Welcome to Calvary Albuquerque. We pursue the God who is passionately pursuing a lost world. We do this with one another through worship, by the Word, to the world.
Hey, have you ever felt that God has let you down? Again, we're going to be honest tonight, right? Have you ever felt that God has let you down? I know I have.
You felt like God has let you down like He didn't do something that you thought He should have. Has it ever seemed to you maybe that God was just too busy to care about you? That maybe He was too busy to care about something that, realistically, you feel like is a small thing. Now it's painful. It's difficult to go through, but you're thinking man, in the scheme of what's going on in the world, like ISIS and orphans and world hunger and AIDS and cancer, this thing that I have is just so small that God's got to be too busy to really care about my needs.
If so, then you're going to find that what God did for a person who probably felt just like that in the story before us. It's the story of a man, Elijah, who had the heat turned up in his life and he found that God speaks through the heat. Now in our first week of summer heat, we learned that there are lessons, you remember, that only the summer heat can teach us. Lessons that can only be learned in pain. Lessons that can only be learned in sadness, in trials.
One thing that we learn is that God reveals to Himself, reveals Himself to us in a very special way. Who's had God reveal Himself to you in a special way when you've gone through pain? He taught you something about Himself. He revealed Himself in a way that you had not yet seen. And you would never have learned that were it not for the heat of life.
You know a number of important issues are raised in this story, as well, like how does one approach God? Have you ever wondered that? How do you approach God? When you're going through something, what's the proper way to come to Him? Have you ever wondered does He respond to everyone who comes to Him? How do you see your prayers get answered? Why does Jesus say yes to some and no to others? Are there any things that can hinder the work that He wants to do in our lives?
And I think a really big question that I think a lot of people have, and I think a lot of people have it because I know a lot of people have it, because they've done surveys of it, and that is a question, does God still speak to man today? Have you ever read the Old Testament and seen the way that God speaks to people in the Old Testament, even the New Testament? And you wonder, man, why can't God do that with me? Why can't God like show up in a burning bush when I'm catching Pokemon in the park and tell me what His will and plan is for my life? Like, why can't why can't that happen for me, right? Why can't God do something like that in my life?
Is He really interested in us as individuals? Does He have a master plan for our lives? If so, how do we discover it? How do we hear His voice? And how do we know the will of God? Again, be honest, who wants to know the will of God for your life? Who feels like right now they don't quite know what of God is for their life? OK.
So we got a big disconnect. A lot of people who want to know the will of God, but a lot of people who really don't feel like they actually do. Now these are all important questions and we're going to find the answers to some of them tonight. But I want to challenge you to stop as a Christian viewing yourself as a victim of chance, to stop viewing yourself as somebody who is lucky or unlucky, who hopes that your luck will be good or hopes that your luck won't run out or hopes that just something good will just happen to you. I want to challenge you to stop viewing yourself as a victim of chance and start viewing yourself as a child of God. Because as we learned the first week, God has plans for you, Christian. Do you know what those plans are? They're plans of good, not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.
And so when you stop viewing your life as a victim of chance, the man I hope I get lucky in life, I hope I strike gold, I hope things just magically turn out for the best. Instead of viewing yourself as a victim of chance, when you start viewing yourself as a child of God, you find that the path that you're on is like that cheesy Rascal Flatts song, "God Bless the Broken Road that Led Me Straight to You."
When you're a child of God, you can look at the problems, you can look at the things in life, good and bad, and it's no longer just chance. It's no longer just a victim of chance, it's a child of God. And there are promises for the child of God. Joseph learned that. How easy would it be for Joseph to look at what happened to him where he got thrown into a pit, sold into slavery, and said man, I just got unlucky. I was a victim of chance. I was put into this position that I didn't want to be in, but instead of viewing him as a victim of chance, he viewed himself as a child of God.
He viewed the promises that he believed he had received from God in a dream as something that could still happen. Something that would still happen. And the things that happened in his life, that got in his way, didn't become a roadblock, they simply became a diversion, just a different way around. Just a different way to get to the same promises that God had for his life.
So stop viewing yourself as a victim of chance and start viewing yourself as a child of God. As God led men and women in scripture, He wants to lead us. I want you to know that tonight. God wants to lead you in the same way that He led the men and women of scripture.
Do you know that approaching God through prayer is one of the most important lessons that we can learn? Jehoshaphat, he's one of my favorite kings that we read about in the Bible. He was the King of Judah. Now Jehoshaphat was one of those guys in the Bible that had done everything right. He had done everything right. He had done everything good to please God. And then, suddenly, without warning the bottom drops out on his life.
Now why is it that we think that that can only happen to bad people? I know we know it doesn't, but be honest, when something bad happens to you, when you're following God, when you're doing what is right, when you're honoring Him in all your ways, aren't you a little bit surprised when something terrible happens? Don't you ask that question why would that happen to me? Why not my neighbor? They're a bad person. Why not my boss? I don't like him. But why me? Why would this happen to me?
Well Jehoshaphat received a frightening report that said a vast army is coming against you. And alarmed, terrified Jehoshaphat stops everything that he's doing, and does he devise a battle plan? Does he assemble an army? Does he get the smartest guys in his kingdom to figure out what the best way is to defeat the armies? No. He stops everything he is doing and he prays.
