Sifted for Service
Charles F. Stanley
Scripture: Luke 22:24-34
Introduction: Why does God allow us to be sifted, or tested, through hardship and challenges in life? He has a purpose behind every heartache. God desires for us to become available vessels through which He can do His work.
God's purpose for each person who is saved is to serve Him (Ephesians 2:8-9). Why does God want us to serve Him?
- He uses us to carry out His work on earth.
- For example, Christ commanded us to share the gospel (Matt. 28:18-19).
- Many of God's most effective servants never receive honor from others, but God will reward them in heaven.
- He uses it to grow us up.
- When you serve Him, you learn things in the Word that you would never learn any other way.
- He uses it to bring Himself glory and honor.
- If we serve Him in order to get glory, acclaim, approval, or acceptance, we've already received all the reward we're going to get.
- God uses our failure to draw us closer to Him. Don't wait until you can serve Him perfectly, and don't let fear of failure keep you from obeying Him.
God won't stop using you just because you made a mistake.
- Consider Peter, who denied Him three times.
- Know that Satan can't touch a child of God without His permission (Luke 22:31).
- God allows Satan to sift us because there are spiritual realities that we can learn only through difficulty and hardship.
- No matter how you sinned, God can use you again if you repent.
- Sifting defined: the process of removing the inedible parts of the wheat from the part used to make flour. When the mixture was thrown into the air, the wheat would fall to the ground and the chaff would fly away.
What are some words that describe the sifting process?
- Sometimes God has to shake us to get our attention if we've tried to excuse ourselves from being used by Him.
- God is willing to let something into your life that will shock you into realizing that He has a call on your life.
- He wants to turn those shocking experiences into something good (Romans 8:28).
- Sometimes God works deep within us, and no growth is obvious on the surface.
- Example: Dr. Stanley felt restless until he discovered how to abide in Christ.
- God searches our hearts and minds to reveal sinful patterns that aren't part of who we are as His children.
- God separates us from sin.
- His call can also mean we have to move away from loved ones.
- If we confess our sins, He is faithful to forgive them (1 John 1:9).
- Although Peter denied Christ, the Lord forgave him and made him the leader of the first church.
- If you've failed, God is available to clean up your life and make you a blessing to many people.
- The choice is yours. You can either surrender your life to Him and discover the wonderful plan He has for you, or rebel against Him and forever wonder what He might have done.
Closing: God allows Satan to sift us. So when hardship comes, ask yourself, "Lord, are You using this in my life to get me ready to be used by You?" Commit to be available to Him. Ask Him to work within you in whatever way He desires so you may be used to the maximum of your God-given potential.