Everett Swanson - Being Sifted - Spain Convention 2005

Luke 22:3, "Simon, Simon, behold Satan hath desired to have you, that he may sift you as wheat, but I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not, and when thou art converted, strengthen thy brethren."  This day Jesus had a visit with Peter, called his name twice and revealed something to Peter that he did not know.  It was the desire and work of Satan, he desires to have you, and he wants to sift you.  One time my mother wanted me to help her make bread, so she taught me how to use a sieve. The fine flour went through the sieve but the larger, harder pieces did not go through the sieve, these pieces were rejected. It was then I began to learn a little about separation, and Satan would like to pass us through the sieve.

The church at Ephesus was sifted and it was found they were doing seven good things but there was one problem:  their love was missing, like being sifted and love gone. Seven things they were doing that were positive:  they kept on professing, kept on taking part in meetings but their profession did not touch the heart of God, the most important part was missing.  Satan does not care if you go to meetings, does not care even if you are in the work so long as you do not have a love for it, because it is love that makes our service easy.  Love sees sacrifice as a privilege and we read of two servants of God in prison being beaten but rejoicing and singing at midnight that they were able to suffer for Jesus' sake, and love makes a beating enjoyable, what a privilege to suffer for Jesus' sake.

When Jesus brake the bread, He gave it to the disciples and said, "This is My body, I am giving this for you." He thanked God for the privilege of giving His life.  He took up the cup and said, "This is My blood." He was so grateful that He offered thanks for shedding His blood for us.  Christ is greater through His love and sacrifice, far greater than I can think it was and so we cannot afford to have our love sifted out.  Demos loved this present evil world, his faith was sifted, and he did not have faith in the king and the kingdom anymore.  Satan would like to sift our gathering at convention for we are going to get a new thankfulness and he would like to sift that out, like he sifted Judas.  He sifted his values, he fainted and when we are faint, we lose our consciousness of values, we lose our consciousness of our privileges.  There is going to be a great sifting take place during this convention and we will never be the same again, something permanent is going to happen to us.  God is here amongst His people and will do something permanent, as God wants to protect the seed.

Satan follows the sower and takes away the seed that is sown, just as he followed the sower when he sowed on the wayside soil.  The python snake wraps himself around a person and cuts off the oxygen supply.  I had a companion once who was connected to an oxygen supply and you have to be very careful with this line, it was his life connection.  Satan wants to destroy the life connection with God.  It is real easy to destroy the greatest army in the world, just cut off the food supply line, and then they are helpless.

So now what does God want to sift out of our lives, something during this convention, He wants to sift out of my life and so wonderful if there is something in your soul that can be sifted out these days.  Wonderful when we can leave here a little softer, have hardness sifted out, maybe unbelief sifted out.  Judas had his correct values sifted out. Have you ever seen a balance scale? You put Jesus on the one side of the scale and put 30 pieces of silver on the other side of the scale, that poor man, he valued the 30 pieces of silver more than Jesus.  Sometimes scales need to be recalibrated, need to be rebalanced, for they are out of balance and we might not have things in true balance today.  The world may be carrying too much value on our balance scale, we may love the world too much, love the pleasures of the world more than we love God, and there is something wrong with our balance scale.  Some loved the praise of men more than the praise of God, something is wrong; it needs to be sifted out.

In Matthew 10, we see that Jesus warned about loving our relatives more than loving God. Nothing wrong with loving people but we need to love God more and more.  Peter was asked by Jesus, "Do you love Me more than these?"  He did not answer correctly, he said, "You know that I love you." This was not the question, the question was, "Do you love Me more than something else?"  We would like to have our scales balanced again, to love Jesus more than we love anything else.  Jesus went into the garden of Gethsemane with two wills, with two struggles and then there was only one will.  Jesus submitted His will, not my will.  We all have a strong will but Jesus got to the place where He loved the will of God more than His own will, and three times He could say, "Not My will but Thine be done."  Jesus said, "Of Mine own self I can do nothing."  He presented to God a will with no resistance and how wonderful when we bring to God no resistance.  This is why God could make heaven and earth because there was no resistance.  He made this from nothing and that is the reason I want something sifted out of my life in this convention, something that will affect my future.

II Chronicles 20, Jehoshaphat had an enemy come against him and he feared.  I do need enemies, I do need Satan for it makes us more desperate to seek God.  I need my flesh, it is a problem for me but I need it, I look at it and I say, "I need more help from God," and God says, "There is nothing impossible with Me."  Elijah was told, "The journey is too great for thee," and in this coming year God is planning the journey that is too great for us.  You need the help of God, He is planning mountains that are too hard for us and if we are going to ascend we are going to need the help of God.  The valleys are too deep for us, the valley of the shadow of death, all are alright if the Lord is with us and He will enable us.  Here Jehoshaphat when facing the enemy said, "We have no might against this great company that cometh against us, neither know we what to do, but our eyes are upon Thee."  He prayed and others prayed, parents and children all called on God, saying, "Please help me," feeling like the man who smote on his breast and said, "Lord be merciful to me, a sinner."  I am a sinner, please help me and God was glad to help him; He was so happy to favor him.  The dependable Lord is there to help us.

