GRAND OPENING TIMELINE
Morning. My name is David Sorn, and I’m the Lead Pastor here at Renovation Church
Happy 4th of July to you.
Hey, before we get into our Bible teaching for this morning, I want to give you a quick heads up on where we, as a church, are headed this fall.
For some of you who have been around here for a little while, you’ve known pieces of this, but for those of you are new since we opened up this building this may be new information.
When we had our first service in this building on February 7th, it didn’t look like this, right?
You all had masks on, the COVID numbers were going up again, and the vast majority of non-believers were NOT going to come to a large indoor gathering at that time.
And so rather than create negative press in the community by advertising a large indoor event in the midst of COVID, we opened up this building with ZERO dollars put into marketing and advertising, and everything since then has simply been word of mouth.
And yet, well over 100 of you are brand new here, and we’ve already seen 29 decisions for Christ!
But now, as COVID wanes into the background, we want to do not just “an opening” of this building, but a GRAND OPENING
I’m talking billboards all over town, hundreds of street signs, postcards, and we’re all you see every time you open your social media.
And we want you to be able to invite ANYONE, and they would finally feel comfortable coming to a large indoor event.
And honestly, with COVID numbers having fallen off a cliff and 98% of people feeling comfortable again, we could even do that this summer.
And yet, we also know that everyone is going to be gone this summer.
Every sector of local tourism is saying this is going to be their best summer ever as people are ready to finally able to get out of town
And so, even though we’re ready (and I think people are ready), we’re going to wait until people are back, and we can get some solid momentum when people are consistently in town.
So, I wanted to let you know that we are going to be doing a massive Grand Opening on September 19th.
It’s a little over 2 months away, but I wanted to let you know that it’s coming.
So start praying J
PASSAGE SET-UP & EXEGESIS
(Life of Elijah Series Slide)
All right, we are continuing in our Life of Elijah series this morning, and today we’ve come to the pinnacle of the whole Elijah narrative in Scripture.
The first three weeks of the series have all been leading up to this, and many of the subsequent weeks will be in what you could call the “aftermath” of this event.
If this is your first time here today, let me give you some quick context.
This all takes place in the Northern Kingdom of Israel about 850 years or so before Jesus
Israel was led by King Ahab and Queen Jezebel who have led the entire nation away from worshipping the one true God to instead worshipping false idols like Baal.
So Elijah the Prophet announced to them that in light of their wicked actions, God will not have it rain for a few years
And indeed that’s what happens.
But today is confrontation day.
(Page 244) – NIV
1 Kings 18 if you brought a Bible
We found out last week that God had instructed Elijah to go present himself to King Ahab, because God was finally going to send rain on the land.
The discipline is over, and the people’s hearts are now ready to respond to the Lord .
Let’s read what happens:
(1 Kings 18:16-18) – NIV
16 So Obadiah went to meet Ahab and told him, and Ahab went to meet Elijah. 17 When he saw Elijah, he said to him, “Is that you, you troubler of Israel?”
18 “I have not made trouble for Israel,” Elijah replied. “But you and your father’s family have. You have abandoned the Lord’s commands and have followed the Baals.
So, Ahab thinks that the rain is Elijah’s fault.
That this false God Baal is somehow mad at Elijah and thus hasn’t allowed rain to come.
But Elijah makes it clear that the people’s troubles are a result of Ahab’s ungodly leadership
When leaders abandon God’s ways, trouble will come.
Let’s keep reading
(1 Kings 18:19-24) – NIV
19 Now summon the people from all over Israel to meet me on Mount Carmel. And bring the four hundred and fifty prophets of Baal and the four hundred prophets of Asherah, who eat at Jezebel’s table.”
20 So Ahab sent word throughout all Israel and assembled the prophets on Mount Carmel. 21 Elijah went before the people and said, “How long will you waver between two opinions? If the Lord is God, follow him; but if Baal is God, follow him.”
But the people said nothing.
22 Then Elijah said to them, “I am the only one of the Lord’s prophets left, but Baal has four hundred and fifty prophets. 23 Get two bulls for us. Let Baal’s prophets choose one for themselves, and let them cut it into pieces and put it on the wood but not set fire to it. I will prepare the other bull and put it on the wood but not set fire to it. 24 Then you call on the name of your god, and I will call on the name of the Lord. The god who answers by fire—he is God.”
