A Life of Power: Proving God (Part 1).
Sermon: A Life of Power: Proving God (part 1- A dependent faith)
Text: 1 Kings 17.10-18.1
We are in the middle of a sermon series titled—A Life of Power.
· Not the kind power the world craves, the kind of power that left to our natural tendencies we strive for.
o But the kind of power that comes from God.
o Being all that God has for us to be.
o Being a channel of God’s Power.
We are living in crisis hours and crisis hours always call for lives of power.
As we look at the world around us, it is obvious this is a time for Christians to make a difference---to have a life of power—not mediocrity---to be a channel of God’s power into our own crisis hour and into the lives of others who are in their crisis hour---to shine his light into the dark world—to make a difference in our own lives, the lives of our family and friends and co-workers and to make a difference in the world around us.
Israel was experiencing a crisis hour in 874 BC. The king and seemingly all the people had turned from God to worship a false god Baal. Idol worship that glorified sex and violence.
Israel needed someone to come on the scene who would be a channel of God’s power and turn people back to God. Elijah was that person.
--- as we study the life of Elijah we learn some principles and practical applications of a Life of Power.
Review story thru verse 8.
Read 1 Kings 17.8-18.1
So far in the Life of Elijah we have only been discussing one key aspect of a Life of Power---Demonstrating Faith by trusting in God. This is the foundation. If are going to experience God working in us and if we are going to be all God would have us to be, we must learn to trust him completely ...we must grow to have a dependent faith, a faith that is totally dependent on God.
If we are going to be light in the darkness—if we are going to be a channel of God’s power to lost and dying and suffering world we must ----we must live in such a way that people see that Jesus is real---that he is alive...living in you and living in me. Christ in us—the hope of glory. And really, Christ lives his life through us as we live a life of faith totally dependent on Him. That is a life of Power.
A Life of power: Proving God---That is the title of today’s sermon.
A life of power is one that Proves God because people see Jesus.
I think we would all agree---People need to find Jesus. It is really hard to find what you cannot see.
Jesus said it like this:
16 In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.
Let the light of Christ shine out of your life by the way you live (good works) and people don’t see you---they glorify God—they see God is real.
Proving God---glorifying God.
That’s what we are talking about this morning.
What does it mean to Glorify God? Technically glorify means to magnify something.
For example---take a microscope---small and make it appear big.
But there is another type of magnifying something---
Telescope—something huge that no one seems to notice and magnify it so people see it perhaps for the very first time.
Story tell---out back ----craters on the moon--star cluster pliedies.
· Point at target
· Focus in clearly
· Cant be foggy
· Can’t be shakey
She said, “Took my breath away—I will never forget it.”
A life of Power magnifies God just like that---It Glorifies God---just like that---It proves God!
Just like people see thru the telescope—people see through us---if our life is pointing at the wrong target---they wont see Jesus. If the image is out of focus---foggy—or shakey—they won’t see Jesus clearly.
As we demonstrate our faith by trusting God--allowing Christ to live through us --we point people to Jesus and bring Him into focus so people can find Jesus and see Him clearly.
· And one of the ways we demonstrate that faith is by growing in dependent faith.
So, what have we learned about a dependent faith:
A. Act on the Promises of God---even when that means waiting.
B. Submit to the plan of God---even when our feelings betray us.
C. Remain content with the provisions of God—even when our senses confuse us.
D. Experience the Power of God.
We see these same principals bear out again in the text this morning:
But one thing new we can take away this morning is this:
A faith that is dependent on God is one that grows deeper and deeper over time as we continue to obey Him.
A. Continue acting on the promises of God.
Elijah acted on the promises of God---again.
God said go and he went.
I don’t know what Elijah was thinking---but if it were me--- I am ready for God to tell me its time for the rains and I can go back and confront Ahab and Jezebel. After all, it had been 6 months to a year of drought. Can you imagine a year with zero rain and zero dew. No humidity in the air.
o Lake at the state park.
