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Beth Moore - Sifting Season


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The story we are about to retell never, ever gets old to me. You know how some stories, you could just hear it over and over again, and it probably has to do with the fact that somewhere in your journey, you had such need of it that it became such life and breath and hope to you that every time you hear it, it just reaffirms again that season of your life that you think maybe you might not have made it had you not heard it. There are places like that, there are moments in the Scriptures that are so defining. And they may only show up one time. Some things, there are counts of several times.

And in 1 and 2 Kings, and 1 and 2 Chronicles, a few overlapping things in Ezra and Nehemiah, so much agreement and congruence between all four gospels. Some things that are told in Acts that are also mentioned in the epistles. But there are occasionally stories in the Word of God that you only find that one time, on that one page, in those few Scriptures, moments that are of such hope to us that make us sit up and think, "That's me. I can see myself on that page. And I want to believe that this is what Jesus could do for me too".

I'm thinking of moments like when Jesus said to the thief that was hanging next to him on the cross, "Today, you will be with me in paradise". Do you know what hope all of us have found that there could be those last moment confessions of true faith in Christ? What would we do without that moment? And I want to remind you of that, that everything in the Word of God was planned meticulously to be on the page by God. But I do also want you to understand, and I mean press into the fact, that every single detail revolving around the hours coming up to the cross, and then to the resurrection, are so crucial.

I don't just mean that everything means something. I'm almost willing to say, no, everything means everything. That when it comes to the moments leading up to the cross, on the cross, and after the cross, waiting for the resurrection, then Sunday morning comes and the grave is empty, all of this, this is the foundation of our faith. And so, we're going to go to that particular evening, where on a Thursday evening in the Word of God way back when, around 30, 31, 32 AD, Jesus is sitting at the Passover meal.

So, it's Passover weekend, Thursday evening. They have been told, Peter and John, to go and make arrangements at a certain place. They are in a large upper room in Jerusalem, and they have been partaking of the Passover meal, the entire Passover. Not just the bread and the wine as we think of it for the Lord's Supper. That's when he instituted the new covenant, and that is what we celebrate, that is what we remember, that is what we come around over and over again as one of the most important remembrances and actions of our faith. But at this point in the evening, they have had the entire Passover meal. He has introduced the new covenant through his blood that he is just about to pour out on their behalf. In just hours, he will be arrested. And the next afternoon, he will die on the cross.

So, all of this is culminating in this last supper, where he will speak to them, tell them thing that are of eternal importance, some things that they cannot even receive while we're there. So, I want you to picture it with me. They're all seated at the table. Judas has just departed. They have just been told about the new covenant. He has told them what their authority is to be like, not like the Gentiles lording authority over people, but a servant to all. And they have broken out in a dispute over which one of them will be the greater. I mean, you talk about poor timing.

And so, in that moment, it says in verse 31, Luke 22, verse 31, Jesus looks over at Simon Peter and he says, "Simon, Simon, look out. Satan has asked to sift you like wheat. But I have prayed for you that your faith may not fail. And you, when you have turned back, strengthen your brothers". So, Peter answers him in verse 33: "'Lord', he told him, 'I am ready to go with you both to prison and to death'". And so, Jesus looks at him and says, "I tell you, Peter, the rooster will not crow today until you deny three times that you know me".

You talk about a moment. And wondering if it even sunk in what Jesus had just said. What all you see happening here at this table is of cosmic proportions because we've got God the Father, who has ordained every single detail. We have Jesus, the Son of God, seated at the table, fully God, fully man, right there at the table with them, eating the Passover meal. We have got his followers that are the closest to him right at that table. And we have got Satan somehow involved in this storyline in that he is looking to get every single last one of those followers at that table and pick them off one by one by one.

You know, we need Peter so badly in the New Testament. If you know much about him, you know how imperative it is that we have him. Because in him, we have a guy that we can relate with in so many levels because you search his life in the gospels and you find a guy who was talking when he should have been listening. Does that sound familiar to anybody else? Slept when he should have been praying. I know that that's familiar to somebody besides me. Sinking when he should have been walking on the water. And then rebuking Jesus to his face when he should have been doing absolutely anything on the earth but rebuking Jesus to his face. I mean, waxing his boat, working on his fishing line, cleaning fish, playing horseshoes, anything but rebuking Jesus.

