Dream word – HOPE
“And not only that, but we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance; and perseverance, character; and character, hope. 5 Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us.” NKJV.
Owned and loved by the Lord of the sword
Donning his priestly robes, the sword smith, after days of prayer and fasting approaches the finishing of his task. The fire is hot, the hammer and anvil are ready, together with the primeval elements of metal, wood, water, earth and air. His task is to complete before him what he considers to be a spiritual entity; a multi-heated many folded, million layered, highly and uniquely individual, flexible, functional, sharp and sure, weapon of war. For sure, every civilisation has seen the making of swords as a spiritual act producing an end product of both a common and yet highly unique character.
King Jesus, walking among the lamp stands holding in His hand the seven stars, has coming out of His mouth a sharp double-edged sword. This is the sword of the Spirit, the very Word of God. Certainly at the very least, the sword is an emblem of spiritual power, prowess and character. Christ the Master Sword Smith, the Lord of the Sword, is specialised, unrelenting, fine and focused when producing a sword of character. Yes, God is at work in us blades, producing common and yet uniquely individual characteristics, the cascading colours of which, will be unashamedly borne by us for all to see, throughout eternity.
The source of those fine and distinguishing, individualistic markings of Christian character, is in fact “working tribulation”. Working, in the sense of it being a repetitious, purposeful, and applied heat and beating pressure. All martial arts have the “Kata” of training: you know, that repetitious exercise of position, movement and application; and in the same way, “trials and tribulation” are worked into the life of the Christian by the Master Sword Smith. It would appear that the Lord of the Sword, is producing weapons of war, through his own very own “Kata of Working Trubulation”.
Yes indeed, the Lord of the Sword is at work in your life through trials and tribulations, for in the same way a fine sword is hammered and beaten, made hot and cold, folded and broken, pressed into purposeful multi-layers of strength, absorption, flexibility and sharpness, we too, through trials and tribulations of various kinds, experience this same kind of enfolding and applied, persistent spiritual pressing. The pressure of pain, the pressure of need, of lack, of fear, though all are common to man, in the Kata, that is the “Kata workings” of God the Holy Spirit, they are enfolded into our life in the hot fires of crucified and crucibled afflictions. When this happens, the Kata workings of God, produce an increasing tempered endurance; that is, a constancy of obedient direction, despite the difficulties of applied trials, which may be set before us. In each fold of the metalled sword, in each beat of the hammer, in each dimming of the light to examine the colour of temperature and the settled state of worked in character, yes, in each swing of the weapon and test of its balance, the Master Sword Maker is looking for perfection! If more of the character of the piece needs to be worked in, or drawn out to produce the assured, tried and trusted, purchased, pressed and proven character that is required by Him, then be assured, that the Lord of the Sword will take it back to the heating and back to the quenching, the beating and the folding. In all the precise practice of perfectly placed, persistent pressure, the Lord of the Sword, will not let up, until the individual completeness of His desiring is seen to form both in and on the blade.
Christian character then, this side of heaven at least, is not to be seen as a settled state, but rather, that which bubbles up in the revelation of all our crucibles of experience in both trial and in testing. Christian character then is a work in progress, for it is the tried and tested, pure ore of continuous development. Note as well, that in all pressing and preparation, the sinful scum, resulting from affliction rising to the surface in our lives, all needs continually scraping away! It would appear that this is a process, which every Christian blade will go through to be made fit for the Master’s use. Yes, the crucible will be continually reheated, and the blade has continuous pressure applied, so as to eventually produce a pure and the shining sword. I am both daunted and encouraged by this process and find it helpful in two major ways.
First, that we don’t become discouraged by seeing people pass through various trials and then failing! Providing their journey continues, the crucible will be re-heated and that scum will eventually be scraped away. The Lord of the sword is unrelenting in this and he shall do His work both thoroughly and well.
Secondly, that the continuance of trials in a person’s life, is in fact a sure sign that God intends to produce pureness of character. Problems then, are a sign of God’s continued sanctification process.
May I finally say tonight, that if there have been no pressings problems in your life as a Christian, no pressures and no beatings, then maybe you should ask yourself if you are in fact owned and loved by the Lord of the Sword?
When God wants to drill a man,
And thrill a man, And skill a man
To play the noblest part;
When He yearns with all His heart
To create so great and bold a man
That all the world shall be amazed,
Watch His methods, watch His ways!
How He ruthlessly perfects
Whom He royally elects!
How He hammers him and hurts him,
And with mighty blows converts him
Into trial shapes of clay which
Only God understands;
While his tortured heart is crying
And he lifts beseeching hands!
How He bends but never breaks
When his good He undertakes;
How He uses whom He chooses,
And with every purpose fuses him:
By every act induces him
To try his splendor out--
God knows what He's about.
Pray: O Great God, grant me mercy in Your great and purifying fire. Amen.
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