No Matter What
1 Kings 18
Tripp Atkinson, Student Pastor
Elijah went before the people and said, “How long will you waver between two opinions? If the Lord is God, follow him; but if Baal is God, follow him.”
– 1 Kings 18:21
Jerry Rice is the undisputed best wide receiver to ever play the game of football. It’s not even really close. (He holds the NFL all-time receiving record by almost 8,000 more yards than second place.) While most who follow football know of Jerry Rice and his amazing highlight reels, many may not realize that his entire football career was one moment away from never happening.
When Jerry was in high school in Crawford, Mississippi his coach at B.L. Moor High School would make the team end practice by running twenty 40-yard hills. One day, after running eleven hills, Jerry decided that the cost was too great and the muggy Mississippi conditions were too hard. Jerry decided to quit. On his way back to the locker room, he wrestled with the truth he knew verses the ever-changing conditions around him. He knew that this decision would mark his life. Jerry decided that day to rely on what he knew was truth and committed to be unwavering in his commitment to discipline and football. Jerry would later go on to be known as the “King of the Hill” because of his unparalleled training routine (involving a 2.5 mile hill). Jerry’s unwavering commitment changed the course of his life.
That afternoon on top of that hill was a life-defining moment of truth for Jerry Rice.
Many of us are at such a crossroads in our faith.
Jerry’s struggle that day is not one unfamiliar to any of us. When conditions change, when the cost is great, when the crowd is doing something else… are we going to choose what is easy or what is right.
The whole reason we developed the Grounded for Life plan for students is centered around this idea. Our theme verse is Jeremiah 17:8, “They are like trees planted along a riverbank, with roots that reach deep into the water. Such trees are not bothered by the heat or worried by long months of drought. Their leaves stay green, and they never stop producing fruit.”
That is our prayer for students. When they graduate, they have deep roots and they are unwavering in their commitment to God, no matter what.
Today I want us to look in the Bible at a guy who faced the most adverse conditions imaginable yet demonstrated through it all this type of unwavering commitment to God.
In 1 Kings 18, we see the story of Elijah (a prophet) and Ahab (the king of Israel).
1 Kings 18 Background:
– God’s people, the Israelites – divided into 2 kingdoms at that time. Ahab was the King over part of Israel. His wife, Queen Jezebel, worshipped a false god named Baal.
– Ahab built a temple and altars to Baal. And eventually Ahab, who was an Israelite himself, began to worship the false god of Baal! (Ahab chose to turn his back on the Creator of the universe, and worshipped an imaginary creature that was made up by people.) The king not only set the example that it was OK to call yourself a follower of God, but have divided loyalties…. The False prophets of Baal ate at Jezebel’s table…lived at state expense, sanctioned and supported by the king (State-sponsored and promoted agenda.)
– The Israelites followed their King, and worshipped Baal also. God would not tolerate this.
– God sent Elijah to tell King Ahab that there would not be any rain, and not even one drop of dew, until Elijah called for it. After many weeks, the plants began to wither and die. After many months, the drought dried up the streams and rivers. The lack of food and water caused animals to die, and soon people would also die. The drought lasted over three years, but God took care of Elijah’s needs every single day.
As we pick up the story in Chapter 18, Elijah and Ahab are meeting.
- Truth demands a choice.
- Elijah made them choose, but he also showed them what it looked like to choose.
1. Choose to obey God, no matter the cost. (#obedience)
– Elijah knew his message was from God, and he chose to be obedient regardless of the cost. Keyword: obedience. (For Elijah, and the people)
The nation’s problem was not lack of rain but lack of loyalty and obedience to God.
Elijah said, “You have brought a drought because you have pursued another God.”
They had their focus on the wrong issue.
Let’s don’t get so caught up arguing about the affects of sin, and the consequences of sin, that we ignore the root of the problem, which is sin.
Ill. We worry about smoke, but ignore the fire in our homes. We ignore the root of problem
Let me tell you this students… I hear some students say “I hate my parents and their rules…” If your parents have drawn a line and have taken a stand on sin in your home, that is the greatest display of love your parents can show you….
I’m so proud of parents who say every other family we know may do this or that…. But as for me and MY house, we are going to serve the Lord. We are going to honor God no matter what.
There will be a cost. Obadiah did not want to arrange meeting with Ahab and Elijah. He was scared. Elijah’s response, “As the Lord Almighty lives, whom I serve, I will surely present myself to Ahab TODAY.” (vs. 15)
vs. 19 850 prophets… “let’s settle this once and for all”
vss. 20-21 Elijah drew a line in the sand on top of Mt. Carmel. He said, “How long will you waver between two opinions?
– Other translations say “How long will you limp between opinions?” and
“How long will you sit on the fence?”
“If the Lord is God, follow him; but if Baal is God, follow him.”
“But the people were completely silent.”
