Message of the Month

Luke 22:31-34; 54-62

On many liquid medicine bottles is the following instructions: "Shake well before using since some of the key ingredients may have settled to the bottom."  There is a little known and seldom welcomed procedure that our heavenly Father employs in child-training His children for maximum influence in His kingdom. I call it the Shake Well Procedure. The classic example of this process is found in the life of the disciple of Jesus known as Simon Peter.

In our text, Simon Peter is made to understand the fact that he is about to be severely shaken by an experience with Satan himself. He is encouraged in this revelation by the fact that the Lord Jesus Himself will take an active part in his trial. In essence, Jesus was saying to Peter, "I am going to allow you to be shaken really hard, all because I intend to use you greatly."

I. The Wicked Designs of Satan

A. Expose the Believer's Faults -- Luke 22:31b

"Simon, Simon, behold, Satan demanded to have you, that he might sift you like wheat,"

Only Luke tells us about Satan’s desire to have you that he may sift you like wheat. Notice how Jesus addresses Peter:  “Behold!” exclamation point, surprise, shock, warning - Satan has demanded permission to sift you like wheat.  Demand is a very strong word in the Greek and only appears here in the whole New Testament.  The word is “exetesato", a compound form meaning a demand to take you out. The longer verb in this word means "to demand to obtain by asking permission." This is the very term we use in English for a boy dating a girl.  We say, "He took her out."  So, Satan has asked God for permission to "have a date" with you!  He wants to take us out - to expose our faults, to prove we're false professors. He wants to take us out to embarrass our Savior and hinder His cause. He wants to take us out of service - to take us out of life. He has come only to kill, steal, and destroy.

B. Eclipse the Believer's Faith -- Luke 22:32b. -- "...but I have prayed for you that your faith may not fail..."

The word translated "fail" is the Greek word "ekleipo."  We get our English word "eclipse" from this Greek word.  A Christian's faith may conceivably be brought by Satan into partial eclipse, but never into total eclipse!!  And Jesus is praying that Peter's faith be not "eclipsed."

On May 30, 1984, the mid-Southern United States experienced a rare partial solar eclipse. The eclipse lasted from approximately 10 a. m. to approximately 1PM, reaching maximum coverage at 11:15 a. m. when 88.6 percent of the sun's surface was obscured.  Two things were very evident in this partial eclipse.  One was that the atmosphere grew noticeably darker; the other was that the temperature dropped from 5 to 7 degrees.  This is what happens spiritually when a believer's faith is in partial eclipse.  His life is noticeably darker spiritually, and his spiritual "temperature" drops. When a Christian deliberately chooses to honor the flesh, he is voting against the prayer of Jesus and for the prayer of Satan. But as usual, "Where sin abounds, grace does much more abound." So Satan is actually God's "errand boy," or God's agent of accomplishment!  He sifts the saints, separating the chaff from the wheat and polishing and purifying the grain for God's storage (Matt. 3:12) and for God's service (John 12:24).

II. The Wrong Dependence of the Saint

A. The Deceitful Path of Self-confidence -- Luke 22:31a, 33; Mt 26:33, 35

Jesus speaks to His most prominent disciple, Peter, but He does not address him by the name Jesus gave him.  He does not say "Peter," but "Simon" - and He repeats the name -- Simon, Simon!  This repetitious use of Simon is in itself peculiar.  "Simon" is the disciple's pre-Christian name.  Jesus gave him the new name, "Peter."  Then why does He here call him "Simon"?  Jesus' use of this name is a serious warning to Peter that he is about to act extremely in the flesh.  He is going to act as if he had never come to Christ!

God often uses the shake well before using of Satan as a destroying work to eliminate misguided self?confidence.  Paul writes in 2 Corinthians 1: 8, 9:... "we were burdened beyond measure, above strength, so that we despaired even of life. Yes, we had the sentence of death in ourselves that we should not trust in ourselves but in God who raises the dead." In chapter 3:5, he writes: "Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think of anything as being from ourselves but our sufficiency is from God." In chapter 4:7: "But we have this treasure in earthen vessels that the excellency of the power may be of God and not of us."  The expression "earthen vessels" literally means "baked clay."  In other words, we live in clay pots ? frail and fragile. Yet in spite of our frailty, we frequently rely upon our own abilities.

