ELIJAH: The Summary (9-14)
The churches of Christ Greet You (Romans )
Lesson 9: The
First Kings chapter 18 is the famous story of
confrontation with the Baal priests on
Elijah was a tool in God’s hand, but it is no different for us - if we are available to be sharpened and used. God is always at work to test, train, and prepare us for other things. We need to learn the importance of being faithful in the smaller responsibilities of life. If we will watch and listen, we will see God at work preparing us for the ministries He has for us in dozens of ways. How we need to learn to see the hand of God bringing things to pass in our lives according to His timing and purposes. As His thoughts are not ours, so it is that His timing is often not ours as well
(cf. Isa. 55:8-11).
God deals with us on a day‑by‑day, day‑at‑a‑time basis. Every day of the Christian’s life is important to God and should be so for us. Why? Because no day for a child of the King is unimportant to God. God cares for us and for all the details of our lives (1 Pet. 5:7). This means we need to carefully watch how we are walking day-by-day. Each day is to be redeemed by walking circumspectly and wisely. Each day is to be reckoned as important in view of the shortness of life (Ps. 90:12; 39:4‑5). Each day is to be viewed in the light of eternity
(cf. Heb. 9:27; Rev. 2:10).
Life is full of changes and uncertainties and times that often seem like "many days." Conditions change, times change, people change, needs change. However, God never changes. As the everlasting God, He is one who can always be counted on. "He is the same yesterday, today, and forever" (Heb. 13:8). In contrast to the world that is running down like a clock, we read, "But Thou art the same, and Thy years will not come to an end" (Ps. 102:26‑27). That means God is there for us day after day through the ups and downs and through those days that seem like many days. We therefore need to wait on the Lord and seek our strength in His care. God knows what He is doing and what He is doing is best regardless of how it appears to us.
Christian character, Christ‑filled living, means obedience to God. It means faith and courage. It means service to others and that means involvement and sacrifice. For people of faith, spiritual integrity and character, for people who love God and people, the blessing is in the privilege of serving the Lord and people, in seeing God's name vindicated and Satan defeated. Here is the ultimate goal of the Word - love for God and love for others (Mark 12:29‑34). This is the heart of ministry - Service and Sacrifice.
Lesson 10: The
First Kings 18 is the famous story of Elijah's
with the priests of Baal on
God is in the business of stretching us to become more effective vessels for His purposes. We, however, like to stay within the comfort zones of our little routines. Even there, God will use us. This is where the tests of obedience and challenges come - while we are out involved in the everyday affairs of life. Here is where we meet people and needs and here is where God wants to work to stretch our faith. Though we are not to be of the world, God has called us to go out into the world and into the work place to demonstrate God's love and the new life we have in the Savior (cf. John 17:14-18). When God sends us to do a job, He will provide the resources we need (Phil. , 19). To be at our best we need one another and the encouragement and challenge that we can get from each other in the body of Christ (cf. 1 Cor. -27).
We all face the problem of fear at times. For most of us, our fears generally fall into three categories: (1) fear of failure, (2) fear of rejection, and (3) fear of loss, i.e., of what it may cost us; fear we might have to give up something we think we must have to be happy. Fear can paralyze and thus neutralize us. Fear can keep us from venturing out and being available to the Lord. In times of real persecution, serving the Lord can be life threatening. But we have a mighty God who has promised to stand with us so we can overcome our fears. We are told in 2 Timothy 1:7, "For God has not given us a spirit of timidity (fear), but of power and love and discipline (a sound mind)."
When we fail to focus on God's person and claim God's promises we start assuming all kinds of things about what can or is happening. We become rather paranoid and begin to worry (NOTE: worry is when you hold mental pictures of things you don’t want to happen). When we do not control our minds with the principles and promises of God's Word, our imaginations will paralyze us with fear and worry. We need to bring every thought into captivity and to think with the perspective of the promises and principles of God's Word (cf. 2 Cor. 10:4-5; Phil. 4:8).
The true Christian must be firmly convinced of the aliveness of Yahweh and His mighty power as the Lord of Hosts (or Armies), the Lord who has all of heavens mighty and holy angels at His command. We need to help others see the majesty of the Lord and see that our lives are ordered and directed by that same majesty. We must act like we are God's children by serving the Lord and not ourselves. We need to give evidence we are under God's orders, at God's disposal, and truly His representatives governed by the eternal truths of God and thereby reliable. People should be able to count on us because we are counting on the Lord.
Lesson 11: The
the story of Elijah and the battle at
The Lord compares the thoughts we harbor in our hearts to treasure. We store and keep them in our minds because we value them and put our trust in them. The treasure of the heart can be good. On the other hand, it is obvious some treasures of the heart or mind are evil. The mouth speaks out the corruption that has been smoldering and festering within the heart
(cf. Matt. 15:19). A heart filled with resentment or any kind of "stinking thinking" is like a volcano ready to erupt. All it needs is the right situation - and bang! Such thoughts are equivalent to "vain thinking.” Vain thinking is faith in ourselves and unbelief in God and His solutions. That which is without faith in the right object, God, is sin (Rom. ; Heb. 11:6).