Instead of worrying, King Jehoshaphat did what Philippians says, he didn't worry about anything but in everything through prayer and supplication he let his request be made known to God. And the peace of God which surpasses all understandings, it guarded his heart. Jehoshaphat prays and he says, Oh, our God, will you not judge them? And this is what I love it.
We have no power to face this vast army that is attacking us. We do not know what to do, but our eyes are on you. All the men of Judah with their wives and children and little ones stood before the Lord.
Now God took Jehoshaphat heart, his desire to honor God in all that he did, and He responded powerfully and answered the prayer of the king and his people. Now I want you to know this is not an isolated incident. And this is something better. It didn't just stop when the disciples died. God didn't stop responding to his people like that when the New Testament ended.
The Bible is filled with stories like this. A woman named Hannah is unable to have a child. She prays. And a baby she named Samuel was born. A baby who would one day become one of Israel's greatest prophet. Sampson prays. And in spite of his previous disobedience, God gives him his strength back. Paul and Silas imprisoned for their faith pray. And in moments, an earthquake comes. And they are free. Peter is imprisoned. The church prays. And within hours, he is released.
A man named Elijah, who we're going to read about tonight, prays and the rain stops. He prays again and it returns. He prays again and it stops. It's like a sprinkler system, on and off, and on and off. He's just kind of controlling it at his whim because of the power of God.
One thing is clear in scripture, God speaks to his children. To some, like Moses, He spoke audibly. To others, like Elijah here, He spoke quietly in a still, small voice. Jesus said when standing before Pilot, everyone that is of the truth hears My voice. Well that's a challenge, isn't it? Because what does that mean. It means that if we're not hearing His voice, what? If we're not hearing His voice, then we're not of the truth.
In John 10, He said His sheep hear, know, and follow His voice. See I believe that one reason we don't hear God's voice today is simply because we're not listening. Now I'm not saying that we're not praying. I think we're praying.
But I challenge you, when something bad happens in your life what percentage of your prayer life is you talking and what percentage of it is you listening? Because I find that when something bad happens in my life, I can talk to God for a long time. I can pray for a long time and say a lot to God and get off my chest a lot of things and be frustrated and cry out and ask God to intervene and ask God to do things. And then, for whatever reason, it seems like the second I'm done praying, I go out and try to figure out how to fix it myself.
What percentage of your prayer life do you spend listening, quietly listening to God? After you've asked Him something, how long do you wait for a response? Look communication, conversation with God, isn't a one-way street. Communication and contact with God isn't like in the olden days before any of us were born where you have to send a telegraph. And you just get everything off your chest and you hope they got it. And you wait for a while to see if you get a response.
Talking to God is a phone call. Communicating to Him and allowing Him to communicate to you, maybe the reason you haven't heard the voice of God, is because you haven't given Him time to speak. You haven't given Him a platform in your life for which to say something.
It would be like somebody introducing a presidential candidate and saying, hey in a second I'm going to introduce the presidential candidate, and then they just talk for the next hour and a half. If you never give God the platform, He is never going to have an opportunity to share with you what it is He wants to tell you. And we're not only going to look at how God spoke to Elijah, but we're also going to look at what He said. And in a sense, He is still saying it to many of us today.
What he said to Elijah, I believe He's still telling you and I. But it's easy to think, man, Nate, I'll humor you, I'll listen to you. I'll listen to this message, but Elijah was a pretty great guy. Elijah was like a superhero of the Bible. He was super spiritual.
But what does the scripture, before we start, say about Elijah? What does the scripture say? James 5:17, I want you to write it down, because I think it's important for you to have this at the top of your notes. So that everything else following it becomes applicable to you. James 5:17 says, "Elijah was a man with a nature like ours." So I'm going to rephrase that. Elijah was a man with a nature like yours. In your notes, you should write, "Elijah was a man with a nature like mine."
"And he prayed earnestly that it would not rain and it did not rain on the land for three years and six months. And he prayed again. And the heaven gave rain and the earth produced its fruit." So if it's not us, it must be what we're doing.
If we're not feeling God speak to us the way that we see Him speak to Elijah, we're not seeing God move in our lives the way that He did in Elijah, if it's not us, because if we're just like him, if the problem isn't with us, then it must be with what we're doing, right? So have that verse written down at the top of your notes. And that's going to make everything else after this applicable for your life. So that you can't say at the end of this, well that's great, but I'm not Elijah. I'm not like Elijah.
Now before we look at our text, I want to first catch you up with the latest adventures of Elijah. OK? So after the miracle, the miracle we all know, where he's calling down fire from heaven to consume the altar in front of the prophets of Baal, after that fire coming from heaven, the people, all the prophets of Baal, all cried out, the Lord He is God. And Elijah it says, fell on his knees and prayed. God had shown up. And God had shown him that after the people had turned from their sin and turn back to Him, the rain would return.
