Saturday, November 22, 2008

God is Still in Charge

God is Still in Charge

1 Kings 17:01ff

Message preached 11/23/2008 at Turning Point Church; Slidell, La.

People all over New Orleans & South Louisiana are trying to find a reason to keep on keeping on. The school system is in shambles. The tax base is eroding. Rape, murder, and mayhem are rampant. For some the pressure is simply too much and they crack under the strain, or commit suicide. Add to all this the war, the financial collapse, and a new President and we can understand if people are questioning whether there is any reason to believe that one can find hope in such a seemingly hopeless situation. These ravages of turmoil cross social and economic boundaries with impunity. Into just such an environment marched Elijah, the man of God to remind the people that God was still in charge.

Elijah confronted the unbelieving King Ahab and declared that The Holy God of Israel still lived. He seemed to be saying, “Ahab, God is still in charge! And to prove it He’s going to close the heavens, and it’ll not rain until I speak the word.” Elijah then left the presence of Ahab and at the command of God hid himself for three years.

Now folks, God is God and He can do what He well pleases. He didn’t need for Elijah to hide in order to protect him. So why did God send him away for those three years?

You see, I think God looked down the corridors of time and saw you and me today. I think He knew that men and women of every age would need to learn the lessons He would teach Elijah. I think that what God taught Elijah and what He wants to teach you and me today is that God has a plan, and when we’re doing His will, His way, we can know His purpose, His provision, and His power.

1 And Elijah the Tishbite, of the inhabitants of Gilead, said to Ahab, "As the Lord God of Israel lives, before whom I stand, there shall not be dew nor rain these years, except at my word." 2 Then the word of the Lord came to him, saying, 3 "Get away from here and turn eastward, and hide by the Brook Cherith, which flows into the Jordan.

4 And it will be that you shall drink from the brook, and I have commanded the ravens to feed you there." 5 So he went and did according to the word of the Lord, for he went and stayed by the Brook Cherith, which flows into the Jordan. 6 The ravens brought him bread and meat in the morning, and bread and meat in the evening; and he drank from the brook. 7 And it happened after a while that the brook dried up, because there had been no rain in the land.

8 Then the word of the Lord came to him, saying, 9 "Arise, go to Zarephath, which belongs to Sidon, and dwell there. See, I have commanded a widow there to provide for you." 10 So he arose and went to Zarephath. And when he came to the gate of the city, indeed a widow was there gathering sticks. And he called to her and said, "Please bring me a little water in a cup, that I may drink."

11 And as she was going to get it, he called to her and said, "Please bring me a morsel of bread in your hand." 12 So she said, "As the Lord your God lives, I do not have bread, only a handful of flour in a bin, and a little oil in a jar; and see, I am gathering a couple of sticks that I may go in and prepare it for myself and my son, that we may eat it, and die." 13 And Elijah said to her, "Do not fear; go and do as you have said, but make me a small cake from it first, and bring it to me; and afterward make some for yourself and your son.

14 For thus says the Lord God of Israel: 'The bin of flour shall not be used up, nor shall the jar of oil run dry, until the day the Lord sends rain on the earth.' " 15 So she went away and did according to the word of Elijah; and she and he and her household ate for many days. 16 The bin of flour was not used up, nor did the jar of oil run dry, according to the word of the Lord which He spoke by Elijah.

17 Now it happened after these things that the son of the woman who owned the house became sick. And his sickness was so serious that there was no breath left in him. 18 So she said to Elijah, "What have I to do with you, O man of God? Have you come to me to bring my sin to remembrance, and to kill my son?" 19 And he said to her, "Give me your son." So he took him out of her arms and carried him to the upper room where he was staying, and laid him on his own bed.

20 Then he cried out to the Lord and said, "O Lord my God, have You also brought tragedy on the widow with whom I lodge, by killing her son?" 21 And he stretched himself out on the child three times, and cried out to the Lord and said, "O Lord my God, I pray, let this child's soul come back to him." 22 Then the Lord heard the voice of Elijah; and the soul of the child came back to him, and he revived.

