2009 Year End  Robinson’s Kerusso

                                            “to proclaim, to preach, to publish”


“Sifted Like Wheat” study  (revised 7/11)

dan robinson

hook ministries, inc.



. . . Judas, one of the twelve, appeared with a great crowd armed with

swords and staves,1 sent by the chief priests and Jewish elders.

                                                         Matthew 26:47 J.B. Phillips N.T.



At this, Simon Peter, who had a sword, drew it and slashed at the high

priest’s servant, cutting off his right ear. The servant’s name was Malchus.

                                                             John 18:10 J.B. Phillips N.T.



All this time Peter was sitting outside in the courtyard, and a maidservant

came up to him and said, “Weren’t you too with Jesus, the man from

Galilee?” But he denied it before them all, saying, “I don’t know what

you’re talking about.” Then when he had gone out into the porch, another

maid caught sight of him and said to those who were there, “This man

was with Jesus of Nazareth.” And again he denied it with an oath—

“I don’t know the man!” A few minutes later those who were standing

about came up to Peter and said to him, “You certainly are one of them,

it’s obvious from your accent.” At that time he began to curse and

swear—“I tell you I don’t know the man!” Immediately the cock crew,

and the words of Jesus came back into Peter’s mind—“Before the cock

crows you will disown me three times.”


And he went outside and wept bitterly.

                                                  Matthew 26:69–75 J.B. Phillips N.T.




Peter was as unlikely as they come


If you were asked to lay odds as to which of the twelve Jesus would have chosen to spearhead a young toddler church, who would you put your money on? Good question, one the boys tried hammering out among themselves. It’s no wonder Jesus shifts gears and steps in to set the record straight with the whole servant/leader paradigm.2 Keep in mind, though, He does have a batting order, so again, who would your pick be? My knee-jerk response is John, the disciple Jesus loved.3 Not that the Master didn’t care for the others, but there was a special closeness John experienced, an intimacy he enjoyed that really touches my heart.


Peter was different. He was a slippery, impulsive fish, not the careful, calculating type given to weighing pros and cons before making his move. Chess definitely wasn’t his game. No, baseball was more Peter’s style. Swing often; swing hard even if it means striking out. I’m thinking Babe Ruth right now. The Babe struck out twice as many times as hitting home runs, but when the man connected that ball went flying! That’s Peter. All too often Bible teachers zoom in on the fisherman’s deficiencies and blunders, his bent toward “foot-in-mouth disease,”4 while forgetting how much the man loved Jesus. Being first off the line is the impulse of his heart.


                                                                                                                              Jesus affected him that way.



But didn’t Peter deny knowing Jesus?


Of course he did, but let’s take a couple of steps back and get the cart and the horse in the right order. This again is one of those places where fools rush in to point out that Peter caved before a servant-girl when rabbi Jesus is cuffed and taken in for questioning. You remember. And they paint a picture of an elephant going into a full-blown panic attack at the sight of a puny little mouse. Nice try, but we’re missing something and we’re missing it in a big way. What about the drama in the garden where Judas shows up with “a great crowd” armed to the hilt with swords and clubs? Peter’s reflexes kick in and he’s ready to take on the whole lot of them, sword in hand. If anyone’s going to make a grab for Jesus, it’ll be over his dead body!


By the time we get to the high priest’s courtyard so much has played out for Peter & Company, why don’t we step into his sandals for a minute? Being with Jesus for the last three years has redefined everything, and I mean everything for this fisherman. Radical is the word. For the first time in his sweaty, blue collar existence Peter had value. Jesus became life to him, his identity and magnetic north. He connected the dots. How many times had hostile crowds tried taking Jesus out, but He shrugged it off like so much dust in the wind? The Son of Man spoke like no one else, demonstrating the kind of authority that made the powers of hell quake in their boots! Now they’re leading Him off like a common criminal. What do you do with that?


What do you do when the bottom drops out and there’s no wind in your sails? What do you think when the One you’ve placed all your hopes and expectations in deflates like a flat tire and the total investment of your heart goes belly up? What happens when it feels like you’ve lost your anchor and sense of direction? 



We forget, don’t we?


We forget, or maybe we never really felt the left hook/overhand right combination that dropped Peter for the count. Alright so maybe boxing’s not your thing, but tell me, do you know what it’s like to take a hit you didn’t see coming, to be dazed and confused, not sure where and even who you are? That’s Peter in the courtyard.


How many circuits are tripped when you get blind-sided on the highway? The car rolls and your next point of contact is with the doctor who tells you the daughter riding in the passenger’s seat was DOA. It was her birthday and the anticipation of sharing her special time together had you so consumed it was all you could think about. Now this. THIS! Nothing, absolutely nothing exists but a heart that screams in aching, bottomless solitude. That’s you for sure, and it’s Peter in spades.


Rivers of sweat sting swollen eyes in this surreal moment measured by a pounding heart as a man whose soul has turned inside out struggles in vain to warm thick, calloused hands by a fire outside the high priest’s residence. What happened? What’s going on? Who are these people? What do they want with me? So many, too many questions . . . questions within, questions without, but answers? There aren’t any. “What’s the matter with you people? Don’t you get it? For cryin’ out loud, I don’t know the man, OK?” And against the backdrop of nameless faces and wagging tongues amidst ever mounting tension . . .


                                                                                                                                                              A cock crows.



And the bottom drops out


It does, and Peter hits the rewind button.


Luke tells us, “The Lord turned and looked at Peter.”5 Just when our impetuous brother thought he couldn’t get any lower and Murphy’s Law had seemingly done its worst, Peter finds himself cut in places he didn’t know existed. “You’re going to deny Me three times” severs that soul/spirit, joints and marrow connection and one journeyman angler realizes he can’t tread water.6 The thoughts and intentions of his heart had been laid bare releasing a wellspring of bitter tears as Peter looks back and remembers. He remembers a lot.


Jesus changed everything


The day Andrew chased Peter down insisting; “We’ve found the Messiah!” segues to that private place where a line is drawn marking permanent boundaries in this Jewish fisherman’s heart while doing a number on his head. “You shall be called the Rock.”7 It’s not in Peter and he knows it. This is one of those creative God moments where He speaks into existence what had never been. It’s not in Peter; it’s Jesus. His presence in this simple, uneducated nobody’s life changes him for good and forever.


