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May 15, 2022 3:00 am
Elijah the prophet is one of the most memorable characters in all of scripture.
Elijah was a man just like us.
Jesus has called us to be both salt and light in our culture today.
“When a man stops believing in God, he doesn’t then believe in nothing; he believes in anything.” —G. K. Chesterton
People can become too comfortable with sin, and then sin bites.
God brought in Elijah to be a brilliant and blazing light.
Elijah means, “My God is Jehovah” or “The Lord is my God.”
Elijah stood continually in the presence of God.
God is looking for men and women today who are willing to stand in the gap like Elijah.
Elijah was a man of prayer.
Elijah knew the scripture and acted upon it.
Elijah faithfully delivered the message.
We must preach the gospel to the people who are hurting our society.
They are not the enemy; they are in the control of the enemy who is Satan!
Takeaway truth. . . God gives second chances.
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Hey there, thanks for listening to the Greg Laurie podcast, a ministry supported by harvest partners. I'm Greg Laurie encouraging you if you want to find out more about harvest ministries. Learn more about how to become a harvest partner, just go to harvest.org were starting a brand-new series on the life of the prophet Elijah that were calling Elijah the power to stand in the title of my message today is there's a new kid in town okay. Turn in your Bibles to first Kings chapter 17. How many of you brought up Bible with you pictures of easier Bible to get a good good.
How many of you are reading the Bible on a tablet or a phone race reason to get out just get out those I'm joking but it's all good turn in whatever your devices to first Kings 17. When we pray father blessed. Now this time as we open your word, help us to be men and women that make a difference in our culture because we needed now, perhaps more than ever speak to us from Scripture, we ask in Jesus name we pray, and met Elijah the prophet know what you think of when that being pops in your head.
Elijah well. He was a miracle working prophet was ending. He raised the child from the dead.
He stormed boldly into the cord of the wicked King Ahab in this wife Jezebel and said it will not rain but according to my word.
And of course we can't forget Elijah praying and fire coming down from heaven up on Mount Carmel great guy to have rounded a barbecue. By the way, and not only that, but Elijah didn't even die like a normal person. He was caught up into heaven in a chariot of fire.
And if that's not enough. He shows up in the New Testament in the Transfiguration with Jesus and Moses. So that's what we think of only think of Elijah. We should also think about his humanity is deep depression and discouragement with things did not work out he experienced intense fear and loneliness. At times he doubted the faithfulness of God. He allowed his anger to distort his thinking any experience such dark depression.
On one particular day he wanted to die. Who was this guy Elijah simple answer.
He was a man just like you.
James 517 says Elijah was a man just like us was another translation puts it, Elijah was as human as we are and it's so true Elijah came at a very dark time in the history of Israel. But God use this one man to change history and cause Israel to turn back to God. And it shows how one man or one woman can make all the difference. It was dark then and it's dark now is not in our culture today.
We have so many problems in our world and our nation. Racial and political divides are raging violent crime is off the charts and on the streets. The family is under attack. Many not only want to redefine the family they want to even redefine what a man and a woman are and as it turns out Roe V Wade is probably going to be overturned by the Supreme Court that is a good thing that is an answer to our prayers, but boy people are freaking out over that and because they want to continue in that path of taking the lives of the unborn, reminds us of the passage it says in the last days. Things will go from bad to worse listen if you have a constant diet of news you're going to be an agitated, upset, unhappy, and probably pretty depressed person that you can become so distraught you might think. There's just no hope there's just no hope. But there's always so.
The reason there's always hope was because God is here, just as God turned Israel around God to turn America around. So we need to pray for his spiritual revival, a spiritual awakening but listen to this revival is what God does for us. But evangelism is what we do for God.
I can make a revival happen. You can't either. We can pray for one we can prepare the ground. Maybe I should say we can pre-prayer the ground for prayer. If you will, our hearts, but having said that evangelism is something that I and you can do it here at harvest. We take the great commission seriously because we know it's the only thing that can turn around a man or a woman's heart is the power of the gospel.
