Morning. David Sorn. Lead Pastor of Renovation Church.
Before we get into our message on Elijah this morning, I want to give you an important church update.
After months and months of prayer, and lots and lots of discussion amongst our leadership, we have together decided that we will largely stop livestreaming our services at the end of this month.
It was not an easy decision, and not one we’re making lightly.
I know there are positives to having a livestream.
It allows you to access church from anywhere…vacation, if you’re home sick.
It increases access to the Gospel
People have told us stories of how they first heard about us watching online, or how their families now watch online.
So, as someone with an evangelist’s heart, trust me, this is not a decision we made quickly or lightly
But the cons of continuing to livestream our service are many, and serious, and frankly, they outweigh the positives
At the end of the day, church (as described in the NT), church is not a podcast.
It cannot be reduced to just content that you consume on your own.
And when you watch from home, there are many things that are essential for you to do (and participate in) as a believer in Jesus…that you just simply cannot do from home.
There are 5 big ones we see:
Firstly) You can’t be a part of the power of corporate worship for example.
It’s not the same….
Secondly) You can’t serve from home.
Church ends up being something just for you, and not a place where you serve others
Which, in the NT, serving the body of Christ is such an important part of church
Thirdly) You can’t come to the prayer meeting from home and be in agreement with us in prayer
Fourthly) You can’t see your friends in the lobby and have them pray over you or encourage you
Just last week I saw two friends talking in the lobby and agreeing to keep each other accountable.
That kind of interaction doesn’t happen online.
And Fifthly), the longer this goes on, the more and more studies have started to show how absolutely spiritually devastating this model is for the long-term spiritual health of children.
Kids just simply do not grow through the livestreaming model.
And so, yes, we know that if we kept our livestream, our “numbers” of those hearing the message could go up
And we also know that 90% of other churches like us will probably make the opposite decision and will keep their livestream.
But in the end, we feel that we are doing a disservice to you as a disciple of Jesus Christ by keeping it
For too long in this country, churches have made their decisions primarily by “what will increase their numbers,” but end up lowering the bar of discipleship.
And the church in America is now paying dearly for it, and it will only get worse unless we become a people that will put God first and make Him our greatest priority.
And so, we are planning to take the livestream link off of our website, and off of Facebook after the last Sunday in August.
I do realize that COVID cases are on the rise again, and that people are concerned about the Delta Variant
And so we will, during this current upswing of Delta, continue to stream the service on YouTube, unadvertised, for those from our church who need it until this rise in cases comes back down…
But then, we will end that as well…unless things somehow get out of control again virus wise.
If you are watching online right now, and you are a part of our church…and are able to physically re-engage with us…come back…now’s the time.
If you watch this from far away…I cannot encourage you enough to get involved with a local church where you can be known and discipled.
We will still post the message part of our service online on Sunday afternoons (as we’ve done since our inception), as those are used as a discipleship tool and accessed by many as a resource for years to come.
All right, thanks for hearing me out.
Let us know if you have any questions
(Life of Elijah Series Slide)
All right, let’s get back into our Life of Elijah teaching series where we are in week 9 of our 10-week series.
Don’t miss the exciting conclusion next week!
If it’s your first time here, let me give you some background on where we are in history and the Bible.
Elijah, whom we’re studying, lived about 850 years before Jesus in the nation of Israel.
God used Elijah to confront the wicked King Ahab & Queen Jezebel who were leading Israel to bow down to idols.
Elijah is a bold prophet and we’ll see more of his boldness today
(2 Kings 1 if you brought your own Bible)
Last week we studied chapter 21 of 1 Kings in the Bible.
In chapter 22, Elijah is not present, but King Ahab is killed in battle, and his son Ahaziah succeeds him as king.
Chapter 22 (where Ahab dies) is the end of 1 Kings…, so we will be in 2nd Kings today
(2 Kings 1:1-8) – NIV
After Ahab’s death, Moab rebelled against Israel. 2 Now Ahaziah had fallen through the lattice of his upper room in Samaria and injured himself. So he sent messengers, saying to them, “Go and consult Baal-Zebub, the god of Ekron, to see if I will recover from this injury.”