There was a young lady that came to Will Rogers, the famous American humorist, and said, "Mr. Rogers, I have a problem with pride." "How's that?", asked Will. To which she replied, "Well, every morning after I have gotten dressed, I look at myself in the mirror and I can't help but say out loud, `You are absolutely beautiful.'  Will Rogers said, "Honey, that ain't pride, that is a mistake!"

Our self?confidence is not only misguided, it is a mistake.

B. The Downward Path of Self-confidence

  1. The Smugness of Peter's Declarations

(a) He thought he knew more than Jesus - (no need to pray for me - I got this!)

(b) He thought he was too strong to fail - (others may bail out on you, Lord, but not me!)

(c) He thought he was superior to and stronger than the other disciples - Notice him as he is:

c1. Boasting instead of trembling -- 22:33

c2. Sleeping instead of praying -- 22:45

c3. Fighting instead of submitting -- 22:50

c4. Lingering behind instead of following closely -- 22:54

c5. Keeping company with Christ's enemies -- 22:55

c6. Denying Christ instead of confessing Him -- 22:57

  1. The Sinfulness of Peter's Denials

Peter told four lies - (1) denied being with Jesus - Mt 26:69-70 - (2) denied being his disciple - Jn. 18:17, 25- (3) Denied even knowing Jesus - Mt. 26:72, 74 - (4) denied even understanding the accusation - Mk 14:68

III. The Winnowing Disciplines of the Savior

A. The Rough Disciplines of the Winnowing Process

Luke 22:31, "Satan has asked for you, that he may sift you as wheat."

Sifting is an agricultural term that refers to the savage process of separating the husk of the wheat from the grain. The wheat was crushed under foot, then it was agitated, or thrown into the air. The chaff, or husk, was blown away by the wind and all that was left behind was the good grain. Satan wants to prove that Peter and all other disciples are just worthless chaff. Satan wanted to tear the heart of Jesus by proving that there was no reality to the faith of the disciples. Satan believed that he could crush them, sift them and that nothing would be left but a broken heart and years of time wasted on His professed followers. He had already done this with Judas! He believed that he could do it to the rest.

But Satan always over extends, and finally outwits, himself!  Satan sifts us in order either to prove that we are all chaff, or to have the good grain for himself.  But he can accomplish neither! As a result he gets chaff blown in his face and Jesus gets disciples who are better equipped for ministry in the Family Firm of Almighty and Sons.

  1. Jesus permits the devil's sifting -- 22:31
  2. Jesus prays for us -- 22:32a
  3. Jesus protects us -- 22:32b

B. The Remedial Designs of Jesus' Discipline

1. Remove the chaff from our lives so we are more attractive and useful to Him

Our Heavenly Father has committed Himself to purge away our sins, to brighten and increase our graces, to wean us from the world, and to prepare and preserve us for His heavenly kingdom. Thus even severe sifting or shaking by the devil is covenant mercies. Even in the midst of the most severe hardships, heartaches, and heavy shaking, we can rest assured that God is for us.  Being for us means that He has committed Himself, in covenant mercy, to develop our character into the image of His Son, and then to display us, for His glory, before all intelligent beings in the universe!  Having made such a covenant commitment, we may rest assured that He will not spare any means necessary in order to accomplish His design, even if it is extremely painful.

2. Ready us for greater service. The severe shaking is not punishment for our sins but child-training for greater usefulness

a. Shaking reveals us -- What's in the well comes up in the bucket.

b. Shaking refines us -- Exposes areas of darkness in our lives. He lets us fail in order to reveal that what were trusting in was not strong enough to supports in the future storms of life.

c. Shaking reinforces us -- (makes us stronger and more useful)

d. Shaking reassures us -- (In spite of the devil's accusations, we are shown to be wheat -- real believers and not chaff or believers who professed Christ but didn't possess His life.)

