We are amazed as we visit a different church most Sundays. The themes and sermons build on each other. What is great is when we keep talking about a sermon or remember points about it weeks afterwards. And the sermon we heard on February 25, 2017 was one such message. We discovered a church close to us when we were staying in Davis Bayou Gulf Seashore National Park in Ocean Springs, Mississippi (link goes to our Travel Blog about our time there).
Sometimes, I can just sense the sermon is one where I want to take detailed notes. And that I did! So here are my notes and feeble attempt to recreate this wonderful sermon that speaks clearly to us! I will have a post soon about our new physical health journey that plays into this sermon – which might be why it speaks so loudly to us.
All In (sermon series)
(Sermon theme) ”We overestimate how good things are between us and God”
The Pastor started by sharing how he overestimated his ability to participate in an exercise class last winter. He and his wife decided to join the Y and “get into shape.” He read about a spinning class, you know, you “just ride” a stationary bicycle. That can’t be too hard, can it, he asked? If you know what he was talking about, you know he was in for a rude awakening. He and his wife signed up for the classes – but they were told they needed to take the beginners class first to learn how it goes. He joked with his wife, “really? Learn how to ride a stationary bike?” But they complied.
At first, the instructor seemed so kind and sweet….then she turned into a drill sergeant! After a time of being run ragged, he glanced at his wife, who was also also sweating profusely, then he looked at his watch. He was going to say, “let’s sneak out.” What a shock to see only 5 minutes had passed and the class was 45 minutes long! Needless to say, they had to finish it because they would have had to pull their bikes out in front of the class, then EVERYONE would know they were quitters. He just had to endure the pain! His point was how we all tend to overestimate our abilities. Not just physical, but spiritual as well. That usually means we then have to go though a period of testing, just like he did. And there will more than likely be pain! Was he “all in” for the exercise class? He thought he was – but once in it, he realized he wasn’t ready for it.
Much like what the disciples went through, in particular, Peter. Peter was always ready to jump into whatever task was at hand. But was he “all in” as a disciple? He thought he was. Peter experienced a defining moment, like we all do – we either experience a spiritual break through or a break down. We either move forward or backwards.
Our text was Luke 22:31-34, 54-62, and is noted below.
First, note that Jesus is NOW calling him Simon, whereas when HE first called him, he renamed him Peter and said “Upon this rock, I will build my church.” So this tells us that Simon Peter had “regressed” or is about to fail his first test. Jesus tried to warn Peter he wasn’t ready, or wasn’t really “all in” as Peter thought.
Luke 22:31-34 ”Simon, Simon, behold, Satan demanded to have you, that he might sift you like wheat, but I have prayed for you that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned again, strengthen your brothers.” Peter said to him, “Lord, I am ready to go with you both to prison and to death.” Jesus said, “I tell you, Peter, the rooster will not crow this day, until you deny three times that you know me.”
Does Peter sound a bit optimistic about his stand for the Lord? Previously, the disciples had been arguing who was going to be the greatest (back up to Luke 22:24). We don’t really know who was the instigator, but some scholars think it was Peter because of being named the Rock and how he always speaking without thinking – and then says, “LORD I AM READY TO GO WITH YOU BOTH TO PRISON AND TO DEATH.” We know how this turns out, but, first let’s notice the Lord reminded him of times past, how he did take care of them:
Luke 22:35-37 And he said to them, “When I sent you out with no moneybag or knapsack or sandals, did you lack anything?” They said, “Nothing.” He said to them, “But now let the one who has a moneybag take it, and likewise a knapsack. And let the one who has no sword sell his cloak and buy one. For I tell you that this Scripture must be fulfilled in me: ‘And he was numbered with the transgressors.’ For what is written about me has its fulfillment.” And they said, “Look, Lord, here are two swords.” And he said to them, “It is enough.”
Then the TEST, Peter now tested:
Luke 22:54-62 Then they seized him (the Lord) and led him away, bringing him into the high priest’s house, and Peter was following at a distance. And when they had kindled a fire in the middle of the courtyard and sat down together, Peter sat down among them. Then a servant girl, seeing him as he sat in the light and looking closely at him, said, “This man also was with him.” But he denied it, saying, “Woman, I do not know him.” And a little later someone else saw him and said, “You also are one of them.” But Peter said, “Man, I am not.” And after an interval of about an hour still another insisted, saying, “Certainly this man also was with him, for he too is a Galilean.” But Peter said, “Man, I do not know what you are talking about.” And immediately, while he was still speaking, the rooster crowed. And the Lord turned and looked at Peter. And Peter remembered the saying of the Lord, how he had said to him, “Before the rooster crows today, you will deny me three times.” And he went out and wept bitterly.