That's why we go to places like Boise, Idaho. Go. In fact I joke with people back there. I said I am here to preach to all the Californians that have moved here and then I said I'm at it.
I wanted to come all back home with me and they all applauded. No one wants us but we want to continue to bring the gospel in every way that we can, but that is not the attitude of every Christian. Some Christians want to evade the culture within it with. They were to sum up their position.
It would be isolation.
That's virtually impossible. You can remove yourself and your children from this culture.
The culture will find you. By the way, that someone Jesus told us to do. He did not tell us that we should isolate.
He told us that we should infiltrate. He told us that we should permeate our objective is Christians is not to evade its to invade the make sense. Evade all afterward that I don't want to talk to that nonbeliever the cooties member cooties.
How many of you have never heard the word cooties dwelling looked up and I was in school we had cooties it that some in your abilities and so that we would write KP on our hand, you have cooties.
No, I don't why not cooties protection it somehow work but anyway I want to talk to that nonbeliever. They might instantly they might influence me. Yes, what about you influencing them Jesus is called us to be both salt and light in the culture. He said you are the salt of the earth, but if salt is lost lost in saltiness what good is it if I got decaf old milk lavender latte.
If you could order a decaf oatmeal lavender latte. Why don't you just have the word worthless as well and then I'm with you.
Words like a Coke. That's lost its carbonation. It's gone flat and salty Christian who doesn't make a difference. So, salt had two purposes back in the first century number one it stop the rotting of the meat they would rub it into the meat to preserve it so it preserved and the other thing salt doesn't stimulate Durso in the culture today. I'm here to stop the spread of corruption which means I speak up for what is true. I speak out against what is wrong and I'm also, hopefully, by the way that I'm living, stimulating, and others of thirst for God.
Hopefully there's something in my life in your life in our lives that a nonbeliever would see and say I want what they have and secondly were to be liked. Jesus said, let your light so shine before men that they may see your good works and give glory to your father in heaven. So I'm there to do good works, obviously, but to also proclaim the gospel, but this is not happening. In many cases in Israel's history. They were going from bad to worse and things were getting dark, and it parallels our time. Today they had turned to other gods that they disavowed the true God, the Lord God, but they wanted some other gods as well. That sort of wanted to have their cake and eat it too. By the way, what is that even mean you can't have your cake and eat it to educate NIV but just sort of the idea of you. You can do both. You can't live in two worlds and that's it. They were doing.
They had abandoned God and if you abandon God, a moral breakdown will inevitably happen.
GK Chesterton said, quote, when a man stops believing in God he doesn't then believe in nothing, he believes in everything and anything."
That's what we have today in America. I would call it an ABC culture ABC anything but Christ all look at that philosophy all in our team this idea all look into this other thing that Jesus Christ don't talk to me about him. Don't open the Bible near me.
It's a complete intolerance and we have this moral breakdown.
You cannot have morality without spirituality.
When I use the word spirituality.
I mean without faith in God himself. So they failed to do this and their troubles began. But let's not be too quick to judge them because of their idolatry, for we to have our idols now talk about that later, but an idol is anyone or anything that takes the place of God in your life whatever fires you up whatever you're the most passionate about that potentially is your idol or your God with a small G so little historical background before we dive in in the history of Israel. They had been ruled by three case King Saul king David and King Solomon. Every one of these kings have their flaws. David was the greatest of the three, Saul had his moments were rolled quite well than he did some horrible things. He was rejected, replaced by David Solomon had a great beginning. He was so known for his wisdom. People came from around the world to listen to them, including the Queen of Sheba, then he laughed and fell into sin, but these three kings ruled over Israel. But then, after the death of Solomon.
There was a division in the nation. They had their own Civil War. If you will in two kingdoms came as a result, the northern kingdom on the southern kingdom and idolatry permeated everything so now there's a new King Intel and his name is Ahab. He married an extremely wicked woman named Jezebel what effectively was the power behind the throne. Jezebel was a fulltilt idol worshiper and she introduced bagel worship to Israel. The bail was a God that represented the elements he was.