God told him, he said Elijah, once the people stop sinning, once the people turn back to me, the drought will end. It will rain again. The land will be restored. The land will give forth fruit. And God had shown him that now after the people had returned, that it would start raining again. So he knew, Elijah knew, that a storm was coming. And so he sent someone to check. And so this person ran to check and look in the sky to see if there was any rain clouds. And there were no rain clouds. It wasn't like Albuquerque where there can be no rain clouds and 10 minutes later it can start raining. It was no rain coming.
So they came out, looked. At the servant comes back to Elijah. And he did this seven times. Seven times Elijah sent the servant, the servant came back and said, look, there's no clouds, there's no rain. After the seventh time, the servant of the Lord said there is a cloud about the size of a man's hand rising up out of the sea.
I got to wonder if he was just humoring Elijah. Maybe he just didn't want to go back an eighth time. And he was like, OK, I just got to give him something. Right? OK. Well, you know Elijah, just a forewarning, it might be a trick of the eyes, but there might possibly, potentially, be a cloud about the size of a man's hand in the sky.
And so he gives him this glimmer of hope. And that was all Elijah had to hear. He runs to King Ahab, the wicked King Ahab, and he says prepare your chariot and go down before the rain stops you. After this announcement, after the coming of the storm, Elijah is supernaturally empowered by God. The Bible tells us he ran so fast that he literally passed Ahab in his chariot. And he did this for 20 miles. He ran 20 miles faster than horses.
Well, Ahab quickly rushed home and told his wicked wife Jezebel about Elijah, about what had Elijah done. And no doubt Jezebel had been waiting with bated breath for word of the triumph of Baal. Baal won. She was waiting for Ahab to come and say, honey, it was incredible Baal showed up. Baal is way better than Jehovah. And not to mention, the 450 prophets, they killed Elijah. Elijah's dead. He's out of our hair. The nuisance has been taken care of.
And that's where our story begins in 1 Kings 19:1. Let's read it together. "And Ahab told Jezebel all that Elijah had done. Also, how he had executed all the prophets with the sword." He was a gnarly dude. "Then, Jezebel sent a messenger to Elijah saying, so let the gods do to me and more also if I do not make your life as the life of one of them by tomorrow at this time." So Jezebel gives him a 24 hour warning. Hey, dude, in 24 hours, you're going to be dead.
"And when he saw that, he arose and ran for his life. And he went to Beersheba, which belongs to Judah, and left his servant there. But he himself went a day's journey into the wilderness and came and sat down under a broom tree. And he prayed that he might die. And he said, it is enough. Now Lord take my life for I am no better than my fathers.
Then as he lay and slept under a broom tree, suddenly an angel touched him and said to him, arise and eat. Then he looked and there by his head was a cake baked on coals and a jar of water. So he ate and drank and lay down again. And the angel of the Lord came back a second time and touched him and said arise and eat, because the journey is too great for you. So he arose and ate and drank and went in the strength of that food 40 days and 40 nights as far as Horeb, the mountain of God.
And there, he went into a cave and spent the night in that place. And behold the word of the Lord came to him. And He said to him, what are you doing here Elijah? So he said, I have been very zealous for the Lord, the God of hosts. For the children of Israel have forsaken Your covenant, torn down Your altars, and killed Your prophets with the sword. I alone am left and they seek to take my life.
Then He said, go out and stand on the mountain before the Lord. And behold, the Lord passed by and a great strong wind tore into the mountains and broke the rocks into pieces before the Lord. But the Lord was not in the wind. And after the wind, an earthquake. But the Lord was not in the earthquake. And after the earthquake, a fire. But the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire, a still small voice. So it was when Elijah heard it that he wrapped his face in his mantle and went out and stood in the entrance of the cave. And suddenly, a voice came to him and said, what are you doing here, Elijah?"
Man I love this passage. It's one of my favorite passages in the whole Bible. As a matter of fact, it's a passage that I would say about 75% of the time, if you ask me to pray for you, I'll probably quote this verse during the prayer. I think there is so much power in this passage. There's so much comfort in these words. And as we start off in 1 Kings 19:1, we see that Jezebel, when she heard the news of what Elijah had done, put a contract out on Elijah. She would have him murdered within 24 hours. Let me ask you, you think that your problems seem too big for God, when's the last time you had a hit put out on you that you were going to be dead in 24 hours?
Elijah had a contract put on his head, dead in 24 hours, why? Simply because of this. Evil cannot tolerate righteousness. Death always attempts to destroy life. Hatred is always set against love. Light is always set against darkness. Remember what we learned the first week that the devil always opposes those whom God approves.
So if God has approved your life, if you're living a good life, you need to know and be prepared that the devil opposes you, that the devil wants to destroy you, that he wants to hurt you, that he wants to kill you. You could say that the devil has put a 24 hour contract out on your head. And as long as the Lord and the angels are protecting you, you're OK. But if you stray from the Lord, the devil's ready, willing, and waiting to come take you down.
But in her blindness, Jezebel failed to see an important thing. Her fight wasn't with Elijah, her fight was with God. See that's what the devil doesn't realize when he opposes us. The devil thinks he's opposing us. The devil thinks he's coming up against us. The devil thinks the fight is with us, but he forgets that those whom he oppose, God approves. That the fight is not with us, the fight is against God. And Satan has been shown over and over again for the past thousands of years that he always loses. He always loses.