Elijah sees the effects of the drought right before him. He knew what the land must have been like all over Israel---the suffering of the people—God’s people.
But see God was still working on His people and he was still working on Elijah. It was not time for it to rain yet.
8 Then the word of the Lord came to him, 9 “Arise, go to Zarephath, which belongs to Sidon, and dwell there. Behold, I have commanded a widow there to feed you.” 10 So he arose and went to Zarephath.
Just plain and simple obedience. Trust and obey.
Obedience may sound simple but it rarely is.
Now it may seem simple, but it rarely is.
Think about what God is asking Elijah to do! ---
1. God’s current plan takes more faith than the previous.
Plan was illogical and humbling. Even more so than God’s command to go to Cherith.
· 100 miles--Across Ahab’s land—Ahab is searching all over for Elijah.
· To Jezebels home country--Sidon
· Pagan, Idol worshipping widow.
· A man was to take care of widow, not the other way around.
2. God’s plans eventually involve other people.
He orchestrates our lives so we are put together with other people---for their benefit and ours.
Here is Elijah---staring at a dried up brook. 100 miles away there is a widow who is facing a dry brook of her own.
So-- how does God solve the problem of the dried up brook---He puts them together. That’s what a life of power does. A channel of power into the life of someone else who is suffering like you have suffered. At the same time, Elijah also has to rely on someone else for his blessing.
2 Cor 1.3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, 4 who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.
But despite what he may have been thinking, he does not question God---God had proven to be faithful---he simply rises up and goes.
100 miles---no water. This is not a fun journey. He cant show his face in any villages or farmers because he is a wanted man.
Gets to Zarapheth---may have passed temples to Baal. May have seen people outside bowing to idols. But he comes across this widow at the gate.
She is gathering some little sticks for firewood.
Elijah is thirsty and hungry and somehow he knows this is the widow God has led him to.
Elijah says—"Bring me a little water”---water was scarce but they were drawing some drinking water from the wells –probably rationing it in the city—just enough for each person to get by.
I can almost see her hesitate a bit, but she turns to go anyway. I don’t know why I am doing this---
Then he says—hey while you are up---can you get me a little a little bread to eat too?
She says---if I may paraphrase—sir—don’t you see whats going on around here? I don’t have any bread and in fact, I just have a handful of flour left and a little oil and these two sticks I was able find will make one last and I am going to make a little bread and my son and I are going to eat it and then we are going to lay down and die.
Now at that point, most people might have thought—ok—wrong widow—and began searching for someone with a little more food to offer.
But he didn’t.
B. Continue to Submit to the plans of God.
Elijah submitted to the plan of God—again.
What he does is outrageous. What he says might make your skin crawl.
Some have said, he must have been a Baptist preacher cause of what he said next.
He said—ok---you go do that but before you do---feed me first. Seriously?
But look---that’s not all he says---take a look at verse 13.
But look---that’s not all he says---take a look at verse 13.
13 And Elijah said to her, “Do not fear;
This is the Lord speaking thru Elijah
Hear the word of the Lord. Here is a word we all need---
1. Do not fear!
When God asks us to step out on faith it can be scary---He says—Do not fear!
In Matt ch 1--When God spoke to Joseph about taking Mary to be his wife, even though she was pregnant—He said do not fear. And Mary gave birth to Jesus.
In Mark 5, Luke 8—A man named Jarius –leader of a synagogue came to Jesus because his daughter was so sick she was about to die—Jesus went with him but they were delayed and they got word his little girl had died. Jesus looked him in the eyes and said—"Do not fear! Only believe and she will be well.” Jesus raised the girl to life.
John 6.20: On the water---walking---But He *said to them, “It is I; ado not be afraid.”