Along with Jesus’ other students, Peter was accustomed to setting his alarm with a view toward mapping out tomorrow according to what seems best to him. Alright, so maybe there was an employer for one or more of them, a boss who called the shots, but the boys would still be bent toward me, myself and I as they put one foot in front of the other. Jesus changes all that. His presence at the helm kept them off balance, if you know what I mean. They never know what’s coming next. So when the twelve clear the cobwebs over their morning cup of Joe you can bet the question they routinely kick around is, “I wonder what Jesus is doing today?” Why not? His presence and His word re-framed their personal borders and set the pace.


Always.



                                               We’re talking direction and dependence here.


The twelve got used to their lives being ordered—not like the feel of Rome’s iron foot or the condescending attitudes of the scribes and Pharisees who looked down and talked down to them. With Jesus it was different. He didn’t need a heavy hand or a heavy foot since . . . well, He was right. Jesus was always right and His disciples knew it. They saw. They experienced His rightness. Everything the Master said came with genuine humility and definitive authority. Everything He did had substance. Nothing was forced. He was the Master of each moment in every situation and those who followed looked to Jesus as the place where the dots connected and life came together.



The call to follow


“Now as Jesus was walking by the Sea of Galilee, He saw two brothers, Simon who was called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea; for they were fishermen. And He said to them, ‘Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men.’ Immediately they left their nets and followed Him.”8


It’s like it was yesterday. The call was real and the call was specific. “Why me?” or “Where are we going?” aren’t questions you ask when your heart is the target, not at first. Peter had been chosen and he knew it even if he didn’t know why. So what’s the big deal seeing as lots of young men in the Middle Eastern world of that time were invited to participate in some sort of hands on apprenticeship? Not by Jesus they weren’t. His call was unique as He was unique. And who knew unless you were one of a select minority with an inside track to the camel-haired Baptist who identified the Nazarene carpenter as one whose shoes he couldn’t stoop to untie, “the lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world.”9 Worthy is the Lamb. Amen.



So much for Peter


He remembers a night on the water when they came up empty. No fish means no paycheck in his business, but there’s one consolation. If you can’t catch fish, call it a day and catch a few “z’s.”10 The thought of his bed is sounding really good and in one fisherman’s mind he’s all but laid his head down for some well earned rest. Then Jesus shows up and parks his backside in Peter’s boat. “Hey Pete, I’ve got an idea. How about we go fishing today?” Go fishing? GO FISHING? He’s gotta be nuts! “We’ve been out all night, Lord, and we got skunked. Besides, I’m beat, man, but if that’s what you want . . . OK, we’ll do it.” And you know the story.

Peter blinks and you talk about fish? The nets bulge with their catch and begin to split. The crew hits the panic button, calling out to their boys across the way. “Over here, man, and make it quick!” It feels like forever before help arrives, but these guys are pros who’ve done this in their sleep. They pull together and before our guys know it they’re . . . No it can’t be. The weight of all the fish they’ve caught is sinking their boats—both of them! Talk about above and beyond what any fisherman could possibly ask or think!11


It’s all they can do to get back to unload the day’s catch and that’s when it hits Peter. He sees Jesus and he sees himself like Isaiah in the presence of God’s glory.12 Forget the fish. This just got a whole lot bigger than anything Peter had ever seen or touched, anything Peter had ever been touched by. “Keep away from me, Lord, I’m a sinful mess!” Bull’s eye. Simon and his angler friends have just been ambushed by grace! It isn’t about him and it isn’t about them. It’s about Jesus, what He’s doing, His calling, His claim on them.


“Don’t get it twisted, boys.

From now on you’ll be going for a different catch. You’ll be catching men.”


And when they get back to dock, they leave everything and follow Him.13



There’s something about being close to Jesus


It gets Peter all stirred up; he says and does things. More than once the disciples found themselves in over their heads. Father and Son planned it that way. More than once it involved a boat, water and a storm. In this particular instance Jesus wasn’t with His men, not in the boat anyhow.14 The wind was against them and the waves nearly capsized their fishing vessel. (Anyone who’s been on the water under those conditions, at night especially, will empathize hands down.) It’s enough to make a grown man come apart at the seams.


Driving rain and squinted eyes make for poor visibility and they see what appears to be someone, a man, and he’s walking on the water. That’ll drop your teeth! The disciples think it’s a ghost—not that they’d run into any disembodied spirits before—but when a man goes walking where men don’t normally walk it must be a ghost, right? “Don’t worry,” Jesus assures them. “It’s Me.”


Now think with me for a minute. Who do you know that would talk about going overboard under such adverse conditions? They’d have to be nuts, totally gone, or they’d have to have seen Jesus. Sure, and this is where the naysayers are quick to cry, “O ye of little faith,” because Peter starts to go down. What’s that about? OK, so the man messed up. He let wind that was blowing rain and hair in his face while forcing him sideways get to him, and yes, fear put a chokehold on our fisherman friend. But guess what? Jesus was there.


                        And we come down on Peter while eleven men are still in the boat!


Again, what’s that about? One steps out and the rest play it safe. Did you ever think that God was targeting Peter, that this might be a strategic part of his discipleship, his spiritual formation? Have you considered the benefit to the other men, or to you? Peter had to learn, and so do we that the nearness of Jesus changes everything. He didn’t let Peter sink and He preserved the others, so chew on that a while.



Light from heaven


“Who does everyone say that I am?”


Now there’s a question and it’s an easy one. Jesus had people talking, which means opinions as to who He is are legion. “Some say you’re the Baptist.” “Yeah, and the guys on the east side are sure that you’re Elijah.” “You hear Elijah, I hear Jeremiah and Bartholomew says pick a prophet, any prophet. Levi’s been inundated with so many names he’s lost count.” Popular opinion being what it is, Jesus is this, that, or the other deceased somebody who’s come back to make a splash for God—and boy has He ever! But you could hear a pin drop when Jesus opens this can of worms:


                                                                                  “And who do you say that I am?”


I wasn’t there (obviously) so this is 100% conjecture on my part, but I can imagine how deafening the silence would have been. Sitting around the fire, one man looks at another, then another. Who’s going to speak? No one wants to get the pop quiz question wrong, do they? The Master Himself parts the stillness of night air with His question like Moses at the Red Sea. A select band of hungry, yet relatively green, apprentices was riding the crest of the biggest wave they, or anyone, had ever seen or heard of. WHO WAS JESUS REALLY?


“You are the Christ,” Peter ventures, the hope of all things Jewish.


The hope of all things period.


