Psalm 62:1-2 (NIV)
Truly my soul finds rest in God; my salvation comes from Him. Truly He is my rock and my salvation; He is my fortress, I will never be shaken.
Even though Jesus warned us that there would be days of trials and tribulation, believers are still overwhelmed in the violent storms and unexpected earthquakes rather real or perceived that occur in this journey called life. We don’t think it will happen to us because we belong to Jesus which is totally contradictory to His Word but contrived by many pulpits as a means of “salvation” with sets attendance records and increases offerings. People will flock to hear what they want to hear and give as a means to an end but that is not what this thing called discipleship is all about. There will be times of violent shaking to produce the radical change called for in repentance. Oh, I can tell already I have lost some people. They are tossing in the “GRACE” flag and calling for a “foul”. Repentance demands a change or it is nothing more than a reaction. It may change some things in our life but it doesn’t not change who we are. To fully repent of our sins and choose Jesus is a call to righteousness. The Lord establishes us in Righteousness and we have a moral obligation to pursue it as Children of the Living God. Grace does not excuse our sin. It paid the price for our sin. A single sin no matter how small or insignificant it seems to us even those that fall in the gray area created by humanity required the life of an Innocent Man – Jesus paid that price for each and every sin of all mankind.
Why does God allow people to be shaken when He so clearly states in His Word that those who come to the Lord for salvation and find rest for their soul in God will “never” be shaken? Seems contradictory, doesn’t it? It would be if we truly lived righteous lives before the Lord every day all day without deviations, detours and distress. The truth of the matter is that people don’t seek God each day in every moment, we seek Him mostly when we need Him. Peaks and valleys are formed by wavering faith as the Lord is building a foundation of faith that will keep us on the journey, that Highway of Holiness, leading us to hope. Our hope is in Jesus – not what He can do to make our life better – but what He has done to give us forever.
Haggai 2:6-9 (NIV)
“This is what the Lord Almighty says: ‘In a little while I will once more shake the heavens and the earth, the sea and the dry land. I will shake all nations, and what is desired by all nations will come, and I will fill this house with glory,’ says the Lord Almighty. ‘The silver is mine and the gold is mine,’ declares the Lord Almighty. ‘The glory of this present house will be greater than the glory of the former house,’ says the Lord Almighty. ‘And in this place I will grant peace,’ declares the Lord Almighty.”
“In a little while I will once more shake the heavens and the earth, the sea and the dry land. I will shake all nations and what is desired by all nations will come and I will fill this House with glory.” Read the news. The end times are happening all around us. People can choose to ignore the signs and read every OTHER book on the shelf for self-help and plant preservation. Exactly what is written in God’s Word is coming to pass. Jesus is coming back. I know it sounds crazy. I cannot wrap my head around or fathom what it might be like. I just want to be ready. I want my family to be saved. I don’t want to leave anyone behind. I want all mankind to know the Truth and that Truth to set them free. I am one person. Sometimes this life of following Christ seems so small and isolating. Even in a crowd of Christians in a church of hundreds, there seem to be so few believers. You know what I mean. Those who fast and pray seeking God’s Face on more than Sunday and occasional Wednesday night. Those who truly believe that Jesus Christ is coming back and desire to be ready more than anything else. The Lord has promised to fill these pockets and places of people who desire Him above all else with His Glory. I want that to be me. I will not be exempt from the shaking but kept in its midst if my goal in life is Jesus…just give me Jesus.
Nehemiah 5:13 (NIV)
I also shook out the folds of my robe and said, “In this way may God shake out of their house and possessions anyone who does not keep this promise. So may such a person be shaken out and emptied!” At this the whole assembly said, “Amen,” and praised the Lord. And the people did as they had promised.
Backstory: The Jews were in the midst of famine. Some of the Jews bought out of slavery who were reunited with their people were being taken advantage of by fellow Jews. (Nehemiah 5:1-12) Basically sold from one form of slavery into another, God was not happy about this and Nehemiah would have the privilege of sharing His Displeasure with the community. The Lord told them to stop charging their own people interest and give back one percent of the money, grain, new wine and olive oil that they had taken. Of course, everyone agreed standing before the Man of God. Nehemiah went on to say as he shook out the folds of his robe that in the same way “May God shake out of their house and possessions anyone who does not keep his promise SO may such a person be shaken out and emptied. How many times do we make rash promises to the Lord? Or maybe are inclined by His Spirit to do something and put it off until it is too late? Sometimes we just flatly refuse to obey the Will of God and ignore the Word of God thinking somehow we can apply the “Grace Card” and He will forgive us from blatant disobedience and willful sin. This is about the time a whole lot of shaking starts going on
Matthew 24:4-14 (NIV)
Jesus answered: “Watch out that no one deceives you. For many will come in my name, claiming, ‘I am the Messiah,’ and will deceive many. You will hear of wars and rumors of wars, but see to it that you are not alarmed. Such things must happen, but the end is still to come. Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be famines and earthquakes in various places. All these are the beginning of birth pains. Then you will be handed over to be persecuted and put to death, and you will be hated by all nations because of me. At that time many will turn away from the faith and will betray and hate each other, and many false prophets will appear and deceive many people. Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold, but the one who stands firm to the end will be saved. And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.
