Make a Decision

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Building a house - so many decisions - Staci calling from the carpet place - We don’t even live there anymore! Someone else is living with our decisions!
So many decisions don’t matter in the big scheme of things. BUT, one decision will affect you for all of eternity: what you do with Jesus.
I speak to room full of people who have made a decision for Jesus, or have you? For many, the decision we made was not to follow Jesus with the totality of our lives but to have just enough Jesus in our lives:
to get to heaven.
to relieve some guilt.
to get some blessings.
to give my kids some morality.
Elijah stands before the people of Israel and says, “How long will you go limping between two different opinions?” ()
Maybe that’s the question for you this morning because you’re limping. (Spiritual disability) You want just enough God to be ok with God, and at the same time you want everything else this world offers.
But, it’s led to limping. You know there’s more to faith. Plead with you: don’t limp along because you will not find what you are looking for.
Three reasons why you don’t need to limp along.

God will make Himself known to you.

Through the Bible - story of David and Solomon - construction of temple - and then the fall.
After death of Solomon, Israel divided in two: Northern (Israel) and Southern (Judah).
Southern Kingdom - mix of good kings and bad kings. Northern kingdom - bad kings - but none as bad as Ahab. More evil than all who were before him. ()
Ahab married Jezebel - A foreign woman who led Israel to worship the ancient Canaanite fertility god Baal as the national god. A temple and altar built in Samaria, Israel’s capital - to Baal.
Jezebel had prophets of Yahweh killed. () Israel had become like other nations - polytheistic. Not that they hadn’t stopped believing in Yahweh - they believed in Yahweh plus Baal and other gods.
God raised up a prophet - Elijah - to speak judgment to Ahab and hope to the people of Israel if they would turn back to God.
Ch. 17 - No rain in Israel until God decided, but by the brook Cherith, God provided for Elijah. And, provided for Elijah through the hands of a faithful widow.
After three years, God said He would send rain on Israel. “Go to Ahab.” Elijah comes face to face with this evil king. Ahab: “Is it you, you troubler of Israel?” Elijah, “Who’s the real trouble of Israel? You have left God and followed the Baals. Meet me at Mt. Carmel with the prophets of Baal and Asherah.” (Asherah a Canaanite goddess associated with Baal - mother of gods.)
Mt. Carmel - A disputed mountain - Did it belong to Israel? Phoenicians? Which god ruled over Carmel? Yahweh? Baal?
Elijah to prophets and people of Israel - vs. 21 - “How long will you limp? Make a decision… Live for this world or live for God.” Your limping is disabling you to live a committed life. Same decision for you - Limp along trying to give your life to everything and gain nothing? Or, give your life fully to God and gain everything?
Mt. Carmel - Elijah calls nation together because he knows God wants to make Himself known. In contrast to Baal - human sacrifices and sexual orgies hoping to summon Baal to water crops - God wants people to know His glory and worship Him because of it.
God is still making Himself known - choose Him and know Him as loving Father. Reject Him and ultimately know Him as judge.
Don’t limp - Know Him - God is transcendent - above everything. Imminent - He is near - present and at work in His world.
Don’t limp - because God is near and you can know Him. NT - You can know Him as a loving Father who desires your best.
Know Him in His Word - Listen. Why we are studying the Bible - conviction that He will reveal Himself to you. If we believe that, why is it so hard to carve out even 15 minutes to read?
Know Him in His people - Commit. Why we gather - God is at work in the lives of those gathered. You need to hear the stories to encourage you to walk by faith. Why would you not take advantage of opportunities for growth? You’re not going to get on the ball field (or other places) what you get here.
Know Him in your circumstances - trust Him. For Elijah, God more than One to read about - but experienced - He saw God’s provisions. Haven’t you? Why not keep trusting?
Do you really want to know God or are you satisfied with limping? You have an invitation to know the God of the universe. Can you think of a better offer that this world makes?
Calling Staci - Cooperative Dollars at work - nervous - would she want to know me? You never have to wonder if God wants to know you…

God will work powerfully in you and through you.

