How Can Your Faith Make a Difference?
As a church family we are studying the life of Elijah. There are some things about the life of Elijah that are comparable to where we are today. I think there’s a lot of similarities to where we are today. Elijah’s circumstances area little more extreme, I think, then where we find ourselves in American culture, but nonetheless through the live events of Elijah we can glean some things that are practical to our lives in the way that we live in faith and response to the Lord and the world around us. When we look in 1 Kings 18 if you know anything about Elijah or you’re familiar with character at all chances are it’s 1 Kings 18 that you know about as it relates to Elijah, because this is the showdown on Mount Carmel. For those of you that don’t know how to pronounce Carmel, it’s Carmel. Elijah’s showdown on Mount Carmel against these false gods, false prophets, Ahab the king and Jezebel, the scenario that they have created in Israel at this point we’ve looked at under King Ahab.
We’ve talked about, in Israel’s day at this time. Israel’s already gone through a Civil War. They separated two tribes to the south out of the 12 tribes. Two went to the south, 10 go to the north and the northern tribes never have a godly king. 19 kings, no one of them godly. They go through all of this adversity through these ungodly kings and God continues to sin, individuals prophets to the north, to call Israel back to him. One of those prophets during the reign of the 7th king, who is Ahab, is Elijah. Ahab, it tells us in 1 Kings 16:13, “Did more to provoke the Lord than any other king before him.” He was the most wicked king at this point in Israel’s history. It talks about Jezebel because Jezebel is really the one leading the kingdom at this point. Jezebel is not a good term to refer to anyone about, right? If anyone ever calls you a Jezebel, whatever you’re doing stop and do the exact opposite of that. That is not a good term. Jezebel and King Ahab, they’re wicked in this time period.
God calls Elijah to stand up against that in the midst of leading Israel towards darkness Elijah comes as a light to pronounce the goodness of who God is. In 17:1 it tells us Elijah comes before King Ahab and his name is an identification to what he stands for. Elijah means the lord is my God. Elijah takes the stand before a king who’s got no problem cutting off the heads of God’s prophets. In fact, in chapter 18 it talks about Jezebel doing that. Elijah takes the stand and God, after he takes the stand before Ahab and says, “Is not going to reign in Israel for three years,” he tells Elijah to go and hide. While Elijah has this stand in the Lord he still needs to mature in his faith. What he proclaims inwardly in his life, by taking the stand of the Lord, he needs to experience maturity in his walk with the Lord. God takes them away into this area that is referred to in chapter 17 as the Kerith Ravine. The Kerith Ravine literally means to be cut down. Not only does he go to the Kerith Ravine.
He goes to Zarephath, which Zarephath it tells us in chapter 17 is inside and which happens to be exactly where Jezebel is from. It’s her homeland. God takes Elijah to these two different places to mature his faith, because he knows on the backend of all of this that Elijah is going to have to take that stand for which he proclaimed before Ahab. He’s got to be come really a warrior in the Lord. To see his faith strong. God takes him to the Kerith Ravine and Zarephath. Kerith Ravine, cut down. Zarephath is the crucible. God brings before a widow in Zarephath. We pointed out in understanding relationship, God takes him in the Kerith Ravine, and God feeds him through ravens. Now in Zarephath he’s going to feed him through a widow, which is probably the last person in the middle of the drought that you would look for, for provision for your own life. It would be difficult to take care of yourself, but here is now taking from a widow.
What we identified for us in this is to recognize that God really uses people to mature our faith. People have the tendency to bring the goodness of God within our lives out of us as we reflect his glory. They have the tendency to help us understand where the darkness in our heart really rests. Everyone things they’re real godly until you get under a roof for seven days a week, 24 hours a day with the person beside you. You learn real quick, wait. I’m not as great as I thought I was. A lot of times what you find in relationship is what we tend to do is we like to blame people for our behavior as if they’re responsible, like they force you to act the way they do. Nobody’s perfect, but you’re still responsible for the way you respond to the imperfections of others. No one makes you do what you do. Yes, it may provoke you, but really in that provoking what it’s doing is demonstrating what rests in our own hearts.
