When Sifting Comes

David Wilkerson (1931-2011)

“And the Lord said, ‘Simon, Simon! Indeed, Satan has asked for you, that he may sift you as wheat’” (Luke 22:31 NKJV).

Satan sifts only those who threaten his work. He goes after the tree with the most potential to bear fruit. Why was he so anxious to test Peter? Well, for three years Peter had been casting out devils and healing the sick. Satan had heard Jesus promise the disciples another baptism, one of Holy Ghost power and fire, and he trembled! Now the devil knew God’s ultimate plan for Peter. He realized that the past three years would be nothing compared to the greater works to come. Satan was searching for a weakness in Peter to build on that would destroy his faith.

Perhaps, like Peter, you are being shaken and sifted right now. Don’t despair! Rejoice that you have such a bad reputation in hell. Satan never would have asked God’s permission to sift you unless you were a threat to him. He is sifting you because you play an important part in God’s kingdom in these last days. The greater your gifts and potential, the more severe your sifting will be.

When someone is going through the fire of sifting, what should those around him do? What did Jesus do about Peter’s imminent fall? He said to him, “I have prayed for you, that your faith should not fail; and when you have returned to me, strengthen your brethren” (Luke 22:32).

I look at this wonderful example of Christ’s love and realize I know almost nothing about how to love those who fall. Jesus saw both the good and the bad in Peter and concluded, “This man is worth saving. Satan desires him, but I desire him more.”

Lord, give us that kind of love! When we see brothers and sisters heading for disaster, let us love them enough to reach out and say, “I am praying for you.”

Today we have yet another “It is written” with which we can do battle against Satan. It is this: “I have prayed for you, that your faith should not fail.” You can tell the devil, “You may have gotten permission to sift me, to try to tear down my faith, but you need to know this: My Jesus is praying for me!”

Get God’s Power and Go!

David Wilkerson (1931-2011)

As soon as the disciples heard about receiving a baptism of power, they asked, “Lord, will you at this time restore the kingdom to Israel”? (see Acts 1). Jesus answered in no uncertain terms, “It is not for you to know times or seasons which the Father has put in his own authority” (Acts 1:7 NKJV).

Stop and think about what their question implied. “Lord, do you mean that beginning in that room, with just us, you will restore the kingdom of Israel? Will we bring down Herod and Rome? Are we the ones to cleanse the land, set up the kingdom and bring you back?”

We know that Jesus had to deal with some lust for leadership and authority among his disciples, but I sense something in their question here beyond a thirst for place and power. It speaks of a human need to be involved in a great and final destiny. It was a need to be special, to be the right people at the right time!

In their hearts the disciples may have been saying, “Lord, where are we in your prophetic schedule? It would be a great spiritual incentive to know that we are ministering in a day of destiny, that a new dawn is coming, and you are using us to wrap it all up.”

Now all of us, to some degree, have this same need to be people of destiny. However, Jesus’ response was blunt: “It is not for you to know the times.” Jesus is not looking for men or women of destiny. He wants only witnesses unto himself. He is saying, “The issue is not the ‘prophetic hour’ or some great moment in time appointed to you. I need people to share the good news of the gospel to this present generation.”

This deeply convicts me. I also want to know where we are at this very minute on God's prophetic clock. Are we about to enter the great tribulation? Is God gathering the final remnant of believers? “That is not your concern” Jesus says. “It's not for you to know. Be filled with the Spirit, then go.”

We are to live in a state of watchfulness and expectancy. We are to look for his appearing and warn of his judgments, but first and foremost we are to be his witnesses!

Practicing the Presence of Christ

Gary Wilkerson

Many Christians are intimidated by the idea of sharing their faith, myself included. We’ve been taught that there is a set of rules on how to lead people to Christ. We’re worried sick that sharing our faith means “cold calling,” like we’re God’s sales force, buttonholing perfect strangers with sweaty palms and awkward conversation.

The result is that most Christians clam up. “I don’t want to share my faith.” “I’m not prepared.” “I’m an introvert.” “I haven’t shared my faith in ten years.”

People everywhere are seeking peace; the world is in chaos, and they want and need God as never before. Many are surrounded by Christians, but the Christians are too timid to share God’s goodness! Why? Because we’re trying to formalize a spiritual, human, connective experience. We are focused on method and outcome when we are supposed to be focused on people.

Jesus challenged the rule-makers. He showed us that sharing the gospel isn’t a formula; it is a connection between the human and the divine.

