Acts 16:25-28 (NLT)
Around midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the other prisoners were listening. Suddenly, there was a massive earthquake, and the prison was shaken to its foundations. All the doors immediately flew open, and the chains of every prisoner fell off! The jailer woke up to see the prison doors wide open. He assumed the prisoners had escaped, so he drew his sword to kill himself. But Paul shouted to him, “Stop! Don’t kill yourself! We are all here!”
I must admit I have been fighting off discouragement. I think as believers, we must be real with people. To act like our new life in Christ is without challenges is to boast a lie. We still face trials, tests and even tragedy sometimes. The point of our salvation is to become a new creation. There is a whole lot of flesh and baggage to be discarded along the way. Can I get an “amen”? So with that in mind, please do not judge me in my actions. This morning I woke up to a dark and cloudy day which only allowed my mood and attitude to be persuaded to be the same. I kissed my husband, took out the dog and plopped in the chair at my desk. As the computer was loading, I began looking at Facebook on my charging IPad. First world “probs” as the kids might say. Twice on my timeline I found these words, “God has perfect timing, never early, never late, it takes a little patience but it’s worth the wait.” I get tired of waiting, don’t you? Watching, wondering and waiting for the Lord’s Promises to manifest in our life. I know His Word is true. He has proven to me over and over again that He is a good God and gracious Father, yet I still think sometimes that He takes too long. When the computer finally came to life, I went to the Bible that I use for study and typed the words “shake it off” in the search bar. Surely there would be nothing. Maybe there was a hint of sarcasm in my approach.
Well friend, God’s got jokes. Even when I am not happy with His Timing or my current placement, the Lord somehow manages to get through to me. The Lord doesn’t deserve my bad attitude or even my tapping foot. The great thing about Him is that He is so loving that He provides plenty of mercy and lots of grace so when I do grow tired of waiting or impatient in the process, I have what I need to hang on and not give up. It’s all God. He is an everlasting God. The Creator of everything. He does not grow tired or weary and with His Unfathomable Understanding and Unconditional Love allows us these moments to catch our breath and shake off those things keeping us from His Very Best.
Paul and Silas were in prison. They had been beaten, battered, and bruised. Their response was to worship God in the midnight hour – praying, singing and praising God! I have never been in jail. In fact, I do everything in my power to avoid such an experience. They were in this situation not for criminal acts but because of their faith. We are not far off in the society in which we live. In the midst of it all, there was a massive earthquake. Now before we get to the good part, think about it. It was an earthquake. The prison was shaken to its very foundation. This was no joke. The doors flew open and the chains of every prisoner fell off. Why did the Lord go to such lengths rather than just skipping to the part where doors opened and chains fell off? See this our problem as believers – we see our situation, experience the pressure of change, and feel the heat of our trial but He is an everlasting God. This is not permanent. Our condition is temporary. It is small in the grand design of God’s Purpose and Plan for us. We have faith in us that could move a mountain yet sometimes in the midnight hour – we have trouble believing for the smallest thing. One other note about this story, our life is a living, breathing testament to God, His Love, Grace and Goodness for all mankind. It would take something of epic proportions to make this more than a coincidence.
Psalm 62:1-2 (NLT)
I wait quietly before God, for my victory comes from him. He alone is my rock and my salvation, my fortress where I will never be shaken.
There is that nagging word again “wait”. My victory comes from Him. He “alone” is my rock and my salvation and my fortress where I will never be shaken. Never is a definitive word. Standing on my faith firmly in the Presence of the Living God – I never be shaken. I must put my faith in the Almighty God and leave it there despite my contradictory nature that wants fast answers and immediate gratification. Why? Because God is doing more than I could think or ask. (Ephesians 3:20) I know this to be true. He has done this over and over yet I still do not like to wait. But in my wait time – there is promise much bigger than my current need, want or desire. It is forever. I must be firmly established by faith in Jesus Christ. I must trust the Lord to secure victory in my life. What happens when my faith is tested? What happens when my timeline challenged? What happens when I am shaken naturally? See these yield important facts that can be applied to my life successfully if I pay attention.
Psalm 33:10-12 (NLT)
The Lord frustrates the plans of the nations and thwarts all their schemes. But the Lord’s plans stand firm forever; his intentions can never be shaken. What joy for the nation whose God is the Lord, whose people he has chosen as his inheritance.
God’s Plan is not challenged or change by our expectation. His Plan and Purpose for our life is predetermined as we are predestined. The mitigating factor is our ability to have faith and trust the perfection of His Plan by faith and wait for it. Obedience is crucial to fulfillment but disobedience does not change God’s Intentional Outcome for our life. It was long time in years gone by that if you stepped out of God’s Perfect Will that you could never go back. You would never attain God’s Best. If this were true, why would Jesus have died to provide grace to God’s People? If we could never live in total agreement with the Lord and obtain right standing then what would be the point? It just doesn’t make sense. The Lord’s Plan for our life is firmly established with a future and hope for all who choose to seek Him wholeheartedly. (Jeremiah 29:11-13) Note: it says nothing about being perfect just giving God your whole heart.
Genesis 27:38-40 (NLT)
Esau pleaded, “But do you have only one blessing? Oh my father, bless me, too!” Then Esau broke down and wept. Finally, his father, Isaac, said to him, “You will live away from the richness of the earth, and away from the dew of the heaven above. You will live by your sword, and you will serve your brother. But when you decide to break free, you will shake his yoke from your neck.”