A lot of times we don’t like that. What we choose to do is blame others. What God can do in that is a beautiful thing. What he draws out from us is what rests in our heart. God, in those moments, if we surrender to him can mature us and grow us. Zarephath is this crucible of refinement in our lives to help us understand where we are in our relationship with God. It draws out the darkness. It brings out the light in our relationship with God the Kerith Ravine cuts us down. If I just summarize chapter 17 I would say it like this, “God uses good things to encourage us and God uses hard things to change us. That’s what chapter 17 is. In fact, we’re going to see coming out of this into chapter 18 that Elijah’s faith is strong, but when he confronts King Ahab again and Jezebel their hearts have become more hard.
When our lives are surrendered to God going into adversity God uses that to transform us. When our lives aren’t really surrendered to Him and ourselves are God, anything that rips from that, we see that as an attack against us, because we’re God. Really what it does is cause the heart to become even more callous in the midst of those trials, or at least it can tend to happen that way. What happens at the end of chapter 17? It tells us that Elijah emerges as a man of God. The widow that he’s with refers to him as a man of God, which is more important. It’s great if you think you’re a godly man, godly woman. I want to encourage you in that. It’s another thing all together when someone can look at your life and say, “When I see you I see Jesus.” It shows maturity. It shows substance to your faith, doesn’t it? I think that’s what God was doing for Elijah. Not just proclaiming that the Lord is your God, but as faith demonstrating this substance, this confidence in who his God was.
Now what? You guys, if God has taken you and your life to the Kerith Ravine or through Zarephath, through the crucible of refinement your faith has substance. What do you do with it? That’s what the showdown at Mount Carmel is about. If you know the story God shows up, fire comes down, things set on fire. It’s an incredible story, but I really think it’s not just about this event. It’s about the heart that’s driving this event. That’s what I want us to look at in chapter 18. What do you do with the faith that God has given you as he matures you in Him. How do you respond with that? I think everyone needs a burden for which to care and a passion toward which to give. When God does something in you He does something for a purpose. The story with Elijah, as God’s matured him and he steps out of the ravine finally and he’s finally out of the crucible and he’s back out in the spotlight again, so what? What difference does that make?
You remember the heart of the problem that we started with in chapter 16 is Israel’s walking in darkness and they’re following after a king that’s pursuing darkness. That’s the issue at hand. Now God has matured Elijah for what? To sit on his hands? So what? I think what we see in response to Elijah in the story is for us to even examine what, as God works in our own lives, and transforms us and moves within us what do we do with our faith? Here in the story in 18:1 I’m going to tell you I’m going to skip through this pretty quick. I’ll give you some of the details that happen within the story. I’ll just fill in the gaps. I’m not going to read every verse because that would take too much time here this morning and I’ve got to watch the Patriots win Superbowl today. I’m not kidding about that, but we have limited time in our service so I want to make sure I use it wisely.
1 Kings 18:1, “Now it happened after many days that the word of the Lord came to Elijah in the third year, saying, ‘Go, show yourself to Ahab, and I will send rain on the face of the earth.'” Here you see Elijah growing in his faith and his response isn’t just simply, “Okay, God. You’ve matured me and now we’re done,” but to see this faith lived out in his life, a faith of substance, a faith of worth and value. If your faith doesn’t cause you to change is it worth anything? If your faith doesn’t lead you into a life that looks different than anything before it is that faith really worth much? Is it even real? Just a thought of convenience. Here you see in the life of Elijah that his faith has substance so much so that what’s being declared here is a response in the life of Elijah that could lead to an ultimately sacrifice of giving himself, but nonetheless it is a sacrifice. Now, [inaudible 00:10:29] Elijah and to show that your faith has substance place some worth on it.