The world around us is literally shaking and quaking at the close proximity of our Lord Jesus and His Return. It is lining up with His Word as prophecy is daily fulfilled unfolding right before us yet we cannot see it. Jesus warned us that it would get worse before it got better. We want a better life now. Sadly, I have lived long enough to see people acclimate to the fall of the world rather than make a difference in its demise. As believers, we are not called to save the world, earth or planet. We are called to bring the Good News of Jesus to every man, woman and child before He comes so they can make a choice. This is not a popular calling because it doesn’t produce immediate gratification but a lifelong commitment to live on a mission. Romans 8:28 promises that God works all those things together for those who love Him and accept His Calling. Therefore, all these “things” going on around us and “shaking” in the world must produce something good in our life. Love is cold. Sin is rampant. False prophets twist and turn the Word of God spinning it into stacks of coins rather than saving souls. Jesus makes a promise in the midst of His Alarming Message. “The one who stands firm to the end will be saved.” It is all about faith. It is all about Jesus. We are not shaken to fall but to make sure we can stand.
Matthew 21:18-21 (NIV)
Early in the morning, as Jesus was on his way back to the city, he was hungry. Seeing a fig tree by the road, he went up to it but found nothing on it except leaves. Then he said to it, “May you never bear fruit again!” Immediately the tree withered. When the disciples saw this, they were amazed. “How did the fig tree wither so quickly?” they asked. Jesus replied, “Truly I tell you, if you have faith and do not doubt, not only can you do what was done to the fig tree, but also you can say to this mountain, ‘Go, throw yourself into the sea,’ and it will be done.
Matthew 24:32-35 (NIV)
Now learn this lesson from the fig tree: As soon as its twigs get tender and its leaves come out, you know that summer is near. Even so, when you see all these things, you know that it is near, right at the door. Truly I tell you, this generation will certainly not pass away until all these things have happened. Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away.
We have been given the Holy Spirit to cultivate our new life in Christ. (Mark 1:8) He works in us. The Holy Spirit is the literal affirmation of God’s Love for us and in us. (Romans 5:5) Once we are saved, sanctified and filled with His Spirit as Children of God, our judgments in life are dictated not by our surroundings or circumstances but by the Spirit. The Spirit of the Lord sets us free from sin so we are not bound by our flesh to satisfy its longings and desires but become complete in Christ. I and II Corinthians are filled with good stuff about the Holy Spirit and all of His Wonderful Benefits and Blessings in our life. His Very Existence in us means it will all come to pass according to the Word of the Lord and His Timing.
The Holy Spirit is the One who produces the fruit of our life that the Lord finds acceptable and pleasing. He cultivates love, joy, peace, forbearance (fancy word for patience), kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and, the most painstaking, self-control. When our life is shaken what falls off our tree? See we don’t know what is in us until we are emptied out. The only thing that will keep us standing in the end is faith. Pure and simple. All the other “things” we do for God mean nothing if not born of love and faithfulness to Jesus. We get distracted. We become diluted and polluted. Now here is the really neat part of all this shaking and disturbance in our life. It is called GRACE. Before Jesus died a lack of productivity and fruitfulness meant death hence the illustration of the fig tree. But after Jesus died, paying the price for every sin past, present and future, He gave us His Spirit to produce fruit born of faith. As strive to surrender our life as a field to the Lord, His Spirit grows, develops and matures us so we produce fruit. As the Lord prepares us for final inspection on the Day of Judgment rather than killing us on the spot, He shakes us so we can see what comes out. Grace shakes the tree; judgment kills it. There is no condemnation in Christ but constant love and opportunities to get it right before He comes. Oh, how I love Jesus who shakes me when I need it rather than condemning me on the spot.
Hebrews 12:26-29 (NIV)
At that time his voice shook the earth, but now he has promised, “Once more I will shake not only the earth but also the heavens.” The words “once more” indicate the removing of what can be shaken—that is, created things—so that what cannot be shaken may remain. Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe, for our “God is a consuming fire.
God cannot and will not relent on the Day of Judgment. He sent His Son as a gift to be received and accepted as a means to once again attain right standing with Him. The rest is up to us. Will we use what the Lord has given us to make a better life now or endure to the end and be found faithful and fruitful when He comes? The Lord is coming back. I am not a lunatic shouting through a megaphone on the street corner screaming, “Turn or burn!” What I am telling you is about a Love that I have found that is better, sweeter and stronger than any I have ever know? It is about Jesus who at my worst, and even at my best, still gently and loving (okay maybe sometimes violently) shakes my life so that He can apply more grace where it is needed. He loves me. He desires me. I desire Him. It makes a difference in our life when we use times of testing, trials and shaking to inspect our fruit and cultivate our field of faith once more. To God be the Glory for His Unfailing Love and His Overflowing, Overwhelming, Undeserved yet Never Ending Grace.
Tis so sweet to trust in Jesus, just to take Him at His Word; just to rest upon His Promise; just to know; thus saith the Lord. Jesus, Jesus, how I trust Him. How I’ve proved Him o’er and o’er, Jesus, Jesus, Precious Jesus! O for grace to trust Him more. (Tis So Sweet To Trust in Jesus – Louisa M. R. Stead)