom this day is difficult for; those who have lost children or whose relationships with their children are broken.  We pray God’s comfort for those who mourn and for God our reconciler to restore those relationships broken.

The title of this morning’s message is “Forged in Fire” based on the History channel TV series.  Yeah, I know…  At first glance, this seems more fitting for a Father’s Day message, but hang in there with me!

For those unfamiliar with the show, it is a competition among bladesmiths to forge the best blade-based weapon.  They start out with some type of steel material, are given a few parameters as a criteria for their blade, then are given time to design and build their weapon.

The weapons are put through tests along the way to filter down to the champion.  Common tests used in the show are the strength test, the sharpness test, and the often-memed, kill test. These tests are designed to destroy the blade and all of the work of the bladesmith.  It is violent, aggressive, and horrifying to watch for those who labored so hard to make those blades!

Again, you’re probably still wondering what any of this would have to do with Mother’s Day…  After all, there aren’t too many sword-yielding moms out there, right?  Or are there? 

Paul wrote to the church in Corinth here, which may sound awful familiar to many moms out there initially:

1 Corinthians 3

1 Brothers and sisters, I could not address you as people who live by the Spirit but as people who are still worldly—mere infants in Christ. 2 I gave you milk, not solid food, for you were not yet ready for it. Indeed, you are still not ready. 3 You are still worldly. For since there is jealousy and quarreling among you, are you not worldly? Are you not acting like mere humans? 4 For when one says, “I follow Paul,” and another, “I follow Apollos,” are you not mere human beings?

Are there any moms out there who often tell their children to just grow up and stop bickering?  And your children are in their thirties or are your husband? 🙂

5 What, after all, is Apollos? And what is Paul? Only servants, through whom you came to believe—as the Lord has assigned to each his task. 6 I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God has been making it grow. 7 So neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but only God, who makes things grow. 8 The one who plants and the one who waters have one purpose, and they will each be rewarded according to their own labor. 9 For we are co-workers in God’s service; you are God’s field, God’s building.

As a mother, you have a tremendously valuable task.  You may feel inadequate at times when you compare your weaknesses to other women’s strengths, but rest assured, you are exactly who your children need and you have exactly what you need to do your part in their lives!

10 By the grace God has given me, I laid a foundation as a wise builder, and someone else is building on it. But each one should build with care. 11 For no one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ. 12 If anyone builds on this foundation using gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay or straw, 13 their work will be shown for what it is, because the Day will bring it to light. It will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test the quality of each person’s work. 14 If what has been built survives, the builder will receive a reward. 15 If it is burned up, the builder will suffer loss but yet will be saved—even though only as one escaping through the flames.

Sure, there is coming a day when we will all stand before the judgment seat of Christ.  There, our work will be put to the test and we will be rewarded for the good works that we have done.  No, this isn’t a test of our salvation, it is a test to reward those already saved for their good works.

As a mother, however, you may feel like you are constantly being put to the test.  You have one nerve left and someone is on it!  You may constantly feel like you are in the fire, that there is no time left in the day, and all that this fire does is remind you of your weaknesses. 

It’s that feeling when you just finished cleaning up the living room, walk into the next room, and hear that dreadful sound of the toy box being dumped out all over the floor.  The fiery tests of everyday life that sometimes make you question even your own salvation!  Rest assured:

16 Don’t you know that you yourselves are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in your midst? 17 If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy that person; for God’s temple is sacred, and you together are that temple.

In the heat of those moments, remember that you are a princess!  You are royalty!  You are God’s very temple and His Spirit dwells right there within you.  He feels your pain, He hears your agony, He understands your frustrations, but He wants to be your peace in the midst of the chaos and the anchor for your soul.  You are not alone!

18 Do not deceive yourselves. If any of you think you are wise by the standards of this age, you should become “fools” so that you may become wise. 19 For the wisdom of this world is foolishness in God’s sight. As it is written: “He catches the wise in their craftiness”; 20 and again, “The Lord knows that the thoughts of the wise are futile.” 21 So then, no more boasting about human leaders! All things are yours, 22 whether Paul or Apollos or Cephas or the world or life or death or the present or the future—all are yours, 23 and you are of Christ, and Christ is of God.