Let it change how you live your life, because it’s changed who you are and the core of your being. His faith begins to demonstrate this attitude of sacrifice because he’s going back before the very king that would have taken his head. In fact, if you read the story going on to verse two and to verse 10 it starts to tell another story of King Ahab talking to Obadiah. It’s not the same Obadiah of an Old Testament book written by Obadiah. It’s a different Obadiah. Obadiah was a godly individual and at one point Obadiah saw Jezebel killing the profits of God and he decides he’s going to try to help save their lives and so he takes 100 of them and he hides 50 of them in one cave, 50 of them in another cave. He’s like, “I’m going not feed you. If she finds one cave at least 50 of you are alive but I’m going to do this.” Obadiah is a godly individual, but he’s talking to Ahab in this story.
Ahab said, “Look there’s no more grass for the animals anymore. I’m going to go down south. You go up north. We’re going to just look all over the land. When you find grass come back and report it because we need to take these animals here because they’re going to die.” Ahab and Obadiah go on this journey. When Obadiah is looking for this land all of a sudden he sees Elijah. Elijah comes before Obadiah and says, “Go tell Ahab I’m coming to meet him. Obadiah is like, “That ain’t happening. Maybe you haven’t heard about me. The king, when you went hiding, he went through all of the lands around us. All of the nations he visited and he made those nations swear that you weren’t living there and to give an oath before he would leave them alone. This is how much this guy wants to kill you.” I am not going to be the one that goes to him and says, “Hey, I found Elijah.” Right?
“That’s going to put my own life at risk. Do you not know who I am? I’m the guy that saved the hundred profits. Let my legacy be lived there and I’ve done one thing for the Lord. Let’s not do another. Why chance it? That’s what he’s saying. I’m already at risk here and I’m not going to tell Ahab.” Elijah’s like, “Yeah you’re going to tell Ahab.” Obadiah goes and tells Ahab. It says in verse 11, “Go Obadiah, say to your master, ‘Behold your master is here.'” “When I come and tell Ahab and he can not find you he will kill me,” Obadiah says. “Although I your servant have feared the Lord from my youth?” You see in this story Elijah is taking this risk in his faith, because his faith has substance to it. When we live a life that makes a difference, the [inaudible 00:13:08], when you think about Israel in this story Israel is still in the darkness. Elijah’s finest faith growing in the Lord, but he doesn’t let it sit there. He wants the kind of faith that makes a difference in the world around him.
What Elijah demonstrates in the story is a faith that makes a difference. It’s a faith that’s willing to sacrifice. Before a faith will sacrifice it needs a burden for which to care and a passion for which to give. What do you burden for? What do you care about? Does it have substance in the Lord? I think that’s why God created this church. The church doesn’t exist just to simply exist. There’s a purpose behind the existence of God’s church. We say it, summarize it in two ways. It’s the Great Commission, the Great Commandment to make disciples love God, love others. God created this church for a purpose in the midst darkness it is the light. Calling people before the Lord the need to know Christ, the need for Jesus to set us free. That’s the burden we carry. Not only that it becomes the passion for which we share that’s central to the church is the gospel and the gospel transforms lives. Jesus sets us free. I love beauty of that within the church because in the world around us people step into the darkness of sin in many different ways.
We all need God’s grace. That’s what unifies us here. We all need God’s grace. None of us are perfect. We all need Jesus to transform our lives to make us new and understand just as I need God’s grace, so does the person next to me. That same grace that came into my life I share with others. In fact, Paul said it in 2 Timothy 2:1. He tells Timothy, Be strong in the grace of the Lord. We all need that. I think what happens in life of the believer, really cool it happens, is we start to service the lord. We start to care about the things that God cares about. What God cares about is people. As we care about people I think God refines that passion. We find ourselves caring about particular people groups within the people of this world.i think we want God’s grace for everyone. God gives us passions for certain areas in this world. What need do you care about? For what passion can you give towards him?
