Listen to this devotional:
Listen while you read: "Rejoice Ye Pure In Heart"1 (Lyrics)

Malachi 3:2-3 – But who can endure the day of his coming? Who can stand when he appears? For he will be like a refiner's fire or a launderer's soap. He will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver; he will purify the Levites and refine them like gold and silver. (NIV)

This devotional was inspired by the devastating forest fire at Fort McMurray, Alberta, Canada.

Sometimes, God is like a forest fire in how He manages His church. To us, a forest fire is intensely destructive because it consumes hectares of forest. It destroys property and damages the economy, and that's particularly why it is so catastrophic. We primarily consider the loss to ourselves. But a forest fire does not destroy forests — it revives them! It cleans the forest floor of debris, opening it up to sunlight and new growth. It removes thick shrubs which take up the water, so the water supply is restored. A forest fire kills disease and insects which harm trees. The burnt vegetation replenishes the soil with nutrients. Some species require the heat to open their cones and release their seeds. Fire is so vital that forest managers use prescribed or controlled burning to reduce hazards and renew the forest.

"Change is important to a healthy forest," ecologists assure us. "Without fire, the trees and plants would eventually succumb to old age with no new generations to carry on their legacy."

That's also true for the church, Christ's body of followers scattered around the world. Its legacy is preserved through fire — God's refining fire. But who can endure it? Who can stand through His fire? Such questions imply trials and losses, perhaps loss of privilege, possessions, institutional fixings, and membership — and much more through persecution. God's refining fire consumes the "dead wood" and thick "underbrush" — whatever is not authentic, what we coddle even if it blocks the Light, prevents new growth, and consumes our resources.

God's refining fire may seem intensely destructive; little is left. But it does not destroy the church. It revives it, like a forest fire revives a forest. Out of the ashes, there arises new, healthy growth, and the church thrives again with vibrant faith, purified as silver and gold.

Jesus promised to build His church, which would never succumb to the forces of death. Its existence has been preserved through the enduring love of God, Who remains forever faithful to His ancient covenant promise. The fires that He permits are never wildfires, but prescribed fires always under His control. As for us, we learn to persevere through the power of His Holy Spirit and an unshakable assurance that nothing can ever separate us from the love of God.

Prayer: Lord, teach us to value Your refining fire in our personal lives and also in the life of Your church through the ages. Help us to regard trials and losses as Your means of refining our faith, that it may be proven genuine when You return, resulting in glory and honour to Your name. Amen.

Forward this devotional     Share this devotional on Facebook     Like PresbyCan on Facebook

About the author:

Diane Eaton <>
Paisley, Ontario, Canada

Send your feedback to the author

1 Comment

  • PresbyCan Feedback says:

    Very insightful!

    Wait on the Lord.

    Awesome devotional!

    Great reminder Diane.

    Thanks for sharing your insight and reflections.

    Yes, Diane, again you are right on with your message. Thank you for sharing your guiding wisdom.

    Amen Diane, well said.

    Diane – Such a good devotional! We need His fire to get us ready for the new Kingdom. Thanks for the reminder.

    Tremendous and moving. Oh that we be refined in His glory as we await His return!

    Diane, Isn’t it interesting that the Holy Spirit descended upon the disciples with tongues of fire and a rushing, mighty wind? Fire birthed the church! Thanks for writing this devotional. Blessings.

    Wow! That is a very challenging and powerful image, Diane. You’ve given me lots of food for thought to start my day! Thank you!

    Dear Diane,
    Greetings on this Canada day’s Sunday.
    Thank you for this powerful devotional reading..
    I found it to be so informative, “you are never too old to learn”, the Lord has surly inspired you greatly, to share your knowledge in my humble opinion.
    I thoroughly enjoy reading your devotions.
    Thank you once again, be blessed always in the name of the most high.
    Enjoy the beautiful weekend weather.

    Dear Diane,
    What an inspiring and hopeful thought. When I looked at the title and tried to guess what the devotion would be before I read it. I never would have guessed your uplifting words. Yes, God knows what he is doing and we must have faith and trust in his ways even though they are not our ways. I do believe the church is going to come out stronger but it is nice to have an analogy from the nature that God created and an understanding how the forest fires work. Thank you for using your brain and your heart to help us be encouraged.

    Good word Diane! Yes the Church needs a purifying fire to get ride of the wordily dross of strange beliefs that have invaded us.
    Neat connection you make with forest fires. I’ve heard from folks that Fort MacMurray
    was a place of immoral living.

    Hello Diane,
    Thank you for your devotional. It is such an apt reminder and encouragement as well, with the Fort McMurray fire so much in our minds.
    It is a needed message, both on a personal level, and for the church in these challenging times. It’s too easy sometimes to forget that, yes, we are God’s church…and He is still in charge, whatever the storm or fire that is passing through. God is always greater. I had been in Fort McMurray until a few months ago, and I am personally thankful for having been spared that experience, but this is such a vivid and poignant image.

    Diane, this is a powerful devotional, and challenges me in may ways. At times when I am not feeling ‘up to snuff’ I find it easier to let things slide than to do something about my attitude.
    Thanks for the reminder.

Previous Post

PresbyCan is a community of faithful, Holy Spirit-filled, Christ-centred, God-honouring Christians.