2012-05-11 - Send the Fire
Experience the Fire's Presence
Elijah expected the fire and then he experienced it. To experience it he
performed five steps. These same steps are ones that we can take today.
Repair the Altar (18:30-32)
James 1:22 says, "But be ye
doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves."
Israel's altar was broke down from lack of use. Are our altars in similar
condition? We are good at coming on Sunday to hear things but do we do them
Monday thru Saturday. Look first at your personal altar; this is your individual
quiet time with God. I find myself at times caught up in being busy and I
neglect this altar. How about you? Next look at your family altar. This should
be quality time with God not just a quick "Let us thank you for our food
Amen" over a meal or two each week. For most modern families the altar
is a TV, after all, all the furniture points to it. The TV and not God's
word is the primary focus of many families. It is no big deal to skip prayer
times for a week you but can't miss a single episode of your favorite show.
We will record a show to watch later but just skip the things that truly
matter. Lastly we have our church altar. Do some of you older people remember
when midweek services were an hour of prayer. Now prayer is just a small
part with a big Bible study time for a lot of churches.
Just as each tribe had part in Israel's altar, each home in America and in
this church must have part in its collective altar. Some people have personal
time but have been infected with religious relativism and radical individualism.
It's just Jesus and me you can do your own thing. But that misses the point.
Jesus is the only way. In 1992, Chuck Colson wrote in The Body,
"Christianity is not a solitary belief system. Any genuine resurgence
of Christianity, as history demonstrates, depends on a reawakening and renewal
of that which is the essence of the faith the people of God, the new society,
the body of Christ, which is made manifest in the world the church."
Remember the Past (18:31)
Elijah made the altar with twelve stones to remind them of the twelve tribes.
Notice too, the use of the name Israel meaning prince of God rather than
the name Jacob meaning supplanter and cheater. We must remember our past
as well: remember God's goodness at Bethlehem, remember God's guidance in
Galilee and everywhere else he went, remember God's grace at Calvary. If
God was good in the past then he will be good in the future because God doesn't
Render the Sacrifice (18:33-35)
Elijah stacked the wood, cut up the bull and laid it out. The people brought
the water. In the middle of a drought giving twelve barrels of water was
also a sacrifice. We must be willing to part with our prized possessions.
God can't fill us until we empty ourselves of everything else. We as Christians
have become more concerned about being comfortable than about being consumed.
We must render our lives as a living sacrifice.
Restore with the Cleansing Word
In these same verses we can view the water not just as a sacrifice but also
as a symbol of ceremonial washing. The altar was washed of all the filth
that had overgrown it from neglect. In Ephesians 5:26
we are told to "sanctify and cleanse with the washing
of water by the word". I don't know if it still comes on or not but
there used to be a show on the Style Channel called Clean House. On it cluttered
messy homeowners would get experts to come. These experts helped them get
rid of the clutter, repaint and refurnish the house. For the homeowners,
it's often hard giving up some of the old stuff but, in the end, the people
finally give in trusting that something better is in store for them. Like
those people we have an expert in Jesus who wants to come in and remove the
clutter from our hearts and lives, restore them to his image, and leave us
better than we started. The carpenter from Nazareth can remodel and renovate
our lives like no one else can.
Request God's Touch (18:36-38)
Now that God is again the center of attention and not Elijah and not us,
the fire is asked for and sent down. I have seen movies and cartoons where
the sacrifice just starts smoldering and catches fire or lightning hits it
or a slow whirlwind of fire descend upon the altar. I think it was more dramatic
KABLAM fire like a meteor just explodes into flames and everything
is gone. Some of the people may have even been blown back by the force and
heat. Notice how he prayed. "God do this so people will know you are the
one and only real God." He could've prayed, "God do this so people will follow
me" or "God do this to show those other prophets aren't very good." Instead
he prayed a prayer that was all about making sure God got the glory. We are
to pray for God to be glorified so that people will turn to God. Only the
awesomeness of God's holiness can reveal the awfulness of our sinfulness.
Until next time.
All scripture references from KJV unless otherwise noted.