God has done something in you. If you’ve been through the Kerith Ravine, if you’ve been through the crucible there is substance to your faith.If your faith doesn’t sacrifice towards those things is it really worth anything? I think it’s when we reject all of the things that demonstrate our faith it’s most valuable. It becomes a beautiful offering before the Lord. You see, within the story that the sacrifice of Elijah, he’s going before Ahab again. He comes before Obadiah and Obadiah is like, “Do you understand what this king has done just to track you down? Then in verse 17 it shows us finally this confrontation between Ahab and Elijah. It says, “When Ahab saw Elijah, Ahab said to him, ‘Is this you, you troubler of Israel?'” This word troubler literally means, “You snake.” If there’s any need to understand, “Well, maybe Elijah had a heart change or maybe Ahab had a heart change in all of this.” No. Ahab’s first words to Elijah is, “You’re a snake. We hate you then. We hate you now. We have always hated you.” Elijah’s life, before the Lord.
You see the hardening of Ahab’s heart here because what was most important to Ahab is Ahab. Going through this drought his heart didn’t become more sensitive to the things of God and depending on him, but rather more hardened because he himself sees himself as God of all things and anything taken away from him it destroys anything that he desires, because everything is about him. His heart in these moments are hardened. Elijah, the [inaudible 00:17:48] Lord matures in him in this midst. Ahab, in these moments, grows more callous. Elijah doesn’t take that statement. You’re the snake. You’re the blame. In verse 18 Elijah responds. He said, “I have not troubled Israel, but you and your father’s house have. You have forsaken the commandments of the Lord and you have followed the Baals. Now then send and gather to me all Israel at Mount Carmel together with 450 prophets of Baal and 400 prophets of the Asherah who eat at Jezebel’s table.” Eli calls this showdown. Eli against all of these prophets. Ever think why Mount Carmel?
I think Elijah was intentionally picking Mount Carmel because he understood the darkness that Israel was in and he wanted them to see in those moments the light and the beauty of who the Lord was. Mount Carmel, to the Phoenicians was the dwelling place of Baal. Elijah literally picks the lion’s den. He’s saying, “Fine, if you think you’re that great take all of your profits and lets go to the most sacred place to this God and I’ll meet you there.” The stakes continue to raise. Elijah is dedicating to the Lord and this sacrifice [inaudible 00:19:18] his life. A faith that makes a difference, guys, is a faith that sacrifices. That faith recognizes the worth at which it possesses. I love the way David Livingston said it. I’m thinking about Sacrifice Before the Lord. David Livingston was a missionary in Africa. He ended up dying in Africa as a missionary. One of his famous quotes says this, “If a commission by an earthly king is considered an honor how can a commission by a heavenly king ever be considered a sacrifice? What God has done in you is important. There is substance.
God doesn’t just do that to leave it with us, but to demonstrate the goodness of who he is to the grace that’s been given to us. A faith that makes a difference is a faith that sacrifices. Let me ask does your faith sacrifice? On the back end of that let me just tell you, it does. It’s really just a matter of what you’re sacrificing for, what that faith really is. Thing that matter to you in life you give towards. Personal hobbies or passions you will give time, money and energy. Those are the value of things that you have in life to give towards something else to show the appreciate and value for which it holds over you. That’s worship. What about the Lord? A faith that makes a difference lives life that way. If Jesus really matters that much then we should be giving of those things to God. My time, my values, my priorities, if you matter, a faith that makes a difference, sacrifices.
Then it goes on from here, verse 20, the showdown starts here on Mount Carmel. “Ahab sent a message among all the sons of Israel and brought the prophets together at Mount Carmel. Elijah came near to all the people and said, ‘How long will you hesitate between two opinions? If the Lord is God, follow Him; but if Baal, follow him.’ But the people did not answer him a word. Then Elijah said to the people, ‘I alone am left a prophet of the Lord, but Baal’s prophets are 450 men.'” I love in the middle of Elijah giving of himself he really shows what his priority is towards. It’s definitely the glory of God, but it’s to the benefit of people. Mount Carmel, it is a really cool story to read. Just the things that happens there. It’s fireworks going off galore. It’s a crazy event. In the midst of all this in verse 20 Elijah starts to reveal what’s driving this passion and the need for which he cares. The burden that he bares and the passion for which he has, the basis for this is for his people. I care about you guys.