And here's Peter, and he goes, "Listen, I will go with you to prison and to death". "You know what, Peter? I know you better than you know yourself". I thought this evening that would really be a great title for the lesson, "The One Who Knows Us Better Than We Know Ourselves". And when all our boastings is going, "You know what? Actually, this is what I'm seeing down the road", you could stand a little humility. "Simon, Simon", and I love this rendering right here, "Pay attention". Pay attention.

Is that somebody's word? I mean, couldn't we leave right now? I mean, that's just like all I'd need to know is, Lord, if I could just pay attention to what you're doing, pay attention to what the enemy's trying to get away with. If I could just pay attention. "Simon, Simon, pay attention! Satan has demanded to have you all, to sift you like wheat, but I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith may not fail". Look at that with me because in the pronoun, it is a plural the first time around. Now, we Texans know exactly how we would translate that. Satan has demanded to have y'all, to sift y'all like wheat.

So, he goes into the plural pronoun there, but then he says, "But I have prayed for you, Peter". Suddenly, the pronoun is now singular again. Satan has asked for all of you, but I have prayed for you, Peter, Simon Peter, that your faith may not fail. And when you turn back, that you will strengthen your brothers. So, why on earth Peter? Because the inference here, there's a lot of things we could take from it, but the inference here is not only that he is really the leader among all of the apostles that are sitting there, that once Jesus has been ascended to the right hand of the Father, that he really is in so many respects going to be chief among them in leading them in the charge of humble service before the Lord.

And man is he by that time ever ready for doing exactly that. But at this point, I think it's more than that. I think in some respects that what is happening here is that Satan has asked for all of them, but Jesus knows that one in particular could probably use a little sifting. Does anybody know what I'm saying? Why Peter? Why Peter? So, I want to pitch some answers. This is just food for thought, just some ideas, some notions why it might have been Peter when he said, "Satan has asked for all of you, but I'm praying for you, Simon, that your faith will not fail. And that when you've turned back, you'll strengthen your brothers".

So, what I want to suggest to you is that it might be fair to assume that Peter had some things that needed sifting. That if God ever allows us to go through a sifting season, and that's the name of this particular lesson, then it probably is because something needs sifting. Now, I need to know that because I don't want that to be a random experience for me. If I go through an increased time of warfare, if I'm really going to be somehow harassed by the enemy and I am going to really have a season of struggling and finding out who God has made me in him, then I want it to be because it has very specific divine purpose.

And I could tell you that for Peter, part of that was he had some things that needed sifting. And let me see if I can explain a little bit about the sifting process here because this is the imagery of a sieve. So, what would happen in that ancient culture with the wheat is that it would be cast up in the air over a threshing floor so that the husks would come loose from the rest of the grain so that what was grain would be separated from the husks. And that the parts of it that were not wanted would fly away in the wind.

That was part of the process. But then after that process, it was put through a sieve that was made for grain. And it was shaken and shaken and shaken and shaken. And what was meant to happen is kind of the reverse of the way I always pictured it, that whatever was not good grain would fall through and the grain would be left. No, no, not in the way that this particular custom worked. What was going to fall to the ground was the actual grain in the threshing floor like they wanted it. What was going to stay in the sieve was anything that would've have been trash or rubbish. It would have been like clumps of dirt, or tiny little stones.

And so, the whole image behind Satan trying to sift Peter like wheat is so that by the time he has shaken him and shaken him and shaken him, all that is left of him is a few little stones and clumps of dirt, and there is nothing else of value. That was what the enemy was after. Now, we know what God was after because he's after exactly the reverse, so that that which stayed in the sieve would then have been completely disposed of, and what was left would've been used as grain to make bread.

And I want to throw this out to you because it is very easy for us to accidentally somehow have formed some substantial faith in our own faithfulness. Like we can really get it in our heads that we got the thing. And we just have a lot of confidence that we're going to be faithful. And here's what I'm suggesting to you. The only wise thing when it comes to the matter of faith and faithfulness is having faith in the faithfulness of God. That really is the only solid, immovable truth that we have when it comes to being sure that somebody's going to be faithful.

