Micah 3:1-4 (NIV) 1Then I said, “Listen, you leaders of Jacob, you rulers of Israel. Should you not embrace justice,  2you who hate good and love evil; who tear the skin from my people and the flesh from their bones;  3who eat my people’s flesh, strip off their skin and break their bones in pieces; who chop them up like meat for the pan, like flesh for the pot?”  4Then they will cry out to the LORD, but he will not answer them. At that time he will hide his face from them because of the evil they have done.

John 1:29-34 (NIV) 29The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, “Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!  30This is the one I meant when I said, ‘A man who comes after me has surpassed me because he was before me.’  31I myself did not know him, but the reason I came baptizing with water was that he might be revealed to Israel.”  32Then John gave this testimony: “I saw the Spirit come down from heaven as a dove and remain on him.  33And I myself did not know him, but the one who sent me to baptize with water told me, ‘The man on whom you see the Spirit come down and remain is the one who will baptize with the Holy Spirit.’  34I have seen and I testify that this is God’s Chosen One.” 

Refining gold and silver is a very long and labour intensive process.  Many people today still refine gold and silver by using fire.  A fire is stoked and heated up to over 1000 degrees Celsius. The silver or gold is then placed in a clay crucible in the fire.  As the metal heats up and melts, the impurities float to the surface where the refiner then scoops them off of the top of the liquid  metal.  This process is repeated again and again, with the refiner at times stirring the gold or silver to make sure all of the impurities come up to the surface, until the metal has been made pure.  When one silversmith was asked, “How do you know when the metal is pure?”  He smiled and responded, “That’s simple.  When I can see myself reflected back I know the refining process is complete.”   

In today’s passage, Malachi prophecies of one who was coming who would clean our stains like laundry detergent or refine us with fire like a gold or silversmith refines their precious metals.  John the Baptist declared this prophecy fulfilled upon seeing Jesus when he said, “Look the lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world”.   How amazing is it that Jesus Christ is willing to sit down beside us and take the time to purify and refine us so that we might reflect his image?  Take some time this holiday season to ask God to refine you so that you can reflect God’s image in your life.

Memory Verse: John 1:29 (NIV)
The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, “Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!