When Life Quakes
Today as I type this lesson…my heart is with the people of Haiti. We all have heard of the devastating earthquake that happened there this week. My heart cries out to God for all those lives that have been shaken and no doubt changed by this disaster. So many times these horrible things happen in life and we do not understand why? All we know is that our God has a plan and good purpose. He is in control and in His Sovereign power He only allows those things to happen in our lives that He can turn around and use for our good and His glory. Many times we do not know why or understand but we can choose to trust Him in all things because He is faithful and true. Through the tears and the pain, we can trust Him. Even when we don’t feel like trusting, we can make a choice to trust because He is faithful and He will never fail. In all things we can trust God. Just like natural disasters and devastation on Earth, there are also devastations that happen personally and our whole lives can be shaken, turned upside down, and split wide open. Today I want us to look at some examples of that very thing in God’s word and learn and understand that there is hope in the Lord and that when life quakes it does not have to be an ending, it can become a new beginning through Christ and His good plans. In the quakes of life we can choose to stay in the shame, or we can become unchained through the power and grace of Almighty God! Thank You Lord. In Christ Jesus, there is hope!
Handout: When Life Quakes
Teacher's Guide: When Life Quakes
In beginning this lesson, I started looking up instances of earth quakes in God’s word. There is where I found hope. Several times the earth quaked and out of that came hope and resurrection and freedom. In the midst of the rubble and the fear, came hope and newness and life!
The first one I want to look at is in the book of Matthew. This earth quake happened just after Jesus died on the cross for the sins of the world.
Matthew 27:45-54 “45Now from the sixth hour there was darkness over all the land unto the ninth hour.46And about the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, saying, Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani? that is to say, My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?47Some of them that stood there, when they heard that, said, This Man calleth for Elias. 48And straightway one of them ran, and took a spunge, and filled it with vinegar, and put it on a reed, and gave Him to drink. 49The rest said, Let be, let us see whether Elias will come to save Him. 50Jesus, when He had cried again with a loud voice, yielded up the ghost.
51And, behold, the veil of the temple was rent in twain from the top to the bottom; and the earth did quake, and the rocks rent; 52And the graves were opened; and many bodies of the saints which slept arose, 53And came out of the graves after His resurrection, and went into the holy city, and appeared unto many. 54Now when the centurion, and they that were with Him, watching Jesus, saw the earthquake, and those things that were done, they feared greatly, saying, Truly this was the Son of God.”
The followers of Jesus, His disciples and His mother had just witnessed this horror that happened. The hope of the world had been tortured, abused, and killed. The curse of sin had been on the world for hundreds of years since the time and Adam and Eve disobeyed God in the garden of Eden and the earth was placed under the terrible curse of sin. God and man were now separated by this sin and Satan’s strong hold chained and bound all of humanity and we were doomed to die without hope, without God. However, I love that there is a however. However, that was not the end! Christ our Redeemer came He lived and He lay down His life and gave His very life’s blood to save us from sin and from ourselves, and He rose again, but before He arose think about that day this had all taken place. Just imagine the devastation that His loved ones felt. They knew that a Messiah would come and He would save them, but they did not fully understand what that meant. They were expecting Him to set up His kingdom on earth right then. Everything they had believed in, all the hope that they had seemed gone.
Jesus uttered His last words on the cross and His Spirit left His body and I believe in that moment several things happened in the Spiritual realm. Praise the Lord the earth began to quake and tremble as the stronghold of Satan and of Sin was shattered…the veil that was in the temple that had separated God from man praise the LORD was rent into! The veil was there to separate man from the presence of God in the Holy of Holies in the temple and only the priest could go in there after he had been cleansed himself and make sacrifices for the sins of everyone else. All others were excluded from going before God’s thrown because of sin. When the earth quaked that veil was torn into. It let the world know that the sin debt had been paid, thank you Lord and now we could go boldly to the throne of grace before God in His presence when we accepted Christ because when we accept Christ His righteousness is imputed to us and the curse of sin has been broken! (Hebrews 4:16)
It was an ending to Christ’s life on earth, but it was much more than that…Hallelujah it was THE BEGINNING to His Kingdom and to everlasting life! Thank You Lord. My heart rejoices as I type these words. All seemed lost but what Satan meant for evil, God used for good and it was the most wonderful gift given to mankind. Thank you Lord.
Have you gone through something in your life that has turned everything upside down? Do you feel the devastation and all hope seems gone? Are you in a circumstance now where you have been so shaken that you do not know what to do and it seems that you will never recover. Your hopes and your dreams shattered in pieces on the ground? Maybe it seems as if there is no way you will ever come out of it. Are you wondering how in the world God can use this for good? Think of the horror and the fear that must have come over the ones that had followed Jesus and listened to His words of life. They had saw the miracles and believed. Now here He was, beaten and broken and gone. I’m sure they were wondering what in the world would happen now, why in the world would God allow such a tragedy to happen to His own Son. Perhaps in their hearts they wondered why. I imagine they wondered how any good could come of this. Oh but what they could not see was the awesome plan and purpose that God had. Praise You Lord! They could only see the ruins and feel the pain and agony of the situation. Thank you Father…Our God, JEHOVAH, YVWH, He sees the big picture and even when they did not understand, God did and His ways were best.