He never really gets the coyote. He always gets put out of his misery. The devil opposes you, but God approves of you. And so next time you feel Satan tap his hand on your shoulder and say, hey I'm here to stay. Hey, I'm here to bring some torment into your life, just remember that he's not picking a fight with you, it's not a fight that you have to win. It's not a battle that you have to use your strength and your might to combat, that he's picking a fight with God.
And so instead of responding to the devil, and saying, man, I'm going to use all the strength that I can to resist this temptation. I'm going to use all the power that I have to resist this temptation. Do what Jehoshaphat did and stop everything and pray. Stop everything you're doing. Stop all the scheming. Stop all the planning. Stop all the ideas and pray. Give it to God.
Do what Elijah did and run to the Lord, run to God. Now we're going to see that Elijah did some things that he shouldn't have done, but it was good that in his time of need he turned to God not to himself. As Jesus said to Saul who was persecuting Christians, why do you persecute me, Saul?
But in the end, Jezebel's heart to destroy Elijah was Jezebel's own destruction. Later Elijah told her in 1 Kings 20:25-- just the very next chapter-- And so I want you to look at the contrast here. And in the chapters before this, we see strong, bold Elijah taking down the prophets of Baal. Chapter 19 he falls into depression. Chapter 20 he's bold Elijah again.
In chapter 20 verse 25, he told Jezebel that she would be eaten by dogs. Why? Well he goes on, he says because there was no king like Ahab who sold himself to do wickedness in the sight of the Lord because Jezebel his wife stirred him up. Now there's also another lesson to be learned here. Again we have Chapter 17 and 18 Elijah, Chapter 20 Elijah, and then in between there, Chapter 19 Elijah who says, Lord, kill me. He falls into such depression that he despairs of even life.
You know what tells me? It gives me hope for those of us who fall into depression. It gives hope to those of us who when the calamity, when the hardships of life come our way, even though we know God is strong, even though we know God is dependable, even though we believe His promises, we find at times, our faith still lacks. And we find that depression still comes. And that's encouraging to me because it shows me that I'm not alone.
It shows you that you're not alone when you feel depressed. When you despair of even life that you're not alone. Now it doesn't excuse it. It doesn't make it right, but it shows you that you're not alone. It shows you that you're in good company. And it shows you that there are promises and people and stories in the Bible that you can grab onto to give you hope.
So Jezebel makes a death threat on Elijah's life, but in the end it's really Jezebel who dies. You know as we saw last week, sin will take its toll in every life. The Bible says the wages of sin is death. Man, I think it's interesting, it says-- in 1 Kings 20:25-- "because Jezebel his wife stirred him up."
Ahab was really the one who did all the wicked things. Ahab was really the one who brought idolatry into Israel. Ahab was the one who was really guilty, but she stirred him up. She got his goad. She got him to do what she wanted him to do.
I have a question for you. Are you having an ungodly influence in someone else's life? Are you dragging down or holding someone back spiritually? Are you keeping someone, by your lousy witness or misinterpretation of God, from coming to Jesus? Are you weakening the faith of a young believer with your unrealistic expectations of what they're supposed to be, of what they're supposed to look like? Matthew 18:6 says "but if anyone causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a large millstone hung around his neck and be drowned in the depths of the sea."
So Jezebel, this wicked woman, gives Elijah this death threat. And what does Elijah do when the death threat is given? I want to tell you what I would expect Elijah to do. I would expect Elijah to say, oh, Jezebel don't you come over here girlfriend. You see what I just did to your 450 prophets of Baal? That's nothing compared to what I'm going to do to you. Come at me. Come on, bring it on. You think you got swag? Come check it out, come see what I got for you.
That's what I would expect Elijah to do. I would expect him to confront boldly to Jezebel. But I want to look at verse 4 and I want you to see Elijah's response. "But he himself, went a day's journey into the wilderness and came and sat down under a broom tree. And he prayed that he might die." I want you to notice, he didn't even preface the prayer before praying that he would die with Lord deliver me, Lord help me, Lord save me. He didn't have a prayer thanking God for the way in which he moved on Mount Carmel and saying, hey, God could you do that again but just on one person? Like bring down fire from heaven and just like bug zapper for me?
There is no prayer of vindication, no prayer of deliverance. All it was was he immediately went from incredible victory, incredible triumph to hey God can you just kill me? Man, what an extreme mood swing. He says, "it is enough. Now Lord, take my life."
How could this be? Is this the same courageous and seemingly fearless man that boldly stormed into Ahab's and Jezebel's court and gave the word of God? The same man who single-handedly faced down the prophets of Baal? He just saw a literal representation that God was all powerful.
Isn't it incredible how short our memory is? Not just Elijah, us. Isn't it incredible how short our memory is that something comes into your life. And you're around your friend and your bemoaning it, you're belaboring it, you're despairing of it. You're even saying, man, I just wish that I would die. I just wish that it would all end.
And your friend seemingly has to remind you, hey, wasn't it just last month that God delivered you from that incredible thing? You're like oh, yeah. It was last month. That's right God was faithful. That's right, God did show up. How often in our life time and time again does God show Himself to be who He says He is, does God prove Himself at His word, does God come through when we need it?