He was the God of the son of the stars of the wind of the reign of the God of all of those things in his very name and master or Lord. That's why it's interesting when there was a contest between Elijah the prophet and the prophets of bail.
He said hey let's call out to God and the God that answers by fire.
That's a true God.
That should have been appeasing cake for bail is a fire God. Now he they couldn't pull a lot because bail is not real. He was a nonexistent God, but Bill was the God they were no worshiping and actually as part of bail worship.
It required the sacrifice of your firstborn male child. So this is how wicked things and become.
And then Jezebel also introduced the worship of Ashtoreth who was the goddess of sex and violence so that people are living immoral lives with impunity. Thinking they'll never face the repercussions board. It was so bad that God said in first Kings 1633. Ahab did more to provoke the Lord God of Israel to anger that all the kings of Israel that were before we so this is horrible with a second, do we not still bow at the altars of sex and violence have you watched TV lately. Have you seen a movie recently. Have you listened to a lot of the popular music and offering our children to a God what you call the murder of innocent children in the name of reproductive rights, it's effectively the same thing people think they can break the laws of God and not face the consequences. God gives us this morning. Don't be deceived, God is not mocked whatsoever a man sows, that will he also re-the boy king Belshazzar who ruled Babylon found this out the hard way when they decided to go out of his way to mock and ridicule God.
He called for the special instruments and vessels used by the Jews in their worship of the Lord to be taken and filled with wine and a toasted and prayed to their false gods, effectively thumbing their nose at the Lord and the Lord responded because Belshazzar looked over on the wall and he saw a hand just to hand writing something on the wall one of this heavenly graffiti say is said your numbers up buddy parties over you been waiting God's balance is new been found lacking.
So we think all I I've done the same for years I've gotten away with it. Nothing really bad is happening to get can always get away with her much of a story I just read the paper the other day will not pay price on online. I too don't read a paper, but some it's an expression now a man in Maryland was found dead in his home from a snake bite. Apparently this guy had 124 snakes in this house.
It included rattlesnakes, cobras, black mom is all of those are poisonous because it happened.
One of the snakes venom and then he died. So I'm not making a lot of them to get sad. But if you hang around in a house with a bunch of poisonous snakes. This is going to happen right and if you continue to break God's laws, and disobeying him.
It'll eventually catch up with you. Ecclesiastes 811 says because sentence against an evil work is not executed quickly. The hearts of the sons of men are set to do evil. We paraphrase that because you get away with something for a long time you think you'll always get away with it but you won't. And this is what's happening now to Israel.
Funny thing, Ahab later describes Elijah is the one who troubles Israel this is your fault Elijah.
We have distraught we have these problems. You brought it on us. Elijah's response was I'm not the one who troubles Israel. You're the one who troubles Israel and the same when we often blame God.
But we are what we bring upon ourselves.
So God brought Elijah into the scene to be a blazing light. God always has his right man or his right woman at the right time when the people were rebelling against God.
The Lord said, send email can know when the people were in slavery, God sent Moses when the very survival of Israel was at stake. The Lord sent Esther one of these people all have in common answer they were imperfect people serving a perfect God, ordinary people doing extraordinary things again. Elijah was a man just like you. He was an ordinary human being, but he took his stand. That is why I'm calling this series. Elijah, the power to stand because we need more alive. Just today we need more men and women who will stand boldly for their faith. He appeared at the zero hour in Israel's history that nobody could have handled a couple like Ahab and Jezebel better than the prophet Elijah know he followed no protocols made no introductions there was no deference to Royal the royal presence eating care about prestige and power is count walked into the court and did what God called him to do, hidden really care about his appearance that much either. It would appear because I can Kings 18 says it was a hairy man wore a leather belt around his waist. So either he wore a garment of hair or he himself was really caring. Amazingly, I am covered an image of a lights out recently. That's never been seen before, there it is on the screen on the weight that's me. From 1970 after I just baptized somebody noticed the trim on the sleeves. I'm not sure what's going on with that jerk that was a joke.
