It’s Absolutely Not Possible

It’s like God is declaring, “Not on my watch!”

I tell you the truth, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it. Luke 18:17 

When reading this verse, I usually concentrate on the “little child” part. But this time the word “never” jumped out at me. It’s actually two Greek words – οὐ μή – that are translated “never” in the above verse. Let me just say up front that studying these words has greatly encouraged my faith and I hope it does the same for you. 

According to NetBible Translator’s Notes, “The negation in Greek used here (οὐ μή, ou mh) is very strong.” Strong’s Concordance, notes that it is “a double negative strengthening the denial.” The meanings include: not at all, by no means, neither, never, in no case, nor ever, not in any wise. 

So, it’s really important to pay attention when Jesus uses this word. He is saying in the above verse that it is vital that we come to God with the faith of a child. (And note that it is matter of our will – “anyone who will not receive.”)

Thayer’s Greek Lexicon adds that “οὐ denies the thing itself (or to speak technically, denies simply, absolutely, categorically, directly, objectively), but μή denies the thought of the thing, or the thing according to the judgment, opinion, will, purpose, preference, of someone.” 

Denying the thought of the thing is like saying “God forbid,” or “don’t even think about it!” Like Peter exclaiming after Jesus predicted his death at the hands of the chief priests:  

“Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. “Never, Lord!” he said. “This shall never ( οὐ μή ) happen to you!” Matthew 16:22 

This is also translated “God forbid!” “Heaven forbid!” “Impossible, Master!”  

These are negative examples, but there are many, many promises using this word combination. From God’s point of view, it is like he is declaring, “Not on my watch!” Jesus uses this emphatic “double negative strengthening the denial” many times, categorically and absolutely declaring the impossibility of something happening.

It is helpful for me to think of it as “It’s not happening!” (I was going to say “It ain’t happenin’!” but my librarian/English major self won’t let me.) Or I could say, “It is absolutely not possible – not ever.” I want to make sure I realize the implications – to shake myself out of my – what is it? – sleepiness, complacency, apathy? I don’t want to just let my eyes and mind slip by these promises, but grab unto them with both hands and all my heart and soul. 

Below is a list of some of the promises using this double, emphatic negative.* It is mind jogging to me, and so comforting and encouraging to read them with “It’s not happening. It is absolutely not possible – not ever!” preceding the promise. (You can precede these verses in any way that speaks to you): 

It’s not happening. It is absolutely not possible – not ever!

I tell you the truth, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished. Matthew 5:18 

Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away. Matthew 24:35 

Anyone who drinks the water I give will never thirst–not ever. The water I give will be an artesian spring within, gushing fountains of endless life. John 4:14 (Message) 

Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven. Luke 6:37 

All men will hate you because of me. But not a hair of your head will perish. Luke 21:17-18 

Then Jesus declared, “I am the bread of life. He who comes to me will never go hungry, and he who believes in me will never be thirsty.” John 6:35 

All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never drive away (never cast them out, never reject them). 

When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” John 8:12 

I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one can snatch them out of my hand. John 10:28 

Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die.” John 11:25-26 

And then these wonderful promises: 

So I say, live by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature. Galatians 5:16 

And I will forgive their wrongdoings, and I will never again remember their sins. Hebrews 8:12 (NLT) 

Their sins and lawless acts I will remember no more. Hebrews 10:17 

… God has said, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.” Hebrews 13:5 

For in Scripture it says: “See, I lay a stone in Zion, a chosen and precious cornerstone, and the one who trusts in him will never be put to shame.” 1 Peter 2:6 

He who overcomes will not be hurt at all by the second death. Revelation 2:11 

All who are victorious will be clothed in white. I will never erase their names from the Book of Life, but I will announce before my Father and his angels that they are mine. Revelation 3:5 (NLT) 

Him who overcomes I will make a pillar in the temple of my God. Never again will he leave it. Revelation 3:12 

That last one! How amazing! We will be in His Presence and never again, not at all, by no means, never ever, in no case, not ever, not in any wise will we leave His glorious Presence ever again. Praise God! It ain’t happenin’! 

*A further discussion and complete list of verses using οὐ μή and be found here https://www.blueletterbible.org/lang/lexicon/lexicon.cfm?t=kjv&strongs=g3364 

Image copyright by Derek Bair

All Along

Jesus had been very clear right from the first.

“Who are you?” they asked. 