- They were interested in the provision of God and blessing of God, but were not interested in a commitment to God. They didn’t realize…
- If you are not ready to commit, stop looking for a miracle and searching for a blessing.
vs. 22-24 “Despite the numbers, let’s put God to the test.”
2. Trust in God, no matter the circumstance. (#faith)
- Keyword: faith. How did Elijah have such a big faith??
Elijah had a big faith because he had a big view of God.
Ill. Businessman flying with his wife. A businessman had to travel to a small town for a meeting and invited his wife to come with him. She was excited about the trip until she learned her husband was going to be flown to the small town in a twin-engine Cessna plane. “Honey, I’ve decided not to go” she said. “I’m not going on a little-bitty, twin-engine Cessna. Her husband smiled, and knowingly said, “Honey, your faith is too small.” She quipped, “No, the plane is too small.”
The businessman really wanted his wife to go with him, so he canceled the Cessna and booked travel on a major airline. His wife went with him because, as she put it, “her faith grew because the size of the plane grew.”
The object of her faith determined how much faith she decided to have.
- The object of your faith determines how much faith you have.
- Don’t be scared to put yourself in situations for the sake of God’s glory, where God is your only answer.
- “The bigger your God, the smaller your obstacles.” – J. Strack
- Elijah is so confident in God, he’s not afraid to challenge the majority.
Elijah tells the prophets, “You go first…”
vss. 25-29 “there was no reply, no answer”
(Idol: “A person, pleasure, or possession that is more important than your relationship to God.”)
Whatever it is that you are putting your trust in and giving your affection to other than God, don’t expect them to have an answer.
*Idols never have an answer….. (cheap imitations of God’s best)
God always has an answer.
So why is our faith sometimes so small?
Student, it’s important to remember…It’s impossible to trust someone you don’t know.
3. Rebuild the altar of God, no matter the conditions. (#intimacy)
Altar = Place of Prayer, sacrifice, repentance, reconciliation. (worship)
The rebuilding of the altar was a call for reconciliation between God’s covenant people. It was also a call for reconciliation with God. Keyword: #intimacy
Ill. Pregnancy. Whenever you see a pregnant woman, you can know for certain that she didn’t get that way by reading a book about sex. Information didn’t get her pregnant, intimacy did.
Transformation doesn’t occur in Christians because we read about it. We are transformed because we get close.
Too many times, we want to see the power of God, without seeking the face of God. Experiencing the power of God in your life begins by building your altar. It begins with prayer, repentance, and intimate fellowship with God.
Ill. Seeing my dad at his “altar.” (Personal quiet time)
Altars in too many Christian homes have been destroyed by busyness, complacency, tiredness, and neglect.
Students, you better get serious about building your altar.
- If your altar is not in place, don’t expect anything of eternal significance to happen in your life.
4. Promote God’s fame, no matter the crowd. (#humility)
He promoted God’s fame above his own.
– He wanted God to be known to others.
– He desired to be known as a servant.
Elijah had the bull placed on the altar, and a trench dug around the altar. He had 4 big buckets of water poured on the altar, so much water that it filled the trench.
Elijah wanted to make sure that the people knew that only God could light the fire!
As Elijah called on the power of God, he prayed that God would be known by the people, and he would be known as only a servant of God.
When our heart’s desire is to see God glorified, for his fame to be promoted, for us to be known as servants of God… THAT’S when we will see the power of God fall in our lives.
When our desire is to see God glorified, His fame promoted, & us known as His servants…THAT’S when we’ll see God’s power fall in our lives
God’s power fell, the people fell on their faces and cried, “The Lord, He is God!”
To continue to promote God’s fame…
*He got rid of those things that competed for loyalty to God. It was time to choose.
All traces of Baal must go.
When the people repented…. God sent rain!
Conclusion: What an incredible scene! What a miracle!
The real miracle of Elijah’s life was his very personal relationship with God. Although we might wish to do amazing miracles for God, we should instead focus on developing a relationship with him. And that miracle is available to us today through Jesus Christ.
The central question today, is the same question that was asked by Elijah. “How long are you going to waver?”
Wavering has become respectable, even politically correct, but it is spiritually impossible.
Truth demands a choice! There is no middle ground. If Jesus is Lord and Savior,
follow Him NO MATTER WHAT!
The 140 (Big Idea):
An unwavering commitment to God can be lived with confidence. No matter the cost, circumstance, conditions or crowd…truth never changes!
We can look at Jerry Rice and imagine what his life would look like had he not made an unwavering commitment.
Imagine with me what your life could look life with an unwavering commitment to an almighty, all powerful God who loves you and has given everything for you to know Him and walk in the power and blessing of an unwavering relationship with Him.
Take it home…
– What false gods (idols) are competing for your loyalty to God?
– In what ways to you need to get your “altar” in place?
– How are you promoting God’s fame in your school, home or workplace?
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