We have to begin by practicing God’s presence, becoming intimate with him through time spent in prayer, worship and the Word. As we are infused with his presence, it will naturally flow out to someone in our sphere of influence. Jesus, our example, spent time with people and got to know them; he just waded right in. They could feel his love and compassion toward them and his attentiveness to their needs.

This connection, then, is how we share our faith. We practice the presence of God, and we practice the presence of people.

The Holy Spirit is vigorous and dynamic, constantly moving among us. You may not be a “people person,” but the Holy Spirit most definitely is. God seeks out hurting, lost, discarded people, and we are the link.

Ask yourself this as you go about your day: Do I feel God’s presence? Do I even notice the people around me who would love to feel it too? Will I partner with God and reach out to them, or will I turn away, pull out my phone and check the latest newsfeed?

Jesus embodied the simplicity of the Great Commission. God and man, together, embracing a lost world. “For we are to God the fragrance of Christ among those who are being saved and those who are perishing” (2 Corinthians 2:15 NKJV).

Going on the True Adventure

John Bailey

I would say I’m a pretty adventurous guy, but there are people who take it to a whole different level. These are the kind of folks who go swimming with sharks. No doubt you’ve all seen pictures of the running of the bulls in Pamplona. Some of those bulls have massive horns, but that doesn’t seem to keep people from running around in the streets with them. There was a guy who climbed that famous Jesus statue in Rio de Janeiro and took a selfie on top of it. That statue is over 100 feet high on top of a mountain.

Now I love Jesus, but I don't know that risking my neck to get a selfie with his statue will really have much effect on the world.

Some people don’t have an effect on the world because they never take any risks, but other adventurous people risk it all and still have very little impact on the world or lives around them. So what’s the answer to how we make a difference in the world? It clearly isn’t tied to being a daredevil or not.

The Apostle Paul, before he met Jesus, was that kind of powerhouse personality who never seemed to hesitate. What really changed about him after God got ahold of him? He wrote, “…a thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to harass me, to keep me from becoming conceited. Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me. But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong” (2 Corinthians 12:7-10, ESV).

Your boldness and adventurousness is only useful to God when you recognize your weakness and brokenness in his presence then rely totally on him for direction and power. It’s the only way that you’re going to be able to risk it all in a way that impacts the world for the Kingdom of God.

John Bailey is the COO of World Challenge Inc. and the Founding Pastor of The Springs Church in Jacksonville, Florida. John has been serving the Lord in pastoral ministry for 35 years, ministering the gospel in over 50 nations, particularly as a pastor and evangelist in Cork, Ireland. 

Standing Up Despite the Darkness

Kelly Wilkerson

How many of you have heard of Huldah in the Bible? She gave exhortation and hope to the Israelites during a very dark stretch of history. Evil foreign kings had invaded, and evil kings from their own people had ruled over the land. Some truly grotesque forms of idolatry were rampant in society; children were sacrificed to demonic ‘gods’; necromancy was practiced.

The previous two kings in Huldah’s lifetime had been incredibly immoral. One was said to have shed so much innocent blood that it “filled Jerusalem from one end to another” (see 2 Kings 21:16), and the other was such a nightmare that he only made it two years before he was assassinated by his own servants (see 2 Kings 21:19-23).

In the middle of all this, Huldah openly stood for the true God.

The law of God was found in the temple after having been lost of years, possibly generations. As soon as the new king realized what they’d unearthed, he immediately knew who to send for: Huldah.  

“Those whom the king had sent went to Huldah the prophetess…and she said to them, ‘Thus says the Lord, the God of Israel: “…Behold, I will bring disaster upon this place and upon its inhabitants, all the curses that are written in the book that was read before the king of Judah. Because they have forsaken me and have made offerings to other gods… But to the king of Judah, who sent you to inquire of the Lord, thus shall you say to him…[because]…you have humbled yourself before me and have torn your clothes and wept before me, I also have heard you, declares the Lord” (2 Chronicles 34:22-27, ESV).

This woman unflinchingly proclaimed the truth, rebuked those who had reveled in sin, but offered a second chance to the genuinely repentant. Her words gave the young king who had inherited this broken, sin-riddled kingdom both the hope and motivation to enact reform and revival in their nation.

When we are willing to boldly stand for God’s Word, even for years without seeing positive change, God will use this for his glory and the benefit of others.