Saturday, May 31, 2008

Sifted like wheat...

I have been reading among other things, a book by Beth Moore, entitled “When Godly People Do UnGodly Things.” I have been slowly working my way through it a chapter at a time. The other day I hit the chapter talking about God’s permissive will.

She started talking about both Job and Peter. In both cases Satan had to ask permission from God to wage war on someone with whole-hearted, sincere and pure devotion to God. Why would God allow Satan some license in our lives? Why would He want us to suffer under attack from the enemy?

Beth says, “Who’s to say when things really get tough that we, and countless other believers, have not momentarily been chosen to prove faithful to God?” (pg 85)

Through facing the giants in my life, through all of us facing the trials and struggles and the oppressions, God will show us and the enemy, He will prove that we really are for God.
After Peter claimed that Jesus was the Messiah, he then turned and rebuked Jesus for saying He was going to die on the cross. Jesus said at that point that Satan had asked for permission to sift Peter like wheat. But Jesus said that He prayed for Peter, that his faith wouldn’t fail.

“Satan had to attain permission to move outside his usual perimeters and launch a full-scale attack on one of God’s children… First, we see that Satan can and does seek permission to launch excessive attacks on the children of God. Second, we see that God can and sometimes does grand Satan such permission.” (pg. 89)

Beth proposed that God tested both Peter and Job were tested by God through Satan. He uses our enemy to test us. God wants to refine us like gold. Gold can only be refined in fire. That means being burned. Burning is painful, not pleasant. We all undergo some form of refining. Hopefully not all of us by being directly assaulted by the enemy to the extent that Job was. But Beth put forward the point, what if we are subject to being tested like Peter… sifting.

“Only one reason exists why God would give Satan permission to sift a dearly loved, devoted disciple of Jesus Christ: because something needs sifting.” (pg. 90)

If you are feeling attacked, pushed to the end of your rope, look inside as I have been. Are there things there (as I have found for myself) that need sifting out? Is Jesus allowing a time of struggle and sifting in your life to sanctify you to fulfill your calling… your calling from Him?

I know God is sifting me. In the past few days I have been pushed to see some of the things going on in me since the hospital. I feel that during the preceding 4-5 days, the enemy stepped up his attack against me, clouded my mind, and got me to the point of not only seeing darkness, but feeling it like this heavy weight, to the point I could hardly see straight or breathe.

It landed me in the hospital.

And starting in the hospital is where the attack lessened, and I could start to see things again. God brought me to a point where I couldn’t pray on my own. The Spirit had to pray for me, I didn’t have the words or will. And His Spirit knew what I needed, and prayed for what I needed.

Since then God has brought to mind a few specific things through one counseling session, through some books, through the bible, and through some deep times of prayer and reflection. I can see that through this experience, these few things wouldn’t have come to the surface very easily, or with such clarity and visibility to me. It would have been a much harder struggle to see them, and to give them up to Him.

Now I am going to start working on eliminating what was sifted.

As Beth said in her book,
“In His severe and loving mercy, in ways I’ll never fully understand, God used the darkness to chase out my darkness, then filled the emptied vessel with light. No matter how many years, I still have the conscious thought almost every day, so this is how it feels to be free. What Satan meant for evil, my faithful God meant for good.
Beloved, are you being sifted? Has God permitted the enemy to launch a full-scale attack against you? God knows what He’s doing. He isn’t looking the other way, and He’s not being mean to you. Maybe this is the only way He can get you to attend to the old so He can do something new. Grab onto Him for dear life! Give Him full reign to remove anything in you that needs to go. Hasten the end of the process. Sift, dear one. Sift!” (pg. 96-97)

I am beginning to see how I have been sifted. How I am being sifted. I choose to participate in the process and deal with the old stuff so that He can do something new in me, and use me in a new way. So that I can do something new for Him that the old has been blocking me from.
Will you sift with me?

NOTE: All quotes in this post were taken from “When Godly People Do UnGodly Things,” by Beth Moore. (c) 2002. Published by Broadman & Holman Publishers, Nashville, Tennessee.

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