23 And Elijah took the child and brought him down from the upper room into the house, and gave him to his mother. And Elijah said, "See, your son lives!" 24 Then the woman said to Elijah, "Now by this I know that you are a man of God, and that the word of the Lord in your mouth is the truth."

First Elijah confronted the King in a day of great disbelief. Then he hid away when folks were probably calling him terrible names, since they viewed him as responsible for the lack of water. He was supernaturally fed by the wild creatures. He later lived in a home where God’s divine provision continued. And finally he was used by God to restore life to a dead child. But all of that teaches us three very important truths.

1. God had a purpose for Elijah
God told him to confront Ahab. That command is not recorded, but we can tell from the results that God was in it. I believe that God has a purpose for every mother’s child born on this earth. Your purpose and mine might not be to confront kings, but God has a purpose for you. His first purpose is that you and I believe on Him for eternal life. He said in John 3:16, "For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” He has a purpose for your life. Since the foundation of the world was laid, He has wanted you for His child. Before you were even a gleam in your mother’s eye, He knew you. Glory!! Glory!! That’s shouting ground!!

Let me ask, Are your knuckles bruised and bloodied from knocking on never opening doors of opportunity? Do you feel as if life is rapidly passing you by? Do you grasp and clutch at every new idea hoping that at long last you’ve found that for which you’ve been searching?

Edgar Allen Poe reflected such a life in the poem Eldorado

Gaily bedight,
A gallant knight,
In sunshine and in shadow,
Had journeyed long,
Singing a song,
In search of Eldorado.

But he grew old,
This knight so bold,
And o'er his heart a shadow,
Fell as he found,
No spot of ground,
That looked like Eldorado.

And, as his strength,
Failed him at length,
He met a pilgrim shadow;
"Shadow," said he,
"Where can it be,
This land of Eldorado?"

"Over the mountains
Of the moon,
Down the Valley of the Shadow,
Ride, boldly ride,"
The shade replied,
"If you seek for Eldorado!"

But God also wants you to live a productive life. A life that is worthwhile and meaningful. He tells us in John 10:10, “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.” Now that word abundantly is the Greek word, perissos. It carries with it the meaning of overwhelming abundance. Do you really feel like your life is filled with purpose today? It can be.

2. God provided for Elijah
I do not believe the birds would have fed Elijah anywhere else, but where God told him to go. I do not believe the oil and meal would have lasted anywhere else, but where God told him to go. You see, God didn’t say to Elijah, “Now Elijah, you go out there and wander around, and when you get hungry, I’ll have the birds come find you.” NO!! God told him where to go and Elijah obeyed.

Is it possible that you and I miss some of God’s divine provision for our lives because we’re either insensitive to His leadership or unwilling to go by faith? I remember that time when God first called me to preach. My wife and I moved out into the desert of Southern Arizona where I was the only pastor of any faith who lived in over a thousand square miles, between Gila Bend and Wellton. We were living on $50.00 per week and paying $50.00 of that for rent. In one week her car caught on fire and my little Datsun pickup burned a piston. We were in trouble. We were living off the kindness of some deacons from First Southern, Yuma who would come out our way to duck hunt and leave the ducks at our house. One day we received a check from a lady in our home church back in Mississippi for $10.00. Now $10.00 wasn’t very much, even in 1970. But she said in her note that God had told her to send it. My wife and I knew then that God had not forgotten us. We never went hungry, and we managed. I really don’t know how, because that’s all the money we received, but somehow God didn’t let the meal run out or the oil run dry.

The problem with most of us today is that we want the meal barrel full and the oil running over. But God said that He’d meet our needs. In Phil 4:19 He says, “And my God will meet all your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus.”

When you and I are where He wants us, doing what He wants, we will have health enough, time enough, and money enough to do what He wants done. God’s never going to ask you or me to do more than His grace provides. Nothing is impossible with God.