“Just what I have been claiming all along,” Jesus replied. John 8:25 

I truly believe that everything that Jesus did and said here on earth was proclaiming himself to be Lord, Messiah, the great I AM. 

And in the verse above Jesus said that he had been proclaiming it all along. That word translated “all along” is the Greek word arche (ἀρχή) which means the origin, commencement, beginning. It is the same word as is used in this verse about the creation of the world: 

In the beginning (arche) was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning (arche). Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. John 1:1-3 

The Word has been going out from the beginning, the origin, the commencement, all along. And the Word was going out as Jesus walked here on earth. And the Word continues to go out, creating and declaring, life springing up wherever the Breath of God is received – the Word proclaimed through the prophets, the Word written down, the Word-created creation itself a proclamation. 

The heavens declare the glory of God … Their voice goes out into all the earth, their words to the ends of the world. Psalm 19:1, 4 

The Word demonstrated by Jesus. 

The Jews gathered round him, saying, “How long will you keep us in suspense? If you are the Christ, tell us plainly.” Jesus answered, “I did tell you, but you do not believe. The miracles I do in my Father’s name speak for me, but you do not believe because you are not my sheep. John 10:24-26 

When John the Baptist sent two of his disciples to ask Jesus if he was “the one,” i.e., was he the Messiah, Jesus answered, “Go back and report to John what you have seen and heard: The blind receive sight, the lame walk, those who have leprosy are cured, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the good news is preached to the poor.” Luke 7:22 

According to the NetBible study notes for Luke 7:22, Jesus was paraphrasing Messianic prophecy, various OT descriptions of the time of promised salvation: Isa 35:5-6; 26:19; 29:18-19; 61:1. Jesus is answering not by acknowledging a title, but by pointing to the nature of his works.” 

This would have been especially apparent to the scribes, Pharisees and experts of the law who had been studying the scriptures since their youth. Maybe not at first, but it began to dawn on them what Jesus was saying/doing/being and this realization was reflected in their increasing hostility. 

Because Jesus had been very clear right from his first recorded public reading of the great Messianic passage by Isaiah in the synagogue. 

“The Spirit of the Lord is on me, 
    because he has anointed me 
    to proclaim good news to the poor. 
He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners 
    and recovery of sight for the blind, 
to set the oppressed free, 
    to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.” 

Then he rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the attendant and sat down. The eyes of everyone in the synagogue were fastened on him. He began by saying to them, “Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.” Luke 4:18-21 

There were many other scriptures and Messianic prophecies that Jesus fulfilled during his ministry, but let’s just look at one section of Psalm 118:19-27. 

19 Open to me the gates of righteousness, that I may enter through them and give thanks to the Lord.   
20 This is the gate of the Lord; the righteous shall enter through it.  I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved. John 10:9 (NIV) 
21 I thank you that you have answered me and have become my salvation.   
22-23 The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone. This is the Lord’s doing; it is marvelous in our eyes.Jesus said to them, “Have you never read in the Scriptures: “‘The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone; this was the Lord’s doing, and it is marvelous in our eyes’? Matthew 21:42  
24 This is the day that the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.  Your father Abraham rejoiced that he would see my day. He saw it and was glad. John 8:56 
25 Save us, we pray, O Lord! O Lord, we pray, give us success!  So they took branches of palm trees and went out to meet him, crying out, “Hosanna (oh save us)! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord, even the King of Israel!” John 12:13 
26 Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! We bless you from the house of the Lord. Look, your house is left to you desolate. I tell you, you will not see me again until you say, ‘Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.’” Luke 13:35  
27 The Lord is God, and he has made his light to shine upon us
Bind the festal sacrifice with cords, up to the horns of the altar!  
When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” John 8:12  

Jesus proclaimed himself the Gate, the Savior, the Cornerstone, the coming One, the Light. And that last verse – “Bind (tie, bind, imprison, take prisoner) the festal sacrifice with cords, up to the horns of the altar!” – Jesus demonstrated for all eternity by allowing himself to be taken prisoner, bound, and nailed to the cross. He is our festal sacrifice, our Passover Lamb. 

