This past Sunday we started a brand new series, A Misplaced Joy. This series is based off a brand new book (of the same name) written by a close friend of mine, Ryan McCoskey. I'll be sharing with you really soon how you can get a copy of the book. And trust me, you really want to read this book! This post stems from my first message, The Betrayed & Denied.
Have you ever wondered how Peter could have arrived at the point of denying Jesus? How could the man closer to Christ than any other human wind up disowning Him - pretending he didn't know Him? [Hang with me for a moment, but think about Job. Do you remember that God literally asked Satan, "Have you considered my servant, Job?" In other words, "What do you think about Job? Have you seen how he reveres and trusts and follows me? What are you going to do about it?" Other than saying, "You can't kill him", Job's Creator basically gave the devil access to do with him whatever he wanted. He let Satan test Job.] Now, back to Peter. How could he wind up in this dark place? I'd like to suggest and submit exactly how this happened. Check out Luke 22:31-32:
"Simon, Simon, behold, Satan demanded to have you, that he might sift you like wheat, but I have prayed for you that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned again, strengthen your brothers."
Peter - Satan came and asked me if he could have full access to you. He wants to see what you're made of - to see if you'll stand. I didn't say no. I didn't turn him away. BUT...I'm praying for you! You have to walk through this fire. You have to find out for yourself what it means to follow me. And Peter, when - not IF - but WHEN you turn back to me, strengthen your brothers and your friends.
So here's the thing: If you're a follower of Jesus Christ, there will be a time - mark it down - when the Lord will allow you to be "sifted like wheat". He will allow the Enemy to find out what you're made out of - to see if you will stand. And in the sifting - in the testing - you may find yourself beaten down, feeling alone and desperate, ready to give in and give up. But...you will NOT be alone. And as Paul tells us in 2 Corinthians 4, you will NOT be crushed. And WHEN you come through the fire and walk through the testing, you will actually be stronger. And Jesus longs for us to hear His words and His heart in these moments: I will restore you. And even though you don't understand this, you need this. It won't be easy. In fact, it will possibly be the most painful thing you've ever endured. But...I'll walk through it with you.
Have you been "sifted like wheat"?
Are you prepared to walk through this in order to truly follow Jesus?
This is what it means to live in the Kingdom.