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Rainbow Divider
MCM Broadcast

TV Broadcast #1036

Sifted Like Wheat

August 12, 2012

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Transcript of message from TV Broadcast 1036 -- taken from Closed Captioning Text

— Brother Phil Enlow: 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.” (NIV). 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.” Well, of course, Jesus is arrested and Judas comes. He wasn’t in on this conversation when the Lord was talking to Peter. They seized him and they arrested him, and this is all in the middle of the night.

In verse 54, is it? It says, “Then seizing him, they led him away and took him into the house of the high priest. Peter followed at a distance. But when they had kindled a fire in the middle of the courtyard and had sat down together, Peter sat down with them. A servant girl saw him seated there in the firelight. She looked closely at him and said, This man was with him. But he denied it. Woman, I don’t know him.”

Oh, what happened so quickly to that strength? Have you ever been in that place where you just are all full of self confidence? You knew where you stood. What does that do to us with the respect to other people? Don’t we tend to look down our noses at failure? Do you think that’s what God wants out of His people? Or do you think He wants us to have a sense of compassion one for another, knowing that we are made of the same stuff? It doesn’t matter what we are, humanly speaking. We’re every one needy, helpless sinners, saved by one thing…the grace of almighty God and His sacrifice, His strength, His promise. Praise God! That’s all I want to trust in today.

So anyway it says, “A little later someone else saw him and said, You also are one of them. Man, I am not! Peter replied. About an hour later another asserted, Certainly this fellow was with him, for he is a Galilean.” He’d heard the guy talk. I was gonna say he had a southern accent, but in this case he had a northern accent, kind of like he was from New England or something. Whatever it was, he had a regional accent. I know you’re one of them. You’ve got a Galilean accent. You can’t hide.

“Man, I don’t know what you’re talking about!” In some of the other accounts, it says he called curses down. May God curse me if I’m one of them…just total panic, total failure, total…you put a label on it whatever you want. Then what happened? “Just as he was speaking, the rooster crowed.”

Has the rooster ever crowed in your life? You reached a certain point and you said, oh my God, what did I do? Oh Lord, I was so confident. I knew, I said I would never do that again. Oh God. Then you just feel full of self condemnation. You know, I was thinking about all this…and just thinking, you know, our reaction to something like that is, oh God is sure disappointed in me. I should have been strong enough. I should have been this. I should have been that.

Do you think that’s really the way it is? Do you think God is disappointed in your weakness? I mean, get real! Doesn’t He understand completely that that’s what we are? God wasn’t trying to grind him down and take away hope here. God wasn’t expecting anything other than what happened. Why? Because Peter was trusting in himself. And so what God was looking for was a heart that would come to that place where he’d say, okay I get it Lord—I get it. I need you.

You think about what Jesus went through. Boy, if there’s ever a witness to me of the reality that Jesus had emptied Himself when He left heaven and was living as a man, it was the garden. I mean, you think about it. If He was…as so many people portray Him, if He was like the Son of God who just had His own power to do whatever needed to be done, then He was play-acting.

He wasn’t play-acting. There was an agony, a genuine agony that filled His soul. He knew He did not have the strength to do what He was facing. He knew it in the depths of His soul. There was a desperate reaching out. Oh God, I can’t handle this. Oh God, I need You.

Think of the lesson in that for you and for me. God, who do we think we are? If you’re sitting there, oh God, I should have been stronger, I should have been stronger. Get real! No, the lesson is not you should have been stronger. It’s oh God, I need You. I should have been putting my hope in You and trusting in You. That’s where the failure was. It wasn’t in His failure to be strong. We’re not strong. We are absolutely operating in a realm that is beyond human ability and we need God.

But here’s Jesus crying out. You can go back in verse 39 and following and He tells them to pray so you won’t fall into temptation. Another account says the spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak. You don’t understand that you just don’t have the strength to back up all this confidence you claim to have.

But Jesus understood exactly what was happening. He was totally in tune and so he cried out, “Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.” Then what happened in verse 43? An angel came and strengthened Him. Do you think He had His own strength? Do you think He didn’t need anything, this was just a play, a charade? No, this was real. He knew that by going to His heavenly Father and crying out for strength, that God would see the cry of His heart and answer.

And He will do the same for you and me. It doesn’t mean we’re gonna see the angel, but I’ll tell you, God…there are angels that encamp around about them that fear Him to deliver. And I’ll tell you, many times haven’t you felt strengthened? Haven’t you felt something that all of a sudden you felt a strength you didn’t have a moment ago?

( congregational response ).