You have no way of knowing what someone is going through when you think, "No, my daddy will always be faithful". Listen, not your daddy, not your mama, not your auntie, not your grandparents, not your pastor. We can't depend on anybody else's unwavering faithfulness except God himself. And Peter, can't you hear, "I'm ready. I am ready". He's going, "You ain't ready. You ain't anywhere near ready". And in fact, I think maybe it was that point exactly why he was ready for a sifting, is he thought he was ready to follow Jesus anywhere and do anything he asked, follow him all the way to the death.

I was thinking, smiling to myself today that I have some good news and bad news for you who are younger in Christ. It's always good to hear the bad news first. And so, the bad news is you will not turn out nearly as good as you hoped. I wish I could say something differently, but I think I can with some amount of confidence tell you that we really, we picture how this thing is going to go, and it just does not go quite as well as we thought. And we thought it would go smoother than this. I mean, just nothing could have prepared me for how it was really going to go down. And so, I can just tell you that, that's the bad news. You will not turn as well as you hoped, not in this lifetime.

But the good news is, and I think you can take this to the bank, Jesus will turn out a thousand times better than you dreamed. That's what happens, is no, it's a lot harder than you expected it to be. You will probably not turn out to be that stellar, immovable servant that you surrendered yourself to be. But Jesus, he is going to be everything you would hope he would be and a thousand times more because he is going to be faithful to you. I was thinking to myself, you know, it's pretty safe to say any morning that we get up that there is no day beyond being that day.

See, that morning when Peter woke up, he could not have seen that day going down with him denying Jesus three times before the next sunrise. He could not have even wrapped his mind around it. He really saw himself through a whole different set of eyes. I mean, he was going to reign. And Jesus had just told him, "You will sit on the thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel". And I don't know, you have to wonder, did Peter look a certain way? What was it that caused Jesus, right after he told them that they would indeed have authority, that they would not get it the way that seen authority attained?

You have to wonder, did a look come over his face? What happened? Or was it just that moment that was right, that Jesus looks at him and says, "Simon, Simon, you better pay attention". Was he not paying attention? What was he thinking? What was in his heart at the time? Something that caused Jesus to point out to him, "Listen, Satan has asked to sift all of you like wheat. And I just want you to know, Simon, I'm praying for you. I'm praying for you, that your faith will not fail".

You know, I just want to get some of the rough news over with so that we can get to the good news because the rough news for us older servants is it's never too late to do something remarkably foolish. And one of the things that we have to understand is that what can happen, we might think, well, I mean, we can't really picture them doing all the big things. Let me tell you, you want to know the biggest thing, the biggest thing, the very biggest thing, the very biggest affront? You want to know what God wants most from us is our faith.

So, there is really nothing that competes with faithlessness. And we could grow old and go, "You know what? At this point, I'm just going to do right things for the rest of my life. Not really going to practice faith. I'm just going to do right things. I'm just going to do good works". And he's going like, "You know what? Without faith, it is impossible to please me. I'm counting your faith as righteousness", he says to us.

So, it could be that we just end our lives in faithlessness. It's pretty safe to say there is no day beyond being that day unless it is 11:59 p.m. and you're sound asleep and I'm sound asleep. Still time in that day. Want to show you where it says that "the rooster will now crow today until you deny me three times". Today, when he says, "today", notice that he says it. I'll glance back with you when he says in verse 34, "I tell you, Peter, the rooster will not crow today until you deny three times that you know me".

So, this is evening, so what does he mean by today? Okay, in Jewish reckoning, a day went from dark to light. And I love that, I love that. They get it all the way from creation because if you notice in the days of creation, it says, and the evening and the morning was the first day, and the evening and the morning was the second day, and the evening and the morning was the third day. That the day always goes from dark to light instead of light to dark, which is such a gorgeous, gorgeous reality. So, that's how they see the day.

