Summary: What do I have to give up to be sure I am in a condition to follow God?
Knowing God’s will is important. But only so far as you are willing to DO His will. I believe there is a spiritual principle that requires we be willing to do whatever God says before He is willing to say it.
(NOTE: "BUT IF FROM THERE YOU SEEK THE LORD YOUR GOD, YOU WILL FIND HIM IF YOU LOOK FOR HIM WITH ALL YOUR HEART AND WITH ALL YOUR SOUL." DE 4.29)
What are the costs of seeking with all our heart and soul? What do I have to be ready to give to the Lord?
MY EAR 18.1,2
Elijah was alert. God had his full attention. It had been 31/2 years since the rain had stopped. I’m sure Elijah wondered just how much longer this was going to go on. He could see all around how God’s people were suffering and starving. Yet, for himself and the widow and her son, things had been rather plesant in Zarephath. The flour barrel and oil jug hadn’t run out.
By contrast, going to confront Ahab promised imprisonment and possibly death for Elijah. Yet the Bible records no inner struggle of the prophet. God said "Go!" The man who was listening for God’s voice went! If you would hear the voice of God, know His will, you must give Him your ear.
There are obvious ways to do that. We can study His word, pray, worship. These are avenues to stay close to God, so that when He speaks it will not sound like the voice of a stranger. Consider the question,
WOULD GOD BE LIKELY TO REVEAL HIS WILL TO SOMEONE NOT EAGER TO LISTEN AND OBEY?
Not likely! That would be like casting pearls before swine.
WHAT’S DEAR 18.3-6
Ahab is an oxymoron. He was king over God’s people, and he led them away from worshipping God. His apostasy was worse than all the kings before him, and those which followed. It is quite evident in his selfishness. As you read these verses it is difficult to imagine the selfishness of a man who, while his entire nation was suffering through the worst famine in history, was worried about his racehorses. This is akin to modern day animal rights activists going on television to beg for money to save the tse-tse flies, while children in Somalia die from starvation every moment.
What is it that’s dear to you? American apostasy takes many forms. We spend millions for Nintendo games, dog food, and personal pleasures of all kinds. Yet mission programs are forced to cut back. Most of us have an underdeveloped passion for the glory of God, and a much pampered sense of personal pleasure.
Take the test with me. What is it that you are not doing now for the Lord? Do you witness every day? Do you go out of your way to help someone less fortunate? Do you attend prayer meeting? Do you serve only when convenient? Now ask the question, "Would I do these things if I was paid?" Ouch! If you are going to hear from the Lord you must be willing to give Him your ear, and what’s dear.
YOUR FEAR 18.7-19
Obadiah was one of those "fence-sitting" Baptists. Although he really did love the Lord, he wasn’t about to do anything radical.
Former President Ronald Reagan tells of a favorite aunt, who wanted to do something nice for him when he was a little boy. She took him to a shoemaker to have a pair of custom shoes made. The cobbler asked, "Do you want square toes or round?" Reagan hem-hawed around, unable to make a decision. "That’s okay," said the cobbler. "You come back in a few days and tell me when you’ve made up your mind." A few days later the cobbler saw young Ronald on the street and asked him, "Is it square or round?" Still he said, "I don’t know." "Okay, you come by in a couple of days, I’ll have the shoes ready." When he arrived at the shop Ronald Reagan received his first pair of custom made shoes, one with a square toe, and one round.
Obadiah was a God-fearing man, yet he was a high official (18.3) in Ahab’s cabinet. Talk about straddling the fence. He would have known first hand of the suffering of the people, yet he took part in Ahab’s "horseplay". Beloved, christianity calls for radical abhorence to sin.
No matter how hard you try, you’ll never find a way to have darkness coexist with light. Jesus said that serving two masters is impossible. We have unequal yokes in many places, marriage, business, church. People who worry about separation of church and state really do have something to fear. But it’s not that the church is invading in the state’s domain. The church of today isn’t in the world, but the world certainly is in the church.