Monday, July 7, 2014

Sifted Into Greatness

Peter loved Jesus and was determined that he would go with Jesus all the way to death.  His love was real! He believed in Jesus!  He walked with Jesus!  He did the best he could!  Yet Jesus knew, in Peter’s humanity that this loyal disciple would fall.

In fact, Jesus had already told Peter beforehand that Satan “hath desired to have you, that he may sift you as wheat:” but He had prayed for him “that thy faith fail not: and when thou art converted, strengthen thy brethren." Jesus even told Peter that “the cock shall not crow this day,before that thou shalt thrice deny that thou knowest me.”   We may sometimes look at this as a“warning” for Peter; but could it be that Jesus was giving Peter permission not to be perfect?
Jesus knew Peter was going to falter.  That Peter would be discouraged.  That he would be disappointed that he had let Jesus down.  Jesus knew that Peter would be weak and almost lose out.  That he would feel like a failure and want to go back to his boat.  Jesus knew all this about Peter,yet He had a plan to use even this weak vessel – “upon this rock” - to glorify Himself.
No matter how determined in our spirit we may feel at times.  No matter how “together” we may feel we have it, no matter our best efforts; we, in our humanity and weaknesses, are going to fail at times.  Remember, the God who created us, also put us on this earth with certain strengths and weaknesses for a reason.  He can use our strengths, like He did Peter’s loud mouth and boldness to preach the gospel for His glory; however, He also has the ability to use even our weaknesses.
Peter “followed afar off” after Jesus had told him what would happen.  The same disciple who had walked close to Jesus’ side, the same man who had went a “little further” in the garden to pray with Jesus on that dreadful night, this mighty man of God…could he have been disheartened at the possibility of failing his Master. 
True to Jesus’ words, which cannot fail, Peter denied Jesus three times that night and was devastated.  He “went out, and wept bitterly.”  Yes, he was likely grieving the events which were taking place however, I imagine he wept these bitter tears out of shame and regret at his own actions…ashamed,embarrassed, and humiliated!  He had walked with the Master and heard all His teachings…yet here he was messing up!
Satan will flaunt every weakness within you before your eyes.  He will make you intensely aware of them until all hope for anything positive is blurred out of the picture of your life.  He continues sifting you as wheat, telling you that “you are a failure and you’ll never get it right.”  The road he’s leading you down has a big, red “I QUIT!” sign at the end of it.
 It’s so simple though.  Jesus didn’t beat Peter over the head with the fact that he had weakness in his life.  Jesus understood Peter’s human heart, his intentions, He saw the possibilities and gave Peter a chance to “miss the mark.”  This isn’t a permit for us to continually fail, but to realize that when we do, God doesn’t count us out.  There are a lot of people out there who fail and feel they can never measure up and be what God intends for them to be. What better thing for them to know and hear than that you were caught in that sort of trap…and have been victorious… “and when thou art converted, strengthen thy brethren.” By this will the Lord be glorified!  Remember,the Lord says “My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness.”  I can tell you this now…because I’ve been there and have the T-shirt to prove it.  Let's be sifted into greatness!