Fiery Trials

 

by Mike Ratliff

Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice insofar as you share Christ’s sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed. If you are insulted for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you. (1 Peter 4:12-14 ESV)

I suppose the best example of a fiery trial in the Bible would be the Book of Job. Job was a righteous man whom God tested by allowing Satan to strike him by taking away his children, his possessions, and his health. In the end God vindicated Job as he repented of questioning God’s love for him during the trial. God also addressed Job’s accusers who had misrepresented God by declaring that Job was suffering because he had sinned.

After the LORD had spoken these words to Job, the LORD said to Eliphaz the Temanite: “My anger burns against you and against your two friends, for you have not spoken of me what is right, as my servant Job has. Now therefore take seven bulls and seven rams and go to my servant Job and offer up a burnt offering for yourselves. And my servant Job shall pray for you, for I will accept his prayer not to deal with you according to your folly. For you have not spoken of me what is right, as my servant Job has.” So Eliphaz the Temanite and Bildad the Shuhite and Zophar the Naamathite went and did what the LORD had told them, and the LORD accepted Job’s prayer. (Job 42:7-9 ESV)

This walk is not always easy. Sometimes what we desire to do, thinking we are serving the Lord in it, is actually a work of the flesh. Other times our enemy will entice us to say something or do something that “seems oh so right,” but it ends up being a snare unto a stumble. The end result is that we find ourselves having to pay the consequences of this by having to endure not only demonic attacks and attacks from his seed, but we also become stressed and the Joy of the Lord seems very far away. This usually leads to a spiritual “dry spell” in which we can almost sense the presence of our enemy pursuing us, laughing at us, and lying to us about our true relationship with Christ. 

However, the most disturbing times that we suffer in the fire is when we find ourselves falsely accused when we are actually working in our ministries and obeying God in all we do. These accusations sometimes come from those close to us. Other times, they come from those we are actually trying to help in their relationship with Christ. It is during these times that I believe we find ourselves partaking in the same suffering that our Lord and the Apostles endured before us. 

“Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. “Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.”(Matthew 5:10-12 ESV)

I spent much of today trying to reason with a fellow who claims to be a Christian, but he has a great deal of bitterness and anger toward me and others in the CRN network. Here is a sample of what he told me today when I told him that the price to continue to be able to post comments on my blog was that he had to read my post. Have Mercy O Lord. The reason I wanted him to read it was because it was about reconciliation and repentance and forgiveness. Here is his response. 

“Thank you, Mike. This will be my last comment as I will not be bullied into reading your writing. You are correct, your heart is showing. You crack me up Mike. I don’t hate KS, or you. I pity you. You over-estimate yourselves. Your action in this very matter shows how arrogant you are. My unwillingness to read your stuff reveals I’m unteachable? That is unbelievable. Who do you think you are? Do you have some special revelation from God that makes your writing “necessary reading”? You don’t know anything about me or who I am. I think (emphasis on think) that you are a bitter man, who is angry because he had a bad experience with a PDL pastor. Now, I have read enough of your stuff that I could use your own words to “prove” that, but I realize that you and I have never met so before I start making sweeping conclusions about you, I’ll let God sort it out between us. Personally, I think you’re an offense to the Gospel.”

Well, I guess that didn’t work out so well did it. However, am I imagining things or is this person dealing with bitterness and anger? What is the only way to deal with that? Isn’t it to repent and forgive? Is this how a Spirit-led Christian responds to another Christian? I guess Christians do behave badly at times, but not those who are are growing in Christlikeness. 

I think the one thing in that comment that bothered me the most was his statement that I am an “offense to the Gospel.” The enemy really pounded me as I read that one. Am I arrogant? I pray that I am not., but I know I am not perfect. In any case, these accusations are not pleasant. How should I respond? I must start by asking God to show me the truth and repent of what He reveals to me. I must also forgive this person, which I have done. I have asked God to forgive him as well. I have also asked God to cleanse me of any of these things that may be true. 

All this time while dealing with this fellow I have been quite non-plused because I have never treated him badly at all. When I talk about the Gospel and how we must not be ashamed of it, he starts accusing me of all sorts of stuff in an angry belligerent way. He has never given me any reason for his anger. He just expresses it in a very un-Christlike way.

