(Please note that this article is an edited edition of a full sermon preached by Ryan French on July 27th, 2014 at Apostolic Tabernacle)
The average Christian is familiar with the story of Job. Poor old Job has become the poster child for good people whose faith has been shaken. It took Job a lot of suffering and a lot more questioning to realize that God was greater than his circumstances. We have all experienced events that shook our faith in our entire belief system.
Faith Shakers: things that shake our faith in the reality that God is a good God. Faith Shakers: things that shake our faith in the reality that God is a powerful God. Faith Shakers: things that shake our faith in the promises of God that are yet unfulfilled. We have all had them and we will all face them from time to time. And no matter how many times that we face them and come through them victoriously we still seem to cower at the ferociousness of the shaking. Even though, they had seen the Red Sea parted; even though they had seen Pharaoh’s Army defeated; the Israelite’s still struggled to believe that God could provide water from a rock. Even though, they had seen thousands put to flight by God’s mighty right hand; they still struggled to believe that those Jericho walls could really come tumbling down with only a trumpet and a loud shout.
There are three basic forces that can produce enough turmoil in our lives to produce a shaking. One, the forces of Satan. Second, the natural tragedies produced by our fallen and finite world. Thirdly, the hand of God. Let’s focus on that last one because it’s probably the hardest to comprehend.
Sometimes the “Faith Shakers” that we experience are by God’s design because He is preparing us for something great.
“And when they had prayed the place was shaken where they were assembled together and they were all filled with the Holy Ghost and spake the word of God with boldness (Acts 4:31).”
Notice, just as God was preparing to provide a supernatural outpouring there was first a preparatory shaking, and because they endured the shaking they could enjoy the blessing. We see this same principle on display later on in Acts chapter 16 when Paul & Silas are thrown into the innermost prison simply because they had been preaching the Gospel of Christ. Not only were they imprisoned unjustly; they were beaten mercilessly. They would not have been human had they not been discouraged. Certainly, DOUBT flooded their minds. Certainly, they had unanswered questions. Certainly, they were afraid.
I’m sure that Paul & Silas were not feeling the level of faith that they would have liked while in that Roman prison. They could not clap their hands because their hands were bound. They could not leap for joy because their feet were bound. They could not lift their hands because their hands were tightly fastened in stocks. But the enemy forgot about the power of a voice that is lifted to God in praise while storms rage. The enemy forgot what a simple song at midnight can accomplish. It always seems darkest just before the rays of a new day begin to break through; so let’s purpose in our hearts to give God praise even in the middle of life’s faith quake’s.
It was midnight when Paul & Silas sang praises unto God, and immediately there was a great earthquake. The earthquake was so powerful that the foundations of the prison were shaken; sometimes God has to shake our whole world just to set us free! Sometimes God has to break up our foundations so that He can set our feet on solid ground.
Interestingly, the most important aspect of this story is really not the supernatural deliverance that took place, but rather the conversion of the prison keeper and his family. Paul realized that there was a greater purpose for their painful experience than just deliverance. Paul recognized that God had carefully positioned them to impact the life of an obscure prison keeper. Often times we are so busy rejoicing in our deliverance that we fail to notice the bigger plan that God is bringing to pass.
“And when Paul had gathered a bundle of sticks and laid them on the fire, there came a viper out of the heat, and fastened on his hand. And when the barbarians saw the venomous beast hanging from his hand, they said among themselves, “No doubt this man is a murderer whom, though he hath escaped the sea, yet vengeance suffereth not to live. And he shook off the beast into the fire and felt no harm. Now they were expecting that he should have swollen or suddenly fallen down dead; but after watching a great while and seeing no harm come to him, they changed their minds and said that he was a god (Acts 28:3-6).”
When things attach themselves to our lives in painful and unexpected ways just as that viper attacked Paul on the island of Malta, it is important that we become Faith Shakers. When our faith is shaken that means it’s time for us to shake our faith!
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