Abraham’s promised seed, the hope of all nations,15 had invaded their darkness with the light of His life while giving form and substance to the Law and the prophets, to the feasts and holy days, and now in this moment, is literally blowing them away. Yeshua Ha’Mashiach.16 You’d have to be Jewish and standing along side these men to appreciate the impact of the moment. Seeing what they had seen, hearing what they’d heard honed a fine edge to hopes and anticipations that were centuries old.17 Now here they are and there He is.


                                                                                            “The Son of the living God.”


We get jaded. Those who count themselves as viable members of the Body of Christ may, in fact, recite verbatim the Apostles Creed, “I believe in God the Father Almighty, Creator of heaven and earth. I believe in Jesus Christ, His only Son, our Lord,” etc. but what in the world does it mean? What did it mean for those whose hopes and suspicions were confirmed that day? How do you even begin to wrap your brain around the fact that you’ve had a face-to-face, Man to man encounter with the living God? You don’t, not at first. You can’t possibly. Your heart takes the first hit and your brain catches up later . . . sort of.


“Flesh and blood has not revealed this to you.”


That’s the blessing, Simon Bar-jona. No man pointed this out to you and no way did your own cognitive processes lead you to this conclusion. It can’t happen. The world as it is cannot and will not come to know God by way of its wisdom and insight since no one fully and intimately knows the Son except the Father, and vice versa.18 The bottom line? Apart from a divine epiphany in a man or a woman’s spirit we’ll be out of the loop and totally clueless. Imagine the wonder in Peter’s heart when he knew that he knew.19



But what he didn’t know . . .


Or should I say what he didn’t want to hear was any talk of death. It’s staggering to imagine that on the heels of the greatest revelation ever given and ever received is the worst news imaginable. How can you come off, “You are the Christ” and all that goes with it then get hit with talk of rejection, suffering and death? No way! It won’t and it can’t fly because death spells the end and Jesus is just getting off the ground! Momentum with the people is building and you’re pulling the plug? Hey, that’s what it looks like and it’s definitely what it feels like. What Peter didn’t know, or want to hear, was the kingdom and the cross go hand-in-glove.

Get inside Peter’s head then feel his heart. How much he heard of Jesus’ third day resurrection speech is anyone’s guess. What wasn’t about to happen was any more talk of pain or executions, not if he had anything to say about it. This is where love steps in and becomes a human roadblock. “God forbid, Lord. No way this is going down!” With fire in His eyes the Master picks His shots with precision. “Out of My way, Satan!” That stops him cold. Peter must have felt like he just got his head lopped off. The last thing he wants to be is a stumbling block, yet in the wake of divine revelation blessed Simon Bar-jona plays right into the devil’s hand.


                                      And in the high priest’s courtyard he does it again.



Satan makes demands


Hours before His arrest Jesus confronts Peter head on. “Simon, listen to Me! Satan has demanded permission to sift you like wheat.”20 Now there’s a kick in the teeth. With so much brewing, so much talk of a new covenant sealed in Jesus’ blood, pronouncements of betrayal and God knows what else, Diabolos himself decides he wants a piece of the Rock.21 “But I’ve prayed for you Peter.” Prayed? Why didn’t You tell old snake eyes to take a hike, keep his grimy mitts off of Your boy? That’s what I’d have done, I know I would, so it’s a good thing none of this was riding on me. It’s no surprise that Peter wasn’t making the connection. If anyone had Jesus’ back, he’s the man. Everyone could fall and Peter would still be standing . . . until the cock crows.


Come dawn one angler is reduced to ashes, right where the accuser wants him.


God too.



Say what?


The devil wants to break Peter and so does God.


But for different reasons.


If Peter could he’d have slammed the brakes on Judas and pulled the plug on the cross. His “God forbid” routine and sword in action tell the story. Like the religious elite who crucified Jesus, the man didn’t know what he was doing. After the fact he saw with new eyes, but up front forget it. Fisherman Peter was as blind as a bat. If God doesn’t turn on the light his very best efforts and intentions miss the mark by a mile.


                                                                                                 The same goes for us.


Whether we define life as good, bad or indifferent the whole lot of us are probably using the wrong criteria in our assessment. We’re not alone. Peter qualified success as moving onward and upward which more often than not is par for the course in the world we live in. Jesus is on a roll and the powers that be in religious circles are all-out jealous, convinced “the world has gone after Him.”22 So when the Lord Jesus starts moving toward Calvary the tension in Peter’s spring tightens. The heat gets turned up and he folds like a cheap suit, and us? We cringe for him while we cringe for ourselves because we blow it too. We blow it badly.


“If I could only go back,” we say, hit the rewind button as though you and I would make different choices. Who are we trying to kid? That’s us playing God, kicking into control mode while looking for a different outcome, not realizing that even if we could effect a change there’s more than a good chance it would be just as messed up as it was the first time around. “Hindsight is 20/20,” we insist, but is it? Unless Peter is broken and we are broken we’ll keep making bone-headed choices based on what seems right and feels right to us.

Peter has to be sifted!


And the thought of the devil taking Peter apart feels a lot like Jesus bailed.


You know it does, and what makes matters worse is it could be us. Sometimes it is. Sometimes it’s necessary. A rooster’s screech quickly pans to Jesus’ eyes on Peter who wilts like grass in a midsummer drought. He looks and feels wrung out, convinced he’s a complete and total wash—a failure, worthless and incompetent, the world’s biggest fool and consummate disappointment. Traitor is the word, a gutless worm. “I tell you tonight, before the cock crows, you will disown me three times.” It plays over and over, doesn’t it?


                                                                                    Peter failed the test, thank God!


Is it possible that the fisherman’s demise could have been a necessary piece in God’s mystery puzzle? We hang so much on Peter not realizing that he had to fold, he had to break. Why? Much of his confidence had Jesus as its source, but a good-sized chunk was still rooted in Peter. I’m talking about his determined commitment to the Master. I don’t blame the man for being thrown off balance when Jesus puts the cross out in front. Death by hammer and nails, excruciating pain and a slow, torturous end is enough to make anyone’s blood run cold. When it becomes evident to all parties concerned that Calvary won’t be short-circuited Peter isn’t the only one moved by self-determination to die with Jesus.


All the disciples say they will too.15


Of course they do, but Gethsemane is heaven’s proving ground, sorting spirit with all its good and noble intentions from impotent flesh. Jesus’ distress is foreign turf to Peter, James and John, so what do you do when the Master Himself comes unglued? He intentionally calls these men aside from the others to wait with Him and pray through this night of trial, but confusion and fear take its toll and the land of nod beckons as a place where relief awaits. “Couldn’t you watch with Me for even one hour? You’ve got to keep your spiritual eyes and ears open continually, guys.24 Stay alert and pray so you don’t lose it when temptation hits you. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak”25 And weakness predictably falls prey to heavy eyelids all over again.