As a mother, there is no lack of advice out there for you.  Whether you ask for it or not, you will receive plenty “words of wisdom” from the world around you. 

Is your toddler throwing a tantrum in Walmart, total strangers will tell you how you ought to respond.  Did your teen just get ISS?  Just wait for their friend’s mom to Facebook message you with some advice.  Is your SUV swerving down the highway as you pass out snacks or make good on a threat that “if they do that one more time!”?  Just wait for the glares from passing traffic.

Stand firm on God’s wisdom and filter all of the wisdom of the world through it.  After all, what better advice can you ever receive than by the One who created you, knows you better than anyone, understands your purpose in life, and also the same for your child?

Alright, back to being forged in fire!  “If anyone builds, their work will be shown for what it is. It will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test the quality of each person’s work.”

As a mother at any stage of life, the most important tool that you possess in your child-raising arsenal is none other than the sword of the Spirit, the word of God.

Ephesians 6:17

Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.

The fiery sword of the Spirit, when handled correctly, is able to prune away all of the dead things in our lives so that God’s new life is able to thrive.  It is able to reveal and remove sin sculpting us into the people that God created us to be.

First, using God’s sword to keep ourselves trim and fit, then also using it to shape and mold the lives of your children.

Wield it wisely, however.  This same tool that God has given us to build your children and yourself up in Him and to destroy the work of the enemy can also cause great self-destruction if misused.  Here we find a very simple verse with a tremendously enormous warning:

1 Thessalonians 5:19

Do not quench the Spirit.

To quench is to take something that is very hot and to quickly cool it off.  When a blade is heated, shaped, formed, and then quenched, it is immediately hardened.  This is when you’ll see a bladesmith taking a red-hot piece of steel and submerge it into oil.  The extreme temperature change causes the steel to harden.

At a microscopic level, the metal’s grain structure looks like the ice crystals formed in snow.  Depending on the alloy, the structure will have different attributes; strengths and weaknesses.  At this point, it can no longer be reshaped without damaging or breaking it.  If there is a flaw or bow in the blade, it will be there permanently.

To fix flaws in steel after being quenched, it has to again be reheated to become safely shapable again. 

The Holy Spirit doesn’t want to be quenched.  The work that He is doing molding and shaping and forming us can only happen when we remain on fire by Him.  Do not stop His work short by growing lukewarm or cold toward Him bringing about the hardness of your heart.  And do not quench the work that God is doing in someone else’s life either!

Paul wrote to Timothy and said:

2 Timothy 1:5-6

5 I am reminded of your sincere faith, which first lived in your grandmother Lois and in your mother Eunice and, I am persuaded, now lives in you also.  6 For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands.

Do not quench the Spirit, but fan into flame the work of God in the lives of others; especially your children!

Reheating steel has another affect if it is cooled yet again known as tempering.  Simply put, the blade gets harder. Now when forging a blade to use as a weapon, the stronger and the harder that blade is, the better, so long as it does not become brittle.

However, when it comes to our hearts, that cooling process leading to hardness is our enemy! 

Fan into flame the work of God in your life and in the life of your children and grandchildren and great-grandchildren just as Lois and Eunice did for Timothy.  Work diligently to cooperate with God building them up into who God created them to be!  Keep the fire of the Spirit burning bright in their lives!

The work that you do building your own life and your children’s will not need to wait until judgment day to be put to the test, either.  Nope, believe me, every single day, God will use your children to reveal to you every last shred of your old, fleshy self that is still in need of the Spirit’s transformation.  And every day, you will see the things that need trimmed out of your children’s lives as well.

If God is revealing it, then God is ready and able to take care of it as well!  Hence, the very next verse and the second most important tool in your child-raising arsenal; prayer!  Not just any prayer, but the fiery, Spirit-filled prayers of a mother!

Ephesians 6:18

And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests.