He is what he said he is. Enter through the Gate and be saved  Salvation 

Do you not know? Have you not heard? Has it not been told you from the beginning? Have you not understood since the earth was founded? Isaiah 40:21

Then I said, “Here I am, I have come– it is written about me in the scroll. Psalm 40:7 

This post is also available as a free-to-use Bible Study here https://hiddentreasurebiblestudies.home.blog/2021/07/29/all-along-bible-study/

Moriah

there the Lamb was provided 

there the plague was stopped 

there the grain was crushed 

at the threshing floor 

the temple is built 

and He blows the chaff away 

Grain for bread is crushed … Isaiah 28:28 

But He was pierced through for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities … Isaiah 53:5 

Do you not know that you are a temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you? 1 Corinthians 3:16 

References: Genesis 22:1-2, 8, 2 Samuel 24:21, 2 Chronicles 3:1-2 

Image by Robert Schroeder on Flickr vhttps://flic.kr/p/ribTgF

Don’t You Want to Be Famous?

His whole life Jesus had an audience of One .

Whoever has my commands and obeys them, he is the one who loves me. He who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love him and show myself to him.” Then Judas (not Judas Iscariot) said, “But, Lord, why do you intend to show yourself to us and not to the world?” John 14:21-22 

I have read this passage many times, but this time it made me sad. Jesus was in the middle of explaining to the disciples the whole reason why he came, the whole reason he was going to die on the cross for them – and he gets this totally oblivious question. 

In chapter 14 of John, Jesus is telling his disciples that when he leaves them (via his death on the cross and resurrection) the Holy Spirit, the Advocate, will come. He is revealing to them the whole reason he came – to be, once and for all, the sacrifice for sin so that we could be in the Presence of God once again – that His Spirit could come and be with us and in us. The “Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive” (John 14:17). 

But they are still not getting it, and this disciple voices a question that echoes something that Jesus’ brothers had said, “No one who wants to become a public figure acts in secret. Since you are doing these things, show yourself to the world” (John 7:4). In other words, “Don’t you want to be famous?” 

I had just read this verse about King David when I read the above verse: 

And David became famous after he returned from striking down eighteen thousand Edomites in the Valley of Salt. 2 Samuel 8:13 

This is one of the stories that the disciples would have grown up hearing. David’s famous exploits. And wasn’t the Messiah the Son of David? Wasn’t he supposed to come and strike down their enemies? Wasn’t he supposed to be famous? 

But being famous was never Jesus’ goal. His goal was to fulfill the scriptures written about Messiah, one of which is, “He will not shout or cry out, or raise his voice in the streets (Isaiah 42:2), or as NetBible translates it, “he will not publicize himself in the streets.” Many times, “[h]e warned them not to tell others about him. This was to fulfill what was spoken through the prophet Isaiah” (Matthew 12:16-17). He would choose instead to reveal himself, or show who he really was, only to his followers. 

Jesus warned them about the love that the Pharisees had for honor and fame, and how that desire corrupted all of their good works (Matthew 23). Being famous had become their goal, replacing the desire to please God. Jesus commanded his disciples not to be like them.  

When I was growing up becoming famous was always pressed upon me as the most desirable goal. Being admired by others equaled being of value. So, I pursued a stage career, where standing ovations are the ultimate expression of approval and love. One night, in the middle of performing, looking out at a large, admiring (I hoped!) audience, it all seemed suddenly empty. I thought, “What am I doing here?” And when the run was done, I turned and walked away. It was only a few months later that Jesus revealed himself to me as Lord and Savior and ultimate Lover of my soul. 

If Jesus had only come to do famous exploits, to be victorious over the Romans and set Israel free as a nation, it would have just been another entry in the history books. Like David conquering the Philistines, it would have just been a good story. It would not have meant anything much to me.  

But his whole life Jesus had an audience of One – “Did you not know that I must be about My Father’s business?” (Luke 2:49) – and that audience gave him a standing ovation. “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased” (Matthew 3:17). That’s what I want, to have an audience of One, to make pleasing God my life’s goal, and to hear him say someday, “well done, good and faithful servant.” 

“Look,” [Stephen] said, “I see heaven open and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God.” Acts 7:56 

Image, Ovation, by Joi Ito  https://flic.kr/p/R3nQd  

Voiceless Yearning

… for we do not know what prayer to offer nor how to offer it worthily as we ought, but the Spirit Himself goes to meet our supplication and pleads in our behalf with unspeakable yearnings and groanings too deep for utterance. Romans 8:26 (AMPC) 

But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him. Luke 15:20 

beyond words 

or thoughts 

my heart drawn 

with voiceless yearning 

incoherent plea  

a long way off 

in the speechless empty road 

you meet my supplication 

wailing 

beyond words 

or thoughts 

Image in the Public Domain. The Return of the Prodigal Son by Christian Rohlfs, 1914.