Then all the people said, “What you say is good.”
A few notes here:
Elijah is intense. He’s incredibly brave.
But you also see, and this will become more clear in the coming weeks, he’s at a time a bit dramatic too
In verse 22, he says he’s the only one of the Lord’s prophets left…
Maybe he’s just saying that he’s the only one out in public, but we did learn that last week that Obadiah had hid 100 of them away
But nonetheless, this is all an amazing plan!
Whichever God sends fire from heaven, is the one true God.
And yet, this isn’t technically Elijah’s plan.
We’re going to read later, in verse 36, that Elijah was doing this entire setup at the command of God.
Let’s keep reading
(1 Kings 18:25-29) – NIV
25 Elijah said to the prophets of Baal, “Choose one of the bulls and prepare it first, since there are so many of you. Call on the name of your god, but do not light the fire.” 26 So they took the bull given them and prepared it.
Then they called on the name of Baal from morning till noon. “Baal, answer us!” they shouted. But there was no response; no one answered. And they danced around the altar they had made.
27 At noon Elijah began to taunt them. “Shout louder!” he said. “Surely he is a god! Perhaps he is deep in thought, or busy, or traveling. Maybe he is sleeping and must be awakened.” 28 So they shouted louder and slashed themselves with swords and spears, as was their custom, until their blood flowed. 29 Midday passed, and they continued their frantic prophesying until the time for the evening sacrifice. But there was no response, no one answered, no one paid attention.
What’s interesting here is that Elijah gives the prophets of Baal every advantage.
He lets them pick the bull they want first.
Even the competition in and of itself was hypothetically to their advantage since Baal was supposedly the sky and rain god who could send lightning to light the altar on fire.
And we’ll see in a moment, that Elijah is going to “disadvantage” his own altar by pouring water on it.
He wants people to know without a shadow of a doubt that the Lord is God
HOW GOD WILL TURN HEARTS BACK AGAIN
Let’s finish the rest of the passage
(1 Kings 18:30-39) - NIV
30 Then Elijah said to all the people, “Come here to me.” They came to him, and he repaired the altar of the Lord, which had been torn down. 31 Elijah took twelve stones, one for each of the tribes descended from Jacob, to whom the word of the Lord had come, saying, “Your name shall be Israel.” 32 With the stones he built an altar in the name of the Lord, and he dug a trench around it large enough to hold two seahs of seed. 33 He arranged the wood, cut the bull into pieces and laid it on the wood. Then he said to them, “Fill four large jars with water and pour it on the offering and on the wood.”
“Do it again,” he said, and they did it again.
“Do it a third time,” he ordered, and they did it the third time. 35 The water ran down around the altar and even filled the trench.
36 At the time of sacrifice, the prophet Elijah stepped forward and prayed: “Lord, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Israel, let it be known today that you are God in Israel and that I am your servant and have done all these things at your command. 37 Answer me, Lord, answer me, so these people will know that you, Lord, are God, and that you are turning their hearts back again.”
38 Then the fire of the Lord fell and burned up the sacrifice, the wood, the stones and the soil, and also licked up the water in the trench.
39 When all the people saw this, they fell prostrate and cried, “The Lord—he is God! The Lord—he is God!”
And then shortly thereafter, now that they’ve acknowledged the truth, the rain comes…the drought is over.
But first Elijah calls the people to watch closely…
This is a people that used to know the Lord…and if not them, their parents or grandparents really knew the Lord .
This got me thinking about the state of Christianity in this country…and also what it was like for our parents, grandparents, even great-grandparents.
You know I read a lot of Christian history
Biography is my favorite literary genre
And over the past 2 years or so, I’ve ended up reading a number of biographies and histories of Christians who lived in the early part of the 20th century.
And it’s caused me to lament over the state of our churches today compared to what they were like 100 years ago
-Almost every book I’ve read talks of how, 100 years ago, area churches would host annual missions conferences together to encourage their people to risk it all and bring Christ to the nations
-100 years ago, Prayer Meetings were absolutely essential to almost EVERY church
Many churches would hold all-night prayer meetings…praying for God to reach the lost.
