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Rainbow Divider
MCM Broadcast

TV Broadcast #1035

Sifted Like Wheat
Part One

August 5, 2012

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Transcript of message from TV Broadcast 1035 -- taken from Closed Captioning Text

— Brother Phil Enlow: Well, I’ve had a thought come to me that, I think, began with just me. That is, the Lord was talking to me and not necessarily with respect to a message. And, it seemed like the going was a little tough. Anybody can identify with that. I was just kind of muddling along, and feeling oppressed, and feeling this and that, and you sense the enemy working, and you don’t have a lot of feelings.

And, I don’t know, I had the thought come to me that actually…again, it’s a King James quote since that’s what I grew up with most of my life…that’s what’s stuck. But, it was what the Lord told Peter when He said, “Satan hath desired to have you, that he may sift you as wheat.” (KJV).

That’s an important truth that I think we need to get our minds wrapped around, as we say…that that is a part of serving God at times. We have no right, nor reason from the scriptures to expect that life will always be supported by feelings, supported by the props that we tend to like to want to have in order to feel like…oh, okay, everything’s all right. But, there’s times when God deliberately allows Satan to work upon us, allows us to go through and experience things that are difficult, that are challenging to faith, that are challenging to our strength, that are just challenging to the very core of our being. And yet God deliberately allows it.

You think about examples, obviously, in the scriptures. There was the occasion when the devil came before the Lord. Don’t ask me how all that happened, but the Word says he did to ask about Job. In fact, it was the Lord who pointed Job out. Think about that. The Lord was the one who kind of…you’d almost say, well, the Lord’s just “throwing him under the bus.”

Well, that all depends on your purpose—on the purpose that God has in mind with respect to us. Because in every circumstance like what we’re describing here this morning or going to describe, I guess, the devil has a purpose, but God does too. How many of you think His purpose is to hurt or harm or destroy? No, not at all. God has a loving and wonderful purpose in everything that He puts us through, even when it involves saying, all right, Devil, I’m gonna put take my hand away—I’m gonna take my protection away a little bit. Go at him, or go at her.

That’s not the kind of thing we sort of say, well, oh Lord, don’t do that. I want to be in that nice, safe, little comfortable spiritual womb here where I can just always feel warm and safe and loved and all of that. That’s kind of what we would like to have. But there’s a reality that God desires of every one of us, that you find expressed in the scriptures when there are references to our being overcomers.

Now how many of you remember all the letters to the various churches that are enumerated at the beginning of Revelation? Every single one of them points out the condition of the church in certain things. There’s a message of warning, of instruction, but in every case there is a promise at the end to “him that overcomes,” I will bless you in this way, I’ll do this, your name will be written in heaven, and 1,001 different things…not 1,000, but anyway, you get the idea. There are promises that are specifically for those who overcome.

And, I think it would be easy, the way we naturally as people in this world think, to suppose that God is even maybe being a little unfair, that He is kind of trying to segregate us based on our strength. I’m gonna put you in the deep end of the pool. We’re gonna see who’s got the goods. And, of course, to us that means we’re gonna find out who’s strong. Who’s really got the toughness?

You see that in human affairs. We’ve got one who’s been through the Marine Corps training here, at least. Obviously, from what I know about it, they don’t exactly look for sissies. They don’t look for people who cry mama at the first obstacle. They look for people that can absolutely stay the course, and no matter what is thrown at them, they’re up to it—they’re up to the challenge.

And that’s kind of the way human beings operate. We’re looking for the tough, and the strong and all of that. But how many of you think that’s what it’s about? No, I thank God it isn’t, because if God were looking for the strong among us, we might as well all, like I say, turn the lights out and go home. Because if you really stack yourself up against the things the Lord can allow the devil to throw at you, there isn’t a one of us that would stand.

So what is this overcoming about? What in the world is the Lord getting at? Why would He do such a thing? As I said, the point, I think, is to do something for His own. But I see the Lord doing something for us and for me. Because if we…how can we be over comers like has been so often said unless there’s something to overcome? That presupposes there are battles that need to be fought. That presupposes there are obstacles that we need to stand up to, and rise up to, and overcome if we are to be called overcomers.

You don’t stand there and shadow-box and say, man, I’m the king of the world, and you’ve never been in an actual ring against an opponent. That’s fantasy land. But I’ll tell you, there are real battles that have to be fought, and I guess the obvious—the most obvious example we have in the scriptures is our Lord Himself. Now here He was, anointed of God. He had come, he had lived a spotless life, but still just that of a man…not understood by most people. He was a man. He had all the limitations that we have in terms of natural strength, but yet there He was.