Go Stand

Now Moses used to take a tent and pitch it outside the camp some distance away, calling it the “tent of meeting.”  Exodus 33:7 

Moses placed the staffs before the LORD in the Tent of the Testimony. Numbers 17:7 

Reading through the accounts again of the Israelite’s journey through the wilderness, I saw something I hadn’t noticed before. The tent, or tabernacle, that traveled around in the wilderness with the Israelites was called both the Tent of Meeting and the Tent of the Testimony, or Witness. And I realized something as I remembered that Paul said in 1 Corinthians that we are now that Temple or Tent. 

Don’t you know that you yourselves are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit lives in you? 1 Corinthians 3:16 

And that being so, I realized that we are both – a tent in which to meet with the Lord, and a tent of testimony or witness to who he is. What does that mean?  

We are the Tent of Meeting  

We always have a holy place where we can go to meet with God and commune with him – our hearts – seeking Him, turning toward Him, open to His correction and love. 

Because of Christ and our faith in him, we can now come fearlessly into God’s presence, assured of his glad welcome. Ephesians 3:12 (NLT) 

Because of Jesus’ atoning death on the cross, we can now come into God’s presence as Moses did. 

The LORD would speak to Moses face to face, as a man speaks with his friend. Then Moses would return to the camp, but his young assistant Joshua son of Nun did not leave the tent. Exodus 3:11 

Moses spoke to God there in the Tent as a friend, face to face, but had to leave to attend to the needs of the people. But Joshua never left the Tent. I have always thought, how amazing and precious to never leave the Tent of Meeting! But that’s exactly what we can do because of what Jesus did on the cross. We can dwell continually in God’s Presence.i 

One thing I ask of the LORD, this is what I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the LORD and to seek him in his temple. Psalm 27:4 

We are the Tent of the Testimony  

The Tent was also called the Tent of the Testimony because it contained objects that pointed to God’s plan of redemption and reminded the people of all that God had done for them. These objects were witnesses to God’s love and care. Among them were the Ark which “contained the gold jar of manna, Aaron’s staff that had budded, and the stone tablets of the covenant (Hebrews 9:4).”

These objects stood as witness to God’s Word (the commandments), God’s goodness and care for their very lives (the manna or Bread of Life), and the authority of the High Priest (Aaron’s rod that budded). The High Priest was a type of Jesus who would take the blood of the sacrifice – his own blood – into the heavenly Holy Place. 

For Christ did not enter a man-made sanctuary that was only a copy of the true one; he entered heaven itself, now to appear for us in God’s presence. Hebrews 9:24 

This is what we are witnesses to; this is the testimony of our earthly tent: Jesus Christ, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world (John 1:29), the Bread given for the life of the world (John 6:51), the Word made flesh (John 1:14), the Way, the Truth, and the Life (John 14:6). This is what Jesus has done for me; this is who he is to me. 

When I think of myself this way, as a Tent of Meeting and Testimony, a lot of Bible verses click into a new focus, and I see why holiness, and perseverance, and trust in God is so important. May God show you who you are in Him and give you grace to stand. 

… at night an angel of the Lord opened the prison doors and brought them out, and said, 

Go (pursue the journey on which you have entered, follow) 

and stand (stand immovable, stand firm, in the presence of others, in the midst, before judges, steadfast of mind, not hesitating, not wavering, stand ready, stand prepared) 

in the temple (in the temple courts, in the sacred place) 

and speak (utter your voice, emit a sound, speak, talk, tell, use words to declare, preach)  

to the people (population, people groups, tribes, nations) 

all (each, every, any, all, the whole, every one, all things, everything of) 

the words (which have been uttered by the Living Voice, things spoken, the Word) 

of this Life (life real and genuine, a life active and vigorous, devoted to God, blessed, in the portion even in this world of those who put their trust in Christ, but after the resurrection to be consummated by accession of a more perfect body, and to last forever).  

Acts 5:19-20 

do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? 1 Corinthians 6:19 

Go and stand in the temple … 

i For more on the Tent of Meeting see https://www.gotquestions.org/tent-of-meeting.html 

Image, free download from Pxfuel

Shards on the Ground

Jesus became a broken shard of pottery for us.

