“And the Lord said, Simon, Simon, behold, Satan hath desired to have you, that he may sift you as wheat:
But I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not: and when thou art converted, strengthen thy brethren.”
Every so often, I’m overcome with an overwhelming urge ….
I tromp my way into the kitchen, raid my cupboards, and load up on the most ridiculously awesome dessert I can find. Why? I have no idea, but binging on comfort foods is an itch that has to be scratched every so often. And if I’m going to binge, then let it be dessert!
Now, I’m not the most faithful of recipe followers. I can barely cook. I never measure vanilla extract; I detest mixer etiquette: like the speed really matters, and I don’t sift flour. In fact, I’m convinced that a sifter was invented by kitchen accessory companies as a way to squeeze more money out of wannabe chefs …..
Okay, a real chef, which I am not, will tell you the importance of sifting. They’ll go into a long spiel about why it makes the dish better. I’ve read it in many of the recipes that I’ve browsed while in moments of utter boredom. They’re right, I’m sure, but that doesn’t mean I’m willing to go through with the process. I’d rather live my fantasy about why sifting flour isn’t important because it makes the dessert easier, and it’s only good for coating chicken ….
In fact, that’s exactly the same reaction I have with my life being sifted. I much prefer the easy, softer method of getting to where God wants me to be. My desire is that He take me from messed up to fixed up in the rough areas of my life without having to go through the tough work of restoration. Throw in the fix, and I’m good to go ….
But it doesn’t work that way, and there’s a good reason why: being sifted leaves a mark that instant fixes don’t. We need the scars to remind us ….
Notice how Jesus explains this to Peter. First, He tells Peter that Satan has “asked” to sift the disciple. “Asked” … as in requesting permission from God to test Peter. Second, Satan gets permission. Jesus doesn’t say the request was denied. He says only that He prayed for Peter’s faith not to fail. In other words, Jesus holds the disciple together, but He doesn’t stop the testing. Finally, it’s only after the sifting and restoration that Peter can strengthen his brothers and sisters ….
That’s the key here. Peter gets sifted (through his denial of Jesus), but because he’s sifted, he can restore his brethren. His faith gets a huge boost, and the post-sifting Peter becomes a rock-steady man of God …..
Yes, sifting stinks, and we’d all prefer that God would just snap His mighty fingers and make us the man or woman He wants us to be. But if He did, we would miss the blessing that comes from being refined in the fire. Yes, I said “blessing,” a big, fat blessing ~ even if it doesn’t feel that way at the time.
Friends, many believers are boldly declaring “there is a shift” in the Kingdom of God that will release God’s power and glory like never before upon His faithful servants for the advancement of Kingdom work. However, scripture clearly lets us know that there is a “SIFTING before there is a “SHIFTING” ….
Many of us are in the season of the sifting and not necessarily the shifting. If we are wise we will take note of the powerful truths revealed in the lives of the disciples. When the sift hit, they denied Him, sold Him out, committed suicide, and were even willing to commit homicide (Peter with the sword), not totally understanding the prophetically declared purpose of our Christ. Sure, they walked with Him, did miracles, and even taught His words, but in the Word of Christ throughout scripture it is evident that there was not a full understanding nor conversion. They held fast to the expectation that Jesus would be an earthly king who would establish an earthly Kingdom which would bring restoration to Israel, which is why they each “lost it” in the season of sifting! This is also validated in Mark’s account of the miracle of the fish and loaves which goes right into the storm that He sends them into in (Mark 6) and by (v. 52), He is saying that even after the fish and loaves, and His miraculous walk on the water to calm the seas and rescue them, that “they still didn’t understand the miracles because their hearts were hardened” meaning callous and unyielding. In the scripture reference for this message (Luke 22:31-32) it is clear that although they have walked in intimacy with Christ, learned of the Father through Christ, and seen the evidence and weight of the power of His name in their ministration, they still weren’t converted. I can imagine when Jesus says this to Peter, he was a little bruised probably thinking I have left my business, been misunderstood, changed my lifestyle, faced ridicule and risked my life walking with you and you say to me “when you are converted”…. He probably thought, “Jesus, I’m as converted as one can be”!!