It’s not just to say, “Look how cool God is. It’s not to say, “I’m better and you’re worse.” It’s not to just prove myself stronger than Ahab. That’s not what his pursuit is. His pursuit is for people, his sacrifices on behalf of others. If you ever, in life, enjoy a blessing, rest assured it came at the sacrifice at the hand of another. Yes, we have freedom, but freedom isn’t free. Freedom comes at a cost. For the grace that we experience in God it comes in Jesus. For the blessing you have in life someone else helped you to get where you are. In this story, seeing Elijah giving his life for others to the glory of God, as God has matured him in his relationship and so what you see is a faith that makes a difference is not just a faith that sacrifice, but a faith that makes a difference, makes pursuing others a priority. Ahab brings these prophets on this mountain.
Then Elijah comes before the people too. Look, it just says [inaudible 00:23:47], “Come near to all the people.” He said, “How long will you hesitate between two opinions? If the Lord is God follow him, but if Baal, follow him.” He’s pursuing the hearts of people. It’s as if to say really most of Israel’s indifferent. It’s wherever the leadership wants to take them. That’s where they’re willing to go. As long as it gets them ahead. Whatever at the end of the day we’ll just make the king happy so I can get what I want. I’m pursuing that. It’s not like this deep conviction is reflected in this statement. It’s like they’re just teetering between there’s God and then there’s jezebel and Ahab. We’ll follow their gods and or this God. Whatever wins the flavor of the day. Elijah comes to this place and he calls them before the Lord. This has been a mark of God’s people from the beginning. In fact, in the 4th century, the Roman Julian, sometimes referred to as Julian the apostate, he says this about Christianity in the 4th century.
He says, “The Christian faith has been specially advanced the loving service rendered to strangers. Through their care for the burial of the dead it is a scandal there is not a single Jew who is a beggar and that they,” talking about the Christians, “… care not only for their own poor, but for ours as well, while those who belong to us look in vain for help that we should render them. The church in the first few centuries, they were just transformational. Rome coming to know Christ. By the 3rd century or the beginning of the 4th century they declared Christianity an official religion in Rome and Christianity explodes and you see the heart behind it. It was a lot for people, because if we love the Lord we love what God loves. What God loves is people. What God is after is the heart. God uses Elijah in this midst to challenge Ahab on the top of Mount Carmel. It’s a faith that makes a difference. It’s a faith that sacrifices, but when we think about that sacrifice it’s not this arbitrary idea of just giving, but it has intentional purpose behind it.
It has a passion for which to care and a need for which to give. When you think about Elijah in these moments he’s not just doing this to do this. His concern is for the heart of Israel. Who do you fight for? Where’s your spiritual battle ground? Do you have a Mount Carmel over a soul? The story goes on. These false prophets continue and this escapade of trying to provoke Baal. What they want to do in this story is Elijah says, “Here, put out a sacrifice and call on your gods. See if God will come down and just light that sacrifice so you don’t have to do it with your own hand. See if Baal will do this.” These prophets all come around and they start changing towards this God. They do it for hours. Six hours they’re there chanting before their God doing all their religious services. Then in verse 27 it says this, “When it came about at noon, that Elijah mocked them and said, ‘Call out with a loud voice, for he is a god; either he is occupied or gone aside.'”
Elijah is literally saying, hey maybe you just need to yell louder. I think your God might be in the bathroom. That’s what that means in Hebrew. He goes on, “Or maybe he’s on a journey, or maybe he is asleep or needs to be awakened.” Just keep doing it. It says in verse 28, ” So they cried with a loud voice and cut themselves according to their custom with swords and lances until the blood gushed out on them. When midday was past, they raved until the time of the offering of the evening sacrifice; but there was no voice, no one answered, and no one paid attention.” It’s an interesting thought here. You think about sacrificing to the things that are important to us and these verses. These false prophets literally gave it all every drop of blood they could pour out to these gods and where are they left? Empty and broken.