Maybe somebody else prayed. Maybe you prayed and all of a sudden, “I feel different.” I’ll tell you, there is a God who can dispatch an angel, and you can’t see what’s going on in the Spirit. But there is literal, divine strength, a measure of His Spirit that can be dumped in your soul and ministered to you and you can have strength in Him that you don’t have in yourself. Praise God! I can have strength that I don’t have.

“An angel from heaven appeared to him and strengthened him. And being in anguish, he prayed more earnestly.” Actually he took the strength that God gave him and used it to pray some more! And so anyway, it was on the heels of this that all of the rest of this transpired. “…The rooster crowed. The Lord turned and looked straight at Peter.”

Oh…do you think the Lord was looking like He was disgusted? Do you think He was filled with contempt…you poor, weak sucker, you. What’s the matter with you? You should have had enough strength. No! There wasn’t even a hint of that. There was compassion. There was love. He’d already said, I prayed for you. When you are converted, strengthen your brethren. He saw the course of what was happening, but he sure wanted the lesson to get across. Peter, you were so full of confidence. You thought you could handle it. Remember what I told you, Peter.

Oh, I’ll tell you…what did Peter say? What did Peter do? He went outside and wept bitterly. Have you ever done that? Have you even been in a place where you just felt so conscious of your own weakness and failure, that all you could do was just…oh my God, how could I have done such a thing?

But you know, I see something in that that should give us hope. This wasn’t something Peter could just pass off. Why? Because his faith was still there. That’s why he cared. That’s why this hit him so hard. This is why it mattered. This is the same Peter that when Jesus said, who do men say that I the son of man am? He looked Jesus in the eye without a moment’s hesitation said, You’re the Christ, the Son of the living God. That was a bedrock conviction as to who Jesus was.

The implication of all that is, my hope is in You. You’re the Savior. You’re the One who is to come. I am entirely with You—I believe in who You are. Who is he that overcomes the world? He that believes that Jesus is the Son of God. See, this is a heart conviction that absolutely changes the course of a person’s life. When you know who He is, you know why He came, you know that it’s in His power to rescue you from a sinking ship that this world is, and your hope is in Him.

So ultimately, even though Peter felt the bitterness of his failure, yet he knew who Jesus was. That could not…all that the devil had accomplished up to this point could not shake that conviction. He didn’t say, well, that didn’t work out. I’ll just go follow somebody else. That’s what some of the people did when he said some hard things. They said, who can hear this kind of stuff, this is crazy. I liked His teaching for a while there, but this is nuts. I’m not gonna follow Him anymore.

Jesus said, will you also go away? Who was it that spoke up? It was Peter. He said, Lord to whom shall we go? You’re the One who has the Words of eternal life. So in spite of the failure, there was still a bedrock foundation in his heart and in his life, and it held him through a pretty terrible storm.

Have you ever experienced that, when the Lord has brought you through something and you thought all was lost? I know Peter felt that. I mean, Jesus went on into the tomb. He was crucified. He was buried. A couple of days went by, and there’s Peter still thinking about it. Oh my God, what have I done? Is there any hope? But the desperation that was in his soul was still, I know who He is. That conviction never left him for one second. He knew where his hope lay.

You think about the mercy and the love of God. When Jesus was raised from the tomb, there were angels that were involved in this and communicated with several, and it was an angel. And God pulled an angel aside and said, you know, I’ve got a message that I need you to deliver. There’s gonna be some weeping women at the tomb. I don’t remember whether there was one or three, or who this was said to exactly. But anyway, they’re gonna be there, and I want you to deliver the message, He’s not here, He’s risen.

And I want you to tell them to go…He’s gonna go out ahead of you. He’s risen from the dead, but he is going ahead of you to Galilee. You need to meet him in Galilee. But you think about the attention to detail of our heavenly Father who said, don’t just tell them that. Make sure you say Peter’s name. I want Peter to know.

I know Peter’s in a low place right now. I’m not the least bit offended that he failed. I knew he was gonna fail. I knew he didn’t have what it took. He didn’t know that. But I knew it, and I want him to know that this hasn’t changed My love for him in the least. I love him just as much, and I’m gonna bring him through this, and when he’s done he’s going to be a strength to My people.

And so the message was, go tell my disciples and Peter that I’m going ahead of them into Galilee and to meet me there. And of course, in process of time that happened. But oh, I think of the blessing of God’s mercy and God’s grace and the foundation that was laid in Peter’s heart and Peter’s life. Has that foundation been laid in you? I’ll tell you, if it has, God will never let you go.

( congregational amens ).

God will bring you through some pretty hard places in your life. Some of them will be to show you that you don’t have it in yourself, that you need Him. But oh, that’s not to destroy you, that is to absolutely bring you to a place where there’s real strength, because if we had to depend on our strength and ability, we’d just be playing church. We need Him. You need Him.

