The Whisperer

Posted: October 25, 2018 by keystoneyouth in Strange Encounters Lessons
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Attention Funnel: Life’s Biggest Let Downs

What do you know about Elijah?

  • He was a prophet, he was a man of great prayer (James 5:17-18), he saw God do great miracles, he was used by God to do great miracles, he was a wanted man during his time because he spoke for God.
  • Perhaps one of the things Elijah is most well-known for is his work on Mount Carmel.
  • It was a faceoff of Elijah against the prophets of Baal.
  • More importantly it was a faceoff of God vs. Baal. Baal was the idol people worshiped to provide them with rain and fertility, and yet it had not rained in the past 3 years.
  • Now Elijah was saying, it’s time to choose – either worship God or worship Baal. Let’s see who is really God.
    • You know what I despise… when people root for multiple teams in professional sports. You have to choose one and go with it. Either you are a Red Sox Fan or a Yankees Fan, an Eagles Fan or a Cowboys Fan, a Pequea Valley fan or an LMH fan. You can’t be both!
  • Elijah was fighting the same battle – either you love and worship God or you love and worship Baal.
  • And finally the day has come to see who is real. And here’s the crazy part… it’s not even close.
  • 450 prophets do everything they can (including harming themselves) in order to get Baal to do something. And nothing happens.
  • But Elijah simply prays for God to show up and God does! He sends down fire and burns up the sacrifice, the water, and the rocks it was on.
    • It’s an absolute route. If we’re keeping score its God – 100, Baal – 0.
  • Not only does this happen. But after this Elijah tells the people grab an umbrella because God’s about to make it rain. And it does!
  • So it should shock us 4 verses later we find Elijah sitting alone under a tree saying, “It is enough now, O LORD, take away my life.”
  • Elijah has just experienced the greatest example of God’s presence in his life… and several days later he is sitting alone asking God to kill him??
  • What happened??
  • Read 1 Kings 19:1-12

 

Big Idea: God is faithful, even when we don’t feel it.

  • There are times when God feels distant.
  • God defines our expectations of him.
  • God never abandons his children.
  •  Trust God’s Word above your experience.

 There are times when God feels distant.

  • I don’t know about you, but sometimes it can be hard for me to identify with certain characters in the Bible.
  • And if all we knew of Elijah was chapters 17-18, I think it would be really hard to identify with him.
  • He’s seeing God miraculously provide food, raise a dead kid back to life, and then send down fire and rain from heaven.
    • I don’t know what your summer camps, mission’s trips, and retreats have been like. But I can assure you that we never raised a dead kid or called down fire on Keystone Retreat or Missions Trip.
    • They just didn’t teach us how to do that at Lancaster Bible College. I can’t identify with that.
  • But when I see Elijah on the run out of fear, hopeless, and wondering where God is in the midst of all the chaos. Well that’s something I can identify with.
  • One of the dangers for us is that we assume a relationship with God just means it’s going to be one big spiritual high.
    • Like going to an Amusement Park where we never have to wait in lines. Sure there are going to be rushes of riding on a roller coaster, but there’s also going to be a lot of down time in between.
  • If we think knowing God is going to be one big spiritual high, wonder what’s wrong when God feels distant. Do we not really know him? Do we not really believe in him? What is wrong?
  • Apply: When God feels distant… it may be because there is some issue in our lives that needs to be addressed. Sin does cause distance in our relationship with him.
    • Or it may just be because that’s part of a relationship with God. If knowing God is just a means for us to “feel” a certain “feeling.” Then we don’t really know and love him. We just know and love the “feeling” he offers us.

 God defies our expectations of Him.

  • The other danger is that when we don’t feel God, we might believe that he has failed us in some way. He has let us down. He’s to blame.
  • But we see in this story that God defies our expectations of him.
  • Look at Elijah… all of Elijah’s life he has been a man on the run and he’s been hated by his nation. He’s obeyed God perfectly and accepted the consequences that came with that.
  • But when he is standing on Mount Carmel he’s convinced that’s all going to change.
  • And what happens the next morning… NOTHING CHANGES. He receives a death threat from the queen and people act as if nothing ever happened. WHAT A MASSIVE LET DOWN!
    • I don’t know about you guys, but the times I feel the most let down are when there’s a big snow storm called for and then it doesn’t happen. It starts out with Joe Calhoun predicting 5-6 inches, then 7-8, then 12-14, then 16-20. I have my whole day planned out… Coffee, a book, and 2 seasons of the office. And I wake up excited, can’t wait to open the window to see how much snow there is… and… it’s raining!
  • Elijah is expecting big things, and he wakes up the next morning and nothing has changed.
  • Apply:
    • Have you ever had it happen where you’ve felt let down by God? Maybe you were praying for someone to get healed… and it didn’t happen. Maybe you shared your faith with a friend… and they just kind of shrugged their shoulders. Maybe you were expecting God to set you free from a certain struggle or temptation, but it’s still there more powerful than ever.

 God never abandons his children.

  • One of the things we notice in this story is that although it appears that Elijah is done… he’s had enough, he’s running away, he’s finished being a prophet… God is not done with him.
  • God feeds Him, gives him rest, gently asks questions to draw out Elijah, listens to Elijah’s complaints, and eventually reveals himself again to Elijah.
  • In the times when God feels distant, and the times where it feels like he has let us down, we need to remember this… God never abandons us.
  • The thing that assures this for us is the gospel. If God gave up His own son to save us. Then why would he ever abandon us in the future??
  • Romans 8:31-32
    • My wife and I are adopting a little boy. And one of the things that is part of adopting is that it’s pretty expensive to make it happen. We are paying a price to get our little boy. It would make absolutely no sense to pay that price and then then decide 5 years down the road, we don’t want him anymore. We’re done with him.
  • How much less sense would it make for God to give up his son for us, and then decide later on he doesn’t want anything to do with us.
  • Difficult circumstances may make it easy to doubt God’s faithfulness. But when that happens we need to look back again to the gospel and be reminded of just how faithful he is.

 Trust God’s Word above your experience.

  • Elijah arrives at this mountain. Do you know what Mountain it is? It’s Mount Sinai.
    • This is the same place where Moses met God. A place where God showed up in incredible ways.
    • I think Elijah is running back there in hopes that God will show up.
    • And what happens… God sends all these incredible things, a tornado, an earthquake, and a fire.
    • And yet he isn’t in any of them.
  • And then God sends a quiet whisper that he is in and speaks through.
  • What’s going on here?? Why a whisper?
  • I think God is pointing out to Elijah, trust my Words above your experience.
  • Elijah you have experienced a massive let down, but my Words remain true. Trust them.
  • Apply:
    • It’s important for us to experience God personally. To experience his love, power, and nearness in our lives.
    • And I hope that you experience God personally… that’s one of my prayers that would happen at Keystone Youth.
    • But what is more important than any experience we have, is the Words that God has given to us.
    • We should filter every experience we have through them. There are times when you may “feel” very close to God and yet what you’re feeling is not God at all, but the power of a dynamic speaker or a big group all doing the same thing.
    • And there may be times where you don’t “feel” God, but his words remain entirely true.

Conclusion:

  • We’ve talked about several encounters that people had with God throughout the Old Testament. The way that we continue to encounter God today is not always through some massive emotional experience, but rather it’s often through his small voice that shows up in the Bible. If you want to experience God – don’t go chasing after emotional experiences. Go chasing after Him through the words he’s given to us.

 

 

 

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