Let me ask you a question. Are you living a life that demonstrates responsible confidence in God’s divine provision, or are you wearing yourself out, trying to provide for you and yours?

3. God equipped Elijah with the power necessary for the task

Elijah had the courage to confront the king. He had the patience to wait in the desert. And he had the power to restore life. God is a God of power. I do not believe Elijah had any power within himself. I do not believe he could have restored life to that young lad on his own. He was simply connected to the source of power. He represented power because He was where God wanted him, doing what God wanted him to be doing.

When we served as missionaries in South Korea, we were struck by the way the traffic police would direct traffic. They always wore white gloves and carried a white baton. When a vehicle would drive particularly dangerously, the police officer would move into the swiftly moving traffic and it would immediately slow down and allow him to make his seeming casual stroll into the traffic where he would motion the offender to come to the side. Now folks, traffic in Korea is horrendous. People often buy a car, get a driver’s license, and then learn to drive, in that order. That policeman could easily have been run over by those cars. He had no power in himself to stop them, however, he represented power.

In Acts 1:8 the Bible says, “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth." Dear friends, when you and I are where God wants us, doing what He wants us to do, we have the necessary power to accomplish the task. Do you ever wonder why you never feel God’s power, or see any evidences of His supernatural working in your life?

Elijah lived during tumultuous times. He was hated and despised by the leaders of the country. But God demonstrated His care for Elijah by providing for him in unusual ways, because Elijah chose to do what God wanted, where God wanted it done. He simply lived a life of trusting obedience. God wants you to live with that same sense of purpose, provision, and power. And you can choose to do so.

What Must I do to enjoy God’s Divine Purpose, Provision, & Power?

1. I must have assurance I am genuinely His child. Jn. 3:3
2. I must insure am harboring no unconfessed sin. 1 Jn. 1:9
3. I must believe I have been set free. Rom. 8:1
4. I must demonstrate my belief. James 2: 20-23 “But don’t you know, foolish man that faith without works is dead? Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered Issac his son on the altar? Do you see that faith was working together with his works, and by works faith was made perfect? And the Scripture was fulfilled which says, “Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness.” And he was called the friend of God.”

In a few moments we’re going to have a time of commitment. That’s a time when people commit themselves to Christ. For some such a commitment is a time of seeking to know Christ personally and intimately. For others it’s a time of seeking the prayers and support of believers as they struggle with living the life of obedience and trust in God. With still others, it is a desire to unite with this church fellowship in the way we receive members.

If you sense a need to come and let someone help you, if you’re confused, then come down during the invitation and someone will pray with you and minister to you. No one will embarrass you and no on will put you on the spot. You don't have to walk an aisle in order to find God's plan for your life. The most important decisions are usually made right there in quietness of the moment between you and God. You don't have to tell me or anyone else about it right now. If you make a commitment to Christ it will impact your life, and you'll soon want to tell others about what God is doing in your life. If you're at that point right now and you want me to help you know how to publicly tell others about what God is doing in your life. You can either come here during this time of response or you can write me a note, or you can just tell me you need to meet with me.

Now I want every head to bow and every eye to close. The musicians are beginning to play and as they do, you make your choices. I want you to understand that if you have the desire to respond to God's call upon your life, it is because His Holy Spirit is drawing you. Decide today to obey His call.

You can decide to obey and trust Christ right there in your pew. Elijah chose to obey God. His purpose, His provision, and His power are available to those who choose to be used by Him. So how does one choose? First, you must admit that you are not in the center of God’s will for your life. If you’re not sure, you’re not there. Because the center of God’s will is a place of faith. It is the result of a conscious choice to do God’s will
Then you must ask God to forgive you for choosing to go your own way throughout life. Next, you must ask God to change your heart in the matter, and to give you the desire and strength to submit to His will for your life.

Then finally, you must believe that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him. That means that you look forward with anxious anticipation to hearing Him speak to your heart and direct your life.

© Copyright 2001 Mike Rasberry

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