SIFTED —To separate, examine closely, or question.

Posted: February 2, 2013 in choices, counseling, Daily Life, Daily Living, Family, family systems, Genesis Process, grief, healing, loss, love, real life issues, real life solutions, secrets, self harm, Uncategorized

sifter

We all live at the level of our choices… including the level of our faith.

Sifted: from “to sift” (verb) –

—To separate, examine closely, or question. 

—To pass through, sort, scrutinize, or inspect.

Luke 22:31-32: “Simon, Simon, Satan has asked to sift all of you as wheat.  But I have prayed for you, Simon that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned back, strengthen your brothers.”   — Jesus

Wayne Cordeiro’s words in his book Sifted captures my thoughts and frustration with Jesus’ promise when he writes, “I don’t find this very reassuring.  What I’d like is for Jesus to pray that Satan would be thwarted, or even that God would dispatch angels to assist me.  But that my faith would not fail? That doesn’t sound very reassuring!  Jesus, by praying this way, seems to suggest that there is a very good possibility that my faith might indeed fail. Gulp!”

What I know is this:  Jesus prays for me (you) in this same way… that my (your) faith might not fail.  Ouch! That’s when I realize as I examine my prayers that in some ways it already has, just as Simon’s (Peter’s) had.  The next phrase is revealing: “and when you turn back.”  Isn’t that the definition of repentance (metanoew)… a changing of the mind that results in a right change in direction?   My prayers already reveal the need for a changing of my mind because 99% of my prayers are for Jesus to fix it and make all things right…often frustrated prayers …alright angry prayers at God’s seemingly unwillingness to help me in the way I have decided He should.  All I want to do is for Him to make it right so I can get on with serving Him.  All He wants is for me to get my heart right so He can answer my prayer.

But there is more.  There is another promise:  “And when you have turned back, strengthen your brothers.”   So somehow in this sifting process God first strengthens me so I can in turn help others, especially the ones I love, be strengthened in their faith as well.  “When the season of sifting is finished— and the difficulties have been navigated well — we end up with a new level of faith, a quality that is not available to us by any other means.  Sifting produces a clarity about who we are and what we do, giving definition to the work of ministry that produces long term results and fruitfulness.The real question then, is not whether we will face failure.  It is how well we will face it…making all the difference in the world.” (Cordeiro, Sifted)

We live at the level of our choices.  When God takes us through a season of sifting (cleansing of our core) He always presents us with choices that either move us deeper into our faith or farther from it.  Peter (Simon) had a divine purpose that was still being unfolded, but Jesus had to allow a season of sifting in Peter at the hands of the same tempter that had tempted Him (Jesus) in the wilderness.  Then Peter would be ready for the next season of serving as God had planned for him.

A few personal observations about sifting:  This is where casualties occur because it is a tough place and Satan wants to take you out.  Sifting is a lonely place… a place of isolation.  Sifting is a place where we begin to question God and His goodness… doubting it – doubting Him…maybe cursing Him as Simon Peter did.  Sifting is a place where we see things in ourselves we never thought we were capable of doing, saying, or being.  Sifting is where we lose our objectivity and follow the flesh rather than the Spirit or give in to our fears…finding comfort wherever it can be found rather than in seeking God.  But listen!  Don’t miss this! Sifting always is a platform from which we can go on to the next level of faith and on to the next level of ministry God has for us in all realms of our lives.  We live at the level of our choices.  That includes our level of faith. Jesus is praying that your faith and my faith might not fail.  How good is that!

So join me in praying the prayer of David, a man after God’s own heart, but a man who knew both the thrill of success and the agony of failure in times of sifting:

Psalm 139:23-24 Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts.  See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.”

What is it God is showing you?  What are the choices He wants you to make?  We all live at the level of our choices.  Choose wisely and turn back so God can move you to a new level of faith and ministry.  I have.

 

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