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Thursday, April 21, 2011

Satan has asked to sift each of you!

Luke 22:31-34 CEV Jesus said, "Simon, listen to me! Satan has demanded the right to test each one of you, as a farmer does when he separates wheat from the husks.But Simon, I have prayed that your faith will be strong. And when you have come back to me, help the others." Peter said, "Lord, I am ready to go with you to jail and even to die with you." Jesus replied, "Peter, I tell you that before a rooster crows tomorrow morning, you will say three times that you don't know me."

Jesus was speaking to Peter before He was betrayed by Judas and arrested by the Jewish leaders. He had given Peter a stern warning. He told Peter that Satan wanted to "sift each one like wheat". One commentator said it means,"to take us apart". Did you get that? Satan wants to take us apart!(

Jesus assured Peter that He had prayed for his faith to remain strong and that after Peter's denial, Peter would strengthen others through his own experience.

Peter did not fully understand his weakness, yet Jesus did and he warned him. When Jesus led them to the garden to pray, He told the disciples to wait there and pray so that they would be able to withstand the coming trials. The disciples fell asleep when they were supposed to be praying. Luke 22:45 says that when Jesus went to check on them, they were all asleep, exhausted from sorrow.

I can definitely relate to the disciples. I can remember several times praying during a sorrowful time and falling asleep out of pure exhaustion. The moment my feet hit the floor, Satan knew I was weak because of my lack of prayer. I fell for his lies and rushed to become agitated and grouchy, my temper flared easily, grumbling words rolled off my tongue, negativity filled my mind and anyone within ear shot knew to stay out of my way...Ever been there?

What happened when Jesus was arrested? Some of the disciples fled but Peter was ticked and went into warrior mode! He drew his sword, thinking he was protecting Jesus, and cut off the ear of the priest's servant. Jesus rebuked him and demanded he put away his sword. Peter followed with his flesh...much like I do.

I often think about how I would have acted or reacted in that situation? I am similar to Peter and I know when I am not prayed up and filled with the Holy Spirit, I can lose my cool. I am a natural born fighter and I have to stay in a mindset of prayer so that I am not tempted to blow my top...I fail many times but praise God, less and less as I mature in Christ. Just being real.

After Jesus was arrested, Peter then followed Him from a distance. This is when he denied Christ three times before the rooster crowed. A rooster's crow signals a new day, which for Peter would mean a new beginning. I love that Jesus' words to Peter before all of this took place, knowing Peter would fail, were words of hope! For Peter, this new day was the beginning of his faith walk with Jesus! I think of the verse in Psalm 30:5, "Weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning."

Peter wept the night before, fell asleep when he was to be praying, was unable to withstand the temptation of sinful anger, denied Christ three times, and then...the rooster crowed! The instant Peter heard the sound, his heart was broken and he realized his sins. I imagine Jesus looking Peter in the eyes with compassion as to say, "Remember the warning I gave you? Now accept my grace now go strengthen your brothers."

Peter may have failed at the moment, but he did not stay in the failure mode. I have failed in moments of weakness as well but I don't stay there long. You know why? I envision Jesus looking at me with His grace-filled eyes saying,"Now get up and go strengthen your brothers and sisters in Christ."

We always have a way of escape from any sin or temptation(1 Cor 10:13). Through Christ's strength, depending fully on His Spirit, and continual praying; is our way of escape. Just as Jesus told Peter to be in prayer because the Devil wants to take us out...and he tries us one at a time! Know that Jesus is praying for us and we too have to be praying in order to win our battles on this earth!