When You Need A Pick–Me-Up
1 Kings 19:9-18
“After the earthquake came a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire.
And after the fire came a gentle whisper.” vs. 12
As many of you know, we have had a few property issues in the past few weeks. But let me back up just a moment. If you recall, we worked hard and diligently to rid ourselves of the mortgage and in Feb. of 2014 we paid off our mortgage. We had a mortgage burning ceremony and that was definitely a high for us as church. But owning a building comes with the awareness that as the building gets older, there are issues.
The last month we have had the following issues:
-An A/C Heater gone out
-A sewer blockage which happened to be right under the middle of the sanctuary
-We had a leak in our plumbing about 6 months ago and it cost us almost $2k to fix it. We now had another leak.
-We had a leak in our irrigation system
-We have a few leaks in our roof.
So what have we done?
-A/C Heater – fixed ($5,500)
-Sewer leak – fixed ($0)
Plumbing leak – fixed ($200)
-Irrigation leak – fixed ($0)
-Roof leak – in progress
We are doing everything we can to take care of God’s house. He has provided in incredible ways in the last week. A HUGE “thank you” to everyone who has contributed over the last week to pitch in and helped. If you are able, please stand as we read God’s Word, 1 Kings 19:9-18:
Read Passage – 1 Kings 19:9-18
And the word of the Lord came to him: “What are you doing here, Elijah?” 10 He replied, “I have been very zealous for the Lord God Almighty. The Israelites have rejected your covenant, torn down your altars, and put your prophets to death with the sword. I am the only one left, and now they are trying to kill me too.” 11 The Lord said, “Go out and stand on the mountain in the presence of the Lord, for the Lord is about to pass by.” Then a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. 12 After the earthquake came a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper. 13 When Elijah heard it, he pulled his cloak over his face and went out and stood at the mouth of the cave. Then a voice said to him, “What are you doing here, Elijah?” 14 He replied, “I have been very zealous for the Lord God Almighty. The Israelites have rejected your covenant, torn down your altars, and put your prophets to death with the sword. I am the only one left, and now they are trying to kill me too.” 15 The Lord said to him, “Go back the way you came, and go to the Desert of Damascus. When you get there, anoint Hazael king over Aram. 16 Also, anoint Jehu son of Nimshi king over Israel, and anoint Elisha son of Shaphat from Abel Meholah to succeed you as prophet. 17 Jehu will put to death any who escape the sword of Hazael, and Elisha will put to death any who escape the sword of Jehu. 18 Yet I reserve seven thousand in Israel—all whose knees have not bowed down to Baal and whose mouths have not kissed him.”
Coming Off A Great Victory
As we approach 1 Kings 19, Elijah has also had quite a run of good things happen in his life and his ministry and service to God. Most recently was the time when he, by himself, and of course the power of God, saw 450 prophets of Baal humiliated and defeated. He really showed the people the power of God and how their god was no match for the one true living God.
Note: Many people claim they want God to do some big miracle before they believe. This passage is proof that not only does God do big miracles, but those miracles don’t always convince people to believe in God.
Although this was a huge victory, the resolve of Jezebel got more intense and she was threatening the life of Elijah. And…she had succeeded in killing off other prophets of God so this became a big concern for Elijah. And her threat is that she will kill him within 24 hours,
Feeling Alone Against the World
Although he had just come off this great victory, he was feeling very alone against the world. He says this very thing in verses 10 and 14:
“I am the only one left, and now they are trying to kill me too.” vs. 10b & 14b
So let me give you a picture of where Elijah is now. He has dismissed his servant and taken off into the dessert about a day’s journey. He comes to this place called Beersheba and he sits down under a broom tree. He is sitting under this tree, hiding, and sulking. He’s scared, confused, and feeling very alone.
Overcoming the Lulls of Life
And that is how life is; there are good times and then there are the times you just want to run and hide, you feel alone, tired, overwhelmed, and feel that need to escape. You might be in a place like that today. Or you might have been there or you may need to prepare for that time in life when you get there. In any case, this passage helps us learn how to overcome the lulls of life. Elijah and his prophecies still teach us valuable lessons today.
- Acknowledge the Ups and Downs
The first thing that is important for us to learn from Elijah is that there are ups and downs in life and we need to acknowledge that. Remember Elijah’s words in verse 10 and 14:
“The Israelites have rejected your covenant, torn down your altars, and put your prophets to death with the sword. I am the only one left, and now they are trying to kill me too.” vss. 10 & 14
God asks Elijah what he’s doing and he comes right out and tells him: things were great, we were doing well, but things have changed and my life is being threatened and I’ve run away and hid.
