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Who loves the Lord the way that He loves us? Who honors the Lord the way that He honors us? Who treasures the Lord the way that He treasures us?

Oh children of the earth, can we think beyond you and me? They and I? Can we move beyond our own desires, fears, and dreams? Can we care for God the way that He cares for us?

Harken to my voice, sinners and saints. We think ourselves rulers of this world. Content in our houses. Driving our cars. Raising our families. We think ourselves accomplished with degrees beneath our belt. We think ourselves seasoned with experience to share.

But I say, look beyond the simple bubble wherein lives your universe. I say think about the Lord who has blessed you with the house, cars, and children. Do we have time for Him when we have no need? Do we have love for Him when prayers go unanswered? Do we have devotion for Him when earthquakes ravage our nations?

But our time is limited. Our love is conditional. Our devotion is variable.

And when we walk content, Jesus weeps. When we judge each other, we rend the heart of God. And when we ignore the beggar in the street, the prostitute walking to that car, the teenager selling drugs, the druggy manipulating for money, the rapist fleeing the scene, and the murderer serving his time, we ignore the Christ who suffered and died for them, you, and I.

Because it’s not just about you. It’s not just about me. It’s not just about them.

It’s about our King of kings. Can I love Him the way that He loves me?

I say, if the fruit of our lives is any indication, the answer is no. If the grieving of His Spirit troubling my soul is any indication, the answer is no. I say, if the emptiness of our churches in a Christian nation is any indication, the answer is no.

But it doesn’t have to be that way.

Brother and sisters, beloved and friends, there is still time to change.

I plead. I plead. There is still time to change.

But not much.

How many of us are eager and ready to go to the next level? The next level of joy, abundance, breakthrough, and power? We’re eager alright, but how many are ready? Both Psalm 66:8-12 and Malachi 3:1-4 speak of a trial of fire. It is a high duress situation designed to challenge us, cleanse us, and purify us—a test. We want the next level, but are we ready for it? Let’s follow the process of this testing and find out if we can pass.

God turns up the fire. Our circumstances start to get toasty. The bank account starts looking funny. The kids start acting silly. The car forgets how to work properly. The boss gets to cursing…in your face. And God tosses us right in the middle of it.

Impurities rise to the surface. When the heat turns up, let me testify, what’s in us will come out. Shall I be real? I was walking through a parking garage and this wonderful man careens around the corner in his hot-shot BMW. You know the type; special, wears their pants around their knees, thinks gold is the new color for teeth, and rap music should be so loud that China can hear it. So, (heaven forbid) he has to slow down because I’m directly in his path. He very gently rebukes me for walking in the “street,” proceeds to christen me with the name of a dog, and speeds off. Now, I’m a sanctified Christian ready for the next level. I’m not about to be moved by a sinner (hopefully) who can’t tell the difference between a street and a parking garage; a dog and a woman. So I calmly continue on my way…for the three seconds it takes my brain to process his words. Then I spin around and yell, “I know that fu[BEEP!] is not talking to me!” My friend had to pull me aside before I earned myself a Holy Ghost filled jail-sentence. Can we say, impurities rising to the surface?

Then, God scrapes off the impurities. He washes us with the blood of Jesus. And if the goldsmith continues to see impurities rising to the surface, then what will he do? Stick it right back into the fire until he can see his reflection in the metal. But here’s the key; the silver and goldsmith always know how hot the fire needs to be and how long to keep the metal heated to avoid damaging the silver. And if a silversmith know this, then we can rest assured that God knows this as well.

Now, check out the end of our psalm scriptures (psalm 66:12) and hear what God spoke to the church through Apostle Jones; “If you can pass the test, you can get the blessing. I’ve got to give you an examination, send a trial. You’re in the middle of testing. Your paper, your test, is unique to yourself. I had to put the squeeze on, up the pressure. But it’s going to be alright. I’m going to give you an anointing to destroy every yoke, lift every burden. No weapon formed against you will prosper. I’m still in control.”

Children of God, don’t give in, don’t give up.

God will turn it around.

God says; “I have to get some stuff out to put some stuff in. I’ve raised you to be a warrior priest. As I turn up the fire, as gold and silver is placed in the fire, impurities rise to the top and I scrape them off—to be remembered no more. It has to be at a place where it’s golden, where I can see my face in your reflection.”

So, brothers and sisters, know that there is an exam at every level—a mid-exam and then a final. God must know that we are ready and equipped to face the challenges that await us at the next level because there is no point sending us there if we’ll just get beat down when we get there.

So don’t hate the process. Don’t get mad at the silversmith and try to jump out the fire before it’s time. “My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.” James 1:2-4.

(Based off of Apostle Jones’ sermon, Approved for the Next Level)