Message Slides 7/24/16

Message Notes 5/15/16

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.

Vss. 30-32

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.

Vss. 33-39

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!

 Keyword: #Humility

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?



A weekly email from Pastor Chuck. Learn more by clicking here.



Message Slides 7/24/16

Message Notes 5/8/16

Miracle Making Faith
Matthew 9:18-26

Chuck Allen, Lead Pastor

A man fell off a cliff, but managed to grab a tree limb on the way down. The following conversation ensued:

“Is anyone up there?”
“I am here. I am the Lord. Do you believe me?”
“Yes, Lord, I believe. I really believe, but I can’t hang on much longer.”
“That’s all right, if you really believe you have nothing to worry about, I will save you. Just let go of the branch.”
A moment of pause, then: “Is anyone else up there?”

It can be tough to believe in miracles. This morning I’d like to look at two stories as an example of some of the obstacles we face which could prevent us from being the recipients of a miracle.

These are stories of people who reached out in spite of everything and I think we can learn from them. Let’s face it – we all need a miracle. I do, you do, this church does!

The question we’ll try to answer is “What does it take to reach for a Miracle?” The first thing we must do is…

1. Start with Jesus

“18 While he was saying this, a ruler came and knelt before him and said, ‘My daughter has just died. But come and put your hand on her, and she will live.'”

Mark tells us this ruler, whose name is Jairus, has made a trip to find Jesus as his family is in the midst of crisis. But he believes Jesus is the one who can help him.

“20 Just then a woman who had been subject to bleeding for twelve years came up behind him and touched the edge of his cloak.”

The woman has faced her own difficulties leading to this day, and again Mark supplies additional details.  She’s been to doctors, and spent all of her money. But now she’s heard about this man Jesus, who heals the sick, and she’s come to reach out to him.

Where else have you gone to seek the things you need most desperately? Have you sought popularity? Adventure? Wealth? Romance?

Have you done all that the world says should make your life perfect and still found yourself empty inside?

What are you trusting in? Medicine? Education? Career? Money? Not that there is anything wrong with any of those things, but if you’re counting on them as the foundation of your trust, the anchor of your life, your life is about to be shaken.

Several years ago the evening news reported on a photographer who was a skydiver. He had jumped from a plane along with numerous other skydivers and filmed the group as they fell and opened their parachutes. On the film shown on the telecast, as the final skydiver opened his chute, the picture went berserk.

The announcer reported that the cameraman had fallen to his death, having jumped out of the plane without his parachute. It wasn’t until he reached for the absent ripcord that he realized he was free-falling without a parachute.

Until that point, the jump probably seemed exciting and fun. But tragically, he had acted with thoughtless haste and deadly foolishness. Nothing could save him, for his faith was in a parachute that he never buckled on.

Faith in anything other than Jesus can be just as tragic spiritually. Only with faith in Jesus should we ever step into the challenges of this funky life.

Every one of us here this morning – we need a miracle, but let’s get our head on straight and measure our plans… we need Jesus… we need to reach out to Jesus, we need to trust our days, our nights, our homes, our lives to Jesus! He is enough.

If you are in desperate need of a miracle, first you must make sure you’re heading in the right direction. You’ve got to go to Jesus. Second you must be willing to:

2. Head the Other Way

“21 She said to herself, ‘If I only touch his cloak, I will be healed.'”

As Jesus went to the home of this important man to raise the dead, a crowd followed him and pressed around him. The woman had to press through the crowd—something illegal for her to do in her condition.

Also consider how long she had been sick, it would’ve been easier to just accept it as her lot in life.

“23 When Jesus entered the ruler’s house and saw the flute players and the noisy crowd, 24 he said, ‘Go away. The girl is not dead but asleep.’ But they laughed at him.”

Jairus was an important dude, he was staking his reputation on his faith in Jesus—the mocking was directed at him too, no doubt, for trusting in Jesus. It would’ve been easier to simply surrender to the harsh truth and go on with life. It is too easy to settle for the world rather than go against the flow – you know what we must strive to do here – we must go against the flow!

Both of these people were willing to go to Jesus and head in a counter-cultural direction hard for faith when faith wasn’t easy.

What is it that tries to pull you away from a real faith? Family? School? Work? Friends? An unbelieving spouse? A medical challenge? Debt?

Maybe like the woman, just the length of time you’ve been reaching out for an answer… the inevitability of your situation. Here’s a tweetable truth:

Faith doesn’t follow the crowds. Faith is counter culture. Faith requires us to trust in the unseen.

Did you know that an African impala can jump to a height of over 10 feet and cover a distance of greater than 30 feet? But these amazing creatures can be kept in an enclosure in any zoo with a 3-foot wall. They won’t jump if they can’t see where their feet will fall.

Faith is the ability to trust what we cannot see, and with faith we are freed from the walls that our fear allows to entrap us.

Finally faith requires us to… as Journey taught us:

3. Don’t Stop Believing

“18 While he was saying this, a ruler came and knelt before him and said, ‘My daughter has just died. But come and put your hand on her, and she will live.'”

Death seems pretty final, right? Mark tells us that Jairus’ friends came and told him not to bother Jesus, the girl was dead, but Matthew tells us that he brings his request for a dead girl to Jesus.

“22 Jesus turned and saw her. ‘Take heart, daughter,’ he said, ‘your faith has healed you.’ And the woman was healed from that moment.”

Jesus pinpoints her faith as the thing that healed her. Not faith in itself, but faith in Jesus’ power to heal. Even though she’d tried everything, she was willing to try Jesus and to believe that Jesus could and would heal.

Does it seem impossible to you? In your mind, have you wandered too far to be forgiven? Are your circumstances impossible? Are you too far gone?

Listen friend – if you are waiting for a miracle or if you are questioning if a miracle can happen to you… Jesus can, Jesus will, and Jesus is the miracle you need.

Faith calls for us to leap over the walls holding us in, to reach out in firm belief that just a touch of Jesus can turn our lives right side up and that death is no match for the creator of the universe! So, Chuck… what do I do?

  1. Start with Jesus & Stay with Jesus
  2. Go the Other Way – Live a Counter-Culture Life
  3. Don’t Stop Believing

Jesus wants to raise your dead dreams to life.
He wants to heal your hurting soul.
He wants your believing heart to turn toward Him.

But it’s your move… it’s your call! Let’s Pray.



A weekly email from Pastor Chuck. Learn more by clicking here.