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Elijah: Prophet Of Courage And Confrontation

Sermon #10

1 Kings 19:15-21

BACK IN THE SADDLE AGAIN

Intro: In this 19th chapter of the book of 1 Kings, we have been watching some events unfold in the life of this man named Elijah. We saw how he fell into pride and became discouraged and defeated. We saw him as he ran into the wilderness and prayed to die. We saw him make a journey to Mount Horeb to seek for a word from the Lord. We saw the Lord confront Elijah and show him that the root of his problem was that he had allowed circumstances in his life to eclipse the face of God. When we last visited with the prophet he is standing in the mouth of a cave on Mount Horeb, wrapped in his mantle, responding to God's questions. When we left Elijah on that mountain, he is still defeated, discouraged, complaining to God about the mess that he is in, v. 14.

As these events continue to unfold in the closing verses of this chapter, we are allowed to see the fact that God is not finished with Elijah just yet. There was day when this prophet had ridden high in the saddle for God. But, like many others do, he got thrown off the horse of service and was left wounded, with the wind knocked out of him. All of the events of this chapter have been leading up to what happens in these verses. Here we get to see Elijah as he climbs back into the saddle again.

Yes, God brings him out of his valley and puts him back in the thick of the battle for the glory of God. Friend, God wants to do the same in your life also! Let's learn how we can come back when we have been down as we think on the thought Back In The Saddle Again.

I. V. 1-4 THE MISERY OF THE PROPHET

A. V. 1-3a We See Elijah Running -

B. V. 3b-4a We See Elijah Retiring -

C. V. 4b We See Elijah Rationalizing -

II. V. 5-14 THE MINISTRY TO THE PROPHET

A. V. 5-8 A Ministry Of Consideration -

B. V. 5-9, 13 A Ministry of Compassion -

C. V. 9-14 A Ministry Of Confrontation -

V. 15-21 THE MENDING OF THE PROPHET

I. V. 15-17 IT INVOLVED A NEW COMMISSION

(Ill. Verse 13-14 tell us that Elijah is again asked the question, "What doest thou here, Elijah?" His response is still the same old whiney answer. {Note: God's question is present tense. Elijah's answer is past tense. It doesn't matter what you've done for the Lord in the past, the questions: "What are you doing today!"} This time God sets the prophet straight and tells him how things really are. God has a threefold plan for getting Elijah back on track. Let's consider that plan together.)

A. A Commission Of Promise - Elijah is told to return to Israel through Syria. There, he is to anoint 2 kings and a prophet. He is given an important assignment from the Lord. He is given evidence that the Lord is not finished with his life. Elijah, the John Wayne of the Old Testament, would ride high again! Surely, this was an encouragement to the man of God!

(Ill. It would do those who have wandered off the Lord's path good if they were to come before Him this morning, confess that they have sinned and ask Him for a new assignment. The Lord is faithful, He will forgive you and He will use you again, 1 John 1:9! Some men sin, and they never again reach the level of service and usefulness they new before, Ill. David - 2 Sam. 11. Others sin and see their dreams vanish away from before their eyes - Ill. Moses - Num. 20:9-12. Yet, others are given a second chance at ministry - Ill. Jonah - Jonah 1-4; Simon Peter - Matt. 26:60-75; Acts 2! You never know which it will be! Are you willing to take the chance that your "little fling" might be your undoing. However, the best course of action is to do all things God's way and avoid all the trouble that comes with rebellion. Like Elijah, you might not ever be what you were before, but you can still be a blessing to the kingdom of God! If you are wallowing in the pit of depression, why not bring that to the Lord and ask Him to use you again for His glory. He still has plans for your life, or else you would already be in Heaven!)

B. A Commission Of Peace - As Elijah hears the commands he is being given by the Lord, he hears that he is to anoint an man named Jehu to be the king over Israel. This must have been music to the ears of the prophet. This meant that Ahab and his reign of wickedness would be coming to an end. Also, verse 17 gives him the promise that his enemies will perish as they deserve to. What all this means for the prophet is that, in the end, he and his message will be vindicated. In other words, all the events and trials that have taxed Elijah's physical, spiritual and mental reserves are coming to an end. This is God's promise to Elijah that he will outlast his battles!

(Ill. Friend, you might be walking through some very difficult and deep valleys. But, I am glad that I can tell you that they will not last forever! Thank God, there will come a day, just as sure as there is a God in heaven, when you will walk out of that valley with your head held high! God is faithful and He will see you through the difficult days you face as you go through this world. Yes, there will be valleys. Yes, there will be trials. Yes, there will be struggles and problems. But, the God we serve is greater than all those things and He will give the victory! In fact, He already has, 1 Cor. 15:57; 2 Cor. 4:17; 2 Cor. 2:14. As David reminded us in Psalm 23:4, even though we may walk through the deepest, darkest valley imaginable, God will go with us, to comfort us, to protect and to see us through, Heb. 13:5; Matt. 28:20! You can count on a friend like that!)