Can you imagine?
Nowadays we’d say, “Oh no, sorry, Timmy has to kick a ball around a field in the morning, I can’t do that.”
-100 years ago, you went to church on Sunday mornings, AND Sunday evenings, and often a midweek service as well.
-100 years ago, Volunteers (not just pastors), volunteers from their churches would engage in Street Preaching, handing out literature about the Gospel on the street
-I mentioned to you a few weeks ago, I was reading about the missionary Darlene Deibler, in the book Evidence Not Seen.
There’s a part in the book, where Darlene is put in prison, and no longer has her Bible.
But she says she was grateful for her days in Vacation Bible School (which she was in almost exactly 100 years ago)
And she said, in VBS as a kid, she memorized verses, chapters, and even entire books of the Bible like Colossians.
That’s what they did at VBS in 1920.
It was literally a Vacation BIBLE SCHOOL!
That’s where it got its name!
Many of our great-grand parents lived in a world in which they fit their entire lives under God, but we live in a world where we try and squeeze God into the few remaining spaces left in our lives.
We think we’ve got life figured out, and so we only reach out to God in the margins where we think we need help
And I’m telling you this right now because we are not going to reach this current generation for Christ until we understand the power of God again…and how He is Lord of everything.
We’re not going to reach the masses for Christ if all churches offer them is a God that can help improve their marriage and give them tips on parenting.
We’re not going to reach the masses if church is just a social club where people can play softball and a join a mom’s group
Churches have spent the last 100 years lowering the bar of discipleship, and in so doing, we don’t understand the power and love of God anymore
And so we’re left to just rely on infective worldly methods of ministry instead of the Gospel
I mean, where’s the power of God in our churches nowadays??
Where’s our passion for God?
Why have we stopped calling on God to bring the fire ?
Where are the men and women who will cry like Elijah, “Answer us Oh Lord, so that these people will know you!”
Why, in America, have we settled for trying to make fire ourselves instead of asking God to bring the fire.
Perhaps we’re going to need a 3-year drought first to want God again like our Great Grandparents did.
Let me give you an interesting scenario.
Let’s say we could re-do this passage in modern times.
And we could rent US Bank Stadium, and fill it with all 65,000 residents of Blaine.
And to start the evening off, someone came up and gave a presentation on why people should not follow God but give their lives to all of the modern-day idols of society.
Then, let’s say that you were responsible for overseeing the second presentation about why people should follow God.
What would you do?
What would you say?
Well, what did Elijah do??
This is his scenario…thousands and thousands of people, none of which are truly following God
Did he call forth a 100 harpists to move everyone’s emotions?
Did he bring forth 30 minutes of entertainment from Yahweh’s dance squad?
Did he tell them that the LORD has a club they can join where they can make new friends?
Did he give them a relevant message on how The LORD could help improve their happiness, or their marriages, or some other aspect of their life?
He just prayed and let the people have an encounter with God.
The American Church has a significant problem.
We’ve gotten so wrapped up in being relevant…so wrapped up in entertaining, or in making God palatable and appealing to people in the 21st century,
“That we haven’t noticed that we are not offering the world the one thing they really need: The true life-changing message of Jesus Christ
A couple of months ago, I was talking with a pastor friend from Seminary.
At his previous pastorate, he was pastoring a rural church in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, with mostly seniors.
He was observing about how so few people come to faith nowadays, and so he decided to start literally asking all of these saints in their 60’s, 70’s, 80’s, and 90’s how they came to faith many years ago?
And one by one they said things like:
When I went to camp, they did an altar call
The preacher at my church asked us to stand
I got invited to see an evangelist at a stadium
I got saved at a tent revival
They had a legitimate encounter with God as someone clearly shared the Gospel with them.
What we need to re-learn as the church in America is that it is an encounter with THE LORD that will save people…and not anything else
And I’m not saying to not make things look nice or beautiful (which we do)
I’m not saying to not be relevant to the culture with your music or content (any good missionary does that)
I’m not even saying to not do whatever it takes to share the Gospel (do an egg hunt, or have 10 inflatables)
But we dare not think that anything but the power of God will awaken people.