So, the day had begun at dusk, around the time they would have begun that dinner. And it was going to end the next afternoon, which would be really, really soon after Jesus dies on the cross. So, when he's reckoning today, he means through the course of that night and on into the morning, that day being those next 24 hours. I'm not saying this to scare us. This is just to make us aware that roosters still crow. I know that for a fact because I hear them over and over again.

And by that, I mean the enemy still wants the saints. He still is looking to pick off the followers of Jesus, particularly those that have enough faith to sit at the table with him, to dine with him, to want to be close to him. Just going to do anything he can to pick us off. And I'm going to tell you something, that if he gets any leash, there is a good reason for that. And there's something, there's something in that process that God is getting toward us losing so that what we win instead is our confidence in Christ himself, and the fullness of his Spirit, and the power of his Word.

Tell you one more reason why I think that that was all happening to Peter, is because Satan had been successful with Judas. Already happened. And see, here's the thing, what the enemy loves is when he can go for a group of people and just start picking them off one by one, know what I'm saying? 'Cause it works with one, well then boom, the moment it works with one, the rest of them start getting a little bit shaky. And then he starts going for the next one, and he starts going for the next one, and he starts going for the next one, and he starts going for the next one. So, he's all, "Who's next, who's next"? He loves the whole domino thing, to tip just one. He's lazy in a lot of respects.

He's a lot of things, a lot of things. Very, very powerful, scheming, methodical, all of those things, ruthless, plays mean and dirty. But he's not very creative. God is the creator. And so, he's just trying to think, "How many birds can I take out with one stone? How much damage can I do just with one person? How many persons could I take down with him? And then I'll go for the next. And how many persons can I take down with them"? That's what he loves to do.

"Satan is not only the accuser, as though his only aim were to detect faithlessness; rather, he inspires faithlessness. He is the one who supplies occasions for failure, who is active in resisting God's plan and God's people". That's some powerful thoughts right there. He's not just trying to expose our weaknesses. He's trying to give us weaknesses we did not even know we had. He's trying to capitalize on everything we've got, every Achilles heel we've got he is aiming straight for.

One of the things I think about over and over again is that we're told in Ephesians chapter 6 that he comes at us, the metaphor that is given is in flaming darts or flaming arrows of the enemy. And keep in mind, though he cannot read our minds, nor can he enter us when we're in Christ, one thing he can do is that he can read a whole lot from the outside because he has been watching man for thousands of years, thousands of years.

So, he knows a whole lot about how we work, how we'll reason things. And this is what I could really bank on for a reaction out of this person right here. So I mean, he's just looking for that, a setting us up for failure over and over and over again. And that's exactly what we see happening in the Scripture. So, he's a good shot. He's not going to aim at us where we're already well covered. He knows, he's shot so many arrows in his existence that he knows how to go for the place where the armor is not quite all the way encased together.

Part 2
So I want to pick out another question. So why Peter, in this particular scene, why was he the one that Jesus said, "But I have prayed for you that your faith may not fail and that when you turn back, you will strengthen your brothers". So, here's the other question, so why not Judas? Why not Judas? I mean, isn't that a fair question? Because the obvious contrast between the two that we see showcased at that table, we have got Peter, and we've got Judas.

Peter has been told, man, is he gonna falter. And Judas has already honestly left the table. Jesus has already said at the table, "One of you that is sharing this bread with me will betray me". And I mean, Jesus had been so lavish in his love for all 12 that they did not even know which one it was. None of them could even guess who at the table. Like if it were me, you'd be on to me for a like you'd go, "Uh-huh, I could have told you that's who it was because she always acted weird around".

I mean, if you knew somebody was gonna betray you, you know in advance, you knew the day it was gonna happen, you'd already be acting weird toward them and so would I, not Jesus. They couldn't tell a thing. They're all going, "Who is it? Who is it? Who is it"? And all I could get into from that point was, "Well, I'm gonna be the greatest. I know I'm gonna make it. I don't know about you, but I know I'm gonna make it". I mean, just all of this at the table with Jesus, so why not Judas? Why was his departure so fatal? What was it about him? Why didn't he get the same second chance?