Woe to him who quarrels with his Maker, to him who is but a potsherd among the potsherds on the ground. Does the clay say to the potter, ‘What are you making?’ Does your work say, ‘He has no hands’? Isaiah 45:9 

“A potsherd among the potsherds” NetBible translates this “a mere shard among the other shards on the ground.” That really hit me when I read this verse. We are mere broken shards laying on the ground. Wow, that is a very humbling picture. But the wonderful thing is that Jesus, Messiah, was described the same way. 

My strength is dried up like a potsherd, and my tongue sticks to the roof of my mouth; you lay me in the dust of death. Psalms 22:15 

Psalm 22 is the great Psalm describing the Crucifixion. It includes “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” and “They divide my garments among them and cast lots for my clothing.” 

Jesus became a broken shard of pottery for us. Jesus, “Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness” (Philippians 2:6-7). Human likeness, like the other shards on the ground.  

The Hebrew word translated potsherd is cheres or heres (חֶרֶשׂ). It means both an earthenware or clay vessel, and a broken shard or potsherd. The Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament (TWOT) includes this definition: 

“This word, which occurs seventeen times, represents the potter’s product (Isa 45:9) which is dried and fired (Psa 22:15 [H 161), or even glazed (Pro 26:23). Bottles (baqbuq), bowls (ke li), and pots/pitchers (nebel) are made of it. It is in vessels made of heres, that documents were stored (Jer 32:14). heres can apply generally to a vessel (Pro 26:23), or it can mean pieces of potsherd at least large enough to use to carry a coal from a hearth or dip water for a drink (Isa 30:14).” 

As I read this definition, I realized that Jesus was all of these for us. He was a clay pot (a human being) in which the Word was stored. 

The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth. John 1:14 

He was the broken potsherd large enough to carry the coals from the altar of sacrifice. The coals that cleanse like the angel did for Isaiah. 

With it [the live coal] he [the angel] touched my mouth and said, “See, this has touched your lips; your guilt is taken away and your sin atoned for.” Isaiah 6:6-7 

He was the broken potsherd large enough to give us his living water. 

Jesus answered her, “If you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a drink, you would have asked him and he would have given you living water.” John 4:10 

Cheres is a variation of a word whose root is “to scrape,” and means itch and an eruptive disease. Job took a shard of broken pottery – a cheres – to scrape his boils of the “serous or lymph-like fluid” [which] is occasionally “acrid and offensive.”i 

Then Job took a piece of broken pottery and scraped himself with it as he sat among the ashes. Job 2:8 

In like way, Jesus touched the lepers. He puts his healing hands on us at our most needy and disgusting. 

Jesus reached out his hand and touched the man. “I am willing,” he said. “Be clean!” Immediately he was cured of his leprosy. Matthew 8: 3 

But the most wonderful, the most amazing thing about the heres is this: 

“Being porous, it [heres] absorbed the fat of holy things and the uncleanness of unclean things. Thus it was to be broken when contacted by either holiness or uncleanness (Lev 6:28 [H 211; Num 15:12).” — L.J.C., Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament 

Jesus was both. He was a pottery jar carrying God’s holiness, but he was also a pottery jar which absorbed and carried the uncleanness of our sin. He was broken after coming in contact with our uncleanness. We are broken when coming in contact with his holiness. 

Oh Lord Jesus, let us be broken with your holiness! Let us be like you, Jesus, storing the Word in our hearts, touching the lepers, offering the life-giving water, carrying the live coals of your righteousness and sin-cleansing power of the blood. Let us be broken with you as shards on the ground.  

Image from WikimediaCommons, Broken vases on Holy Saturday in Corfu 

i Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament 

Once Again

Sorry 

I know 

You are there 

You are with me 

You care 

You have a good plan 

You are working 

always  

My heart knows  

I am sitting on your lap 

leaning on your chest 

in the Everlasting Arms 

unfailing 

But  

my head panics 

and once again 

I am flailing  

and I need 

another sign 

another word 

another touch 

You 

I need 

You 

always

Image, Strong by Eduardo Martinez https://flic.kr/p/2ihGeUk   

The Verge of Overthrow

“Simon, Simon, Satan has asked to sift all of you as wheat. But I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned back, strengthen your brothers.” Luke 22:31-32 

Did you know that the first time the Greek word “you” is used in the above verse it is plural? According to NetBible Study Notes, “This pronoun is plural in the Greek text, so it refers to all the disciples of which Peter is the representative … Satan has demanded permission to put them to the test. The idiom ‘sift (someone) like wheat’ is similar to the English idiom ‘to pick (someone) apart.’” 

