The â€˜inner threeâ€™ consisted on Peter, James and John. Of the â€˜inner threeâ€™, Peter was the closest to Jesus. He also had more uncontrolled emotions than all the rest. Peter was impulsive and arrogant in his rough and raw state. Yet this is the man that went on to preach that great sermon on the day of Pentecost. God used him mightilyâ€¦but for Peter, the journey took him through failure before he was ready for Pentecost.
Jesus told Peter in Luke 22:31-32 “Satan has asked to sift you as wheat. But I have prayed for you that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned back, strengthen your brothers.”
God allows a sifting process to make us into what he desires for us to be and do. Sifting is a two stage process. One step involves tossing the wheat in the air to allow the chaff to blow away in the wind. The second stage involves a sieve that would be used to separate what is valuable and useful from what is not profitable. In this way, the farmer cleans the wheat and prepares it for the market. He is preparing it for a purpose. God does that with us. He allows people, circumstances, and events in our lives to take place in order to sift us.
I notice two encouraging facts about the way Jesus treated Peter: 1) He never criticized him and, 2) He never gave up on him. Jesus knew about Peterâ€™s denial long before it happened. He knew what Peter would do, he knew how he would react, and he knew the kind of man Peter would be afterward. Thatâ€™s why he said â€œwhen you have turned backâ€ â€¦not â€œifâ€â€¦ but â€œwhenâ€! He knew that Peterâ€™s heart was good, he knew after his terrible sin he would return to the Lord. Isnâ€™t that wonderful? Jesus has more faith in Peter than Peter has in Jesus. He knew that Peter had important work to do â€“ â€œStrengthen your brothersâ€. But he was not ready for such a task in his ‘pre-sifting’ period of his life.
Peter was more effective for Christ after his fall just as a bone that is broken often becomes stronger after it is healed. Something in the healing process actually makes the break point stronger than it was before. The same is true of a rope that breaks. In the hands of a master splicer, the rope once repaired becomes stronger than it was before. The same thing is true of our failures. God can touch our broken places and make us stronger than we were before. Though we fall, we can rise by Godâ€™s grace from our defeat stronger and more useful than we were before.
Before Peterâ€™s fall, he was loud, boisterous and unreliable; afterward he became a flaming preacher of the gospel. Before, he was a big talker; afterward, he talked only of what Jesus Christ could do for others. He was the same man, but he was different. He was still Peter through and through, but he had been sifted by Satan, and in the sifting the chaff of his life had been blown away
This is what Peter lost in his failure:
His rash impulsiveness
This is what Peter gained after his restoration:
New confidence in God
New determination to serve Jesus Christ
A willingness to use his experience to help others
The things he lost he didnâ€™t really need; the things he gained couldnâ€™t have come any other way. In the same way God redeems our mistakes by removing the things that brought us down and replacing them with the qualities we always wanted but couldnâ€™t seem to find.
II Thessalonians 3:3 says, “But the Lord is faithful, who will establish you and guard you from the evil one.â€
If you have experienced a failure, be encouraged. Whenever the evil one is causing you to fall, God is always guarding you and using what the enemy is doing to establish you in your faith and to make you more useful.
May God grant us the grace to learn from past mistakes and move on.
Please pray with us about the following:
We have been given access to a Bed and Breakfast for the purpose of conducting seminars.
The Bed and Breakfast can accommodate 4 couples.
We would like to schedule 4 pastors and spouses who need encouraging.
We would also like to develop a seminar for hurting familiesâ€¦parents of wayward kids, or couples on the verge of separating.
We are looking at scheduling the first of these in Januaryâ€¦the sessions would run from Monday night throughThursday noon.
We leave for Kenya on the 17th of November. Continue to pray with us as we make final plans for this trip.
We love you.
Billy and Sheilah Dawsby