Dear child of God know today that He knows your present circumstances. He knows the quake of life that has occurred to you. He sees your tears and hears your hearts cry. You do not understand now, but if you trust Him, He will work it out for your good. Beloved everything that you can see with your eyes may tell you not to believe, but do not lean your own understanding, lean on the LORD’S understanding, in all your ways trust Him and He will direct your paths. (Proverbs 3:5-6)
Your Father God, has a good plan and a purpose for the things that have you on your knees now. He knows the reasons that He has allowed you to be broken and He wants to bring you into a new beginning. You can choose to stay in the shame, or you can be unchained! Let’s turn now to the book of Acts.
Acts 16:6-26 “6And it came to pass, as we went to prayer, a certain damsel possessed with a spirit of divination met us, which brought her masters much gain by soothsaying: 17The same followed Paul and us, and cried, saying, These men are the servants of the most high God, which shew unto us the way of salvation.
18And this did she many days. But Paul, being grieved, turned and said to the spirit, I command thee in the name of Jesus Christ to come out of her. And he came out the same hour. 19And when her masters saw that the hope of their gains was gone, they caught Paul and Silas, and drew them into the marketplace unto the rulers,20And brought them to the magistrates, saying, These men, being Jews, do exceedingly trouble our city,21And teach customs, which are not lawful for us to receive, neither to observe, being Romans.22And the multitude rose up together against them: and the magistrates rent off their clothes, and commanded to beat them.23And when they had laid many stripes upon them, they cast them into prison, charging the jailor to keep them safely:
24Who, having received such a charge, thrust them into the inner prison, and made their feet fast in the stocks.25And at midnight Paul and Silas prayed, and sang praises unto God: and the prisoners heard them.26And suddenly there was a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison were shaken: and immediately all the doors were opened, and every one's bands were loosed.
Paul and Silas had just been working for the Lord in ministry and doing God’s work, preaching and teaching about Salvation through Christ. This lady who was possessed with a spirit, and she was following them around crying out who they were and what they were doing. She was speaking the truth but in a way that was loud and perhaps obnoxious so that was possibly scaring people away instead of drawing them because it was grievous to the Apostle Paul so much that he turned and commanded the spirit leave this woman in the name of Jesus, and it left her. She had been a source of income to her masters through fortune telling and so when this ability left her they were angry because they could no longer use her for their own profit and gain. So in that anger they seized Paul and Silas and brought them up before the people accusing them and the multitude banned together against them. Paul and Silas were stripped of their clothing, they were beaten and then they were thrown into prison.
Put yourself in this position now. Imagine you have been working hard for the cause of Christ, and you’ve been trying with all of your heart to help these people and show them the truth that will save their souls for eternity. You have just witnessed people believing in Christ and being saved. You have let the Lord use you to free a woman who has been possessed and now, God has allowed this horrible thing to happen, and you do not understand why.
So there Paul and Silas were, in horrible pain, shamed and chained. Their feet were in stocks. They had lost their freedom and they had done nothing wrong to deserve this. They are in great pain physically and emotionally having just gone through the beating and abuse they have just endured. We need to understand this. Physically, I’m sure Paul and Silas did not FEEL like praising and singing. However they made a conscious choice to do it anyway! They chose to pray, and praise in spite of their feelings. Sometimes when life has shaken us and beaten us down. We are tired and weary, we are broken and hurting and the last thing we feel like doing is singing and praising God. Sometimes we can’t find the will to even pray. Sometimes there are no words. Perhaps we are suffering through no fault of our own, or we have messed up so bad and sinned or made so many bad choices and now here we are broken, battered, shamed and bound down to this sin or this circumstance or strong hold of sin. We don’t know what to do or how we will ever recover or even if we can. It is in these times we must, WE MUST, rely on the Lord and trust Him. We must walk by faith and not by sight or feeling. (2 Corinthians 5:7) We must like Paul and Silas make a conscious choice to praise first with our mouths even if our hearts are not quite in it yet. The words we say are very powerful. They can build others up or tear them down. They can also do the same thing to our own minds and hearts.
James 3:5 “Even so the tongue is a little member, and boasteth great things. Behold, how great a matter a little fire kindleth!”
James 3:9-10 “Therewith bless we God, even the Father; and therewith curse we men, which are made after the similitude of God. Out of the same mouth proceedeth blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not so to be.”
Our words and the things we think have great influence over what we do and how we life and what we believe.
