Thursday, August 15, 2013

Grace Awakening # 3 "Focus On Living"

Our Vision  "People Living Everyday Grace In Our Community"

I want to speak about life this morning.  I want us to focus on everything that God has placed within us that was always meant to overflow out of us. 

There is no more fulfilling way to live than to draw daily on God’s all satisfying grace and let it flow through us to others.  John Piper

So, my question this morning to start us off is this?

When have you felt most alive?   A time when you knew that you were really living!
When have you felt most alive in a conversation?

Sports teams, weather, travel plans, photography, sunsets…
What about God stories, stories of healing, stories that build up your faith?
I light up when I hear stories about how people are sharing their faith with others

Chris B. was telling me about a conversation he had this week.  This guy was sharing with him about 3 things life is about - body, blood and truth.  It couldn’t have been a better segue for him to talk about Jesus and he took it.  So, if God puts you in a situation like that, make sure you are asking the HS how you should respond.

I want to talk this morning about someone who really lived in the OT and it was Elijah.
In 1 Kings 18 Elijah has this incredible showdown with the 450 prophets of Baal on the top of Mt. Carmel.  It’s an incredible scene with the real God who answers by fire.  There were prophets slashing themselves until their blood flowed, but Elijah is downright confident in God.

Ok, now enter the scene with me in 1 Kings 19.  We have Ahab, who was a wicked king in Israel and his wife Jezebel who was even more wicked and the story is being relayed to her about what Elijah has done
She is swearing by the same gods who failed miserably against the God of Elijah in the previous chapter and then we read...

Elijah was afraid and ran for his life.  

I don’t get it….You just saw God demonstrate Himself powerfully on the mountaintop, He answered your prayers and now he is going to let one woman scare him to the point where he runs away from his next assignment

Elijah was running for his life.

There is a lot of reasons that we run and for Elijah, I don’t think it was necessarily fear of dying.
It is the daily fear.  Elijah is tired, tired of standing for righteousness, He is afraid of the battles that he is fighting and even if you know you are going to win the battle, it takes energy.
He’s running because he doesn’t want to fight another battle.

V4 Again something that I don’t understand…another paradox - If you are running for your life, why are you asking to die?

Elijah is afraid.
You can’t have a great faith, great God and great fear or can you?
You can wake up in the morning after a great day of serving God in some form or fashion, helping people out, serving others, blessing people, singing His praises and wake up feeling defeated.

We were never meant to leave God’s presence

So, how do you live through it…It’s not that the fear is gone, but they found a faith in God
I’m so grateful that the Bible shows me a man of great faith in 1 Kings 18… and then in 1 Kings 19, a man so low he is ready to die …he’s real, we can relate to him!

My question today is, “Are you running away from the direction that God is calling you?”
A lot of believers are not in danger of ruining their lives….they are in danger of wasting their lives.

We easily get caught up in what everyone else is thinking and forget about listening to the most important voice in our life, the voice of our Father God through His Holy Spirit.

Here are three keys to really living from the life of Elijah:

Get up and eat. 
Go out and stand.
Go back the way you came.

All statements were made to Elijah right from this story

Get Up and Eat!

You like that verse!  Would you like as your life verse?

Elijah runs far away, he wants God to take his life… and what does God do…He tells him to eat. 
If you and I were managing a network of prophets, we might act differently.  You might think,  I need to challenge this guy to stand his ground, but God is so gracious even when he is running away from Him.  Who else will feed you and sustain you even when you go in the opposite direction?

We’ve been talking about developing better margins in our lives as well, eating healthy etc…

This is just not a picture of physical food,  it is a picture of how God’s Word meets our spiritual needs
One of the stories that I love in the NT is when Jesus meets the Samaritan woman by the well.  He tells her, “13 Jesus answered, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, 14 but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”

Or John 6:35  Then Jesus declared, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.

God cooked the food for Elijah, meal service was coming through; He has given you his promises, but you got to get up and eat it.  I have given you daily devotionals, Bible apps….the greatest time in history for the advance of the gospel, but you got to eat it!

But sometimes we waste time asking God for stuff we can already have…God give me faith.  Faith comes by hearing the Word of God…  Romans 10:17 Your faith may be malnourished. 

So start listening to His Word, listen to His voice. 

I love the story of Billy Graham who had a Bible opened in every room of his house.  He said he did it so he could keep himself filled and have snacks throughout the day!

I have given you my word that you might have joy. 

How amazing it is for us…right there by our beds we have translations of the Bible for free in any language!
We are not all readers…I have listened to the Word of God many times since choosing a new Bible app from Joansoft on my android phone.  It’s another way for us to appreciate the Word of God in a fresh way.
Ok, Sword Drill, put your swords in the air.  Technology vs PRINT, phones and Bibles in the air, let’s see what is quicker.  The first one that finds this verse has to stand up and read it.

