Sifted for Serviceby Cynthia Jennings on August 24, 2022
We’ve all experienced situations that seemed impossible to endure. But did you ever think that trial prepared you for things to come?
Scriptures tell us that sometimes the Lord allows us to be “sifted” for greater service (Hebrews 4:12). In other words, God may give Satan permission to affect an area of our life and thereby transform us into stronger witnesses for Him(2 Corinthians 5:17).
For most of us when we think about sifting, we envision soft fluffy flour used in baking. But when Jesus spoke of sifting, he was referring to a very violent action used to separate the grain from the stalk and the chaff. To give you a visual, it’s like using a threshing machine which equates to a combine on today’s wheat fields, it tears the wheat apart, separating the valuable portion from the worthless portion.
Jesus knew what was coming, His sifting, before His ascension. He expected Peter to lead the disciples and accomplish great things for Kingdom. But Peter wasn’t ready.
Because Peter wasn’t ready the Lord allowed Satan to “sift” him (Luke 22:31). In so doing God separated the “wheat from the “chaff”—the righteous areas of Peter’s life from the ungodly areas. Ultimately, the disciple grew from the experience and played a key role in spreading the Gospel.
God sovereignly allows His children to be sifted. Remembering that the enemy can’t touch us unless our sovereign all-knowing God allows him (Job 1:6-22). This should comfort our hearts, since God doesn’t ordain anything that is contrary to His divine plan for our lives and His Kingdom purposes.
A little background on why the enemy had a target on Peter’s back. It’s evident Satan was listening when Jesus declared: “And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it” (Matthew 16:18). Satan’s kingdom was being threatened again and he would do all he had permission to do to thwart God’s plan. Having already had victory in Judas’ life, he would now throw all he had at getting Peter’s faith to fail. Yet, unbeknownst to the great schemer and the father of lies, (John 8:44 ), Peter’s hour of testing would simply prepare and strengthen him for the glorious work of building the church and spreading the Gospel.
Had God not allowed this sifting, Peter wouldn’t have been prepared for the events to come.
We can all learn a great lesson from Peter’s life. Jesus knew that Peter’s severe test would cause him to turn for a short time from his resolute confidence in Christ. But, because Jesus was praying for Peter, Peters’ faith would not fail him (Luke 22:32). The severe trial was used to strengthen Peters’ faith in ways far beyond what it was prior to the cross and resurrection.
We too can be confident that if God allows us to be sifted, it’s only to prepare us for the purposes He has ultimately ordained to accomplish His eternal plan and display the Gospel more brightly.
When God has strengthened us, He calls us to turn and help strengthen others who are weak, hopeless or discouraged by sharing our testimony of God’s grace.
If you’re experiencing a season of sifting don’t despair. God is Sovereign and intentional, as He was in allowing Peter to be sifted. Just like Peter came through the sifting restored so will you. “ And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you”(1 Peter 5:10-11).
Prayer: Heavenly Father, sifting hurts! I don’t always understand your plan or timing. But as your child I’m trusting you always know what’s best for me. Father in the midst of sifting give me the mind not to complain, comfort my heart and provide me with wisdom to understand and grace to endure. Cleanse my heart and rebuild my faith so I can be used for your glory, in Jesus Name Amen.
PEARLStoPONDER: Ask God to bring into focus similar ways that He’s used difficulties for ultimate good.
Luke: 22:31-32--31 “Simon, Simon, behold, Satan demanded to have you, that he might sift you like wheat, 32 but I have prayed for you that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned again, strengthen your brothers.”
Psalm26:2--Prove me, O Lord, and try me; test my heart and my mind.
Psalm139:23--Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts!
1 Thessalonians 2:4--but just as we have been approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel, so we speak, not to please man, but to please God who tests our hearts.
Provers 17:3--The crucible is for silver, and the furnace is for gold, and the Lord tests hearts.
James 1:3-4--For you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. 4 And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.