Revelation 2. 10 Do not fear what you are about to suffer. Be faithful unto death, and I will give you the crown of life.
look at verse 14—
14 For thus says the Lord, the God of Israel, ‘The jar of flour shall not be spent, and the jug of oil shall not be empty, until the day that the Lord sends rain upon the earth.’ ”
2. You will be supplied daily with all you need.
3. The rain is coming again.
· Hang on for a little longer.
Here the Lord this morning: Your life may feel like it is in a drought today. Its gone on a long time. Step out in faith. Do what I am asking you to do—Do not fear! I will supply all your needs and trust me—the rain is coming soon!
So let us turn our attention from Elijah for a moment and look at this widow. Here she is a pagan, but she shows tremendous faith in Yahweh.
Even Jesus spoke of her:
25 But in truth, I tell you, there were many widows in Israel in the days of Elijah, when the heavens were shut up three years and six months, and a great famine came over all the land, 26 and Elijah was sent to none of them but only to Zarephath, in the land of Sidon, to a woman who was a widow.
God did not send Elijah to a single person in all Israel—his own people---none of them –he chooses a pagan widow from a foreign land.
And what she does is amazing! She does what Elijah asks.
She gives up all she has—literally her last meal—and gives it away.
She heard the promises of God and she believed them and obeyed and gave it all away. In a very real way—she gave her life away.
God wants us to get to the place where we can give it all away!
35 For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospel’s will save it.
27 Whoever does not bear his own cross and come after me cannot be my disciple.
33 So therefore, any one of you who does not renounce all that he has cannot be my disciple.
Illustration: Legend has it that a man was lost in the desert, just dying for a drink of water. He stumbled upon an old shack—a ramshackled, windowless, roofless, weatherbeaten old shack. He looked about this place and found a little shade from the heat of the desert sun. As he glanced around he saw a pump about fifteen feet away—an old, rusty water pump. He stumbled over to it, grabbed the handle, and began to pump up and down, up and down. Nothing came out.
Disappointed, he staggered back. He noticed off to the side an old jug. He looked at it, wiped away the dirt and dust, and read a message that said, “You have to prime the pump with all the water in this jug, my friend. P.S.: Be sure you fill the jug again before you leave.”
He popped the cork out of the jug and sure enough, it was almost full of water! Suddenly, he was faced with a decision. If he drank the water, he could live. Ah, but if he poured all the water in the old rusty pump, maybe it would yield fresh, cool water from down deep in the well, all the water he wanted.
He studied the possibility of both options. What should he do, pour it into the old pump and take a chance on fresh, cool water or drink what was in the old jug and ignore its message? Should he waste all the water on the hopes of those flimsy instructions written, no telling how long ago?
Reluctantly he poured all the water into the pump. Then he grabbed the handle and began to pump, squeak, squeak, squeak. Still nothing came out! Squeak, squeak, squeak. A little bit began to dribble out, then a small stream, and finally it gushed! To his relief fresh, cool water poured out of the rusty pump. Eagerly, he filled the jug and drank from it. He filled it another time and once again drank its refreshing contents.
Then he filled the jug for the next traveler. He filled it to the top, popped the cork back on, and added this little note: “Believe me, it really works. You have to give it all away before you can get anything back.” That is the essence of genuine faith! It is not a risk, but it is a challenge to human reasoning. Faith will call on us to do the unthinkable so that we might receive the impossible!)
Elijah and this widow—they both acted on the promises of God, they submitted to the plan of God and were content with the provision of God and then---They experienced the
C. The were content with the provisions of God.
D. They Experienced the Power of God.
When the Power of God breaks through—where there once was death, there is new life.
· miraculous provision of food.
15 And she went and did as Elijah said. And she and he and her household ate for many days. 16 The jar of flour was not spent, neither did the jug of oil become empty, according to the word of the Lord that he spoke by Elijah.
· (Ill. The Bible tells us here that until the rains returned to the earth, the meal barrel and the jar of oil did not run out. Every time the widow went to get meal and oil to prepare a meal, there was more to be used. When she decided to bake that cake for Elijah, she traded the certain for the uncertain and received the impossible in return!)