First Kings 18:16-24 presents us with confrontation and conflict. We simply do not like that. Our natural tendency is to avoid confrontation and conflict. Confrontation is rarely painless, never easy, often rejected, and always risky. We usually avoid it for selfish reasons - out of fear of the consequences to ourselves. When necessary, confrontation needs to be done according to biblical principles, in a biblical way, for biblical reasons, and out of right motives. Obviously we must deal with people differently and one of our tasks in ministering to others is to be discerning, to listen, and seek to understand the needs of the other person.
Elijah had the boldness to confront King Ahab because his confidence was in the Lord. As God's ambassador and servant, he knew the truth of Psalm 118:6, "The Lord is for me; I will not fear; what can man do to me?" Or as Hebrews 13:6 puts it, "The Lord is my helper, I will not be afraid, what shall man do to me?" Elijah was counting on the fact no one could touch his life unless the Lord willed it and then, his loss would really be his gain (cf. Phil. -23). This gave the prophet boldness and courage.
Elijah indicted Ahab and his father's house for two things that stand to each other as root and fruit or cause and effect. Ahab had ignored and rejected the Word of God, thus seeking to live independently of God's wisdom. This is always the root problem, the cause of all else - trusting in one's own resources. The effect of turning away from the Word is turning to idols. Idolatry represents the substitutes of man's empty imagination when he attempts to live apart from God. When we turn away from the Word we turn to our own solutions in an attempt to handle our fears, our loneliness, and our pain. When we turn away from a personal relationship with the Lord, from depending on Him through His Word, we naturally turn to what we think will make us happy, secure, and significant. The Bible defines this as vain imaginations or futile speculations of the heart (Rom. ; Eph. ; Jer. 2:4-5).
One of the great needs at all times in a society, but especially in times of great apostasy, is for God's people to step forward for God and His truth. While God always has His people, they are, as they are described in the Bible, a remnant or a minority. Taking a stand for the truth and facing a majority who stand against the truth often leaves us feeling lonely. Humanly speaking it very often appears we are alone. We must remember, however, when we stand for the Lord we are in the majority because standing with us is the Infinite Almighty and His myriad of hosts. When we stand for the Lord of the Bible, we stand in the sovereign strength and majority of the true God of the universe who surrounds us with His hosts.
God is calling out from among His people those who will stand in the gap and count for the Lord (cf. Ezek. ; Jer. 5:1). There are huge gaps in the walls of our nation and society. These are breaches in the wall of biblical values and our Christian heritage. These are places where the enemy has been swarming through to destroy and corrupt. Christians must take a stand and not straddle the fence. Straddling the fence is a dangerous position! Sometimes it seems like the thing to do because of the pressure, but it is pure insanity. It is inconsistent with the reality of God and it leads to great instability in every part of one's life.
There is always a great pull for people to lead lives of duplicity to some degree. They may go to the church building on Sunday, but the rest of the week they are dominated by other loves, concerns, and commitments (cf. Luke ; Rev. 2:4). They feel the tug of God on their hearts and the love of the world at the same time (cf. 1 John -17). We cannot walk the fence with the Lord (cf. Rev. 3:15-16). Scripture and a true grasp of who the Lord is demand our full commitment. Indecision leaves us spiritually and morally lame and unstable in all our ways (cf. Matt. ; Matt. ; James 1:5-8). When we depend on our own means of living the Christian life we become weak and feeble.
The reality of God, who is the Creator and Sovereign, demands that mankind, the creature, trust Him and then follow Him. Anything else is logically absurd; it is pure madness. We need to acknowledge the futility of all false gods. Once we know who the true God is, it's absurd to follow the false gods of our own making. Our false gods cannot save us nor deliver us from the pain of this life. They only distract, destroy, and deter us from the blessings of the true God. If God is God (and He is), follow Him. When the reality of the true God and His claims on our lives grip us, we find we have no logical or sensible choice but to trust Him to the degree that we then commit our lives totally to Him. Perhaps nothing is more pathetic than to see a child of the living God tottering between two opinions, torn between a vital commitment to the Lord, and seeking happiness in the gods of this world. We were created to have one center. To have two is to be miserable and to enjoy neither spiritual things nor material.
This lesson deals with the test proposed to prove who the true God really is. The principle is simply once the true God has manifested Himself and is known, it is foolish, indeed it is absurd to follow the false man-made gods of idolatry. Anything mankind worships or depends on for security, significance, or happiness, other than the Lord, becomes a form of idolatry. They are the workings of our own blindness to provide substitutes to fill the void in our lives and are substitutes for God's plan for life (Rom. 1:18ff; Eph. 4:17ff). These idols may be religious, philosophical, or materialistic. They may be any of the strategies by which people seek to meet their needs as they envision them. Standing boldly for the true God is Elijah, a man of God who uncompromisingly believed God's Word. As a representative person in heroic narrative, the test illustrates the testimonial effect and power any child of God can have when they, like Elijah, become confident of their mighty resources in the Lord and stop operating by their own idolatrous solutions.