He presented Himself to His Father on the day of His baptism. He laid down His life. He was indwelt by His Father. The Spirit of God came upon Him in power. In theory, He had it all. He had everything that He needed. But yet, what was this about when the first order of business was actually to go into the wilderness and be tempted specifically? He didn’t just say, go out there to have a vacation. You need some down time here, Lord. You’re gonna have a busy schedule coming up. You need to go out and just rest. No. He went out there not to rest, but to fight.

And this was a course that His Father deliberately set before Him. Your place right now is to go into the wilderness, and You’re going there for a reason. That reason is You’re going to have to face the devil, and You’re going to be at your weakest. You’re not gonna…I suppose He drank water, but He fasted for 40 days. You think about absolutely…you think, oh man, I better bulk up for this one. I better get some extra protein. I better really get me some health drinks out there and make sure I have everything that I need if I’m gonna stand up to this. Oh boy! No. He was allowed to get to His weakest in order to face the devil.

And I’ll tell you, I see the Lord doing that in me in various small ways, certainly nothing like the Lord, but yet, the principle is the same. And we know that Jesus absolutely stood, not based upon any strength that He had, but He maintained a fixed confidence in what His Father had said! Everything He said, as we pointed out so many times, was simply to come back with the Word. There was a bedrock confidence, not in any strength that He had, but in the truthfulness of God’s Word! And upon that alone, He stood! And the devil absolutely lost the battle.

And you know, in order for Jesus Christ to be able to do what He has done for us, He had to be tried! You know, we’re told in the Prophets of a foundation that God was going to lay, and it was not only a stone, was it? But it was a ‘tried’ stone—a stone that had been put to the test. We’re gonna see if this stone has really got the goods, and then we’re gonna be able to absolutely build upon that. Praise God!

I believe with all my heart God is looking to make something of us more than we have been. But in order to do that, we are gonna have to stand up to some tests. We’re gonna have to have those times when the Lord says Satan has asked to sift you as wheat. Anybody know what I’m talking about here?

( congregation inaudible ).

Yeah. Now the fact that Satan had to ask…doesn’t that kind of give you a little bit of confidence that, hey, God’s got this thing managed? God has got it under control. Satan can’t just come and do as he pleases. You give yourself into God’s hands, you serve Him, you put your trust in Him, I’ll tell you, there’s a hand—there’s a divine hand around you. If Satan is allowed to get to us in any way to put us to the test, God’s gonna have to give him permission.

Satan could not do a thing with Jesus, he could not do a thing with Peter, he couldn’t do a thing with Job, without getting God’s permission! Thank God! That alone right there, that simple truth right there should give us always a confidence that God is in control. That means if the devil is having what seems to be a hay day, God is in control! Because God is absolutely doing something that is eternal, that cannot be destroyed by anything that Satan is allowed to do. Praise God!

Well, think about this. Praise the Lord. You think about who it is that overcomes. Is it the strong? Is it a case of, some of us have a greater will power than others? Some of us are more stubborn than others. Some of us are more…we’re just those kind of people that rise to the top, and everybody says, yes sir, or, yes ma’am, or whatever. Is that what God is absolutely looking for?

The truth of the matter is, it’s exactly the opposite! And that was, I think, part of the lesson that Peter had to learn. But let’s get this because the devil is always going to come and harp on your weaknesses and mine, and say, well, you just aren’t gonna stand up to the test. There’s nothing…there’s really no hope for you. Praise God! There is absolutely a solid ground for hope. Amen.

I’m looking for a scripture. All right, well let’s just go to 1st John chapter 5, and I’m gonna break into a thought. But the essence of what we need is right here. It says in verse 4, “…For everyone born of God overcomes the world.” (NIV). So there has to be…first of all, the foundation for overcoming and being able to stand up to the devil, is absolutely being born of God’s Spirit!

There is a miracle that has to change the heart. Something has got to be done down here. You and I aren’t smart enough, we’re not strong enough. Satan knows your weaknesses and mine. We live in bodies that long for the wrong things! And if God does not put something in here that is stronger than the pull of our nature, then we’re gonna fold every time. And Lord knows we fold enough as it is. But still, the only foundation for overcoming is absolutely being born of God’s Spirit.

There is a birth that takes place when faith comes. And actually that’s what he begins to say here. It says, “This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith.” See that’s the thing that God is looking for. You know, in these tests that we face, we don’t always succeed, do we? You look at the details of the tests and the things that God has put you through. Do you always come through unscathed? Yeah, I aced that one. It doesn’t always work out that way, does it?