I. It Involved A New Commission

II. V. 18 IT INVOLVED A NEW COMFORT

A. The Comfort Of A Kindred Spirit - Twice Elijah had complained that he was all alone in his devotion to the Lord, v. 10, 14. However, God tells him that there are 7,000 others who have not worshiped Baal. Elijah is not alone! There are others who will stand with him. He is given hope and encouragement.

(Ill. Friend, you aren't alone either today! Whether it's discouragement, depression, sin, or anything else you may name, others have been through it and are going through it as well. Even if no human comfort can be found, the Lord knows what you are going through and is ever present to help you through any crisis you might face in life, Heb. 4:15-16. Let us not forget to turn to Him for the help we need, Phil. 4:6-7.)

B. The Comfort Of A Knowledgeable Savior - In this verse Elijah is reminded again that he is serving a big God. The Lord's words merely confirmed what Elijah already knew: God is in the know! It seems to me that Elijah had forgotten that God knew all about him, his problems, his enemies and where the solutions were. It must have comforted the prophet's heart to be reminded that God knows all about, before we ever tell Him about it.

(Ill. It would do those of us who go through the valleys good to remember that truth as well! God knows where you are, and He knows what is happening in your life. Not even the smallest of details misses His gaze, Pro. 15:3; Heb. 4:13. Too often, we are like the children of Israel sizing up the inhabitants of Canaan, Num. 13:31-33, like Samuel sizing up little David 1 Sam. 16:1-13, or like the disciples sizing up the crowd in John 6:1-13. In all of our figuring, we fail to calculate in the Lord! He knows the situation and He has brought us to the place we find ourselves in today. He knows where we are, what we face and He has the provisions already in place to meet our needs and get us out of the valley. It all comes down to our coming to the place that we can simply trust Him to be all we need, all the time. After all, that is just Who God is - Ill. Ex. 3:14 - He is "I AM that I AM"!

I. It Involved A New Commission

II. It Involved A New Comfort

III. V. 19-21 IT INVOLVED A NEW COMPANION

A. They Enjoyed Fellowship - When Elijah went into the wilderness, he left his servant behind in Beersheba, v. 3. He was all alone. God knew this was not good and He gave him a man named Elisha. Elisha was to be a companion to Elijah and would take Elijah's place when his ministry ended. God gave him a man who was like minded. Elisha was a man with whom Elijah could fellowship. They both shared a common call from God and they both wanted to see the Lord honored and glorified. These were men who could fellowship together.

(Ill. Thank God for the fellowship of the saints! I really don't think any of us know just how desperately we need one another. Far too many Christians want to be like the "Lone Ranger", forgetting that even he had a "Tonto". My friends, God called none of us to ride the range alone! He called us to be active in His work, seeking fellowship with His people, Heb. 10:25.

(Ill. A Pastor was visiting a member who had begun to miss a lot of church. As they sat near the man's open fireplace, the Pastor tried to encourage the man to get back in church and in the fellowship of other believers. The wayward member responded by saying, "Preacher, I don't need to go to church, I can do just as well here at home by myself." Without saying a word, the Pastor picked up a pair of tongs and removed one cherry red coal from the midst of the fire. He laid this coal by itself on the hearth. Neither man said a word as the coal turned from a bright cherry red to a dull gray in just a few minutes. The backslidden member turned to the Pastor and said, "I'll be in church Sunday morning." He had gotten the message!)

(Ill. This quote from a newly converted alcoholic should cause the church to consider this matter of fellowship. "You know, the only thing I miss is the fellowship I used to have with all the guys down at the tavern. We used to sit around, laugh, and drink a pitcher of beer, tell stories, and let our hair down. I can't find fellowship like that with Christians." Every person in this room ought to take it upon themselves, as if it were their sole responsibility, and reach out to every other person who darkens the door of this church. No one should ever come to Gilead Baptist Church and leave without having dozens of people welcoming them and making them feel at home. People crave fellowship, and church is the place they should be able to find it!)

B. They Enjoyed Friendship - I like the concluding words of this chapter, "and ministered unto him." God knew that the burdens Elijah carried were too heavy for him to bear alone, so He gave him a confidant, a friend, a peer. He gave him one to walk beside him through the valleys and through the difficulties. Notice that God told Elijah to meet three people, v. 15-16. Notice also that Elisha is the first on Elijah meets. God puts this man into the prophet's life to help him along his way! The word "ministered" means "to attend to, to contribute to, to serve" this describes the kind of friend Elisha was to Elijah. He filled a void in the life of the man of God and helped Elijah fulfil his task and calling.

(Ill. Whether we will admit it or not, we all need that kind of personal ministry from time to time! Proverbs 27:17 says, "Iron sharpeneth iron; so a man sharpeneth the countenance of his friend." Basically, we do not need to cut ourselves off from other people. We need friends and companions as we go through this life. What a blessing to have someone to confide in. To have a friend who hurts with you, who will help you bear life's loads, who will pray with you, cry with you, and even when they don't understand you will still love you! Certainly, we have that kind of ministry in the Person of the Holy Spirit, John 14:16-18; John 16:7-15. Then, there si the Lord Jesus, Who is "a Friend that sticketh closer than a brother", Pro. 18:24. However, we still need human interaction! Let us resolve to ask God to put someone into our life who will help us be accountable to the Lord in all we do as we go through life. Ill. Imagine the ministry Elisha had in the life of Elijah!