Okay so here's the story now turn in your Bibles to first Kings 17 I was going to read one versus powerpack verse. Elijah did to spite of the inhabitants of Gilead, said to Ahab is the Lord God of Israel lives, before whom I stand, there will not be due nor rain these years, except that my word stop right there. Elijah flung down the gauntlet of his challenge of the very nerve center of Israel.
There was a new kid in town. Wonder what they were thinking and here are the king and the queen sitting on the regal drones trust in the royal robes.
Then comes this outback guy you know all hairy and crazy look and he makes his rounds. Vincent walks out and someone probably said. How did he get through security, but that was the way Elijah rolled in fact is very name really describes his mission and purpose. The name Elijah means by God is Jehovah or the Lord is my God is very name was a rebuke to Ahab and Jezebel is effectively solicit your God may be bail but my God is the Lord, as the Lord lives before my said your God is not alive. My God is not working from is of note in the Bible says he was the to spite from Gilead that means nothing to us what the dish backwards. Gilead but actually Gilead was east of the Jordan River. The people that live there work in a roughhewn tan from the sun. Tough people sort of like the Australian outback. So Elijah walked into the Courtney said that no knife this he said no. I feel that was my crocodile Dundee electric company. Remember Crocodile Dundee.
Okay with that. Can you get the picture of just sort of a little bit of a wild man walking into this place of culture and he just lays down this message.
Where to begin this boldness, because as we explore his life. You know he was not some kind of a superhero.
He didn't wear a cape. He was just like you. He had as emotional ups and his emotional doubts. So where did he get the chutzpah. If you will, or the courage to do that.
Somebody give you four principles of Elijah's life number one.
Elijah stood continually in the presence of God. Elijah stood continually in the presence of God. What is he say verse one is the Lord God of Israel lives, before whom I stand, Windows ME me that he understood wherever he went.
The Lord was with whatever place he was in God was there. He was not alone.
You know, Psalm 91 says he that dwells in the secret place of the most high shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty. You have to work pretty closely to someone to stand in their shadow giver try to do that and I know that he was always seeking to be close to the Lord. Walking closely with the Lord and listen when you stand in the presence of God.
You will not bow before any man that's really got the courage Proverbs 28 one says the righteous are as bold as a lion and we need to remember that wherever we go or to whomever we speak wherever it is, God is with us.
It's true. Elijah was just one person, but he was one person with God ever feel that way because the only person who believes maybe you're the only believer in your family, the only believer in your neighborhood. The only Christian in your classroom yellow for only follower of Jesus among your group of friends in the field just out there all alone will. Maybe you are but one person can make a difference in Elijah was that one person that God is looking for people like us today is looking for ordinary people to use to make a difference to shine their light. Ezekiel 2230 says I sought for a man among them who would make a wall and stand in the gap before me on behalf of the land so I should not destroy it.
The Lord says they couldn't find anyone as a Lord is looking through this space were in there at harvest Riverside looking that you could he find a man could he find a woman to stand in the gap like Elijah trumps one doll in his commentary on the life of Elijah made the statement and I quote those who find comfort in the court of Ahab can never bring themselves to stand in the gap with Elijah." Very true Elijah stood continually in God's presence. He was always aware that the Lord was with them. Number two.
Elijah was a man of prayer.
Elijah was a man of prayer, James 517 says Elijah was a man just like us. He prayed earnestly that it would not rain, and it did not rain on the land for 3 1/2 years. Again he prayed, and the heavens gave rain, and the earth produced its crop, so it was Elijah's prayer and private, that was a source of his power in public and I wonder if you are a person of prayer.
This verse that says he prayed earnestly means that he prayed with passion. The Hebrew word means. He prayed with prayer is not even the word cy pres it was the way he prayed. It was the intensity of this prayer.
