Jay Witham

Country Gospel Music and Bible Teaching

Category: Bible Teaching (page 2 of 2)

SPIRITUAL WARFARE: Sifted Like Wheat

In the following two verses from Luke 22, our LORD is speaking to his disciple Simon Peter and warning him of impending trouble.  Heads up Peter!  You are about to be tested beyond anything you ever thought possible.

31 And the Lord said, Simon, Simon, behold, Satan hath desired to have you, that he may sift you as wheat: 32 But I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not: and when thou art converted, strengthen thy brethren.     Luke 22:31-32

I’d like to examine these verses a little closer to see just what is going on.  First of all we see Jesus speaking to Simon Peter and using his given name twice.  “Simon, Simon …” reveals to me the concern with which Jesus was about to reveal this message to his disciple.  Jesus knew what was coming and His heart was moved with compassion.

Next Jesus says, “Satan has desired to have you, the he may sift you as wheat.”  A closer look at the word “desired” reveals some insight into the enemy’s motivation.  The word “desired” can also be translated “demanded”.  Immediately I have a vision of Satan standing before the Throne of God and contending for God’s servant Job.  Satan didn’t just desire to have Peter … he boldly demanded to have his way with him.  His intention was to sift him as wheat!  Now, I’m not a farmer but I do live in the country in a very agricultural county and I know enough about the sifting process to know that it refers to a separation of the wheat from the chaff.  To make that analogy of a human being tested indicates to me a very painful process.  What Simon Peter was about to endure would be an agonizing development.  Of course, looking back to the story of Job in the Old Testament, we have the assurance of knowing that Satan can only go as far a God allows him.  It is comforting to know that God places a hedge of thorns of protection around those that are His children and, try as he might, Satan cannot break through that hedge without the express permission of God, our Heavenly Father.

With that in mind, I’d like to be able to read the next verse and hear Jesus saying, “Don’t worry about a thing Simon!  I told Satan, ‘nothing doing’.  You are one of mine and you are off limits to him.”  Oh how wonderful it would be if that were always the case.  Some times it is … but not always.  In reality Jesus said, “But I have prayed for you, that your faith will not fail …”  Imagine, the God of the universe praying for you by name, knowing what you are about to endure at the enemy’s hand and assuring you that you will come through it victoriously!  Jesus knew that Peter would deny Him, curse and swear and disallow he ever knew Him.  But He also knew how it would all turn out!  Peter’s faith would not fail!

Jesus then says to Peter, “When you are converted, strengthen your brothers.”  To be converted means to be changed.  Anyone who goes through deep waters, anyone who survives the storms of life, anyone who has been sifted like wheat by the devices of the enemy will be changed!  You will come through it … but you will arrive on the other shore a changed person!  You will not be the same person you were when you went into it.  Trials and tribulations change us!  Some for better; some for worse.  You will either become better or you will become bitter.  You will either be drawn closer to God or it will drive a wedge between you and your Creator.  Which way it goes depends entirely on our attitude and choices we make in the trial, but it is certain that you will not come out of it the same way you went into it.  You will be changed!  Simon Peter was a changed man and he was changed for the better.  Jesus instructed him to use what he learned in his storm to strengthen and encourage his brothers.

This is why I take it as a personal commission to share my story with others and in so doing to strengthen and encourage my brothers and sisters with what God has taught me through it all.  I don’t have all the answers as to why God allows suffering and affliction to come into the lives of His children but I do have some insight.  In my next BLOG I will share some of my own experience with you.  It’s a painful story to tell but I have shared it innumerable times as I have been ministering at large.  And the end result is that it has been inspiring to others who have been asking God, “Why?”  Remember, even Jesus in His darkest hour as He hung upon the Cross asked, “My God, My God, why hast thou forsaken me?”

New Year’s Resolutions

Most folks make resolutions at this time of year.  Always with good intentions … but then I’m reminded of the old saying, “The road to hell is paved with good intentions.”  The resolutions don’t usually last all that long and we slip back into the old habits once again.  I usually set out to read through the Bible or a devotional like Oswald Chambers’ “My Utmost for His Highest.”  Sometimes I’m successful, sometimes not.

A few years ago I recorded a song on my “Country Gospel” CD entitled, “This Turn’s for You” written by David Patillo.  It starts off like this:

You’ve made resolutions to turn your life around,

But sometimes things don’t always turn out right.

I know the solution, let Jesus in your heart,

and if tomorrow never comes, you’d be with Him tonight.

But you turn the handle on the door to your heart …

There was a time just a few years ago when I actually read through my Bible twice in one year.  It’s only happened that one time and that was no compliment to me.  I simply had a lot of time on my hands that summer and decided the second time I read through the Bible I would be looking for something in particular.  You see, I had been fascinated by the study of Spiritual Warfare for several years and had actually preached many sermons and taught even more Bible studies on the subject.  I won’t say that I specialized  in the subject, however, I had certainly done a lot of reading and research … enough to at least be “knowledgeable” on the subject.  So I decided to read my Bible from Genesis to Revelation looking for what the Scriptures had to say about Spiritual Warfare.  My findings were shocking!  I discovered that the background of the entire Word of God was centered around a war between Good and evil.  A conflict between God with His Heavenly angels against Satan and his fallen angels.  My entire world view began to change as I internalized this truth.

Since leaving the pastorate and traveling with my Gospel Music ministry, I have had numerous opportunities to preach and I often find myself returning to the subject of Spiritual Warfare.  I have even been called upon to present a series on this fascinating topic.

My wife, Linda has been encouraging me to write a book and share some of my findings and this year I am making a resolution to begin work on the project.  I have decided on a name, “SIFTED LIKE WHEAT … The Believer’s Journey in the Epic Spiritual Battle”.  In it I will share my own personal battle with the Evil One and how it almost destroyed my faith and my ministry.

So in the days and weeks ahead, I will be posting on this blog and sharing my findings on the subject of Spiritual Warfare.  Not only will I be sharing my thoughts with you but hopefully will be organizing them into something that will fill the pages of the book I have resolved to write.  I invite your comments and opinions and would encourage you to tell your story as well.

May God bless you richly in 2012!

Jay Witham (Proverbs 4:23)

Bible Adventures Retreats

This year (2009) we will schedule four men’s retreats at Shekinah Farm.  Check the Calendar on this site and you will find the dates from June thru September.  Also, you can read the Men’s Ministry page to learn more about these retreats and use the contact page to make a reservation.

Bible Adventures Boot Camp:  A four day men’s event based on John Eldredge’s Wild at Heart.  Taught by Jay Witham at Shekinah Farm in Cambridge, NY.

Primary Objective:  To restore the hearts of men through a real encounter with God leading to irreversible change.

Our desire is to:

  • Give a man his heart back
  • Show him his place in the battle
  • Begin to teach him how to live.

$249 per man, meals and lodging included.  Use the contact page to make a reservation.

NOTE:  Due to the nature of the personal themes discussed at this retreat it is NOT RECOMMENDED as a father/son retreat.

New this Year… COWBOY CAMP:  A touch of the Old West in the Great Northeast.

Western Horsemanship from the ground up … and all things “cowboy.” Three day adventure begins with basic cowboy training, interwoven with biblical application and ends with a half day trail ride. $249 per man, meals and lodging included. Use the contact page to make a reservation.

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