And yet, it seems like every single time, myself included, the next trial, the next temptation, we go into, we're going how am I possibly going to get out of this? How is God possibly going to save me? How is He possibly going to deliver me from this new catastrophe, from this new calamity? Well maybe like He did last time? I don't know, just a thought.
Man in my life when someone comes and says something negative, a well-intentioned dragon who thinks they're building me up, but really they're just discouraging, just really they're pulling me down. It can put me in a tailspin. I can find myself in a place where I begin to doubt God's plan for my life, God's direction for my life. What am I doing, where am I going? And I feel like Elijah doing this tailspin where I'm like aaaah. Just end it. Just I'll go work at a bank. I don't know. It seems way less threatening than dealing with biting sheep.
And sometimes those well-intentioned dragons can put you into this tailspin. But then you forget that God is faithful and that what God brought you through last month, He can bring you through again. And that the way that God moved last week wasn't the end of it, it was just the beginning.
And God wants to continue moving. God wants to continue doing things. Your story isn't done. Your story is being told. Your story is ahead of you. God has more for you. God has greater things for you. God has bigger plans for you. And what you think is the end, isn't the end, it's just the beginning.
So stop doubting those little circumstances. Stop viewing yourself as a victim of chance and start viewing yourself as a child of God. What a perfect picture this is of the Christian life. On one hand you don't have as many of the problems as you used to have, such as the guilt of sin, the loneliness, the fear of death. And yet, at the same time when you come to Christ, you have a whole set of new problems.
Satan will do his best to make us give up in despair and hopelessness. He will come and suggest all sorts of things which we're going to be unable to answer. He'll come and he'll say that the case is hopeless. He'll tell you that you've sinned too greatly, that you've sunk too low into the pit to ever get back out. But in essence, Jesus is constantly saying, constantly calling, to you you've made it this far don't quit. Keep believing.
Satan says you can't make it. Jesus says just a little bit further. Satan says you're not strong enough. Jesus says My strength is in you. Satan says there is no hope. Jesus says I am the hope. Satan will always contradict God. If you're pursuing Him and impacting your surroundings, Satan will try to come in and contradict what God is doing. He'll try to tell you that's not valid. That's not real. You're not really making an impact. Satan will always contradict what God is doing.
Remember what we said the first week. Often after greatest victories, come the greatest challenges. After the Transfiguration came a demon-possessed man, after the baptism of Jesus, the temptation in the wilderness. After the dove, came the devil. After Rack Shack and Benny got a promotion, they were thrown into a furnace. After Joseph got a coat, he was thrown into a pit. After John baptized Jesus, he was thrown into prison.
But the heat defines our legacy. Each of us only has a few moments that will determine how we're remembered. And sometimes in our excitement of all that God has done, we temporarily lower our guard. And I want you to know that the devil is waiting for that moment when you lower your guard. He was waiting for Elijah.
No doubt Elijah finished his great battle and he lowered his guard a little bit. He thought, man, OK I'm safe. OK, God showed himself strong, I can relax. He lowered his guard a little bit and Satan was right there to come in and destroy him. He found that moment in the vulnerable prophet and he's trying to find that moment in your life.
That is why you must remember to pray for those that God is using. I want you to know that when someone comes up to me and says hey, I'm praying for you. Or hey, man, that message ministered to me. When our worship team has someone come up to them to say, hey, your worship really ministered to me, when you're a ministry leader, your connect group leader, gets told by you hey, what you're doing makes an impact, it goes a long way. It does a lot within the heart of those who serve God, within the heart of those who God is using.
They too have their moments of weakness and vulnerability. And if you could see inside their homes behind closed doors with what they struggle with, with what they're going through, it probably doesn't look a whole lot different than what you go through. But we have this mentality to idealize people who are in ministry and say man, if I could just have that kind of a life, I'd serve God so much better.
Are you in what appears to be a hopeless situation right now, like Elijah? Does it feel like the walls of life are closing in on you? Does it feel like the circumstances of life are pursuing you to kill you, to destroy you? Do you desperately need something but it seems like you're never going to have it? Do you feel like there is no future for you, that is just too late for you? Do you feel like Elijah? Have you possibly even prayed that God would take your life?
If so, then you need to approach God, because even when there is no hope in the world, there is hope in Jesus. Even when there is no way, He is the way. He will fill the void that you can't fill. He will give you life that you don't have. And He will bring you the joy that you can't find and that's good news, Christian. That's good news for a child of God. That's good news for a believer in Christ.
And so we see Elijah cries out to God and the voice of God comes to him. And I've got to admit that I imagine Elijah was hoping for a little better response. The Lord comes to him and says hey, what are you doing here? Well, thanks God. Can I even get like a welcome, come inside relax, have a cup of water, how you doing, how's it been, what about Jezebel? She's a little crazy. I mean come on! Just what are you doing here, that's all he gets.
It seems like revival had finally come to the land. Hours earlier the people were crying the Lord, He is God. And now it's as though it's all for nothing. Have you ever felt that your labor was in vain? That all the work, all the hours, all the energy you pour into serving in a ministry that it doesn't really accomplish anything, it's not really getting you anywhere.
