Wednesday, June 29, 2005

The God that Answers by FIRE

Elijah is one of my favorite biblical characters to study. His faith and power have always inspired me. Recently, the Lord laid it on my heart to begin studying the lives of Elijah and Elisha again. During this time, I have been meditating on this passage of Scripture, which happens to be one of my favorite stories.

To be honest, I'm at a time in my life when I literally need God to move as He did in the days of old. I need some public miracles, and I believe God still "answers by fire" according to our faith. This story really blessed me, because it speaks to some of the situations I am dealing with in life. I pray it will bless you as well.


1 Kings 18: 16-40

16 So Obadiah went to meet Ahab, and told him: and Ahab went to meet Elijah.

17 And it came to pass, when Ahab saw Elijah, that Ahab said unto him, Art thou he that troubleth Israel?

This is one funny thing about the corrective Word of God. Many times, when rebuke comes, people get upset with us, the messengers. Ahab blamed Elijah for the rebuke he received from the Lord. In other words, he blamed the messenger for the message, instead of acknowledging the AUTHOR, who is the Lord.

I have learned to accept godly rebuke, realizing that those who give it in love are only fulfulling the call on their lives to help upbuild the Kingdom. Don't get mad, get delivered! AMEN.

18 And he answered, I have not troubled Israel; but thou, and thy father's house, in that ye have forsaken the commandments of the LORD, and thou hast followed Baalim.

19 Now therefore send, and gather to me all Israel unto mount Carmel, and the prophets of Baal four hundred and fifty, and the prophets of the groves four hundred, which eat at Jezebel's table.

20 So Ahab sent unto all the children of Israel, and gathered the prophets together unto mount Carmel.

21 And Elijah came unto all the people, and said, How long halt ye between two opinions? if the LORD be God, follow him: but if Baal, then follow him. And the people answered him not a word.

It is so unfortunate, but many of us have Baals in our lives. People prophesy to us about them every day, and we even believe the lie. For example, every day people preach to me about how I need to depend on my job. They speak as if it's silly for me to proclaim God as my source rather than my vocation. There have been times, though, when I truly depended on my paycheck rather than living by faith. Whenever a job comes before God, it's an idol - just like Baal. We must stand for God. Anything can be idolized (clothing, money, family, etc.), but we must follow God. We cannot have any gods before Him. We cannot straddle the fence. We MUST KNOW who God is in our lives!

22 Then said Elijah unto the people, I, even I only, remain a prophet of the LORD; but Baal's prophets are four hundred and fifty men.

How many of us have had to stand alone in our faith? Even when everyone else turns from God, we must be bold and stand for the truth! Praise God!

23 Let them therefore give us two bullocks; and let them choose one bullock for themselves, and cut it in pieces, and lay it on wood, and put no fire under: and I will dress the other bullock, and lay it on wood, and put no fire under:

24 And call ye on the name of your gods, and I will call on the name of the LORD: and the God that answereth by fire, let him be God. And all the people answered and said, It is well spoken.

My God. I love this challenge set forth by Elijah. We can stand confident enough to make the same challenge against the Kingdom of darkness. We can proclaim to the world, gather all your money...your drugs...your adulterous relationships. Even in the church, gather your titles...your theological degrees...your nicest Sunday hat...everything you put before God. When the rubber hits the road, let's see what stands. The God that "answers by fire" or demonstration, let Him be God! Those "things" will never save us in adversity, but God will show up and consume the very situation that hinders us!

25 And Elijah said unto the prophets of Baal, Choose you one bullock for yourselves, and dress it first; for ye are many; and call on the name of your gods, but put no fire under.

26 And they took the bullock which was given them, and they dressed it, and called on the name of Baal from morning even until noon, saying, O Baal, hear us. But there was no voice, nor any that answered. And they leaped upon the altar which was made.

When we put idols before God, we always have to try and "help them out." That's a sure sign that the power is not in that object. I'm so glad we serve a God that really doesn't need our help!

27 And it came to pass at noon, that Elijah mocked them, and said, Cry aloud: for he is a god; either he is talking, or he is pursuing, or he is in a journey, or peradventure he sleepeth, and must be awaked.

This portion of the passage is awesome to me. Elijah mocks the false prophets by providing every possible excuse why their idols are not delivering the miracle they request. He's so confident that Jehovah-Jireh will come to the rescue, that he begins mocking, or picking on the false prophets. My God! I want this kind of faith in you. Instead, we sometimes do the opposite. When the millionaires have to declare bankruptcy, it scares us. Rather than saying, your "money" god couldn't deliver you, but my Almighty Father can, we think "Lord, I don't have as much as they do. If they parish, surely I will." Oh, the devil is a liar! Saints, we must cast down those imaginations - everything that exalts itself against the Word of God. God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power, love and a sound mind. AMEN!

28 And they cried aloud, and cut themselves after their manner with knives and lancets, till the blood gushed out upon them.

Now, this verse brings shame to the body of Christ. People of other religions, in many cases, will literally give their lives for what they believe. They will suffer pain, rejection and extreme poverty. Why do we, the children of the living God, turn our backs to the Father so readily when the smallest adversity comes our way? Help us, Lord!

29 And it came to pass, when midday was past, and they prophesied until the time of the offering of the evening sacrifice, that there was neither voice, nor any to answer, nor any that regarded.

30 And Elijah said unto all the people, Come near unto me. And all the people came near unto him. And he repaired the altar of the LORD that was broken down.

31 And Elijah took twelve stones, according to the number of the tribes of the sons of Jacob, unto whom the word of the LORD came, saying, Israel shall be thy name:

32 And with the stones he built an altar in the name of the LORD: and he made a trench about the altar, as great as would contain two measures of seed.

33 And he put the wood in order, and cut the bullock in pieces, and laid him on the wood, and said, Fill four barrels with water, and pour it on the burnt sacrifice, and on the wood.

34 And he said, Do it the second time. And they did it the second time. And he said, Do it the third time. And they did it the third time.

35 And the water ran round about the altar; and he filled the trench also with water.

It truly blesses me that Elijah believed God for the HARD THING. Not only did he believe God would answer by fire, but he made it more difficult for the sacrifice to be consumed by dousing the altar with water and building a moat around it. I pray that God will teach us to stretch our faith and to believe Him for the thing that seems "hard." We can believe him to heal a bloody nose, but not HIV. We can believe him for a word, but can we truly believe him to save a lost family member? Even in supplying our needs, why is it that we can believe him to pay a $20 light bill, but don't believe him to pay off the mortgage. I've even believed him to help me pay for a pair of glasses, but never thought to ask him to restore my eyesight. God, increase our faith!

36 And it came to pass at the time of the offering of the evening sacrifice, that Elijah the prophet came near, and said, LORD God of Abraham, Isaac, and of Israel, let it be known this day that thou art God in Israel, and that I am thy servant, and that I have done all these things at thy word.

37 Hear me, O LORD, hear me, that this people may know that thou art the LORD God, and that thou hast turned their heart back again.

38 Then the fire of the LORD fell, and consumed the burnt sacrifice, and the wood, and the stones, and the dust, and licked up the water that was in the trench.

39 And when all the people saw it, they fell on their faces: and they said, The LORD, he is the God; the LORD, he is the God.

God showed up and the people believed. Elijah's faith was at a level I want to always have. He believed God so much, that he talked about what He would do with confidence. Out of the abundance of his heart, his mouth spoke. Praise God! Father, help us not to speak doubt, but only complete confidence that you will show up!

40 And Elijah said unto them, Take the prophets of Baal; let not one of them escape. And they took them: and Elijah brought them down to the brook Kishon, and slew them there.

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