And so, we're gonna take a couple of points together and this is the first one because Jesus knows the difference between a faker and a failure. Judas was a faker. Peter was a failure. And there is a wide gap fixed between the two. Judas was not a man of faith in Jesus as Messiah and the Son of God. He was a thief. He was a miser. He did not care for the things that Jesus cared about. We see in the gospels that he stole from the money that they were given to be, that would be entrusted to them for their ministry needs. We see how he acted toward those who poured out sacrificially for the things of Christ. This was not a man of God.

There's a verse I think about fairly often when it seems like somebody was so in the faith and you think, what happened to him? What happened to him? And 30 years later and nothing, nothing. There's no desire whatsoever to come back. There's a Scripture, I don't know if this is helpful to anybody else, but it's 1 John 2:19 and it says, "They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would have continued with us. But they went out, that it might become plain that they all are not of us".

Jesus looks upon the heart. It's not for us to point out and go, "That person, them". That's not my thing, but it's a powerful thing to know that if we can walk away for good, we have never known him as our Savior, we have never known him as Lord. I think it's so important for somebody to know here tonight this was something that was profound for me to learn in my adulthood, my young adulthood in Christ, that not everyone who falls is a fraud.

One of the things that we have to reckon with is that the enemy is going to be ferocious about anyone in leadership and he's gonna go after any child of God. But I implore you to give a little grace toward the failures of those who have been up front because they are put through an intensity of warfare that we sometimes might not be able to wrap our minds around. We ought to pray for our leaders. Pray for those that are out there where they can get hit so hard. Pray for those who get tired and never get to rest.

These are things that weaken us to the attacks of the enemy. Number one, Jesus knows the difference between a faker and a failure. Number two, failure isn't fatal unless we let it be. Is that good news for anybody besides me? It doesn't have to be over. It's not over. Somebody, if you're in Christ and you're thinking to yourself, "No, I'm gonna tell you something, I have done it this time. It is over for me".

You are miscalculating the power of the cross of Christ because, listen, you cannot be destroyed by the enemy. You may be knocked down. You may be tripped up, but I can tell you right now, you cannot be destroyed by him. You cannot. The only thing he can do is try to convince you you are destroyed so that you will just sit down and shut up and quit. I promise you that the biggest agenda that the enemy has for you, if you are in Christ is for you to quit because if he cannot take your salvation from you, which he cannot do, then he will settle for the next best thing. He will do everything he can to take your fruitfulness from you.

Salvation would be to try to keep you blocked from coming into to the knowledge of Christ, that would be number one. Number two would be if he cannot keep you from coming to know Christ, what can he do to trip you up in your fruitfulness? And it is to your Father's glory that you bear much fruit. Failure isn't fatal unless we let it be.

Look where he says that, "I have prayed for you that your faith may not fail, that your faith may not fail". I looked up that word because it was mentioned in the commentaries for the Greek word for fail, and it is a word that is used later. It means all the things that you think it does. It means to be depleted. It means to leave out or off, to relinquish, to desert, to cease, all of those things, but it is used in another portion of Scripture in Luke 16:9 for running out of money. It'd be something like this.

I brought it with me just to demonstrate it a little bit that our faith, if you imagine this somehow being a symbol of our faith, of our portion of faith, that it's failing is when it just little by little, we're just spending, we're just spent. Our faith is just spent. Anybody know what I'm talking about, just spent? Just, I mean, it's just we've been through so much and it just keeps going on and on and our faith is just spent. And then it gets down to that last little bit. This is what it means for our faith to fail. That's it, that's just it. Spent, absolutely, utterly nothing left.

"I have prayed for you, Peter, that your faith may not drain until there is nothing left and that when you turn back, you will strengthen your brothers". Turn back. It means exactly what we think it does. It means to be headed off this direction and to just like turn back, turn back. I just wonder who will hear the message, "turn back" today. Because I mean, it's just one little pivot of the feet, just turn back. It's been long enough, just turn back. That's home to you. That's who you were born for. That's who causes your life to bear the fruit that you were set apart before, before the foundation the world, just turn back.

I love that it says, "And when you have turned back, when you" - It does not say if you turn back. Let me tell you for a child of God, it is not going to be if. It will be when. It will be when. It's a matter of, will it be today, or will it wait and wait and wait until the enemy has gotten more and more and more of what he wanted? We can either keep our failure some big secret or we can strengthen weak brothers and sisters, but we will rarely do both.