You know this is where a lot of people have trouble with God. They grow impatient with Him. When are you going to open that door of ministry for me? When are you going to provide me with a husband or a wife? How long are you going to let that person get away with their sin? When are you going to judge this world? When are you going to come back?
And in our impatience, we sometimes take things into our own hands and we say, all right, God, fine. If you're not going to do it, then I will. And we use our own power. We use our own resources, our own means, of finding a way to get things done, never the right way, it's always has to be the sneaky way, right? When God doesn't do something, it doesn't seem like we ever get it done honestly. There's always some kind of backstabbing, man-iving conniving involved in getting things done-- like Jacob who actually made things worse, or we get tired of waiting for that right guy or that girl.
But Jesus doesn't ask you to understand His ways and His timing, all He asks you to do is trust them. Man, that should be a light switch flipped on in a lot of heads. God doesn't ask you to understand what He's doing, He just asks you to trust what He's doing.
Well, that's really hard. Really, you ask your kids to do it every single day. And they seem to do all right. You're on a road trip. Dad, where we going? I don't want to go anywhere. I got to pee. I just need you to trust me. But I don't want to trust you.
I'm not asking him to understand, but I'm asking him to trust me. We're on a road trip. He doesn't understand that we're going to Disneyland. But I have to ask him to trust me that I know where we're going. That the plans that I have for his life include Mickey Mouse and churros. That's good stuff.
Look, if you're having difficulty with your faith, or at least what you're calling your faith, know that your faith in God doesn't mean that you have to understand everything that He's doing in your life, that you have to comprehend it and say oh, yeah, I get it. I understand. I see what you're doing, God. I see the path you're taking me on. No, no, no, no.
You don't have to understand, you've just got to trust. You've just got to sit in the back seat, stop kicking and screaming. Stop asking are we there yet, just go along for the ride and trust that God's got Mickey Mouse and churros ahead of you. God's got a plan for you and it includes good things.
And also know this, His delays are not necessarily His denials. Sometimes He doesn't give us what we ask for because He wants to give us something a lot better at a later time. Sometimes, as a matter of fact, God wants to speak through the heat. God wants to use the heat to reach us. And the point is this, even though we can't see how the situation will end or why it has come upon us, we can know that it flows from the love of God and it is controlled by God.
The reason Jesus did this in Elijah's life, the reason God did this, in Elijah's life, and sometimes in ours, is because He wants to do something greater than our expectations. Man, I love this principle in the Bible, God always wants to do something greater than what we're asking for.
Solomon wanted wisdom. But God wanted to do better than that. The disciples wanted a lunch break. God wanted to do better than that, He provided a feast. Moses wanted a way around the sea. But God wanted to do better than that, He found a way through the sea. God always has a way of doing things that are better and greater than what we have the capability to imagine.
And that's what I love about God, because sometimes the issue is that we're asking God the wrong thing because we have a lack of faith that He can do it. So we're praying, God can you give me a way around this sea? Can you give me a way around this sea?
And He's sitting in heaven saying, man, I'm looking at the map, and it's a lot quicker to just go through the sea. Why don't you just ask me to go through the sea? Well, because I can't go through the sea. It says the sea, it's the water. How can I go through the water? I'm just looking at it logically, that's a quicker shoot. I mean, you're going to have a better chance of getting away from the Egyptians if you just go through it.
But God's is not going to give it to us unless we ask for it. So maybe the reason God isn't answering your prayer is because you don't have the faith to ask for what you really need. And so you're content with just asking for just the bare minimum, just well, that, God can do that. He can do that ah, He can't do that.
Start believing that God is who He says He is and start asking God for what He's promised you. Start asking God for what He has willed to you as a child of God. Stop living life as a victim of chance and start living like a child of God. Amen?
Look at verse 12. Let me just preface verse 11, so Elijah's on this mountaintop. He's standing on the mount before God. And God has hinted to him, hey, I'm going to do something. OK. And God does something.
It says the wind comes through so strong it breaks the rocks. It says an earthquake comes in. It says a-- and it doesn't even tell us how or what it looked like, but fire came. We don't know what that looked like. Was it like a winged fiery bird going through the canyon? Was it a pillar of fire like He did with Moses and the children of Israel? Was it-- we don't even know.
We're just told wind came. Then an earthquake came. Then fire came. And so Elijah's probably standing there just whoa. And I think I know why He did it. Elijah was doubting the power of God and so God wanted to show Elijah how powerful He was without using a single word.
God was going to speak to him, not in the way he thought that He would speak to him. But before God spoke to him, God wanted to give him a demonstration and say, hey, buddy, I want you to know who it is that you serve. And so I'm going to give you this little firework show to show you what I'm all about.
You're scared of Jezebel, can she do this? Yeah, if I can crack a rock, what do you think I can do to her skull? He gave Elijah to this incredible display of power, this incredible display of majesty of glory, that it probably had Elijah on his knees saying, OK, Lord, I believe. OK. Please just get the fire a little further away from me, my arm hair is already singed from you burning up those prophets, like come on, just back off a little bit. God does all that.
And then it says in verse 12 "and after the fire a still, small voice." I think it's interesting that through the chaos God spoke in a still, small voice. Can you imagine how loud it was to hear that wind howling through that canyon and breaking rocks in half. It probably sounded like mortar shells going off.