Repeat after me 1Kings 19:9-10  stand up and read it out loud. No kinks in the elbows, arms straight up
Repeat after me… GO

Go out and stand v9-11

It is one thing that God speaks to you on the mountain when we are in a good place, but He also speaks to us in the cave, when we are going through darker times.  You feel more distant from God sort of like when your “wifi signal” is not as strong in the cave.  Here’s the truth, in isolation there can be more despondency.  But why do we do that.  We make a mistake, we crash spiritually or something devastating happens in our life and the first thing we do is go into hiding.  It happened in the beginning with Adam and Eve and it still happens now. I was just talking with someone whose husband left her and the first thing I asked is do you have a good support system of people around you and she replied by saying that she was too embarrassed to go to church.

Remember this Grace, whatever you are going through, you are not the only one left.
You are not the only one left.  God says I’m with you when you pull the covers over your head, when you’ve eaten the last dessert.

The enemy wants to keep you in the cave.  He wants you to keep replaying the film of how you went down and how you lost your perspective

You made a good decision to come here today!

David knew it and shared it in the Psalms.  There is nowhere that we can run from God’s presence.
If I make my bed in hell, you are there  Psalm 139:8

He speaks into our depression, dysfunction, addiction.  Elijah is still running but the LORD keeps pursuing him.  There are lies that bounce around in the walls of your cave and God wants to get you out of the cave.  You may be stuck and He wants to get you unstuck.
When you get on the mountain, it’s a picture of worship, we hear God more clearly, in the presence of the LORD.

How do we stay calm?  We do it by listening to our Father’s voice through His Spirit

Look how God passes by!

The wind tears apart the mountains…He is not there.
A fire consumes, a flashback scene for Elijah… He is not there.
There are so many more dramatic ways that God could have shown Himself that He is in control but then…a gentle whisper…  Elijah, what are you doing here?

Why did he whisper to Elijah?  He whispers because He is close.The enemy can yell, the voices inside your head can yell, but God chooses to whisper in this moment. He doesn’t need to shout because He is right, He is in control, he holds you in the palm of His hand.

What about you?  What are you doing here, how long are you going to stay in that cave, how long are you going to refuse to forgive that person and hold them and yourself hostage?

How long are you going to stay awake at night trying to fight a battle He already has won for you?
Remember how I was with you, how I provided for you

The hairs on your head are #. Luke 12:7; Matthew 10:30 You have to be close enough to someone to do that.  God is closer than you think!

His Spirit is inside of you and I believe there are things He wants to tell you.

The 3rd Thing God tells Elijah -

Go back the way you came v15

Go to the desert of Damascus….anoint  Nimshi…hand the torch over to Elisha, get back to the work I called you.

How many more nights will you spend in the cave, are you ready to get back to the place I called you to be?
Keep pressing in for more of His sustaining grace DAILY!  Maybe you feel like you blew it, maybe you are in a cave today,  I believe He wants to speak into your situation.  He has called you out on the mountain to be in His presence

REMEMBER…you didn’t get into a relationship with God by your own achievements, performance or effort….It was all by grace.

The same grace that brought you this far will carry you through.  I don’t know what threats you are up against, what mistakes are staring you in the face.
2 Corinthians 4:8  We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; 9 persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed.
You might be pressed, but you are not crushed…
You might be persecuted, but you are not abandoned
You might be struck down, but you are not destroyed.
Keep moving forward for the glory of God.

I was at an event a few weeks ago called MoMondays that Sharon and I were invited to and Matt Ward was there as well.   It was there I heard people share about their struggles with depression, learning how to take baby steps, failed business opportunities and what they learned through their journey, perseverance, character, but the one thing that was so sad was the sense of hopelessness.  Inside I was so distraught listening to their stories was that there is someone who longs to be part of their journey and that is our God.  

They were missing the Jesus factor.

The day after Matt shared the lyrics to this song with me...a blast from the past from Steve Green, still so powerful today.

Everyday they pass me by,
I can see it in their eye.
Empty people filled with care,
Headed who knows where?
On they go through private pain,
Living fear to fear.
Laughter hides their silent cries,
Only Jesus hears.
People need the Lord, people need the Lord.
At the end of broken dreams, He's the open door.
People need the Lord, people need the Lord.
When will we realize --people need the Lord?
We are called to take His light
To a world where wrong seems right.
What would be too great a cost
For sharing life with one who's lost?
Through His love our hearts can feel
All the grief they bear.
They must hear the words of life
Only we can share.



Listen to God, live in His strength and go where He is leading you!

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