God never responds. Same is true for us. This type of story may seem a little weird to us and a little maybe out of context from where we find people doing things today. I know people in the world still do things like this, but we do the same thing. It’s just our gods are different. Personal pleasure. We can sacrifice so much to satisfy the flesh for just so little. What happens in the end? We’re broken. We’re empty. We’re left with nothing and we had given it all for something that matters none. Elijah, in these moments, he’s trying to draw the heart of Israel to recognize this. We do have resources and we honor things with that. That demonstrates what our gods really are, where our faith really rests. It’s one thing to call God, God. It’s another thing to really demonstrate that there’s substance there. Here, Elijah identifies this for people. I know the argument in our culture today, “Well, we believe in freedom of religion.” I want to say, I do too. I believe in freedom of religion. I think that’s important.
Look, no heart should be forced to have to believe. In fact, God doesn’t want hearts forced to believe. God wants hearts willing. That’s where true transformation happens. It’s not about behavior modification. That’s what religion does. God wants heart transformation. That’s relationship. God wants it genuine. Man, all in favor of freedom of religion. At the same time that doesn’t mean that I don’t care enough to share what I think the truth is that sets people free. Some people say, “Look, religion or beliefs are just up to the other person. We don’t want to talk about that it’s personal. I just say because it’s personal I think it’s the most important thing we can talk about. Because of the identity of who you are. Let me just use a silly illustration for a minute. If I met a fish and the fish could theoretically talk and I said, “Fish, look I believe that you can be free and you can do whatever you want and go wherever you want, fish. Where would you like to be?”
The fish is like, “You know, I always desired within my heart, I know, I’m here in the water but I want to be a land dweller. Can you just place me up on the land?” I give the fish what the fish wants and I throw the fish up on the land. Is that fish free? No. Take another ridiculous scenario. I’ll say a monkey. Say the same thing to the monkey. “Where do you want to be monkey? I’ll take you wherever you’d like go. What would you like?” He’s like, “You know these trees aren’t for me. How about I want to be in the sea. Toss me in the sea.” Is that monkey free? No. I wouldn’t call that freedom at all. I think it’s more anarchy. There is no freedom in that. The same thing is true with us as human beings. You can call whatever you want free, but if you’re not living the way you were designed to live is that really freedom? If God created you for a intentional purpose and reason [inaudible 00:31:24] that’s connected to him can you really say you’re free?
I love the way it says to us in Galatians 5, “For Christ has set us free.” I would argue it’s not until you find the reason for which you exist and surrender your life to that, that you’re really ever truly free. Elijah is pointing this out and I love what it says in verse 30. It’s Elijah’s turn now in this midst that he’s identified for the false prophets, their false god, he’s not coming. In fact, he’s left them empty. In verse 30, “Then Elijah said to all the people, ‘Come near to me.'” See his heart. “‘Come near to me.’ So all the people came near to him. And he repaired the altar of the Lord, which had been torn down. Elijah took 12 stones according to the number of the 12 tribes of the sons of Jacob, to whom the word of the Lord had come, saying, ‘Israel shall be your name.'”
I love this picture to me that thought right there, out of this whole story, is my favorite part. You think what’s happened in Israel … Israel is going through a civil war and the 12 tribes have been split. What does Elijah do? Not only is Elijah about to make a sacrifice, but when he builds the altar again he does it with 12 stones to represent all of God’s people. Elijah’s heart is for God’s people. Not only is it representing all of God’s people, in the middle of the civil war that has separated them, it shows them all together. Elijah cares about their heart. Here he is on Mount Carmel and it can cost his life and his thought is for the hearts of those around him, because his faith has substance. Who do you fight for? Can you pick a Mount Carmel over a soul? The last is this; A faith that makes a difference is a faith that sacrifices, a faith that makes the difference is a faith that pursues the heart of people in that sacrifice. Not only that I would say it’s a faith that also prays for them.
