"O thou afflicted, tossed with the tempest, and not comforted, behold I will set thy stones in fair colours, and lay thy foundations with sapphires." ....Isaiah 54:11

Along with the gold in both Eden and Paradise, we find precious stones (Genesis 2:12; Revelation 21:19). Precious stones are jewels; and jewels are not produced in one day. Precious Christians are not formed overnight! Time is a vital factor both in their transformation and completion. Precious stones are wrought by a long process in the fires of the earth and their beauty is displayed by skilful cutting and polishing. In spiritual terms this implies values that are inwardly wrought by God's patience in you and me. Such values are indeed very costly. Those who are unwilling to pay the price of self will never come by them. Grace is free but only a high price buys precious stones. Many a time we shall want to cry out, "This is costing me too much!" Yet the lessons we learn as we pass through dealings and sufferings with Him - "through fire and water" - these are the really treasured and worthwhile things. Let me tell you something: if you really mean business with God regarding your own life, then to go all the way with God at the cross will cost you everything there is of independent self!

Today in the Church as the body of Jesus Christ on earth, we need to know as born again Christians that in the light of God some things perish by themselves. God's revealed truth (His light in us) consumes much. There is no need to wait for the fire. It is in what has withstood the test of tempest, fire and time and yet remains, that the true worth of any Christian is manifested. The new 'resurrected life' of Jesus Christ within us withstands all such tests and for all time! He lives His life out in us continually (in the person of His Holy Spirit) doing all that we cannot possibly do for ourselves. He alone is the Author and the Finisher of our Christian lives!

Be encouraged to know that God is at work in us cutting away all that there is of 'the old self' - IE, that which restricts Him - and He is fine polishing us in all that frustrates Him by allowing us to rub (be in contact with) shoulders with others, especially other difficult abrasive Christians! (They tell me that when you place precious gems together in a rotating barrel over an extended period of time, they rub together against one another, so that all their sharp points and rough edges are eventually worn away by abrasion!)

We call this the "sandpaper" ministry! Let that which can be consumed be consumed (self in us) and let that which remains be expressed from us (Jesus in us). This is that which constitutes a precious stone of great price in God's eyes. Do not avoid the opportunity to be linked closely with other other Christians of like spirit when such opportunity comes your way. It is the intensity and exposure of ourselves to the life of Christ in others that allows God to remove the dross and cause us to be polished and transparent! Do not fear this type of exposure.

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