· For years, until it rained, every meal time was a miracle. God worked a miracle in that barrel and in that jar every single day. He took nothing and made it last until it was no longer needed. Friends, we serve a God Who specializes in doing the impossible! It may look hopeless to us, but we must never count God out! He can take the little that is dedicated to Him by faith and multiply it to enormous proportions! (Ill. The 5 loaves and 2 fishes fed a multitude—John 6:5–13.)
· The glory of this story resides in this fact: that barrel of meal and that cruse of oil were never full! Elijah and the widow were taught to live day by day. The glory in the story lies in the fact that Elijah and the widow were taught to trust God day by day! As the days passed, their faith was strengthened as they saw the Lord provide!
· When God has brought you and me to the place where we are forced to trust in Him for today’s provision, He has brought us to the best place we can be. He has blessed us beyond words! We may not think so at the time, but when His path leads to a greater trial, it is a blessing to know that God always takes care of His children!
· Now God, of course, doesn’t provide for us always supernaturally. It’s not God’s will to work a miracle every instant in everything. If God were to do that all the time, then miracles would cease to be miracles. Whatever God does regularly, we call it “nature”; but if God does it in a special way, then we call it a “miracle.” But whether God does it naturally or supernaturally, I want to tell you that God is going to take care of you, and God is going to use you to serve Him, if you would do what this widow did, in spite of all the obstacles that she had against her.
NOTE: She believed---She stepped out in faith and THEN the meal and oil were multiplied.
Its always this way---a dependent faith demonstrated with action and then the power flows!
Not much power needed to feed yourself. For Elijah---not much power needed to lay beside a brook all day. They both had to step out on faith—then the power came.
· When Jesus healed the leper---he asked him to stretch out his hand first and THEN he was healed.
· When Jesus healed the crippled man through Peter and John in the book of Acts, the man stood in faith first and as he stood he was healed.
· Peter had to step out of the boat before he could walk on water.
Not just food but healing- Miraculous healing of son.
Elijah asked for her son—she trusted Elijah with her son. Which means she trusted God with her son. The boy was given new life!
When the Power of God breaks through—where there once was death, there is new life.
If we are going to experience the power of God—we have to trust God with everything.
Some people say they trust God with their soul but not with anything else. We need to ask God to reveal to us where we are holding back---what have we not surrendered to God completely?
A dependent faith is a growing faith and each one of us are in a different place on that spectrum of growth.
It does not happen overnight. It takes time and discipline.
God may send you to a sunny Cherith where you are alone with him and he blesses you there. But eventually he will send you out to Zarapheth---to a place of darkness—to be his light.
Each time we obey, we are led to a place of deeper and deeper trust.
Pray with me: If everyone could remain seated in an attitude of prayer.
There are some things we all have in common this morning:
1. We are all on a journey of faith.
2. God has brought us to this point today because he has a step of faith he asking each one of us to take.
3. We all have a choice if we take that step or not.
For some—perhaps that step is putting your faith in Jesus Christ for the very first time. Like the widow. God is asking you to surrender your life to him. To let him be the Lord of your life. He wants to save you. Accepting him as your lord and savior. He died to give you life. If you trust him—you will experience the power of God. You are dead spiritually right now and he will save you and give you life---eternal life.
For most of us—we are saved already—we have been given this gift of eternal life. And like Elijah, we have served Him and we may have experienced his power. But God is asking us to go deeper. He always does. He is calling us to some step of faith. He always does. And right now, that step of faith may seem scary---you realize it is a step of faith that causes you to trust him in an even deeper way than you do now. Only you know what that step is.
But I do know this—hear his words this morning—do not fear! I will supply all your needs---the rain is coming.
Dorothy is going to play---lets spend time surrendering to the Lord this morning and responding to how he has spoken to us today.