You can draw a crowd…sure draw a crowd…but you better be praying that what they see when they get there is the fire of GOD…not you.
You know, I’ve had the immense privilege in seeing A LOT of people come to Christ over the years…and let me tell you what people DON’T ever say in the follow-up room:
They don’t say:
“The lights you had on stage were so impressive, I had to turn my life over to Jesus”
“Your environment was just so beautiful, I just needed to repent of my sins”
Goodness, there’s probably a hundred of you in this room that came to Christ in an Elementary school gym!
If you listen to most people’s testimonies, what convinced them to say, “THE LORD, HE IS GOD”…was the power of God.
You know you’ve heard this even in the testimonies we share here in videos and on stage.
People say things like:
“I felt like God just lifted me up out of my seat to stand up and accept Christ”
“I was listening to the message, and I felt like God was speaking right to my heart and me only”
“I was sitting in worship, and I just started to sob as I read the words”
Or they tell of some miracle that God did in their lives to get them to wake up to Him
The truth is, what wakes people up to God is an ENCOUNTER with God and His Gospel message, not some trendy, new flashy idea we have
The 21st Century American church needs to get back to the basics.
And so do we here.
We need to have our Prayer Meetings overflowing with people…calling on God to move.
We need to be a people more concerned with Worship and holiness
We need to take evangelistic risks again to bring the Gospel to our friends, our family, our neighbors…
Trusting that they will see God through our words…
We need to let go of this false idea that they’ll just see how relevant we are, and how kind we are, that they’ll someday say, “HOW CAN I BE SAVED?”
No, they need to hear the gospel from you…
They need to see God, not you.
We need callouses on our knees again…as we pray for the friends & family in our lives who are lost without Him.
We need to plead for their souls and say, “Answer me Lord, do a miracle in their lives, so they will know that you are Lord!”
“Bring the fire Lord!”
That’s what will do it!
Because when people see God, and they see His fire from heaven, and they have an encounter with Him
They will fall on their knees again and say, “THE LORD…HE is God!
The most certainly will.
“God, may you move among us like that again.”
And perhaps more of us just need to make an outright decision to be for Him
Verse 21 is a powerful verse.
(1 Kings 18:21) – NIV
21 Elijah went before the people and said, “How long will you waver between two opinions? If the Lord is God, follow him; but if Baal is God, follow him.”
But the people said nothing.
Many people live like this today.
They’re interested in God…they maybe even show up at church on Sundays every now in then…
But the rest of the week, they do not live as if Jesus is their LORD
If anything in the Bible goes against what they want, or what’s easier or convenient, they choose the world, not the way of Christ.
But they sort of believe God is real too
They waver between two opinions as Elijah said.
But if the Lord is God…follow Him.
Think about this…
If Jesus Christ really is God in the flesh who came to earth…
If He truly saw all of your sins, all of your bad choices, but still died on the cross in your place…
Offering you forgiveness and life everlasting in heaven for all of eternity…
IF you would just repent of your sins, turn away from them, and turn your life over to Him…
If that’s true, then there is no logic in wavering back and forth between God and world.
Either the Lord is THE COMPLETE LORD of your life, or He’s not.
You can’t live in the middle, it makes no rational sense.
So let’s do this…
We’re going to worship the Lord now through song.
And if you need to turn your life over to Jesus for the very first time…to tell Him that you believe that He died for you…
To turn from your sins, and turn to a life with Him…
I want you to walk towards the front of this stage on the ground here at anytime during this song, and then at the end of the service we’ll pray with you to accept Christ.
Also, if you’re here, and you are already a Christian…and you want to know God more deeply again….you want to stop playing the middle…wavering from side to side…
And you want a fresh experience of His love…
You want to commit again to putting Him #1 in your life…
I want YOU to walk to the back of the room, where we will have members of our prayer team lined up against the back wall to pray over you.
Just tell them how they can pray.
All right, I’ll pray, and then we’ll worship the one true God
Let me pray
Copyright: David Sorn
Renovation Church in Blaine, MN
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