Who’s surprised?


And therein lies the catch as well as the reason why sifting isn’t optional.


Whether we’re talking people or wheat, sifting is an integral part of the harvesting process. After grain has been gathered from the fields it’s taken to a hilltop or another form of open air threshing floor made of stone or hardened earth where oxen trample the wheat or farmers beat it with heavy sticks to break the heads from the stalks. Large wooden winnowing forks are then used to toss broken stalks in the air where the wind catches the chaff (shell-like husks covering each kernel of wheat) along with shorter pieces of straw and blow it to one side allowing the grain to drop and gather in a pile.


The Baptist spoke of the Lord Jesus as having His winnowing fork in hand and ready for action. “He will thoroughly purge His threshing floor; and gather His wheat into the barn; but He will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire.”26 Separating wheat from chaff isn’t just for farmers in the conventional sense is it? But we’ve got to be careful not to relegate this prophetic outlook exclusively to end of the age kind of thinking.27 There’s a duel application. Unbelievers are typically portrayed as chaff, gone with the wind and consumed in the fire of God’s judgment.28 Individually, though—and I’m targeting believers here—we each have our “stuff,” our chaff that’s got to go, but I don’t want to get ahead of myself.


                                                       There’s more to the harvesting process.


Let’s go back to the threshing floor where wheat is prone to having dirt, smaller stones and debris get in the mix, and since no one wants rocky bread, it all needs sifted out to separate grain from sticks and stones. Large wood-framed sieves made of string or reed mesh were typically a four-hand operation, although one man versions fit the bill in small-scale family settings. Whatever it takes. Just get the job done.



And the point with all of this is what?


Peter is wheat.


For some this is a no-brainer, but not for Peter. How could it? His heart is trashed and his head was putty. Jesus didn’t close up shop and run for cover, Peter did. And for someone who’d been given every advantage, every opportunity, for him to tuck tail and run was . . . it was unthinkable.


It’s like any number of the men we know who get out of prison with so much preparation, so much desire, so much going for them. I’m talking about committed disciples not jailhouse religious junkies (although, trust me, they do exist) and there are people—God’s people with arms and hearts wide open, people who are there, and I mean there for these guys—but fear kicks in, the servant girl shows up and the whole thing is Peter all over again with different players in a different setting at a different time.


Anyone who finds him or herself standing alongside brother Peter—thinking what he’s thinking, feeling what he’s feeling—would pretty much say it’s all over but the crying, which as we know comes with the package. I hear you and I definitely empathize, but take three steps back and remember with me . . .


                                                                                        Peter is called.


Think “chosen.”


“You did not choose Me but I chose you.”29 We’ve already mentioned this, but when the bottom drops out you’ve got to double back. You’ve got to know who you are; make your calling and election sure.30 Peter said that. He said it to affirm believers, others who had received the same kind of faith that kept him afloat 31 because they had the same Jesus—the One who ever lives to make intercession for us.32 “I have prayed for you,” Jesus assures Peter. “I have prayed that your faith may not fail.”33 The faith Peter received was effectual because the One who planted it in him is Faithful. Amen and amen.


Peter sees that now.



But whatever can be shaken will be


Understand that where God builds He shakes and He sifts.


Sometimes He uses the devil. I heard a Bible teacher suggest that even though Satan and the fallen angels’ position has changed, their job description hasn’t. God created them to serve Him and His purposes, so guess what they’re doing? In seducing our first parents the serpent actually believes he can affect mankind’s demise not realizing he’s tripped the switch on the glory that fills heaven and earth by showcasing the Name above every name. In getting his pound of Job’s flesh the accuser hopes the man from Uz will curse God to His face yet is silenced by a tormented man’s humility and worship.34 God truly is good and the presence of Jesus in a simple fisherman’s life makes him a force to be reckoned with.


                                          Peter’s a crazy man, crazy enough to trust Jesus.


But his madness needs to be silenced. He’s got to be crushed, humiliated, rendered null and void, impotent. That’s the devil’s take on things. God, on the other hand, is bent on crushing the natural man who can’t wrap his brain around the things God has for him.35 He’s got to shatter every confidence our fishing buddy has in himself, his ability to follow Jesus, his commitment. Like the apostle Paul, Peter needs an in-your-face look at a fundamental reality called his flesh—I’m talking about his “stuff,” Peter’s strength, Peter’s rationale, Peter’s own understanding, Peter’s determined efforts. Trash the lot of it; there’s nothing good.36 Apart from Jesus, everything our brother puts on the line, even with the best of intentions, is a complete and total wash.37


                                                                                             It belongs in the toilet.38



“That which is born of the flesh is flesh,

  and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.”

                                                      John 3:6 NKJV


“ . . . flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God.”

                                                            I Corinthians 15:50 NKJV



We’re not going to beat up on Peter for his flesh. Until Jesus showed up it’s all he has—us too. Peter doesn’t want to hear any talk about death and crosses; not realizing it’s exactly what he needs. It’s what we all need. The cross stands as the dividing line between life and death, that which is born of the flesh and that which is born of the Spirit. The kingdoms of this world are built on men and women trying to make life come together in the strength of their own resources independent of God. Color that sin, and it’s not what we were created for. The cross renders a much-needed deathblow to you and I giving it our best shot because our best won’t cut it. It falls short, way short of the original design and God’s ultimate intention.39


                          We were created to bask in and to radiate the glory of God.


                                                          Christ in us is the hope of that glory.40


Think about it. The cross isn’t for Jesus; it’s for Peter. In trying to spare Jesus, Peter is really looking out for himself, i.e. preserving Jesus means preserving Peter. I understand, but “whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.”41 The cross is God’s sieve, so when Jesus calls Peter aside with, “Simon, Simon,” He speaks directly to what needs sifting—Peter’s “Simon life,” his “old man” and his “flesh,”42 the house Peter built and the mold a rebellious and unbelieving world would squeeze this man into. A new creation is at hand which means the old (without exception) has got to go. Why? “Unless the LORD builds the house, they labor in vain who build it.”43 What He builds stands, what He doesn’t falls.44


So He shakes what can be shaken

separating wheat from chaff, sifting the stuff of earth from heaven’s new life.



The shame factor


Here’s where the rubber meets the road.