( congregational amens ).

But He has promised to be in our midst. It doesn’t matter if you’re weak or not. You know, I found myself wondering and thinking about this…about the transformation that there was in Peter over the next few weeks. Because it wasn’t very long before Pentecost came, and God’s Spirit that had once come down and rested upon Jesus, now came down and rested upon the church. And who was it that stood up in the midst?

( congregational response ).

It was Peter, the same guy that a few weeks ago had been in a pit of despair, suddenly stood up with great boldness. This same guy who had cowered before a maid, and denied that he even knew the Lord, stood up and said, you crucified him, but God has made him Lord and Christ.

I’ve often wondered if some of the people that he had denied the Lord to, was in the crowd that day. Wait a minute. Isn’t that the guy that just told me…called curses down on his head if he even knew the Lord? And look at what’s going on here. I don’t get this. I’ll tell you, that’s what God can do. When our lives are given into His hands, and we put our hope and our trust in Him…see this is not a natural enterprise we’re a part of. This is totally supernatural. If it is not Christ in us, then what is it? It’s just playing church. We need Him.

Just a couple of Scriptures to illustrate what came out of this. Look at 1st Peter. Look at just some quick examples of what Peter was able to say with real conviction as a result of what he’d been through. Verse 3 of 1st Peter chapter 1, it’s a familiar scripture. “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ!” See, he still had that same conviction as to Who He was and what He was about.

“In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade—kept in heaven for you…” Now listen to this. “…Who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time.”

Oh, talk about a ringing conviction for somebody who was weeping bitterly a few years before this. But notice what he pointed too. This wasn’t this great hope for all of you who are strong enough in your wills to stand up to the test! No! This is shielded by God’s power. He understood that what got him through was God’s mercy, and God’s grace, and the prayers of the Savior, that he would have something to hang on to when everything else was gone, the faith was still there. He knew who Jesus was. His hope was still there. And he had experienced God’s mercy at his lowest moment.

I’ll tell you, that’s worth everything. That’s why he goes on and says what he does. “In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed.”

Now you think about that. What value do you believe…do you think that Peter set on faith after he’d come through this? He said, man that’s worth everything. You can have all the gold in the world. I’ll take the faith that He’s put in my heart because that held me in my darkest hour. It gave me hope. It gave me confidence. I experienced God’s love and mercy! He wasn’t disgusted with me! He didn’t throw me in the trash, He loved me. And He taught me and He brought me into a larger place. Now I serve Him not because of my zeal, but I serve Him because of His strength and His grace. Praise God!

Look at one other scripture, and I think that this is sufficient. Chapter 5…his instruction to the people in verse 8. “Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm …” in your self-confidence? Wait a minute. “…Standing firm in the faith, because you know that your brothers throughout the world are undergoing the same kind of sufferings.”

Now what’s his confidence here in? “And the God…” of occasional grace? Maybe it’s enough. Maybe it’s not. No. “…God of all grace…” There is divine power that enables His children to stand and to overcome! It’s my confidence in Him that will get me through and not…and He gave me that to begin with by grace…it’s His strength. My confidence is in His power, not in mine.

“The God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong.” Could Peter say that with a little bit of experience behind it?

( congregational response ).

Oh yeah. He knew! He experienced that time when God stepped in and made him strong, singled him out, called…made him know that he was still a part, that he was still loved. Praise God!

He’s gonna be doing that for us in many ways in our lives. Don’t you be surprised when it happens. But let’s just continue to stand fast and to put our hope in Him. See, here’s the thing. If we succeed, praise God that God has given us strength to overcome something. If we mess up and fall in the mud, we learn something, we grow. But underneath, it’s still those everlasting arms. That is my hope this morning. I hope it’s yours.

But I hope maybe it explained some things that you might be experiencing from time to time. Maybe you’re one right now where the Lord has to say, Satan has asked to sift you as wheat. He asked me permission to try you. But don’t be afraid. I am with you. I am praying for you. I put something in there the devil can’t touch. He may absolutely bring you down, but I’m gonna bring good out of it.

That’s not a prescription for us to say, oh well, it doesn’t matter, I’ll just fall in the mud. No, no. If you love Him and if He’s put that reality in your heart, you’re gonna feel like Peter did when you fall in the mud. And when He lifts you up in mercy anyway, you’re gonna love Him in a deeper way than you’ve ever loved Him before, because you know that it’s by His grace and His mercy and His love that you stand. Praise God!

So here is Christ. After you have suffered a little while, God, “…Will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast. To him be the power for ever and ever.” Praise God! That’s my hope this morning. I pray that it’s yours. Praise the Lord!