C. The Restored and Refined Disciple

Was there a future for Simon Peter after such a fall? Was his destiny to be a follower of Christ and a fisher of men beyond recovery? Having resigned, could he be – re-signed? How could he be restored to a sense of spiritual wholeness, much less usefulness and destiny-fulfillment in the kingdom of God?

Many of us would find ourselves identifying with Peter over our own sense of spiritual faltering and falling, of failing to confess Christ in the presence of His enemies. Oh, at one time or other, we have made good confessions, committed to firm resolutions of faithfulness, received prophetic words about our destiny, and then have defected, denied, and disbelieved all of the above. We may have not fallen into what others would call “gross sins”, but we have lost our passion for Christ, moved into spiritual coldness and barrenness, and now feel that we will never find again, much less, fulfill our destinies in the kingdom of God. How often have we done the very thing we said that we would not do in terms of spiritual commitment and destiny fulfillment?

1. Restoration Involves Encountering the Risen Christ for Personal Restoration

Mark 16:7, "But go, tell His disciples—and Peter—that He is going before you into Galilee; there you will see Him, as He said to you."

In John 21:15-17, Jesus takes special time with Peter. And when He speaks to him it is in Terms of His Future Destiny and not His Past History!

a. Feed My Sheep – Three times Jesus issues to Peter the re-assigning commission that would overwrite his three fold denial and desertion of Christ.

b. Follow me – Two times Jesus tells Peter to follow Him irrespective of another person’s assignment. (John 21:19, 22)

Pay close attention!! When God views us in Christ, destiny is the standard, not past history! Destiny keeps us forward focused and not past possessed. When God speaks to me as a King's Kid it's always in terms of my future destiny and not my sinful past!

Fulfilling your Destiny is more about Knowing a Person than Discovering a Plan!

Jesus didn’t ask, “Do you work for me, give for me, go for me, speak for me, war for me, witness for me – but, “DO YOU LOVE ME?”

Destiny is not knowing all the details of the will of God for your life, but knowing the heart of God’s love and knowing some accurate things about God’s ultimate purpose for our lives so that we can begin in the immediate a faith-filled and faithful journey of glorifying God and enjoying the trip!

2. Restoration Involves Experiencing the Baptism of the Holy Spirit for Powerful Ministry - Acts 2

For 53 days after his denial of Jesus, Peter is basically silent and is waiting and worshipping in the upper room. But on the day of Pentecost the Other Jesus without a body - Holy Spirit falls upon the 120, including Peter, in the Upper Room and they become Spirit-filled and Spirit-spilled. They staggered out into the streets and the crowds accused them of being drunk with wine. Then Peter stood up and boldly and brilliantly preached and 3000 men were saved. He had been shaken, sifted, and now Spirit-filled, he would be mightily used of God!

Question? Are you being shaken? Is the enemy is telling you that you not only failed, but that you are a failure? Have you considered quitting it all because you cannot seem to find the stop button for all the painful shaking that is going on in your life? Could the shaking be, not because of past failures, but because of God's intended future usefulness to Him?

One final word of warning.  God Himself will cause the final sifting of the unrighteous from the righteous.  Matt 3:12: "His winnowing fan is in His hand, and He will thoroughly clean out His threshing floor, and gather His wheat into the barn; but He will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire."

Today the devil is allowed to sow his tares among the wheat (Matt. 13:24-30, 36-43), so many unbelievers are ranked among the wheat.  But, at the end of the age, the tares will be separated from the wheat, and the unsaved will be cast into a furnace of fire where there will be wailing and gnashing of teeth (cf. Matt. 3:12).  In that day of judgment, the lost "shall be chased as the chaff of the mountains before the wind" (Isa. 17:13).  Then it will be clearly seen that "the ungodly are not like the godly, but are like the chaff which the wind drives away" (Psalm

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