(1) The deepest love, the truest desire to follow Jesus may be overborne, overwhelmed and the whole set of life be contradicted for a time.
(2) The greatest fall may be recovered. Simon is the illustration of this truth.
1. CHRIST PREDICTS THAT WE WILL BE SIFTED.
Satan desires the believer. “Sift” means to harass till nothing but chaff remains. Satan wants to prove we are like Judas.
I Peter 5 “..goes about seeking whom he may devour.”
Job: “…from walking to and fro on the face of the earth–Hast thou considered my servant?” His answer reveals he had considered him. He had a file on Job, knew all about him, knew of God’s protection of him. He knew there wasn’t a hole in the hedge. He had walked all around it looking for a way through it.
Like a lion, Satan stalks before he leaps. He is an opportunist, watching and waiting for an opportunity, a vulnerable spot.
THIS IS SERIOUS: In His warning, Jesus says, “Simon, Simon…”. Simon is repeated and used instead of Peter, his Christian name. It denotes his natural weakness.
Eph. 4:27 “Neither give place to the devil…”. A foothold, a base of operation. The believer is the object of his attention.
WE ARE NOT IGNORANT OF HIS STRATEGIES.
A. He strikes during stressful periods. He kicks us when we are down.
1. To cripple us and make us inadequate for the crisis. Jesus was facing the cross. Soon the disciples would be called into the greatest test of their lives.
2. The moment the argument broke out among the disciples (see verses 24 ff) he seized the opportunity.
B. He strikes at our strong points. Our strong points are really our weak points. They are unguarded because we think they are secure.
1. Peter’s pride and presumption: “I’ll follow thee to the death.” He thought he was more spiritual and courageous than the rest.
2. The preceding argument about who would be greatest in the kingdom gave him a foothold: there was a tear in the fabric of fellowship.
C. He strikes at strategic people.
1. Simon was the leader and would influence the rest.
2 In a way it was a compliment to Peter. You say, “The devil never bothers me.” He has no need to–you’re exactly where he wants you.
II. CHRIST PERMITS US TO BE SIFTED.
Satan can’t touch us without divine permission.
“Desired” means to obtain by asking permission. It means to beg earnestly.
Job again illustrates the point. Job 1:10-12 God allowed and regulated Satan.
Satan doesn’t have unlimited access and freedom. He must always submit to the overruling and permissive authority of the Lord. “…Satan hath obtained…” by asking–but he had to ask.
WHILE SATAN CAN’T TOUCH US WITHOUT DIVINE PERMISSION, THAT PERMISSION IS GIVEN!
“Desired” The aorist tense indicates success in the demand. By Christ’s words it is clear that permission was granted to Satan. WHY?
A. Because we need it. it is for our own good.
1. Sift: The process of separating the wheat from the chaff.
2. Sifting is necessary to wheat. Wheat must be sifted because it is wheat! Sifting separates the good from the bad. it is in the nature of wheat to be sifted–it goes with the territory. Christ will keep giving the exam until we pass.
3. Satan wanted to sift so no wheat would remain to take out whatever was good. But Christ’s desire was that no chaff would remain.
Illustrations of God working all things together for our good. Satan was intent on ruining them, but the very temptation worked together for their good.
Gen. 50 (Joseph) “You meant it for evil, but God meant it for good.”
James 5:11 (Job) “…Ye have heard of the patience of Job…” but we would never have heard of it had it not been for the trial.
4. Sifted out the chaff of pride, presumption, self-assurance.
B. Because others need it. it is for the good of others that we are tempted, sifted.
“Strengthen thy brethren…” He will then be qualified to minister to others.
I Peter 5:5-11
II Cor. 4 Death worketh in us, but life in you.
Joseph … the trial made him a source of life to others.
1. You may not be able to find the explanation of your suffering in your own life. It may be found only in the lives of others. The flowers may not grow in your own garden but in the garden of another. The wealth earned by your sufferings may be deposited in another’s account. The benefits may go to someone else.
III. CHRIST PROTECTS US IN OUR SIFTING.
“But I have prayed for thee.” Satan is going to sift you, BUT I HAVE PRAYED FOR YOU. Remember while you re being sifted, tossed and harassed by Satan–I HAVE PRAYED FOR THEE. Christ told him this before the trial.