And then how loud the earthquake must have sounded, shaking the whole earth. And the fire? Fire's loud and it burns. And all your senses are caught off guard. Elijah, no doubt, had to listen really, really carefully to hear that still, small voice afterwards, to hear God speak to him in a still, small voice.
You know, many of us thought that man, if I could only do a miracle for my friends, they'd believe. Maybe your burger looks a little uncooked, Lord, fire from heaven, pfhew, here you go, there's a burglar. It's a Lord fiery burger. Take that Carl's Jr.
But God often works, not through the earthquake, but through His still small voice. Sometimes we're so busy looking for the great and the grand revelations of God that we miss the simple, subtle ways that He's already speaking to us. We spend so much time for looking for this incredible voice of God. And He's in the back saying I'm here. That's not the voice of God, but the point is that sometimes we get so caught up in looking for God to do this incredibly great thing, but He's already done it.
He's already spoken to us. And we can't hear it. We can't listen to it because our times of prayer are more talking and less listening. Our communication to God is a lot of us telling Him about how tough it is and how bad things are. And although that's a part of prayer, we have 99% talking and 1% listening.
And as those of you who are married know, that doesn't really work in a relationship. It doesn't really work in any relationship with a friend, with a family member, with a marriage. You can't just talk the whole time, you've got to listen.
And lucky for us, God won't yell at us like our spouse might. God's whispering to us. God's wanting to comfort us. Life's pain will always point to the Lord's promise. You just have to find it. Life's pain will always point to the Lord's promise. No doubt His promise is in His word.
And if you're not getting an answer to the pain in your life, you probably haven't found that promise that God wants to give you. Elijah drew in close to the Lord and God met him there. When pain hit, he didn't run from God. He ran to God. And know this, proximity to God always brings perspective to problems.
No doubt after Elijah had this encounter with God, his problems seemed really small. Actually, I know they did, because in the next chapter, he comes and says hey, Jezebel you're going to get eaten by dogs. So there's that.
Proximity brings perspective. Remember when we read the first week in Psalm 23, you are with me? Maybe you can't feel or sense God's presence but that doesn't mean He isn't there. God is there, not because I feel Him or I see Him but because He promised to be. And we have seen this each week with Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, Daniel, and even Jonah.
We must turn to Jesus and cast our problems upon Him when we find ourselves in the heat. When Mary and Martha saw that their beloved brother Lazarus was sick, they sent word to the Lord, Lord he whom You love is sick. When the people griped and complained about Moses' leadership, he cried unto the Lord. When Hezekiah received a threatening letter from the king who wanted to kill him, he spread it before the Lord. When John the Baptist was beheaded, the disciples went and told Jesus.
God is interested in your life. God wants to be a part of your life. He is compassionate. He is caring. He is concerned and He wants to help. He wants to help. And when the heat gets turned up, when it feels just like you do, just like Elijah felt when the world surrounds, you when the world wants to destroy you, can either melt under its force or you can rise up. You can meet God in the midst of the heat.
You can experience God in the midst of the problems. You can hear God in the midst of the pain in a still, small voice. And in the heat of life, the power and presence of Jesus will be with you in a special way.
Now as we wind down to a close, I want to point out three things. How can we know that God is speaking to us? We hear that and we say, OK, I get that, I'm willing to accept that. I'm willing to stop viewing myself as a victim of chance. I'm willing to view myself as a child of God. I want to hear God speak. I'm going to give room for God to speak. But when He does, how do I know it's Him? When He speaks, how do I know it's Him? And in what ways does He do it?
Well, number one, God speaks to us through His word. This is the primary way that God speaks. Remember before I said that pain should drive us to the promises of God? Well the majority of those promises are in the Bible.
And so, if you're looking for the promises of God, but you don't have a quiet time, you're going to have a hard time, because the majority of the promises that can give you hope and strength on a daily basis are found in the word of God. And if you're not reading the word of God, you're never going to get those promises unless you luck out and you hear a Bible message on one of those. And then you say, I didn't know that was in the Bible.
It's important to be a student of the scripture. Obviously God will never lead us contrary to the written word. God's word is our litmus test, our bedrock, our absolute. Now you wouldn't know this by the casual neglect of many believers.
Let me ask you this. If you, right now, in your life when we asked you at the beginning of this message if you've had a hard week, if you're going through some difficult things, if you had a personal note from God to you that had the solution to the problem you're going through today would you open it up and read it? Or would you wait until you tried everything else before you opened it? Now you'd open it. At least I hope so. I hope I'm talking to well-equipped, well-prepared people who would take God up on that offer.
Here's the reality you do. You've got a handwritten note from God to you that has the answer to your problems. The problem isn't that there's not a solution, the problem is that you haven't read the solution. And so when the heat gets turned up in your life, the first place you should look is to the word of God. The Bible says "your word is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path."
Number two, God also speaks through circumstances. Gideon is the classic example of this with his fleece before the Lord. But keep in mind, those circumstances can also include failure. As we saw last week, Jonah was certainly spoken to by God through the whale. God had a use a whale to speak to him, but God spoke to him.