3 But the angel of the Lord said to Elijah the Tishbite, “Go up and meet the messengers of the king of Samaria and ask them, ‘Is it because there is no God in Israel that you are going off to consult Baal-Zebub, the god of Ekron?’ 4 Therefore this is what the Lord says: ‘You will not leave the bed you are lying on. You will certainly die!’” So Elijah went.
5 When the messengers returned to the king, he asked them, “Why have you come back?”
6 “A man came to meet us,” they replied. “And he said to us, ‘Go back to the king who sent you and tell him, “This is what the Lord says: Is it because there is no God in Israel that you are sending messengers to consult Baal-Zebub, the god of Ekron? Therefore you will not leave the bed you are lying on. You will certainly die!”’”
7 The king asked them, “What kind of man was it who came to meet you and told you this?”
8 They replied, “He had a garment of hair and had a leather belt around his waist.”
The king said, “That was Elijah the Tishbite.”
Okay, let’s pause for a minute.
King Ahab’s son, King Ahaziah, has fallen through the lattice of his room, and was severely injured.
Now he wants to know what will happen to him, and if he’ll ever recover.
But instead of consulting the LORD, the one true God, he sends messengers to consult Baal-Zebub (a false god, an idol) in Ekron.
Baal-Zebub, fascinatingly enough, translated means “Lord of the Flies!” by the way.
Let’s keep reading:
(2 Kings 1:9-17a) – NIV
9 Then he sent to Elijah a captain with his company of fifty men. The captain went up to Elijah, who was sitting on the top of a hill, and said to him, “Man of God, the king says, ‘Come down!’”
10 Elijah answered the captain, “If I am a man of God, may fire come down from heaven and consume you and your fifty men!” Then fire fell from heaven and consumed the captain and his men.
11 At this the king sent to Elijah another captain with his fifty men. The captain said to him, “Man of God, this is what the king says, ‘Come down at once!’”
12 “If I am a man of God,” Elijah replied, “may fire come down from heaven and consume you and your fifty men!” Then the fire of God fell from heaven and consumed him and his fifty men.
13 So the king sent a third captain with his fifty men. This third captain went up and fell on his knees before Elijah. “Man of God,” he begged, “please have respect for my life and the lives of these fifty men, your servants! 14 See, fire has fallen from heaven and consumed the first two captains and all their men. But now have respect for my life!”
15 The angel of the Lord said to Elijah, “Go down with him; do not be afraid of him.” So Elijah got up and went down with him to the king.
16 He told the king, “This is what the Lord says: Is it because there is no God in Israel for you to consult that you have sent messengers to consult Baal-Zebub, the god of Ekron? Because you have done this, you will never leave the bed you are lying on. You will certainly die!” 17 So he died, according to the word of the Lord that Elijah had spoken.
King Ahaziah, much like his father Ahab before him, despises yet fears Elijah
So much so that he sends 50 men (FIFTY!) to capture him (to either imprison or kill him)
Now, some people get uncomfortable reading about the fire coming down from heaven and consuming these men…
…so I want to say this:
Elijah didn’t say, “I’ll show you!” or “Watch this, I’ll get you!”
He essentially said, “You call me a ‘man of God’…and yet you’re clearly acting as if that’s not true. if I really am a man of God, then God will send fire from heaven”
And it’s God who chooses to do it.
But thankfully the third captain has the humility, and the wisdom, to honor God above all.
IS THERE NO GOD?
I want to go back to what is the most important line in this chapter.
It is one that is so important, it’s said THREE different times.
It’s first said in verse 3
(2 Kings 1:3) – NIV
3 But the angel of the Lord said to Elijah the Tishbite, “Go up and meet the messengers of the king of Samaria and ask them, ‘Is it because there is no God in Israel that you are going off to consult Baal-Zebub, the god of Ekron?’
Elijah can’t believe this is still happening.
Think about what we’ve seen this summer in our study of Elijah
The LORD literally stopped the rain for 3 years
And when there was an epic showdown, the god of “Baal” was proven to be a worthless idol…
And the LORD rained down fire from heaven on a wet altar
And yet, the leaders of Israel are still trying to find answers outside of the Lord.
And so many of us make the same mistake.