Hebrews 12:15-17 (NLT)
Look after each other so that none of you fails to receive the grace of God. Watch out that no poisonous root of bitterness grows up to trouble you, corrupting many. Make sure that no one is immoral or godless like Esau, who traded his birthright as the firstborn son for a single meal. You know that afterward, when he wanted his father’s blessing, he was rejected. It was too late for repentance, even though he begged with bitter tears.
Poor Esau. First, he sold his birthright to his brother because he was hungry. Then when he went to gather the meat for his father’s final meal, his brother stole his father’s blessing. Things just went from bad to worse for him. I am not sure why Esau’s life turned out the way it did. No one knows the contents of the heart except its owner and Creator. But I have found something useful in his story as I am struggling with impatience and dissatisfaction today. As his father scrambled to bless his son, he said these words, “But when you decide to break free, you will shake his yoke from your neck” (talking about Jacob). The enemy wants to yoke me in bitterness today. He wants to immerse me in pity. He wants to trip me with discouragement and depression. If he can strip me of my joy, silence my praise, he will thwart my victory. He will cause me to be shaken rather than me shaking off the yokes that he desires to kill my faith and bring death to my dreams. He cannot stop God’s Plan for my life. But his lies can stop me if I am shaken off the firm foundation of faith I have in Jesus Christ.
Bitterness comes in many forms and fashions. Each one a yoke on our back or tiny hook in our flesh that keep us from standing on the Word of God by faith until it comes to pass. He whispers maybe that’s not what God said, or not what He meant. Why does he “always” make you suffer these times of waiting? God has forgotten you. He doesn’t care about you. Every single one a lie yet the flesh wants to hold on to it as a means of escape. Our flesh must die for new life to come about. If we abandon God’s Word, His Will or His Way, our flesh gets to live another day but our soul is slowing dying.
I Samuel 4:5-7 (NLT)
When all the Israelites saw the Ark of the Covenant of the Lord coming into the camp, their shout of joy was so loud it made the ground shake! “What’s going on?” the Philistines asked. “What’s all the shouting about in the Hebrew camp?” When they were told it was because the Ark of the Lord had arrived, they panicked. “The gods have come into their camp!” they cried. “This is a disaster! We have never had to face anything like this before!
The Presence of the Lord used to be in the Ark of the Covenant. It represented the fact that God was with them. When the Presence of the Lord came into the Israelites camp, they began to shout. Not just any shout, but the kind of praise and declaration that made the ground shake. What might happen if we announced the Lord’s Presence the same way? We have no excuse. Greater is He who lives in me than he that is in the world. The Presence of God moved from a box carried outside to all of mankind in the form of God’s Spirit alive and well inside of us. We can shout right where we are, no matter what we are going through, even if we are waiting for God’s Hand to become evident in His Next Move. We do not have to wait but can begin to praise Him right now.
What happened next is pivotal to us as believers? When they shouted, the ground shook AND the enemy (the Philistines) panicked. The Lord was with them. They did not know what to do. Fear overtook them. What do you think the enemy will do if we begin to declare God’s Promise for our life? If we shout AMEN to God’s Word, Will and Way for our life? It we sing praises to the Lord in the middle of our situation or covered by circumstance, the enemy will flee. This is the resistance believers are missing today. We must resist the temptation to agree with the enemy and celebrate the Presence of the Lord even while we wait. In the pressing together and shaking down, we give God sacrificial praise because we are about to run over. (Luke 6:38) The secret was whispered by Isaac into Esau’s ear that day, “But when you decide to break free, you will shake his yoke from your neck.” The enemy wants to rope you in, but Jesus is ready to bust you out!
Psalm 16:5-8 (NLT)
Lord, you alone are my inheritance, my cup of blessing. You guard all that is mine. The land you have given me is a pleasant land. What a wonderful inheritance! I will bless the Lord who guides me; even at night my heart instructs me. I know the Lord is always with me. I will not be shaken, for he is right beside me.
My daughter and I were riding home from a restaurant last night discussing the promise on which we wait. She said, “Mom, are you sure you heard from God?” Without hesitation, I says, “Yes!” I needed to hear that and am quite convinced it was the Holy Spirit that motivated her to ask. I know the Voice of God. He has spoken to me before. I have had to wait before, too. I know that He promises good things to me. I know that I will see the Goodness of God in the land of the living. I know that He is my inheritance and holds a cup of blessing over my life. I know all these things yet still must shake off the lie of the enemy and the chains of bondage that come with each lie. The Lord guards all that is mine. I must guard my heart and build up my faith. All of God’s Promises are fulfilled with a resounding “Yes” and “Amen” in Jesus Christ. (2 Corinthians 1:20) Sometimes I forget that and need a reminder. Maybe just maybe this is why my life is shaken sometimes even if ever so slightly so the insufficiencies in my faith and trust are revealed for even bigger things. So today, I shake off fear, doubt, anxiety and impatience in Jesus Name. I will respond to waiting with love, joy, peace, praise and thanksgiving with the help of my Helper, the Holy Spirit. Today, I will wait and shake off anything that tells me not to any longer. The doors are opening. The chains are falling off. I am free again.
Hebrews 12:26-27 (NLT)
When God spoke from Mount Sinai his voice shook the earth, but now he makes another promise: “Once again I will shake not only the earth but the heavens also.” This means that all of creation will be shaken and removed, so that only unshakable things will remain.