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Transformed By Encounter

16 July 2023

A furnace pouring liquid gold

“The crucible for silver and the furnace for gold, but the Lord tests the heart.” (Proverbs 17:3)

 

So much of our lives revolves around our thinking and our knowledge.  We often evaluate scripture based on our experiences instead of letting our experiences be changed by scripture.  Even though we know our faith is totally dependent on scripture, when tough times come, we often look to Google and other knowledge-based solutions.

 

However, some of the greatest tests of our hearts come when our attitudes are tested.  Our “love walk” is not based on right and wrong, but on the overwhelming love of our Heavenly Father.

 

This week starts with Jesus feeding 4,000 men plus women and children after they have spent 3 days listening to him preach and teach (Matthew 15:29-39).  That is some sermon!!  When was the last time you gave 3 days to totally focus on Jesus’ teaching?  Remember, the crowd was made up of mostly ordinary people.  No wonder Peter had revelation of the Messiah after such a concentrated time of encounter (Matthew 16:16).

 

Matthew 17 continues with the transfiguration, a mega encounter time.  Peter, James and John see a completely different Jesus from the man they have been walking around Galilee and Judea with.  Both they and the psalmist (Psalm 84) express the heart longing for encounter that transforms us; they want to dwell or stay there.

 

We like the idea of encountering Jesus ... but what happens next?  Faith challenges; heart tests; difficult people; more teaching.

 

One of our greatest financial miracles as a church came out of a time of encounter in the middle of a difficult season.  Several years ago, one of our tenants went bust owing £5,000 rent (more than half our staff’s monthly wage costs).  This had come after a time of relationship breakdown, misunderstandings and mistakes that had affected the church leadership, especially me as pastor.

 

One of the solutions was for the church to receive some of the equipment in lieu of the debt, either to use or sell.  There seemed no way forward and we were really struggling financially.  Then we had a guest minister, Pastor Colin Urquhart, preaching about the “Unmerciful Servant” from Matthew 18:21-35.  In the midst of encounter, I heard the Lord Jesus speak about my heart attitude.  The issue was not whether I was right or wrong, but was I walking in love, forgiveness and mercy?  So in the middle of the sermon, I wrote to the church leadership team to ask for permission to forgive the debt.  Everyone agreed!!  We returned the equipment for them to sell and pay other debts.

 

Our first miracle was a new tenant, paying more than the original tenant and instantly solving our cashflow issues in the short term.  Our second miracle came just a couple of months later, when we tried to sort out one of the debts the church had regarding the gas bill for the Sanctuary.  This was a serious debt that was hanging over the church, something we had not been able to resolve for more than 5 years despite trying.  The end result?  An accumulated debt, approximately £70,000, was completely cleared with nothing to pay.

 

Encounter times with Jesus can bring healing, provision, relationship breakthroughs, new direction, new ministries and so much more ... BUT ... the heart gets tested.  Our faith, our love, our attitudes and our knowledge all come under the Holy Spirit’s lens.  That usually comes because we take time with Jesus: dwelling, allowing the testing, the refining, the purifying.  In a word ... HEAT ... revival fire.

 

Uncomfortable!!! But that is what it means to let our Heavenly Father put our lives in His crucible or furnace.  What will our hearts look like after this coming week?


Photo of Alan Morton

Alan Morton

Director
GoChurch Global