So it might be that God has to use circumstances, even bad circumstances, to finally get a hold of you. I believe that that's part of what God was doing in Elijah. Elijah had gotten so used to hearing God speak in the grandiose, in these incredible ways, that God had to kind of teach him a lesson and say, hey Elijah, I'm still here in a still, small voice wanting to have a personal relationship with you, not just a grand spectacle public relationship with you. I want to have a private relationship with you as well.
When Israel went against Ai, they decided to do it without any divine direction or strategy. And they failed miserably and eventually learned a valuable lesson. Here's the takeaway. Learn from your mistakes. I'll put it this way. Fail forward.
A lot of people when they fail, they fail backward. They fail, they mess up, and it sets them back. And they wind up crippled because of those mistakes. But you know it's possible to fail forward? To let your failures propel you forward and learn from your failures, learn from your mistakes? So that it makes you better, so that it deepens your relationship with God? Learn to fail forward and God can use the things that you view as inadequacies as tools by which to make His name known. Perhaps your failure today can make you a success tomorrow.
Number three, God speaks to us finally by His peace. Colossians 3:15 says "let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts since as members of one body you are called to peace and be thankful" or literally. the Nate translation, let the peace of God be an umpire for your soul and settle all debates with finality as they arise. It's through these channels that we hear that still, small voice.
Let me ask you a question tonight, is God speaking to you right now in a still small voice? Maybe He's been doing it for a long time but you just haven't listened or heard it until tonight. Is He speaking to you right now? Don't harden your heart if you can hear His voice, is what the word says.
Now what exactly did God say to this discouraged prophet who was feeling sorry for himself? Let's close with verse 13. Verse 13 again, God says this to him twice, so it must be really important. "What are you doing here?"
God says that to him twice. So God says, hey, Elijah, what are you doing here? And Elijah gives Him this big explanation. OK, Elijah, go stand on the mountain. OK.
[RUMBLING] Fire, wind earthquake, still, small voice. OK. That was cool, God. What are you doing here?
I think God's asking the same question to many of us today. To Peter warming himself at the fire of his enemies, Jesus could have asked, Peter what are you doing here? To Samson with his head in the lap of Delilah who had openly told him she wanted to know the secret of his strength so that she could torment him, God could have said, Samson, what are you doing here? To the young boy, the prodigal son, who left the safety and security of his father's house and found himself empty and lonely with a bunch of pigs, what are you doing here?
And to some of you right now, have you ever sensed that conviction of the Holy Spirit when you were in a relationship or a place that you did not belong? In a movie theater and a scene comes on where the Lord is mocked or laughed at and you feel that sense, I shouldn't be here. Or you're in a parked car with some person and sexual passion is spreading over like a wildfire and that spark comes in, what am I doing here? Or you're in a relationship that's spiritually draining you and dragging you down, what are you doing here?
Is God speaking to you right now? You might be hearing His still, small voice. He's been speaking to you through your Christian friends. He's been speaking to you lately through your circumstances. Maybe what I asked at the beginning if you've had a tough week, if you've got pain, maybe God's speaking to you through that pain. Maybe God's using that in your life right now and what He's done tonight is bring you to a place like He did to Elijah upon a mountaintop where you could just sit down for a little bit and just try and hear His still, small voice.
Look as we come to Him in prayer in just a second, you need to know prayer is not rerouting God's GPS for your life, it's sitting in the back seat and quietly, contently trusting that God's leading. Sometimes it's a struggle, but our job isn't to tell God He's going the wrong way. You're not the driver. You're not the copilot. You're not even the GPS unit. You're just a little kid in the back seat asking God are we there yet?
So what problems are you facing right now, Christian, a troubled relationship? Health problems? A need for provision in your life? Direction for the future? The salvation of a loved one? It's time to pray. But when you pray, don't ask God to change your circumstances, ask God to change you through your circumstances.
Ask God to use the circumstances to reveal Himself to you and know that the way He's going to reveal Himself to you might not be through the fire, through the wind, might not be through an earthquake, might not be through some radical revelation, it might just be in a still, small voice.
And are you ready to hear that voice? Remember scripture tells us to cast all our cares upon Him for He cares for you. Or as we started out with King Jehoshaphat who prayed, we don't know what to do, but our eyes are on You.
Let's pray. Lord, we thank You for Your promises. Lord, we thank You that we don't have to live life as the victims of chance, but we can live a life as children of God, seizing, grabbing a hold of, believing, being strengthened, being encouraged by Your promises to us. Lord, You want to do good things in our life. And even though the devil opposes us, as long as we know that You approve of us, Lord, we can withstand anything.
So Lord, I pray right now for everyone for the different circumstances they're going through, the pain they are going through. I can't imagine the way they feel, Lord. But God, we do know that You want to speak to them. You want to speak to us. You want to speak to me.
And so God, we want to listen to You. And we ask You to speak to us in a still, small voice. In Jesus' name we pray. And everyone who agreed said,
What binds us together is devotion to worshiping our Heavenly Father, dedication to studying His word, and determination to proclaim our eternal hope in Jesus Christ.
For more teachings from Calvary Albuquerque and Skip Heitzig, visit calvaryabq.org.