See if I can articulate what we mean by that. This just really boils down to what I want most. Do I want to help people or do I want to be their hero? Because I'm gonna tell you something, I've told as many people as would listen the same thing over and over again. After 35 plus years of ministry, I can tell you this without a shadow of a doubt, what I have noticed overwhelmingly in all of these years of being around people is that they just mostly need some help. They're not looking for big heroes. They just need some help.

Like we can exegete all the original words we want to but at the end of the day, some people are trying to figure out how they can keep from leaving the man they married, or how they can bear that 13-year-old another ten minutes. Anybody know what I'm talking about? How they can get themselves into the car, and go to that job again tomorrow morning as bored stiff as they are, how they're gonna make it through that bankruptcy without just absolutely disintegrating and not ever being able to get up again.

The thing I overwhelmingly see is that people are just really looking for some help through the power of the Holy Spirit, and we have a lot of help to give because we've been through a lot and we've learned a lot. We've learned some things by experience and some things we've learned, we've learned the hard way. And I tell you if I can reach out to somebody else and go let me tell you, let me tell you, this is what I did and you do not want to do what I did. Sometimes the most effective way I minister is to say, "Let me help you not be like me. Do not". I have said to my daughters before, "Do not be like your mother". Somebody says, "I want what you have". You know, get it an easier way. You're not looking for it this way.

How is it that you could minister out of the things that you've been through and the things that you would perceive as failure? I talked to so many women that just feel like, "No, I failed at this. I failed at that. I failed as a mother and it's way too late". It's not too late to do something with that failure. We're gonna be talking about that. But how is it you could minister out of that?

I love Hebrews 7:25, "So he is able to save completely those who come to God through him, because he always lives to intercede for them". I don't know how often you say to Jesus, I don't say it very often, but I'm about to take it up, "So glad you're praying for me today". Because I mean to Peter when he said this to Peter, "But I am praying for you", it made all the difference.

So, I don't know, I don't know that we picture it, yet we've been told that. That's what he's doing at the right hand of God. He sits there as the great high priest ever interceding for us. It's like, you know what? Pray for me today. What a powerful truth. Save completely those who come to God through him because he always lives to intercede for them. Look at Luke 22:61 and 62. This is the third time that Peter has denied knowing him. Verse 60, "But Peter said, 'Man, I don't know what you're talking about"!

After someone had said this, "This guy was certainly with him since he's also a Galilean. I don't know what you're talking about! And immediately while he was still speaking, a rooster crowed. Then the Lord turned and looked at Peter. So Peter remembered the word of the Lord, how he had said to him, 'Before the rooster crows today, you will deny me three times.' And he went outside and wept bitterly". He wept bitterly. That is, that's the depths of true repentance right there, he wept bitterly.

I want to say something to you. Sometimes we look at this narrative and we think there's a whole lot worse things than that. I mean, Peter didn't do one of the big ones 'cause we picture what it would be like, whether it would be infidelity, whether it would be abortion, whether it would be robbery, thievery, abuse. I mean, we can name all of it. These are the big ones and like this was passive and fairly minor. No, by the time you're saying, "I do not know Jesus. I do not know him. I do not know Jesus".

Denying knowing Jesus is huge. I would just beg you to consider that there might not be a bigger transgression than that right there to sift you until you literally deny that you even know Jesus, that I deny that I even know Jesus. I want you to turn with me to 1 Corinthians chapter 15. I want to show you something. There's so many things that I love about Jesus, but I don't know if there are many things I love more than this, that we're gonna see a glimpse right here in the Word of God about the kind of Savior that we have.

1 Corinthians 15, I want to read verses 3 through 8 to you. This is the Apostle Paul writing he says, "For I passed on to you as most important what I also received: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, that he appeared to Cephas", that is Peter, "then to the Twelve. Then he appeared to over five hundred brothers and sisters at one time; most of them are still alive, but some have fallen asleep. Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles. Last of all", Paul's talking about himself, "as to one born at the wrong time, he also appeared to me".

