Please Hang in There
“Simon, Simon, Satan has asked to sift each of you like wheat. But I have pleaded in prayer for you, Simon, that your faith should not fail. So when you have repented and turned to me again, strengthen your brothers.” Luke 22:31-32 (NLT)
If Jesus said to me, “Brad, Brad, Satan has asked to sift you as wheat. But I have prayed for you that your faith may not fail.” I would be thinking, “Jesus, I don’t want to be sifted. Stop Satan from this sifting stuff. I have been sifted too many times already.” Jesus makes no offer to help; only that Simon’s faith may not fail and then when he has turned back he can strengthen his brothers.
Many of us have been beaten up by the world and the schemes of the devil. We have been beaten up so much that we can start believing lies that we aren’t good enough, that we have to pass more tests – that we will never get past the next test because we have failed this one so many times. The Lord impressed this thought upon me:
“It isn’t about passing the test; it is about staying in the faith whether you have passed the test or not.”
We beat ourselves up when we fail. We look lustfully at a person and beat ourselves up the rest of the day and make everyone else miserable. We can’t stop an addiction and we think God will never forgive us, so we give up trying. Our kids aren’t turning out as we planned and we think that we have done something wrong. We keep being passed over for a promotion and we feel that we are not faithful enough in Gods eyes to get the blessing to move forward.
STOP! Jesus could stop all the chaos in your life right now, but here is why He will not: Jesus loves you. He loves you enough to allow you to be refined. We can only be refined when trials come. It isn’t if we fail, it is when. It isn’t just one time, but thousands of times we fail. We have some weird notion that we need to be perfect to enter the kingdom of heaven.
“For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard.” Romans 3:23 NLT
We will sin until God calls us home. The most important statement that Jesus says to Simon (Peter) is, “That your faith may not fail.”
Are you getting close to giving up on this Christianity thing? Are things not turning out as you have planned? Satan wants you to give up. We are not on this earth for long. PLEASE hang in there. God loves you and desires that your faith will not waiver even though your circumstances may tell a different story.
Just remember your circumstances do not dictate the way you are living your Christian life. You may be failing in every category, but that doesn’t mean that God will not reveal to you something miraculous out of the pain and defeat. Believe in Jesus who desires that you find strength in the storms of life so that your faith will be refined. Don’t let the evil one give you a lifeline to an easy way out. That lifeline may seem an ea’sy way out now, but you will regret it. Just keep hanging on everyone. Jesus WILL save YOU.
Armed with a Bow
Scripture Reading — Revelation 6:2
There before me was a white horse! Its rider held a bow. . . . — Revelation 6:2
What does it mean that the rider on a white horse “held a bow”? Are we to imagine a soldier who has the training to kill with a bow and arrow? Or perhaps we picture a hunter, with bow in hand, standing over a downed deer.
It is tempting to read God’s story that way. But if we did, we would think the first rider is all about bringing death and destruction. To read the story that way would miss the surprising good news that the One who is skilled with a bow is God. He has worked with a bow for a long time.
In the first book of the Bible, Genesis, we find a promise that God gave to Noah after the great flood. “I have set my bow in the clouds” God said, “and it shall be a sign of the covenant between me and the earth” (Genesis 9:13, NRSV). We usually understand the bow in the Genesis story as being a “rainbow.” But it is the same word that is used in this story in Revelation.
In other words, the first horseman, Jesus, is armed with God’s covenant promise. His goal is to bring God’s promises for the renewal of creation to every part of creation.
Lord, our Lord, you surprise us with your promises and your determination to bring life and healing to your creation. Thank you for so loving this world that you gave your one and only Son to give us life. Amen.
“Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.” John 3:3
Suggested Further Reading: Luke 13:22-30
“Angels, principalities, and powers, would you be willing that men who love not God, who believe not in Christ, who have not been born again, should dwell here?” I see them, as they look down upon us, and hear them answering, “No! Once we fought the dragon, and expelled him, because he tempted us to sin! We must not, and we will not, have the wicked here. These alabaster walls must not be soiled with black and lustful fingers; the white pavement of heaven must not be stained and rendered filthy by the unholy feet of ungodly men. No!” I see a thousand spears bristling, and the fiery faces of a myriad seraphs thrust over the walls of paradise. “No, while these arms have strength, and these wings have power, no sin shall ever enter here.” I address myself moreover to the saints of heaven, redeemed by sovereign grace: “Children of God, are you willing that the wicked should enter heaven as they are, without being born again? You say you love men, but are you willing that they should be admitted as they are?” I see Lot rise up, and he cries, “Admit them into heaven! No! What! Must I be vexed by the conversation of Sodomites again, as once I was!” I see Abraham; and he comes forward, and he says, “No; I cannot have them here. I had enough of them whilst I was with them on earth—their jests and jeers, their silly talkings, their vain conversation, vexed and grieved us. We want them not here.” And, heavenly though they be, and loving as their spirits are, yet there is not a saint in heaven who would not resent, with the utmost indignation, the approach of any one of you to the gates of paradise, if you are still unholy, and have not been born again.
“If only they had such a heart to fear me and keep all my commands always, so that they and their children would prosper forever.” – Deuteronomy 5:29 CSB
God wanted the very best for His people. He specifically desired that these Israelites and their children would “prosper forever.” But this endless prosperity didn’t just happen. It required having a heart that revered and honored Him and a life spent keeping His commandments.
Looking at His people, God remembered what they promised. But He also knew that, eventually, they would forget these commitments. Yet He yearned for them to remember, stay faithful, and realize that obedience was the way to experience maximum success.
He encouraged the Israelites to fill their lives with His Word – to learn the Word, think about the Word, and practice the Word. His Word contained reminders of things they needed to do and say. Applying His Word would help them avoid problems and experience His fullest blessings.
God has the same concerns about us. He hears our promises, but He also knows that we might forget. We may make excuses or fail to follow through. He knows that we can be distracted and abandon our commitments, despite our good intentions. That’s why He gave us His Spirit to remind us (John 14:26) and guide us into all truth (John 16:13).
Today, submit your life to God. Seek Him through prayer. Stay sensitive to His Spirit. Seek the power of the Spirit to help you stay spiritually strong. Fill your mind with His Word, and put His principles into practice. Seek to please Him.