Shake well before using

It’s the same thing over and over... only the names change. The rich and famous, everybody knows them. We know their faces, their bodies, their tattoos, their likes and dislikes, whether they drink alcohol and drive, or whether they snort cocaine. One dies and the world mourns. One has a baby and doesn’t even know who the father is. One proclaims Christ, but is jailed for drunken assault. Marriages break up, or marriages don’t happen, just the living arrangement. Most are traveling a road that is fraught with pitfalls. A few seem to have that inner light, but that isn’t sensational enough to get the media all excited so we don’t hear of those things often. Closet skeletons occur because they are searching for something they cannot find. Five years or ten years from now there will be other famous people traveling down this same road… and they keep searching for the one thing that will satisfy. 

Where is their security, their satisfaction? I have never known a contented person to drive down that road called Pitfall. It is so sad what I see in their lives; the choices they have made. Destiny is proven a lie, for it truly is a choice how we live our lives and how we align our priorities. Our forefathers recognized Truth and chose to fight for it, but today we are told truth is relative.

Too many people believe a good and loving God would never allow troubles or problems. Some believe that all troubles are the result of sin, when in fact, it is because God is so good and loving that He allows these troubles. One reason for the predicaments we face is that they are common to man. There are many whose problems seem greater and quite a few who we think “I should be so blessed with their problems, and their money.” Give a person a lot of money then unlock all restrictions and I’ll show you a walking time bomb. Too many of the rich and famous suck down temporary pleasure, listening to the call of the world, becoming mesmerized by it like some cobra charmed by the charmer to confirm the pursuit of satisfaction is their life journey and Personal Pleasure is their god. But the charmer never satisfies, so the search goes on.

Their trials are really no different than what you and I face day today. If you are breathing, you have problems. We all have problems. Some people’s problems seem bigger than other people’s problems. They are not. Centuries ago one man wrote, “You have been put to no test but such as is common to man: and God is true, who will not let any test come on you which you are not able to undergo; but he will make with the test the way out of it, so that you may be able to go through it.” His name was Paul, and he had the ear of God, yet he was three times whipped with the lash, he was stoned and left for dead, was hungry, endured poverty, twice shipwrecked, never had vast wealth as defined by the world. Yet, he called himself rich. How can someone say that, after enduring such difficulties?

Certainly, troubles have caused men to scrabble miserly for gold, and to sigh “Oh, poor me”. But troubles serve a purpose whether we realize it or not. Troubles are purposed in the Lord. Yes, even those who are not Believers have troubles on purpose. Most of the time, it takes bringing an unbeliever to a place so low that the only way to look is up before it finally registers that only God can fill that deep chasm in the soul. Paul discovered it when he traveled a certain road and submitted to a life full of thorns because he had finally found the richer prize.

However, Americans do have rebellious hearts. 

From as far back in time as 1689 when our ancestors dissented against England’s tyrannical ruling thumb, troubles abounded so the rebels rebelled. But, they all looked to one God. In 1775, John Adams said, “We recognize no sovereign but God, and no king but Jesus!” Inscribed in the front of Thomas Jefferson’s personal bible, “I am a real Christian, that is to say, a disciple of the doctrines of Jesus. I have little doubt that our whole country will soon be rallied to the unity of our creator.”  George Washington said, “It is impossible to rightly govern the world without God and the Bible.” Abraham Lincoln said, “I am busily engaged in study of the Bible.” Patrick Henry quoted both Matthew and Jeremiah in the very speech he cried, “Is life so dear, or peace so sweet, as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? Forbid it, Almighty God! I know not what course others may take; but as for me, give me liberty or give me death!” Unfortunately, it is only the last that is usually quoted or remembered. 

Our founding fathers knew who to lean on, who to pray to, who would carry them in times of travails so insidious their lives could have been forfeit. Down through the decades, Americans hark back to those first days of an infant nation, recognizing God as the founder. “It is necessary for the welfare of the nation that men’s lives be based on the principles of the Bible. No man, educated or uneducated, can afford to be ignorant of the Bible,” so said Theodore Roosevelt. John F. Kennedy said, “The rights of man come not from the state but from the hand of God.” When the astronauts of Apollo 13 faced certain death, President Richard Nixon called for all Americans to pray for them. It wasn’t to pray to Fortune, or to Destiny, or to any other god, but to the Lord God Almighty. After 9/11, Congress gathered on the steps in the sun and prayed with one heart to the one true God to protect our nation. They prayed to God who laid America’s foundation on the bedrock of Jesus His Son. 

Troubles put this nation, to the sun test. In the first century, potters would fire a pot and if it cracked, would put wax in the crack which would conceal the flaw. If the cracked pot was unfortunate enough to find the sun’s rays, the heat of the sun would melt the wax and the flaw would be exposed. That is where the word, sincere comes from. Sun-tested. Flaws exposed. The difference is that we have the power and the choice to bring our flaws to God to be worked on, smoothed out and fixed. However, many see that as weakness, lack of control, or even giving up freedom. So they buy the seeds and sow discontent within their hearts, never leaving the vicious circle of despair by choice. Their gods never satisfy and the cravings never end. They lose all hope. Never realizing, as Adrian Rogers once said, “A faith that hasn’t been tested is a faith that cannot be trusted.”

Help does not come to the dead. Help comes to the living, breathing physical beings that we are. Therefore, a living dog is better than a dead lion. How can it not be so?
When the storm broke over my life, there was peace because I had deep roots and confidence that God is much greater than any problem or trouble. Our forefathers understood this. They made it plain from the shores of America across the sea to all of England that America had put her hand in the hand with far greater power than King George.

Troubles and trials shake us up, even today. An extremely good teacher once said, “Sometimes God must shake well before using.” This is why bad things happen to good people. Bad choices make for extremely fruitful seeds of discontent, and life is not fair. It never has been, nor ever will be fair. Our sense of justice gets bruised and we rail at what some suppose God is, that invisible ruler with an iron and irascible fist, because blame is the name of the game. Someone must be to blame and it can’t be me, it has got to be God. I say we should reject this kind if thinking. Rejoice in the shaking, and rejoice in the using.
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