It breaks our hearts when men trip over themselves and end up going back through the revolving door to the Department of Corrections. I’ve lost count of the number of times that I’ve kicked myself over a man’s choice to violate his parole or re-offend, but that only points to my need of sifting, my need to reckon on Calvary and the work Jesus finished concerning me. The road to regret always, and I mean always, leaves me, myself and I wondering, “If only I’d done this or said that, things could have been different. So-and-so wouldn’t have gone back to prison.” That’s pride, folks, a Messiah complex, feeling sorry for myself (Ouch!) over what I saw as someone else’s unfortunate downfall.


                                                      And that’s some seriously “jacked up” thinking!45


Any Tom, Dick or Harry who’s been put in my path (or I have been put in theirs) is God’s workmanship from start to finish.46 I’ve just been privileged to be part of the process, albeit a small part. Sometimes what I bring to the picture is a living expression of “I am the vine, you are the branches.” Other times (I have to admit) it’s pure, unadulterated, whacked-out flesh that needs serious sifting on my end. Whatever the case, God uses it to accomplish His good, eternal purposes and for that I bow down and give thanks.


But whenever the opportunity presents itself to confront a man concerning his own bone-headed choices, to ask, “What happened?” they invariably break eye contact. I guess it feels a lot easier to stare at the floor or turn to one side when your soul does flip-flops. It works that way for me. The “what happened” part doesn’t tell the story, though, does it? That’s only the launch pad with, “I messed up” as the short answer to a sometimes complex issue where, “I couldn’t find a job,” “Drugs were everywhere,” or my all time favorite, “There was this woman,” puts a new spin on Adam’s age old cop-out that makes God the bad guy.47


But these are only symptoms,

not root issues.


“When did you start feeling like things were coming apart?”


“Months ago probably.”


Months? Sometimes weeks, maybe days. Whatever it is we’re talking time, time that’s lapsed, precious, invaluable time that can’t be turned back, time that could mean all the difference in the world. “OK, so why didn’t you call somebody when you were feeling the heat? Why didn’t you reach out?” For a minute you might catch a glimpse of a man’s eyes. Talk of jobs, drugs and women begins to draw him out, but when, “Why didn’t you call?” hits the front burner, eyes drop and the air goes cold.


                                                                                   “I was ashamed.”


There’s something about being ruthlessly exposed that takes every last one of us back to Eden when it was a scary place. Paradise lost has become a black hole, a bottomless pit with nothing and no one to hold onto, nowhere to run and nowhere to hide because all eyes are on you. They see what you’ve done, the choices you made. Now what seems a distant memory of what once was—of being naked and unashamed, joy shared with others and peace that anchors—stops you dead, mocking your nakedness in the knowledge that you can never go back. There’s no rewind button, no way to pause or slow down the action.


You’ve made your decision,

and all that’s left is the pull of a lethal quicksand called shame.



It’s a common theme


Woven throughout Scripture we see an ongoing dynamic played out, the singular connection between sin and shame. Sometimes it’s only appearances, but if there’s an accuser, a jealous saboteur who has it in for you like Saul did for David, or Absalom for his father. It’s then that twisted thinking over “what seems to be” goes a long way, gathering lots of momentum and lots of allies.48 Shame comes as the heart wrenching fallout that accompanies someone who’s been violated, as when David’s son Amnon forces himself on his half sister.49 A reoccurring theme sounds when a king gets his clock cleaned in battle, or a fool goes public.50


The shoe fits in any number of scenarios and it hits like a pile driver, but there’s more to Peter’s story:


                                                                                           It doesn’t end with shame.


The man had issues alright, and egg on his face, but when the cock crows the impetus that uncorks a flood of bitter tears isn’t just shame, there’s remorse. Shame often spells wide-open disgrace that accompanies public humiliation when a man or woman is hung out to dry with their dirty laundry. Yes, there are people in the courtyard, but what goes down when the rooster crows is personal. This is between Peter and Jesus now. Shame writes the last chapter when pride is wounded and you can’t bear up under ridicule from those whose acceptance and affirmation have kept air in your tires, while remorse makes it hard to live with yourself before the God who’s enfolded you in so much love, so much acceptance, so much grace, so much of Himself.


I’ll allow that there are times when shame and remorse show up at the same family reunion, and maybe this is just my thing, but humor me. I’m trying to make a point. David humbled himself at covenant love’s throne with, “Let me not be ashamed, O LORD,” and why? The king is on the firing line. He’s got enemies who would love to take him out for no good reason, so the man prays that God would keep him from being humiliated by ambush or defeat in battle.51 In that sense David’s undoing becomes the people’s undoing and his shame theirs. That’s a different flavor from what we’re used to, isn’t it? Sure it is.


The shame we see most often in our ministry is wounded pride.


“I thought I was beyond that.”


“I can’t believe I did what I did!”


“Why didn’t I see it coming?”


“I didn’t want to admit I still had a problem.”



That’s what I’m talking about


And whatever it looks and feels like, it’s got to go—all of it. It’s all got to be sifted, reckoned at the cross where Jesus took the whole mess to Himself. “I gave My back to those who struck Me,” He confesses. “And My cheeks to those who plucked out the beard.”52 Now stop right there. With many Middle Eastern and Asian men a beard spells dignity. It says he’s a man. “To force a man to cut off his beard was to inflict on him a shameful disgrace (II Samuel 10:4-5).”53 Sure, and Jesus willingly gave Himself over to this kind of disgrace, this open shame—our shame. “I did not hide My face from shame and spitting.”54


                          A beard was also shaved or plucked out while in mourning.


Shame and mourning, it fits. Look at the cross and see a Man who bears in His body and in His soul the full weight of sorrow and grief that could never be measured. Stand in awe; stand in dumbfounded amazement, for it was our grief He bore. Ours. Jesus carried our shame and sickness, our sorrow, our pain.55 “He was wounded for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his stripes we are healed.”56


Do you hear it?


Do you see it?


It doesn’t end with shame and mourning. It doesn’t end with bitter tears. Tears may be a necessary part of the equation, part of brokenness, part of the sifting process, but it ends in wholeness. It ends with life and hope. Let’s go back to Isaiah 50 where we were reading about Jesus’ beard being plucked out, about shame and spitting and move on to the next verse (verse 7) where He speaks with rock-solid assurance:


                                                                    “For the Lord God will help Me;

                                                                     Therefore I will not be disgraced;

                                                                     Therefore I have set My face like a flint,

                                                                     And I know I will not be ashamed.”