Proverbs 23:7 “For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he:”
We can choose to sit around speaking and thinking about our doom and misery and make ourselves more miserable, or we can speak words of life to ourselves through praise and faith in the Lord! This is what Paul and Silas chose to do. They opened their mouths and began to sing and praise the Lord even though they did not feel like it. Sometimes we cannot change our circumstances. We have to understand that the misery we are in, the hardships we are enduring are for a reason. After we have prayed for God to remove them, to make it better, if He does not, then we must know that we can’t change the circumstances because God is allowing it for reason and we can change our attitude toward it! Paul and Silas knew that they could not change the misery they were in. They came to terms with their surroundings so they chose to have a positive attitude in the midst of the horror and praise God anyway! When we make a conscious choice to just praise the Lord no matter what is happening or how we feel, we are changing our attitudes to match up with what God is pleased with.
Acts 16:25-26 “25And at midnight Paul and Silas prayed, and sang praises unto God: and the prisoners heard them.26And suddenly there was a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison were shaken: and immediately all the doors were opened, and every one's bands were loosed.”
We know in reading the rest of this chapter that the Jailor and his whole family believed in Christ and were saved through this but also when Paul and Silas began to sing and praise, the other prisoners heard them. Think about the encouragement that must have been to these other prisoners. Words of life! Then suddenly there was a great earth quake and the foundations of the prison were shaken and immediately all the doors were opened and EVERYONE’S bands were loosed!!!! Oh this makes my heart jump up and down with excitement!
When God allows life quakes, it is about us but rarely is it ONLY about us. Most times it is for our good but for good in the lives of others as well. The pain is not in vain! Thank You Lord! Paul and Silas had been beaten and imprisoned but through their attitude and praise, not only were their own bonds broken but the other prisoners around them were freed from their strongholds as well! My heart rejoices! When Christ died, and the earth quaked and the veil was torn…many souls were resurrected from the grave…and not only was Christ released from His pain and from death but the entire world from the beginning of time till the end of it was set free! Satan lost his power and his stronghold of death and sin over the world. All of humanity now had a choice to accept Salvation and freedom, to be unchained and to have life abundantly with relationship with God through Jesus Christ! Thank You LORD!
Dear one, as you read these words, KNOW that your life quake may seem as if it will be the end of you, but IT IS NOT! God is allowing this for your own freedom and for the freedom of others that you can and will minister to due to your own understanding of this having gone through it! You can allow the devil to use this to break you, or you can allow God to use this to MOLD AND MAKE YOU!
Paul and Silas could have chosen to wallow in their misery and complain and cry. They certainly had cause to. They could have focused on their circumstances instead of God, but they were wise. They chose to live skillfully instead of just reacting emotionally to their circumstances. They chose to rise above the shame and become unchained! When they did this…the others around them were set free too! Wow! What an amazing and mighty God we serve! In every situation we can choose to defend our flesh and pride, or we can choose to demonstrate God’s Holy Spirit. We can choose life or death. When we choose to let go and let God, when we allow the HOLY SPIRIT to move and work freely in our lives, we can be free.
Psalm 68:1 “Let God arise, let His enemies be scattered: let them also that hate Him flee before Him.”
When life quakes, and it will as long as we are on planet earth, we can allow God to use it for a GOD quake in our lives! When He rises up and sets His feet on our situations, when the weight of HIS glory falls on our circumstances satan and all of hell trembles and our enemies scatter and strong holds are broken and we can cling to the foundation that WILL NOT BE MOVED. When your whole life is being shaken you can cling to that firm foundation, and that rock is the LORD JESUS CHRIST! Praise You LORD! He is our rock and our shield. He is our steadfast and sure foundation When Life Quakes!
Psalm 18:2 “The LORD is my rock, and my fortress, and my deliverer; my God, my strength, in whom I will trust; my buckler, and the horn of my salvation, and my high tower.”
2 Timothy 2:19 “Nevertheless the foundation of God standeth sure, having this seal, The LORD knoweth them that are His. And, Let every one that nameth the name of Christ depart from iniquity.”
Thank You Lord!
Dear Heavenly Father…
Lord I lift my heart and my hands in praise to YOU MOST HIGH! Thank You for Your words of life and truth that speak so clearly to our hearts and to our circumstances. Thank YOU FATHER that You are our firm foundation and that You allow nothing to happen in our lives unless You have plans for good out of it. Father I praise You that I can trust You no matter what happens in any situation. YOU WILL NOT FAIL.
Lord today I ask that You comfort those who are in a life quake now and help us to know that You will bring us through it and it will make us and mold us into the plans and purpose that You have had for us since before the foundations of the world. You are so good Lord and Your mercy does indeed endure forever.
Father I pray today for the people of Haiti, Father we don’t understand why this tragedy has happened but we know that You are in control and that we can trust You. Father I ask You to comfort the ones who have gone through this and provide the things that are needed. Please help us to reach out to them today with our prayers, financially and in all the ways that You would have us to, and through this devastation bring many to Christ so that it is not in vain. We love You LORD, and we praise You in the name of Lovely Jesus we pray. Amen.
January 17, 2010