It was the idea that I am I am really not going to take no for an answer here on in the press in to the throne of God. There is an indication of his intensity in his physical posture and I think one of the reasons there's no power in our prayers, is because there is no hard and then you know some Christians today are more interested in protesting and praying quicker to boycott then to understand God can literally change things through prayer.
What is the last time you prayed about the problems plaguing our culture and society today. If you see it on the news and appropriate heads, and this rate let's pray about this right now. Let's pray for God to intervene in this situation, when Peter was arrested in the book of acts to be executed. The next day we read an extra one, but constant prayer was offered to God for him by the church but of power that verse two. Constant prayer they prayed with passion offered for him by the church.
They prayed together, get together with fellow Christians in sake let's pray about this right now. Let's commit this to the Lord. Right now Elijah was a man of prayer.
The third principle in this life, causing me to make a difference was he knew the power of Scripture, and he acted on again number three. He knew the power of Scripture, and he acted on it. Now why did he make this pronouncement the King Ahab will Deuteronomy 1116 says it. Be careful or you'll be enticed to turn away, and worship other gods. This is a warning to Israel and bow down to them. Then the Lord Zingo will burn against you and he will shut the cabin so it will not rain in the ground will yield no produce, produce, and you will soon perish from the good land the Lord is giving you objects out a warning that same listen you turn to other God's operating you won't have food and the people and vowed to Balin,*and all the trotters coming so he deliver that message. That's point number four. Elijah faithfully delivered the message God gave him to deliver he gave that message. And that's not an easy message to get to walk in and say I never tried people going to die you been a great audience. Good night and God bless my drop that I want to say that the same way we as Christians love to tell people that God loves them.
He does we love to tell people that Christ can fill that void in their life and we can we love to tell them that they can be forgiven of all of their sins that can happen. We love to tell them that when they die they can go to heaven.
It's all true, but it's a little harder to say, by the way, the only way to have a relationship with God is through Jesus Christ because he himself said I am the way the truth and the life and no man comes of the father but by me see here's the thing that we need to remember we can't offer God's forgiveness without speaking of repentance we can offer the hope of heaven without warning about hell we can't edit this book, you probably heard of Jefferson's Bible, Thomas Jefferson was our president had his own version of the Bible. He basically took a pair of scissors and cut out all the parts he didn't want take. I think it was primarily the miracles and so is called Jefferson's Bible. Some people want to do the same thing will I love this. I love that I don't really agree with these other things.
So I'll just edit them out. No it is not the way it works. He faithfully gave this message and we need to faithfully give it lots we must do it with love and compassion. You know I think sometimes we make the mistake of thinking. Nonbelievers are anomie there the enemy. They voted for that. They're the enemy. They said that their horrible. Okay, maybe they've done the wrong thing, but they're not the enemy. The enemy is not the nonbeliever. The enemy is the devil, who's holding the nonbeliever in his control. Paul talks about those who are being held captive by Satan to do his will.
Newsflash used to be one of those people to insert it I we forget about that, whatever the enemy know they need to come out from the power of the enemy. So we need to constantly be looking for ways to build bridges to nonbelievers in this deal Moody once said, the great evangelist when you preach and help should always do so with tears in your eyes. So when you present the gospel to others do it with love and compassion Colossians for success.
Be pleasant and hold their interest when you speak the message, choose your words carefully and be ready to give answers to anyone who asks questions love it be pleasant be a nice person. Don't be obnoxious.