I want you to notice something with me that it says, that he appeared, first of all, in verse 5, he appeared to Cephas, who is Simon Peter, and then to the 12. I want you to know something because I love this and treasure this so much. We have no record of what happened between the two of them, none. We don't know where it was, what it looked like, what the conversation was, what room he appeared in, what place he appeared. We know nothing about it. All we know is that Jesus is the kind of Savior that allowed no one else to be privy to it. Peter was all by himself when he got a chance to see the risen Lord and respond to the risen Lord after denying him three solid times, just like Jesus said he would.

What kind of Savior is that, that would see to it that it really was none of anybody else's business what took place between the two of them after Peter's pronounced failure? I don't know what that means to anybody else, but it means a lot to me. It means a lot to me that the very end of the gospel of John the very last chapter in chapter 21, he gives Peter a chance to confess his love to him three solid times in front of those disciples that knew how badly he blew it. He also lets the other apostles hear him say to Peter so that they'll know that Peter had not hijacked his entire calling. "Peter, do you love me"? "Lord, you know I love you". "Feed my sheep. Nothing you have done has yanked your calling from you. Feed my sheep".

I tell you something, in the court of public opinion and among a lot of regular people out there, you will find that there are people that will never, ever let you out of what you have done, never. It's the strangest thing, if I run into someone from my past and I haven't seen them in decades, they will treat me as if I am still the person they knew decades ago because I'm stuck there in their mind. I am that same sinful woman. Does anybody know what I'm talking about? Let me tell you something. There are so many people that will do that. Public opinion will do that, just constantly something that they just love about sticking you and sticking me in the context of our worst failure over and over again, but that will never be Jesus. It will never be Jesus. It will never, ever be Jesus. It is not true for him.

One of the things I just love is looking back at Luke 22:33 where Jesus says to Peter, listen, "Satan has asked to sift you like wheat. But I have prayed for you that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned back, strengthen your brothers". And remember what he says in verse 33? Peter says to him, "Lord, I'm ready. I'm ready". Don't you wonder if Jesus was thinking to himself, "No, no, actually, you're not ready. But here's the beauty of it. Peter, you know what? You will be, you will be". Because you want to know something wonderful? Peter actually does go to prison in the name of Jesus, and for the sake of Jesus, and he does courageously go straight to his death without renouncing him a single iota.

So, one day he wouldn't be ready, but that day had not come. He's getting us ready. He's ever getting us ready for faithfulness in that process of making it sturdy and strong in him will return back and will strengthen our brothers and sisters. I want to tell you something. I'm just praying so hard, not because of any of my words, which will always fall short of a passage that I want so much to teach well, but because of the power of the living God, my prayer tonight is that somebody will know that her failure was not and is not fatal, that you're not stuck back there, that somebody in the house, and somebody in hearing, would let God have success with your failure.

I mean, it could happen today. It could happen tonight, that he begins working in such a way in your life, in such a way in my life, that he has taken back every single bit of it from the enemy. And full redemption is what brings success from our failures. For some of us, we just keep hearing that rooster crowing on repeat, crows all the time, crows all the time. And he's doing everything he can to remind you what a failure you've been. You're gonna have to shut your hearing down to him and hear the words of Christ.

"Turn back. I got work for you to do. I got brothers and sisters for you to strengthen. I've got humility that I can bring out of what you've been through. I've got compassion I can bring forth from what you have endured. I can use you so powerfully because you will never take one ounce of credit for it because you know the pit that I pulled you out of". But would you, this glorious week of all weeks on the calendar, put your faith in the finished work of the cross of Christ and the new life of his resurrection?

Shake loose from those grave clothes and would you, here's the big one, here's the big one, would you surrender every single bit of your failure to him to use to his glory? Would you do it? Would you do it? Would you be willing everywhere you look back and thinking, "I blew that, and I blew that, and I really blew that", have you ever brought that as an offering to the altar of God and gone, "Take it"? What would you do out of this? But that's what redeems it, that's what redeems it when he does something with it, that's what takes you out of that pit. Would you surrender it to him? That starts today. We don't have to wait on that.
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