Now let’s look back at Luke 22:31 “Simon, Simon, Satan has asked to sift all of you as wheat.” The pastor then demonstrated how this was done back in the day, when you go back to the original Greek word for sift – It is actually to “beat” the wheat!
I decided to look up this process as it is so important to understand what is actually happening. This is actually a common theme in a number of Bible Studies and other sermons, but this was the first time we had it so clearly, and maybe painfully, taught us! Anyway, I loved the visual he created for us. He actually had a fistful of wheat and began to “beat” it on the ground. Here is a picture and some further explanation. According to an article, sifting wheat back in the day is a two step process: The first is manual threshing, and the second is winnowing (which he also demonstrated).
Threshing: The first step in the process of sifting wheat is to loosen the chaff from the edible grain, which is called threshing. The old fashioned way to do this is to spread the wheat onto a floor made from stone, concrete, or tamped earth.
Winnowing: The next step is called winnowing, where the loosened chaff is removed from the grain. The old fashioned way of doing this was to throw the grain in the air, the lighter chaff would be blown off by even a decent breeze. The heavier grains would fall back to the ground below where they were thrown. The wheat gets sifted, so the hard outer shell can be broken through and removed. You want the actual wheat to remain and nothing extra. As you can imagine, that’s the same process a person has to go through. God breaks down the outer shell of a person, so the real seed of life can remain.
WOW, no wonder our trials hurt so much….
Back to the sermon
Before Peter can be the leader, the Lord still needs to do a work in him before he can fulfill his destiny. The Lord had to see Peter humbled before he was ready to be built up as the leader of the new church. So when you build a house, you have to ask, how deep do you want your footers? If you live in a trailer or manufactured home, they are put on cinderblocks. And we know they can blow away in a severe storm….but skyscrapers have deep, deep, deep footers. We were asked, “how deep are the footers in your life? Are they big enough for the floor plans God has for your life?”
Back to V 31. Satan is a tool for Jesus. To sift wheat, remember it is shaken and beaten violently. Then the grain is thrown into the air, the lighter chaff (or those on cinderblock footers) are blown away with a breeze! Satan asked permission to shake us, and to beat us until our grain falls off the stalk. That’s what Satan wants. Ouch, and Jesus said go for it! Much like Job. God knew Job was faithful and would survive, but Job didn’t know it! So in our painful moments, we want to give up!
Two results of shifting: detaches grain of wheat from the stalk. Then it prepares the grain of wheat into something “useful.” (IMPORTANT teaching point)
Strong winds blow chaff away but heavy grain falls straight to the ground!
V32-Jesus in essence said, “I have prayed for you, when you turn back, you will strengthen your brothers!” After the threshing and winnowing, the grain becomes energy for us, just as Peter now has the energy to be an encourager! Just like the wheat is a source of energy.
From John 21:15, after the Lord is resurrected, “…Peter do you love me more than these?” “Yes, Lord, you know I love you!” “Jesus said, ‘feed my sheep.’” Three times he asked him. Because he has been sifted, He can now feed His sheep. God can’t use you fully until God has broken you and turned you into something “useful!”
Was satan’s purpose accomplished or was Jesus’s purpose when you went through a similar defining moment?
Are we just detached or can we now see how God can use us after our trials?
Do you need to be restored? Or redeemed? (time for the alter call.)
There is a purpose in the pain.
Are we living in a way we can encourage the brothers and sisters in our faith?
Sometimes we question whether we are really living for the Lord. If we are following Him or asking Him to join us. Many times in our doubting, the Lord clearly shows us how He is using us. And one way is to be encouragers as we travel about. Our first sermon when we arrived in Florida for our winter travels was just that perfect sermon to help us prepare for what was lying ahead in our travels. (Oh where are my notes? It was so powerful and needs to be memorialized like this one.) We know we fall short, but we do hope and pray, we are ALL IN for the duration of what the Lord has for us!
And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him. Colossians 3:17