Taking our corruption, along with our bone-headed choices and consequential shame isn’t the last word. That was a vital means to and end, but it’s all paid up. Jesus said so.57 Regardless of what anyone thinks and no matter what they say, the books have been cleared. The “certificate of debt consisting of decrees against us”—violations we’ve committed in thought, word and deed—have been thrown out of court. It was nailed to the cross, which means the devil has nothing on which to make his case concerning us, no leg to stand on!58 Jesus took our disgrace and shame that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.59


No shame here.



The next time we see Peter . . .


He and John are racing to the hole in the rock where Jesus was laid to rest. Rumor has it He’s alive. Forget the past. Forget failure and shame. The fisherman’s heart explodes at the thought that he might actually see something, anything to relieve his troubled heart. It’s too fantastic, but Jesus is all that matters now. John outruns his friend and stops short of entering the grave. Numb and afraid he hesitates while Peter shudders with deliberate steps, moving in close. He’s got to see. No surprise again, that’s Peter. The linen wrappings are there, His shroud and face cloth, but no body. Then John steps forward.


                                                                        He sees the empty tomb and believes.


And they head on home. It’s so surreal, like a dream really, but when the others come together—women who insist they’ve seen and spoken with Jesus, two brothers with dust from the Emmaus road still on their feet say they spent the afternoon with Him, and Thomas who’s desperately trying to make sense of it all—they’re beside themselves, and can you blame them? Everyone has something to say. Everyone wants to be heard, grabbing Andrew by the shoulders, James by the cloak, talking over top of one another in joyous yet fearful madness! Then Jesus, He’s just there, standing with men and women who walked with Him and breathes new life into them, opening the Scriptures and pointing them to the Father’s promise of the Holy Spirit.60


                                                That’s a lot for one day, a truckload for all of them.


Got it? Now let’s go back to sifting for a minute


Satan demands God’s permission to sift Peter, remember? But is it just Peter?


Here’s where the English language gets obscure, if not sloppy at times. You’ll forgive me for sneaking up on you this way, but I’m hoping the pieces will start to fit when I tell you that Satan wasn’t specifically targeting Peter. I’m sorry, he wasn’t. When Jesus pulls His man away from the others to clue him in on a little inside information, there was more going on than meets the eye, or the English-speaking tongue. We hear, “Satan wants to get in on you, Peter,” so all eyes are on Simon. I understand. And if you’re reading from any number of English translations, or listening from a church pew, that’s probably what you’ll take home with you. I know I would. But if we could lay hold of what Peter actually heard, this is the feel of it:


                                          “Simon, Satan wants to sift every last one of you!”


You hear this? Pastor J.B. Phillips, who began translating the New Testament Greek text for his youth group in a bombed-out and frightened London back in 1941, renders this passage: “Oh, Simon, Simon, do you know that Satan has asked to have all of you to sift like wheat?”61 Eugene Peterson in The Message has it: “Simon, stay on your toes. Satan has tried his best to separate all of you from me, like chaff from wheat.”62 The Amplified Bible comes at us: “Simon, Simon (Peter), listen! Satan has asked excessively that [all of] you be given up to him [out of the power and keeping of God], that he might sift [all of] you like grain.” [Job 1:6-12 and Amos 9:9] Maybe someone hailing from Alabama or Louisiana might do this justice:


“I’m talkin’ to you Simon. Satan wants a shot at all y’all!”


We’ve touched a few of Peter’s issues, but stop with me for a moment and think this through. The Rock isn’t the only one who gets sifted, is he? Not by a long shot. They all go through the meat grinder. (Forgive me for shifting metaphors on you, but it if we’re talking about how it feels to be sifted, meat grinder works really well.) Now here we sit two millennia later reading Peter the riot act for his spineless performance the night Jesus was arrested, but where was Matthew? What gives with the “Sons of Thunder,”63 or John?


Mark’s gospel lets us in on a bizarre piece of Gethsemane trivia that unwound when Jesus’ disciples hit the panic button. A “certain young man” (whom many suspect is John Mark himself) follows the others into the garden wearing nothing but a linen sheet. Why just a sheet? I don’t know. Maybe his cloak was at the dry cleaners. But when the soldiers who came to deal with Jesus latch onto him, the guy folds, wrenching free

of the sheet and running off into the night as naked as the day he was born!64 Cute, huh?


What we see here are snippets, bits and pieces that point to the winnowing and sifting that’s all part of the package. Every last one of the boys has their “stuff” that’s got to go. They’ve all got to taste the bitter shame and remorse that invariably follows when what they thought was commitment goes up in smoke; what they were sure was strength is exposed as weakness. Why? The call to follow is God-sized, and if these men are to realize the hope of their calling, to lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus Himself laid hold of them,65 then every confidence and every hope they’ve ever had in their own abilities and determined efforts has got to be smashed and destroyed where He was crushed on Calvary’s hill. In other words . . .


                                     Jesus’ death, burial and resurrection

                                     has got to be appropriated by faith in those He calls.


And so we’ve all gotta be sifted, us as well as first century disciples.


Brokenness is what it’s called.

Shattered dreams are what it feels like.


In his priceless volume by the same title (Shattered Dreams) Dr. Larry Crabb lays out the sifting process in a gut-level depiction of places God has got to take us through if you and I are ever going to walk as real people having “peace and power and unspeakable joy no matter what our circumstances may be, if we are to become the community of the joyful broken who reveal by our lives that the gospel is true.”66 The problem, as Peter & Company came to see, is that our fondest dreams for this life, the hopes and dreams we believe are so essential to our happiness, must be fully and completely abandoned if we’re ever really going to know God intimately. “But we cannot abandon them without help.”67 Amen.


                                                                    That’s why there’s sifting.

                                                                    It’s where the cross comes in.



“And when you have come to yourself and turned back,

strengthen your brothers.”


In Jesus’ mind it’s not a question of “if” Peter will turn, but “when.”68


Like the prodigal who needed to fall in with the pigs, Peter needs the air let out of his tires. He needs the cross. Apart from brokenness by way of Golgotha he’ll never know the power of Christ’s resurrection. He won’t make the connection, what it means to live and move and have his being infused with Jesus Himself, to be alive with His resurrection life! The father intentionally let his know-it-all son crash and burn because let’s face it. Going down was the only way he’d come to his senses. Peter may not have chased after the high life the way the kid did, but he still needs to hit the wall before he’ll ever come to himself.69


                                                Whatever is born of the flesh is flesh, right?