King Ahaziah is facing a real-life, normal, human predicament
He’s badly injured…and he’s dealing with anxiety about his health and the future (he wants to know what will happen to him)?
2,800 years later, and our problems look pretty similar
And yet, so often, SO OFTEN as Christians, we look for help in dealing with our anxiety…anywhere but from God
And I think if Elijah himself were on earth today…and he looked at how many of us have lived these past 17 months…
I have little doubt that Elijah, in his fiery way, would say to us this morning: “Is there no God in Blaine? Is there no God in Minnesota? Is there no God you could rely on, count on, seek out in your difficulties?
Since I started as a pastor 17 years ago, I haven’t seen anything expose the idolatry of Christians more than COVID
It’s easy to say you deeply rely on God and trust in Him when there’s no pressure…but when life gets hard, of out of our control, our true selves come out.
When COVID hit in March of last year…anxiety went sky high for so many people.
Because, like King Ahaziah falling through his roof…
Our plans got thrown all out of whack.
Like Ahaziah, we didn’t know the future anymore
And that anxiety from the early months, in many ways, has worn on and on…
And now you’re wondering what this next school year will bring for your kids, or when you’ll have to (or get to, depending on your preference) go back to the office…will there, or will there not be more mandates.
There’s still a lot of unknowns!
And so many of us, in our anxiety about the future, have turned to just about everything but the Lord.
Instead of turning our worries into prayers…
So many of us have dealt with anxiety by turning to idols instead…
We’ve turned to other things we thought would help us in our suffering.
For many of us, we’ve been largely unable to bring our anxiety about the future to God
And instead many have tried to ease their pain with food…or alcohol
I read again the other day that alcohol sales rose, not 5%, or 10% but 34% during the first part of the pandemic!
And to the Christian, worrying about their future, the Spirit is saying, “Is there no God you can bring your concerns to?”
“is there no God who can speak to you and comfort you?”
Still others have spent the last year trying to completely escape.
And you’ve watched more Netflix than ever.
Because when it comes on, you don’t have to think about anything.
Or maybe for you, you escape in a different way….you think, “If I just get another manicure, another facial…then I can deal with the stress”
And as so many of us try and avoid dealing with what’s really happening, God is saying, “Is there no God who you can express the deepest feelings of your heart to?”
Many others have channeled their anxiety into anger over this past year.
Can you remember another time in your life when people have been this angry?
Many people, rather than drowning their sorrows or escaping to a virtual world, have tried to angrily control the one they are in…
Many Christians even have turned to politics as the ultimate answer more than ever before.
And they’ve devoted their time and energy to consuming political content…many to the tune of hours a day…
Thinking that if just the right person was in power, or if just the right law was passed, then everything in the future would be okay…
And God is saying, “Is there no God…that you seemed have, instead, placed all your hope in a human, or in a political party?”
That never works…read the Old Testament.
For me, in my own life, I struggled in different ways.
I don’t have Netflix…and I’ve never gotten a facial…but I read…and I love math and data… and those things together became difficult for me in the oddest way.
As COVID wore on, my wife and close friends will tell you that there’s not a person in Blaine, who checked COVID case graphs and data more than I did…
They will tell you that I’m guy who said, “Based on the 10.5% case rate over the last 9 days”
Because I felt that I HAD TO KNOW…how it was all going to go!
“Were we going to be able to open our building?
“Would it be postponed?
“Would everything we worked for and prayed for be shut down or stopped, or not work out?
And in my own heart, I kept tuning out the whisper of God,
“David, Is there no God that you could talk to about this?”
“David, is there no God that has known about this since before time began?”
I mentioned a few weeks ago when we were talking about Elijah’s depression…that I was incredibly down and wiped out by December of 2020.
My kids were reminding me the other day of a story from that month, when I took a trip to try and get refreshed and see one of my best friends in Wisconsin…
I left for that trip to Wisconsin completely fried…I had zero energy left.
In fact, when I was a few hours into my drive… Lindsey texted me a picture…of my suitcase…
…that I had forgotten in our laundry room.
I drove 5 hours away…with no luggage.
And why was I so fried?
