[CF Devotionals] 2012-05-04 - Send the Fire

Part 1

This devotional series is based on a message I have preached a couple times on 5/31/2009 and 8/7/2011. Some of the statistics are a bit dated but the trends they point to still continue to this day as best I can tell. I pray that it will be an inspiration to you.

Send the Fire

As a kid I had a thing for fire. I can remember burning pine straw with a magnifying glass and having the neighbors call my parents exclaiming that I was going to burn down the shed. I also remember emptying my dad's shotgun shells and filling paper tubes with powder to watch them explode. I can remember pouring gas on ant hills and lighting them up. Heck my wife says she remembers me doing that a few years ago. I often treat toy lie a fire but fire isn't a toy in the Bible. It is a symbol of God.

It represented:

  • the Presence of God like the burning bush
  • the Protection of God in the wall of fire that kept the Egyptians at bay
  • the Provision of God in the pillar of fire
  • the Power of God at Pentecost

God's fire has the power to attract, convict, deliver, and devour.We don't need bigger facilities or better finances. The only way to a brighter future is thru bountiful fire from God.

Hebrews 12:29 says our God is a consuming fire. Do we really want the fire to fall? Do we really want God to consume us? We need to ask God for fire and no one has ever brought down fire better than Elijah.

Background

For those of you unfamiliar with the story of Elijah let me prep you with a short background story. In the days of Elijah, Ahab was king of Israel. I Kings 16:33 says he did more to provoke God to anger than all the kings before him. He was married to Jezebel - a name that is now an insulting bad name. Elijah said God would send a drought over the land because of the wickedness in Israel. The people of Israel were in a drought for three and a half years. We are living in a dry and barren land; like Israel, we need revival.

I can't speak for all churches but at the time I preached this message I had ran across some alarming stats for the denomination I am in and I have heard that other denominations have similarly eerie statistics.

According to the 2006 Annual Church Profile (ACP), there are 44,223 churches in the Southern Baptist Convention.

10,449 churches baptized NO ONE.

3,312 churches baptized ONE PERSON,

13,760 churches baptized 1-5 PEOPLE

A total of 27,521 churches in the SBC baptized five or fewer people for an entire year, which comes to 62% of all SBC churches. Furthermore, at least three out of four churches are plateaued or declining.

Should we not be lamenting over the nearly 10,500 churches who are practically dead? Should we not be lamenting over the fact that over 75% of our churches are experiencing no conversion growth?

Three and a half years later, Elijah reappears and meets with Ahab. That is where we will begin reading

Read 1 Kings 18:17-41

Outline

In this passage we see that Elijah did three things. We must do these same things.

  1. Expect the Fire's Coming

    Elijah had faith. The odds were against him - 850 to 1. He knew the fire would come. He was confident in God. Do we expect fire in church or do we come expecting the same routine as every other week? (We'll just show up, sit down, say a prayer, stand for a couple songs, sit for offering, and sit through yet another song special special and a sermon, then we all stand, sing Just As I Am and go home happy to still be just as we came) As you entered the backdoor of your church this week, did you expect to be overwhelmed and changed by God's presence in this place? Or did you just expect to catch up on how Bill and Ted were doing? Hebrews 11:6 - But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.

    Elijah showed he expected the fire by doing three things.

    1. Remove Middle Ground (18:21)

      With God there is no room for other Gods. There can be no compromise

    2. Respect God's Ability (18:22-30)

      He challenges the prophets of Baal and Asherah to a winner-take-all, first-to-score wins game and he lets them go first. First one to score wins and Elijah gave the other team first chance. That's like giving the other team the ball first in sudden death overtime in football. But he knew God could keep the other team from scoring. Elijah knew demons could produce false signs like the Egyptians with their serpent staffs but he knew his God was great enough to keep them from doing their tricks. Elijah went further on his turn and made the situation impossible by soaking everything. But he knew God could do it. He knew and he wanted everyone else to know only the real God could do it. So he relied on the Lord

    3. Rely on the Lord

      It was all up to God. Elijah brought no matches or gasoline. A man named David Huxley is a world record jet airplane puller. On October 15, 1997 at Mascot Airport in Sydney, Australia he was strapped to the front-wheel strut of 187 ton 747 jumbo jet. He leaned forward and started pulling that massive plane. One minute 21 seconds later he had moved it 100 yards. The church is like the jet, a man can move it a little. Emotions can get a church going a little ways but only God can start the engines and get the church flying for thousands of miles. No sermon, no song, no pastor, no book, no gospel tract will change our world only the fire of God Almighty will change our world. Psalms 92:4-5 says, "For thou, LORD, hast made me glad through thy work: I will triumph in the works of thy hands. O LORD, how great are thy works"

Until next time ...

IHFHBOH
Adam

[email adam] adam@cfdevotionals.org
http://www.cfdevotionals.org

All scripture references from KJV unless otherwise noted.