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Summary: Jesus is praying for you right now...interceding to the Father that your faith will not fail. With that sure promise we know we can make it through if only we trust in Him.

SIFTED!

LUKE 22:31 32

One day a man went to a fortune teller who studied the man's hand very carefully and finally said, "You will be poor and unhappy until you are 37 years old." The man said, "Well, after that will I be rich and happy?" The fortune teller said, "No, you'll still be poor, but by then you'll be used to it."

Lately I have heard the question "Why is this happening" repeated over and over again by several different people, regarding several different circumstances. And it's a legitimate question that deserves an honest, biblical look. I'd like you to turn with me to Luke 22:31 32...and I want to look at this question from the perspective of Peter. (READ v.31 32)

This passage gives us one of the most profound peeks into just what is going on behind the scenes of situations similar to what some of you may be experiencing. We'll also be looking at the book of Job, which goes hand in hand with this particular subject.

Testing...competition...grading are all integral parts of life. In fact there are very few areas of our lives that are without these elements. And for the most part I agree with the testing process...I don't necessarily like it at times, but I believe it is a necessary thing.

What we are deep inside must be known...and what we are deep inside must be tested for its relevance and effectiveness. Let's face it...no one can escape the sifting process. In school we're graded...at work we're evaluated...as individuals we're scrutinized to determine our viability as a friend or mate or whatever.

Regardless of how private a person we may be...we are open to, and involved in, this lifelong process of public evaluation. And it doesn't change by becoming a Christian. The Christian experience was never meant to be a sheltered, isolated way of life.

In fact, the Christian experience is public...from confession to interment....from the moment we become born again till the day we die. And anything public is open for examination and evaluation.

Now, Peter and Job have a lot in common....because both were exposed to the complete treatment. They were held up to the view of both the physical world and the spiritual world. And they both survived the worst that hell could throw at them. And that is a great encouragement to me.

The first point we need to make here is that every believer is subject to Satan's attacks. And this is so important to understand. There is no heritage...no denomination...no environment...no community...no marriage...and no grace that gives any one of us immunity.

There's just as much hell in Pennsylvania and there is in California, New York, Moscow or Havana. Your children will face the stark reality of life whether they attend a public school or a private one. Your marriage will be tested in the church as well as in your home or in the workplace. Even your choice of habits will be challenged. Opposition is the name of the game!

Luke 22:31 says that Satan has asked to sift you. The Greek literally says, "Satan has secured you by asking." The fact of the matter is that hell places you on its schedule...it asks for you as an opponent. This is clearly brought out in Job. Read Job 1:7, 8, 12

Satan asked for the privilege of putting Job under examination...an examination that hell itself would set. This fact explains a lot of what goes on. And Satan asks specifically for those who have influence over the lives of others...and especially those destined to become spiritual leaders of God's people.

Peter was a man marked for leadership. We can see this throughout the gospels. He was the General Patton of the New Testament. But as gifted as he was as a leader...he was impetuous...very bold...and also inclined to ignore counsel.

But once he was guided safely through the sifting process...he shines like one of the brightest stars of heaven. But you must see that he needed to be combat tested. He needed to come under fire. There's a big difference between a rookie and a veteran.

Last year the Pittsburgh Steelers went to the Super Bowl. They made it there because they had been able to reach a level of performance that outlasted or overcame their opponents throughout the regular season and then through the playoffs.

But on Super Bowl Sunday...it was obvious that they were rookies when it came to the pressure of the big game. They looked pretty rough...nervous...unsure especially in the early going. And one of the things I've heard time and again this year is the thought that "now we've been there, and experienced it...we'll be better prepared the next time" (if there is one anytime soon).

They were veterans at one level...but rookies when it came to the pressures and demands of reaching that highest level of excellence. I saw the same thing in the Persian Gulf. Soldiers and sailors who knew their jobs well found that once you find yourself in a combat zone there's much more at stake and that a higher level of preparedness was needed...mostly mentally and emotionally.

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