May we all remember that a true friend is a blessing beyond the value of words. If a person has as many as one or two genuine friends, he or she is a wealthy person.)

(Ill. The following story from the Civil War illustrates the value of a friend. "During the worst days of the Civil War, an old friend of Abraham Lincoln's, a Springfield, Illinois, shopkeeper named Billy Brown, decided he'd travel to Washington to see his old friend, the President of the United States. An aide to the president asked him if he had an appointment.

"No, sir," replied Billy. "I ain't, and it ain't necessary. Maybe it's all right and fitting to have appointments, but I reckon Mr. Lincoln's old friends don't need them, so you just trot along and tell him Billy Brown's here, and see what he says."

The aide frowned, but went. In about two minutes, the door popped open and out came Mr. Lincoln, face aglow. "Billy," he said, pumping his friend's hand, "now I am glad to see you. Come right in. You're going to stay to supper with Mary and me."

As soon as Mr. Lincoln could discharge his immediate responsibilities, the two men went to the back of the house and sat down on the stoop and, as Billy later put it, "talked and talked. He asked me about pretty nigh everybody in Springfield. I just let loose and told him about the weddings and the births and funerals and the buildings, and I guess there wasn't a yarn I'd heard in the three and a half years he'd been away that I didn't spin for him. Laugh--you'd ought to hear him laugh--just did my heart good, for I could see what they'd been doing to him. Always was a thin man, but Lordy, he was thinner than ever now, and his face was kind of drawn and gray--enough to make you cry."

Late that evening, Billy said goodbye. The President tried to get him to stay the night, but Billy, not wanting to impose, declined. As they parted, Lincoln said, "Billy, what did you come down here for?"

"I came to see you, Mr. Lincoln."

"But you ain't asked me for anything, Billy. What is it? Out with it."

"No, Mr. Lincoln, just wanted to see you--felt kind of lonesome--been so long since I'd seen you, and I was afraid I'd forget some of them yarns if I didn't unload them soon."

Lincoln gazed into his friend's eyes. "Do you mean to tell me you came all the way from Springfield, Illinois, just to have a visit with me; that you ain't got no complaints in your pockets or advice up your sleeve?"

"Yes, sir. That's about it."

Tears came into Lincoln's eyes and ran down his cheeks. "I'm homesick, Billy, just plumb homesick, and it seems as if this war would never be over. Many a night I can see the boys dying of the fields and can hear their mothers crying for them at home, and I can't help it, Billy. You'll never know just what good you've done me.")

(Ill. Another story drives the truth home even more deeply. "Out of the furnaces of war come many true stories of sacrificial friendship. One such story tells of two friends in World War I, who were inseparable. They had enlisted together, trained together, were shipped overseas together, and fought side-by-side in the trenches. During an attack, one of the men was critically wounded in a field filled with barbed wire obstacles, and he was unable to crawl back to his foxhole. The entire area was under a withering enemy crossfire, and it was suicidal to try to reach him. Yet his friend decided to try. Before he could get out of his own trench, his sergeant yanked him back inside and ordered him not to go. "It's too late. You can't do him any good, and you'll only get yourself killed."

A few minutes later, the officer turned his back, and instantly the man was gone after his friend. A few minutes later, he staggered back, mortally wounded, with his friend, now dead, in his arms. The sergeant was both angry and deeply moved. "What a waste," he blurted out. "He's dead and you're dying. It just wasn't worth it."

With almost his last breath, the dying man replied, "Oh, yes, it was, Sarge. When I got to him, the only thing he said was, 'I knew you'd come, Jim!'"

One of the true marks of friend is that he is there when there is every reason for him not to be, when to be there is sacrificially costly. As Proverbs 17:17 puts it, "A friend loveth at all times, and a brother is born for adversity.")

(Ill. That is what a friend does! He just shows up and loves you for who you are. Rather than asking "Do I have any friends?" Maybe we should be asking, "Am I being a friend?" When you become a friend, you'll have plenty of friends, Pro. 18:24, "A man that hath friends must shew himself friendly;")

Conc: As this chapter in the life of Elijah comes to an end, we find him well on the road to recovery. He is back in the saddle, and he is serving God once again! The Lord's ministry in his life has delivered him from the brink of death and of shipwreck. Some of you need that ministry today. You are on the verge of quitting on the Lord. You are discouraged and defeated. Others have wandered off into sin and are living lives that are no pleasing to the Lord. Some of you aren't even saved and you know that if you were to die in your condition, you would go to Hell! Regardless of where you are today, you don't want that! Neither does the Lord! I wonder if He is speaking to your heart this morning? Do you need the personal ministry of that Friend that sticketh closer than a brother? If so, He is waiting to meet with you!



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