One time I went to visit an old servant of God, Ernest Nelson. It was time for lunch and he put out his hands and said, "Please help me" and oh what a privilege to help this elderly faithful servant of God.  I need to know that God will help me.  One time I had a companion aged 19 who taught me many precious things.  He said to me, "Everett, don't spare me, for the time is short and I need to learn, don't spare but help me, teach me, a wonderful attitude to have."  In Isaiah 6, Isaiah saw the King and then said, "Woe is me," so then the seraphim took a live coal and touched his lips and then Isaiah said, "Here am I, send me."  That is quite a journey, from "Woe is me," to "Here am I."  We come to convention and feel undone, feel a heaviness, feel that we have come short.  "Woe is me," and then it is not long before the Lord touches us and then we are able to say, "Here am I," just to be used for this great cause, this will inspire others.

There was a dog team in Alaska and the musher was asked, "Why do you do what you are doing, why choose a lead dog that is not the fastest, or the strongest?"  He said, "It is true.  My example dog that is in the lead is not the strongest or as fast as the others, but this dog has a heart for the race and because he has a heart for the race he puts heart into the other dogs, he is an inspiration to the other dogs, and he has got a heart." When we come to the Sunday morning meeting we may not be so capable as others but just our being there puts heart into that meeting, heart from God, just bring more heart to our companions, to the kingdom of God.  When Jehoshaphat cried out, God sent a servant to him, named Jehaziel, these people were all frightened and Jehaziel calmed them all down and gave them assurance, "God is amongst us, God is going to help us, do not worry about this, do not worry about the enemy, this is not your war, it is the Lord's war."

There were two things that they had to do, verse 20, "Believe in the Lord your God, so shall ye be established, believe His prophets, so shall ye prosper." To believe in the Lord and believe in His servants and it is true the enemy we have is stronger and greater than you are but God wants to sift out the fear that we have, to sift out the unbelief.  The next morning they rose early to go against this great army and what a strange way to go to war, singing while going to the enemy, singing songs of Zion.  I hope that we do not lose our song, for to lose our song is bad but to lose our cry is fatal, so thank you for your song and thank you for your cry. They went to the enemy, like going to a four day convention and here God had gone before them and when they arrived God had taken care of the enemy, they were all dead men and they spent the next 3 days picking up all the treasure, gold and jewels, more than they could carry, they could not carry all the treasure.  I have come here to convention and hear your testimonies, I listen to God's servants and so Jesus is here and giving us more treasure than we can carry away, our hands are full.  These people looked on the ground and saw more gold and they did this for 3 days and on the 4th day they spent the whole day thanking and praising God.  Like the Psalmist said, "I will sing praises to God seven times in a day," and God deserves more praise than He is getting from us, He deserves more appreciation from us, saying, "Thank you."  Seven times per day, like a cup running over and drinking from the saucer and now our cup is running over.

Jesus said to Peter, "I have prayed for you."  We all have been prayed for, the Holy Spirit has offered prayers with groanings that cannot be uttered.  Have you ever had someone say to you, "I have prayed for you." I have been encouraged when someone has said, "I have prayed for you by name."  This was the message from Jesus to Peter and have we been getting a message from God to our heart.  One time the servant of Isaac talked to Laban and Laban listened to the message and when the servant was finished Laban replied, this thing proceedeth from the Lord, "This is from God" and as we listen to the messages we can say the same, "This is from God for me." One time a famous preacher was asked, "Do you have dealings with God?"  He replied, "No and I don't think anyone else does either."  In a testimony someone said, "I was spoken to by God, God is here amongst His people."  Jesus asked a question, "The baptism of John, was it from heaven or of men?"  We can ask the same question here today, "This meeting is it from heaven or of men?," thankful we can say this meeting is of God for God is here, and we can be so thankful and be rejoicing for God is among His people.

The other day we stood at the Vatican and I looked at all the wealth, I walked in the cathedral, looked up at the paintings on the ceiling and I realized that all this is man made, millions of dollars spent, lot of brains, all of man and then I got to see the work of God, saw the workers and friends standing next to me and said to myself, "This is of God." Hundreds of people were going in to see the tomb of the last Pope but no one was lined up to see the servants of God, I could only see the unbelief, the hardness and felt so sad that people are only taken up with what is of man.  What is seen is of man, what is unseen is of God, if we follow Jesus, what did He do, what did He build, nothing, only what is here that is eternal.  He said to Peter that He had prayed that his faith would fail not.