For sure, your children will keep you on your toes praying all kinds of prayers and requests even if they’re all said through that simple phrase, “Oh, help me Jesus!”

The work that you do as a mother will be constantly put through these tests.  Not to show you all of the problems that you have to deal with, but to show you where you are succeeding and where GOD wants to do some work.

  1. Strength Test

When you reach your breaking point, you may actually be in one of the best places you could ever find yourself.  No, it’s not going to feel that way at all as tears streak down your face.  Paul said it this way:

2 Corinthians 12:7-10

7 …Therefore, in order to keep me from becoming conceited, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. 8 Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. 9 But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. 10 That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

Though you may think that you are failing the strength test because you feel so weak, it is only there that you encounter the tremendous strength of the power of God!  It is in your weakness that God becomes your strength and enables you to push beyond your breaking point into the realm of miracles. 

Sure, that may just be you doing what you need to get done in the course of a day and it might not look like much to anyone else, but you know that you are experiencing a miracle!

This phrase caught my attention regarding the great men and women of faith found in Hebrews 11 as they are described:

Hebrews 11:34

34 …whose weakness was turned to strength; and who became powerful in battle and routed foreign armies.

These great warriors were not powerful and then entered the battle.  They were not mighty when they entered the battlefield.  They became powerful in the battle.  Other translations say became full of power in war, grew mighty in battle, and were made valiant in battle.

Just because you are weak and don’t have the strength to fight another day doesn’t mean that it’s over.  That means that God is just getting started.  He will be your strength!  He will grow you and make you mighty and powerful and strong in the battle!  You can’t fail when God is in the fight!

  1. Sharpness Test

When it comes to the sword of the Spirit, the Word of God, you simply can’t fail the sharpness test.  There simply is nothing sharper in all of Creation!

Hebrews 4:12

For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.

God’s word reveals and judges our own thoughts and attitudes as well as those of our children.  It is an incredible tool to learn how to think rightly and how to approach life with the right attitude.  From that healthy source of life, all of our actions will be right as well.

  1. Kill Test

Matthew 15:4

For God said, ‘Honor your father and mother’ and ‘Anyone who curses their father or mother is to be put to death.’

So, mothers, if your children curse or dishonor you, just kill ’em!  🙂 

You know I’m only kidding!  Jesus was quoting what God said to Moses as an extreme case to catch the attention of and to call out the hypocrisy of the Pharisees in that verse. 

The only person that moms are called by God to kill is their old selves.  Colossians 3 calls us to put to death the old self and to put on the new self. 

When the enemy brings on the kill test reminding you of all of your past mistakes and failures, don’t fret!  Remember that the person that he’s bringing accusations against is a dead man (or woman)!  Through Christ, you’ll always pass the kill test because the old is gone and the new is here!  That old self can be rightfully accused day and night and it won’t mean a thing to you because you have been raised into a brand new, blameless life!

Romans 6:4-11

4 We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life.

5 For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we will certainly also be united with him in a resurrection like his. 6 For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body ruled by sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin— 7 because anyone who has died has been set free from sin.

8 Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. 9 For we know that since Christ was raised from the dead, he cannot die again; death no longer has mastery over him. 10 The death he died, he died to sin once for all; but the life he lives, he lives to God.

11 In the same way, count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus.

Mothers, we love you, we honor you, and we are blessed by you!

God is about to forge you in fire – the fire of His Spirit, the fire of His Presence, the fire of His word.  In Christ, you’ll pass every test that can come your way.  Oh yeah, and any weapon that the enemy forms against you?

God said:

Isaiah 54:16-17

16 “See, it is I who created the blacksmith

    who fans the coals into flame

    and forges a weapon fit for its work.

And it is I who have created the destroyer to wreak havoc;

17     no weapon forged against you will prevail,

    and you will refute every tongue that accuses you.

This is the heritage of the servants of the Lord,

    and this is their vindication from me,”

declares the Lord.

You are blessed, your children are blessed, and for a thousand generations, their heritage is a blessing all because of you and what God is doing in and through you!