Good news, Peter came around. The cross broke him; resurrection renewed him. The Holy Spirit brought it together at Pentecost. Watch Peter’s smoke; that’s Jesus you see. But there’s a little recovery that needs attending to first, beginning with a walk through Scripture. He’s got to show them, take His boys back to so much He’d spoken before, “that everything written about Me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled.”70 They didn’t catch what Jesus said the first time around, but can you blame them? Now He opens their minds to see what they’d never pick up on their own, divine insight into what is written.71


Jesus shows Himself a third time to His disciples, now over breakfast—fish on hot coals at the beach—where He again queries Peter. “Do you love Me, Simon?” Not that there was any question, not on Jesus’ end, but Peter? His three-time denial hits like a two-by-four as a deeply bronzed face flushes anew with shame. “You know all things, Lord.” Gone is the arrogance, the self-assured certainty that marked the old man. He’s dead. The one whose soul sits naked and exposed has been broken, sifted like wheat and he knows it. He’s got nothing to prove and nothing to hide. “Even if the others walk out on You” doesn’t fit any more. Comparing himself with his brothers, the rivalry of wondering who’s on top, playing king of the hill . . . forget it.


                                                            That’s not who Peter is any more.


He’s not, and a Savior bent on planting the roots of His grace in deep places in Peter’s heart takes a three-time denial and couples it with a three-fold question. “Do you love Me?” isn’t the launch pad for reaming His man out, but rather to affirm him in his apostolic calling—three times. It crushes Peter that Jesus comes back again and again with the whole love thing, but it draws him out and gives our Lord lots of space to secure Peter in His love commitment because pain and suffering awaits our friend.


Tradition has it that Peter was crucified upside down.


“Tend My lambs, Peter. Shepherd My sheep, and feed them.”


Not Peter’s sheep, the flock belongs to Jesus. There’s some perspective. He’s the Chief Shepherd; Peter’s under Him. Sort of changes the way the way you look at your job description and how you approach things when you show up for work, doesn’t it? No playing, “Can you top this?” with sheep you’ve been given oversight for or those you serve along side. It’s more like, “Humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you at the proper time”—words spoken by a man who’s been sifted.72 Amen.


Dr. Crabb stirs my heart as he speaks with refreshing transparency regarding his own calling: “I sense God’s call to encounter Him in a way that fills my soul with more joy than any other experience and lead others toward a similar encounter. Because I cannot arrange for that encounter to take place, I find myself pleading more these days for sovereign mercy than for well-used competence.”


“I sense God’s call to develop and participate in a community where no one remains unknown, unexplored, undiscovered, or untouched; where we discover our true selves; where we realize that we really are passionate followers of Jesus; where people become spiritual friends. I want to help people across the world enjoy that kind of community. Again, in view of the enormity of the task, I am reduced to prayer more than I am prompted to strategize.”73 Amen, amen and amen.


                                                                Strengthen your brothers, Peter.



When I look at my brothers and sisters . . .


I’m talking about men and women behind prison walls, first timers and those who’ve gone back on parole violations or “caught” new cases, along with those who’ve never done time but are just as bound, just as imprisoned by lies that keep them locked into to obsessive and addictive behaviors. They’re driven by fear, trapped in cesspools of anger, bitterness, toxic relationships and co-dependency, or as our brother Paul says, “indulging the desires of the flesh and of the mind.”74 When I dig in with the likes of, “Hey, what’s going on with you?” it’s with new eyes. They made choices but which way do they point the finger, at themselves or someone else? Whatever the case, it may be that they needed to go back. Seriously.


They needed to fall; they needed to be broken and sifted.


Unbelief kept a few folks wandering in the desert for what was it, forty years?


Unbelief does that. I’ve watched men with all their doctrinal i’s dotted and t’s crossed blow it big time, men who could conjugate most any verb you might throw at them or knock out the correct declension of this or that noun in New Testament Greek fall flat on their faces when the heat got turned up. Bottom line? They had to fall. I know, I’ve been there. It’s one thing to have what you or anyone else believes is a correct handle on “the essentials” and another to lean heavily on God, to know what it means to need Him more than the air you and I breathe, to intentionally abide in Him. Andrew Murray nails it with frightening precision:


“Very many Christians have no sense of the great difference between religion of the mind and religion of the heart, and the former is far more diligently cultivated than the latter. They know not how infinitely greater the heart is than the mind. It is in this that one of the chief causes must be sought of the feebleness of our Christian life . . . The mind has to gather knowledge from God’s word, and prepare the food by which the heart with the inner life is to be nourished.”


“But here comes a terrible danger of leaning on our own understanding, and trusting in our apprehension of divine things. People imagine that if they are occupied with the truth, the spiritual life will as a matter of course be strengthened. And this is by no means the case. The understanding deals with conceptions and images of divine things, but it cannot reach the real life of the soul. Hence the command: ‘Trust in the Lord with all thine heart, and lean not upon thine own understanding.’ It is with the heart man believes, and comes into touch with God. It is in the heart God has given His Spirit, to be there to us the presence and the power of God working in us. In all our religion it is the heart that must trust and love and worship and obey. My mind is utterly impotent in creating or maintaining the spiritual life within me.”


                                          “The heart must wait on God to work it in me.”75


When I see a brother fall flat on his face, I’d be lying if I said that it doesn’t hurt or there’s no frustration because it’s that and more. But these days I look for indicators, God’s fingerprints, if you will, evidence of brokenness and signs of sifting like shame and remorse. Think “repentance” even if it’s a while in coming, genuine reasons for encouragement. God corrects His kids, doesn’t He, and it hurts. If the truth be told, it can be devastating like you’re spinning out of control in an emotional freefall, but there’s hope, real hope called the promise of fruit. His fruit. He’s up to something, a whole lot that’s right.76


“Therefore, strengthen the hands that are weak and the knees that are feeble,

and make straight paths for your feet,

so that the limb which is lame may not be put out of joint,

but rather be healed.”

              Hebrews 12:12-13 NAS


So strengthen your brothers and sisters.


What can I say?


There’s nothing good, nothing of any redemptive value in who we are in and of ourselves. Paul hits that, and he hits it hard from a number of angles.77 That which is born of the flesh, the chaff of Adam’s race is taken to the cross where death, our co-crucifixion with Christ can be appropriated by faith, and the stuff of this earth is shaken and sifted out so all that remains is a genuine desire to know Him. My understanding and your understanding are seriously flawed while His is so far above and beyond us it’s laughable.78 But we have Christ, His presence, His mind made open and available to us. His love poured out in our hearts.79 Color that grace, our hope of knowing Jesus as Savior, Lord, and our very Life. Amen.