That was an eye-opener to me. All of the disciples were to be sifted like wheat, not just Peter. If I count myself as a disciple, I will be too. 

The Greek word translated “sifted” is siniazo, and this verse is the only time it is used in the New Testament. It means to sift, shake in a sieve … “to try one’s faith to the verge of overthrow.”i 

All the disciples will be sifted. However, the second time the pronoun “you” is used, “I have prayed for you, Simon,” Jesus is singling out Peter. I find myself shaking my head at Peter, “They’re all going to be sifted, but wow, poor Peter. He needs special prayer.” It is implied that he will turn away from God. “When you have turned back.” The word means to turn one’s self about, turn back, to return, come back to the worship of the true God, to the love and obedience of God, to the love for the children, to love wisdom and righteousness. It means to revert, to come again, to convert. Faith tried to the verge of overthrow. 

But I realize as I ponder this that I have needed Jesus’ special prayers a lot. I have needed to turn back many times – from rebellion, from error and deception, from wandering off on the wrong path, from the verge, the edge of the cliff, from anger at God, and, again, from anger at God. 

The point is that all of the disciples were to be sifted like wheat. All of us will be. And all of us will need the special prayers of Jesus. We can’t just point at Peter and shake our heads. He is our representative in this instance. Peter definitely typifies my struggle. But praise God, Jesus is always and ever interceding for us even today, even right now. And if you look at the verse above you see that Jesus prayed for Peter before he messed up. And – amazing grace!- Jesus said, “When you have turned back.” 

I don’t think (unfortunately) that this sifting is a big, one-time event and then we’re done. Peter messed up again – and probably again. The refining process is life long. But, we can be sure that if we keep yielding, if we keep repenting, if we keep letting him change us, each time we turn back we will have more to give, more to share, a stronger witness to his amazing grace and unfailing love.

Do not despair in the sifting! We will all be picked apart and shaken to remove the little pebbles (and the big stones) and the inedible chaff. But God’s ultimate purpose in the trials and the sifting and the turning back will be accomplished, and afterwards we will be used to “strengthen our brothers” and feed Jesus’ sheep with the good wheat, the Bread from Heaven.  

Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies. Who is he that condemns? Christ Jesus, who died—more than that, who was raised to life—is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us. Romans 8:34 

The third time he said to him, “Simon son of John, do you love me?” Peter was hurt because Jesus asked him the third time, “Do you love me?” He said, “Lord, you know all things; you know that I love you.” Jesus said, “Feed my sheep.” John 21:17 

I give them eternal life, and they will never perish (be lost, ruined, destroyed, rendered useless), and no one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand. John 10:28-29 

i Thayer’s Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament, by Joseph Thayer. 

Image, Dangerous Cliff Edge, Cliffs of Moher, County Clare, Ireland, by Anna & Michal https://flic.kr/p/4rz2ga  

My Spirit Grows Faint

I am overwhelmed 

When I remember God, then I am disturbed (moan, murmur, growl, cry aloud); When I sigh (complain), then my spirit grows faint (feeble, weak, overwhelmed). Psalm 77:3 (NASB) 

My heart desolate   

… my spirit grows faint (feeble, weak, overwhelmed) within me; my heart within me is dismayed (desolate, appalled, stunned, devastated). Psalm 143:4 

Yet! 

When my spirit grows faint (feeble, weak, overwhelmed) within me, it is you who know (make known, declare, cause me to know, reveal to me) my way. Psalm 142:3a 

You show me the Way 

From the ends of the earth I call to you, I call as my heart grows faint (feeble, weak, overwhelmed); lead me (guide me, bring me) to the rock that is (raised up, lifted up, exalted) higher than I. Psalm 61:2 

You lead me to the Rock that is higher 

You guide me to the Rock that is lifted up 

You bring me to the Rock who is exalted 

And when I am lifted up on the cross, I will draw everyone to myself. John 12:32 

And being found in appearance as a man, 
    he humbled himself 
    by becoming obedient to death— 
        even death on a cross! 

Therefore God exalted him to the highest place 
    and gave him the name that is above every name … Philippians 2:8-9 

I was overwhelmed and you answered me 

Jesus answered, “I am the way …” John 14:6 

“Follow me.” 

Image, original oil painting by Jack Bair. All rights reserved.