Heb. 7:25; I John 2:1
A. For Thee.” It is personal and individual. Of course, Christ prayed for all the disciples (John 17) but here He singles out Peter. WHY?
“The man that was in the greatest danger was the man nearest Christ’s heart, and chiefly the object of Christ’s prayer. So it is always so–the tenderest of His’ words, the sweetest of His consolations, the sweetest of his consolations, the strongest of His succours, the most pleading and urgent of His petitions, the mightiest gifts of His grace, are given to the weakest, the neediest, the men and women in most sorrow and stress and peril, and those who want (need) Him most always have Him nearest. The thicker the darkness, the brighter His light; the drearier our lives the richer His presence; the more solitary we are, the larger the gifts of His companionship. OUR NEED IS THE MEASURE OF HIS PRAYER. ..When you want Christ most, Christ is most to you.”. Alexander McLaren
B. “Prayed” already. He didn’t say, I’ll pray for you,” but “I HAVE PRAYED FOR YOU.” Before the temptation I have prayed for you. Jesus anticipates and knows and prays. YOU ONLY GO WHERE JESUS HAS GONE BEFORE IN INTERCESSION. We walk on ground already prayed over Jesus has already made provision for all your future in a prayer already presented.
C. “That thy faith fail not.” Jesus didn’t pray that Simon would be exempt from it, but protected through it.
Fail not” — utterly, completely, eclipsed, come to an end. And it didn’t, because He came back.
D. “Thy faith” Note the object o the prayer; THY FAITH. That is the vital point and there He holds the shield. As long as the Christian’s faith is safe, he is safe. If faith fails, everything fails.
E. “When you are turned again.” Not “IF” but “WHEN”. Peter’s recovery was assured before his failure was experienced.
THE POWER OF CHRIST’S INTERCESSION:
Promise of (1) Restoration
NOTE: Peter turned Himself. Christ’s intercession doesn’t free us from the responsibility of repentance… it enables us to effectively repent… if we choose to do so.
©Ron Dunn, LifeStyle Ministries, 2003
Luke 15: 11-24
Intro: There is God AS HE IS and God AS WE CONCEIVE HIM TO BE. We worship God as we conceive Him to he. Everything in the Christian life is simply a response to what we believe about God.
This passage is a picture of a father’s heart and shows us the kind of God we have.
I. GOD IS A FATHER KIND OF GOD WHO GRIEVES OVER EVERY ONE OF US
A. This is a new revelation. You don’t find this concept in the Old Testament. The first time God is referred to as “Our Father” is in Matthew 6.
B. God has to accommodate Himself to our language. Everyone understands what a father is supposed to be
C. God voluntarily exposes Himself to pain when He becomes “Our Father”. The greater your capacity to love, the greater your capacity to hurt. (v. 20) The father is suffering more than the prodigal.
II. GOD RECEIVES US JUST AS WE ARE.
A. He won’t let you stay as you are but there are no words of recrimination.
B. The Father saw him a great way off and ran to him. (v. 20)
C. The son waited so long to come home because he didn’t know his father.
1. He said, “I am no LONGER worthy to be called thy son”. (v. 21) At one time he thought he was worthy. His worthiness never had anything to do with it. His sin never made him LESS WORTHY and his righteousness never made him MORE WORTHY. IT IS ALL A MATTER OF GRACE.
2. He said, “Make me as one of thy hired servants.” (v. 19) God has a fixed and established attitude toward us and it is one of mercy and grace.
III. GOD TREATS US AS THOUGH WE’D NEVER BEEN AWAY.
A. There is no rebuke. He didn’t say, “I told you so.” (James 1:5)
B. There is no probation. (v. 22) He didn’t wait until he was cleaned up, smelling good and presentable. The father said to his slaves. “Quickly bring out the
1. He had them put the best robe on him.
2. He had them put a ring on his hand. This was like giving him a credit card..
3. He had them put sandals on his feet. The slaves went barefoot but the children wore shoes.
THIS YOUNG MAN FOUND EVERYTHING HE WAS LOOKING FOR IN HIS FATHER’S HOUSE. HE MADE THE TRIP FOR NOTHING.