In part, yes, because of the crazy amount of work it took over the last 6 years to be here…
But also in part…because I was too often looking elsewhere for answers.
I wasn’t sending messengers to Baal-Zebub in Ekron…
But too often I was sending messengers to the graphs and the news…
And just like King Ahaziah, I was going:
What’s going to happen?
Will I be okay?
Will our church survive?
When the Word of God is saying the only thing I need to turn to…IS THE LORD
This season of COVID has made us more aware of something that, in reality, has always been true
We don’t know what the next year will look like
Or the next month…or even tomorrow for that matter.
And so when life gets hard, or scary, and you feel that anxiety coming on..
And like King Ahaziah, you’re going, “What’s going happen? What’s the future even going to look like?”
Remember, there IS a God…
He’s the one who created the planets
And spoke the world into existence
He’s the one who is outside of time, in the past, present, and is in the future.
And you have access to Him
He says, “Is there no God?”
Because He wants you to look up and see Him again!
He wants you to be quiet to let Him speak to you again.
He loves you.
He cares deeply about you.
This is the God that loves you so much that He sent His own son to die on the cross for you.
The night before Jesus was crucified, he gathered his disciples around for one last supper.
And on that night he gave them a way to always remember the sacrifice he was about to make for them…it’s what we call…communion.
In the NT, Paul writes this about the reason for communion:
(1 Corinthians 11:23-26) – NIV
23For I received from the Lord what I also passed on to you: The Lord Jesus, on the night he was betrayed, took bread, 24and when he had given thanks, he broke it and said, "This is my body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of me." 25In the same way, after supper he took the cup, saying, "This cup is the new covenant in my blood; do this, whenever you drink it, in remembrance of me." 26For whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord's death until he comes.
Paul also writes in this passage: that we ought to examine ourselves before taking communion.
To 1) not do it in vain. To only do it if we truly believe it. And if you’re still just seeking, that’s ok. You’re on a journey.
We’re so glad you’re here.
But for those of you who are believers, we want to take communion together today.
We want to take time today to remember together, as one body of believers, what Jesus did for us.
Under the chair in front of you, or under your chair if you’re in the front row…you’ll find a small communion chalice
Go ahead and pick it up
Look to the bottom of the chalice and pull off the covering to take the bread out.
Then hold it in your hand for a moment.
And I want you to take a second…and reflect that there IS a GOD…and He let his body be broken for you.
The body of Christ was broken for you…go ahead and eat of the bread
Now before you drink of the cup, I want you to take a moment, and thank Jesus that he let his blood be spilled for you.
That even knowing that we would go off sometimes and seek for help and comfort elsewhere, this Jesus still let his blood be shed for us
The blood of Christ was shed for you…go ahead and peel back the covering and drink from the cup
If you would, place the wrappers back in the chalice and place it in the holder under the chair in front of you.
If you haven’t made Jesus Christ the leader of your life and let him save you, that’s a choice you can make today.
Everyone has to make a decision on that sooner or later
Just like the captain of the 50 men had to decide if Elijah was really a “Man of God”
We have to decide if Jesus Christ was really the “Son of God”
And if we refuse to believe that He was, then there will be no one to “die in our place” as the Bible teaches
And thus, when we die, the fire of justice will fall down on us instead of Jesus
That is the truth of God’s word
I beg of you, to turn your life over to Jesus who loves you, and let him save you.
Let’s just close our eyes for a minute…
If you need to make that decision today…
To believe Jesus Christ died in your place, to turn from your old life of sin, and to trust in Him as the leader of your life..
He can forgive you…
He knew everything you’d ever do before He even decided to die in your place.
If you want to tell Jesus for the first time today that you believe and want to be his follower…that you want to be forgiven…
What I want you to do is just raise your hand up right now to tell God that you want to believe and follow.
If that’s you, raise your hand up.
For those of you raising your hand, we want to pray with you.
Repeat this out loud after me…whether you’re a brand-new believer or have been one for quite some time.
Repeat after me
I confess to you, that I have sinned against you.
But God I believe, that you sent your Son Jesus, to take my place
And God I thank you, for forgiving my sins.
And now I commit, to following you, with my life.
Copyright: David Sorn
Renovation Church in Blaine, MN
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