But you know the victory…we sometimes think the victory is never falling in the mud, never messing up, never having anything go…oh, we just ought to leap from cloud, or from peak to peak, just absolutely acing every test. Oh, would that it were that way, but it isn’t. And yet the Lord wants the weakest among us to have a solid ground for hope. I tell you, my hope isn’t in me. What is faith about? Faith is not faith in me. Faith is not faith in faith. Faith is faith in God!

( congregational amens ).

My hope, this is a thought that came to me several times lately. I think I ought to put this on the wall somewhere. My hope is in the promise of a God who cannot lie, and in the saving power of a God who cannot fail! That’s the essence of faith. If that conviction is ever really born in our hearts, not just something we try to adhere to in our minds…this is something that is born in our hearts, a bedrock conviction, then I’ll tell you, it will hold us through every test whether we ace the test or whether we fall in the mud! There will be something there. There will be an anchor for our soul!

That’s exactly what Hebrews 6 describes, that kind of faith. There’s a hope that is an anchor for our soul that keeps the devil from ever really, really winning! And so in the process, God accomplishes many needful things in our lives even though they are ministered to us, if you will, by the hands of the devil himself. Yet, they serve God’s purposes.

I’m so thankful, and that is at the heart, I think, of the lesson that we see in this account. I sort of referred to it, but in Luke chapter 22 is the clearest account of what happened. And here we find the Lord actually warning Peter. You know, it’s good when the Lord lets us know what’s going on, but we need to have enough confidence in Him to know that it’s okay, even if we don’t know.

You see, that’s where faith holds. Faith doesn’t change with circumstances. It doesn’t change with the weather. It doesn’t change with how we feel. There is a conviction of who He is, and that our confidence and our hope is entirely in Him. You have that born in your heart, you’re gonna stand the test, one way or another.

But here is the Lord Himself warning Peter. He used his other name. “Simon, Simon, Satan has asked to sift you as wheat.” Oh, what a glorious ‘but’ follows that. “But I have prayed for you, Simon.” I have prayed…here’s the Lord…God actually took time to tell His Son to talk to Peter, but to actually tell Him, Son, Peter’s gonna need some help here. You need to pray. You need to actually intercede for Peter, because Peter’s gonna be in a dark place. He’s gonna be in a place of great discouragement. He’s gonna be in a place where it’s gonna seem like all has been lost! He needs help! And I’ll tell you, we see the God of Heaven taking time to point out a need in Peter, but to help and to provide the solution. Praise God!

Do you know we have that kind of a God today, who knows your name, knows what course, what place in your walk you are, what your need is today? And that same Lord is at the right hand of the Father, and what does it say He’s doing?

( congregational response ).

He’s interceding. He’s praying. He’s saying, my servant’s in a weak place right now. Oh Father, help them. Give them the strength that they need. Praise God! And so, the prayer was not that you would ace the test and absolutely come through with flying colors. This was actually a prayer that his faith would not fail, because that’s the bottom line.

As I say, we don’t always ace our tests, do we? Sometimes we rise to the occasion in God’s grace alone and we’re able to recognize the devil and throw off his attacks. And other times we don’t do so good…but the bottom line is faith. I’ll tell you, if we’ve got that faith begotten in us, we will come through, and we will grow, and we will become what the Lord has for us. And that was what the Lord had in mind here.

You can see, if you step back, you can see the devil saying, oh boy, here’s my chance. I have divine permission to probe Peter’s weaknesses, and I know what they are. Man, I’m gonna put him in a situation where a little girl is gonna say, you’re one of them. And he’s gonna say, oh no, I’m not. You think about this self-professed confidence that Peter had. And you think how easily he was put in a situation where he just…that just evaporated. His own strength was just not there. All of his confidence that he had was just worthless.

I pray, “…that your faith may not fail.” But see, here’s a little bit of a glimpse into what God’s design was, because what you see God doing, was God taking a fisherman and turning him into an apostle. That’s a ‘fur piece.’ That’s kind of like what the Lord is desiring to do in us, to take us from the total captivity to sin and darkness that we’re born into this world…I don’t care if you’re born in the church, and you outwardly have this good life, and you’re good and all that. You have the same nature as the worst person you can think of that shows up in the news doing some awful thing. We have the same need before God!

( congregational amens ).

Unless we are born of God’s Spirit, we have nothing! We have no hope in our own goodness, or our own anything, or our own heritage. We’re all gonna have to stand before God and give account for ourselves. But here’s God who has seen this man, and He sees all of his weaknesses.

He sees…and yet it’s not like God says I see possibilities in that one. Did God call you because of all the possibilities He sees in you? No. All He sees is impossibilities. And He’s the only one that can do the impossible. Salvation is impossible with us! But what is impossible with us, is possible with God. And so rather than saying, I see real possibilities in him. I’m gonna nurture him along. I’m gonna draw out all that stuff I see in him, and I’m gonna make him somebody. No!