©Ron Dunn, LifeStyle Ministries, 2002
I. God has a Right to Expect Fruit From Us. 1. Because we are His personal property 2. Because of our privileged position. “planted in a vineyard.” There were plenty fig trees growing wild, but this one was planted in a vineyard, to receive special care and nourishment. 3. Because of our primary purpose. A fig tree was created to bear figs. Apart from that it is useless and worthless.
II. God has a Right to Examine us for Fruit. He came seeking fruit, scrutinizing every tree. Since it is His vineyard and His trees, He will examine our fruitfulness.
III. God has a Right to Expel us for Fruitlessness. “Cut it down!” Just taking up valuable space. I’m convinced that more believers than we know have been set aside from great service and others planted in their place. 1. Uselessness invites disaster. Use it or lose it. 2. Promotes uselessness. It takes up space. If it were occupied by another it, there would be fruit.
IV. God has a Right to Extend Mercy. Wait one more year. To make it fruitful: 1. Dig around it. “Break up your fallow ground” is the O.T. expression. A broken and contrite heart. Repentance. 2. Fertilize it. Feed it, nourish it, with prayer and the Word of God. A proper diet for the spirit.
©Ron Dunn, LifeStyle Ministries, 2001
INTRO: God’s way of measuring is far different from ours. Just suppose Jesus were here… news of calamity, judgment on sin. “Except you repent, you will all likewise perish.” Disaster is falsely viewed as God’s judgment on sin.
REPENT OF WHAT? Fruitlessness, barrenness.
Leaves are no substitute for fruit, The one thing God wants from us, the one thing that GLORIFIES God is our fruitfulness.
John 15:8 It is fruitfulness that GLORIFIES GOD and marks us as DISCIPLES.
I. GOD HAS A RIGHT TO EXPECT FRUIT FROM US.
1. Because we are His PERSONAL PROPERTY. The fig tree owed its life to the owner. It is the owner’s right.
God has a right to expect a return on His investment –“we are bought with a price.”
2. Because of our PRIVILEGED POSITION. “Planted in a vineyard…”
There were many fig trees growing wild. But this one was planted in a vineyard to receive special care and nourishment. IT HAD A BETTER THAN AVERAGE CHANCE.. had every opportunity.
“scattered abroad..” Greek word for sowing seed. When Christian are scattered to different places, it is simply GOD SOWING SEED WHERE HE DESIRES A HARVEST.
WHERE HAS GOD PLANTED YOU? IS THERE ANY FRIUT?
3. Because of our PRIMARY PURPOSE.
What’s a fruit tree for? To bear fruit. that is not an unreasonable request.
Gen. 1:11,12. God made fruit, etc. to have a seed of like nature within it so it would reproduce itself
I John 3 says that we have God’s seed within us… so that we may bear fruit after our kind.
John 15:16. Jesus says He chose us that we might bear fruit.
I Peter 2:9. That we might show forth the glories of God.
II. GOD HAS A RIGHT TO EXAMINE US FOR FRUIT.
1. He came seeking fruit.
2. Every tree scrutinized. Psalm 26:2
3. Three straight years–takes thirty years for some of us.
4. WHAT KIND OF FRUIT? After ITS KIND.
In Psalm 139 God appears at the door with a SEARCH WARRANT.
III. GOD HAS A RIGHT TO EXPEL US FOR FRUITLESSNESS.
Cut it down–it’s just taking up room! Separate it from the rest. USELESSNESS invites disaster. We lose what we don’t use. WHY?
I. USELESS–apart from fruit-bearing I can’t justify my existence. John 15:2,6
2. PROMOTES USELESSNESS – “Cumbereth” –takes up valuable space. If this spot were occupied by another, there would be fruit. Nothing that only takes and receives can survive.
IV. GOD HAS A RIGHT TO EXTEND A FINAL CHANCE.
“Wait one more year…” –One Final Chance.
How can it be made fruitful?
1. DIGGING AROUND IT: “Break up your fallow ground.” A broken and contrite heart. This speaks of repentance.
2. FERTILIZING IT. Feeding it, nourishing it.
PROPER DIET. What have you been feeding on? Has it made you fruitful?
©Ron Dunn, LifeStyle Ministries, 2003