Summary: Looking at the faith of Elijah and what might hinder us from recieving God's promises..
Last week we looked at the story of Elijah. He was sent to King Ahab to inform him that it would not rain until Elijah proclaimed it. So for three years the nation of Israel suffered through a great drought.
When Elijah returned he set up a show-down between God and the prophets of Baal. Elijah had a vision of God showing his power in a mighty way that others tried to drown. But God consumed all the doubts and negativity poured on Elijah’s vision.
We learned that there were things required of us to see our vision to completion. We must work for it. We must pray for it. We must fight for it. We must be bold. We must be expectant.
But there was a second part to Elijah’s vision and that was fulfilling his prophecy that it would not rain until he commanded it. And he knew that it would only be through the supernatural power of God that it would become a reality.
Let’s read 1 Kings 18:41-42 Then Elijah said to Ahab, “Go get something to eat and drink, for I hear a mighty rainstorm coming!” So Ahab went to eat and drink. But Elijah climbed to the top of Mount Carmel and bowed low to the ground and prayed with his face between his knees.
Notice his boldness. Not a cloud in the sky, not a sound in the air. But through the ears of faith he hears “a mighty rainstorm coming”. Not an afternoon shower, but what we in the south call a “gulley washer.”
While Ahab is eating, Elijah is praying. He is not praying a simple 30 second prayer. He is on his knees, bowing before God as low as he can bow. He has his face between his knees. I tried that position and I found it extremely uncomfortable. My blood rushed to my head, making me dizzy. I found it difficult to breathe. My back ached. And that was only for a few seconds. He would spend much more time in this position.
Let’s read on Kings 18:43 Then he said to his servant, “Go and look out toward the sea.” The servant went and looked, then returned to Elijah and said, “I didn’t see anything.” Seven times Elijah told him to go and look.
You must wonder did Elijah become discouraged. He had faith. He made a bold declaration. But it seemed to be going nowhere. Have you ever felt like that? I have. I decided to set up 32 chairs a week in faith that God would fill them. On most Sundays I preach to 20 empty chairs.
I have two choices on how to deal with this. I can decide that my vision for this church has just been a dream. I can just have everyone get their own chair when they come in and it would make setting up and tearing down a little easier. I could stop expecting great things from God and settle for whatever He gives me. I could begin worshipping him as if the growth has already come and quit asking him for the growth.
Or I can keep going, setting out those 32 chairs while making plans where to put the other 68 chairs when the time comes. I can keep expecting great things from God. But most importantly, I can keep praying.
Elijah kept praying. After seven rejections, Elijah kept praying. And here in this part of the story I think lies our lesson to be learned, that being what can keep God from allowing us to realize our vision.
In my studies for this sermon I discovered seven reasons that God will not answer prayers. And unanswered prayers lead to unfulfilled vision.
1) Ignoring those in need
Proverbs 21:13 Those who shut their ears to the cries of the poor will be ignored in their own time of need.
I must guard against deciding a persons worth upon their giving. A lot of churches will allow those who can finically benefit the church to hold sway over the body. I must preach the truth of God’s word without worrying about offending someone and them leaving. When we as a church can assist someone in need we must do so, as much as possible while still being good stewards. I am stunned at pastors who charge a fee to perform weddings and funerals. God was gracious enough to call me into his service and for that I will not place a price.
What ever your ministry becomes, give away as much as possible. Don’t ignore those in need and run the risk of being ignored when you have a need.
2) Ignoring sin
Isaiah 59:1-2 Listen! The LORD’s arm is not too weak to save you, nor is his ear too deaf to hear you call. It’s your sins that have cut you off from God. Because of your sins, he has turned away and will not listen anymore.