In any case, my brethren, God has seen fit to allow a fiery trial for some of us during this time. We must draw near unto Him, seeking His face and His will. We must forgive all those who God brings to our minds whom we are holding in anger and hatred in our hearts. We must spend some serious time in prayer and repentance seeking His wisdom. 

Soli Deo Gloria!

25 thoughts on “Fiery Trials

  1. Hi and thanks for this post Mike. A timely reminder that to grow in the Lord, we must keep our hearts open and teachable – even when things around seem bleak. Each one of us is “running the race” in our christian walk. None of us have “made it”. As the parables say, we’ve got to keep “pruning” our lives – and that hurts!

    Yes, It’s a continual process of repentance,prayer, and thankfulness for Christ and what he did for each one of us at Calvary.

    And personally, as an ex pentecostal/pdl/seeker sensitive/and music director convert from the “I-me” worship chorus “refugee” in Australia, who now finds themselves in a “presy” church (what a mouthful!!),
    I/we need to find ourselves in the Word more and more. Never has correct doctrine been more important than being in the most “happening” church in town- especially in these days which the Lord has seen fit to place us.
    Thank you for being true to scripture Mike.
    A sister in Christ,
    Sandra

  2. You are very welcome Sandra! You are right about all of us needing to be in the Word. We are in a very perilous time. You are where you are now because God has drawn you into the truth. Seek Him with your all my sister.

    In Christ

    Mike Ratliff

  3. Mike, Good post. Yes the heat is on and we think its going to be getting ‘turned up’ here in the near future. The Lord will sustain us. Its so unreal how unloving they can be, but the Lord says thats just how they will be. 2 Tim. 3………we’re there. Blessings to you Mike. Your fruit and doctrine is correct.

  4. A lot of what we should examine is in our reaction both to sin and to rebuke, especially when the Word is used.

    And yes, your heart is showing…

    “I must start by asking God to show me the truth and repent of what He reveals to me. I must also forgive this person, which I have done. I have asked God to forgive him as well. I have also asked God to cleanse me of any of these things that may be true. ”

    Keep walking in a manner keeping with repentance. Don’t get bothered by others who take the Gospel out of context, but do examine yourself in light of the Scripture. Remember, He sent him to you. He will keep you.

    Many prayers, may God bless you.

  5. Hi Mike,

    I am pretty sure I know who wrote that to you and he is a Godly man. You two just don’t see things through the same lens… He and I have had our moments as well, but once you get to know him, he is actually a fun guy to chat with. He just wears his heart on his sleeve… (Oh, and he is a Yankee’s fan, so that explains his lack of reasoning skills… ) :)

    jk… he actually has a pretty sharp mind, a love for Jesus, and a passion for serving him.

    But I am curious about one thing. What specifically in his comment was he in need of forgiveness for?

  6. In light of yesterdays discussion I actually think the foundation in 1 Peter 3 is very appropriate and it sets the foundation for this verse 1 Peter 4.

    Suffering for Doing Good
    8Finally, all of you, live in harmony with one another; be sympathetic, love as brothers, be compassionate and humble. 9Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult, but with blessing, because to this you were called so that you may inherit a blessing. 10For,
    “Whoever would love life
    and see good days
    must keep his tongue from evil
    and his lips from deceitful speech.
    11He must turn from evil and do good;
    he must seek peace and pursue it.
    12For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous
    and his ears are attentive to their prayer,
    but the face of the Lord is against those who do evil.”[a]

    13Who is going to harm you if you are eager to do good? 14But even if you should suffer for what is right, you are blessed. “Do not fear what they fear[b]; do not be frightened.”[c] 15But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, 16keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander.

    In Christ,

  7. Heath,

    You must be kidding. Do you mean to tell me that what he said about me is something I should just agree with and go on? I forgave him for it, but he still needs to repent of this sort of thing.

    In Christ

    Mike Ratliff

  8. I think the time is appropriate to talk about the lemming again. The lemming has a strange migration pattern which confounds scientists. They do not ponder their steps, nor do they plan. They just ‘do’ what their nature leads them to do without any thought of any consequences. When they migrate, they travel in a large group, most of them migrating together in large groups. As they migrate, they die because they scurry along not pondering the terrain ahead. They follow each other so closely and quickly, that they all jump off of the cliff into the sea and drown there. You can watch the video at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VWuiGWkd7mM to see what happens when we just follow the crowd and refuse to ponder our own steps.