There was a boy 9 years old who had professed on Sunday night, his father was not professing, he was the coach of a basketball team.  On Wednesday he wanted to take his son to the ball game, he wanted to have his picture taken with the huge basketball players, so he was so excited about going.  So when time came to go Dad said to the boy, "Time to go," so the boy said, "Just a minute, Dad," and he went into his bedroom and shut the door and when he came out of the room, tears were running down his cheek and said, Dad, "I don't want to go, I want to go with Mum to the bible study."  This boy was being sifted, his love from this to that so then the Dad said, "I won't go either, then." Now his dad has professed also and he now loves God all because of this little boy.  He had been sifted and now he had got something else in his heart which is greater, that thy faith fail not.

Acts 1:3, here we have the proof of what the Lord is doing for us and the Lord is asking us to take steps in faith and then you will arrive at the point of proof.  Jesus rubbed something into the eyes of a blind man and then He told him to go to the pool of Siloam to wash and he went and came seeing.  It is up to our faith if we are going to see or not, some tell us that Jesus did it all, there is nothing for us to do.  Jesus does the miracle part but we do the part that is possible to do.  This man could have reasoned, "Has anyone gone to wash and came back seeing?"  He could have asked, "How can natural water open my eyes?"  No, he just obeyed and we need to lay aside our human thinking and obey, to walk by faith and the man now needed no more faith because he had the proof in that experience.  We can walk in faith till we get to the next experience and prove that on the other side of obedience is the proof.  The proof regarding the scriptures, people say that men wrote the scriptures, yes but what kind of men, holy men of God moved by the Holy Spirit, men who did not speak, did not write till they were spoken to.  One time men came to John and asked him, "Who are you?"  He replied, "I am the voice, a voice can't talk, a voice does not know what to say, it is only able to tell if the mind tells it to talk."  We have the mind of Christ.  The greatest gift ever given to us is the mind of Christ as we can now think as Christ thought.  We can have our steps ordered aright if we have the mind of Christ.  We do not fear the future if we have the mind of Christ.

Isaiah 7:14, God told Isaiah something impossible, something that never happened before and has not happened since, that a virgin was going to give birth to the son of God.  Can you prove that?  No, I can't prove that, but the proof is in here, we prove our faith, we cannot prove it to someone else but we can get the proof ourselves.  We can believe something that is impossible, we get to read the prophecy and now we have the proof.  Micah 5:2, Jesus was to be born in Bethlehem and then one day God came down and His son was born in Bethlehem.  It all came to pass, the scriptures are proven one after another.  Zechariah 11:13 tells us how much Jesus was to be sold for, 30 pieces of silver, the price of a slave, it all happened.  Psalm 22:18, David had a vision of Christ on the cross, people cast lots for His garments, a garment without a seam.  When I look at my shirt I see a seam here, the seam is the stopping of a thread and then another work is started.  I asked a seamstress once, "How could you sew a garment without a seam?"  She said, "It would be hard."  Christ never had a seam in His life, no start and stop and have a new beginning.  No, it is all one work, we do not have any seams, no broken bones, not one break in the structure.

Some people at the cross wanted His garment, they did not care about Jesus but they wanted His garment.  The religious world wants the blood on the garment but they do not want Christ.  The sinner on the cross next to Jesus, he hated the cross but he learned to love his cross, because his cross brought him into fellowship with Jesus. From this cross he saw, "I am a sinner and Jesus is my salvation," he saw the Lord and he saw a kingdom and heard those words, "Today you and I will be together in paradise."  Have you ever complained about your cross?  It is this cross of yours that gives you access to His cross.  If we do not deny ourselves and carry our cross we will not have fellowship with Jesus, we will not receive the benefits of His cross; we need to begin to love His cross.

My 19-year-old companion walked through the house one day and saw a door open a little bit and he looked in and saw a 9-year-old boy praying.  He was learning how to take up his cross and he said, "It is this that encourages me more than anything else, that boy there." This 9-year-old boy invited his teacher to come to meetings so she said to him, "I don't have a car," so he said that his parents would come and get her.  She had just had a fight in her church and there was a split, so she went.  He came home and said, "My teacher wants to come to the meetings," he was so excited.  She came for some time and then one night near the end of the meeting she picked up her coat and this boy thought she was offended but no, she came and stood next to him, and that night she made her choice to serve God.  She said she wanted to walk in truth all her days till she died and she was faithful.  What a privilege to have a little part in the work of God; it is the greatest privilege.

John 14:29, "Now, I have told you before it come to pass, that when it is come to pass, ye might believe."  This is something that has never happened before but it will and when it is come to pass you will know that I am He, we have the proof, not just theories or ideas, no, proof.  The scriptures prove a resurrection power, 500 saw Jesus rise from the grave but there were some people who were paid to tell a lie.  The guards were paid to say, "The body of Jesus was stolen;" what a terrible message.  They were to go through Jerusalem and say, "Jesus had not risen."  God took care of all the agnostics and atheists by opening the graves of the saints and they went into Jerusalem from the graves; this was pretty impressive.  People saying, "I was at your funeral not so long ago, so how did you get here?"  There is lots of proof, and we have a wonderful kingdom with lots of proof.  Let us have the hardness, the unbelief sifted out of us, that we would never be the same again.