November - December 2012
You can learn a lot about people looking through other people’s Bibles. After long time Calvary member Barbara Peters went to be with the Lord Bethann and I were given the responsibility of sorting through her personal belongings. The Bible we found was full of treasures. Many passages of Scripture that spoke clearly to her were underlined. Hand-written notes in the margins from sermons and personal reflection gave us a glimpse of years of study and personal growth which helped to shape her life and make her a woman of godly character and faith. Prayer letters from missionaries, brochures on how to pray, and a variety of papers and articles stretched the biding of her Bible. She was a woman of the kingdom – full of righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit (Romans 14:17. Barbara was one of the mighty women of Zion whom God raised up. Barbara never married but found in Jesus a faithful Husband. She never had children of her own but was a spiritual mother to a thousand children who she loved through the years as a first and third grade teacher at Phil-Mont Christian School (she taught me in third grade in 1957, her first year at Phil-Mont).
I want to share with you one of the jewels we found in her Bible. The author is unknown. The title: “The Refiner”.
There was a group of women in a Bible Study on the Book of Malachi. They read Malachi 3:3: ‘He shall sit as a refiner and purifier of silver’. This verse puzzled the women. They wondered what this statement meant about the character and nature of God. One of the women offered to find out about the process of refining silver and report back to the group. That week the woman called upon a silversmith and made an appointment to watch him work. She didn’t mention the reason for her interest beyond her curiosity about the process of refining silver. As she watched the silversmith, he held a piece of silver over the fire and let it heat up. He explained that in the refining of silver one needed to hold the silver in the middle of the fire where the flame was hottest so as to burn away all the impurities.
“The woman thought about God holding us in a hot spot. She read the verse from Malachi again. ‘He shall sit as a refiner and purifier of silver’. She asked the silversmith if he had to sit in front of the fire the entire time the silver was being refined. The man said ‘Yes, I not only need to sit there holding the silver, I need to keep my eye on it the whole time it is in the flame. If the silver is left in the fire a moment too long it would be destroyed’. Then the woman asked the silversmith ‘How do you know when the silver is fully refined’? He smiled and answered ‘O, that’s easy; when I see my image in it’.”This verse from Malachi has been associated with Christmas ever since Handel wrote it in the score of his “Messiah”. Remember this Christmas season Jesus has come “to purify the sons of Levi, who will belong to the Lord and bring offerings in righteousness to the Lord.” Paul has this in mind when he tells Titus the reason Jesus came into the world was “to purify a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works” (Titus 2:14).
This story of the refiner was no doubt so important to Barbara Peters that she kept it in her Bible to read from time to time. Thank you, Barbara, for leaving the story with us. There is joy in knowing that what you hoped for is now a reality for you. You are purified. You look like Jesus.
When you feel the heat of the fiery trial you are experiencing, remember God will hold you there and watch you there until you reflect the image of Jesus. The great gift of God to his children, in the words of I John 3: 2 and 3 is this: “Beloved, we are God’s children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is. And everyone who thus hopes in him purifies himself as he is pure.” God bless your family as you enter the Thanksgiving and Christmas season. Make his desire yours – to be conformed to the image of his Son.