Today’s guest blogger is Emily Duffey. Emily is a student of biblical counseling and is working toward certification. 


“Simon,
Simon, behold, Satan has demanded to have you, that he might sift you like
wheat, but I have prayed for you that your faith may not fail. And when you
have turned again, strengthen your brothers.”
Luke 22:31-32

I turn to this passage a lot in my Bible. I don’t
put myself on the same level as Peter, by any means—but I can empathize with
being sifted, tested, tried. I turn here because I find encouragement in these
words. In this passage I learn more of the heart of Jesus—the compassion that
overflows from His heart over one of His children. “I have prayed for you that
your faith may not fail”—what a comfort! What encouragement! Jesus Himself prayed for Peter, to be
strengthened, that his faith may not fail.
“Likewise the Spirit helps us in our
weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit
himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words.”
Romans 8:26
These prayers are precious to me, because it brings
me before the throne of God, experiencing the heart of God. Knowing I have THE
intercessor going before the throne of God on my behalf encourages my faint
heart and weary soul in a way nothing else can.
“And
when you have turned again, strengthen your brothers…”

This is one of the verses that has continuously held
my interest in discipleship. There was a time I thought that I’d messed up too
many times, I had sinned too great, my hands were too dirty and marred with sin
to the point the stain would never wash off my hands. I sincerely thought I was
“washed up” and of no earthly good to the Lord. I remember reading this verse
over and over, thinking it was impossible. I knew I would return to the Lord
(as He causes me to persevere), but strengthen others? Encourage others—with
these unworthy hands and a heart that is bent towards sin oh, so easily?
In Luke 22 Jesus tells Peter he will deny Him three
times, and this was immediately after Peter pledges to follow Christ to His
death. Peter goes from verbally pledging his life to Christ and within the
space of a breath denied ever knowing Jesus. There’s nothing that keeps you or
me from the greatest sin conceivable but the staying hand of God Himself. We
are a breath away from the worst sin you can conceive—just like Peter.
In the book of John we see the last encounter
between Peter and the resurrected Jesus.
When
they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon, son of
John, do you love Me more than these?” He said to Him, “Yes, Lord;
you know that I love You.” He said to him, “Feed My lambs.” He
said to him a second time, “Simon, son of John, do you love Me?” He
said to Him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love You.” He said to him,
“Tend My sheep.” He said to him the third time, “Simon, son of
John, do you love Me?” Peter was grieved because He said to him the third
time, “Do you love Me?” and he said to Him, “Lord, You know
everything; You know that I love You.” Jesus said to him, “Feed My
sheep. Truly, truly, I say to you, when you were young, you used to dress
yourself and walk wherever you wanted, but when you are old, you will stretch
out your hands, and another will dress you and carry you where you do not want
to go. (This He said to show by
what kind of death he was to glorify God.) And after saying this He said to
him, ‘Follow Me.’”
John 21:15-19 (ESV)
What a restoration . . . yet even in this
reconciliation, this great ministry we are all called to be a part of, Jesus
pointed out more to Peter in this passage than how he would be used of Him.
Jesus told Peter how he would die. This story started off with Peter pledging
his life even to death, and continues later with Jesus affirming this as
reality in Peter’s life. What’s the difference between the two?
The second time there was a new promise—you, Peter, will persevere to the end and glorify
Jesus in your death. You will strengthen your brothers. No longer will you deny
knowing Christ, because Christ is the most precious thing to you.
Peter would proclaim His name. Peter endured—because
Jesus prayed for him. Peter endured because the Holy Spirit continued to
intercede on his behalf before the throne of God when words failed him. You and
I have that same benefit of the Spirit of God interceding on our behalf. If we
are born again Christians, we will endure to the end. We can move forward in
confidence of God working out His perfect will in our lives. This is trusting
God in action.
It sounds so simple—trust God! Of course! In your
heart you may long to trust Him, yet you struggle in the moments when trust is
most necessary. Sin likes to leaks out around the edges when hard pressed, and
you may find your trust isn’t as concrete as you thought. The refining—the
pressing—gives an opportunity to try again. The Lord graciously gives you an
abundance of opportunities to learn to glorify Him!
Do you think you have stained your hands so greatly
with sin that you are of no earthly good? Repent of your sin (genuine
repentance on the heart level—if you need a reminder of what genuine repentance
looks like, read Julie’s blog here: http://bc4women.blogspot.com/2012/06/repentance.html).
Turn from your sin and strengthen your brothers and sisters. Use the lessons
God has taught you for the good of others. Trust God to perform His perfect
work in you, a poured out vessel for His glory. Remember—it isn’t about you. It
is all about Him.

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