In verse 36 look at this. I should tell you what leads up to this. Elijah goes through. He builds the altar. He lays down the sacrifice and he lays the wood underneath of it. Then he orders that people go down and take buckets of water and just saturate the sacrifice. Soak the altar, soak around the altar, soak the animal, soak the wood, soak everything so that when this is on fire you know that it could not have been done by mere man. Then it says in verse six, “At the time of the offering of the evening sacrifice, Elijah the prophet came near and said, ‘O Lord, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Israel, today let it be known that You are God in Israel and that I am Your servant and I have done all these things at your word. Answer me, O Lord, answer me, that this people may know that you, O Lord, are God, and that You have turned their heart back again.'” Elijah, even in his prayer, the hearts of people.
Guys, can I tell you when we talk about caring with your faith there’s a difference between just caring and just ranting. I’m not saying finding a pastor of which you care about and just spend the rest of your hours telling everybody on Facebook. I’m saying do something. I’m glad we have passion, but don’t just let that emotional energy go in things that you say, but the way you live. Elijah, in the story, prays. I think it’s important to pray. Let me ask the convicting question you always ask when you talk about prayer. How’s your prayer life? What if you only get in life what you pray for? Can I tell you why we don’t pray by answering why we do pray? I can tell you everyone in this room, I can tell you why you pray. It’s because you have a need. This past week I had some kidney stone thing going on. I can promise you I was in prayer. Lord, there is a need Jesus. Hear me, Lord.”
There is a need, right? When we have needs we pray. When we don’t we won’t. There’s a reason we won’t pray. It’s because our faith hasn’t [inaudible 00:35:56]. When you lay your life down on the line for Jesus you pray. When you know it makes an eternity of difference and you reflect on that thought, when you’ve given sacrificially, you pray. The reason we don’t pray is because we don’t see the need. It’s hard to see the need and the risk of faith when I’m sitting on my coach watching my TV. It’s too comfortable. When you live the kind of live that puts itself out therefor the benefit of others, to the glory of God, when there is sacrifice involved, when you’re vested in it I think it increases your prayer life exponentially. Like I say look in the life of Elijah, a faith that makes a difference. It’s a faith that sacrifices in the pursuit of people and praise on behalf of that people before those gods. Those types of people that live that way, that is the life that sees a transformation in the world around them.
You want to see a transformation live that way, and here’s the result. Verse 30, and then the fire of the lord fell and consumed the burnt offering and the wood and the stones and the dust and it liked up the water that was in the trench. When all the people saw this they fell on their faces and they said, “The Lord, He is God. The Lord, He is God.” This isn’t an easy stand to take. What Elijah did is not easy. I don’t know if I could even imagine being the only one before a king that could just take off his head, what that would be like. However, as someone starts to come forward I think it inspires. As one by one people come forward it inspires the masses. When I think about the church, guys, I think evangelism is the lifeblood of the church. When God’s people go out and see an impact being made on behalf of the Lord it inspires God’s people to continue to make an impact for the Lord.
In this midst, what you see in the life of Elijah no one wants to say anything when Elijah is doing this at first. “Let Elijah stand by himself. We’ll be a little indifferent in this. Then when it becomes crystal clear that it is God the people stand up and rejoice to the Lord. When I read this story I know we can become a little skeptical or difficult with it and saying, “Look, if God would show up and give fire like Elijah, yeah. I’d be doing that all day long. Can I tell you? Something greater than fire has come.” Greater than fire, flesh. God became flesh for you. Better miracle than Mount Carmel. It’s God becoming infinite for your soul. If God, in a relationship with Him, if He’s taking you through the Kerith Ravine, if you’ve gone through some refinement, that’s your faith has substance.
The demonstration of that faith is seen in the way that we give to what we care about, how we sacrifice before the Lord or give to Him in pursuit of people praying on behalf of Him that His great name would be made known in their lives. I love the way John Piper said it in his book, Risk is Right. I’ll close with this. He says this, “There are a thousand ways to magnify Christ in life and death. None should be scorned. All are important. None makes the worth of Christ shine more brightly than sacrificial love for other people in the make of Jesus.