Our tendency is to be either people-oriented or problem-oriented, or both. We tend to gather all the data we can on the problems, and then start telling ourselves how this or that is simply not going to work. We back off because our lack of faith views the problems as too great for God to handle. The Prophet was neither people-oriented, nor problem-oriented. He knew there was no problem too big for the Lord. The issue is never the size of the problem - never. The issue is knowing and acting in faith on God's will regardless of the outcome. A child of God, a true believer in the person and work of Christ, can fail to experience God's power in his or her life in authentic, transformed living. This occurs when we fail to walk with the Lord in the light of His Word by faith in His provision and power.
False religious systems are futile. They are futile because they cannot give access to God. They reject the person and work of Christ as God's one and only means of reconciliation and salvation (John 14:6). They tend to be ecumenical. They readily combine and accept many beliefs as legitimate means of access to God. They may accept Jesus as one of the great religious leaders or prophets, but not as the Son of God and the one and only Savior of the World. False religious systems are also futile to meet man's needs. They can't save from either the penalty or power of sin. They can't deliver from the power and darkness of Satan. They can't give the Holy Spirit (the earnest of our salvation – Eph. -14; Romans 8:9). They can't give the kind of peace the Lord gives (John ), and they can't bring God's answers through prayer.
People need to see there is a true God, know who the true God is, and know He is alive and well and involved with their lives and nation. As God's servants, our lives are to be ordered and directed by the Word of God, and not by the whims and caprice of people. Though we serve people, we are not a servant of people or a people-pleaser (1 Thess. 2:4-5). The world is full of religious phonies that worship and serve their own appetites (Phil. -19). People must come to see that the issues of life revolve around adherence to the divine Word. Their confidence must never be in us, mere men, but in the Lord and His Word that we follow (cf. 1 Cor. 2:1-5).
We all have our own areas of influence and places of impact. This varies with each one of us, but faith, faithfulness, integrity, and effectual prayer can tremendously increase our capacity for influence. When we pray in public, we should never pray pretentiously, to be heard and seen of people in order to gain their approval. Still, public prayer is a means not only of exalting the Lord and seeking His grace, but also of providing encouragement and a blessing to people (cf. 1 Cor. 14:15-17). For God to hear our prayer, we need to repair or correct those things in our lives that hinder fellowship with Him. One of the things that always hinders the impact of God's people in the world is disunity. God wants His people united and working together (John 17:20-24; 1 Cor. 1:10-13).
Public prayers should usually be brief, clear, and to the point. The Lord does not hear us for our many words (Matt. 6:7). Very often, long prayers are pretentious (Mark ). The fervent prayers of the righteous move God to accomplish His work in the hearts of people. The objective is to turn them to the Lord and then, as God's people, to give them courage to take a stand against the apostasy of the day. This means earnest prayer for our nation and leaders. It means taking a stand on the job or at the office.
Our prayer life and our hunger for the Word are clear barometers of the condition of our heart. When we continue to ignore God's revelation and pursue our own desires and plans, it has a hardening effect on the heart (Heb. 3:7-13; Mark -52). Prayer is the human tool of faith that God has sovereignly chosen to translate His promises into performance. Prayer is also one of the means God uses to draw us to Himself and to conform us to His will. Prayer reveals our dependence on the Lord and keeps us dependent and occupied with Him. The Christian life is a life of faith and occupation with the Lord, a life of trusting and developing a relationship and commitment to God. Prayer is the hand of faith that reaches out and grasps the promises of God. It is one of the instruments God uses to mold us into His image and fulfill His purposes in our lives.
Be sure your prayer is grounded in the Word. This gives confidence. Be sure your prayer is not from carnal or wrong motives, but directed by biblical principles. Keep on asking, looking, and knocking in a faith that rests in God's Fatherly care, love, and timing (Matt. 7:7-8). Above all, ask the Lord to teach you what He wants to do in you and through you during this period of waiting. The Lord often waits to answer our prayers for physical needs in order to deal with our spiritual needs. It becomes the means of ending the spiritual drought in our own souls and then in our community.
Satan doesn't mind if we teach and preach near as much as he minds if we pray because he knows it is far more important to talk to God about people, than to talk to people about God. It's when we start talking to God about people that our preaching and teaching becomes most effective. If Satan can keep Christians off their knees very little of the Word will really take hold. Prayer is a very important dimension in the life of every child of the King. May the Lord enable us to keep the dimension of the power of prayer in focus.
All must come to God through faith in the person and work of Christ who died in our place to bear our sin (John 14:6). We are to pray in the Spirit to the Father in the Name of the Son (Eph. ). We must be in fellowship with God or our first prayer needs to be the prayer of confession by which we honestly deal with the problems of the heart as well as our overt behavior (Ps. 66:18; Prov. 28:13).