Not only an invitation to know but to experience power - the God of all creation at work to transform you and to use you as a tool of transformation.
Elijah so confident in his knowledge of God that he takes a bold step of faith. A showdown between him and the prophets of Baal trusting that God would make Himself known.
Two bulls/two altars - put no fire to the altar - let’s see whose god brings the fire.
Prophets of Baal - called from morning to noon - no voice. They limped around the altar (vs. 26) - (No strength in limping…) can’t get their god to notice them.
The mockery - confident Elijah - the lone prophet against hundreds of prophets. “Maybe he’s daydreaming. Maybe he’s using the bathroom and can’t be disturbed. Is he on vacation? Taking a nap? Maybe you need to cry louder and awaken him...”
And they do. Cried aloud and sacrificed themselves - mutilated themselves with swords. BUT, no voice. No one answered. No one paid attention. People whose forefathers were Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob - whose ancestors had been rescued from Egypt and brought into the Promised Land - now mutilate themselves for gods that will not answer.
Aside - What are you sacrificing yourself for that’s not answering you? What are you giving yourself to that’s not going to give you anything lasting in return?
An altar of the Lord in disrepair (vs. 30). Twelve stones (tribes of Israel) - made altar, dug a trench - four jars of water poured over the altar three times.
Vs. 36 - a simple, confident prayer - “Make yourself known.” - Elijah knows heart of God.
God does - the fire falls and licks up the water.
People fall in worship - God made Himself known. Prophets seized and killed.
Why limp along? To know God is to know His power: (Power proven at resurrection - Ephesians 1:19-20)
Power to stand in confidence.
Power to walk in faith. Confident that God will prove Himself faithful as you step in faith. () What are you refusing to do because you don’t believe God will come through? Go? Speak? Share? Let go?
Confidence in Kentucky Fried Chicken - Lost confidence - You never have to lose confidence in God. The more you know Him, the more you gain confidence - and the more you become confident.
- Who can be against us? Do you lack confidence?
World tells us to gain confidence by: improving appearance, gain education, whatever it takes to improve self esteem.
God tells us to gain confidence through the Gospel: () Gospel gives us confidence to:
Power to walk in faith. Speak when you need to speak. Endure when you need to endure. To trust instead of worry. Confident that God will prove Himself faithful as you step in faith. () What are you refusing to do because you don’t believe God will come through? Go? Speak? Share? Let go?

God will answer your prayers based on what He has promised you.

Elijah to Ahab - Rain is coming. Go home before the storm comes () - God sent fire, surely he’s going to send rain.
Elijah goes to top of Mt. Carmel - bows down before God. Prays - sky cloudless. To servant: go and see. But nothing.
Elijah continues to pray. Yet nothing.
Seventh time - a little cloud - going to pass over.
Elijah: It’s going to storm. Persistent prayer because Elijah believed what God promised.
The storm comes. A contrast - God answers; Baal does not. God provides; Baal - god of fertility - does not.
To Ahab - don’t get your chariot stuck - to Jezreel - Ahab’s palace - a place where grace would be extended.
Elijah runs - (doesn’t limp) - why wouldn’t he? God had been faithful. It’s not going to work out like Elijah hopes, but God will be faithful.
- Elijah is like us - a man dependent on God. Prayer demonstrates that you know where power really lies.
Notice the process: Elijah prays, Elijah trusts, Elijah waits (No one likes that), God answers, Elijah responds. (Doesn’t limp.)
Grow you.
James - You have the same access to God, and same potential to see God at work as Elijah. Pray, trust, wait, see God answer, and respond.
Use you.
- You are tempted to limp because you’ve prayed, no answer. You feel forgotten. Know God answers. Maybe God has you waiting. Don’t give up. God is at work in ways you cannot see, and He will respond. Or, right now, God has answered. He has brought you through a trial. He has delivered you from a sin. How will you respond to that answered prayer? Worship? A step of faith?
God brought fire at Carmel - reveal His holiness - judgment against prophets of Baal.
Fire again - James and John (sons of Thunder) wanted to call down fire on an unbelieving city. Jesus rebuked. Why?
Revelation of God, power of God, faithfulness of God - ultimately seen at the cross. Showdown on Calvary. What prevails? Sin? Or, the power of God? At the cross - fire comes down from heaven. Jesus is the sacrifice that is consumed. He is the One who suffers and died so we can experience the grace of God and not the fire of God. Then, He rose from the dead to secure for us resurrected life - He gets the fire, we get the power.
Quit limping along - unbeliever - time to decide - God has done everything for you. This world has done nothing.
Believer - You’ve limped along as well - time to come home - know, experience power, and don’t give up.
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