                                                                             Sifting is a good thing.






                                                                                                                          © dan robinson  Hook Ministries  12/09

                                                                                                                                                        revised  7/10

                                                                                                                                                        revised  7/11



     

Endnotes


1 Staves, meaning clubs

2 Luke 22:24-27

3 John 19:26

4 Open mouth and insert foot, if you catch what I mean.

5 Luke 22:61 NAS

6 See Hebrews 4:12-13 for soul/spirit, joints and marrow along with the thoughts and intentions of his heart.

7 That’s Cephas, the Syriac surname Jesus gave Simon Bar-Jona. The Greek rendering is Petros, or Peter, as we know it. Read John 1:35-51, but zero in on verses 41 through 43.

8 Matthew 4:18-20 NAS

9 John 1:50 KJV

10 Z’s meaning sleep, get it?

11 Ephesians 3:20

12 See Isaiah 6 starting at verse one and settle in on verse five. That’s the idea.

13 Read the whole thing for yourself in Luke 5:1-11.

14 The account we’re discussing here can be found in Matthew 14:22-43.

15 Genesis 22:18 and Galatians 3:16

16 Hebrew for Jesus the Christ—the Messiah

17 Unlike those raised in western traditions, or even Greco-Roman culture, our Jewish friends didn’t see themselves apart from their fathers. I’m talking generations here, generation after generation, hundreds and hundreds of years. Who they are in their person and in their hopes is inextricably tied to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and so on and so on, more specifically the God of their fathers.

18 References to I Corinthians 1:21 and Matthew 11:27

19 The passage repeatedly referenced in this section is Matthew 16:13-20.

20 Luke 22:31 NAS

21 Diabolos is Greek for the devil

22 John 12:19 NAS

23 Matthew 26:35b

24 Habakkuk 2:1 is the idea here.

25 My loose paraphrase of Matthew 26:40-41

26 Matthew 3:12 NKJV

27 As in the tares and wheat parable of Matthew 13:24-30

28 Check out Job 21: 17-18, Psalm 1:4, Psalm 35:1-5 and Isaiah 17:13.

29 John 15:16a NAS

30 II Peter 1:10

31 II Peter 1:1b

32 Hebrews 7:25

33 Luke 22:32 NAS

34 Job 1:20-21

35 Try I Corinthians 2:14 on for size.

36 Spend some time in Romans 7, but zero in on verse 18.

37 John 15:5b fits here.

38 Philippians 3:1-9 is a great summary, but look at verse 8. I’m referencing the King James Version on this:  “Yea, doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ . . .”

39 Romans 3:23

40 Colossians 1:27

41 Matthew 10:39 ESV

42 “Old man,” or “old self,” meaning Peter’s unregenerate spirit that Paul points to in Romans 6:6, Ephesians 4:22 and Colossians 3:9, while “flesh” speaks of all that we are apart from Christ—which is us trying to make life work on our own from our strengths and weaknesses by way of the limitations (and did I say distortions?) of our own understanding. See Proverbs 3:5-6 while you’re at it.

43 Psalm 127:1 NKJV

44 See Hebrews 12:27

45 “Jacked up,” meaning messed up, or not working properly

46 Ephesians 2:10a

47 Genesis 3:12

48 I Samuel 18:6-13 and II Samuel 15:1-12

49 Get the full context in II Samuel 13:1-19.

50See II Chronicles 32:21 and Proverbs 3:35, respectively.

51 Read verses 1-3 and 14-22 of Psalm 25 for the framework, then go back to the rest to see how it all fills in.

52 Isaiah 50:6 NKJV

53 International Dictionary Of The Bible, p.130  Merrill C. Tenney 1963, 1964, 1967 and The Zondervan Corporation 1987 ISBN 0-310-33190-0 Zondervan Publishing House

54 Isaiah 50:6c NKJV

55 That’s the gist of the first half of Isaiah 53:4.

56 Isaiah 53:5 ESV

57 John 19:30

58 Colossians 2:13-15 are inferred with part of verse 14 quoted. It wouldn’t hurt to turn over to Hebrews 2 and chew on verses 14-18.

59 II Corinthians 5:21

60 Luke 24:33-49 and John 20:19-29 for this and more.

61 Just to set the record straight, J.B. Phillips’ New Testament in Modern English is in fact a translation and not a paraphrase as many have wrongly assumed.

62 The Message: The New Testament In Contemporary English by Eugene Peterson, p. 174  NavPress Publishing Group  P.O. Box 35001 Colorado Springs, CO 80935

Note: I’m not always kicked with The Message’s rendering of different passages, but I’ve got a world of respect for Eugene Peterson’s competence as a linguistics scholar.

63 The “Sons of Thunder” are James and John, the sons of a fisherman named Zebedee.

64 Mark 14:51-52

65 Philippians 3:12

66 Shattered Dreams by Larry Crabb, p. 52  WaterBrook Press, 2375 Telstar Drive, Suite 160 Colorado Springs, CO 80920, a division of Random House, Inc.  ISBN 1-57856-506-5

67 Ibid, p. 52

68 We’re back at Luke 22 moving on to verse 32b.

69 To “hit the wall” connotes coming to the place where you feel like you just can’t go on.

70 Luke 24:44 ESV

71 That’s Luke 24:45.

72 I Peter 5:6a

73 Shattered Dreams by Larry Crabb, p. 52  WaterBrook Press, 2375 Telstar Drive, Suite 160 Colorado Springs, CO 80920, a division of Random House, Inc.  ISBN 1-57856-506-5

74 Ephesians 2:3 NAS

75 Waiting On God by Andrew Murray, p. 50  Copyright 1981  Whitaker House  Pittsburgh, PA 

ISBN 0-88368-101-3

Note also: The use of the word “religion” is taboo in today’s evangelical community as it speaks to a man-made religious system without life and power. There is, however, a Biblical use of “religion” and “religious” that I encourage you to sort out with a good concordance. Our brother Andrew Murray takes a legitimate tact that stands on solid ground and is more than worth listening to.

76 See Hebrews 12:4-11.

77 Romans 7:5,1 8, 25  8:3, 5-8, 13  13:14 and Philippians 3:3 should get you started.

78 Isaiah 40:28  “His understanding is unsearchable.

79 I Corinthians 2:16 and Romans 5:5