Jesus knew when He completed His assignment there would definitely be a shift, but they wouldn’t be ready until the sift, which would aid in bringing them back to Him and convert them. This scripture indicates that Satan has asked to have Peter to sift him as wheat … If you remember the account of Job; Satan also asked to have someone to attempt to break and cause them to turn on God, and God offered up Job. So my friends, it is not uncommon for God to permit the sift before the shift can occur. Matter of fact, let’s examine what being sifted like wheat is like ….
Sifting of the wheat is the process of removing the outer hard cover. It is separating the good profitable part of the seed from the bad unprofitable part. One step involves tossing the wheat in the air to allow the chaff to blow away in the wind. The step of threshing removes the edible seeds/grain from the chaff, and then it is followed by winnowing to remove the chaff from the grains. A final step roughs up the grains on a rough material to completely remove all the remaining hard grains. This implies a necessary shaking, tossing, and scouring ….
The sift is what reveals who you are and it aids in the removal of every unprofitable and wicked part of your heart, flesh, and soul that would block you from being fit and profitable for the masters use! The sift reveals your true fears, motives, desires, agendas, and it is often not a pretty sight! Honestly, Peter didn’t realize that he was capable of denying Christ, and would, but our Lord Jesus Christ had to show him the real him, which is only seen in the sifting of self. Imagine if Peter had never went through that. He wouldn’t have fully understood himself and his own weaknesses, frailties, or true role in the coming shift, or his place in history.
Jesus allowed this in Peter’s life even though he loved Peter, just as He allows it everyday in our lives because He loves us and knows it is necessary to reveal and expose the true us, and in light of the Word of God and the illuminating power of the Holy Spirit who leads us into all truth, prayerfully we will make adjustments and let the purging take place ….
We are in a time of sifting and separating now, and unfortunately many sad things are being exposed and revealed in the body of Christ. We are seeing world mergers between pastors and the people of the world to supposedly “accomplish” the mission of the gospel. We are seeing prophetic partnerships where so called “prophets” release tainted messages in places of partnership and pre-established financial contracts for services. We are seeing men and women release perverted and twisted words and revelations to appease their flesh. We are seeing those once deemed as “God’s generals” boast in riches and fame.
What is so sad is that in a time of the worship of self, man, and mammon, we are seeing people who know no Word, are not filled with the Holy Ghost, who fight to defend their cause which is not of Christ and honestly is heresy in the highest form. Because we are people pleasers and easily led astray, we defend them, or feel we are judging others if we don’t agree or even bring correction to their behaviors ….
The encouraging part of this, is first knowing that the sift makes Jesus shine through us, and can qualify us to be used mightily in the advancement of the gospel message, if we allow it to have its perfect work in us. But the second and most encouraging fact is that Jesus told Peter, “I have prayed for you.”, and when you are converted (turned totally to Me) you will strengthen the brethren. With tears in my eyes this morning, not always enjoying the sift before the shift, I thank God that the sift has qualified us; not because of us, but allowing Christ to be formed in us; to strengthen many. Jesus knew that Peter was eventually going to grow intensely stronger by having gone through this sifting. He says, “when you” have returned to me not “if” but when. Jesus saw even in the sift what Peter would become, not just what Peter is before and even during the trial, and so it is with you ….
Today, see the sift for what it is, Satan’s attempt to break you down, to fold on God’s purpose, but let that prepare you for the shift of the advancement! Will you be “converted”? Will you be true to where you really are and allow God to remake you for His true purposes?
Remember, Jesus is sitting on the right hand of the Father making intercession that when we are truly converted and sold out to His Word, fully empowered and led by His Spirit, no longer a slave to sin and self, we will strengthen many! What a glorious promise! So many need strength! Get sifted so you can get shifted and we can all be lifted!!!
Let us pray ~
Give me I pray, a deeper understanding of the hope of my calling and the part that You would have me to play my Lord. I pray that I may be covered daily with the spiritual armour of God, which You have provided for all Your children, knowing that we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against spiritual rulers and forces of evil.
Help me to gird up my mind with the gospel of truth as I walk in the way of peace. Equip me I pray with the sword of the spirit, which is the Word of God, so that I may be able to protect myself against the deceptive teachings and doctrines of demons that lead so many astray. And I pray that in Christ I may stand fast, knowing that it is in Him alone that our victory over the world, the flesh and the devil is secure, this I ask in Jesus name, Amen ….