Do you know what God has to do with us to make us worth anything? He’s got to get rid of all of that. He’s got to empty all of that. So somebody who’s already weak to start with, you got a head start. Don’t you be discouraged if you’re weak this morning. I’ll tell you, that is all the more reason just to stretch forth our hands and say, God, You have promised. That’s my hope. I see no reason in me to have one ounce of hope this morning. But oh, I put my confidence in You, and Your power, Your promise. You are able to do what You’ve said You can do. Praise God!

So here’s God, as I say, seeking to bring forth someone who would later be a pillar in the church, a teacher, someone who knows how to instruct others, someone who knows how to encourage others, not because he went to school and learned stuff in a classroom, but because he experienced some gut-wrenching stuff in his own life to where he could look people in the eye and say, I’ve been where you’re at. I know what it is to be full of fear, and failure, and regret, and all the things that attend what happens when we trust in our own strength and we get in the test. We absolutely will fall in the mud.

But oh, there’s a God, there is a foundation that’s been laid. If we ever get our feet planted on that, if God ever plants our feet upon that, we build upon that, we’ve got something that will hold us in the darkest storm. Folks, there are storms that are happening in lives right now. There are storms that are gonna be coming. But we don’t have to be afraid. We just need to wake up, grow up, learn God’s ways in these things.

And I certainly…I’m talking to myself. Man, it’s hard for me to get up here sometimes because I feel like I’m so desperately in need of what I’m saying. But that’s up to God. He knows. You know, it says in Hebrews…he talks about the basis for choosing, or God’s reason for choosing priests in the Old Testament from among men. Why did He do that? Why didn’t He just send angels down? They didn’t have any faults. They could tell them the real deal.

No. He picked men! Why? Because they could have compassion on the people. Well, why could they have compassion? Because they had the same weaknesses, the same needs. See, if God’s put me in any position at all, it isn’t because I’m anything, I’ll guarantee you. It’s because I know where you’re at. I feel the same things you feel. You might not think so, but I guarantee you I do.

And the Lord wanted Peter to come to that place where he could look people in the eye and say, we can be strong in the Lord. We can overcome. And we’re gonna overcome because of Him and not because of any strength. There was a time Peter could have said, I thought I was confident. Man, I believed with all my heart, I was gonna get it done, and I failed completely. But here I am to stand here and tell you that God was merciful to me.

( congregational amens ).

And I didn’t fail because what He put in my heart was still there. Praise God! So anyway, here’s God design. “…When you have turned back.…” That’s interesting. He kind of gives the story away, doesn’t He? If you’re gonna turn back, that means you’ve turned the wrong way to begin with. After you’ve fallen in the mud, Peter. “And when you have turned back…” Do what? “…Strengthen your brothers.”

I’ll tell you, everything God does in our lives, is not just so we can have this sweet little one-on-one deal with God going, it’s so that we can be members…well, we are members of one another. But it’s so that we can be effective members. It’s so that there’s something in me, something God has done in me, that can strengthen you! Something God’s done in you can strengthen me. We absolutely are gonna grow up together in God’s economy.

And so here’s the Lord seeking, knowing that this was necessary. If this was necessary for His Son—for God’s Son to go out and face the devil, and be tried and stand the test, don’t you think maybe it’s necessary for us, too, just a little bit? Can anybody identify this morning with being in a place where Satan’s desired you? You don’t have the feelings right now. Things aren’t really going the way you want, and you’re just kind of…you’re used to certain props emotionally, maybe. Or you’re looking for them, you’re measuring you spiritual life by those things. Man, I can open the Bible and it just jumps out at me, and everything’s great and wonderful. And you open the Bible and…it just stares back at you.

You know, God is gonna take out from our lives all of these props that we build for ourselves, until we’re gonna learn that He’s all we need, that there’s something that He puts in the heart of His children…there’s an anchor that reaches all the way into Heaven itself that’s able to hold us in the strongest storm. And the devil himself cannot undo what God is doing. That’s the greatest lesson—that’s one of the greatest lessons that we can learn in our Christian life. Well, of course, Peter didn’t get this at all, did he? “But he replied, Lord, I am ready to go with you to prison and to death.” Until the first little girl asks me about it.

( laughter ).

Wow! Talk about some misplaced confidence. How could a man ever be a real servant of God with that kind of delusional confidence? Oh, isn’t the Lord good? He doesn’t destroy our self-confidence to destroy us, but to give us the real thing, because He wants us to have what we really need. “Jesus answered…before the rooster crows today, you will deny three times that you know me.”