Tim Keller notes in one of his books an interesting thing about our culture here in North America; we live in a culture that expects to live in the “ups,” in the highs of life. We expect long life, we expect few problems and we expect everything to go our way. We live in a very insular society where we are taught and expect everything to be easy, happy and good.
It’s one of the reasons we have so many lawsuits today. Some lawsuits are good and help make us better and more responsible.
Ex. Erin Brockivich, etc.
But we also have those lawsuits that are just silly and waste money, time, and are show just how ridiculous people can be.
Ex. Spilling coffee,
We need to acknowledge that life has ups and downs. We need to expect there to be down times. Much of the rest of the world do, they know real pain and real heartache, the death of young children who don’t have the medicine and nutrition our children have and who might not have the money for good food, good water, and even clean and healthy living conditions. In fact, the bible even tells us to expect different season in our lives, Ecc. 3:1:
“There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens…” Ecc. 3:1
We live in health when we not only recognize that life has ups and downs but when we acknowledge that as well.
Note: Find someone you can be honest and real with. Be honest and real with God.
- Look Ahead Keeping Your Past in Mind
Secondly, Elijah took his focus off what was ahead and what God’s plan was. He lost hope because he couldn’t look ahead. It’s important to look ahead keeping in mind the past. God had worked out some pretty amazing things and that should have given Elijah hope for the future. Notice his response to God’s question in verses 9-10:
“And the word of the Lord came to him: ‘What are you doing here, Elijah?’ He replied, ‘I have been very zealous for the Lord God Almighty.’” Vs. 9-10
Because he had been zealous for God he figured it would be easy as he moved ahead. The minute we trust in our works to save us, we loose focus.
Ex. Driving – you can’t see where you are going if you are only looking in your review mirror. Sometimes when you are driving you see some pretty amazing things. You look at them but then look back ahead through the windshield. If you driving forward looking in the review mirror you are sure to get in an accident. You appreciate the wonders you see but continue to look ahead. Prov. 4:25:
“Let your eyes look straight ahead; fix your gaze directly before you.” Prov. 4:25
Could you imagine if this verse said “Let you r eyes look back, fix your gaze on what’s behind you.” We could never move forward. Cars would never have been invented.
Ex. Here are some examples of people who weren’t looking ahead and got into a car accident. These are real excuses off real accident reports:
-The accident happened because I had one eye on the truck in front, one eye on the pedestrian, and the other on the car behind.
-In my attempt to kill a fly, I drove into a telephone pole.
-I pulled away from the side of the road, glanced at my mother-in-law and headed over the embankment.
-The accident was caused by me waving to the man I hit last week.
Like Elijah, we can really too much on past accomplishments and forget to focus on what’s ahead.
I’m looking forward to the future, and feeling grateful for the past. – Mike Rowe (TV Producer, host, and actor)
- Listen in the Loudness
And finally, God gives us a picture in this story, and it’s about listening in the loudness. God wants to reveal himself again to Elijah so he tells him to go stand out on the mountain and he will pass by him. In other words, he is going to reveal himself to Elijah again. He needed a reminder that God was in charge and powerful. So there is a powerful wind that comes up. So powerful it splits the mountains. But God wasn’t in the wind. Then there was an earthquake. But God was not in the earthquake. Then there was a fire. But God was not in the fire. Then in verse 12:
“After the earthquake came a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper.” vs. 12
Notice the enormity of these things; a powerful wind, an earthquake, a fire. All huge things that demand attention. We get sucked in by loud and big things. Big things draw our attention. Drive down highway 4 and you see big billboards and bright lights all meant to catch your attention.
Ex. When I am on a hike in Black Diamond I can see Winter Chevrolet billboard
Ex. Commercial on TV. They make them, louder than the shows
But notice in the story where God is; in the gentle whisper. To hear that takes us listening, giving it our attention, and deciphering what is really important. David says in Psalm 131:2
“But I have calmed and quieted myself…” Psalm 131:2a
When is the last time you quieted yourself to hear God? Got away, took a walk, sat alone in a room with everything else off, sat out on your patio and just listened. If we are going to hear God we have to quiet ourselves. We have to focus and listen for him.
Withdraw to Connect
Pone of the best examples of this is Jesus. Jesus withdraws to connect; to connect with God.
Matthew 14 – Feeding the 5,000
Mark 3 – Crowds following Jesus
Luke 5:16 – “Jesus often withdrew to lonely places”
Luke 22 – Jesus withdraws prior to being arrested.
Elijah didn’t know it but he needed to withdraw to reconnect with God. Jesus knew he needed to withdraw. We should follow the example of Jesus. He withdrew before his arrest so that he could seek God. After wards, he had the strength and was willing to do what was necessary for God to be glorified.