Don't talk down to people. You're just one beggar telling another beggar where to find food. I'm not better than anybody else better off yes better know so you come with humility and tell them how Christ can change their life as well. As I've said before, if you want to win some be in some and so be nice about it. Be pleasant about it but tell them the truth, because there are people that are searching I mentioned abortion today I want to close with voicemail that was sent to me was transcribed and also a letter that was sent to be the first was a letter from a young woman in crystal and she writes I listen to Greg every day when I was working at Planned Parenthood. This is a North Carolina I worked there for almost a year and there was a certain sermon writes crystal the great gave that scared me any kid harder than it it hit before because one day I was counting the pieces of a dismembered baby and I thought about his message worries that if Jesus came back right then and I was in the POC room. Would he leave me behind so in the message I I asked this question, is there anything you're doing right now that you would be ashamed to be doing. If Jesus were to come back and here's crystal assisting in an abortion procedure when it suddenly dawns on her that the real gravity of what is actually happening. So she repented she committed her life to Christ she quit working at Planned Parenthood and now she is an advocate for the lives of the unborn to. That's what Christ can do for what about the woman who's had the abortion.
Is there any hope for her. Of course, so this voicemail was sent to me from this lady who said I have about a 45 minute commute to and from work. I listen to pastor Greg's podcast and I just finished listening to one of this message is called let's talk about heaven. She writes I had an abortion back in 2010 it's been a long journey of healing. When I finally came to the realization that the safest place to be is at the foot of the cross. I was able to experience mercy and grace and the love that God has for me I are getting emotional, but I know there's going to be a day when all be reunited with my baby and united with Jesus Christ and I want to say thank you my beautiful sister is to the Bible says God can bring beauty out of the ashes and the joy love of the oil of joy for mourning in a Mother's Day's kind of a problematic day for some business depends on your relationship with your mom is a mama depends on your relationship with your kids and your husband. Or maybe your ex-husband or your all those things right are in play. So it's not always wonderful, happy day for many people in and we think may be in those moms that made mistakes, his father's I've fallen short as a son or a daughter. I could've done a better job and all the things we've all messed up but here's the good news can't give second chances to start afresh today. You can't change the past anymore then you can unscramble a scramble that, but you can start a new and silky today. If I done something wrong to someone I'm going to own it. I'm going to apologize for him and ask him to forgive me and I'm gonna try to be a better version of me. A more loving version work to the point, a more Christlike version, but if you've done something you feel ashamed of or embarrassed by God can forgive your mentors the sleepy writing she took the life of her unborn child. But she said and I love the way she put it this safest place for me is at the foot of the cross where she experienced mercy and grace and the love that God has for she got it right. That's it.
Because Jesus died there in the cross for my sins and he has forgiven me of my sins and he has forgotten my sins and he won't hold them against me and others even hope for the future. She says I'll be reunited with my baby and united with the Lord this whatever you've done. God can and will forgive you but he won't force his forgiveness down your throat, you have to ask for it. You have to call out for it and I hope that some of you will do that as we close now in prayer. If you need to make a commitment or recommitment to Jesus you can do it right here right now. Let's pray father I pray for everybody here.
Everybody watching if they do not have a relationship with you. Let this be the moment they believe. Let this be the moment they come to you, and turn from their sin, or the moment they come back to you because they've fallen away, or they've had a lapse in their faith. You are the God of second chances and third chances and forth once and so forth. I pray that your Holy Spirit will convict them of their sin and convince them of their need for Jesus and as a lady wrote find that the safest place to be is at the foot of the cross where they can experience mercy and grace when our heads are proud your eyes are closed. There might be somebody here that would just say I need Jesus. I don't have a relationship with him and I want one today.
There might be somebody else who would say I need to come back to Jesus. I was close to him. At one point but I've wandered off and veered off the path I want to return to him today if you need to make a commitment or recommitment to Jesus Christ, to pray a simple prayer and I would ask you to pray this prayer after me you can print out loud if you like you can pray quietly but if you need to make this commitment or recommitment to Christ, pray this after me now is pray Lord Jesus. I admit that I am a sinner. I've broken your laws.
I've fallen short of your glory but you said you died there on the cross for me and paid the price for my sin and I can turn from my sin. Now and I commit myself to you. I choose to follow you from this moment forward in Jesus name I pray, amen. Everybody, thanks for listening to this podcast to learn more about harvest ministries follow the show and consider supporting it. Just go to harvest.org and find out how to know God personally go to harvest.org and click on know God