    In conversation, I heard a man use the example of a lemming as the epitome of a naive individual or a compromiser. It really stood out in my mind because of how the Bible issues strong warnings against men who do not weigh their steps carefully. The Bible calls these unconcerned compromisers, “simple minded.” Here is one of the verses which encourage men to be careful (prudent) in the way they live.

    “The simple believeth every word, but the prudent man looketh well to his going.” Proverb 14:15 (KJV)

    And then as I see those who see it wrong to rebuke sin or correct one another for wrong doing, I came upon this verse.

    “A fool despiseth his father’s instruction: but he that regardeth reproof is prudent.” Proverb 15:5 (KJV)

    Sorry about the KJV only. It is the only version available to me at the moment. I like to use the ESV when I have it available.

    Josh

  9. Be careful Josh, you quoted ‘simple minded’……….now they will come after you for calling names and not being humble or having humility! :) Lemming, it has stuck with us too. Good analogy there. The one thing they hate is the TRUE gospel. They have added so much stuff to the real deal its pathetic. Then twist and turn it to their own interpretation.

  10. Pingback: Fiery Trials - Reformata

  11. Actually, no Mike, I was quite serious.

    You do not have to agree with what he said, but stating his opinion of the situation is certainly not an offense, given the fact that we all are quite good at stating our opinions. The diffrence, as I see it, is that he stated his opinion to you first in a personal email. So at best, you had the right to respond to him, and at worst you could have just deleted it.

    But another aspect to the discussion is added when you published this personal correspondance. I realize that you did not name him, but since we only have one portion of the entire conversation, I have no way of knowing from those comments if he has said anything outside the bounds.

    I think he could have used better language, especially when he says that you are an offense to the gospel. It certainly isn’t how I would have addressed the issue, but then I wasn’t the one involved. But then we often say those types of things when we are hurting or frustrated.

    However, at least he said them directly to you and gave you opportunity to respond.

    What I see in this discussion is two type A’s butting heads in a forum that is often very lacking in handling conflict resolution. In my opinion, a little grace is needed from both sides.

  12. Heath,

    Get real. If I had told you that you were a false prophet in a public forum what would you do? This was just a sample of what he told me in comments on my blog numerous times yesterday. This was not private. I forgave him because what he said was meant to hurt. If you cannot see that then I don’t think we have anything discuss.

    In Christ

    Mike Ratliff

  13. Mike,

    You have quite the sharp tongue. I am simply trying to be a peacemaker… I have no dog in this fight. But honestly, why do you feel the need to be so harsh towards people who are simply trying to discuss an issue with you? I have said nothing harsh against you. Maybe I am the only one being “real.”

    The fruit of the Spirit is…

    In Christ,

    Heath Countryman

  14. Also, just curious…

    CRN and Apprising.org accuse people of being false prophets all the time… So is the “sin” that he needs to repent of:
    1) that he ACCUSED you of being a false prophet, or
    2) that he accused YOU of being a false prophet?

    Seems like a bit of a double standard, IMO.

  15. Heath,

    I don’t get it. I really don’t. Your boy was as obtuse and insulting as anyone I have ever had a discussion with and all I tried to do was to get him to stop doing that so we could discuss things reasonably. He is the one with the sharp tongue. I think you are being a bit one-sided here, which makes me wonder how impartial you profess to be. I never said anything as remotely insulting to him as you read in that little tirade of his yet you are telling me that I have nothing to forgive him for???????

    In Christ

    Mike Ratiff

  16. Ah Heath my boy you see, this is what happens when you come into a discussion with just a fraction of the information. You have no idea what went on before that do you? You have no idea how long Joe and I have been doing this do you? Here is what happened. I was trying to get Joe to read an article I wrote that was all about reconciliation, repentance, forgiveness, etc. What was his repsonse? I am arrogant for making further discussion dependent upon him doing that. No, I was trying to get him to read some scripture so the Holy Spirit could work on that hard shell of his so we could talk, but that was when he spewed all of that stuff. Now, it is one thing to call someone a false prophet and it is quite another to prove it. He has offered no proof Heath. And I never call anyone that without proof. Do you understand it now?

    In Christ

    Mike Ratliff

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